Persecuted churchThe Church and believers have always faced enemies in the world; in fact, Christ warned His disciples, “ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22a). John quotes the LORD, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19)

Although hatred and persecution has been the path of the followers of Christ for two millennium; because freedom of religion is a fundamental Constitutional liberty, American churches and believers have, for the most part, escaped the plight of the persecuted.  Until recent years, Christians in America have enjoyed a reprieve from public attacks and persecution that has been the experience of believers down through the centuries.  Sadly, the freedoms we have too often taken for granted are under assault and we are witnessing the erosion of both the individual freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.  Indeed, the signs of the last days noted by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are undeniably present not only in the world, but in our beloved United States.

perilous timesPaul warned his readers in 2 Timothy 3, “in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1).  Although it can be argued the “last days” began with Christ’s ascension to heaven, we are observing today an assault on the Church and Christians around the world that is undeniably a fulfillment of the prophetic character of the “last days” described in the scriptures. In Acts 20:29-30 Paul expressed his fear that, after his departure, “grievous wolves” would enter the church (i.e. heretics; wicked men and women who would maim the Church with their false doctrines and subtle attacks).  Paul warned the Church in the “last days” would be intolerant of the Truth and would “not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3a).  Rejecting the Truth, many professing Christians will “depart from the faith” and follow “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (2 Timothy 4:1).

Our examination of the Church of the latter days will address the following questions: 1) What becomes of the Church and professing Christians in the last days? 2) What is the spiritual character of the Church in the last days?

Before continuing my exposition of 2 Timothy 3:1-9, I invite you to consider a spiritual portrait of the Church in the last days found in Revelation 3, the Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-20).

The Last DaysFour tragic characteristics will be evident in the latter day church:  A spiritual indifference identified as “lukewarm”, will take hold in the church (Revelation 3:15).  The second, a love of riches and possessions will command the affections of its members (Revelation 3:17).  Thirdly, blinded by their affluence, the members of the latter day Church will become spiritually insensitive (not knowing they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).  Finally, the members of the latter day Church will become antagonistic to Christ who is portrayed as standing at the door of the church and knocking (Revelation 3:20).

I will continue my exposition of “America and the Church in Perilous Times” in my next devotional blog.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith