by Pastor Dele Oyeleru
How many of us believe that Jesus is coming very soon? I do. This is something that is not too commonly talked about in the Body of Christ today, but which actually should be the centre of our discussions. It is no longer in vogue; in as much as other things are important, but I think these things are more foundational than the way they are being treated in the Churches today. I’ll like to share only one sign of the coming of the Lord.
Though He left us with signs that we were going to see when His coming was very close, I realize that most of our emphases have always been on war in Afghanistan; cyclone in the Philippines; hurricane in Pakistan, etc. Those things are happening and are truly showing that the coming of the Lord is close, but those things seem to be too impersonal. There are very personal things that Jesus spoke about in the Bible that we need to watch out for in our lives, so that we can be exactly where He wants us to be by the time He comes back; in order to be fit to go with Him.
Matthew 24:1-4 “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.”
Verse 11 – “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many”. Note three things from this verse:
- What will be the signs of the time when no stone will be left on top of another in this temple?
- What will be signs of your coming?
- What will be the signs of the end of the age?
My emphasis is not on the exegesis of those signs as it were, rather, on the answers that Jesus gave in bringing the three questions together. There are three different signs, which the disciples asked together; but in answering Jesus gave answers to each of the questions, which you must be able to dissect.
In verse 4: “And Jesus answered and said unto them take heed that no man deceive you”
When they were asking for signs, they expected Him to say, “There will be more rainfall; the intensity of sunshine will increase; there will be trouble here and there; there will be rumors of wars; and other issues like what we are familiar with. But before He went to that, He said something very critical. If you have been trained in the art of speaking, you would have been told that your first few sentences and your concluding parts matter a lot.
Take note that the disciples asked Jesus for signs, but by the time He was talking it didn’t look like He was talking about signs. He said “take heed, let no man deceive you”. So when we are talking about the signs of His coming, we are talking about an age of deception. Who are the three categories of people that you can easily trust? Your spouse, pastor, parents or close friends. So if you are going to be deceived very easily, it must be by somebody you trust very much. I want to put it to you that we are like children when it comes to the things of God. Of the three categories above, let’s look at who a child in kindergarten would trust most? The class teacher of course! If her mommy says 2 +2=4, the child will say “no mommy, you don’t know book, my teacher told us that 2+2=22!” So to the child her mother doesn’t know anything; because her teacher is the example of perfection to her. Therefore since we are like children and we are sheep, we will need to give the more heed and be careful about those people who teach us. We seem to have confidence in those that teach us, that is why we submit to them. So be careful of everybody you listen to; authors whose books you read; preachers whose messages you watch on the internet, on the television; and crusades or forums organized in the teaching of the word of God that you attend; because those who teach you impart you, positively or negatively (see 1 Tim 4”17).
False teachers are worse than false prophets. False prophets are those who say God said when God has not said; they only say that error is truth. But false teachers will make you understand why the error is truth by teaching error as truth and explaining it until you understand it as truth. There are some principles we have taken out of context in Christendom because of lack of depth of preachers. A lot of preachers don’t have depth, so anything they just see overnight, they preach the following day, and at the end of the day, you’ll see there is no substance in what they are saying. The principle of confession is beyond talk, it is from the heart to the mouth, not from the mouth out. If it does not start from the heart then it has no power, it is not just about talking, talking is cheap. “Just keep saying it, repeat it to yourself over and over” they tell their congregation, but there must be a substance on your inside from where what you are saying is coming from, for it to manifest.
Verse 11 says, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” .When these false prophets arise, they will deceive human beings, not animals or birds! Mind you; they are still prophets, it is God who knows that they are false; how would you know? That is why every man must know God for himself at this end of time. The end time is a different time completely from every time that has been up until now. There are so many intrigues that make it too difficult, in fact impossible, for anybody that does not know God not to be deceived. I’ll show you that most of the other scriptures where the coming of the Lord is spoken about; there’s always something about deception. That means that many people that will miss it at the end of time will be because their zeal was misdirected by those who teach them.
So we have to be careful who we listen to and what we hear; we must take heed and be like the believers of Berea in Acts 17:11-12, who were nobler than the believers of Thessalonica because after they heard the great, mighty and eloquent Paul, they went to check if what he taught them were so. But to the modern believer, it is tasking for us to do that. We want to pay people to do everything for us – pay them to read Bible, to preach, to teach, to live Christian life for us, and even to pray for us.
