Following the Rules, Number 4

Rule #4, The Five Major Rules of Bible Interpretation

Before truth is realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized. – R. Van Kampen, The Sign, p.11

With knowing the rules comes our responsibility to use them. Perhaps this is why many long-time church-goers are hearing for the first time that rules for Bible interpretation exist. By acting like they do not, we only fool ourselves. As my good friend recalled: In Connecticut, where he once worked, there hung a sign: “Ignorance of the rules is no excuse!” The Lord’s Words are the supreme judge, even if we choose to discount them (John 12:44-48).

The enemy wants God’s people in the dark, especially about what is coming, so the devil casts doubt, spreads confusion, disinformation and fear, all through willing human agents. To cut through the fog around prophecy, we must have Light, the pure light of God. That entails using “The 5 Major Rules of interpretation” to remove all darkness from what God has declared.

A cloud has been cast on Matthew 24 by “Christian leaders” whom we have traditionally trusted. They earned our trust by teaching wonderful stories about Jesus. That is good in itself, but on the end times, whether duped or not, they practice deception.

Here’s an example where many are badly misinformed and where the failure to utilize Rule #4 has played to Satan’s advantage: It focuses on the two future events, “the rapture and Jesus’ return.”

The scenarios presented to Christians cover the gamut. They range from “Our Lord can come any moment” to “not until after the seven years of tribulation” or “not at all, not in a physical way” at the other end of the spectrum. (By “not at all,” I refer to teaching that states Christ’s return to reign is allegorical or “not to be taken literally.” See “Rules of Interpretation,” Rule #1.)

For over a century, the extreme positions of “any moment” or “imminent” vs. “allegorical” or “non-literal” have battled it out for “Most Popular.” Did it ever occur to either side in this debate that the truth may lay in the middle? Instead of regarding those with whom we disagree as the enemy, could we sit down in love, then apply “The Rules of Interpretation” to harmonize (bring together) positions. It is possible, but only if truth is the goal. Since I have experience with both sides, I am willing to mediate. If one side or the other breaks a rule of interpretation, we will disallow that argument. The contest ends when irrelevant arguments are removed from consideration and all relevant information is on the table.

It is like marriage counseling; help is available but only if each partner is willing to seek some middle ground. Egos must be put aside or we will never know that a third, more logical  option is waiting. When all evidence is presented, harmony will be realized

The false dichotomy of either Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives was “not to be viewed as literal” vs. it was “to be taken literally but only by Jews” become irreconcilable differences, and that is how the devil wants it.

Next: In our search for harmony, can we move to the unshakeable ground of Biblical truth on the timing of the rapture? Yes, but only by following the rules.

Deception Surrounding Matthew 24, Part 4

They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. – Jesus, Matthew 24:30b-31 NIV)

At the outset we wrote that a serious charge has been leveled at Matthew 24. This verbal assault on the credibility of Jesus’ teaching was launched years ago from noted sources within the Christian community. Since there was no decisive response, the charge has taken on a life of its own.

It has been asserted that Matthew’s Gospel was exclusively written to Jews. It is time this argument is put to rest.

Deceptions like this about Matthew 24 plus the application of the Five Major Rules of Bible Interpretation to combat the many false narratives are the subjects of our series. The internet has numerous links like those that maintain “the prophecy in chapter 24 does not apply to the saints.”  Part of the evidence, in their words, is, in Matthew 24, there is no mention of “the Church.” Therefore, they say, the Church has been taken up in the rapture before Jesus prophesies on the Mount of Olives. Does that also eliminate the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, from our consideration. There’s no mention of “the Church” in that passage either.

The nature and seriousness of this accusation against the integrity of a vital Bible prophecy deserves our full attention and a thoughtful response. First, we examine Rule #4, “Before truth is realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized.”

As seen by the video link, those arguing the charge also state lengthy plausible cases. What is missing, however, is what Rule #4 is about: We do not hear an attempt to “harmonize the Scriptures” that seemingly conflict with their argument. Their words sound like they come from lawyers rather than truth-seekers. All the evidence needs to be laid on the table before conclusions are reached. (The previous posts in the series help serve that purpose.)

