There are some of us who see this current proliferation of false teachers gaining mainstream acceptance, such as Brian McLaren and Rob Bell in the cult of the new liberal theology within the emerging church, as among judgments sent from the Lord to serve as a wake up call to His Body. A couple of readers of Apprising Ministries have asked me if I thought the passage of Scripture in 2 Thessalonians 2 below has anything to say about this time of apostasy sweeping like an Oklahoma wildfire through mortally wounded evangelicalism. For those who are interested this piece forms my response.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)

The Genuine Gospel Must Become Our Priority Again

A fellow pastor and a dear brother Christ once told me that you can’t preach today like George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards because it’s a whole different culture. Now in his case he wasn’t advocating changing the Gospel message; however, for so many today this is exactly what they are doing. Something which is especially evident in the Purpose Driven Church and the Emergent Church and the Word Faith Church, the major pillars in the larger Ecumenical Church of Deceit. In my mind this is a hugely misguided attempt to placate the narcissistic and arrogant American culture. And more importantly, by doing so evangelicalism has actually ended up with a different gospel message; one growing ever closer to that of apostate Roman Catholicism.

If we have any hope to see the power of God return in our preaching, then the actual message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must once again become the priority of the Church—and this no matter what the cost! From where I stand these current judgments from God, and I fear we can expect more coming “quickly,” are His reaction to an evangelicalism striving to please the world all the while seeking become its media darlings. However, as it is still written: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. And we who preach His Gospel simply cannot change this message, nor can we dumb it down no matter what capricious culture we might happen to be living within. Men and women there can really be no doubt that this has been done for many, many years now in America. But it truly is as Dr. John MacArthur has said: We can’t change the message; that message isn’t ours—it belongs to God.

The Body of Christ in this nation must finally come to realize this is exactly what makes the man-centered postevangelicalism and emerging church—both birthed by the corrupt Church Growth Movement—so very dangerous. In the decaying and dying evangelical camp they are even now beginning to pay its debt. This is the rotten root as to why things such as the fall of former NAE president Ted Haggard could so easily shake so many who would call themselves “evangelical” Christians. For too long now instead of fixing their eyes on the Cross and on Jesus they have instead slowly been giving in to the adulation of totally depraved man. And know this: Worldly men will always fall; and to borrow the old phrase, “if it looks like the world—if it sounds like world—and if it acts like the world—then, by revelation from the Holy Spirit—it must be the world.”

It is my firm conviction in the Lord that we should take some time to very carefully consider the passage of Scripture forming our text in this message, and how it seems to relate to this very time, the so-called postmodern era in which we now find ourselves. A time, I might also add, where there does appear to be a very interesting similarity to the point of human history into which Christ Jesus of Nazareth first stepped. And today there are many will so glibly say — “Jesus is coming in our lifetime.” Well, be that as it may—and without a doubt He most certainly could—Holy Scripture does also tell us about another awful arrival as well.

And while the ultimate fulfillment of these verses in the above text would likely come when the Church is no longer here upon the earth—at least in the way it is currently—this passage does indeed have a secondary application in this current age of rampant apostasy. Remember, the Bible does tell us — For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, KJV). Double-edged; as in: an historical-grammatical meaning, and often also an underlying and spiritually discerned principle.

It Will Look Just Like The Real Thing

May we agree to disagree agreeably on secondary issues of eschatology as we now look once again at verse 9 of our text above — The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. Here we should find good reason to be afraid; yes, be very afraid. In this generation, you’d best be sure that you really do have a relationship with the Lord God Almighty—by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christalone—because these miracles, signs and wonders to come will look exactly the same as the true miracles, signs and wonders which were done by the original Apostles!

As a matter of fact in Hebrews 2:4 the very same Greek words are used regarding those miraculous feats which were done of the Holy Spirit in the first century! Does this now give you cause to seriously reconsider using man-centered pragmatic and consumer-friendly methods in a church, most of which originate with the secular business practices derived from corrupt, degenerate and sinful men of the world? I believe it should. Remember, just because something appears to work—just because something looks good—it does not mean it is of God.

And because of this fact, those who are held so captive by the quick and easy results of today’s “hamburger-helper” teachings of instant Christianity would do well to consider the following sobering words from the Master Teacher Himself:

“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:20-23).

