In Sunday's sermon, my Pastor said that over the last few months, he had been plagued with the fear of failing in his ministry. Our church attendance has dropped by about twenty percent over the last two years, and his Wednesday night Bible study had dropped by about thirty percent. He then told us that while on a short vacation trip with his family, the Lord impressed him to get his priorities straight. It was as if the Lord was saying, "So you fail as a Pastor, so what? So what if your church has to close its doors? Compared to My ultimate plan for the Church Age, how important is your church and your ministry?" He said it was as though the Lord was saying, "Just be faithful and focus on Me; I will do what I will do!"
Being discouraged at the way things are going is not new. Elijah was discouraged and the LORD told him he had seven thousand prophets that were his co-laborers (1 Kg. 19:18). Jeremiah was discouraged by his people failing to heed his warnings, and wished he had never been born (Jer. 20:17-18). Jeremiah's Book of Lamentations is filled with his discouragement. Billy Graham said, "The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, 'O God, forgive me,' or 'Help me.'"
As we see end-time prophecy being fulfilled on the evening news, as the frequency of earthquakes rises, as the medical spokesmen warn of a pending world-wide pandemic, and as the kings of the North (NATO) attack the kings of the South (Libya is just the beginning), could this be the beginning of the Ezekiel 38-39 war? It is clear to most students of the Bible that the time for Christ's return is very close. Yes, I know that people have been saying that since the time of Acts 1:9-11, but common sense and logic tell us that we are closer to that glorious event than we were even yesterday.
The Church Age is no different from the preceding five dispensations. Like them, our dispensation ends in a failure to bring mankind to faith in Almighty God. In God's Word we read about the Church becoming apostate or experiencing a "falling away." The word, "apostasy," from the Greek ἀποστασία (apostasia), is defined as a defection or revolt, and is the formal disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion by a person. The Church will experience a continual decline just prior to its "Rapture" which removes true believers to be with the Lord (1 The. 4:13-18). The Apostle Paul wrote, "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 Thes. 2:3).
Prior to the Lord's return, the Church of Laodicea is so removed from the faith, that even Jesus is described as standing outside (Rev. 3:20). We should not become weary in well-doing (1 Thes. 3:13), but we should focus upon being faithful. After all, even in the Millennium when Christ is in control, at the end of the thousand years, even He experiences a massive revolt (Rev. 20:7-9)! So hang in there!