Utilizing the previous rules, we come to Matthew 24:30-31 (see above). “And he [the Son of Man] will send his angels with a loud trumpet call [refer to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Mark 13:26-27, Luke 21:25-28] and they will gather his elect from the four winds… 

“Plain meaning,” “the context of the verses,” “comparing Scripture with Scripture” and now the attempt to “harmonize any contradictions”–let’s play by the rules! We ask, “Have God’s elect (‘the Church’ by their definition) been raptured prior to Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:25-28?” The harmonized evidence clearly shows this is the one and only “taking up of the chosen” to meet Christ in the air! There should be no argument. The only way any support or argument exists is to ignore the rules of interpretation and the rules of evidence.

There is much more proof. I encourage you to read Lifesaver and The Prophets, Priests and Kings Series or Robert Van Kampen’s The Rapture Question Answered: Pure and Simple.

Anyone who says that what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:30-31 cannot be the rapture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) has a bigger problem than their integrity. They have an issue with Jesus (John 12:47-50, Revelation 22:18-19). 

Truth is the goal, yet truth is not dependent on how skillful one argues.  jf

More on Rule #3

As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21-22 NIV)

“In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue will arise… He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” (Daniel 8:23, 25)

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me… Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9, 12-13) 

Starting with “Deception Surrounding Matthew 24” this series is intended to alert God’s people to a diabolical attempt to deprive them of prophetic truth. If that scheme fails, the evil one desires to distract the elect or lull them to sleep so Jesus’ warnings go for naught (cf. Luke 21:34-36).

Most Christians assume all will be fine, so they are woefully unprepared. All will not be fine (cf. Mark 13:3-23). We have been fed a diet of fake news while being denied the truth. As a result, we have focused on clever stories taught by men (2 Peter 2:1-3). If that is not the work of the Destroyer, then what is?

For example, a recent warning by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was issued and submitted to the U.S. president. It stated that Americans need to prepare for a “profound” EMP emergency. A summary was published in The Washington Examiner in an article “Start Prepping Electric Grid Prime Target.” So why was this very real emergency ignored by the same media that inundates us with dire warnings about climate change and the Trump Presidency? Is there a scheme to literally keep us in the dark?

We argue irrelevancies while truth goes wanting. The fact is that we are being set up. The enemy will have many trust in a false savior (i.e. “the man of lawlessness”) by keeping us ignorant of the plain warnings of prophecy. We are being fed baby food from the pulpit while we have not had 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 The Rebellion, the Revealing of the Antichrist and the Coming Great Delusion” faithfully explained. Why not? I smell a rat!

Scripture offers three witnesses. (See above.) Each testifies to a coming time of great distress for God’s saints and to the glorious salvation Christ brings them thereafter. Their context is identical and each passage speaks of the saints at the end of this age. Each warning is articulated by heaven’s representative, so their authority is unassailable. If we employ Rule #3 of our 5 Major Rules of Bible Interpretation, “Comparing Scripture with Scripture,” we will have confidence that our interpretation is an absolute certainty. If we apply the other four rules, it will be unshakeable.

Knowing our understanding is accurate has nothing to do with “an expert’s agreement”. Our interpretation is entirely objective. When we apply the rules and arrive at truth, we learn that so-called experts are not needed.

The truth eagerly submits to rugged examination based on the rules. On the other hand, the “inventors of clever stories” act as if the rules do not exist or they are above them. They insist we should believe their fabricated tales. It is a fallacy of logic to suggest that because much of what a teacher says is true then everything else they state is also. Comparing Scripture is an indispensable step in the process if we are to firmly grasp what will surely take place.

Next time: We examine another major deception involving Matthew 24.

Following the Rules: Number 3

Rule #3- Five Rules for Bible Interpretation

  “Compare Scripture with Scripture”

Of the five major rules, none can claim superiority. They are equally important for an accurate understanding of God’s Word. However, if there was one essential rule, I believe it would be #3.

With that said, I ask why #3 is likely the most misused, under-used or abused of the Five Major Rules? I could give examples. Instead, I will cite a few misinterpretations related to Matthew 24 and Rule #3.

First, I need to mention an important tool that aids in the application of Rule #3. I am speaking of a concordance, and the more “complete” the better. A Bible Concordance listing words in alphabetical order and showing where they are located in Scripture is most helpful in comparing parallel passages. By “complete,” I am referring to the volume of words. The range of concordances is from “abbreviated” as in some words, to “exhaustive,” as in every word in the Bible. Limitations exist. For instance, concordances are not available for all translations.

