Faithfulness in a Day of Apostasy

by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)

The circumstances, in which the apostle Paul was found as the prisoner of the Lord, when penning his second letter to Timothy, largely gave answer to the place in which faithfulness to the truth is likely to put one in these closing days of the dispensation. Whether believers may be called on to endure actual persecution, even to deprivation of liberty, as Satan’s plans are developed, may be an open question. But it is very evident that the Gospel of the Grace of God and the great truths connected with the mystery of Christ and the Church were never in greater disfavor among so-called leaders in Protestantism than at the present time. Rome’s attitude toward the Gospel has always been distinctly antagonistic, and persecution would be as severe today, did she have unrestrained power as in the bloody centuries just before and after the Reformation. But it is a new thing to find men of prominence in Protestant churches and great semi-religious organizations lined up under the Protestant banner, boldly denouncing the Gospel and holding up to ridicule those who preach it. More than that, so much as in them lies, they have not refrained from using the most unprincipled means whereby to hinder the usefulness of men who proclaim salvation through the atoning Blood of Christ, and especially those who thus set forth the glorious truth of the Lord’s near return. 

It is a solemn fact that the Word of God predicts just such an apostate condition as the last state of the professing Church on earth. And it behooves all lovers of Christ and His truth to bestir themselves to increased faithfulness and devotion in days such as these. Never was there a time when it was so necessary to “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Faithful preaching and faithful living go hand-in-hand. The time has already come when men, generally, will not endure sound doctrine. In accordance with their own carnal desires they are heaping to themselves teachers whose sentimental platitudes, and whose well-rounded unscriptural methods, tickle their itching ears. Having turned away from the truth, they turn eagerly to all kinds of fables and are ready to believe anything or everything that hides man’s true condition and obscures the Cross, with eternal issues that hang upon the acceptance or rejection of the Gospel message. 

Everyone who desires the Lord’s approval at His soon-coming judgment seat may well take to heart the solemn admonition “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” One does not need to be what is commonly called an “evangelist” to do the work of one. Every believer who circulates Gospel tracts, every one who uses his pen to write to his unsaved friends seeking to impress upon them their need and God’s remedy, every personal worker as well as those who take the public platform telling out the “old, old story,” is doing the work of an evangelist. Gospel days are nearing their close. The dispensation is fast coming to an awful end for those who are in rebellion against God and His truth. The Lord’s return is drawing near. Let us spend and be spent for Him in our brief season for faithful testimony. 

The love of many waxes cold. Imitators of Demas, who loved the present world and left Paul, abound. The times demand men like faithful Luke and “profitable” Mark who value what is of God and will stand unflinchingly for His truth whatever the cost.

I would press upon every Christian reader of these lines the importance of turning absolutely away from fellowship with those who are leading in the apostasy. The call of the Lord is distinct: “From such turn away.” “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” “We would have healed Babylon, and she is not healed; forsake her.” “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” 

Christians will be held responsible for every penny they contribute to organizations that are apostate in character and for every act of fellowship that helps to make it easier for Satan’s emissaries to pursue their nefarious work. Faithfulness to Christ demands separation from that which so gravely dishonors His name.