The Restrainer & The Great Apostacy

How “Once saved, Always saved” and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture are bringing about Destruction of the Church.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…

1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NKJV)

At the moment, many western Christians believe two distinct teachings which are not supported by the scripture:

“Once saved, always saved” & the pre-tribulation rapture

These teachings are probably more intertwined than you might think at first glance and they directly relate to what the bible does explicitly teach instead: a great apostacy (or falling away from the faith), and the Restrainer of Satan.

As you saw in the passage from first Timothy, the departure from the faith is a sign of the end times, and as many teachers have pointed out; you can’t leave something you were never part of in the first place.

The Restrainer v’s The Rapture

Something which the pre-trib crowd has correctly pointed out is that the one who restrains Satan is most likely the Holy Spirit indwelling with true Christians. Their theory is that the only explanation for the restraint being removed is a rapture of the church because they cannot imagine how it could happen any other way.

They seem to have forgotten about the apostacy.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12 (NKJV)

In Genesis 18:22-33 we have an example of how Christians are supposed to intercede with the Lord on behalf of a fallen world. Abraham asks the Lord to not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if He should find even a small remnant of righteous men in those cities, even if only ten are left. The Lord agrees, but finds only Lot to be worthy and so He removes Lot and his family in order to rain destruction.

A similar thing happens in the battle of Jericho, as told in Joshua 2, where two witnesses visit the house of Rahab and find protection there. In return they give her a scarlet cord to hang from her window so that when destruction comes, her house will be spared while the rest of the city crumbles. Once the walls come down, the Israelites rescue Rahab and her household, then set the city on fire.

When there are so few righteous people left in the world that they can be easily removed, then the Lord brings judgement. In order for that to happen, very few people will believe or hold fast.

This is what is known as the remnant church of the last days.

In the Olivet discourse, Jesus outlines what will happen in the end times, beginning with this warning:

“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”

Matthew 24:4-5 (NKJV)

In other words, there will be counterfeit versions of Christianity which resemble it closely enough to pass as authentic, but have essential parts missing and those essential parts lead people away from truth and knowledge of who Jesus is and what being Christian means. One analogy I have heard is that of fake bank-notes: they need to be really, really, really close in order to look like currency, but they don’t truly represent anything of value, or anything which a bank would recognise. They cannot be cashed in. They have no true value.

Jesus then explicitly states that Christians will endure tribulation:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Matthew 24:9-13 (NKJV)

Since the first and greatest commandment we have is to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, strength, and mind... If we allow our hearts to grow cold and abandon our first love, which is God, then we will not have the strength to endure under the immense pressure of tribulation.

He then goes on to say:

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”

Matthew 24:21-22 (NKJV)

So it seems that the elect of God will have to endure some sort of tribulation, but Jesus will cut it short in order to ensure that the world does not fall entirely to destruction under the free reign of the terror of Satan. The tribulation is not God’s wrath, it is Satan’s wrath which he bears against humanity. Satan is our accuser and the one who temps us into falling so that we miss out on eternal life and perish with him.

Finally, Jesus gives us one more clue as to how it will be at the end:

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Matthew 24:37 (NKJV)

When we go back and read Genesis 6 and see what the days of Noah were like, we can see that humanity was only doing evil continually and all hearts and minds were bent towards their own desires and rebellion against God. There was also an intermingling of species between angels and humans which was unsanctioned by God and an utter abomination.

The current culture in the west of pursuing greed, lust, and violence is also accompanied by the scientific and technological pursuit of transhumanism. People abort their kids so they can continue to have indiscriminate sex and build their careers, but they also want to avoid the reality of death through the use of technology and sear their consciences with implants.

The biggest problem is that it just might work.

Revelation 9 describes the people who have taken the mark of the beast and how they long for death… but cannot die.

Many people question whether it will be possible to take the mark and repent later, but the bible is very clear on that subject:

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Revelation 14:9-11 (NKJV)

Why is it such a defining factor? There’s supposed to only be one unforgiveable sin; blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The definition of blasphemy is usurping the position and power of God in order to make yourself God. It’s the first sin from the garden of Eden and the sin which Satan and his angels committed. Presuming to supplant God: is that where technology is leading us?

Only time will tell on that front.

In the meantime, we have our guidelines as saints of Christ:

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.”

Revelation 14:12-13 (NKJV)

What does it mean to keep faith? We can look at the meaning of faithfulness as an example of how to behave as Christians. Jesus refers to the church as His bride, which implies a monogamous relationship based on commitment from both sides. It isn’t only Jesus who is faithful to us, but we who need to be faithful to Him.

Once Saved, Always Saved?

We are supposed to have confidence in the steadfast and faithful nature of God, who always delivers on His promises. There’s nothing wrong with teaching His faithfulness to us.

However, this is not a one-sided relationship: we also have to act out of love towards God and show through our behaviour that we remain true to Him, forsaking the world if we have to. The endurance of the saints is a recurring theme, and we can definitely fall short of it.

In Revelation we see this message is emphasised repeatedly:

“I know your works, your labour, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have laboured for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

Revelation 2:2-5 (NKJV)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

Revelation 2:11 (NKJV)

“I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”

Revelation 2:23 (NKJV)

Judgement is not just reserved for people who do not confess Jesus, it is also in store for people who do. As Jesus Himself said:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

There are many people who believe that they are saved, but the true evidence of that is if they have the laws of God written into their hearts so that they do not stray from His path. It isn’t called the narrow way for nothing. Now, that isn’t to say that Christians must never sin, EVER, or they’ll lose their salvation, but it is to say that they shouldn’t be practicing habitual sin.