Pick a key word like “abomination” from Matthew 24:16. Ten other times the singular, plural or the related “abominable” appear in the earlier NIV. The NIV concordance cites each so students can compare Scripture with Scripture.

So why do we have teachers who have concordance access but do not use them? Is it because of a bias against the Old Testament. (Remember: The Old Testament provides the background for the New.)

When verses such as 2 Timothy 2:15 were written, the New Testament did not exist. So, to what “Scripture” was Paul referring? The same as Jesus when he spoke of the Holy Scriptures: “The Book of the Law and the Prophets” to Jews or “The Old Testament” to Bible readers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)

Couple the above reference with 2 Timothy 3:15.

…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:15)

Again, Paul cannot be referring to the New Testament. So what is the issue? Why the reluctance to compare Old Testament parallels with the New?

I have often referred to the Bereans of Acts 17:11. They had no reference tools. They relied on their Scripture knowledge to judge whether the Apostle’s teaching was accurate or not. They understood a principle God submits to for confirmation–two or three witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1, Deuteronomy 17:6, and 19:15). If Paul used multiple references as support for his teaching and the Bereans tested them for accuracy, then the truth was established. (In the books The Prophets, Priests and Kings series and Lifesaver, I follow this pattern of providing Scripture witnesses. It is up to the reader to test them using The Rules of Interpretation.) If the Old Testament is ignored, teachers can present anything using one “out of context” passage, Matthew 24:36 (ex. “The Any-Moment Rapture” Doctrine).

Perhaps now we see what is behind the unwillingness to compare New Testament passages with those in the Old. Is it because showing the perfect unity between the Old and New Testament threatens false doctrine that Paul warred against and infest most “New Testament Churches.”

In Part 2, we will illustrate Rule #3 by comparing Matthew 24:9 with the Old Testament Daniel (7:21-27 and 8:23-25).

Deception Surrounding Matthew 24-Part 3

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to take place?”

Jesus said to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and deceive many.” (Mark 13:3-4 NIV)

Parallel passages in the Gospels are not uncommon. Details may be added or omitted but there is no doubt they describe the same event. Of the four Gospels, John’s was the last written. Of the other three, Mark wrote his Gospel first. Reliable scholars believe it was around 50 A.D., not 75 A.D. as some suggest.

I offer this as background for the charge that Matthew 24’s account of The Olivet Discourse was written for Jews and not for everyone. Since this is an attack on the credibility of a significant part of the Bible, this charge merits a full investigation.

I follow this principle: If an argument’s foundation is based on a faulty assumption, it cannot produce an accurate conclusion. A faulty assumption is like inaccurate data entered into the guidance system of a rocket. Everything looks good on the pad, but when launched there is no chance of success.

Unfortunately, some Bible teachers frequently pull faulty assumptions and erroneous arguments out of their hat. We must listen for what’s presented as fact.

Evidence given to back the Pre-Tribulation Rapture claim that prophecy in Matthew 24 does not pertain to Gentile believers is the absence of “Church” in the passage. In logic this is termed “an argument from silence,” the weakest of all arguments. (The YouTube link offers an example of a violating Rule #1, The 5 Major Rules of Bible Interpretation, “Accept the meaning of Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense.”) Watch and see how long it takes before confusion sets in. It is a sample of “muddying the water” a type of deception among Christians surrounding Matthew 24. Check out another link that presents a refutation of the charges about Matthew 24. Whose case is clearer?)

Before we decide, we need to give this matter “due diligence.” Consider: If Mark was written earlier and contains the same account, why was Matthew 24 for Jews while Mark 13 was not? Luke 21 was written during the same time period as Matthew 24. Why no argument about the Olivet Discourse in Luke being only for Jews. Matthew has two references to “the Church” (16:18 and 18:17), Mark and Luke have zero, yet they say Matthew was written to Jews and not the Church. They assume we all agree with their untenable assumption.

These shenanigans are only supposed to happen in politics, not within Christianity. By making their charge against Matthew 24, these teachers have crossed the line. They discredit Jesus’ prophecy, inject confusion and obscure God’s sovereign plan of salvation in the last days.

