In this message, we begin a deep journey into the prophetic words of Christ found in Matthew 24. Why? Because we are truly living in the last of the last days and it would do us well to see what our Lord has to say about the events that precede His coming. And we will especially look at the first sign Jesus told us would point to the beginning of the end, deception. That’s right, deception is planáō in the Greek and means “to cause to wander, to be led astray, to mislead, to seduce, to cause to err.” Or, simply put, good old-fashioned deception.
Which raises just a few questions.
How are we being deceived today?
And, if we are being deceived, how would we know?
Are there other places in the Scriptures that warn us against deception?
What kind of deception can we expect?
And what was the specific focus of the deception Jesus spoke about?
How Important is the Coming (and Present) Deception
To see how rampant deception is in our society, and as a sign of the end, look at how many times Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 24:
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” – Matthew 24:5.
“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” – Matthew 24:11.
And how powerful will that deception be?
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” – Matthew 24:24.
Did you catch that? If it were possible (and we know that it’s not), even the elect, those chosen and sealed by Christ, would be deceived. It’s gonna be bad.
Who Do You Trust?
One final question regarding trust and deception. Ask yourself this one question: Who do you trust? If you’re honest, your answer may shock you.
Do you trust your government?
The media? Hollywood?
Do you trust what you read in the news or on Facebook?
Do you trust what you are taught in school?
Do you trust our economic system in this country?
Do you trust the church?
Do you trust your friends or spouse?
There is so much more to talk about regarding deception. To find out more, keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 24:1-4.
To download the slides to this message, click – HERE
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Now, even FOX News is covering the inevitable. The following is from Doug MacKinnon and was posted on the FOX website on Sunday, June 23, 2019.
We will speak much more about this on our website beginning in mid-July. But for now, read this and consider what Doug says.
Will You Survive the Coming Blackout?
There are many never-ending debates between Republicans and Democrats. Impeach vs. don’t impeach; capital punishment vs. life in prison; wall vs. no wall; legalizing marijuana vs. not; self-driving cars vs. human drivers; Red Sox vs. Yankees; takeout vs. home-cooked; or Gone With the Wind vs. any other movie.
All of these issues are stunningly important, right up to the second where cataclysm falls and creates a nightmare scenario that so many fear.
That cataclysm is a complete loss of electricity and every mode of convenience and survival we take for granted.
The largest red flag on this issue in years just waved in South America. Last weekend, tens of millions of people in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay found themselves in a complete blackout. In one moment, they had electricity. The next moment, they had none, and they were catapulted back to the 1800s.
Only much worse.
People in the 1800s were not dependent upon electricity for their jobs, money, communication, Internet, transportation, education, security, medical services, prescriptions, water, and very lives.
The national power grid of the United States is truly a mess held together with, as the joke goes, by not much more than “baling wire and chewing gum.”
The average age of large power transformers in the United States is 40 years. Seventy percent of all large power transformers are at least 25 years old. It’s little wonder that, according to data from the Department of Energy, the United States suffers more blackouts than any other nation in the developed world.
The overall system is so weak, so taxed, and so vulnerable that in 2003, over 50 million people in the United States and Canada were hit with cascading blackouts simply because a tree branch fell on a power line in Ohio.
Because the infrastructure is so antiquated, weather triggers multiple blackouts per year in the U.S. Blackouts which collectively cost the nation upwards of $30 billion in spoiled inventory, lost wages, and repair of the grid.
Unfortunately, weather is becoming the least feared trigger of a blackout. In the age of terrorism and increasing cyber-threats, our power-grid getting taken down by a hack is no longer seen as a question of “If it will happen,” but rather, “When it will happen?”
The U.S. government is so rightfully fearful of this, that last November, it ordered DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to war-game a complete cyber take-down of the U.S. power grid.
An exercise they are now wisely running on a regular basis.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, just last year, hackers – strongly suspected to be Russian – gained access to a number of utility control rooms in the United States and got to the point where “they could have thrown switches.”
The DHS report further stressed: “Russian government cyber actors targeted government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.”
Aside from the Russians, the Chinese, North Koreans, other terrorist states, and even cyber-extortionists, are targeting our power grid on a daily basis.
That clock is ticking.
Unfortunately, much like any large terrorist attack, when an extended regional or national blackout hits, you and your family will be on your own. No one is going to ride to the rescue.
