Monday, February 24, 2020

End Times - Deception

Rhett & Link are a couple of twenty-something internet gurus. They have a tremendous following of young people on YouTube. Many of their followers are Christian teenagers. They recently announced they no longer consider themselves Christians. In an episode earlier this year, they walked listeners through the deconstruction of their faith. As a result of that podcast, hundreds of teenagers have walked away from their faith.

At an Assembly of God church in Kyle, Texas, the lead Pastor Dan Matlock made the announcement in a sermon just two Sundays ago that the Austin-area church would now be considering LGBTQ persons for staff positions and that the church building would be available to host same-sex wedding ceremonies.

A survey came out this week that said: 46% of mainline denominational pastors support same-sex marriage. Up from 32% in 2010 – partly because of older pastors retiring.

Pop singer, Taylor Swift, both a Pro-LGBT and Pro-Abortion advocate, said in a recent documentary her brand of Christianity is the real Christianity.

One of the men running for the presidential nomination of his party has attacked Conservative Christians for not understanding what the Bible means, especially in the area of abortion and lifestyle choices. 

As much as all this distresses me, I realize these are simply symptoms of a greater problem. But because they are growing exponentially, they indicate we are in the End Times – specifically in the Apostasy: the period of Christians and the Church falling away before Jesus returns. What or who is the driving force that’s behind the falling away. The Apostasy is an all-in, last ditch effort by Satan to steal, kill and destroy as much and as many as he can before his time is up. 

Rev 20:2-3 And the angel laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; 

His mission has always been to kill our desire, steal our truth and destroy our lives. He has done so by full-frontal assaults and stealthy, subversive attacks. But during the Apostasy, he will engage his most successful weapon – deception.

Deception is how we first met him in Genesis: Gen 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 

He deceived Eve by taking something away from what God said and adding something to what God didn’t say. That’s his method. It is the basis of his work. “God doesn’t mean what He says. You can’t just take the Bible at face value. You’re free to believe whatever you choose. What do you think God means? After all it’s just a really old book.”

When Satan causes us to deny God’s word, we’re only left with the opinion of men to make our life choices. It is within those opinions Satan does his work. 

We often give Satan God’s powers like omnipresence or omnipotence. He is not equal to God nor can he be in all places at the same time. So he uses a network of evil. He manages a staff of fallen angels who are able to influence the minds and hearts of people who will assist his cause. Those who give in to his influence become his minions.

Hezekiah was an OT King who followed the Lord specifically. He told his people what God had told him and together they were ready for the Assyrians. One of Satan’s minions, the chief spokesman for the King of Assyria, came to make them doubt what God had told Hezekiah.

2Chron 32:13-16 Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of the lands? Were the gods of the nations of the lands able at all to deliver their land from my hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations which my fathers utterly destroyed who could deliver his people out of my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you like this, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you from my hand?'" His servants spoke further against the LORD God and against His servant Hezekiah. 

The deceiver telling the ones being deceived that they are being deceived by the ones telling them the truth.

Paul has them in mind when he tells the Corinthians: 2Cor 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. 

To be able to deceive, Satan must disguise himself as good even though his intentions are evil. His minions do the same. How else will the people drink the cool-aid laced with the poison of his lies? He never comes in and announces: I’m Satan and I’m here to deceive you.

Satan went to church—Aren’t you afraid? No, been married to your sister for 43 years.

Satan’s evil network includes anyone who denies the truth of God’s Word and diminishes God’s authority in the life of a Christian or the Church.

1John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 

1John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 

1John 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 

Both Paul and John are speaking about the same thing, that the impetus behind the falling away will be the false teaching of false teachers. These will demonstrate the spirit of the Antichrist – the one who is the embodiment of Satan’s rage against Jesus. Those who share in the lies of Satan’s deception work within that attitude to help him steal, kill and destroy. Whether they realize it or not, they are serving Satan not God.

Jesus told his Disciples of His impending death. Peter said “no way”: Matt 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." 

Unwittingly, in that moment, Peter became one of Satan’s minions to tempt Jesus to deny the mission of the cross, by setting his interest over-against God’s interest. Many of Satan’s minions are obvious. Others are not.