To whom was Jesus referring when he stated, “Let the reader understand”? (24:15b) Was it Torah reading Jews or Matthew reading saints?

Playing to the vulnerable, teachers claim faithfulness to God’s Word, but is that important to the trickery (Matthew 24:4)? This has nothing to do with Jews and everything to do with deceiving the saints.

Could their motive be to protect their amassed wealth and power?

Following the Rules: Number Two

Rule #2- Five Rules For Bible Interpretation

“Take Scripture in Context”

In many cases, errors in interpreting prophecy would be avoided if we knew the passage’s context. Context may mean more than the sentence before and after, the paragraph in which it is included, or even the chapter and book. The entire context, may be Old Testament references as well as New.

If I grew up in the big city and all I knew was the corner grocery, I could be talked into believing chocolate milk came from brown cows. How would I know if I did not know a dairy from a diary? The same goes for the country boy who visits a “large metropolis” and easily gets “swindled.” Everything has a context. This is especially true with Scripture. A so-called Bible expert can dupe us if we ignore the context. Charlatans will fire Scripture at us but test it like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).

Perhaps you have been taught something about prophecy which proved untrue. I believed that in the last days many would claim they were Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:4-5). Had I read the chapter first, I doubt I would have swallowed that story. The deception Jesus warns us about will come from clever, “Counterfeit Christians,” not sick minds in need of help.

Another example that relates to Christ’s return uses the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36“No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” 

Taken without context, this verse is offered as evidence Jesus will come at an unknown time or at any moment. Is that not what the text means? We wouldn’t argue anything different, unless we had understood the context of Matthew 24:36. It is curious that we seldom hear the chapter and verse mentioned along with the quote. The reason may be that the one who uses this verse to support an “any moment rapture of the church,” does not want us to know. If we saw it was Matthew 24 we might examine “No one knows the day or the hour…”  in its context as part of the Olivet Discourse. It’s what the “any moment rapture promoters” are not telling us. If they did, it would discredit their argument.

By pulling Matthew 24:36 out of context, it is easier to fool others. What is the opposite of imminent? It is that Jesus’ coming must be preceded by specific signs that have not yet occurred.

In Matthew 24:3-15, note what the disciples asked Jesus, then see his response. The context for No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven… are the signs –lots of them. There will be wars and rumors of wars… nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places… these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith… etc.

Does Matthew 24’s context support an imminent return of Christ? No! What does 24:36 teach about Jesus’ return? We will examine that in some depth when we look at Rule #4. (Don’t worry. We won’t skip Rule #3.)

Deception Surrounding Matthew 24-Part Two

Do not despise prophesies but test everything. Hold fast to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 NIV)

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. (Matthew 24:24 NIV) 

Will the real Jesus stand up!

Next to The Book of Revelation, The Bible’s Olivet Discourse is the clearest and most complete statement on what will happen in the last days

Our question is: “If in The Olivet Discourse we have Jesus’ detailed description of the future, why is it so often overlooked?” Instead of treating it as a rich treasure, it is frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted?

Obviously, Satan is at work deceiving the unsuspecting. Those untrained in the Scripture tend to rely on teachers to feed them their spiritual food. Matthew 24 is seldom on the menu, especially as verse-by-verse exposition. If the Olivet Discourse is offered, it may be served only as an appetizer.

If we are not digging into our Bible like a hungry man for food, then how will we grasp God’s plan of salvation? If we fail to follow Rule #1 of The Five Major Rules for Bible Interpretation, (“Accept Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense”) we will likely fall into another trap. We will only possess enough knowledge to be dangerous.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Some assume their teachers will do the in-depth work for them. So why do it ourselves? Instead of savoring Matthew 24 like a fine meal we made ourselves, we eat and run.

Are we despising Matthew 24? “Many will come in my name claiming ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many (Matthew 24:4),” is a perfect example. While reading this in the past, a little switch was triggered and (presto!)–I had been programmed to change the meaning to “We will be fooled by a large number of men who suffer from ‘delusions of grandeur,’ who say they’re Jesus.”

I did not stop to consider that my interpretation did not make sense, nor did it fit the context. It completely ignores Jesus’ repeated warnings about false prophets and their deception.

When reading the Bible for understanding, we may be forced to re-examine (as I had to) what we were taught. Confusion then disillusionment might set in. We know who authors confusion–don’t we (1 Corinthians 14:33)? 

