READ the Bible. From Adam and Eve onward, even from the beginning, man has never been faithful to God for very long. Remember the universal flood, and what lead up to it. Consider the nation of Israel under the judges. It seems to be one unending cycle, with judges having to be raised up to deliver Israel and call them back to God. Stephen in his defense before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7 makes it plain that Israel in its history by and large had never been faithful to God (although there usually was a faithful remnant). The prophets continually had the thankless task of calling the nation back to God. And because of the nation’s continued unfaithfulness they experienced God’s wrath by being taken into Babylonian Captivity. His ultimate wrath was seen in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans.

      With the coming of the Redeemer and Savior into the world, we would think that things would be different. But the Lord warned of “false Christs” to come and said that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:11-13). He even asked the question, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) The apostle Paul repeatedly warned of a “falling away” that was coming (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5). He even said to the Ephesian elders, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29-31). In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the Lord addresses problems of departure and potential apostasy in the seven churches of Asia. Much of the New Testament was written to deal with “falling away” and unfaithfulness.

      These words are not written to be pessimistic or to discourage, but to be realistic. It is true that Paul affirmatively asked, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), and Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). (Yes). But, at the same time, remember, we are a fallen race of people. Our inclination, if not averted, is toward apostasy. (A child does not have to be taught to do wrong; he just does it—Proverbs 29:15). We must live close to the Lord and be on guard. In view of Paul’s warnings in Acts 20:28-32, elders, who are the pastors of the flock, were instructed to “watch” to safeguard the church. (And in this connection, they were pointed to the Word of God, Acts 20:32). Hebrews 13:17 says that “they [the elders] watch for your souls.” This is their solemn responsibility. Likewise, in view of coming apostasy and in the same vein, Paul said to Timothy, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Then, speaking more generally, Hebrews 3:12-14 reads, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” More than once, Jesus said to his disciples to “watch and pray.” Then these words are expanded to include us: “And what I say unto you I say unto all. Watch” (Mark 13:37).

      Any way that we look at it, we need to watch. Because men are not watching, the church may plunge into darkness. Noble religious movements may fizzle out. Doctrines may erode and be lost. The trappings and ways of the world may be brought into the church. We may lose our convictions about right and wrong.

      Remember. History bears out that man has never been faithful to God for very long. Let us watch and be found faithful.     

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