The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV)
Church-goers may be noticing more empty seats these days. A trend is being reported. People are turning from church to alternatives like abandoning religion or venturing into witchcraft. Recently, the trend may have emboldened one entertainer to mock the testimony of Christians. According to an inside source, another example is the pop icon Beyoncé. She is said to be involved in “extreme witchcraft.”
If this is an indication of an exodus, what should church leaders do? Our suggestion is read the Bible. The “falling away” is promised. (See above.) Warn others that we are in the last days (ex. Matthew 24:4-14, Luke 17:26-30, 2 Timothy 3:1-6)? Because of the church’s temporal concerns (attendance, membership, giving, percentage of tithers, young families, etc.), prophecy is likely avoided. Neglect plays into the enemy’s hands, so everyone loses.
In advance of a Category V hurricane, does the emergency evacuation order scare local residents? It better! Getting everyone’s attention is the authority’s hope. (“Everyone leave now, before it’s too late!”)
Decide. Do we care more about numbers or the well-being of the flock? Is our reputation among our peers of greater importance than God’s favor? Would the Lord abandon us if we were His Watchman (Ezekiel 33:1-9)? Unfaithful servants will look at the numbers. The wise will understand the times and then prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:3-4). Proclaiming God’s coming kingdom will save those who listen; as well as the messenger!
Abandoning the faith has happened before; it will happen again. The trickle we now see will become a flood.
Do not believe the “any-moment rapture” teachers who say “no more signs” before Jesus’ return. Because of false teachers, Paul had to repeat his earlier warning to the Thessalonians. He wrote that two signs will appear prior to Christ’s return: Among nominal Christians and Jews there will be a great falling away, apostasy or rebellion (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Matthew 24:9-10). The other sign preceding Jesus’ return is the appearance of the Man of Lawlessness.
Regarding numbers, Paul encouraged Timothy:
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
We already see history repeating itself. Many Israelites failed to reach the Promised Land. They perished because they turned from the truth, ignoring God’s warnings. Do not be like them!
It is counter-intuitive. Save yourself and others by teaching the Word, then observe the numbers as they fall.