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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS.
Beginning in Ephesians 4: our Apostle Paul began explaining how true Believers are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” or how to conduct themselves in the church, their marriage, their family, the workplace, and now the world-at-large. Paul’s teaching these folks how a citizen of heaven ought to live as an ambassador of Jesus Christ here on earth (Philippians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 4:15 - 6:11). He also wants these folks to understand they have three enemies that intend to hinder their daily walk with the Lord, the flesh, the devil, and the world.
We began a study of our spiritual adversary, Satan, and his proven strategy last week which the Bible defines as “the lie.” Satan blinds mankind from the Truth and the “light of the gospel” that saves and he has had great success in convincing people “They can be like God” (Romans 2:16, 16:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
Put simply, Satan doesn’t want you to know the Truth. Instead he promotes his lie, considering himself as god: Again the devil took Him (Jesus Christ) to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9).
Think this through. Were “these things, all the kingdoms of the world,” his to give? Absolutely, since the fall, the devil is recognized as “the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons (and daughters) of disobedience” (Genesis 3:14-15; John 8:32, 12:31, 14:6)! But the devil’s hold on mankind and the world has an expiration date. One day future God the Father will “sum up all things in Christ Jesus,” i.e. to gather up into one. The Lord Jesus Christ will be the Head of everything in heaven and the earth:
…as a plan for the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10);
“For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God (Romans 14:11).
A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet" (Psalm 110:1)
Our Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:11 said, “We are not to be ignorant of his (Satan’s) schemes” or the plans, the strategies, and the snares the devil has laid in our path. True Believers are to be aware of him and how he works his evil on mankind. We accomplish this by knowing something of his character and his repeated practice of deception and confusion. The Word of God unmasks Satan’s disguises and reveals his true character and schemes, so there is no reason to walk (live our lives) in ignorance.
So, in our study of Ephesians 6:10-11, HBS is attempting to show y’all what God has revealed about His enemy and ours by opening the pages of the Bible. We’ve already seen one of the cleverest tricks he ever played was getting the world to believe he doesn’t exist. If there is no enemy, there isn’t a need to defend ourselves, our homes, our marriages, our workplace, and the world in which we live.
For those who aren’t fooled by Satan’s deception he doesn’t exist, he establishes false ideas about himself. “…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Make no mistake Satan is the master deceiver of the universe. Therefore true Believers are to “be sober minded (clear minded)” alert (vigilant) at all times, because “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
THE LIE and the End of the Age
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:1-2)?
Jesus’ statement about the LORD God’s temple stunned the Twelve. His distressing statement created many questions among them. They asked Him when these things would occur and when would He return and end the age. They were especially interested to learn when the age would end and when He would establish the Messianic kingdom because Jesus had promised they would rule in it (Matthew 19:28; Acts 1:6-8).
In Jesus’ explanation of the events that would occur He emphasized one point repeatedly: “do not be deceived.”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many (Matthew 24:4-5, 7:13-20).
The word translated “mislead” is Planao’ (plan-ah’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #4105, meaning: lead astray, deceive; cause to wander. Jesus warned his disciples two more times in this passage essentially underlining this vital warning about the coming deception:
Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many (Matthew 24:11).
For false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24).
Here Jesus means to say “Do not be led away from the truth” (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
What “age” is this?
The greatest deception the world will experience will occur at the end of this “age.” C.S. Lewis said, “God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in world matters realize what it will be like when He does. When the Lord returns (to the earth) it is the end of this world (this age). When the Author (Colossians 1:13-20) walks upon the stage, the play is over.”
The O.T. prophets called this time the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:30-32; Zephaniah 1:14-18). Jesus called it the tribulation (Matthew 24:15-22) and the great tribulation (the last 3.5 years) Matthew 24:21); “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Now, it’s a fact many churches today recognize and teach this as a day of celebration and joy. But that is a false teaching because the Second Coming of the Lord is not a picnic by the lake; it’s a time of judgment and God’s wrath!
Go into the rocks and hide in the dust from the (what) terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty (Isaiah 2:10).
The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will grow over their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!” (Hosea 10:8).
Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; (Revelation 6:15-16).
Do the passages above describe a delightful scene? I don’t think so. During this time period Jesus warned of the “abomination of desolation” of Daniel’s prophesy (Daniel 9:27). It is a time when God will pour out His wrath and judge a disbelieving, Christ-rejecting world. These events will occur sometime after God has completed the building up of His church, the Body of Christ and removed it from this planet. How do we know this? This is what the Bible says. Let’s take a look at what our Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the Day of the Lord:
Now as to the times and the epochs (seasons), brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief, for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others (the unbelievers) do, but let us (do what) be alert and sober (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Paul always wrote to Believers, not to unbelievers. He distinguished between “they,” “them,” i.e., unbelievers (verse 3) and “you,” “we,” “us,” i.e., Believers (verses 1-2, 4-6, 8-11). Members of the Body of Christ will not, indeed, cannot experience God’s wrath, i.e., the Day of the Lord (Tribulation) because “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 1:10).
The salvation Paul wrote about here was salvation from the day of the Lord through the event known as the Rapture. Paul had written about it earlier in the letter (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53). This church event removes the Body of Christ from harm's way.
