So what’s the issue? Given that we have freedom in Christ, why should we be concerned about being blissfully ignorant to the error around us?
Error is for the world isn’t it? Equally, aren’t God’s many Bible warnings for the end times aimed at non-believers?
Unfortunately for Christians, you’ll find that the bulk of Bible prophesy, both Old and New Testament, was written as a stern warning to God’s chosen people.
As an example, when Jesus wrote his letters to the seven churches of Revelation, was it to give them all a pat on the back and tell them they could do what they wanted? Read it and make up your own mind.
Why do we need to be particularly vigilant now? I believe that the main reason Christians need to be vigilant is the gathering momentum behind movements that seem well meaning and Biblically correct (if taken out of context), but that may be setting us up to be blinded to the deception in the end times to come.
Why do we need to guard against deception? Because the New Testament makes it extremely clear that good, faithful, well meaning, God-loving Christians will be led astray by false prophets, a false Jesus, false spirits and a false gospel:
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”
2 Corinthians 11:4
A little context
We live in a world that’s sick of division, sick of intollerance and injustice and sick of prejudice.
It seems to be a world of extremes, pitting right wing against left wing: on one side those that hold on to old prejudices, on the other those who want peace, freedom and love at any cost.
On one hand we have lawlessness, on the other intolerance and hate, neither reflecting the true gospel teaching of Jesus.
Don’t be deceived. Yes, Jesus’s message was one of grace and love, but nobody who reads his teaching can be in doubt that he also calls people to follow him and turn from the world: loving the One True God, not sin.
Sadly, this is incompatible with the two extremes of modern opinion, but while it is tempting to side with the unconditional ‘peace and love no matter what’ side of the debate, be fully aware that Satan likes nothing more than to twist scripture.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”
1 Timothy 4:1
Indeed, the reason for my concern in these times is because there is a rapidly growing appetite for uniting religions and denominations under the ‘we all believe the same thing’ banner of unity, peace and love.
For the unity of religions the argument to justify this movement is simple: we need to find common ground and all religions believe in a supreme being, so essentially we are the same, right?
For the unity of Christian denominations the argument used is similar: we are all united in Jesus. There is infinitely more that unites us than divides us and, after all, Jesus prayed for it, right?
Well, yes and no. Yes he prayed for the unity of those who truly follow him. Yes we are weary of division, we want to see justice, and for people to put aside their differences and stop killing each other. It seems a noble cause and, on the face of it, it is. But there is one massive problem:
“Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
2 Corinthians 11:14
Firstly, the Bible says there is only one true God. If we truly believe this with all our hearts, we can clearly see that we must set ourselves apart from other religions, both for our own sakes, and so we can lead others to salvation.
Secondly, the Bible warns that not all people who say they follow Jesus actually follow him – many will be false prophets or wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray”
Matthew 24: 11
Sure, Jesus would have reached out to everyone and offered them salvation through him and so should we, but he never celebrated sin or told them to continue in their ways. He loved too much to let them die in their sins and we should reflect that kind of love.
That’s why the Christian approach should not be to hate, condemn or judge anyone (quite the opposite), but neither should we actively endorse and celebrate something that the Bible denounces. That doesn’t make us ‘haters’, but we have to understand that the world will see it that way.
The fact remains: Jesus taught tough messages. He was clear that he was the only way. Jesus offered grace and love to anyone who came to him.
He also made it clear that anyone who chose to stay in the world, to continue to follow sin or money, to continue to follow false gods or to worship idols, would be in trouble.
That means that saying everyone will be alright, because we are ‘united in humanity’ and that Jesus’s only important message was ‘peace and love’ regardless of whether you truly follow him or not, is essentially like Satan telling Adam and Eve that eating from the tree would not surely lead to death (Genesis 3:4). It’s false hope and a false gospel.
“While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
1 Thessalonians 5:3
In fact, God tells us we must be united in him, not united with humanity or the world.
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
2 Corinthians, 6:14
The price of faith
The hard fact for true believers is that such a view is unlikely to win us too many friends on Facebook, or even in church.
In fact, it will leave us feeling isolated. But isn’t that the very definition of being ‘set apart’?
It happened to the prophets, it happened to the apostles, so why should we be any different?
One thing is for sure: Jesus was rejected by the world (the Romans) and even by his chosen people.
With this in mind, if we choose to follow him, do we think that path will lead to prosperity, peace and unity with the world? Or does it lead to the persecution he suffered for our sakes?
If in doubt, I’d encourage you to read Revelation. You’ll find little evidence of an ‘anything goes’ attitude as Jesus warns his churches to avoid falling into error and commands them to shun false doctrines and return to God and Biblical truth.
I’d also challenge you to find credible evidence of an ‘endtimes revival’ or a coming together of man-made churches, or religions (not in a positive way anyway). There are however, many references to God’s chosen people being deceived and of a great ‘falling away’.
That’s why we need to be wary and open our eyes and ears to what God is telling us.
It is imperative that we are united in truth, not error.