The Great Falling Away – Subtle or Sudden?


By Joanie Stahl (February 2017)

Lately, I am being stirred from within.  Now that the dust has settled, mostly with President Trump now taking office, and all the noise and commotion diminishing, I feel the need to share what is taking place within me.  Perhaps it is taking place in you as well.

For the sake of all outward appearance, it is life as usual for America. Oh, yes, of course I know the demands of the nation are still as critical as ever. The national debt is still climbing at Mach speed, weather disasters are increasing, racial tensions, and millions out of work and losing heart.  There is a litany of more things like this, but you get the picture.

Undoubtedly, there is somewhat of a euphoria taking place among the vast plains of American humanity as daily there is record-breaking stock market numbers. The S&P and Dow Jones are neck and neck at stellar heights like never before.  

We are seeing good things coming to pass as President Trump signs many executive orders such as building up our military to its “former” glory, returning corporations from third world nations, and the protection our borders.

Let me not forget to mention bizarre weather patterns that are coming under the title of anomalies, which is characterized as “abnormality, exception, and peculiarity”.  However, we as a nation, disaster after disaster, manage to crawl back up from destruction both economically and from natural disasters as if everything is apparently “okay”, and then it is life as usual.

I am going to turn the tide here.

Since the beginning of this year, I have taken several steps back just to observe.  Compared to the last eight years, the hope of the majority of American citizens is at an all-time high. Let me make myself clear here, this is not a bad thing.  We all benefit from any good we can squeeze out of this life and this nation we live in any time we can get it.

Yet, there is another side to this. I have seen a phenomenon take place in the body of Christ. Just before the President took office, there were hundreds of thousands of Christian’s with their fingers on the pulse of “loving His [Jesus Christ’s] appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).  Suddenly there seems to be a mass departure from that blessed hope. There is a turning back to this world and hoping in its gain for the here and now.  I sense a great departure has entered in, or rather should I say a “great falling away?”

I used to wonder exactly what it meant and what the “great falling away” was going to look like.  I imagined it as looking like armies of Christians marching out of church and never returning – some big, obvious visual.

However, this has not been the case.  There has been the great falling away for quite some time, and it has been on a very gradual basis.  So gradual, that no one can tell, make it out, or even detect it.  Many are still speaking about as an anticipatory event yet to happen while still looking for it and wondering about it.

As I said, it is life as usual.  Since the masses who cannot see it do not realize they are the ones that are in it and of it, and that is why they cannot see it.

Another thing I want to make myself clear about is that I do not suggest that anyone has to do or be something outwardly to prove to God that they are ready for his appearing. 

Recently I was asked by some, “Well, when you tell us Jesus Christ is coming again, what are we supposed to do!”  There is a frustration and even an anger in their question. My answer is always the same.  I do not mean for anyone to go outside every day and stand staring up in the sky. No, that is not what I mean. Rather, I mean for them to not lose sight of the “times and seasons” we are living in.  Go on living. Do what you are called to do, but do it with a constant joyful expectancy in your heart for Him. This is the readiness.

There is a growing callousness and coldness in the body of Christ, but it is masqueraded with false brevity, joy, lights, camera, and action. Yet, there is an emptiness that can be felt by many, especially those of us who have been around for a long time and those older than us.

Many feel a spiritual deadness. Myriads more do not know the difference because they came to life in Christ Jesus during these perilous times where the great falling away is in full force all around them.  

Let me share something with you that will give you a better picture of what I am trying to say. In November of 2016, I was sweeping my kitchen floor.  I was feeling hungry as I swept and inwardly thought, “I am getting hungry!”  I usually do not eat breakfast but I was feeling very hungry that morning.

Just then, I heard the Holy Spirit begin to speak to me.  He said, “If you are hungry that means you are alive right?  I stopped sweeping.  I stood there because I knew that God was speaking to me and had more to say. He went on to say, “Your physical body signals to you that it needs food because it is alive.  If it were not alive, but dead, would your physical body signal its hunger for the life giving source of food”? I nodded, “No”. 

He said, “That’s right, because your body, once it is dead cannot suffer hunger because there is no more life in it.  It has no more need for life giving resources. Same it is with life in the Spirit.  If a person has spiritual hunger for the spiritual bread and water of life they are spiritually alive.  A person who is alive in the Spirit does not need their physical mind to tell them to feed their spirit.  It is the Spirit that has its own life within a person, and it is the Spirit that will signal to the person’s spirit that it needs to eat the heavenly life giving resources of the Word.  It has a hunger the same as the physical when it is alive.

If there is no spiritual hunger or thirst, that person is not alive in the Spirit but dead. The physical body and the spiritual body have their own hunger and thirst. But, if one is hungry and the other is not, then one is alive and the other is dead. This is how you can tell who is alive and who is dead.”

Therefore, it is with a corporate body.  I have visited many churches that have all the trappings of church but were dead. There was no witness or evidence of prayer.  The great falling away has been happening for a very long time.  

There is a vast difference now and it is clearly evident to me.  I am no authority, but a long active life in Jesus Christ, and the acutely obvious are certain, and I have no problem saying it because I have lived long enough to experience the falling away.

This falling away is so insidious and so dangerous because it cannot be detected because everyone lives in it as the the norm.  There is a verse I have read for decades that until recently, felt as if the sound of brakes were being slammed within myself.  