Deception is more likely when we know and trust the messenger. A dear pastor who claims “Jesus is the Christ,” yet–and this is the essence of Christ’s warning–they go on to misinform about prophecy, intentionally or otherwise, is where we are vulnerable. This is especially true when our knowledge of prophecy is lacking. It is not about blaming anyone for the deceit, it is for us to be watchful. Deceit will surely come, but woe to the man through whom it comes (Matthew 18:7). In this wicked age, our task is to avoid being the victim (Matthew 24:24-25).

Next, we will look at a popular but harmful argument: “Prophecy in Matthew 24 was written for Jews, not Christians”– a huge step over the line.

Following the Rules

We are complementing the series on Matthew 24 with Rule #1 in what we title the “Five Major Rules for Bible Interpretation.” We offer these so readers will become familiar with hermeneutics, the long name for “harmonizing” Bible passages to achieve an accurate and complete understanding.

First, let’s distinguish between “interpretation” and “application.” If I am discussing a Bible word or phrase, and I say, “This is what God means,” I am interpreting the text. If, as a student, I share a verse and how it impacted me, that is an application. I cannot error making a personal application based on opinion, but I can wreck havoc by misinterpreting God’s Word which implies fact. In the former I am speaking for myself, but in the latter, I speak for God.

As a workman for God, there is no excuse for wrongly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Remember, Bible teachers are held to a stricter standard (James 3:1).

To whom much is given, much will be required. (Luke 12:47-48 NIV)

Before we venture into unfamiliar territory we should always learn “the do’s and don’ts.” This is especially true of Bible study. Unless we know the rules, we may lead ourselves astray or others will do it for us. Follow the rules and not only will we know truth, but we will have full agreement with believers who follow them. Could it be the reason why factions exist within the wider Christian community is because one or both sides refuses to commit to finding truth? If they were committed, they would sit down, pray for understanding and examine the Scriptures until they reach an agreement.

Years ago, we began using these rules and discovered their immense value. We received permission from Crossway Books, publisher of The Sign, to incorporate five major rules into everything we do. The late-author, Robert Van Kampen, compiled Five Keys to a Face-Value Hermeneutic which appeared in The Sign, page 9.

Rule #1- Accept the meaning of Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense.

For readers who generally wish to avoid rules, #1 offers the biggest challenge. Again, quoting Van Kampen, another way to express the above is, “If the plain sense makes sense, you have the right sense.” 

Unless we have an obvious figure of speech, accept the plain or literal meaning. If someone suggests an uncorroborated, spiritualized or an allegorical meaning, it should raise a red flag.

For instance, when the Lord said to Abraham, in Genesis 22:17, he would make his descendants as numerous as the stars or the sand on the seashore, should we interpret it literally? According to this rule, absolutely! God does not exaggerate. When the Lord repeats this prophecy to Jacob in Genesis 32:12, then a few more times elsewhere, believe that God will do it!

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19 NIV) 

Is anything too hard for the LORD? (Genesis 18:14)

“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Jesus, Mark 10:27

Beware of the so-called wise person who explains away miracles and things they don’t understand. They may be good people, well-educated, upstanding, kind, smart and sincere, but their God is too small. Follow this rule then watch your Bible come alive.

More later.

The Deception Surrounding Matthew 24

“…and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:3-4 NIV)

The following is the first installment of an 11-part series on the fakery involved persuading Christians who do not read, but listen to “main-stream sources” on Matthew 24. Referring to it as fake news, illustrates the current level of deception from formerly trusted sources–our pastors and teachers of the New Testament. Our goal in this series is to not only alert the saints, but to arm them with the means of acquiring an accurate understanding of this vitally important prophetic text while exposing some of the lies used by modern-day false prophets. We pray our readers will find it to be a valuable contribution.

Christ’s answer (above) gives his servants a chronological order to what takes place during the last days. We would do well to pay close attention to what was spoken by our Lord. Recognize also that strong forces of deception threaten this generation just as they did in Noah’s day, before the flood (Matthew 24:38-39).

Why is Jesus’ plain, step-by-step description of the last days (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21) among the least understood or most frequently misinterpreted passages in the Bible? The enemy is at work. The lie is Satan’s chief weapon and deception his specialty.