How will you survive?
In the blink of an eye, you will lose access to money, food, gasoline, communication, medicine, medical attention, heat, air conditioning, and security.
Even though most don’t do it, residents of California and Florida are reminded every year to assemble their “two-week” survival kit. In California, it’s because of earthquakes. In Florida, it’s because of hurricanes.
Survival kits which include water, non-perishable food, medicine, first-aid kits, batteries, a radio, flashlights, candles, cash, a hand-crank charger, with smaller versions of all for your vehicle and office.
The federal and state governments should be issuing that same reminder to every citizen in the nation about the coming blackout. It truly is not a question of “if,” but of “when.”
A night on the town for a movie, dinner, a sporting event or a political debate is great fun until none of it matters and your survival is literally at stake.
Make a plan, because you will be on your own.
We will not all be equal in heaven. Now we’re not talking about salvation, but of rewards. All of us are equal in regards to salvation because it is a gift given freely to those who believe. In this, there is no question. But what we do with our salvation is another matter. And we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to Him in this life. Consider the following:
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with (1) gold, silver, precious stones, (2) wood, hay, straw, each one’s (personal) work will become clear; (how) for the Day will declare it, (how) because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s (personal) work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures (gold, silver, precious stones), he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned (wood, hay, straw), he will suffer loss (of reward); but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Charles Stanley also spoke of this in his book, Eternal Security. He said, “Some believers will be entrusted with certain privileges; others will not. Some will reign with Christ; others will not (2 Timothy 2:12). Some will be rich in the kingdom of God; others will be poor (Luke 12:21, 33). Some will be given true riches; others will not. Some will be given heavenly treasures of their own; others will not. Some will rule and reign with Christ; others will not. Privilege in the kingdom of God is determined by one’s faithfulness in this life. It is true that there will be equality in terms of our inclusion in the kingdom of God, but not in our rank and privilege.”
Does this sound troubling to you? Maybe confusing? If so, keep listening to learn more.
The following is a study on the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Ceremony of the Lamb.
To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
Download this episode (right click and save)
The Judgement Seat of Christ is the first of seven great judgments that will occur. And for the believer, it’s the most important. Why? Because at this judgment all church-age believers will appear before Christ to give an account of their lives for reward. Or, in the case of many, no reward. Consider the following:
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we (Paul includes himself) must (not optional) all appear before the judgment seat (bḗma) of Christ, (why) that each one (personal and individual) may receive (review and reward) the things done in the body, (review) according to what he has done, (reward) whether good or bad.
These are some of the main areas that will be examined when we stand before the Lord:
- How we treat other believers (Matthew 10:41-42; Hebrews 6:10)
- How we employ our God-given talents and abilities (Matthew 25:14-29; Luke 19:11-26; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 7; 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Peter 4:10)
- How we use our money (Matthew 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- How well we endure personal injustice and being mistreated (Matthew 5:11-12; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 6:27-28, 35; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Peter 4:12-13)
- How we endure suffering and trials (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
- How we spend our time (Psalm 90:9-12; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5; 1 Peter 1:17)
- How we run the particular race God has given us (1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 2:16; 3:12-14; Hebrews 12:1)
- How effectively we control our fleshly appetites (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
- How many souls we witness to and win for Christ (Daniel 12:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
- How much the Rapture means to us and shapes our lives (2 Timothy 4:8)
- How faithful we are to God’s Word and God’s people (Acts 20:26-28; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1; 1 Peter 5:1-2; 2 John 1:7-8)
- How hospitable we are to strangers (Matthew 25:35-36; Luke 14:12-14)
- How faithful we are in our vocations (Colossians 3:22-24)
- How we support others in ministry (Matthew 10:40-42)
- How we use our tongues (Matthew 12:36; James 3:1-12)
Are you ready to stand before the Lord and have your life judged by His standards? Because it will happen. There is no escape. And if not, what are you prepared to do about it? What changes are you willing to make in this life to be rewarded for in the next? But be warned, time is running out.
If you want to find out more about how to prepare yourself to face the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ, then keep listening.
The following is a study on the Judgment Seat of Christ.
To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
Download this episode (right click and save)
Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
We are engaged in a bloody war. It’s a war taken to us, laid on our doorsteps— a war we cannot afford to lose. To the victor goes the heart and mind of the church.
