The Religion of the Last Days, the New Age Movement and the Return of Christ – Program 1
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1994|
|There are some clues given in Scripture that can help us recognize that the rapture is near. What are those signs, and do we seem them coming about in our day?|
Signs of the End Times
Today we want to talk about the characteristics of the religion of the last days as it’s outlined in the Bible: The characteristics of the religion and the people of the last days, the New Age Movement, and how it all relates to the return of Jesus Christ.
When you talk about future events from a biblical perspective, there are two things that I’d like you to keep in mind tonight. One is that, usually, when we talk about the coming of Christ and specifically the rapture, that we believe that the rapture will have no signs, no events that will take place prior to it that we have to be watching for. It could come at any moment. The apostle Paul, the Thessalonians, were waiting for God’s Son to come from heaven at any moment. Paul expected to be one of those that would be caught up, snatched, in 1 Thessalonians 4, because he said, “We will all be caught up together with them [the dead in Christ], then we will meet Christ in the clouds.”
We don’t think that there are any signs that we need to look forward to in terms of that. But there are some signs that kind of come through the back door, if you want, that tell us that the rapture has got to be close. What do I mean? Well, we know that at the second coming of Christ, when Christ comes to planet earth and his feet hit the Mount of Olives, according to Zechariah 14:4, that at that time he’s going to set up his millennial kingdom. And Christ has given us, in Matthew 24 and other places, exact signs about what’s going to happen.
He talks about the beginning of birth pains. What are birth pains? Well, when a lady goes into labor, you start off having the contractions. They’re rather short in terms of the pain sequence, and they’re also spread apart quite a bit. And as you go toward having the child, the fact is, the pain gets more intense and the time of those contractions start shortening up until, when you get right to the end, you’ve got both together pounding at the same time and then the child comes.
Jesus, in Matthew 24, said, in terms of Christ coming back to do battle, to rescue Israel, to set up his kingdom, during that period of time, the tribulation time, the seven-year period that Daniel was talking about in Daniel 9, is that the birth pains will start and they will increase in intensity as we go toward his returning physically to planet earth. But, in giving those signs that talk about when he will actually come to planet earth, if we start to see some of the hints of those signs and we believe that the rapture will occur before that tribulation time period, then these signs are casting a shadow back and we know that the rapture must be near.
Do you understand? It’s like, if we know that Christmas is coming, we know that Thanksgiving’s got to be even sooner, right? If you see them putting up the Christmas trees in the stores, you know we’ve got to at least be close to Thanksgiving—the way things are going, it’ll be right after school starts in the fall pretty soon. But the same thing with the second coming of Jesus Christ: if you start to see the signs for that, you have to realize that the rapture, which comes before that—where Christ comes and rescues the Church, snatches us out of here—that is even closer. So we’re going to see some of those shadows tonight.
But there’s also a second thing that will tell us about the time of the rapture, and that is the fact that the Lord gave us signs about the Church itself and its development from the time that he founded it all the way up until the great apostasy. In other words, there’s a progression of evil inside the Church. And he says, when you start to see this, you can recognize where it’s going just from your study of Scripture.
And that’s what we’re going to look at tonight: What are the characteristics of the people and the false religion of the last days?” I want to say that it’s going to have, in the final analysis, it’ll still probably have the name “Christian” over it, but it won’t be a Christianity that you and I recognize. This is a very scary thing, that we call ourselves Christians. But as you go back in Church history and you look at from where it came from and you look at how strong it has been in certain years, and you look at it in your own lifetime, you recognize that there is a progression where a part of the Christian church—or those that call themselves Christians—are now starting to deny the very things we call the fundamentals of the faith. And yet they still call themselves Christians. I believe this is what the Lord is talking about, that there is a growing apostasy, there is an increase of evil and false doctrine inside the Christian church itself that he has told us what the bottom line is, where it’s going to culminate, and if we can start to see that, that’s going to tell us where we are on the prophetic calendar.
I don’t know if you’ve ever approached it that way. But I’d like to start and I’d like to give you the characteristics, and it’ll go tonight and tomorrow night [Part 2]. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to take you through this progression, and tomorrow night we will come to what the Bible says is the end: What is the end? And what’s amazing is that I think we can start to see glimpses of that being acceptable in our culture today. It just didn’t dawn on me until this last year actually what I’m talking about tonight, that goodness sakes alive, some of this stuff that I’m going to tell you, that when I was in seminary I thought, you know, if anybody had told me this stuff, I thought he’d been a Martian that stepped off a rocket from Mars. It couldn’t happen. And I’ve gone back to those verses that I looked at in seminary, and I’ve looked at them and I’ve realized in my own ministry on television that I’m dealing with these topics all the time. So let’s start to look at them and let’s see what you think, okay?
