Monday, January 9, 2006

On apostasy and 'the last hour'

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus, during his farewell to them in c. A.D. 54).

"Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us" (John the Elder, reassuring his congregation at Ephesus about Gnostic deceivers within the church, c. A.D. 90).

I never cease to be amazed when I read either of these passages at how exactly what Paul predicted would happen in Ephesus did in fact come true: Gnostic apostates arose from within the church and left, trying to draw away the young and unstable. Even as it was in John's days, it is yet "the last hour", when "false Christs and false prophets will arise ... in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect" (Mark 13.22). This is crazy to think of how imminent Jesus' return in glory is.

Over the past few years here in Turkey, there have been some pastors who've done the same, renouncing their profession of Christian faith and returning to Islam. The latest has just happened a few weeks ago. (Nevermind the date on the TDL article nor its hazy usage of quotation marks and lack of clarifying statements.) Two years ago, a pastor with many connections who reverted back to Islam made known vital information about most of the missions organizations here and the people working for them. Please pray for the church's safety here, that the lies being spread by the newest pastor will not harm local believers nor those working to spread the good news of Jesus Christ our King.

My first reaction at people like this is a sense of anger: How can they do such a thing? How can they forsake the goodness of God and the wonderful cross of Christ? But then I forget that it is only by God's sustaining grace that my faith in the gospel remains: "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15.10). Blessed be God for turning this bad event into a source of encouragement for me and his church to further cling to his free and sovereign grace!

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