In the past, Satan has attacked the church both outwardly and inwardly with mixed results. In Acts, for example, the external attacks from the religious establishment were countered by the church speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). And the internal attacks only led to “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11) and increased ministry to others (Acts 6:7).
In each of these, the church only grew stronger.
A Single Voice
In its early history, the church would meet in authoritative councils to define truth or orthodoxy and address heresy. When a falsehood would arise that became popular among the people and threatened to lead them away from the truth of the gospel, church leaders from all over the world would gather to examine the heresy, compare it to Scripture, and issue a binding statement that would define Christian belief for the church at large. These binding statements became known as creeds. Some of them, the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed for example, codified for us the doctrines we often take for granted.
But today it’s different.
There’s no authoritative voice for the church and little accountability. With the internet, pretty much anything goes. And with most Bible-believing Christians not believing the Bible, the spread of heresy and false doctrine is rampant.
We have heresies today that are promoted by popular ex-pastors, such as Rob Bell, that deny God’s sovereignty in salvation, the reality of hell and the punishment for sin, the atonement of Christ, sanctification, and the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture. This is repackaged paganism. Or Paganism 2.0.
Then there’s the growing Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement. This heresy, at its core, claims that mere man has the power to bind our sovereign God by the words we speak and demand He does our bidding even if it’s against His will. That’s witchcraft with a fresh veneer. They “claim” and “agree” that God has to bless them with material or financial blessings and He, like their pet genie-in-a-bottle, must give what they demand.
“I mean, doesn’t everyone deserve health, wealth, and prosperity? Isn’t the purpose of our faith to reward us with money and long life and straight teeth? Didn’t God secure for us, through the death of His Son, Your Best Life Now?”1
No. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
In Hebrews 11, we have what is known as the roll call of faith. It lists great men and women of faith and how their faith was rewarded. Look how the chapter closes. This is not exactly what the prosperity preachers promise as a reward for faith.
Hebrews 11:37-38 – They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
Do we believe the saints listed in Hebrews— Moses, Joseph, David, Samuel, and the rest— were less spiritual than those in the church today? They received anything but health, wealth, and prosperity as the supposed rewards of their faith. Yet Scripture says they were “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37). This is the type of heresy only an opulent, self-satisfied, and narcissistic church could invent. And that’s what we are.
Once For All
But this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it’s certainly not the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Our faith (pístis), as defined by Hebrews, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). It’s the “basis, the underpinning, the foundation of what we confidently expect; and the proof, the assurance of things we cannot see with our own eyes.”2
But in practical terms, faith means trust. To have faith is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9) and to give life allegiance to the kingdom of God (John 3:3). And it’s the King of this kingdom that “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). It’s the kingdom in which we live and the kingdom of which Christ preached (Mark 1:15). And it’s faith, or trust, in this kingdom, and its King, that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Our faith is not open to interpretation or change. It’s a finite, secure, immutable faith.
To Contend for the Faith
To contend or fight earnestly for the faith does not always take place between believers and the world. More often than not, our striving for truth is against those who have infiltrated the church and seek to draw it away into perversion and heresy. As politically correct, tolerant Westerners, we’ve opened the big tent and invited every form of sin and deviant teaching into the church. And it’s only by their fruits, or lack thereof, that we can tell the difference between those who belong to Christ and those who don’t (Matt. 7:15-20).
So it’s our duty and calling to willfully contend for that faith given us at such a precious cost— the blood of our Savior and the blood of His saints. And it’s our mandate to stand for truth, especially within the walls of the church. Are you ready? Are you able to discern the real from the counterfeit? Do you know the difference between the “broad way that leads to destruction” and the “narrow” gate that “leads to life”? (Matt. 7:13-14).
You need to know. That knowledge begins with a deep fervency for His Word (Ps. 1:2), a committed life of prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), and fully embracing all the Holy Spirit wants to show you (1 Cor. 2:9-12).
Will you join with me as we put on our spiritual armor and prepare to contend for the faith? (Eph. 6:13). Will you take your stand with me, first within the walls of the church, and then against the gates of hell? (Matt. 16:18). Will you choose to shine as “the light of the world”? (Matt. 5:14). After all, our Lord said:
John 3:19-21 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
Be encouraged. Christ has already defeated the enemy and overcome the world (John 16:33). And we are secure — our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).
