In Part 1 we looked at what the Scriptures tell us will take place in the end times just prior to and including the return of Jesus Christ. Our focus was primarily on the world—that is, those who have rejected biblical Christianity, Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation that He has provided for all those who are willing to accept it. We noted that those who rejected Christ’s way for mankind to be reconciled to its Creator turned to mysticism in the form of pantheism. They replaced the true and living God, our Creator, with themselves (Romans 1). They have bought into the lie that Satan had used to deceive Eve (see Genesis 3) and are being prepared to accept the Antichrist’s claim to be God, as described in 2 Thessalonians:2:3-4:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
We considered the writings of Samuel Andrews in his book Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict and his method of studying the scriptures of the end times. He looked to see if what the Bible said would happen was being manifested to some degree in his own day. He found examples of nearly every deception the Bible warns about. The only difference between his day and ours is that the world and the devil have expanded the lies exponentially. What was just beginning to emerge 120 years ago has become blatant today. I believe the phrase “hidden in plain sight” best describes what’s taking place.
The beliefs of Eastern Mysticism, Hinduism, and Buddhism have all but displaced the traditional Christian beliefs in the West. One of the hundreds of “hidden in plain sight” examples is the Young Men’s Christian Association. It has become a popular center for Yoga lessons. Most people today couldn’t tell you what the letters YMCA stand for, with many guessing the Y probably stands for Yoga. Teenagers today are unaware of the spiritual basis for the Eastern religious terms they have added to their vocabulary (i.e., karma, mantra, avatar, diva, guru, nirvana).
In Part 1, the focus was mainly on the world being drawn to pantheism, the belief that everything and everyone is God. That is the foreseeable outcome due to the world’s rejection of Jesus Christ and the fact that it is consequently being drawn to the religion of the Antichrist. In this article, we will briefly consider the state of Christendom in Samuel Andrews’ day as it was influenced by the world, then we’ll look at the state of the church today by comparison.
Andrews points to Revelation 2 where Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus. Although the church was doing many good works, Jesus admonishes the fellowship: “I have this against thee, that thou hast left thy first love.” Andrews connects the church’s drifting away from its love for Jesus with apostasy: “It is thus in the loss of the first love, not in doctrinal errors, that we find the root of the falling away [the apostasy] in the beginning, and the key to the whole subsequent history of the Church. Then began that spiritual separation from the Head which cannot cease till the first love has been regained.”
He defines apostasy: “The apostasy, or falling away…means, generally, a falling away from some given standard; a defection. Here it means a falling away from the true standing of the Church as appointed by God. This general meaning leaves undetermined the degree of the apostasy or falling away, whether a total or partial denial of the truth. The Apostle [Paul] distinguishes two forms of the apostasy, one being the corruption of Christianity, the other its absolute rejection. The falling away, beginning with the loss of love, is not to be confined to doctrine; it embraces the whole spiritual life; and therefore the whole external order of the Church.”
When Jesus addresses the churches in Revelation, He is doing so as the Head of the church. He is speaking to His body. As the body’s love for Him decreases, its obedience to Him also decreases, resulting in the body doing its own thing without submitting to Jesus, the Head of the church.
That’s how the apostasy, in its corrupting sense, develops. It’s the forsaking of the truth through ceasing to love and obey the instructions of our Lord and Savior. Andrews identified much of what had influenced the church of his day. It was a case of the church in the world and the world in the church, all brought on by slipping away from the Head: “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews:2:1, emphasis added).
The exhortation from the Head to give "earnest heed" was not heeded then...or now. The “slip,” therefore, has turned into a massive spiritual landslide in our day, burying the truth of God’s Word in every demonically conceived way possible—or so it seems. If you’ve been following The Berean Call for a moderate length of time, or even for a decade before the start of the TBC ministry in 1992, you no doubt became familiar with the book, The Seduction of Christianity. That being the case, you have been made aware of more heresies and false teachers infecting the church than most Christians probably care to know about. It can be a bit discouraging at times—kind of like swamp swimming. It’s often a sluggish affair, with nasty leeches sticking to your body for the ride…and for lunch. So, I’ll spare you my enumerating most of the heresies, as they would quickly fill up this article.
On the other hand, there’s much exhortation and encouragement in what the Lord has enabled us to do. After all, I’m not the one who said, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew:24:4). Or, “…in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy:4:1). Or, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy:4:3, emphasis added). Or, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts:20:29-31). Or the Book of Jude! Or “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke:18:8). So, it never gets boring, even though the times of apostasy are not pleasant.
If you’ve been unsure about apostasy and are thinking along more “positive” lines, such as a pending global revival and national repentance—and those verses don’t give you pause—Scripture gives us dozens upon dozens more. Nevertheless, rather than review the multitude of heresies that abound today, I want to share a perspective that the title of Samuel Andrews book motivated me to consider.
Again, the title is: Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict. This makes me believe that those two entities will be in a battle that will conclude when Jesus returns to destroy all those whom Satan has gathered against Him. Satan, rallying his troops, draws them from a diversity of his deceits, his devices, his frauds, his seductions, his lies, his twisting of Scriptures, his false prophets and teachers, his cults, his appeal to man’s lusts, and particularly to man’s ego, all of which he uses to entrap them.
