Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Backslidding; Rapture; Tribulation; Return of Christ; Judgment

Departures are a fact of life in a mobile society. We can travel by land, by sea, or by air. Dr. James Morison (1816-1893) observed, “This world is a constantly chequered scene of arrivals and departures.”[1] You see this at airports, seaports, train stations and bus stations. Departures can be positive or negative, but they usually elicit a mixture of emotions.

Dr. Don Hawkins recently recounted, “When I was Co-Host/Producer at Back to the Bible we had 180 or so people from all over America. Everyone had to get to JFK airport in time for an 11 pm departure for Amman, Jordan. Earlier flights to NY, some had to make connections, even change airports. Miss the departure and you didn’t make the trip. For God’s departure, He takes us from where we are when we’ve trusted Him. On the return trip we were held up for over two hours at the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River by Jordanian soldiers. Sure we had missed the departure we traveled on to the airport. But Royal Jordanian Airlines held the departure until we arrived! God may be holding His Saints’ departure until all trust Him and are ready to go.”[2]

Not all departures involve travel, some involve moving away from a particular standard or position. Look with me at three departures found in the Bible.

I. The first departure is the falling away from the faith, oh, the madness! The madness of a departure from truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 reads, “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.” (Emphasis mine)

1 Timothy 4:1-5 reads, “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, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (Emphasis mine)

2 Timothy 3:1-9 reads, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.”

Dr. Mark Hitchcock writes, “Most of the passages in the New Testament that discuss the moral and spiritual trends in the last days focus on the spiritual apostasy that will occur in the church, not in society in general. The familiar passage in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 that lists the kinds of behavior that will characterize ‘the last days’ is primarily describing apostasy or falling away that will take place within the church (notice the context in verses 5 and 8). Apostasy (departure from the faith) within the church is a clear sign of the last days (1 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 18-19). Of course, we can safely assume that spiritual apostasy in the church will translate into moral decline in society as a whole. The only passage that specifically mentions the increase of lawlessness in society as a whole as a sign of the last days is Matthew 24:12. ‘Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.’ God's Word is clear that as the end draws near, the sinfulness of man will reach a fever pitch, and man's love for his fellow man will grow cold.”[3]

Rev. John G. Butler writes, "Our day gives scary evidence that the great apostasy is beginning. There is a great spiritual coldness and an abundance of vile wickedness that predicts extra severe Divine judgment if not the dawning of the beginning of the end times. With Israel in the land and apostasy increasing, Bible students cannot help but conclude that we are fast approaching climactic prophetic times.”[4]
“Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer” (Joshua 13:22), an apostate, led Israel into apostasy. Note the progression from “the counsel of Balaam” (Numbers 31:15-20), to “the error of Balaam” (2 Peter 2:15-16), to “the way of Balaam” (Jude 1:11), to “the doctrine of Balaam” (Revelation 2:14). Apostasy will progressively get worse before our Lord comes for His own. 1 John 2:18-19 reads, “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.” (Emphasis mine)

Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945) shares the following comment on 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: “Before the day of the Lord can come there must be the falling away first and the man of sin, the son of perdition, must be revealed. No such conditions need to be fulfilled before the Lord comes for His saints. But before the age closes with the visible manifestation of the Lord from heaven these two solemn things must be on the earth. A falling away from the God-given faith has been going on throughout this Christian age. But that is not the apostasy of which the apostle speaks. The complete apostasy means that the entire faith will be abandoned by Christendom, even as our Lord indicated when He said, ‘Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth?’ That this present age closes in apostasy is more than once mentioned by the Spirit of God. . . . Satan is surely actively at work to bring about this apostasy, and his ministers are transformed as the ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15), advocating reform, better living, but denying and antagonizing the doctrines of Christ.”[5]
Dr. William Hendriksen (1900-1982) writes, “What the apostle Paul is now saying, here in II Thess. 2:3, amount to this: Just like the first coming of Christ was preceded by a period of apostasy, so also the second coming will not occur until a similar apostasy has taken place. In this case, however, the apostasy will be a falling away from (yes, and open rebellion against) the God who climaxed his love by a deed of infinite sacrifice in the interest of sinners, namely, the giving of his only-begotten Son.