Because Satan has so carefully concealed his message in unassuming packages, we get lazy in our defense against them. So, John said 2John 1:7-8 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 

Can someone who has been a Christian for a long time fall prey to Satan’s deception? Can I? I have been before. Years ago, in wanting more from God, I was tempted to deny Scripture for an experience at the hands (or actually the breath) of a false teacher. At the end of a service the speaker said those who wanted more from God come forward. Several of us did. He then blew his breath into our faces and said, receive the Holy Spirit. In that moment I realized the lie. I already had the Holy Spirit. I’ve fellowshipped with the Spirit. I’ve walked in the Spirit. I was gifted by the Spirit. I said to myself about this man, you are asking me to deny a truth vital to my life and absolute in Scripture to accept some false experience from you! You are a false teacher.”

Rom 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 

Smooth and flattering speech are the tools of deception. They target the tender hearts of people who want something different from God, or simply want to know what to believe in a socially changing world. And though these deceivers are passionate and sincere, they spew lies and death. How? By making us deny what God has said and believe things He never intended.

Passion and sincerity can never be the basis upon which someone’s opinion is considered right. You can sincerely believe a snake isn’t poisonous, pick it up and let it latch onto your hand. Your sincerity will not stop the venom from killing you.

Anyone can be sincere. But they can be sincerely wrong.

  • In Nazi Germany some pastors used the Bible to support Hitler, sincerely believing he was right. Others used the same Bible to denounce what he was doing.
  • In the slavery era of our nation, some pastors used the Bible to promote slavery sincerely believing it was right. Others used the same Bible to denounce it.
  • Today, in some churches, pastors use the Bible to promote a liberal agenda, sincerely believing they are right. Others use the same Bible to denounce it.

I don’t think most false teachers know they are false teachers. I don’t think they start out with: Let’s see how destructive we can be in the lives of the people today. It’s just that they have been deceived, believe the lies and are spreading those lies to others. I think most are sincere in what they teach.

That’s why God wants a reasoned response to what is being taught, not an emotional one. Why? Emotion has a shelf-life. It expires after so long, usually after the moment is over. But truth stays alive. Truth sets us free and keeps us free. Not from an emotional reaction but how it confirms Scripture. 

Act 17:10-12 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 

They didn’t believe because Paul was such a great communicator or had passionately convinced them he was right. They believed because they found the truth of what he was saying in the Word of God. The only way to resist the deception of Satan and his minions is by knowing what God has said.

Without a word from the Lord, there is no consistent voice. Why do we have so much disagreement in right and wrong? Why are Christians walking away? Why are Churches and Denominations dividing over issues? Because somewhere back upstream God and His intentions were left out of the discussion. Why is He being left out? Because when people give in to the deception that God’s voice is no longer the ultimate authority, they open the door for ungodly influence to come in and steal, kill and destroy. 

2Pet 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality [their self-satisfying messages] and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words 

2Tim 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 

Paul knew that people were impressionable, easily deceived. And that they could be influenced by forces beyond their ability to resist, be taken captive, and be convinced to believe lies instead of truth.
So, he set the standard: Col 2:6-8 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 

Today, the spirit of antichrist is in the churches through liberal theological ideology that diminishes confidence in God’s Word. It is also in the world through an anti-God society attacking our faith, our lifestyle and our beliefs. Next week we’ll see how the church is under attack from the world.

  1. The easiest time to be deceived is when we don’t know we’re being deceived.
  2. Everyone has the capacity for deception. That’s how magicians make a living.
  3. By knowing the truth, we can prevent deception from ruining our lives.
  4. The best solution is to examine what we’re being told by what God has said.

Monday, February 17, 2020

End Times - Apostasy of the Church

When Moses was leading the Children of Israel up to the Promised Land, he warned them of a great concern:

Deut 4:1-2 Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 

Moses knew that staying right with God required keeping true to what He has said. Not take away from it if you disagree or add to it to make it say more than what God intended. He also knew that if they didn’t keep true, their lives and society would suffer. 

