Matthew Chapter 24
VERSES 23 and 24 “Then (during the period described in verses 15-19) if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
The deceivers here described certainly are not the fanatics who from time to time have claimed to be Christ and have deceived but few possessed of any degree of common sense and judgment. We have already pointed out THE Antichrist*, the great deceiver, the Papacy, which for centuries sat in the spiritual temple, displaying himself as the only representative of Christ--his vicegerent--concerning whom our Lord correctly foretold, that all the world would wonder respecting him, EXCEPT those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 13:8) that is except those who recognize the one true Antichrist, NOT the imaginary one our futurist friends have concocted.
(*See, “The Antichrist Revealed” and “The Abomination of Desolation”)
Similarly, the Church of England is not merely a church or "body" but it has an earthly head in the civil sovereign, the Queen (although at present it is largely ceremonial). The Greek Catholic Church very similarly, though not so particularly, had at one time as its head the Czar of Russia (the last being Nicholas II, 1894-1917)—the Czar exercising even more power over the church than did the Queen. (The Russian Orthodox Church has since reunited with the Roman Catholic Church. It is now in full communion with and subject to the authority of the Pope, its head as defined by Eastern canon law.)
If Papacy is Antichrist, a pseudo or false Christ, are not the other false bodies (systems of religion) with false heads also false Christs, or Antichrists--however many or few of God's true saints may be in them? The various Protestant denominations, although they profess to acknowledge no head except Christ, nevertheless practically make their Synods, Conferences and Councils into heads, from which they take their laws, usages, and confessions of faith, instead of the one only head of the one true Church.
For a large period and to a greater or less extent these systems of men have so counterfeited the genuine Christ (head and body) as to partially deceive [seduce, lead astray—Mark 13:22] many. But now for a century past these deceptions are failing. Few Presbyterians, if any, now believe theirs THE one true Church; neither do Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and others so think of their systems; and even Anglican, Greek and Roman Catholics are getting free from the delusion that theirs is the only Church, outside of which are none of the elect. But in the prophecy under consideration our Lord warns us of danger from false Christs "then"--that is NOW.
In harmony with this we find in Revelation (13:14-18) a prophecy of a special combination of influence by which Protestant denominations will be unified and, though separate, yet be brought into cooperation with Papacy, in a manner that will give both increased powers, and thus deceive many into supposing that this new combination will be God's instrumentality for doing the work predicted of Messiah-- and that it is thus his true representative.” (D580-581)
When this takes place everyone will be required to toe the line, no dissension will be tolerated, no one will be permitted to buy or sell (i.e. trade in the truth, teach or exchange spiritual doctrines) except those in conformity with orthodoxy, those who have the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Rev 13:17)
VERSE 25, “SEE, I HAVE TOLD YOU BEFOREHAND” this is a small but nevertheless very important verse. This verse can be looked at from two different perspectives, one as relating to what has transpired before, particularly the events mentioned in verses 15-19, and/or it can relate to what is to come.
The Lord expressly warned us from the very beginning of the rise of these false and misleading systems (both the Papal beast and the Protestant image), systems which would purport to be his representatives, and attempt to usher in the kingdom by force. But alas even with this warning the whole world (the professing world) still fell prey to this deception.
The Gospel age is pictured like the tree in winter
“Taking the tree as representing the growth and development of the purposes- of God throughout the Age, every detail of which had been foretold, then every new shoot would represent a prophetic fulfillment - "things [predicted] coming to pass." Our Father's Plan has its appointed times and seasons, even as the natural year with its autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Jesus, before whose vision the whole future lay bare, knew of the long winter yet to come when the purposes of God would seem to be at a standstill, if not dead.
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. , All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be-afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and betray one another …and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold…For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before."
Here was the long winter of the Church's experience and if it had not been foretold as part of God's Plan, how awful would have been the position of believers during this period!”
In our next post we shall see how this warning applies now and to those things coming.
Skip to Part 43 Verses 25-27
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