The passage with reference to the coming apostasy by no means teaches that those who are God’s genuine children will ‘fall away from grace.’ There is no such falling away. The Good Shepherd knows his own sheep, and no one shall ever snatch them out of his hands (see N.T.C. on John 10:28; see also on I Thess. 1:4). But it does mean that the faith of the fathers—a faith to which the children adhere for a while in a merely formal way—will finally be abandoned altogether by many of the children. In that sense the apostasy will be very real, indeed.”[6]
Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) writes, “The church age will end in apostasy; the kingdom age will begin with revival. The church age will end with Laodicean lukewarmness, complacency, and rejection of Christ (Rev. 3:14-22); the approaching kingdom age will begin with the rekindling of revival fire.

Many of the marks of the coming apostasy are evident in the world today. As we have noted, the Lord directed us to the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39) and to the days of Lot (Luke 17:28) for illustrations of what the world will be like in the end times. The days of Noah were marked by a permissive society (Gen. 4-6); the days of Lot were marked by a perverted society (Gen. 19). The epistles of Jude and 2 Peter were both written to deal with apostasy. Both add further details and confirm that permissiveness and perversion in society will mark the end times. How permissive our society has become is indicated by the kinds of books people read, the kinds of movies they watch, and the kinds of indulgence they tolerate with little or no protest. One of the most frightening indications is in our educational system, where fearful forms of wickedness are being openly advocated.”[7]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “The word ‘apostasy’ means ‘a falling away.’ Here it refers to a falling away from the truth of the Word of God. While there were certainly false teachers in Paul’s day, the church at large was united on the truths of the Word of God. If you met another Christian, you knew he believed in the Word of God, the deity of Christ, and the salvation by faith in Christ. This is certainly not true today! We live in a day of ‘Christian unbelief’; people say they are Christians, yet deny the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, and so on.

This apostasy, or falling away from the truth, is promised in 1 Tim. 4 and 2 Tim. 3. We are living in apostate days right now, which indicates that the coming of the Lord is near. The professing church (Christendom) has departed from the faith.”[8] Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) writes, “. . . the devil does more harm as an angel of light than he ever accomplishes as a roaring lion. He thrives in the climate of consent when tolerance is exalted above the truth.

This falling away today, however, is not only from doctrine; it is also from the New Testament standard of Christian conduct. One does not have to be decent to be a church member. Church rolls are stuffed with multitudes of the unregenerate going to hell on a church letter. Others are saved, but they are noun Christians when they need to be adjective Christians. Don't forget that the word Christian is both a noun and an adjective. We need more Christian Christians.”[9]

II. The second departure is the catching away of the church, oh, the gladness! The gladness of a departure from trouble.

Dr. Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), Baptist missionary to Burma, writes, “When Christ calls me home I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school.”[10]

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 reads, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (Emphasis mine) This is not the catching away of mere church members, because many church members are not described as follows in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) writes, “In Enoch we see a type of those of God’s people who will go home peacefully before the last closing struggle. Ere the first clash of swords at Armageddon, such Enochs will be taken from the evil to come.”[11]

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 reads, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” John 14:1-3 reads, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Revelation 4:1 reads, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’”

Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) writes, “From the viewpoint of the earth the removal of believers is a departure. From the viewpoint of heaven, it is a rapture, a snatching or catching up. I think the world is going to say at that time, ‘Oh, boy, they are gone!’ They think that fellow McGee and other Bible teachers are a nuisance, and they will be glad when they are gone. The world will rejoice. They do not realize that it will be a sad day for them. They think they will be entering into the blessing of the Millennium, not realizing they are actually entering into the Great Tribulation period, which will be a time of trouble such as the world has never before seen.”[12]

III. The third departure is the turning away after the tribulation, oh, the sadness! The sadness of a departure from triumph.

