As we face the arrival of a new year, it is becoming increasingly more apparent that the return of Jesus for His bride is ever nearer and more imminent than ever before. I find that many are so focused on what is happening here in America, that they are somewhat oblivious to the increasing fulfillment of Biblical signs outside of America, as well as the final stages being set for the coming Tribulation period as outlined in Scripture. There are many reasons for this, but I think the greatest reason for this is found in Matthew 24:4. In this passage Jesus is responding to questions asked of Him by His disciples regarding His coming and the end of the age. The very first thing He says is a word of caution that no one deceives them. The closer we get to the Rapture of the Church to Christ, and the start of the Tribulation period, the greater the deceptions will be, and we must be careful not to get caught up in any of them.
Even as I write this, deception is rampant both in the world and in church circles. While there are many different forms of deception, all deception we find in John 8:44 comes from Satan, himself. Satan desires to keep people from salvation and a relationship with Christ. He desires to distract us from Christ and the will and plan Jesus has for our lives. He seeks to destroy us, as well as to corrupt any good thing we have and receive from Jesus. He schemes to divert our focus off Jesus and the life we are to live as His ambassadors, guiding us into a self-centered mindset seeking after comfort, convenience, and the many different types of blessings that grab our hearts and attention. Satan even offers up the various “flavors” of Christianity he’s come up with that have just enough truth in them to subtly draw people from sound doctrine and right relationship with Christ. Can you expect anything less from the father of all lies who seeks to steal, kill and destroy? After all, he’s been doing this for thousands of years.
Only God knows what exactly the year 2018 has in store for us, but one thing for sure is that we need to make sure we are ready for that pre-Tribulation trumpet blast, the one that summons all those in Christ, dead and alive, to meet Jesus in the air on the way to His Father’s house. For 2018, let’s strive to make sure we’re not falling victim to the deceptions seen all around us.
Deception begins when we don’t judge what we see, hear and read with all of Scripture. There are a lot of teachings out there that sound good, they feel good, and they “make sense”, but when they are held up to the Bible in its entirety they fall short of Biblical truth. We can’t pick and choose which portions of Scripture are relevant to us, or to base a doctrine or theology from, especially when the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that all Scripture are inspired of God and relevant to us for doctrine. I grew up under pastors who encouraged us to check if what they were preaching and teaching lined up with Scripture, and if there was a question about something they said, they encouraged and welcomed us to ask them about it. They were not afraid or threatened by this. They knew that they did not have all the answers, and they were opened to learn something new. Your pastor should welcome you searching for yourself as to whether they are scripturally sound with what they are teaching and preaching or not. I know of one pastor who isn’t truly open to this. He’ll tell you one thing when talking to him, but later he’ll make comments in a group setting that clearly indicates he was not appreciative of someone questioning something he said or did. I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut about such things with him. Is your pastor one that encourages you to not take his word as to what Scripture does or does not say, and welcomes your questions about things he or she is preaching or teaching? I hope so.
There are many deceptive teachings within church circles in the days we live in. Teachings that sound good and appeal to our self-centered, materialistic beliefs, including just enough scripture to appear legitimate while discounting passages that would contradict the teachings they embrace. Some appeal to our desire of living without accountability for things we may say or do. Others appeal to our desire for a higher standard of living with nothing but blessings and promises of God to pursue. Others look for a better world because of the Church taking over, through their influence, government and the “seven-mountains of influence”. And yet others seem to change the great commission into something that looks more like a social club, or even a charitable group like the Shriners, etc. Some of these are good things, in part, and can be supported with some scripture, but when these things become their banner cry, so to speak, more than preaching unapologetically the message of the cross, everyone’s need for a savior, forgiveness through repentance and turning away from sin, and a life surrendered to Christ, then there is a problem. Be careful not to fall for teachings that either twists Scripture, takes Scripture out of context, or discounts or rationalizes why certain passages are not relevant to us today, all in the attempt to support or justify what is being taught.
So, in 2018, let’s try to avoid becoming a victim of deception, deceptions that could potentially derail our trek to eternity with Christ. It’s not like there will be “do overs” if we mess up due to neglect on our part to know what Scripture has to say to us. Jesus is coming at any time for a bride without spot, wrinkle, or any blemishes. Let’s do our part to keep our garments of righteousness ready and prepared for His imminent return for us.