“Many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many” How many will they deceive? What can make you escape not to be among the many? That means only a few will be able to escape. Just imagine the oceans of people that call themselves Christians, the Bible says many of them will be deceived. Christians who are tongues- speaking, demon-chasing, Holy Ghost-carrying; they will be deceived. Not because they don’t love God, but because they missed the first thing Jesus spoke about His return, which was “Take heed lest any man deceive you”.
Verse 12 says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” What will make iniquity to abound is the prosperity of the false prophets. They will prosper so much, they will make people to be sinning when they don’t know they are sinning; they will sin and say “Praise God we are walking in grace”. That is the connection in false prophets will arise and when they do, iniquity will abound. To abound means ‘to be plentiful’; that means things that God does not sanction, will be plentiful; though they are inherently wrong, but everybody will be doing it including Christians, and they will not blink or care a bit about doing them; they will just think they are serving God. Remember Isaiah 66; John 16:2: Some people will kill God’s children and say praise God. That is what ignorance can do. The prosperity of the false prophet is what will lead to the iniquity abounding.
Verse 24 “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.”
The first time Jesus said “take heed lest any man deceive you” in verse 11, He mentioned ‘false prophets’, but in verse 24 He made an addition, He brought in another category: false Christs. This does not mean that the person says “I am Jesus Christ”, it only means that the person is anointed, but not of Christ – falsely anointed ones, since Christ means ‘the Anointed One’. False Christs will be anointed too, but their anointing is not from the true source. That is why they can show signs, wonders and diverse miracles; those are the things they will use to captivate the fools, the simple and the gullible; who would say, “If God is not with him how come he is working miracles?” Those are like the questions asked by Jews who did not know God.
That is why I always warn people about Bible, it is a Book for kindergartens, students and professors. Now those who would be deceived would say, “if God is not with him how come he is working miracle?’ But that is a foolish question because God is not power, God has power. God is love, if God is not with him, how can he love this way? That is the only guarantee. Is there any miracle Christ worked that has not been counterfeited by the enemy? Does that now mean God is with him (satan)? But the Bible tells me in Matthew 7:20, “by their fruits you shall know them”. Is it by their gifts, the miracles they work, or signs and wonders? No! That means we have to go beyond signs and miracles to know who is true and who is false, because the false prophets will show great signs and wonders; meaning that they will prosper.
That meant even those that will not be deceived, they tried but their trial was not good enough, Grace had to surface, but you must do your part. Grace has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11) if that grace has appeared why is every man not saved? Because they refused to do their part “repent and believe” so it’s the same thing if you don’t do your part, you cannot partake of that Grace. He said the very elect, not the elect. Everybody that is a Christian is an elect, but there is a core group called the very elect, He said those are the only ones that will escape. And when God speaks like that He is not talking about a particular people, He is talking about conditions to be met that will count you in, it doesn’t have to be “me”. If I don’t fulfill those conditions, I’m out, somebody else will come in.
2 Timothy 4:1-5: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
These are the things we don’t want. If you are the type that doesn’t like rebuke and reproof, you are already making yourself mincemeat in the hands of the antichrist, because this scripture is talking about the end time. So if a preacher really loves his people, these are the things he’ll use to save them from the judgment ahead – preach the word, be instant in season and out of season, rebuke, reproof. If you hate teaching (because it takes time), and you prefer to go to a church where they preach for 20 minutes, and do launching for 2 hours”, do you think you will be able to escape what is looming ahead of the world? Remember that it is what a bird eats, that it’ll fly with. The Bible already warns us that many will not be able to endure sound doctrine, (and that does not mean those who endure it will enjoy it, but they strife to). But the truth is that you already know the end of some people by their attitude to the word of God. The lust that is lurking somewhere in them wants manifestation. Ordinarily, lust is something that is intangible; but when it wants to gain access and be seen, it has to go through a human being. James 1:13-15 talks about evil concupiscence, ungodly desires. Lust is more or less like sin in its potential form. Everybody has it including the born again and preachers. And just as the lust in you is looking for a way to manifest, that’s the same way God is looking for ways to manifest through you. You may not be able to see lust but you will see its manifestations.