The Truth Behind Deception

Now here’s the reason people will be deceived—the b part of verse 10 from the NASB — because they did not receive the love of the truth and so as to be saved. In the time to come these people will be deceived—and people are currently being deceived—because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. These apostate “believers” and self-professed “Christ-followers” are going to find out the hard way that they didn’t love God’s Truth enough—in the first place—to even be saved. Does that make sense now?

The narrow road is a lot more narrow than you’ve been told. And no, you don’t hear this preached much these days—if at all—because frankly, it doesn’t “sell.” But if your life doesn’t start to change when you “get saved,” or decided to “follow the way of Jesus,” then you have very good reason to question whether you even were converted (see—2 Corinthians 13:5). Because there is no such thing as: “I’ll accept Jesus as my Savior now, and then later on, I’ll make Him my Lord.” Jesus is Lord of His universe whether you personally accept Him or not!

Now the following should open up to you. Christ Jesus says:

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
(Matthew 24:10-13)

Ask yourself a question: Do you think Christ is coming soon? Did you realize that for over two thousand years now the Church has already been living in the end times? Well, we have. Here is 1 John 2:18 — Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. Remember that, as I explained earlier, a passage of Scripture—with the Bible being a two-edged Sword—oftentimes has an historical meaning, with a similar future application which is yet to come.

Can you see here: the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. So antichrists have already brought many deceptions, and these small lies are then all going to combine leading into the big deception culminating in a great falling away into the New World Order and coming Global Family of the Antichrist. Again, I ask let’s please lay aside eschatological nuances here because as a pastor-teacher sent forth by our Lord I must warn you that one thing is for certain: This will be no era to remain in the romper room of Christianity (see—Hebrews 5:11–6:6).

Have It Your Way: The Lie Du Jour

And now we look at verse 11 — For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. Did you ever stop and think that the delusion and the lie here just might not be restricted to a specific one? Instead, this passage is also referring to the delusion and/or the lie that a person currently wants to believe. It’s a kind of “lie du jour,” so to speak, which will eventually lead all of these people into the one huge delusion of the Antichrist’s lie.

In other words for some people, they will believe what the lie of the carnal excesses in much of these consumer-driven church growth ideas. Yet for others, they may be seduced through contemplative spirituality , which flowered in the monastic traditions of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. These will end up getting caught up in the insidious ecumenical movement pressed forth by The Deceivers of Rome and their goal of reversing the Reformation. In fact, the NASB renders verse 11 this way — For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.

And I would say, as in, all things that happen to be false and not just necessarily limiting this deluding influence to one specific lie at this present time. So for those who are currently captivated by the wishful speculations of the “positive” thoughts about being a better you spewed by Joel Osteen, and for those as well who are under the sway of the twisted thinking of men like Rick Warren that somehow in this generation churches must begin heeding the call to put away doctrinal differences so they can start working together, I’d give the following words from Jeremiah—one of Yahweh Elohim’s true prophets—some very serious prayer:

Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in My Name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore, this is what the LORD says about the prophets who are prophesying in My Name: I did not send them…

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear His Word? Who has listened and heard his word? (Jeremiah 14:14-15; 23:16-18).

A Strong Word Of Caution

As I close this out, I will remind you that three times in His Olivet Discourse, our Lord clearly warned us of false teachers, and false prophets and false Christs who would come. And Jesus did this within the context of His certain and literal Second Coming. You will recall that we have already seen the Master warn: “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:10-12, NASB, emphasis added).

If you look closely, this teaching by Christ Jesus—the Master Teacher—is actually diametrically opposed to so much of what is right now being embraced by so many, in so many, of these seeker-sensitive postevangelical and emerging churches. Men and women, it is absolutely vital you should also know that much of this compromise with the world has already been dealt with long ago by God the Holy Spirit, and right within the very pages of the New Testament itself so they are completely without excuse.

Consider this admonition from the inspired Apostle James — You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely? (James 4:4-5) This isn’t exactly your prototypical consumer-friendly Purpose Driven Life teaching, or the Emergent Church message of interfaith spirituality nor are they some faith-filled words of the prosperity gospel of self-centered Word Faith greed are they?

Do you honestly think that our Lord Jesus is going to have sympathy with those who simply will not take His Words seriously? I think not. To quote one of my mentors, Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), from his must hear lecture called The Cult of Liberalism: “I risk my credibility when I state it as bluntly as this, but I’ve done my homework, and I stand by what I say.” O no, be forewarned — and come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV). And you had best do so now; before it is too late.

Not to be an alarmist, but might I leave you with the following reminder. You know, the Bible itself does say:

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)