There is much disagreement about what Paul wrote. But in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he corrected the false teaching that had come to the Thessalonians. They were being taught members of the Body of Christ would go through the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). But the church will not experience God’s wrath it is reserved for the belligerent, unbelieving world. So let's be clear, God will remove His Church prior to the great and terrible day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:14-18).
Paul’s letter of 2 Thessalonians elaborated on doctrine he had written in his first letter. In that letter, he made it clear God would remove the Church, a.k.a. the Body of Christ before the day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). He began his first letter with a word of assurance that they would not experience the day of the Lord, i.e., “the wrath to come.”
Paul wrote: For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Paul expected the Lord to return during his lifetime and He would rescue all true Believers from the day of the Lord.
The Coming Antichrist: the Embodiment of the Lie
Following the Lord’s healing of a man at the pool by the sheep market, Jesus made this declaration to the Jews in Jerusalem:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him” (John 5:39-43).
Jesus warned the Jewish nation that while they had rejected Him, another would come whom they would receive. Jesus told them He had come in His Father’s name but that an impostor would come in his own name proclaiming to have all the right answers to the troubles this world is facing. This individual will be the Antichrist, the lawless one, the son of perdition, or the beast of Revelation. In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul provided additional information about the deception with the coming Antichrist which he received by revelation from the risen Lord. He wrote:
“Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of (who) Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).
Another way of putting this is, “And on account of this (their rejection of God and His invitation to be saved by grace through faith (alone) – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) God will send all these folks (the unbelievers) a deluding influence so they will believe Satan’s lie.”
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for (what) a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:22-32).
The lie during the day of the Lord will be Satan is god (Isaiah 14:14) in the person of the Antichrist. But the book of Revelation also reveals Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet, to be the counterfeit, unholy trinity. These three will perform supernatural signs and by so doing deceive the world with the lie that Satan is god.
The Warnings in Revelation
In Revelation, Jesus appeared to the Apostle John and gave him specific instructions to seven Jewish assemblies, a.k.a. the 7 churches. John sent the book of Revelation to these assemblies to strengthen them in the tribulation they were experiencing (Revelation 1:9). The interpretation of the events depicted in the book remains future. However in the future, a generation of Jews will study these words as they experience the Day of the Lord. Jesus’ words are words of salvation for that future generation as they face the pressure to worship Satan’s man, the Beast, and accept “the mark of the beast.” The Lord’s instructions to them were an extension of His teachings to the Jews in Matthew 24. John wrote the things he witnessed in the Spirit were “on the Lord’s Day.” John is not referring to the Sabbath day, as some people teach; he’s speaking of God’s righteous judgment to come on the day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:7-18; Joel 2:1-7).
The world of Revelation is a wholly different world from the world we experience in our Age of Grace. Miracles, prophecy, signs, wonders have returned. They will be reestablished because the time of Revelation is the last seven years of Israel’s history according to Daniel’s prophecy regarding Israel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:24).
Signs and miracles were routine occurrences during the Prophetic Program or the LORD God’s dealings with the nation Israel.
Paul wrote: “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22).
While the Day of the Lord will affect the entire world, in terms of prophecy, the nation of Israel is God’s primary focus. It is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Jesus warned of the great deception of the Antichrist. He arrives on the end-time stage claiming to be god, the messiah, God incarnate, and he will produce miraculous signs to support his claim. Working through him, the beast, Satan will attempt to fulfill his boast, “I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14) and maintain his rule of the earth (Ezekiel 28:13; Matthew 4:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
The warnings Jesus gave to these future Jewish churches have two key elements. The first is the admonition, “he who has an ear, let him hear.” The second is Jesus’ refrain about “overcoming.” The language of “overcoming” is clearly associated with salvation, “not hurt by the second death,” “not erase his or her name from the book of life,” etc. “Overcoming” here means an individual remains faithful to Jesus Christ which will be accomplished in one of two ways:
1) Accepting death (martyrdom) instead of worshiping the beast, worshiping his image, and accepting the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:3-4, 7-10, 15-17, 20:4).
2) Surviving until the Lord returns Since the majority of earth’s inhabitants will die at this time, surviving God’s Judgments will be quite a feat (Revelation 6:9-11, 9:13-14, 17:6).
It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints (Revelation 13:7-10).
Religion is Satan’s system to blind humanity about God. Religious deception will reach its apex during the Tribulation. John witnessed the advent of the great false religious leader who corresponds to the Holy Spirit in the false trinity. The Holy Spirit draws men and women to Christ. The False Prophet will draw men and women to the Antichrist.
John recorded: Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life (Revelation 13:11-14).
At the mid-point of the Tribulation, deception will intensify greatly upon earth since God will remove Satan from heaven onto the earth. Satan will recognize he has but a short time to accomplish his goals (Revelation 12:12).
The following verses reveal the deception Jesus warned about:
…and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery (Revelation 18:23).
And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone (Revelation 19:20).
…and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time (Revelation 20:3).
Satan is “the father of lies” who proclaims “the lie.” He is the master confidence artist. His pitch can be appealing but it always leads to sorrow, loss, and death. Despite the New Age church’s teaching, there is but one path to eternal life and that is faith in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). God never disappoints. He is Faithful (Revelation 3:14, 19:11). Trusting and following Him leads to joy, honor, and eternal life. So, it goes without saying the first step to unmask the devil and remove Satan’s cloak of deception is to believe the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24; Romans 2:16; Galatians 1:6-9).
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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