What does ‘itchy ears’ connote? – They just want to hear something new and their preachers will be looking for new things too, because without that they won’t stay. It doesn’t have to be the truth, in fact it is called “fables” So Churches become gist centers. They will deliberately turn their ears away from the truth. The Amplified Bible says: they will turn to myth and manmade fiction. Church messages that sell now are earth-bound and earth-binding – Tying people to the earth. As if success is an end. Deuteronomy 18 tells us why God will prosper us: to establish the covenant He had with our fathers. How did the covenant come? What is being taught in churches today is riches, presented as prosperity, which is different from what God has in mind. The truth has to be spoken, if we don’t know these things and prosperity comes, that will be our undoing. These days, people are not ashamed to read newspaper or text messages in church, but are ashamed to bring out their Bibles in a restaurant or bank. God forbid!
“You are to show people in what ways their lives are wrong” Who wants to hear that now? You will starve to death. I realize that in this age mentoring is about boosting the image of your protégée – mentoring is minus correction. People cannot endure correction and the Bible says all scripture is given for teaching, reproof, correction, instruction . . . that the man of God may be perfect, fully furnished unto all good work (2 Timothy 3:17) . Which of the afore-mentioned words sell in the church today? Warning, urging (1 Timothy 4) The only warning we hear is, “I will curse you if you don’t pay tithe!” So if the word of God is for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction and you can’t take these, don’t you see that such a person has already made himself meat pie in the hands of the antichrist? Take heed lest any man deceive you.
We are living in a generation where the truth is hated; there is a difference between not liking something and hating it, conscious hatred for the truth. You need to ask yourself if you really love the truth. If you do not love the truth, it is a major sign that you are preparing yourself to be a victim of antichrist. Remember Matthew 24:11 which tells us that many shall be deceived; and verse 24 says if it were possible even the very elect will be deceived. The ‘many’ there is because there is no other word, it is not 75%.
2 Timothy 3:3,4 “For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, they keep moving around until they get to the place that suits them”
We all see crusades that are being held, but how many unbelievers do you see there? Most of those who attend are just church-swapping; they don’t experience genuine conversion; and most of the people who organize the crusades do not really care whether sinners are being turned to God. They are just concerned about the programmes they organize, and that is how they go from conference to seminar, from seminar to camp meeting etc. But Jesus tells us: “As for you, be calm, cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry” (Verse 5).
Jude 3-4 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ”.
False prophets and teachers have already been set apart for a particular condemnation which they were ordained unto; and they entered the church slyly through big donations which put them in church office, becoming pastors automatically. The people whom you call men of God, God says they are ungodly; their mission is to turn the Grace of God against God. Their purpose is to make sure that the grace of God that God sent to save men; they turn it around and use it to enslave men.
Galatians 5:13 (AMP) “For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.” It is very easy that grace can be used as an occasion to the flesh even more than what God meant it to be, because people don’t know the purpose for grace, they see it as permission to sin. How wicked the heart of man is! At the end of the day the Bible says they made them twice children of hell than they themselves, but they come in the cloak of pastors, bishops and different titles.
We see that each of these scriptures we have read about the coming of the Lord is showing us something about deception and I’ve shown you from Matthew 24 how deception will lead to iniquity, and the iniquity is going to happen because people will be open to false prophets by the weapon of false miracles, signs etc. Then when the door is open, false teachers will enter and establish the errors and teach it until it becomes permanent doctrine in the hearts of the people; and those they taught begin to defend what they have heard. Mind you, I’m the first suspect because I am teaching you right now. So you need to go and check everything I’ve said, whether they are true. Acts 17:11-12 (they sought and found out that those things were so, each person checked for his or herself then they believed). Any believer that fails this test cannot escape the antichrist.
This is the balance: 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 “Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” And; I John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. Because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world”.
Don’t just assume, be discerning, not suspicious. How will you discern when you do not really know what the word of God and the Spirit of God are saying? Discernment goes beyond looks; you have to know what the Son of God that came in flesh said first, then you will be able to discern when what somebody is teaching is contrary to that. And you don’t have to be a preacher for you to be able to do that.
Isaiah 8:20 “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” How do you know who to say no to? If you don’t know what the word of God has said, nobody should know it for you.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…” The man of sin will be revealed by miracles, signs and wonders etc; that means false teachers will go to any means just to deceive you.