The Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 is the classic account where Jesus graphically describes the signs immediately prior to his return. Many events and signs are described including wars, famines, natural disasters, persecutions and others. Whilst these symptoms of the end times are each mentioned once, there is a phenomena that Jesus mentions FOUR times – deception! We have to be alert as we are warned there is deception in the last days!
Jesus clearly wanted to greatly emphasize that deception would be one of the clearest signs that His return is imminent:
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (Matthew 24:4, emphasis added)
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:5, emphasis added)
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:11, emphasis added)
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:23-24, emphasis added)
It is obviously wise to look out for all the signs that Jesus described in the Olivet Discourse. We argue that many of these signs are increasing in frequency and intensity in our Are we living in the end times? article.
However, Jesus stresses that deception will be the clearest and most dangerous of these signs prior to His return and that this deception will also happen INSIDE the church. We are being warned that prior to Jesus’ return there will be an increase of false Christ’s with false gospels. The worst part is that this deception will be very subtle as we are told in the last passage quoted above that even the “elect” will be deceived – this warning should result in a sober awareness of deception.
Not only did Jesus repeatedly warn against deception, other NT writers frequently warn of deception within the church. In these last days, it is crucial that all teaching is tested against the teachings of the Bible. We fear that there are many in churches throughout the United Kingdom who believe they will be saved through rituals, works, social gospels and other dangerous false teachings that are all promoted in Jesus’ name. Be on guard, if you are uncomfortable with any teaching/conduct in your church, examine the Bible and pray for guidance. What did Jesus do should be a day to day motto that is used to test doctrine and conduct against the example set by Christ. For the sake of your own eternity, please ensure you believe the gospel message as taught by Jesus Himself – not a church/individual claiming a different gospel in Jesus name.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12)