Once the end times started to capture a significant amount of interest, is when fake news moved in. Satan’s plan is to disrupt our study of God’s Word and place teachers before us speaking like experts. Through them we are susceptible to cleverly invented stories that neutralize God’s warnings. The Bible says that no one who believes the fake news will be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. –French author, Victor Hugo

Accurate interpretation of prophecy is an idea whose time has come. The devil is very aware, so he is hard at work. He will stop at nothing to distract or dissuade Christians from studying their Bible and demanding sound teaching.

When apostles Paul and Peter described future events, they offered warnings (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Timothy 3:13, 2 Peter 3:3-13). Why were their warnings consistently posted alongside prophecy?

Fake news surrounds prophecy. Take for example, Matthew 24:4’s “Watch out that no one deceives you…”  Christ’s alert is aimed at those claiming “Jesus is the Christ” (cf. Matthew 16:16). This means Christian leaders may do Satan’s dirty work (Matthew 24:10-11). (Have you been warned about this?) Many will fall away from the faith sealing their fate. (In our assemblies, has this been made sufficiently clear?) These deceivers are cleverly disguised. They sound like sheep, but their words belong to he who leads the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9). 

Unfortunately, gullible sheep will repeat the lie lending it credibility. By failing to critically analyze what came from trusted ministers, they become dupes and pass on fake news. Many, believing they are glory-bound, will be derailed. False prophets and false Christs will cover the globe (Matthew 24:11, 23-25). 

Maybe you heard a fake explanation of Matthew 24:4, that it applies to the crazies who declare they’re Jesus. (I was told this was what Jesus meant, but do the delusional influence our beliefs?) Will many fall away or turn away from the faith because of some nut who claims he is Christ?

Could it be instead that teachers who claim that “Jesus is the Christ” confuse the Lord’s warning, and, like a virus-carrier, unwittingly spread the devil’s lies?

We have only scratched the surface of the deceit surrounding Matthew 24. Stay tuned!

Confidence: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

When Paul expressed his confidence to the Philippians, he was careful to state in whom it was placed. His confidence was entirely in the Heavenly Father. He was sure God would finish the work he started.

Later, the apostle wrote, “put no confidence in the flesh” (3:4). He then cited his religious accomplishments. He summed it up by saying the list was all rubbish compared to gaining Christ and being found in Him (3:8-9).

Apparently, Paul needed to make an important distinction with the Philippians: Self-promotion that says, “Look at me!” gives off a stench (ex. rubbish). Knowing the Lord and being assured of salvation produces a sweet fragrance in God’s nostrils.

Confidence is a by-product of knowledge, and as such, it is intangible. It is knowing our Math grade is an “A” right after we hand in the exam. According to three-time Olympian and Gold Medalist, Bob Richards, “Life’s greatest motivation is the knowledge that God is with me.

Paul never left home without the assurance God was with him. (If God be for us, who can be against us? -Romans 8:31.)

Surprisingly, confidence in God’s Word may invite a negative reaction from some Christians. We should anticipate hostility from the world, but anger from church people about salvation is unexpected. Make no mistake, prophecy is controversial because it is all about salvation!

Standing for prophetic truth evokes a mixed response. The saints soak it up. The indoctrinated may reject it out of hand. It is possible to have false assurance. How can we have certainty if our belief is misguided or our thoughts are confused? (Who misguides? Who authors confusion?)

Many Christians regard befuddlement as normal. Some argue that what happens in the last days is like an equation no one is supposed to solve.

Does God want his people confident about their salvation, past, present, as well as future? If the Lord wants his people to be saved to the uttermost, is it boastful to say we understand his plans (Amos 3:7, Isaiah 42:9, John 15:15)?

After sharing insight about the Antichrist on the phone with a brother, he fired back, “What makes you so sure? What if you’re wrong?”

It was a great question. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to answer. It was my confidence that bothered him. Think of it this way: When you make a discovery, aren’t you excited to share what you learned? Well, so are we!

There is no swagger or puffed out chest. Being granted revelation on matters of supreme importance is humbling. Our self-assurance at is rooted in our scientific approach. What you see comes from an unwavering faith that God is with us. Since it has passed every test for truth, we have a strong belief in what we affirm. As far as our confident, future-oriented messages: Don’t leave home without them! -jf