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh shall He find faith on the earth?  Luke 18:8 [KJV].

Never before has that verse had such an effect on me until now.  In my opinion, being it was highlighted by the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is one of the most damning indictments spoken by Him concerning the condition of the church. In addition, what I believe to be the “last days” is what we are all living in.

It is not really what the post-modernistic, vast mainstream Christian churches believe at this time.  Evidently, they are thinking a great “latter rain revival” is about to explode at the end. This is clearly NOT what the Lord is saying.  Let me go a bit further.

Remember the parables Jesus taught regarding what the Kingdom of God was like?

“Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed into his field:  Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 

Another parable spake He unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”  Matthew 13:31-33 [KJV].

Let us break this down. The common thought is that at the end of the Church Age, the church will be grand in its viewing and having an appearance of success and stature. This could not be any further from the truth. Let me explain why.

Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven in earthly, understandable, and simple terms. He does this so that it is easy to hear, digest, and understand. He says in verse 31 and 32 that it is like a grain of mustard seed that a man sowed in his field.  We know that the mustard seed is one of the smallest of seeds, which indicates faith and humbleness in man’s early beginnings. His field is regarded as “the worldin Matthew 13:38.

It is personified as “his field”.  We can learn further by comparing these verses of the mustard seed with Mark 4:1-8, The Parable of the Sower.  This describes the Four Ground Hearer’s of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Notice Jesus connects the kingdom of heaven with mankind on earth. Therefore, we clearly know that He is revealing His Kingdom, which is to come from heaven to the earth. 

It says that a man took the mustard seed and sowed it in an herb garden, for it says, “It is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree”.  This reveals the fact that it was completely left unattended, neglected, and allowed to grow wild. 

Jesus depicts us as “the salt and light of the earth” in Matthew 5:13-16, which tells us that salt flavors and light is good because it has sight-seeing properties. 

In the same way, herbs are carefully tended and kept ONLY at a certain growth because of the flavoring aspect of it.  If an herb becomes too big and turns into a bush, it will mostly lose its pungent, desired flavor.  It must be constantly trimmed down. Not to mention that if it overtakes an herb garden where everything is kept small in size and shape, it will eventually suck all the life out of that garden by hording all the sun, soil, and nutrients.

Furthermore, Jesus says in its finality at the end, “birds come and lodge in the branches thereof”.  What or rather WHOM do these birds represent?

In the explanation of The Parable of the Sower Jesus tells us who.  

“Hearken;  Behold, there went out a sower to sow:  And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.”  Matthew 4:3 [KJV].

Here is the Lord’s explanation:

“The sower soweth the Word.  And these are they by the way side, where the Word is sown: but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the Word that was sown in their hearts.”  Matthew 4:15 [KJV].

By this, we are shown the outward condition of the church at the end of the Church Age – having an appearance of being a great tree that originally began by simple faith and humbleness.  Yet in this depiction is left unattended and neglected, and at the end Satan is lodged in the branches of it. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  Ephesians 2:2 [KJV].


Next, Jesus personifies the kingdom of heaven again, but this time it is about “a woman”.  He tells us that she took and hid leaven in the three measures of meal (bread dough), until the whole was leavened. Whenever a woman is mentioned in the Bible, it means either, “Wisdom” or “Folly”. Proverbs Chapter 9 is the perfect example.  There are two women mentioned in the Bible this way.  

Notice how she hides the leaven.  As we are taught, Jesus never does anything in secret and hides nothing; He came as “the Mystery Revealed”, as spoken in Colossians 1:26. Also, remember how Adam and Even hid from God after they sinned against God in Genesis 3:8-10. Anything a person has to hide is mostly due to sin or a sinful act.  Honest people do things openly they have nothing to hide.

Wherever leaven is mentioned in the Bible is never good.  It always has to do with sin, wickedness, and/or rebellion against the Lord. It is synonymous with sin.  Here are some good scriptural examples.  There are much more than these, but for the sake of time, I chose the ones below.

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.  For even Christ our passover is sacrificed.  

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  1 Corinthians 5:6-8 [KJV].

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”  Galatians 5:9 [KJV].

Just as the mustard seed description is, so is this second application of the woman and the leaven. This woman represents false or heretical theology that she stealthily hides in three measures, or in modern terms, three batches of bread dough. The Lord is signifying to us the longevity of time through the millennia, the workings of false teachings, and doctrines of devils in the churches through the Church Age until the very end.  Do not forget the same holds true for the mustard seed that becomes a great tree. Trees also relate to longevity.   

The unleavened dough represents the pure Word or Bread of Life.  Three is the number of divinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You can read about the Bread of Life in John Chapter 6.

What Jesus was showing here in the parable of the woman who hid the leaven, is the inner condition of the Church at the end of the Church Age. The Parable of the Mustard Seed becoming a great tree and the birds of the air lodging in its branches is the outward condition of the church at the end of the Church Age.

When the Lord uses two examples, it is the number or law of witness as seen in Deuteronomy 19:15.

In closing, we see the outer and inner condition of the church at the end of the Church Age.  It will have an appearance of grandeur, power, favor, prestige, as well as the honor and blessings of God. Nevertheless, on the contrary, it will be full of pride, pomposity, and a complete departure.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyessalve that thou mayest see.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:14-22 [KJV].

( Edited by Brook Ardoin)