It’s one thing to fall asleep because of our nature. However, in the present theological environment the immanency of the Lord’s coming is denied. Believers as a result are actually being taught to “sleep”.
Mocking and scoffing: In some cases, there are scoffers who mock the literal interpretation of the Bible and the Prophecies. Peter predicted this:
2Pe 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Some openly scoff from the pulpit and caricature, stereotype and mock “prophecy nuts”. Others take a seemingly more balanced approach. They warn to stay clear of the book of Revelation, saying it’s just “scary signs and symbols”.
- Preterism: In others cases there are those who teach that the book of Revelation speaks of events that were fulfilled in 70 AD. This is called “Preterism” and is embraced by much of the Protestant Church.
- Dominionism: Some teach that the Church must conquer the world for Christ, establish the Kingdom and then the Lord will come. This puts the coming of the Lord off indefinitely into the future, and focuses the believers on the things of this earth. There are several variants of this teaching, and some have an end times eschatology that is aberrant.
- Denial of the Rapture: Others teach that there is no secret coming of the Lord for His Church (denying the “rapture”). They put the Church in the tribulation, saying that we will be on the earth until the Lord comes openly to judge the world. They confuse the Lord’s secret return as a Thief with His open coming to establish the Kingdom. In the Bible, the secret coming of the Lord FOR His believers is clearly taught and contrasted with His open coming WITH His saints. These are two separate events.
The Lord’s secret coming for His saints is the subject of rejoicing and comfort for those watching and waiting. His open coming with His saints is a subject of woe for those who remain on the earth until His coming. The secret coming has to do with the “rapture” or the catching up of the Saints to be with the Lord, which is our salvation. Those who teach either that this does not happen, or it does not happen until the end of the 7-year tribulation are teaching not to expect the imminent coming of the Lord at any moment.
In any of the above cases, whether by mocking and scoffing, by preterism, or by dominionism, or by denial of the rapture, the Church for the most part has been taught to NOT watch! When we begin to think “the Lord is not coming anytime soon”, it can precipitate a spiritual decline. Consider what the Lord said about watchfulness:
Mat 24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This passage implies that losing sight of His coming, it impacts our watchfulness in spiritual life. We lose our separation from the world. This can begin with a pragmatic question “how should we live now?” shifting our view to the things of this life. But it can end very badly with abusing our fellowservants and “eating and drink with the drunken”. On the one hand this is bound to happen because we have to live our life in this world. Yet when there is no teaching and no consciousness of the immanency of the Lord’s coming, it is almost impossible be “in the world but not of it”. Again in the New Testament the sense of the Lord’s coming is the key motivator.