Church of Christ
Mission USA
Perilous Times
by Perry Sexton

      God gave the first warning in Genesis 2:17 "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Since then multitudes times multitudes of warnings have been given by direct statements and examples!!!

Warnings About The Devil
      For space I will give only these: (I Pet. 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" and (Eph. 6:11-12) "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. {12} For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
False Prophets And Teachers
      We should give serious heed to the many warnings concerning false teachers. Consider what our Captain said: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Mat 7:15). And there would be false teachers among the churches: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. {2} And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. {3} And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (II Pet 2:1-3 cp. Acts 20:29).
      Elders are charged with the grave responsibility of watching for our souls "as they that must give account" (Heb. 13:17). These shepherds are to guide the flock using the whole council of God (Acts 20:27,28) and protect them (Titus 1:9; Acts 20:28,29). Preachers are given the solemn charge of preaching the entire word of God whether it is popular to do so or not. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:1-5). Such has been the case for a long time.
Errors Of Every Sort
      "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness" (II Pet. 3:17). "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" (Eph. 4:14).
      "And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;" (II Pet. 2:13). "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. {12} These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; {13} Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 1:11-13).
False Brethren
      Paul spoke of being "in perils among false brethren;" (II Cor. 11:26). He said further: "And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:" (Gal. 2:4). Again: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Mat 7:15).
To Be Forewarned Is To Be Forearmed
      "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Tim. 3:1). "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" (I Tim 4:1). "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; {4} And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:3-4 cp. II Pet. 3:17).
Are We Asleep? 

      You remember the occasion when our Lord said: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me." But when Jesus returned He found them "asleep." (Mat. 26:38-41). Jesus is "returning" again someday. Have we been and are we "watching" (cp. Mat. 24:36–25:46)??? With all of the warnings we have no excuse! Have we’ve been faithful in all our respective duties (some named above)?

      We live in a modern world, but in many respects not unlike that of old. I call your attention to the rebuilding of the temple of old: "But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:" (Ezra 3:12). And so it is today, many among us relish the changes that have taken place in the church, but those faithful who remember the "old paths" mourn the many changes which are contrary to the blueprint our Lord gave for the church.
Statements From Some Such Brethren
      One brother said he (and others) was "ran off" from a congregation by one of those "shepherds" keeping "watch." The reason? The "shepherd" (or spot, Jude 12) did not like the truth on abortion. One preacher said, after he had taught a series of lessons on church discipline, that the "elders" announced "We are not going to practice church discipline here." Another preacher said when trying out at a place "If I come here I will not preach on your sins." How contrary to God’s will! Now these things happened many years ago. I hope and pray that the ones needing to repent have done so of their ungodliness and unfaithfulness to God.

      Another preacher reportedly said that he regretted not preaching on certain issues years ago (in a congregation for which he "preached" for so long) after seeing the sad state of that church now. His reasoning for not preaching as he should have was: He was afraid of splitting the church then. But now the whole congregation is "gone" with the "spots!" A brother talked about the dress of some sisters for worship in the large congregation he attends – apparel that twenty years ago would not have been worn in any public setting, let alone for worship. And the "watchers of the souls" do nothing about it!

One preacher wrote of some congregations, "generally they want a watered-down, post-modern ‘gospel’; a feel good, inoffensive, Max Lucado stitch." He continued "One with multiple millionaire members require the preacher applicant to provide part of his support. Others do not want to hear about morals, anti-denominationalism, pro-active love, only one plan of salvation, inerrant Scriptures, etc." He further said "One ‘elder’ told me, ‘Half of our people are in unscriptural marriages. If you tried to correct them our church would disappear.’" Part of the problem here is the mind set that the church is "ours."

Where are the watchmen???
      Paul said "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (I Thess. 5:6). Paul faced his times of peril valiantly. Many among us think the church is in its heyday and are thus at ease in Zion. There is a remnant. It is our day now, will we "sleep" or "watch?" ♥