The “Falling Away” Is To Take Place Before Second Coming Of Christ

Illustration-Title-The _Falling Away_ Is To Take Place Before Second Coming Of Christ-text-logo

The apostle Paul declared: Except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, will be no immediate coming of Christ. Thees important developments in the religious world are foretold in prophecy and were to take place before the second advent of Christ. Paul’s words to Thessalonians were : Be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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; 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 3

Question: What was the church of Christ in the apostolic age declared to be?

Answer: The temple of God. Ephesians 2:19-22

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Question: Who was the head of the church?
Answer: Ephesians 1:22, 23

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church. Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Question: By what other relation is the union between Christ and His church symbolized?
Answer:
2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Question: By what means was the work of the church to be promoted or built up?
Answer: Acts 20:32

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Question: What was the result of the use of this means?
Answer: Acts 2:41, 42

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Question: As long as the church was fed upon the pure word of God, who was her leader?
Answer: John 10:3,4

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

Question: What was thus manifested to the world?
Answer: Colossians 1:26, 27.

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

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Question: What did the apostle declare would take place?

Answer: Acts 20:29, 30

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

See note 1.

Question: What does the apostle term this turning away from Christ to men?
Answer: 2 Thessalonians 2:7

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

Question: How does the apostle speak of the full development of this power?
Answer: 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4

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; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Question: Why was the mystery of iniquity not fully revealed in the apostle’s day?
Answer: 2 Thessalonians 2:7

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

Question: In what was shown the first evidence of falling away?

Answer: Following men instead of Christ. Acts 20:30

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Question: To what did this lead ?
Answer: Following men instead of Christ led to the adoption of heathen ceremonies and customs, advocated by so-called philosophers and wise men. Says Mosheim, “There is good reason to suppose that Christian bishops multiplied sacred rites for the sake of rendering the Jews and the pagans more friendly to them.” The half-converted pagans were allowed, “at the sepulchers of the martyrs on their feast days, to dance, to use sports, to indulge conviviality. Furthermore, to do all the things that the worshipers of idols were accustomed to do in their temples on festival days.”

“The Christians . . . not only applied the terms used in the pagan mysteries to Christian institutions, particularly baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Moreover they gradually introduced also the [pagan] rites which were designated by those terms. Therefore, a large part of the Christian observances and institutions, even in this century, had the aspect of the pagan mysteries.” – Murdock’ s Translation, book 1, century 2, part 2, chap. 4, sections 2 (with footnote) and 5.

Question: What was the most widely prevalent heathen worship?
Answer: Sun worship – “The oldest, the most widespread and the most enduring of all the forms of idolatry known to man, viz., sun-worship.”—Talbot W. Chambers, D. D., in Old Testament Student, January, 1886.

Question: What day was especially devoted to sun worship?

Answer: The great day dedicated to this worship was the first day of the week – Sunday. See Webster, Worcester, Century, or Standard Dictionary.

Question: How early was the tendency to adopt heathen customs manifested on the part of the professed church?
Answer: It was manifested in the apostle’s day. See note 2.

Question: In respect to what and by whom was the arrogance of the mystery of iniquity first manifested?
Answer: The first claim of which we have record was made by Victor, bishop of Rome (A. D. 193-202), in behalf of Sunday. Rome had begun to celebrate the Passover, or the heathen feast of Easter, on Sunday. And “Victor, bishop of Rome, thought it necessary that the Asiatic Christians should be compelled by laws and decrees to follow the rule adopted” by the Western church. Therefore, he wrote them an “imperious letter” admonishing them to follow the example of other Christians in keeping Easter. They replied with spirit, “that they would not depart from the holy institution of their ancestors.” Therefore, Victor “excluded them from his communion and from that of his church (Rome).”

Question: In thus turning to the word of men instead of the word of God, what did the church do?

Answer: It erected another standard than the word, and finally set up creeds and decrees of councils as the rule of faith.

Question: In what did this result?
Answer: In erecting as standards the creeds of men, inevitable confusion and strife resulted.

Question: By what term in the Scriptures is this confusion characterized?
Answer: Babylon, confusion. Revelation 14:8.

Question: To what did the adoption of worldly standards lead?
Answer: When worldly standards were erected by the church, she could no longer plead God’s word and power. Therefore, she turned to the world to obtain power.

Question: When was this union of the church with the state formed?
Answer: In the reign of Constantine, A. D. 313-337.

Question: What is said of the bishops at that time?
Answer: “Worldly-minded bishops, instead of caring for the salvation of their flocks, were often but too much inclined to travel about, and entangle themselves in worldly concerns.” “This theocratic theory of government was already the prevailing one in the time of Constantine. They voluntarily made themselves dependent on him by their disputes, and by the determination to use the power of the state for the furtherance of their aims.” – Neander’s History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 2, sec. 2, part 1, division 1, par 3. The outcome of all this was foretold in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4.

Question: To what did this man-made theocracy inevitably lead?
Answer: To deifying man and putting him in the place of God.

 

Notes:

  1. Mark that in the very church itself should men arise, speaking perverse things (things contrary to the truth of God’s word), to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:30. Self-exaltation is the object of the promoter of error. It is the very foundation of the mystery of iniquity. The true minister points the disciple to Christ. The minister of Satan draws the disciple after himself.
  2. Note that:
    • The great mass of the world in Paul’s day were heathen. 
    • Universal heathen worship was sun-worship.
    • The great and universal day of sun-worship was Sunday, besides other monthly and yearly feasts.
    • Galatians Christians were converted heathen. Galatians 4:8.
    • In their backsliding they turned back to the beggarly elements of the world, to which they were in bondage before they knew Christ. Verse 9.
    • One great evidence of this was that they returned to observing times and days. Verses 10, 11.
    • The only obvious inference is that these days were heathen days and times (Leviticus 19:26) and would naturally include among them the Sunday. See “The Lord’s Day,” pp. 33-41, 87-91.

Conclusion

The apostle Paul warned the church not to look for the coming of Christ in his day. That day shall not come, he says, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed. 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Not till after the great apostasy, and the long period of the reign of the “man of sin,” can we look for the advent of our Lord. The “man of sin,” which is also styled the “mystery of iniquity,” the “son of perdition,” and “that wicked,” represents the papacy. It was to maintain its supremacy for 1260 years as foretold in prophecy. This period ended in 1798. The coming of Christ could not take place before that time.

Paul, as we have seen, did not preach it. He pointed his brethren into the distant future for the coming of the Lord. The reformers did not proclaim it. Martin Luther placed the Judgment about three hundred years in the future from his day. But since 1798 the book of Daniel has been unsealed, knowledge of the prophecies has increased, and many have proclaimed the solemn message of the Judgment near.

The mystery of iniquity was already working

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2 Thessalonians 2:7, 8

The prophet Daniel, describing the same power, says: He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws. Daniel 7:25

How strikingly have these prophecies been fulfilled by the Romish Church! This power has attempted to change the times and laws of God. She openly states that she has made such changes. Furthermore, she declares that by the observance of Sunday, which rests solely upon her authority, the Protestant world is acknowledging the supremacy of Rome. It is the breach which has thus been made in the law of God that the people described by Isaiah are seeking to build up.

 


Resources:

  1. 1896 – Lessons on the Great Three-fold Message of Revelation 14
  2. GC88 357; ST, Jun, 1893 – The Ellen G. White Estate 
  3. King James Version (KJV) Bible – BibleGateway
  4. Image courtesy – Pixabay

 


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