Matthew 7:21-23 reads, “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!’” (Emphasis mine) This is the rude awakening!

Luke 13:22-28 reads, “And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, ‘Lord, are there few who are saved?’

And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.” (Emphasis mine)

Rev. D. L. Moody (1837-1899) said, “God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.”[13] The preface to our Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector reads, “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

Luke 10:17-20 reads, “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.’” Revelation 20:11-15 reads, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Luke 6:46-49 reads, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” (Emphasis mine) Acts 2:36 reads, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:3 reads, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Philippians 2:9-11 reads, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Millions have no reservation for heaven. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Do you have reservations? John 1:9-13 reads, “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” While we are all children of God by creation, we are not all children of God in salvation until we trust in Jesus Christ alone; and He will be the judge of whether we believe in Him or not. John 5:22 reads, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.”



Dr. Francis Dixon (1910-1985) pastor of Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, England, heard two similar testimonies from two British sailors in the Spring of 1952. In each case, a man came from nowhere and asked, “‘Young man, if you were to die tonight, where would you be, in heaven or in hell?’ In the course of time they both returned home, but the encounter with this mysterious man on George Street, Sydney, [Australia,] left such a deep impression on their hearts and minds that they both sought spiritual help when back in England. Later, they both became Christians, Francis Dixon himself having the pleasure of leading one of the sailors, Peter Culver, to Christ. . . . [In the course of time, Dr. Dixon learned of others who had a similar experience.] Later, in Frank and Jessie Jenner’s humble town-house, as Francis Dixon told the four stories of the men who had responded to the evangelist’s simple question, Frank Jenner, with tears in his eyes, fell to his knees and prayed: ‘O Lord, thank you for tolerating me’. After a time of prayer, Jenner confessed that after speaking to 10 people a day for the previous 16 years, this was the first time he had heard of lasting results. ‘You know, I never heard that anyone I ever spoke to had gone on for the Lord. Some made professions of salvation when I spoke to them but I never ever knew any more than that’, he said to his guests. . . . In all, Francis Dixon knew of 10 people who had come to Christ as a consequence of the influence of Frank Jenner.”[14]

Philippians 1:19-26 reads, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (Emphasis mine) Paul the apostle also writes, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). (Emphasis mine) Remember your final departure will either be one of gladness or sadness.

Keep these things in mind when you think about departures.

[1]The Pulpit Commentary, eds. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence, Judges Ruth, (Ruth 1:6:14) Homiletics, “Scene at Naomi’s Departure” Exposition and Homiletics by Rev. James Morison, D. D. (New York, NY: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1897), 8:14. Accessed 07/19/15 .

[2]Don Hawkins, Personal Interview, 07/16/15.

[3]Mark Hitchcock, 101 Answers to the Most Asked Questions About the End Times.(Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 2001), 53. Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

[4]John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor – 1 Thessalonians-Philemon, 282. Database © 2014 WORDsearch..

[5]Arno C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible – Volume 8: Philippians to Hebrews, 134. Database © 2015 WORDsearch .

[6]William Hendriksen, Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of Thessalonians, the Pastorals, and Hebrews, 169. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

[7]John Phillips, Exploring the Future: A Comprehensive Guide to Bible Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2003), 269.

[8]Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1992), 610. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[9]Vance Havner, On This Rock I Stand: And Other Messages (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 75. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[10]John Blanchard, The Complete Gathered Gold, (Darlington, UK: Evangelical Press, 2006), 131. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[11]Exploring the Mind and Heart of the Prince of Preachers: Five-thousand illustrations under one-thousand topical headings from the works of C.H. Spurgeon, ed. Kerry James Allen “RAPTURE” 2147.301 (Aurora, IL: Fox River Press, 2005), 144. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[12]J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Radio, 1981). Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

[13]Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotation for the Christian World, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), #9200, 506. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[14]Stephen Tucker, “The Frank Jenner Story” Accessed: 07/14/15 .


By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & / / (251) 626-6210

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