The Coming Tempest

Repeatedly, the New Testament warns believers that before Jesus returns his Church will find itself under assault from within by deceivers, “false anointed ones,” and “false prophets.” Moreover, before the “Day of the Lord” begins, his disciples will be confronted by the “Man of Lawlessness,” a malevolent figure linked directly to the “Apostasy,” the final great “falling away” from the true faith.

Jesus warned us to beware of the “many deceivers” who come “in his name” and thereby “deceive many,” namely, “false prophets” and “false messiahs” who cause “lawlessness” to spread among his people, spread false information about the “coming of the Son of Man,” and use impressive “signs and wonders” to deceive, “if possible,” the very “elect.” Only the believer who perseveres through this onslaught will be saved - (Matthew 24:5, 23-27).

Approaching Tempest - Photo by Cecile Hournau on Unsplash
[Photo by Cecile Hournau on Unsplash]

Likewise, in 
the Book of Revelationthe “False Prophet” performs “great signs” that deceive many, causing them to give their allegiance to the “Beast from the Sea” rather than to the “slain Lamb.”

Already in the first century, deceivers had infiltrated the Seven Assemblies of Asia, “false apostles,” the “Nicolaitans,” and the “prophetess, Jezebel,” causing some members to engage in idolatry and otherwise compromise with the surrounding pagan society.

Even in those early congregations, “Mystery Babylon” was at work attempting to destroy them from within, the same way that Satan has been attacking the Church over the last twenty centuries, often with great success. His efforts will only intensify during the last phase of the present age.

Moreover, in Revelation, Satan does not wage “war” against Israel or other nation-states, but on the “saints,” those who have the “faith of Jesus” and his “testimony,” the very ones who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” This “war” includes the invasion of the church by deceivers, false prophets, and rather clever deceptions.

The Apostle Paul was specific when writing the Thessalonians. The “Day of the Lord” and the “arrival” of Jesus would not come until two events occurred – the “Apostasy” and the “revelation of the Man of Lawlessness.”

Consistently in the Greek scriptures, the term “apostasy” or ‘apostasia’ refers to the abandonment of the true faith. When Paul warned that this “Lawless one” would deceive those who “refuse the love of the truth,” he was describing believers who apostatize. This conclusion is borne out by his declaration that the “truth” believers must cling to is the “tradition you received” from him and his coworkers.

This master deceiver will “seat himself in the Sanctuary of God.” Elsewhere, Paul consistently refers to the Body of Christ as the “Sanctuary of God,” not a stone building in Jerusalem; thus, the “Lawless One” will target the Church of Jesus Christ.

HOLD FAST TO THE TEACHINGS


Paul also warned Timothy about this coming apostasy. The time is approaching when “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” In the last days, “evil men and howling imposters will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Considering what was coming, he exhorted Timothy:

  • To preach the word, and be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the SOUND DOCTRINE, but having itching ears, they will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts and will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to fables” – (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:1-4).

We should note Paul’s stress on “sound doctrine” as the antidote to the coming plague of deception, as well as the believer’s best defense against the many deceivers who will invade the Church before the end.

The Apostle Peter also warned of “false prophets” and “false teachers” who will disseminate false doctrines and wreak havoc in the church before the end of the age - (2 Peter 2:1-3).

In his epistles, John speaks of the coming “Antichrist,” but of more immediate concern to him were the “many antichrists” that were active IN THE CHURCH. The “Last Days” were underway, and that was demonstrated by the “Spirit of Antichrist” that was at work through the deceivers who were disseminating false teachings among believers already two thousand years ago – (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-3).

Storm Farm - Photo by Kacper Staszczyk on Unsplash
[Photo by Kacper Staszczyk on Unsplash]

Scripture provides a clear and consistent warning. Before the return of Jesus, the Church will experience the “
Apostasy” fomented by “false prophets” and other deceivers and the unveiling of the “Man of Lawlessness” among believers. While persecution will certainly come, the stress is on the danger posed by false teachers and false prophets working in the Assembly.

However, the Church of Jesus Christ is neither defenseless nor without hope. The very fact that Jesus and his apostles warned of these coming events indicates that his disciples can avoid deception and darkness, and this is accomplished by heeding the teachings of Jesus and his apostles.

As Paul assured his readers, faithful believers will not be overtaken by the “Lawless One” despite his mighty “signs and wonders” IF they “hold fast” to the APOSTOLIC TRADITION handed down by him and his fellow Apostles, and that “tradition” is preserved in the Greek New Testament – (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).



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