Navigating the End-times (Pt. 2)
False prophets are here
Jesus told [His disciples], "Don't let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah'...And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people" (Matt. 24:4-5, 11).
The Savior did not mean that we should anticipate every false prophet literally declaring to be the Messiah. Although many foolish men have and will rise up to make this maniacal claim, there are more covert tactics being deployed in the last days. Those who (profess to be Christian but) do not read the Bible, do not pray, do not fast, have no conviction of sin, and are not submitted to a local pastor are the easiest prey for lying prophets to devour. Wolves will readily attack the lone sheep who believes they're a "good person" and the ones who refuse to do "organized religion."
People in pulpits and on platforms across America are daily declaring to have a word from God. We're free to listen to as many words as we want, but it profits us nothing when we don't know the Word, that is Jesus Christ (see John 1). It's important to note Jesus' warnings are not necessarily against televangelists, prophetic YouTube channels, or megachurch pastors. Although preaching on health, wealth, prosperity, and blessings - while ignoring sin, the cross, and repentance - can be a sign of spiritual corruption, it doesn't automatically render the minister a heretic. This is simply "low hanging fruit" or a "cheap gospel" to be avoided.
A bonafide false prophet is likely persuasive, charismatic, polished, and respectable. There may not be anything immediately "off" in their character or personality and their speech could be agreeable with what we generally regard as true. So how do we know the real from the fake? Consider 1 John 4:1, "..do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world."
Testing (weighing, discerning) the spirit of a prophet requires us to actively know (commune with, gain revelation from) the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. Growing in a personal relationship with God is often overstated in sermons but remains severely under-developed in the lives of many believers. Yet, this is the way to know the truth when we hear prophets speak. Also, notice the above verse says many false prophets are in the world (this can can be taken to mean outside the church). Not every false prophet is talking about religious subjects.
American Christians are still waking up to the fact that mainstream media, corrupt government officials, and rogue political activists - who "prophesy" twisted agendas and propaganda - are, in fact, false prophets. We are watching their words and plans produce everything contrary to the will of God in the earth.
Persecution is here
The Savior said, "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers...And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other" (Matt. 24:9-10).
The hatred, persecution, and violence experienced by Christians in places like China, Afghanistan, and Iraq are not the present reality of Christians in the United States. In foreign nations, believers are suppressed, raped, tortured, and murdered (sometimes publicly) because they profess faith in Jesus Christ. Our worst hardships in America involve lawsuits for preaching against the LGBT lifestyle, being arrested for holding church services during a pandemic, and facing Supreme Court battles after refusing to bake a "gay cake."
Without diminishing the pain of destroyed reputations or minimizing financial ruin, it's necessary to point out that this is only a foretaste of what's to come. I stand with those who fear God more than man (see Prov. 29:25) and I support those who stick to their convictions, even to the point of bankruptcy, divorce, loss of ministry, etc. Jesus warned believers to count the cost of following Him and be prepared to risk it all for His namesake (see Luke 14:26-28; NLT). Whatever the price, Western Christians should be willing to pay it knowing that one lost soul is more valuable than acceptance, comfort, and nice things.
To be banned from social media platforms, to lose a friend, or be terminated from a job is much more bearable than starvation, bodily torment, or watching a fellow believer's execution. The American Church really has no excuse for timidity or cowardice since the consequences for speaking the truth (at the present moment) are light afflictions (see Heb. 12:2-4). By avoiding politics and political discussions the Church has largely turned a blind eye to the fact that the world is going to hell.
There are those who think, What's the point?...Isn't the rapture of the Church going to happen before it gets that bad? This theological view is lazy, selfish, and incompatible with the assignment Christ gave His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20. Those who only care about going to heaven before the world ends are easy targets for false prophets; escapist Christians will certainly be caught off guard in the last days. We should not underestimate the spiritual warfare required to both sustain a personal relationship with God and evangelize the lost. Our faith must be firm before entering the heat of battle.
The Savior said, "[T]he one who endures to the end will be saved" (Matt. 24:13).
Stay tuned for Part 3...