“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly [without doubt], that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).
The reference to “the latter times” is a small phrase that has brought endless mischief to the Church, because Christians have an insatiable appetite for sensational teachings. Over the centuries there has been no end of examples of how the over active imaginations of individuals have led some to depart from “the faith”, of which both Paul, and Jude (Jude 3) spoke. The Church has not been given “a faith”, to twist, and stretch, and change, at will. The Church has been entrusted with “the faith”, to protect and defend against all who would pervert the truth.
One of the great cardinal truths of “the faith” is that Jesus is coming again, the second time, for all who believe, according to Hebrews 9:28. It is that simple truth which Satan has taken advantage of in order to sow discord, division, and disbelief in the Church. His instrument of choice has been to take the truth, and add a sensational idea.
What could be more sensational, what could be more interesting, what could be more alarming than for individuals to think they are living in “the latter times”, which is true, AND the end of the world is very near.
It is this last part that has created great harm. When people really think the world is coming to an end, they panic. Social order breaks down. Fear sets in. There is no incentive to work, or plan for the future. Chaos reigns. Nothing else in life matters but to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.
In January, 2019, a very young and foolish woman, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, predicted the world will end in 12 years, if something is not done to change the climate. Alexandria is not known to be a religious person. She is a politician who seeks to dominate, and control the lives of every American. She has an agenda. She wants power for herself, and her political party, over your life and mine.
One-way people have found to get power over many people is to convince them that Doomsday is near. Individuals must listen to them, and do what they say, in order to survive. By declaring the impending apocalypse, religious figures have learned they can attract attention, and a following. The more graphic the future is painted in negative terms, the more people will listen, and become compliant.
Over the centuries, countless individuals have predicted the end of the world. Some of them are surprising, such as Martin Luther, the German minister and theologian who predicted the end of the world would occur no later than 1600. All of those who make specific predictions should know better than to do so, for they become a false prophet, in that area, when they speak in the name of the Lord, and what they have predicted does not come to pass.
The following are among the many modern-day false prophets.
Chuck Smith. In 1981, the founder of Calvary Chapel predicted the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981. Smith identified that he “could be wrong” but continued to say in the same sentence that his prediction was “a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief”.
Pat Robertson. In late 1976 on his 700 Club TV programme, Robertson predicted that the end of the world would come in 1981.
Edgar C. Whisenant. Whisenant predicted in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 that the Rapture of the Christian Church would occur between September 11 and 13, 1988. After his September predictions failed to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to October 3. Wrong again.
Harold Camping. Camping predicted that the Rapture and devastating earthquakes would occur on 21 May 2011, with God taking approximately 3% of the world’s population into Heaven, and that the end of the world would occur five months later on October 21.
It did not happen.
Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins. These Christian authors stated that the Y2K bug would trigger global economic chaos, which the Antichrist would use to rise to power. As the date, January 1, 2000, approached, however, they changed their minds (Rosin, Hanna (December 27, 1999).
John Hagee. When a person is seriously wrong in one area, they tend to get farther from the Christian faith. One example of a false prophet leading multitudes into further error is John Hagee. In 2007, Hagee promoted his book, In Defense of Israel. “I’m delighted to present my latest book, “In Defense of Israel.” This book will expose the sins of the fathers in the vicious abuse of the Jewish people. “In Defense of Israel” will shake Christian theology. It Scripturally proves that the Jewish people, as a whole, did not reject Jesus as Messiah. It will also prove that Jesus did not come to Earth to be the Messiah. It will prove that there was a Calvary conspiracy between Rome, the high priest and Herod to execute Jesus as an insurrectionist too dangerous to live. Since Jesus refused by word and deed to claim to be the Messiah, how can the Jews be blamed for rejecting what was never offered?…”
For John Hagee to say Jesus refused by word and deed to claim to be the Messiah is opposed to Biblical truth. The Bible is explicitly clear in revealing John Hagee’s erroneous assertions for time, and again Jesus identified Himself as Messiah, the Christ. Consider the woman who said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25,26)
After His arrest, before the High Priest, Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again, the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61,62)
Then there is the statement of Simon Peter who said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Mat 16:16ff).