What happened? The moment God’s word was no longer vital to their lives, the people strayed. That has been the hazard and malady of God’s people: Christians, Churches and Denominations, caught up in the tendency to stray.

Every denomination has battled over foundational beliefs – what do we believe and how do those beliefs shape us. The ones who began the denominations had strong convictions driving them to establish distinctives that made their branch of Christianity unique.  Each used the Bible for their basis for their beliefs. 

But after the original leaders died off, generations further removed from those leaders began to add to or take away from those beliefs. They created a crisis within the denomination and thus the people by challenging: Why do we believe this? Is this necessary any longer? How does this belief apply to modern life?

The crisis was over how important the Scripture was. It led to splits and factions within those denominations as Scripture conflicted with current trends. Unfortunately, the people followed along with whatever their leaders told them to believe.

At the core of these factions and division is the warning Moses gave the Israelites. Whenever there is disregard for what God has said and an elevation of the opinions of men that adds to or takes away from what God has said, the people, the church and the denomination suffers. 

2Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 

Back that up. What precedes turning away? Rejecting the truth of Scripture and the One who spoke it.
All apostasy begins that simply but it found fertile ground in the 60s. The freewheeling mindset of the day said: Question everything. Hold no allegiance to anything. Which included government, church or any authority. That attitude welcomed in a collective disregard for anything connected with the things of God.

When God is forgotten, the boundaries are removed. When the boundaries are removed, the lid comes off Pandora’s box. No more prayer in schools soon followed by the removal of the Ten Commandments from its walls began the surge to remove God completely from society. But guess what? He was already being removed from the churches.

The major teaching in Colleges and Seminaries during the 50s and 60s was Modernism. Trying to be relevant, keeping up with culture. The thoughts and writings of European Theologians and Philosophers used for interpreting Scripture began taking the place of seeking God for answers. Even when I was in College and Seminary in the 70s, I had to study the thoughts of men over the commands of God. I was required to quote the theologians but not quote Scripture to make my points. I was losing the sense of God and His Word being my final authority, replacing God with the thoughts of men.

The 60s ushered in the psychology of worldly opinions as the way to best handle life’s crises. The underlying movement was called Liberalism. It was new, fresh and exciting, and soon filtered into the theology of the churches as a counter-movement against Scriptural foundations.

Acts 17:21 Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new. 

The basic tenets of Theological Liberalism were:
1.      Although the Bible offers spiritual and ethical insights, it is only a collection of human writings. Many of which must be classified as folk tales or legends with no historical value.
2.     Jesus may have been divine in the sense that we are all divine, but He was not uniquely God. Nor did He exist before His birth. Nor was He born of a virgin. Nor did He rise bodily from the grave.
3.     The purpose of life is not personal salvation from sin, but salvation of society from the evils of poverty, ignorance, and injustice.

This movement of Theological Liberalism began taking over the churches and denominations. Why? Because of what was being taught to its leaders in seminary.

In the SBC, for example, a student in the early 1970s did a survey at one of their seminaries. He made a list of doctrines, beliefs generally accepted as true in most churches. Virgin Birth of Jesus, the Resurrection, the Second Coming, Jesus being the only way to Salvation, the Bible being the inspired word of God. He then had the students mark what level of study they were in at seminary – 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year, graduate, post graduate, and then mark whether they believed the doctrine of not. He found that the students who had been in seminary the shortest amount of time marked all of them true. But those who had been in seminary the longest, believed very few. Reason? Theologically liberal professors.

That discovery started the takeover of the SBC by conservative/fundamentalists in the late-70s to regain control of the convention and its seminaries from the growing liberal faction. They patterned their takeover from what the Presbyterians failed to do just a few years earlier. 

The Presbyterians, like most denominations, had both factors – conservative and liberal – within their fellowship. When the Presbyterians wanted a vote to establish who would be in control, the conservatives lost the denomination to the liberals. 

In 1973, the Presbyterian Church in America separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States in “opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.” They split into two groups but the liberal wing kept all the infrastructure. 

The Baptists declared that result a failure and worked for years to get conservative leadership in place before their vote was taken.

