How To Keep Yourself from Being Deceived
About End-Times Events
There are a number of well-known ministry leaders who are creating a large measure of confusion and fear among Bible-believing Christians regarding events that might take place in the “end days” that precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
There are primarily two points of contention. First, there are those who speculate that fallen angels, or demons, are performing experiments using genetic modification and possibly even copulation with human women, to produce a hybrid race of beings that corrupts humanity and traps it in its fallen state. This often wraps in various sci-fi ideas and mystical notions of the Transhuman movement, which attempts to achieve godhood by applying science and technology to the human condition.
The second point concerns the study of Bible prophecy and how the book of Revelation should be interpreted and integrated with the many portions of the Old Testament that deal with prophecy. This centers primarily on the timing of the rapture of the church relative to the other events taking place during the Tribulation. The traditional view of a pre-tribulation rapture is under heavy attack in favor of other and newer views, such as mid-, post-, pre-wrath or intra-seal-tribulation rapture, prompting many Christians to wonder if they will, indeed, have to live through any part of the Tribulation or if they are destined to be martyred during that period.
This writer has no immediate intention of addressing these errors because it has been done already by others in numerous publications. However, it will suffice to offer the following counsel to help serious students of the Bible to find the truth and thus be insulated from deception and error that seems to be all around us.
1. The Bible is simple to understand – wait for it
Paul warned, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3) Essentially, Satan promised Eve secret knowledge that would elevate her status to truly know the mind of God. This was the first lie of epic proportions in human history, and it is still being used today with equal effectiveness.
Beware of any teaching that is not simple to understand. When secret, “just discovered” or unverifiable knowledge is suggested as the key to understanding some particular Bible truth, run the other way. This is not to disparage times when the Holy Spirit illuminates truth to you while reading your Bible, because He can and does “lead us into all truth.” When the light bulb is turned on in your mind, you will often think, “That is so clear and simple, why didn’t I see that before?” Truly, most of God’s gems are hiding in plain sight, only needing the Holy Spirit to point them out, which brings up the next point.
2. Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you
The church is certainly blessed with many good pastors and teachers who are dedicated to the Word of God and its accurate and complete teaching. But, there are many who are not. How can you tell the difference between the two?
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is so explicitly clear that it needs little explanation:
Each time you approach any of the books of the Bible, with the desire to gain a deeper perspective on its teaching that is faithful to the intent of the original author, it is essential to ask the Holy Spirit for leading, illumination and understanding.
3. Context is everything; never study without it
The book of Revelation is always at the center of any discussion on Bible prophecy. Unfortunately, many leave Christ on the outside instead of seeking Him on the inside. They simply want to satisfy their curiosity to know what events will transpire on earth in the future; in some cases, this can become a subtle form of divining the future, which the Bible sternly warns against in passages such as Jeremiah 14:14. In addition, ignoring context also tends to foster unwarranted speculation when attempting to fit current events into prophetical interpretation.
The entirety of the book of Revelation is about the glorification and exaltation of Jesus Christ. When that focus is lost, then prophecy derived from a carnal mind will go in any direction and come up with any number of weird conclusions.
As the Author of that book, only God has the right to set the context, and He did so in very simple terms: “The revelation of His son, which God gave to Him to show His bond-servants” (Rev. 1:1). Period. You can't get any more emphatic than that. Any attempt to go beyond this context is adding to or subtracting from the text, putting the student at risk of running afoul of this warning at the end of Revelation:
4. Expect to be blessed, not confused or scared
There are seven “blessed is/are” verses in Revelation, with the first being the most dramatic: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3). These false and confused teachers are ripping off Christians from receiving these blessings that God pointedly wants them to receive. That is a sad ending for anyone who gets diverted away from “the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Certainly, fear is a normal and common human emotion, but the Bible reminds us that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) When the Apostle John first laid eyes on the Glorified Christ in Revelation 1:10-16, he wrote this account: “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last.’” (Rev. 1:17) If you are fearful, He will say the same thing to you: “Do not be afraid.”
In short, if you are not blessed during your study of Bible prophecy, and in particular the Revelation of Jesus Christ, then you should ask Him what is wrong with the way you have gone about it and how you have accepted its message.
5. Jesus is the heart and heartbeat of all Bible prophecy
In Revelation 19, right before the Lord returns to earth with His bride, the church, this striking phrase stands out: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10c) All prophecy points to this moment of time where He is fully revealed as “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” (Rev. 19:16b)
In stark contrast, Bible prophecy is not, nor should it ever be, about the Antichrist, the devil, the future of nations or the “mark of the beast.” Yes, those things are discussed and important to understand, but they only serve to magnify the triumphant Christ in His glory. As He removes authority from the devil, and judges those who reject Him and instead follow the devil, these things become part of His testimony. That is to say, the works of the glorified Christ as seen in Revelation are central to prophecy. Conversely, the works of the devil are not central to prophecy.
6. The Bible is the only book you need
The Gospel of John opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) Thus, if there is anything to be said, known or understood about Jesus Christ, it is fully contained within His own Word. Other books, such as the Apocrypha, the Book of Enoch, the Midrash, and other ancient books were not inspired by the Holy Spirit and bring no additional truth to the study table that is not already there. If the Bible is the original source of truth, then any other books of the kind mentioned above can only introduce error rather than additional truth. Where Bible prophecy is concerned, stick to the Bible.
7. Find the whole counsel of God in the Bible
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) This means digging into the Old and New Testaments to find passages that support or disprove a particular concept. It isn’t easy or even convenient to do this consistently, but it is a clear command from Scripture itself: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15) Major doctrines of the Bible always have multiple passages or references supporting or enhancing them. Thus, if anyone proposes a major doctrine based on a single verse or passage, the first inclination should be to steer clear and the second should be to dig deeper into the Bible to prove or disprove the doctrine.
The above seven points are hardly exhaustive, and perhaps too simplistic for some. Nevertheless, if you follow them they will keep you on the right track and insulated from deception. By all means, always ask the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct you, of whom Jesus Himself said,
whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth,
which proceeds from the Father,
He shall testify of me.”