All of this is to say that a Biblical doctrine can be distorted by mixing truth with error. So what is the basic truth in view?
The basic truth in view is that the Church is living in “the latter times.” But notice, it is very important, the Church has been living in the “latter days”, or “last times”, since the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18).
Why is this particular point significant to understand?
First, it is important to understand that the Church has been living in the last days for more than 2000 years in order to be patient. Jesus is coming again, but neither the hour, the day, or the generation of His coming can be predicted, regardless of what anyone says. There are no signs of his coming that have not already been fulfilled.
Is anyone looking for wars, and rumors of war? They abound, and have always abounded, in every generation.
Is anyone looking for unusual movement in the heavens? There are total solar eclipses that once terrified people, not to mention meteor showers. Item. June 17, 2019: “Humans have been noticing flashes of light coming from the Moon for thousands of years but we still don’t understand why this happens or what causes it.”
It is a great mystery, but it does not mean the world is coming to an end.
Is anyone look for scoffers? “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Is anyone looking for the gospel to be preached to the world? It has been. “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:18).
Is anyone looking for a departure from the faith? That has happened, time and again. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29).
Church, look for Jesus, not the signs of the times.
Second, it is important to understand that the Church has been living in the last days for more than 2000 years in order to avoid sensationalism. Sensationalism says that Christ will come on a specific date. Sensationalism says that we are The Terminal Generation.
Third, it is important to understand that the Church has been living in the last days for 2000 years so that no one is led into doctrinal error. One erroneous teaching leads to another. Paul speaks of seducing spirits, and the doctrine of devils, or demons (1 Tim. 4:1).
Two of these doctrines are specifically mentioned: celibacy and special meals. “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:3).
Celibacy: A Doctrine of Demons
Perhaps the best-known teaching of demons is the Doctrine of Celibacy. The evil of this religious dogma of the Church of Rome has been made manifest in an alarming way in recent years. There have been a series of convictions, trials, and investigations of sexual abuse, committed by Catholic priests, nuns, and other officials, against children as young as 3 years old, with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. These cases included invasive sex acts of the vilest nature. And, they are not new. In AD 836, during the Council of Aix – la – Chapelle, the admission was made that abortions and infanticide took place in convents and monasteries to cover up the inappropriate sexual behavior of clerics. Sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist denomination is also well documented.
Since Jesus blessed the institution of marriage (Mark 10:9), since Paul wrote that marriage is honorable (Heb. 13:4), since Peter was married (Matt. 8:14), the question arises as to why the Catholic Church officially prohibits marriage for its priest.
A disturbing history against marriage is revealed in the various Church councils. In Spain, in AD 304, the Council of Elvira decreed (Canon 33) that a priest was to be chaste. All “bishops, presbyters, and deacons and all other clerics” were to “abstain completely from their wives and not to have children.” Of course, that ban did not last long. Nevertheless, the idea was popular enough to gain support for priestly celibacy. The idea spread in the Western Church until, in the 12th century, when the Church was a thousand years old, Pope Gregory VII issued a decree against clerical marriages. At the Second Lateran Council held in AD 1138, a rule was approved forbidding priests to marry. In 1563, the Council of Trent reaffirmed the tradition of celibacy. What is not widely known is that despite the rule, and the tradition, priests and even popes still continued to marry and have children for several hundred years after that date. In fact, the Eastern Catholic Church still has married priests, provided they were married prior to ordination.
Special Meals: A Doctrine of Demons
Another teaching of the devil is the Doctrine of Special Meals. Despite the divine freedom given to eat, after prayer, what God has created, and declared to be good, millions of religious people have scruples against eating meat. While being a vegetarian might be a preference of personal choice, making it a religious dogma is wrong.
With each passing century, new doctrinal errors are produced, and proclaimed by demons, and presented to challenge the Church, and the historic saving faith, which we believe.
May the Lord protect His Church today from departing from the faith.