Within Lutherans, the Missouri Synod was first formed in 1847, in America. It considers itself the "confessional" branch of Lutheranism, which means their followers adhere to a stricter interpretation of the Bible, taking the stance that scripture is God’s word. In 1988, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, broke off and formed its own denomination, merging with other Lutheran groups. It placed more importance on the general meaning and tone of the Bible rather than what it says, and doesn’t consider it the infallible Word of God.

Then, in 2010, a split occurred within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to create the North American Lutheran Church. The split came after a vote to allow gay pastors into its churches, becoming the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. to allow noncelibate gays into its ranks. Paul Spring, one of the leaders of the new North American Lutheran Church said, "The issue that really presented itself was the issue of sexuality, but back of that was the broader issue: Which is the authoritative voice of the church today? Is it holy scripture, which Lutherans have always confessed, scripture alone, or is it supposed to be some combination, that, as well as some mood of the times?" 

Earlier this year, leaders of The United Methodist Church announced that they had agreed to a plan to split the church into two sub-denominations — one that will permit gay marriage and gay clergy, and the other that will stick to “traditional Methodist” teachings. It was decided that in the split, the LGBT-friendly faction, which was the largest segment of the United Methodists in America, will retain the United Methodist Church name and the Traditionalists will seek a new name. The final vote for individual churches to choose which group they will align with will be coming this August.
What’s going on? Churches and Denominations that have been vital to the religious tone of America, throwing away that that made them unique. What’s been the common denominator within these denominations? In each split, division or redefining, it has all come down to Where does God and His Word fit into the question of what is the ultimate source of authority for the church?
In all examples within these churches or denominations, some chose to walk away from Scripture for their religious practices while others stayed with the Bible. Some rely on what the Bible says, others interpret the Bible according to their desires: this is what I want the Bible to say, this is what I don’t want the Bible to say. That contrast brings the person, church or the denomination to a crisis. Then, opinions are collected and those with the greater following make the rules. Often, choosing to believe what is an afront to God. Those wanting to follow Him are pushed out as though they are the ones at fault.

Gal 5:7-9 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 

Changing Scripture to fit society doesn’t come from God. It comes from giving in to the ungodly influence of the world. What makes the church unique? The presence of God and respect for His Word. Having a Bible that remains consistent regardless of social change is vital to restricting that ungodly influence from redefining who we are.

Matt 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. 

God built His church upon a rock, not the sand. His Word was that rock. That rock will remain sufficient until the very end. Staying on the Rock becomes our safeguard. It requires:

  1. Biblical accuracy. Seeking to determine what God said.
  2. Biblical finality. Knowing God never lies, relying on what He has said as true.
  3. Biblical faithfulness. In light of what God has said, adjusting myself to it.

What will happen if we don’t set up these safeguards?

  • We will accept error as truth.
  • We will dismiss what God has said in order to coexist in our world.
  • We will argue against belief instead of embracing belief.
  • We will permit evil by not standing firm upon what God has said.
  • We will make wrong right and right wrong. 
  • We will allow an ungodly society to tell us what we can and cannot believe.

Paul tells Titus, Titus 1:15-16 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. 

In that day, they became defiled by becoming insensitive to the holiness of God. But that only identified the problem. They remained defiled, stopping their ears from hearing the voice of God calling them back to obedience to His Word. They walked away and just kept on walking.

The Apostasy Paul said would come has come. It is currently affecting God’s people and the churches they have collected themselves into. 1Tim 1:19 I entrust to you, Timothythat you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 

Christians are being shipwrecked. Churches are being shipwrecked. Denominations are being shipwrecked. All because they have added to or taken away from God’s Word, accepting the claims of heretical teachings that promote false promises. These are the End Times. And as a result, many more Christians and churches will renounce the Christian faith here on out as they abandon God by rejecting His word.


  1. The church is not free to believe whatever it chooses.
  2. Being an extension of the Body of Christ, the Body functions in response to the control of its Head.
  3. The Head of the church is Jesus.
  4. He is the ultimate authority for what we believe and how we live.