It doesn’t get much better than that.
1. Yes, this does refer to Joel Osteen’s bestselling book, Your Best Life Now!
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1163-1165). Chattanooga,
Why is the Church in the Situation it is Today?
Another great question. But the answer is also quite simple.
We have allowed the church to become what it is, or isn’t, today. The fault and blame for the carnality of the church belongs to each of us. We, as those who make up the Church, His Body, of which He is the Head, the Preeminent (Col. 1:18), have allowed it to be hijacked by those seeking entertainment and the glorification of the flesh and not the moving of the Spirit.
We have enjoyed church services that seem like family-friendly rock concerts and not worship times designed to bring us closer to the Lord we love. We have supported and promoted pastors and sermons that feed our feelings of self-importance rather than exalting and glorifying Christ. We want to have our egos stroked, our selfish wants fulfilled, and our lives uninterrupted by a God we claim to know— but truly don’t.
And we’ve done this to ourselves. The blood is on our own hands.
We smugly cherry pick the Scriptures we like, those we agree with, the non-convicting ones, and reject the others as the words of mere men and not the very words of God. We turn Jesus in to our personal Savior, our personal God, with our personal understanding of who He is and what He requires of each of us based on our own personal feelings or agenda.
We pepper our conversations with phrases like this:
“My Jesus would never want me to do anything I don’t want to do.”
Or, “My Jesus only wants me to be happy and I’m not happy with my wife right now. I’m going to call my lawyer tomorrow. It’s what my Jesus would want me to do.”
Or, “My Jesus doesn’t expect me to follow or obey Him it makes me feel uncomfortable around my friends. My Jesus loves me and is all about me.”
No doubt. I bet your Jesus is all about you. But that’s not Jesus. There is no “My Jesus”— there’s only Jesus as revealed in His Word. “My Jesus” is just an image of Jesus you have created yourself, one created in your own image, one you feel comfortable to worship, someone who thinks just like you. In reality, your “my Jesus” is an idol that looks and feels and thinks just like you do. So when you come to church and worship “my Jesus“— you’re worshipping yourself.
Let me give you one last example before we call it a day.
Let’s look at what some in the church, maybe even you, call salvation.
Same Great Taste, But Less Filling
Without a doubt, the church languishes as it does today because many, if not most, of professing believers in America are not even saved. Does that sound harsh? Well, consider this: many today have bought into a mindset that claims to allow them to live anyway they want and still claim to “belong to Jesus.” But John said:
“If we claim to have fellowship with the light (to be a believer, a follower of Jesus, a Christian), and yet walk in darkness (to live like the world), we lie (in claiming to have fellowship with the light) and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:6).
Also, many today flat out refuse conformity to the image of Christ. They desire to model their life after the world and all its lusts and have a “form” of godliness but not power (2 Tim. 3:5). Why? Simply because they have been told that salvation consists of nothing more than coming to church on Sunday, praying the “sinner’s prayer” years ago in VBS, or being baptized, and have no clue as to the radical change that takes place when regeneration occurs in a person.
To illustrate this point, the following is from Rick Warren’s book, the Purpose Driven Life (arguably one of the most popular Christian books in the last 40 years). After spending two paragraphs condensing the Gospel into a simple “Believe and Receive” formula, the Purpose Driven Gospel Presentation moves to the closing prayer of repentance and faith.
From the pen of Rick Warren:
“Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’ Go ahead.
If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose in your life.”
From there, the reader is instructed to email Rick and receive a free booklet from his ministry.
No repentance. No recognition of the Lordship of Christ. Nothing. For me, it’s Gospel Lite. “Same great taste, but less filling.”
Can you see the difference? Do you see why not all professing Believers will suffer persecution but only those who “desire to live Godly in Christ” (2 Tim. 3:12), those who enter the narrow gate by the standards, the completed work of Christ (Matt. 7:13) and not by any other way? (John 10:1)
Some will suffer for refusing to compromise their faith or the integrity of the Lord and His Word while others, maybe you, will pretend everything is OK. “Hey, everything’s fine. No problems here. Me and my Jesus, we’re doing all right.”
But are you really? It’s time for some self-examination to see if we are truly in the faith, don’t you think?
Then join with me, will you?
For Part 1: Not Every Christian Will Suffer Persecution. Will You?