Sunday, January 29, 2012

Deception comes first

In Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus' disciples came and asked Him a question:

Matthew 24:3 Now as He (Jesus) sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

What was the answer?
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.

The biggest sign of the nearness of Jesus' return is deception.

He goes on to say (skipping a few verses here and there)

Matthew 24:5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

No one with a discerning heart and mind can deny that deception already abounds. Yet, Jesus warns that worse deception will be coming before His return. Deception so convincing it could deceive, if possible, even the elect. What does that mean? That word, translated "deceive" is planaō (plä-nä'-ō: study more here. It means:

1) to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way
a) to go astray, wander, roam about
2)a) to lead away from the truth, to lead into error, to deceive
b) to be led away into error and sin

How could something deceive even those who know better?  Well, partially because it's always mixed with truth. Satan has had 6,000 years to practice his lies on us, and he's getting really good at it. It's kind of like charting a course in the ocean or deep in space. If you are off by 1/2 degree, that doesn't seem to amount to much - but over time, you'll wind up completely lost and perhaps dead. Almost right is not good enough. You could be fooled - I could be fooled - our pastors could be fooled.

What does that mean? It means that you need to go back to the Bible all the time and make sure it says what the person is saying it says. Remember that a clever person can take verses from here and there and prove nearly anything he or she wants. Look how far the Jehovah Witnesses have gotten doing that exact thing! The more familiar you are with God's Word, the easier this will be, and the quicker you can spot the lie.

Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Even Paul was checked up on - and he says this was a noble thing! He praised the Bereans for doing this. Note that the message was received with eagerness. They listened to what Paul had to say, and then they went and checked it out for themselves. There may be times when you will have "false prophet" alarm bells going off right away. The Bible says to stop listening at that point. The message should no longer be received with eagerness when that happens!

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.

This doesn't say to test some things, but to test everything, including those things that come from the Christian book store, from your church - and from me!

Most of this is from a study I wrote awhile back, called "Why Study the Bible?" This is only about 1/5th of the study. You can find the rest of it here. There is a link at the bottom to other studies.

As I sat in church this morning, I was thinking about this blog and the direction I'd like to go with it.  I am convinced that the days of "normal" of our world are just about to end. These days, that Jesus warns us about - when deception would fool even the elect if that were possible - are in our immediate future. We need to get ready for that - not necessarily by stockpiling physical necessities (although I am not going to discourage anyone who feels called to that) - but by stockpiling God's Word in our hearts. Amos warns:

Amos 8:11
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.

While that was true in the past,  (Amos was written about 750 BC) I believe it will be true of the future, too, as much of Amos concerns the "Day of the Lord."

So, that is my intent with this blog - to help those who are starting to hear the call to "be ready" to GET ready. And, absolutely, the first thing to do is to get into God's Word. Pick a translation you'll actually read and start reading. You can start at the beginning, you can pick almost any book and start there or (and I'm only kind of kidding), you can virtually open the Bible at random and begin there.

In the past, I've strongly encouraged people to start at the beginning and just read. Three to four chapters a day will get you through in about a year. Twenty chapters a day will get you through in about three months. Forget the commentaries and all the "what it really means" and JUST READ.

While I still strongly believe that, I am also convinced that 1) We are nearly out of time and 2) Because we are nearly out of time, God will help us read and understand what we need to. I am not a betting person, but if I was, I would bet, that as you read, God will send you different places in His word - to learn what you need to as fast as He intends you to.

Here is my prayer for me (and maybe you, too, if you're feeling called this way):

Heavenly Father, I am calling on you in the name of my savior, in Jesus' name and HIS righteousness, to direct me and my family to read, learn, be, think, say, do - all that You would have of us. Teach us Your word, Father. Help us to learn what we need for the days ahead. Make us ready for Jesus' coming - and to help all those around us to be ready for that day. Please, Father - only You know when that day is, but I feel with all my heart that it is drawing near. Please, Father, make us ready.

If you will read and pray for understanding of what you read, pray for God to direct you, He will! It's that simple.

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