I am presently teaching on the end times at our church. These teachings will also be used in our Forerunner School. For the next several months, I will publish excerpts from this end-time class as short articles. I hope you enjoy them.
Twenty-five-plus years into my study of the end times, I now realize many things I believed for years are not true. They are not clearly taught in Scripture. I just blindly accepted them as the truth without close examination.
From my experience and journey into understanding the end times, I want to share six things that will help prepare your heart to receive the truth about the end of the age. I encourage you to plant these truths deep into your heart.
I will share three points in this article and three more in a subsequent article.
1. Love the truth.
A deep love for the truth is the only safeguard against deception. Speaking about the end times, Paul said those who don’t “love . . . the truth” will be deceived by “a deluding influence” to “believe what is false” (2 Thess. 2:10-11). The most sobering part of this statement is “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false” (2 Thess. 2:11).
Our good God of love, mercy, and grace—not the evil devil of hate, rage, condemnation, and destruction—will send a deluding influence upon those who don’t love the truth. This is sobering. But it shows us how much the Lord values the love of the truth.
I encourage you to pause for a moment and ask the Lord to give you a deep love for the truth. A love for the truth that creates hunger, passion, and a quest for the uncompromised reality of what Scripture teaches.
2. Love the truth more than your favorite minister, ministry, or movement.
I can’t tell you how often this has burned me. In the past, perhaps because of insecurity or not wanting to walk alone, I embraced teachings not consistent with Scripture. This included teachings related to the rapture, Israel, and other end-time teachings.
At times, it was because I was impressed by an eloquent and intelligent teacher with a large influence. I thought this has to be true because this teacher is smart, a great communicator, and he has a worldwide following. At other times, I was enamored by a prophetic minister’s revelation and encounters, so I concluded this must be true because they are hearing so clearly from the Lord.
Wanting to belong to something bigger than myself, I embraced unbiblical ideas simply out of a desire to be identified with a larger movement or ministry. Though longing to be connected to something bigger than ourselves is a God-given desire, we have to discern who we connect with, prizing truth above unity.
This is especially true about the end times. I can’t tell you how often a smart, well-versed, eloquent communicator twists the Scriptures, cherry-picking them from their original context to fit their already determined theology. Then, those who listen to their teaching think to themselves this has to be true because he is so smart, knows the Word of God so well, and is famous. Who am I to question this? This has happened to me several times. And I assure you this takes place often in the body of Christ today.
We can’t exchange the truth for a lie simply because our favorite teacher, preacher, ministry, or movement promotes something contrary to Scripture. We have to search for, study, and embrace the truth for ourselves. We can’t just accept a teaching because someone famous says it is true and uses a handful of verses to support their conclusions.
Before going further, let me ask you an honest question. Are you more committed to a prominent leader, a growing movement, or to a charismatic personality than the clear teaching of Scripture?
In subsequent articles, as I deconstruct false teaching spreading in the Charismatic church, my hunch is you will likely have a spiritual hero who embraces and promotes false end-time teachings. Will you believe what they teach just because you like them or have been blessed by their ministry? Will you hold to it because you identify with their movement or denomination? Or will you carefully examine the teaching in light of Scripture and hold fast to the truth? Will you love the truth more than you love being part of a movement that seems to have God’s favor and anointing on it?
In my pursuit of understanding the end times, I have definitely had to prioritize truth above some of my spiritual heroes’ teachings. I have had to prize truth above my favorite denominations and movements. For me, clinging to the truth revealed in Scripture trumps fitting in with popular ministries and influencers.
3. Loving the truth is more important than unity.
In my thirty years of wholeheartedly following Christ, there is nothing more precious to me than organic unity. When brothers and sisters in the Lord fellowship together around the person of Christ and the truth revealed in the Word of God, there’s nothing quite like it. You can sense the joy of heaven and the presence of Christ coming into these precious moments.
Paul called it the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). David said, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1). There’s nothing sweeter than eating and fellowshipping with other Christ followers who are pursuing the Lord and the truth in Jesus wholeheartedly.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus earnestly prayed that we would all be one, just as He and the Father are one (John 17:21). I’m convinced this will be fulfilled before the Lord returns and I can’t wait to see it. I want to be right at the center of it.
As much as I love how the Spirit creates organic unity, I must warn you. There is a false unity movement presently at work in the church. This false unity movement will increase in the days ahead, ultimately leading to many in the church playing the harlot with the Babylonian one-world religion (Rev. 17-18). I will describe this in future articles.
The powers of darkness are crafty and strategic. They know the Lord will unify the church around Christ and the uncompromised Word of God. But if we aren’t discerning, demonic powers will manipulate our love and compassion for one another and other movements and denominations into a false unity, where we compromise the truth in God’s Word. The devil and his dark angels will subtly guilt us into unity, heaping condemnation upon us for not working together with others who believe different than we do. Underneath such a noble aspiration for unity is a crafty deception, leading to adulterating the Word of God.
This is already happening in an increasing way in the church. Many have already adopted the mantra that unity is more important than doctrine. Unity is more important than agreeing on the truth in God’s Word. Now, I am not saying we have to agree perfectly with everyone before we can have the oneness Jesus prayed for. I don’t expect that to happen this side of eternity. At the same time, there are certain truths that can’t be abandoned for the sake of unity.
There are three doctrines of demons I will quickly mention here. These should never be embraced or compromised for the sake of unity. These are: Universalism (all religions lead to salvation), hyper-grace (taking God’s grace to an unbiblical extreme), and Preterism (the teaching that all or most of the prophetic Scriptures were fulfilled in 70 A.D.). As I’ll explain in a future article, these three false doctrines, which I consider to be doctrines of demons, will cause many in the church to fornicate with harlot Babylon before Christ returns.
Undoubtedly, some will question why I included Preterism with these other two doctrines. Hopefully this will become clear in future articles. For now, I want to encourage you to make alliances carefully. Be prayerful and discerning about who you listen to, where you go to church, and who you allow to influence your thinking. Be on guard against the fear of deception and the subtleness of deception. Never compromise truth for unity. This is never God’s pathway to making us one.
Are You Willing to Walk Alone?
If you want to follow Christ and the truth as it is found in Jesus, there are times when you will have to come outside the camp of popular Christian movements and ministries. There are times when you will have to walk alone down the narrow path leading to life. As you embrace this reality, beware of the Elijah mentality, thinking you are the only one walking the straight and narrow way. Just as in the days of Elijah, when the Lord told him 7,000 haven’t bowed the knee to Baal, the Lord has a remnant today.
Hebrews 13:13-14 states, “Let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
If our hearts are set upon the heavenly Jerusalem, the bridal city Jesus is preparing for His bride, there will be many times we have to come outside the camp of mainstream Christianity to seek the Lord in the wilderness. This is especially true about discovering the truth about the end times.
Will you come outside the camp of what is popular, trendy, and influential to seek Jesus and His truth? If we refuse to come outside the camp, we could easily embrace popular end-time teachings laced with error, unaware we are believing a lie.
Are you willing to walk alone, if necessary, to believe the uncompromised truth of Scripture?