Throughout every church age since the time of Christ Matthew 24 has been ruthlessly dissected and variously translated in an attempt to make it align with one’s own eschatological viewpoint. Often times the main overarching themes of the sacred text have been completely ignored. Today I would like to walk you through what I see as the most important overarching themes, in essence what the text really teaches to help us stand firm until the end. We are immediately confronted with the many signs that would accompany the last days and should always give the reader pause that he is actually living in the last days. For example, we have always seen wars and rumors of wars since the first century and will continue to do so until the end, which are tracked so meticulously by the evening news (See Matthew 24:6). We have also seen nations and kingdoms rise up against one another in battle; we have also seen famines and earthquakes around the world with an ever increasing severity measured and reported instantly via the internet and Smartphones (See Matthew 24:7). For two thousand years we have seen the saints of God viciously attacked and persecuted to death in every conceivable way (See Matthew 24:9-10). As wickedness and hatred increase marching across the world stage, we have also seen the gospel of Jesus Christ preached in every nation bringing millions into the everlasting Kingdom of God (See Matthew 24:12-14). Through all this the constant refrain is that these will be terrible days full of dread and “distress unequaled from the beginning the world until now – and never be equaled again” (See Matthew 24:15-22).
Although this theme of “signs” is important to understanding the days in which we live, the overarching theme was never repeated just the individual signs were listed. On the other hand, a major theme was presented three times throughout the text. Jesus Christ warned on three separate occasions that “false prophets, false Christs or false messiahs” would arise and deceive many even the elect if that were possible. It is genuinely accepted by most scholars that when a teaching is repeated three times (done often by Jesus Christ), especially in the same context, it emphasizes the importance of the teaching or a major theme to be delineated. The key to understanding this important theme of “false prophets, false Christs, or false messiahs” is that in each statement Jesus Christ indicates that people would be “deceived” (see Matthew 24:4-5, 10, 23-24). The entire Bible indicates that Jesus Christ is the final revelation to man and that there is no other name under heaven for men to be saved. Therefore, if anyone comes proclaiming that he has a revelation from heaven proclaiming a new and different way to God rather than what is clearly taught in the New Testament then he must be considered as a false prophet, false Christs, or false messiah. This is a major theme in Matthew 24 and must not be overlooked in any attempt to understand its minute details. The Apostle Paul also said, “As we have already said, now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned” (Galatians 1:9). As we fast approach the end of days we must accept this warning from Christ and His apostle and not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who would teach a different gospel.
The warning is clear: our gospel begins and ends with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To deny the work of Christ on the Cross is to proclaim a different gospel. To accept this different gospel will send you straight to hell or be “eternally condemned.” So we must be honest and ask ourselves who is teaching a different gospel in our world today. Islam not only preaches a different gospel by denying the work of Christ on the Cross but also by proclaiming that they have received revelation from heaven. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned” (Galatians 1:8). I have made it abundantly clear in previous articles that we must proclaim the true gospel to the Muslim believing that he has been blinded by the god of this world and in need of salvation. But let’s not stop with the Muslim for any gospel or system of thought that denies the work of Christ on the Cross is also a false gospel being proclaimed by a false prophet, false Christs, or false messiah. Any system of thought must be closely examined to see if it denies the work of Christ on the Cross!
To discern a system of thought that denies the work of Christ on the Cross we must clearly understand what this work promises to do in the life of the believer. The first promise is the forgiveness of sins allowing us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and direct communication with the Lord of heaven. Then there is the eternal promise of heaven where every tear will be gently wiped away as we enjoy all that heaven has to offer. But we must go much deeper to truly understand the work of Christ on the Cross. We must join Christ on the Cross by dying to self and allowing the old life to be buried with Him and then join Him in His resurrection from the grave into a brand new life in Him. The heart of the gospel says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (II Corinthians 5:17). Do you believe that Christ wants to make you into a new creation? I hope so, because that is the goal of every true believer in Christ. This is made possible by God’s Holy Word – the Bible that leads us step by step to put off the old life and put on the new life with the help of the indwelling Spirit. It is essential that we remember, “That His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (II Peter 1:3). Any system of thought that teaches otherwise is a false gospel. Any system of thought that denies the work of Christ on the Cross by teaching (deceiving) you to put your trust in the world’s counselors and their psychotropic drugs to help you overcome your emotional or psychological problems is a false gospel and must be rejected. In conclusion I find it more than interesting that the Muslims have openly accepted the deceptive doctrine of psychology because they have denied the work of Christ on the Cross. Next week I will write about the second major theme of Matthew 24 which is watchfulness. Are you ready for Christ return today?
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Also published (in part) in my new book: “Revelation Truth” available in our secure online bookstore or at a bookstore near you.