On Eagle's Wings
(Articles From A Pastoral Perspective)
Exodus 19:4 (NASB)
'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself.
"The Last Days - A Great Falling Away"
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first…
Someone once stated: “apostasy is a perversion to evil after a seeming conversion from it”.
What is apostasy? It is a making shipwreck of the faith (1Ti 1:19). It is the heart’s departure from the living God (Heb 3:13). It is a returning to and being overcome by the world, after a previous escape from its pollutions through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pe 2:20). There are various steps that precede it.
First, there is a looking back (Luk 9:62), like Lot’s wife, who though she had outwardly left Sodom, yet her heart was still there. Second, there is a drawing back (Heb 10:38): the requirements of Christ are too exacting to any longer appeal to the heart. Third, there is a turning back (Joh 6:66): the path of godliness is too narrow to suit the lustings of the flesh. Fourth, there is a falling back, which is fatal: “That they might go and fall backward, and be
broken” (Isa 28:13). (AW Pink)
Charles Spurgeon in his article, “Why Some Leave Christ” offers these poignant observations:
In all our churches, among the many who enlist, there are some who desert.
Some there are in these days, as there were in our Lord’s own day, who depart from
Christ because they cannot bear His doctrine.
Others there are who desert the Savior for the sake of gain.
Some leave Christ and go away terrified by persecution.
Many leave Christ for the sake of sensual enjoyments!
Unsound doctrine occasions many to apostatize.
The early church was not shy or quiet about those who defect from the Christian faith. Taking a moment to be clear, we are not talking about those who leave one church for another, we are speaking of those who “lose heart” or quit the faith.
The apostle Paul found no reason to be shy about the matter of defectors:
“...for Demas having loved this present world, has deserted me.”
Demas is a companion of Paul, (Phile 1:24; Colo 4:14) during his first imprisonment at Rome. (a.d. 57) who lost heart and deserted the apostle through love of this present world, and gone to Thessalonica.
“19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander...” (1 Timothy 1:19-20). It was in the Ephesian church that Hymeneus and Alexander and Philetus had arisen. The gangrene-like nature of their teaching has “overthrown the faith of many” (2 Tim. 2:18).
Christians connected with those in Asia of whom Paul speaks of as having turned away from himself. It is open to question whether their repudiation of the apostle was joined with a falling away from the faith, and whether the open display of the feeling of Asia took place—at least so far as Phygelus and Hermogenes were concerned—at Rome. Phygelus may have forsaken the apostle at some critical time when his support was expected (see 2 Tim. 4:16), or he may have been a leader of some party of nominal Christians at Rome, such as the apostle describes at an earlier period (Phil. 1:15-16) as opposing him there.
“You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes”. 2 Timothy 1:15
The naming of these defectors stresses the possibility of and the importance of not losing heart. Why? Because in one sense we feel surrounded and these defectors have made penetration into the church. Think about what exists in the professing realm of Christianity:
Tares (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43)
False prophets (Matt. 24:24)
Savage wolves (Acts 20:29-30)
Apostates (2 Thess. 2:3)
Vessels of Dishonor (2 Tim. 2:20)
Hidden reefs (Jude 12)
“Jezebel” (Rev. 2:20)
Professors (Rev. 3:2)
The application is two-fold:
1) In these last days we will see defectors from the faith;
2) Therefore, it is indispensable to learn how “not to lose heart”.
“The essence of apostasy is changing sides from that of the crucified to that of the crucifier.” – John Stott