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

1st Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NKJV)

There’s a process known as sanctification, which is how the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and minds to transform us. God removes our hearts of stones and replaces them with hearts of flesh so that we can love Him properly and love our fellow human beings also.

Sanctification begins with the conviction of sin, where we suddenly understand how far we have fallen short of God and that the only thing which can save us is grace. At that time, a born-again Christian should seek forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and then submit themselves to the word of God found in the scriptures so that they can know how to follow Christ.

Once that has happened, then the process continues and we’re often challenged in our walk, not to dissuade us, but to purify us into precious metals:

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV)

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.

Proverbs 17:3 (NKJV)

The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6 (NKJV)

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

1st Peter 4:12-17 (NKJV)

If we continue with the analogy of processing metals, when the ore is mined, it has to be put through immense heat in a furnace in order to separate the dross of the rock from the pure metal.

God is not doing this because He has abandoned us, but in order to make us better and to help us to become steadfast in Him.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1st Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…

Jude 1:24 (NKJV)

God helps us to overcome the world, but that doesn’t mean we never encounter temptation or tribulation. Many Christians go through extreme situations, all over the earth. The challenge is to see how evil some situations are, and still know that God is good.

We’re also supposed to be helping one-another in our walk and edifying the body: keeping one-another sharp and ready for the spiritual battle at hand.

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)

All of this should ultimately lead to fruits of the Spirit outlined in Galatians.

Now, is it possible that those people never truly had the spirit in the first place? That is one possibility, for sure.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

1st John 2:15-21 (NKJV)

It is unlikely that anyone who has come to know the Spirit, who knows Jesus and who knows the character of the Father would ever turn their backs, but we don’t know exactly how bad the tribulation is going to be.

However, we do know that we are expected to never deny Jesus, even under threat of death:

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:28 (NKJV)

“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV)

The pressure to bend to the will of the world of sin is forever and ongoing, regardless of whether we’re in the Great Tribulation or not. God has never taken away our free-will to choose Him or reject Him. God is not controlling or domineering. The relationship which we have with Him is the relationship which we choose to have, and it’s strength comes through spending time with the Lord and seeking to please Him in all our ways. If you have a friend or a spouse or a family member, do you give them the silent treatment or demand that they do things for you while never reciprocating? A normal, well-adjusted person would never treat a loved-one that way, and yet many people do that to God. They don’t seem to understand that it is possible to break God’s heart and become a faithless bride.

The word apostacy itself comes from the ancient Greek word apostasia which means to revolt or defect. This word is used in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3 in the New Testament, and some of the pre-trib teachers try to turn this word into evidence for the rapture, but that is a completely different word. The word rapturo is the Latin translation of the Greek word harpazo which means to be snatched away or caught-up.

Not only that, but the context of the sentence it is used in is also pretty explicit about the meaning. Paul does not say is his letters to the Thessalonians “the rapture won’t happen until the rapture has happened” because that would make zero grammatical sense in any language and they are completely different words he used. Any teacher who tries to sell you a pre-tribulation rapture based on that passage of scripture is wilfully misrepresenting the scripture. It simply cannot be read that way.

The scripture plainly says:

Then we who are alive and remain shall be harpazo together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

1st Thessalonians 4:17 (NKJV)

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the apostasia comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…

2nd Thessalonians 2:3 (NKJV)

There is a clear sequence of events which have to unfold in prophetic order, and in a similar way to Rahab in Jericho, the faithful cannot be evacuated until the coming of the Son of Man is heralded by the sound of trumpets and shouting from the angels. The rapture and the second coming are inextricably linked and it will be neither secret nor silent.

People will literally crap themselves.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV)

While the rest of the world is fainting from fear, we are called to look up and expect to be redeemed because we stood fast to Jesus.

The Remnant Church

So the question becomes this: what should the faithful in Christ be doing at this time?

The first thing is to remember what Jesus said about not letting anyone deceive us.

If someone is teaching something which twists and stretches the scripture in ways which can be clearly contradicted by scripture, don’t listen to that teacher. You MUST read the bible for yourself in order to have the tools of discernment. One of the biggest signs of the end times is a proliferation of false teachers. Why do false teachers become so popular? Because the heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and if we follow our own notions instead of listening to God, we are easily led astray.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers…

2nd Timothy 4:3 (NKJV)

However, if these passages are not enough to convince you that apostacy is a real option and people literally can reject salvation, this next passage is one of the most sobering I have ever read:

For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:26-31 (NKJV)

A great outline of how to defend our hearts and minds from bad teachings is the armour of God.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NKJV)

Christians are called to take a stand for the truth of the real Jesus, not the woke, progressive, accommodating simp being peddled by so many churches nowadays.

Jesus Christ is nobody’s B.

He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and in the last days every knee shall bow and every tongue confess it, including the demons who tremble at His name.

As witnesses to Christ, and as ambassadors of truth, we are to make a last stand in the face of overwhelming evil. The only way to make that stand is through truth, righteousness and faith in God; walking in the ways of the gospel of peace, guarding our minds through the knowledge of salvation, and cleaving false teachings in two with the sword of the Spirit, which speaks through the scriptures.

As King David, himself a man of war, declared:

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,

Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,

Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

And ten thousand at your right hand;

But it shall not come near you.

Only with your eyes shall you look,

And see the reward of the wicked.

Psalm 91:5-8 (NKJV)

May the Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted, scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.