Those deceptions have captured not only those who have rejected Christ but also believers who were ensnared by Satan’s “angel of light” deceptions and his multitude of lying signs and wonders. My goal is to show how connected the seemingly diverse deceptions of the Adversary are and how they will converge as they contribute to the development and acceptance of the religion and kingdom of the Antichrist.
I see it as the perfect storm, where many elements come together to create something far more volatile and deadly than one might expect under normal storm conditions. Here are just some of the diverse entities that are prepared wholly or in part to contribute to the kingdom of the Antichrist.
Let’s begin with the Roman Catholic Church, which is loaded with antichrist kingdom-supporting essentials. First of all, it sees itself as the head of Christianity. Its pope is called the Vicar of Christ, meaning the human representative of Christ on earth. Its eschatology is amillennial. It has replaced Israel and has been trying to set up the kingdom of Christ ever since the days of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, while the popes have ruled over the kingdoms of the world.
Much of Catholicism has been given to mysticism and pantheism through the Desert Fathers, Ignatius Loyola of the Jesuits, and, of more recent times, the Buddhist/Catholic monk Thomas Merton, as well as the favorite priest of leading evangelicals, Henri Nouwen. A more direct connection to pantheism is found in the latest Catholic Catechism: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God,” and, “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers of his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.” Those quotes, listed in the official Catholic catechism, are from St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Athanasius.
There’s much more that could be cited regarding the Church of Rome, but I want to cover as many “perfect storm” contributors as I can in this brief article. Nevertheless, I’m sure you get the picture that a billion-and-a-half Catholics are being set up to receive the pantheistic religion and kingdom of the Antichrist.
Let’s move on to a church organization that’s trying to rival the Church of Rome in power and money—namely the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormonism’s fundamental belief is that man can work his way to godhood. As the saying goes that was supposedly received from the Mormon gods to man, “As you are, we once were. As we are, you will become.” Brigham Young declared, “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself…to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven,” and, “The devil told the truth. I do not blame Mother Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. That’s how we become gods.” Mormons obviously are well prepared to accept the pantheistic lies of the Antichrist. They also believe they will rule over the world government set up in the last days as the kingdom of God on earth. Nothing is too farfetched for Mormons to believe, because they are assured that the more unrealistic and impracticable Mormon doctrine seems to them, the greater is their faith when they nevertheless believe it. That includes accepting Mormon teachings that have absolutely no biblical, archaeological, linguistic, geographical, or anthropological evidence to support their claims.
Among the Word/Faith, Prosperity, and Healing preachers, godhood has been a significant part of their conniving. As one of their influential leaders declared: “Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so does God have little gods.” Kenneth Copeland says, “Man was created in the god class. We are a class of gods.” Last year, my talks at our TBC conference addressed an earlier gathering of nearly 50,000 young adults at a stadium in Orlando, Florida. The gathering was titled The Send. The stated purpose was to send the young people out to evangelize the world, beginning with their neighborhoods, their schools, their communities, their countries, and on to the ends of the earth. What could be wrong with that?
Those who put on the gathering were kingdom dominionists representing YWAM, Bethel Church and its School of Supernatural Ministry, the New Apostolic Reformation, and numerous Word/Faith preachers. The elder leaders of the event were introduced as “mighty men of God.” They included false prophets and false teachers such as Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne, Lou Engels, Bill Johnson, and Loren Cunningham.
What then are kingdom dominionists? They believe that Jesus, as the head of the church, has appointed the body to take over the world in His physical absence and are to set up His kingdom in order for Him to return. Those taken in by this are clamoring for worldwide revival. That’s been the call of those Pentecostals and Charismatics involved in the Latter-rain Manifest Sons of God movement of the mid 1940s, and later the Toronto Blessing, the Brownsville Revival, the Kansas City Prophets, IHOP (the International House of Prayer,) and the New Apostolic Reformation.
Why? They believe a worldwide Christian revival will put them in charge. I interviewed a young man who was attending the Bethel School of Supernatural ministry. He was in his third year. I asked him about his eschatology. He didn’t know what the term meant. Not surprising. Biblical eschatology isn’t taught there. It gets in the way of the school’s Kingdom Dominion agenda. Having sat in on a Bethel service, I told him I was curious about the preacher mentioning a coming worldwide revival, and could he tell me where that’s found in Scripture? He wasn’t sure. I asked him what, according to the Scriptures, was the next kingdom to come. He seemed more than startled when I informed him it will be “the kingdom of the Antichrist.” Many of our young Christians, ignorant of what the Word of God declares about the Last Days, are being recruited to contribute to the development of the religion and kingdom of the “man of lawlessness, the beast.” I don’t believe a true Christian can lose his salvation, but I do believe that by buying into Satan’s deceptions a believer’s life and fruitfulness can be wrecked.
In next month’s newsletter we’ll address two more elements of the “perfect storm” that are causing many conservative evangelicals to buy into the beliefs of, and unwittingly participate in, the activities for building the kingdom of the Antichrist.