When Jesus’s disciples asked him about the signs of the end, and Jesus (2nd) coming, Jesus prefaced His answer with the warning:
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”
I’m sure that preface wasn’t insignificant or merely a throw-away line, not was it placed at the beginning of his answer by accident. End time teaching, speculation and prophetic claims are considerably prone to error and therefore we should be extra-wary – making sure we search the scriptures for ourselves, testing everything.
I started my Christian life at a time when “the end times” were a favoured topic, with best selling books devoted to near future events and the imminent fulfilment of end time Bible prophecy. In particular Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth was considered essential reading.
In keeping with Lindsay’s pre-trib. rapture message, I displayed a sticker in my car warning passengers of the danger of the car becoming driverless should the rapture occur during the journey.
The “threat” of an imminent rapture was commonly used in evangelism. Churches would screen a film Like a Thief in the Night and its sequels, showing the scary outcome for those who missed the rapture and were “Left Behind” (as in the popular, more recent, series of novels). It seemed many people could no longer be motivated to faith by a fear of hell, so fear of future events, of God’s wrath upon a post-rapture world were utilised instead.*
But how much of all of that was REALLY in line with biblical accounts of the end time?
Not a lot. That’s what I discovered when I finally took the time to study what scripture itself said, in contrast to what popular Christian media was promoting; or what was so often being preached in the churches I attended.
So much of what was stated as “gospel truth” turned out to be wrong. Henry Kissinger wasn’t the antichrist. The imminent rapture didn’t happen. Life went on and my passengers weren’t left alone in a driverless car. The antichrist’s Europe grew well beyond the beast’s ten kingdoms (and more recently has shown to be prone to imploding).
Most of the speculation that had been heralded as “biblical” has long become out-dated.
Maybe all of that has led to a weariness, instilling a feeling of disillusionment and forcing a reassessment of the importance of the “end times”, where the attitude has caused people to consider:
“Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
And that is the danger of unbiblical teaching. It leads to unbiblical conclusions and expectations and can make us weary of very important matters.
Regarding the end times, maybe more than many other issues, we NEED to be sure our understanding is grounded in the truth of scripture. As mentioned above, Jesus prefaced His prophecies of the end times with a warning: “Watch out that no one deceives you”. And he didn’t leave it there with a solitary statement. The whole section where He details end time events is full of warnings intended top equip the believer to overcome and survive through very difficult times, when it will seem easier to go with the flow instead of standing out from the crowd to proclaim the truth.
* I would argue that fear isn’t necessary the best motivation to get people interested in the gospel – especially fears based on false expectations, such as missing out on a pre-trib rapture.
12 thoughts on “Watch out that no one deceives you (end time warning)”
Some poor guy (actually, a very nice guy [that went in as “goy” at first, which is weird, because as I just now tried to type in goy the autocorrect didn’t want to take it, but it would have been particularly mistaken had I not noticed the error in intake, since the guy is a jew]) has said he once went to a meeting when he had gotten the time wrong or it was daylight savings time or something, and he was sad because no one was there and he thought they’d all been raptured, but not him. He also says he had been told he had to stop giving formal dance lessons (as a job), because it wasn’t proper.
When he said the first thing, I sort of chuckled. I thought he was being funny.
But when he said the second thing, I identified with the hurtful directives.
That’s typical of the way religion and tradition are introduced to replace GENUINE understanding of holiness.
As an aside, the first church I went to was a very conservative Pentecostal fellowship. Unlike other Pentecostal churches in the city, they frowned upon dancing during worship. Fast forward a couple of decades and I revisited that same church and thought I’d wandered into a rock concert – complete with mosh pit. The old ways had been cast aside and new (Hillsong inspired) attitudes introduced.
Probably significant that Jesus’ warns about those of the end-times who “come in My name.”
I have to think that includes more than false prophets and teachers of false doctrines. Would it be valid to think that as Lord over all things (and not just “religious” things), He’s probably warning against more deceivers than just those propounding false “religion” ?
Does it seem that those promoting a false interpretation of history, or science, or news as a specifically “Christian” interpretation: and most especially those promoting an evil social/political agenda as “Christian:” are among those Jesus warned against ?
Yeah, I do agree with that, Steve. A name can be a reputation. And that is demonstrated in the Bible — that a name doesn’t always have to be a phonetic sound, with or without a postulated meaning. [In addition, what is often called a name is really a title (many of which we know as phonetic sounds).] A reputation is built on what is meant and done and intended and valued and aimed toward and so on.
Hi Steve, the dangers of deception and falsehood aren’t limited to “religious” or spiritual matters but all falsehood is a contravention of truth, and therefore has spiritual consequences.
We can’t separate “the secular” from “the sacred”, thinking one area has no effect on the other. For example our political choices also reflect a spiritual choice – as such is it valid to promote the “lesser of two evils”?
I’d suggest that thinking it IS acceptable is an example of one type of deception fitting Jesus’ warning.
I find it very difficult to promote the lesser of two evils, although I see why you think it is valid. It seems to me we’ve been doing that for a while. Maybe that’s not good enough, or maybe it’s really all we can do — and people shouldn’t get “impatient” with it and decide to blow the ship out of the water.
Then again, it is apparent so many see the options in very different ways as far as which IS the lesser of evils. What I prefer is looking at things that have happened or been said. It may come off as my preferring one as less evil, and then acceptable enough (which may often be true, and I hope for more of us to see more clearly which). Sometimes we’re talking about issues, sometimes people (candidates). I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either frontrunner on the big ticket item this time around, even though one is generally better. It didn’t really matter in my state (Electoral College and all); it’s overwhelmingly Republican. But anyway, whether it gets anywhere or not, I try to keep pointing things out. It can get tiring.
I don’t see that it’s valid to promote the “lesser of two evils” – I see that attitude is an example of the effects of deception.
With regards to politics – there will never be a perfect choice and sometimes, if we need to vote, we have to assess the better of two bad options. BUT I see personal voting choice as different to promoting a candidate or a party to try to raise support for that candidate or party.
Oh, sorry, Onesimus. I misread — somehow didn’t see the question mark for one thing. I agree with you. But what seems to happen is the worst of two evils is promoted as the lesser or even good/Christian…
…as you know. And Yes, making a personal choice on voting is different from promotion.
An indication of how much Christians have lost discernment through a growing ignorance and misunderstanding of God’s character.
AND as it so happens, it’s not only ignorance and misunderstanding of God’s character but of how the world works and what is in fact going on. There is so much reality that is accessible but shunned.
“…ignorance and misunderstanding of God’s character.”
Yes ! “Character” is exactly the right word: Who God actually IS… Missing Who “I AM” actually IS, is missing everything.
“… it’s not only ignorance and misunderstanding of God’s character but of how the world works and what is in fact going on…reality…”
Yes again, and insighful linkage ! The essence of “reality” has to be thought of as what truly exists: in that sense, reflecting the Character of The “I AM” Who created it all.
And following the spot-on observation that “…our political choices also reflect a spiritual choice:” what deeper moral self-deception can there be than Christians believing that doing BAD things will bring GOOD results (“make America great again”) ?
God’s Character absolutely guarantees reality will NEVER work that way. And it never has, since the serpent first fathered that lie (his character, said Jesus) in the Garden of Eden.