Divine Warnings Regarding the Dangers of the Church

When we think of all the forces that are combined to overthrow what is of God in this world, it becomes evident that only the grace and power of God could preserve anything for Himself.

In the days of the apostles, divine warnings were given to the church as to the dangers ahead; the Holy Spirit, through the pens of Paul, Peter, John and Jude, speaking of the evils that were already working, and would develop right to the end of the church's sojourn on earth.

John's Gospel, in its opening words, gives a flood of divine light regarding the Person of the Son of God, which has enabled the saints, down the ages, to meet the assaults of the enemy, for the great object of all the enemy's efforts is to assail the truth as to Christ's Person and work. In his First Epistle, John writes, "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is the antichrist who denies the Father and the Son" (John 2:22). He also warns of the false prophets who are gone out into the world saying, "every spirit which does not confess Jesus Christ come in flesh is not of God" (John 4:1-3). Almost the closing words of this epistle are, "His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life" (v. 20).

John, in his First Epistle, warns of many antichrists, saying, "They went out from us, because they were not of us" (1 John 2:19); but Jude in exhorting the saints to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to them, writes, "For there are certain men crept in unawares" (verse 4). What evil these men have brought into the professing church! We should not be surprised at the multitude of attacks on the Person of Christ, the work of Christ, and on the inspiration of the Scriptures, from within the bosom of the professing church, when we have such clear warnings from the Holy Spirit as to the nature and character of the instruments of Satan.

The Apostle Peter is no less clear than John and Jude, writing, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of which the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:1-3).

The great apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, gives many warnings. Addressing the elders of Ephesus, he said, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29). He warns the saints at Corinth against "false prophets, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Timothy is foretold of the perilous times of the last days, when professing Christians would have "a form of godliness," but would deny its power; and when "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13).

These, and many other prophetic warnings of the New Testament, prepare us for the darkness that fell over the professing church soon after the days of the apostles, and for the many evils that abound in Christendom in these last days. Moreover, we can discern the wisdom of God in allowing the different forms of evil to manifest themselves in the days of the apostles, so that we might have in their inspired writings the divine safeguards to meet every evil in its full development in the closing days of the church's sojourn on earth.

In spite of all the enemy's bitter and sustained assaults, God has had His faithful ones down the ages. The prophetic history of the church, given in chapters 2 and 3 of The Revelation, tell of the overcomers in every phase of the church's sad history. Amidst the darkness there were the faithful, those in whose hearts the Spirit of God had wrought, and who, according to their measure of light stood firmly for the Name and Word of Christ.

But the apostles not only exposed the evils; they also pointed the way for the faithful in the midst of them. Jude exhorts, "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God." John tells us, "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father" (1 John 2:24). Peter commends to us his two epistles, "the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour," and what "our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you" (2 Peter 3:1-2, 15). Paul exhorts Timothy to continue in the truth he had learned from him, assuring him of the inspiration of the "holy Scriptures" of the Old Testament, as indeed of "All Scripture," through which "the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:14-17).

How thankful to God we should be for the Holy Scriptures, which, under the direction of the Spirit of God, show us the path for these last days; a path in which we can seek to be faithful to the Lord, and enjoy the privileges that belong to the assembly, even if we are but two or three, gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus.