Falling away is a grave and dire possibility! You may be setting the stage for your own downfall by things you do today. Don't take a chance! Read this article and find out HOW you can stand firm!
"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" (II Thes. 2:3). This is a prophecy for our time — the end time! It means there will be a falling away from the Truth of God. This also happened in the times of the early New Testament Church. But many hear the truth today. Many understand it and go along with it. Before Christ's second coming there will be a great falling away. Are you being set up for a downfall? Could you fall away?
Jesus Prophesies Persecution
Love is on the way out in this world. Jesus foretold our time. Notice His Mt. Olivet prophecy in Matthew 24. In verse 5 He prophesies deception. In verse 6 He talks about wars and rumors of wars. Then He prophesies world war, famines, disease epidemics, earthquakes in various parts of the earth. Jesus says in verse 8 that these are "the beginning of sorrows." Actually the word "SORROWS" means "trials" or "tribulation." So Jesus is saying these are the beginning of "tribulation" — the Great Tribulation. His next words: "Then shall they deliver yon up to be afflicted, and shall kill yon: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake'' (verse 9). Think of it! A time of persecution will come on God's people. They will be afflicted — some will even be killed! God's Church is beginning to come into prominence with world governments. God is making His Work known to the powers in this world. It fits in exactly with Jesus' prophecy. For in order to be hated by all nations we must be known by all nations. God intends to fulfill this prophecy.
Result of Persecution
What will happen under persecution? "And then SHALL MANY BE OFFENDED" — fall away, leave the truth — "and SHALL BETRAY ONE ANOTHER, AND SHALL HATE ONE ANOTHER" (verse 10). Pressures from without will turn some away from God's Truth. Some members will turn against others. They will betray God's people because they themselves cannot stand up under persecution. Could this be you? With persecution pressuring us out of God's Church, the next prophesied event will be even greater deception. Verse 11: "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." Get the picture! There will be persecution on true Christians — some delivered to death, others afflicted, all hated! Under pressure of persecution many will fall — go back to the world — betray God's members. At the same time a false, deceptive religion will make it's bid to lure away those who are not one hundred percent convinced of God's Truth. Those who have not really proven the truth to themselves — but who just went along with others — will find themselves confused and befuddled! With the push of persecution and the lure of deception the weak in faith will succumb! Furthermore Jesus said, "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (verse 12). Already this is starting. Sin is everywhere in great mountainous heaps! Lies, cheating, competition, hatreds, fornications, adulteries, filth, perversions of all kinds, sadism, murders, are around us every day. We live in the middle of a sin center. We all know not to pick up hitchhikers. We all know to keep our car doors locked as we drive through the middle of the city. We know to be aware of strangers. Because of all this sin many of us are losing true love! People are cold today. They don't know how to love. Even in many families fathers do not know how to love and mothers are incapable of expressing true, sincere affection for their children and husbands. We're suspicious. We're on the defensive. What a tragedy — love and kindness don't fit into our age! Today women carry tear gas pens and chemical revolvers to stun attackers. Everyone lives in fear. Trying to protect the SELF people's minds turn inward. There is no place for outgoing concern — real love. Admit it. You don't love as you should! We're so used to being lied to and cheated we're suspicious of everyone. This is the result of abounding sin. "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (verse 13). If only we can hold on through this terrible time of persecution, of sin, of false prophets! At the time when all this persecution, hatred of God's ways, and sin is going on; Jesus says, "And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (verse 14).
Massive Pressure on Families
One million people obtained divorce in 1967. Is it any wonder? The greatest onslaught of propaganda ever is now being unleashed against the stability of the home in America and Britain! Other Israelitish countries are also witnessing the same thing to a lesser degree. The devil and his forces are doing everything they can to promote homosexuality, lesbianism — every perversion! The common, decent family is now the target of every joke! The brunt of every funny situation! Today we witness such books as: Sex And the Single Girl; In Defense of Homosexuality; Perversions, Sex Crimes in History; Street Walker, etc. The idea fostered in hundreds of novels on newsstands is that it is more fun to have sex outside of marriage and independent of marriage than it is to be married. Marriage is laughed at, ridiculed, scorned. Women are intimidated away from motherhood and homemakers And no matter where you live YOU are experiencing the pressures applied today! In the light of these current events Jesus' prophecy emblazens itself more forcibly on our minds. Notice it! "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and thc children shall rise up against their parents, AND CAUSE THEM TO BE PUT TO DEATH" (Mat. 10:21). Here Jesus prophesies whole families being torn asunder! Fathers killing children, children causing parents to be put to death. And brother delivering up brother to death. What a spectacle! What A tragedy! Notice in verse 19 Jesus said, "But when they deliver you up..." Thus the whole context of this setting is a time of persecution on God's people. And Jesus said that during that time whole families will be torn asunder — split apart — hate one another — and betray one another! "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Mat. 10:22).
We Know Better Than We Do
Love requires work. It's a full-time job to stay in love. We must work at love — loving God, loving neighbor and loving mate! Why? Because innately we are all selfish. We love self. Love of self is not really love but lust. True love is outgoing concern for others. And we have all been given a super-dose of self love. Self love is natural. Self love is easy. Self love is automatic and terribly powerful. To love others means, in many instances, to forego love of the self. That takes work. It requires effort and force to turn our love away from self and have outgoing concern for others. We all know this. We know we need to show more love. We know we need to be warmer and develop more love for the brethren. We know that the bonds of love are not as strong in us as they should be — that we must have fervent love of the brethren — even a willingness to give our lives for those we love — not only in our own families but in the church at large.
Start Here First
We need love — we know it. But where do we begin? Like so many other things love starts at home! We need to start building strong family ties. Remember, the prophecies say stress and strain will be put on immediate families. This will cause many to fall away from God's Church. Many will be offended and betray others. But this offense will start in their own lives as a result of weakened family ties! How strong is your family? How much love does your family have? How much loyalty do your children have to the family? First of all no family can be completely tied together unless husband and wife are fully happy and in love. (Read thoroughly Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong's new booklet, Your Marriage Can Be Happy.) God's Church has printed books, booklets and many articles dealing with husband and wife relationships. WE ALL KNOW WHAT TO DO! If a man were to ask you, "How can I be a better husband?" you would turn to Ephesians the 5th chapter. You would tell him that husbands are to love their wives even as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it... "Men ought to love their wives as they do their own bodies," you would say. "A man should be thoughtful, courteous, uplifting and loving to his wife. He should not be harsh or bitter against her. The husband," you would continue, "should take the lead in the family and rule to the family's best interest. He must avoid being selfish. "Show your love — demonstrate it through proper affection and gift-giving from time to time. You should praise your wife for her deeds and accomplishments. Tell her that you love her. Tell her how much you appreciate the things she docs for you. Take her in your arms and be a lover to her. Make sure your marital relations are proper and right. Seek guidance and help if things aren't just so." Yes, we all know what to do! Are we husbands doing it? You women reading this article, if another woman came to you and asked, "How can I be a better wife?" you'd know what to say. Why you'd tell her, "Always obey your husband. Submit to your husband as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church. Therefore be subject to your husband in everything. This prevents countless arguments and fights. Every house must have just one head and your husband is the head of it. The sooner you learn to submit the fewer arguments and problems there will be in your household. "Show interest in your husband's work and hobbies,'' you'd tell her. "Praise him for the things he does. NEVER NAG," you'd say. "Do little things — extra things — for your husband. Fix his favorite meals. Keep yourself fixed up — beautiful, attractive for your husband. Go out of your way to make him love you more and more. But most of all remember that he is in authority in the home. Never ridicule, belittle, make fun of, or nag at your husband! If you do all this you will be a much better wife and have a happier marriage." You could give that advice — but do you PRACTICE it? Most of you reading this article could give yourselves these admonitions. You know what to do. You may have been told time and again your marriage needs to improve. You may even know you have marriage problems. BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?! Are we diligent in working at our families? Are husbands and wives trying to build a solid, firm foundation for the future. Are they building low? Or are there weaknesses that will show up when the pressure is on?
Drastic Effect of Entertainment on Family
How much television do you watch? How many movies do you see? How many of this world's perverted thoughts have entered your mind and the minds of your family? This world's entertainment has affected you! You can't deny it — it has to some extent. The popular theme today is sex and violence! Sex in all its evil forms is paraded before the entertained audiences of this world. Ideas are fired into your mind like an arrow from a bow. And even more than the mind-polluting ideas — television in the main and movies to a lesser degree have eaten up your family time. Instead of building closer family ties through family Bible study, prayer, games, conversation and other common interests which stimulate minds and foster mutual respect; many families sit in front of the radiation center (TV) and fizzle away an entire evening. Why not do this? "As soon as the children are old enough to understand, indoctrinate them with the idea that the family is meant to be a wonderful place for everybody in it; it's everybody's job to make it a wonderful place for everybody else; it's an enterprise for everybody, by everybody. The family enterprise is a cooperative effort in which father, mother, sister, brother, all have an active interest and a personal responsibility. The family enterprise is the primary and most important activity and responsibility that father, mother, brother and sister have. "Don't forget this; the children will acquire and carry on the family enterprise if mother and father do their share" (How to Live 65 Days a Year., page 124, emphasis mine). Time flies! And time is flying toward the period of heavy persecution against YOU! Are you building your family? Will your family be torn asunder?
How It Will Happen
Persecution may come when you least expect it. It may come from anyone of a dozen sources. From your job, school, neighbors, unconverted relatives, business acquaintances, etc. Persecution is not pleasant. When it hits your first tendency will be to get discouraged. Fear will set in and anxiety with it. You will need spiritual strength — contact with God. You will ask for comfort and the support of your mate and children in the church. (Members with unconverted mates must be prepared to face persecution from their own mates, and in general they will be. For they won't expect the same sympathy and comfort from their unconverted relatives as others with family in the church.) But suppose your family life is torn apart by arguments and bitterness. You and your wife (both church members) have known you had marriage problems for many months or perhaps years. Things weren't good even though both of you knew what to do. You haven't gotten along. And because you and your wife haven't built a strong foundation, your child rearing has failed to be effective! "General affection is easily generated in a family if there is affection between father and mother. Animosities between the children need never exist if they are nipped in the early bud, and if no animosities ever exist between father and mother. If there is bickering, strife, and verbal warfare in the top brass section of the family, the children will almost surely grow up to be bickering and disagreeable" (How to Live 365 Days a Year, page 126). Thus the children have no real loyalty to mother or dad, neither do they have any real desire toward God's Church. Now comes persecution. Frustrated from without — scared and worried — and weakened from within as a result of family problems — your whole spiritual foundation begins to crumble. At a time when you need God desperately, when you need to be fervent in prayer, you find that your prayers are hindered. (See I Peter 3:7.) Instead of comforting one another and turning to one another more fervently, husband and wife begin to accuse, blame each other, and tear one another down. JESUS PROPHESIED IT WOULD HAPPEN! WHOLE FAMILIES WILL BE TORN APART!
Blessed Are the Happily Married
When persecution comes the strong family will unite. Husband and wife will give solace to one another. They will cheer, aid and comfort each other. With strong love for one another they can have fervent family prayer and build one another up. They will build loyalty and strengthen family ties. They will prepare at home to meet persecution from without. When the husband steps out of the home in the morning he knows his wife is fully behind him. He has the confidence that his children are absolutely loyal and that the whole family is pulling for one another. Because he loves his family deeply he has learned to share that love with members of God's Church — a greater Family! Having love, compassion, mercy toward members of his own family, he extends it to all church members. He feels for them. So does his wife! His children are also concerned about others in God's Church. This family's life has been built upon rock.
Where Do You Stand?
We all know what's right. We know that God commands us to have a happy marriage. We know God commands husbands to love their wives — that God commands wives to submit to their own husbands. God wants us to have a happy marriage and a happy, strong, solid home life. Yes, we know all of this. Are we doing it? Jesus gives this admonition: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock" (Mat. 7:24-25). Let's begin today! Begin building on rock. Build a strong family life — with a wonderful marriage — good husband-wife relationships — as its foundation. Then build on that a good, solid parent-child relationship! Review the booklet, The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. Take another look at your children. Are they obedient? Do you talk with and teach your older children? Are your smaller children trained properly? Do they come when called? Sit still? Obey immediately? Answer with respect? Examine your marriage! Ask your mate how he or she feels about your marriage. Is it satisfactory? Do you communicate enough? Sex problems? Do you bicker, complain at each other? Then get busy and do something about it! But what if you don't? What if you go on like you've been going on with strained marriage relations and child rearing problems? What if you never take those drastic steps to straighten out your family problems? Then Jesus says to yon: "And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; AND IT FELL: and great was the fall of it" (Mat. 7:26-27).