My appearance in 1996Wayne Stegall

Copyright 2011 by Wayne Stegall
Created March 4, 2011.  See Document History at end for details.

Fallen Already?

Some contend Jesus cannot return until a falling away occurs as specified in the following scripture:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2Thess 2:3)

I would assert that the falling away has already occurred and has been missed by some because they did not realize that some things preparatory to the end times have occurred in the middle to late 19th century.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  (2Tim 4:3)

In a time in which scientific methods were gaining ascendancy, secular Bible scholars began to use these methods to examine the Bible.  Confusion entered into faith when certain manuscripts older than those long held to be the correct transmitted text were elevated to prominence.  In spite of differing in small ways from the agreeing accepted texts and from one another, they were given preeminent status against the accepted texts on the false pretext of scholarly expertise and authority.  Now that they had created an appearance of disagreement among Bible source texts, scientific inquiry would have to be made to determine which text among all the variants was correct.  This field is called textual criticism and critical Greek and Hebrew Bible texts today represent the cumulative effort of all their work.  This then empowered literary criticism of the Bible and the accompanying rationalization of doctrine by which some have sought to undermine essential aspects of the Gospel to the harm of their own and others souls.  Emboldened to sin by their unbelief,  they justified compromise after compromise until abominations now stand in the Holy Place.1  It is astonishing to anyone with any moral conscience that homosexuals are now ordained to ministry.  This incitement to unbelief is the most insidious attack against the Church that satan and his unwitting minions have ever brought.

For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.  (Rom 14.23b)

What does faith say?  That those entrusted to preserve God's word did so with the utmost care.  New copies freshly handwritten would be scrutinized for any and all errors before approval as replacement for texts that were nearly worn out.  Those who kept the Old Testament even went so far as to include an extensive set of checksums to verify the letter perfect accuracy of each section, book, and of the entire Torah.  The New testament was preserved just as carefully.  This line of reason infers that the approved text was always freshly updated.  Why are the other texts older?  Because the were rejects!  Faulty copies that failed Church approval would still be valuable in a day when books were rare.  As a result, they passed into private hands were they would not be replaced as the approved texts would.  After the passage of time, the rediscovery of the rejected text would create the pretext for a grand lie.  The accepted texts, as a result of a careful replacement plan, would be newer than the rejected texts.  A little faulty reasoning by Bible critics already inclined to disbelieve the Bible, and faith becomes a scarce commodity among those inclined to repeat their folly.

In all, the Bible is the most well preserved of all ancient texts.  In spite of all this harm, the differences between the correct and faulty texts are fairly minor and in themselves do not change the meaning of scripture in any significant way.  The issue here is faith, a vital part of a genuine conversion, which would be better served by affirming the Bible's credibility.

Whereas some have followed smooth ways to the brink of Hell and beyond, others think severity to be the noblest of motives.  These do not assign grace and love the place that the New Testament gives them.  However I am not referring here to the severity which the sinner brings upon himself as a consequence of sin or of the judgment God alone is just to execute.

Examples abound, such as Fred Phelps and his hate church, currently the beloved foil of the liberal media.  After all, a bankrupt ideology has to have an insubstantial enemy to prop up its propaganda.  I was astonished to hear a Baptist preacher from the Southwest say on television that he hated Barack Obama as if it was his moral right.  If he only allowed himself to hate Obama's radical agenda and no more, he would be on good Biblical ground.  Some have gone as far to say that Paul corrupted the gospel with his doctrine of grace. 

Consider the error often arising from the following two passages:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Co 5:4-5)

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.  So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.  For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.  To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; {person: or, sight}  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2Co 2:6-11)

Some take the first of these scriptures out of context without considering that the second makes the first a mistake to be learned from.  To act on the first verse out of context risks enabling satan to damage the reputation of the Church.  It would be better to turn an offender into the hands of a God who is better able to measure correction and mercy than is the enemy.

Given the various means by which believers can fall into error, it is interesting that, of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, only the church of Philadelphia (interpreted brotherly love)  is promised rescue in the end times:

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Rev 3:10)

I expect that the unrighteous would claim on this scripture because of their claim on love, but John's righteous context will not allow them to do so.

All of the historical denominations and churches affected were, at some time in the past, full of faith; hating sin, following holiness, and loving one another.  Therefore consider the claim of the following scripture.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  (Rev 2:5)

Because of denominational differences, some may question some of the details of the preceding statement.  Ultimately, judgment will only be made regarding whether you obeyed the Gospel accurately, not whether you have the approval of others.  The following saying of Jesus would speak to you of this matter.

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.  (John 12:47-48)

Beware and don't fall away!

1This allusion to scripture is a valid metaphor and not the usual literal interpretation.

Document History
March 4, 2011  Created.
March 4, 2011  Made corrections and minor improvements.