History records that this happened just as Paul had predicted. After the apostles died—and the generation that sat under their teaching had passed away—a conspiracy of wicked error flooded the church. Believers were seduced by strange doctrines, and science and philosophy eroded the truth of Christ’s gospel.
Consider what Paul said of the purity of Christ’s church: “Christ…loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
God’s great concern is not about the apostate church. Even apostasies will not be able to kill or destroy the church of Jesus Christ. In spite of these problems, God has everything under control, and his mystical, invisible, overcoming church is not dying. Rather, the river of the Holy Spirit is flowing into the “dead sea” of apostate churches, exposing iniquity and lukewarmness. And it’s causing new life to spring up.
Those who are turned from the dead, lifeless churches may be but just a remnant. Nevertheless, Jesus declared: “The fields are ripe for harvest. And there is still time for laborers to go forth.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Holy Spirit has fled the scene, leaving behind a withered harvest. God’s Spirit is still at work, convicting, wooing and drawing the lost to Christ, including those in apostasy.
The cloud of heavenly witnesses would tell us not to look for judgment, not to focus on “holding the fort.” It is still the day of the Holy Spirit, who is waiting to fill every willing vessel.
God still loves his church, blemishes and all!