Go to 1 Timothy 4:1-2, because this is the first characteristic, if you want, of the religion and the people of the last days. If you want, you can start to put numbers down here and I’ll keep those numbers straight for you, hopefully.
Characteristic number one—the Bible says the people will depart from the faith. Let’s look at the verse a little more carefully. Now, “The Spirit.” Underline Spirit and, if you want, put a number one there. This Spirit. Which Spirit? The Holy Spirit.
Number two—“speaketh expressly” —wants to say to you something specifically. I mean, Christians reading their Bible, seeing these words, I mean, we ought to come to attention. The Holy Spirit specifically says something. He’s got my ears.
“Now, the Spirit speaketh expressly” —and here’s that phrase—“that in the latter times.” That’s number three, if you want, “that in the latter times.” What times? The latter times. Now, we’ve got to define terms here. Ever since Jesus came, the apostles have referred to that time to the present as the latter times, okay? Some people are starting to talk about, “Are we in the latter part of the latter times?” But I want you to see that they consider this part of the latter times, but they also talk about in these latter times that there’s going to be a progression of evil.
Now, what is the first characteristic that the Spirit wants us to look at? “The Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart.” They will depart; they will leave. That’s number four. If you want, they will abandon. They will, with their eyes wide open, say, “I’m changing my mind. I’m leaving.” And what will they leave? What will they depart from? Now, in the Greek you have the definite article “the faith.” It’s not just faith, it’s the faith. Here is a body of specific truth that makes Christianity to be real Christianity. Every once in a while the apostle Paul puts in the articles so that we know that he’s talking about Christianity and the content, the fundamental beliefs of Christianity, without which Christianity would not be Christianity. And what the Spirit is saying is that in the latter times, people will depart from that body of content.
What content? What are some of the fundamental things? I just put down a few of them:
- The virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
- The doctrine of the Trinity—that the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God—all three Persons are the one God. Remember Matthew 28:15: “Go ye into all the world, baptize them in the name [doesn’t say names with an “s” on it] the name [singular] of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” That’s where we get the Trinity, there and other places. The one God in three Persons. “Go and baptize in the name [singular], “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
- The triune God—the doctrine of the Trinity. People don’t want to believe that today, do they?
- The inspiration of the Bible.
- The deity of Christ.
- The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s in Newsweek this month, saying 50 percent of the Church they polled do not believe in it.
- The promise of the resurrection of all believers. The glorious future that we will have with Christ.
These are some of the fundamental beliefs, the content that make up the faith. [Another one is:]
- The substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins is another.
And what this verse is saying, that as we go through church history and we come to the end, there’s going to be an increase in people departing from this content. Now, let me ask you this: In your lifetime, do you think that this is true just from your own years of experience? There was an article, an actual survey, in a recent issue of Pulpit Helps, and 7,441 Protestant pastors were polled. And here’s what they found out when they talked to these 7,441 Protestant pastors. These pastors, 51 percent of the Methodists, 35 percent of the Presbyterians, 30 percent of the Episcopalians, and 33 percent of the American Baptists did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Today, pastors can continue ministering who deny the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the inspiration of the Bible. We have ministers across the nation who are ordaining homosexuals to the Christian ministry. They are uniting lesbians or homosexual partners in “holy” matrimony. And they are still pastors of the “Christian” church. But they are departing from the faith. And the Bible says that one of the characteristics of the false religion of the last days, it’ll have the name “Christian” on it, but the fact is, the content will be gone.
Now, just think about it. I do a lot of traveling. I go into all these little cities. And I’m sure, if you’ve ever taken a long trip, have you ever driven through these nice little towns and you see these cute little churches that are there? What do you think? My thought is, I wonder what the pastor preaches in that place? Just because it’s got the name “Christian” on the door, could anybody trip over enough doctrine to get saved in that place?
I had a prof, he was a Lutheran prof; one of the best profs I ever had. And he wanted to write a book when I was in college with him, and the name on the book that he wanted—and no publisher would do it—he wanted to put To Hell Through the Church. They changed it to Damned Through the Church. I don’t know why that was any better, but that’s what they went with, Damned Through the Church.
What was he talking about? You go to church and listen to what those guys are saying. They’ll damn you by listening to them, because they’re not giving you the truth, but you think you’re getting the truth. That’s a pretty dangerous situation. And when you think of all the churches across this country, I wonder what the percentage would be of those that are actually preaching biblical truth? They call themselves Christians.
Jim Kennedy down here in Coral Ridge one time told me about the people in his audience; that probably 60- 70 percent of the people that sit in his church and listen to him, he doesn’t think they’re born again. Billy Graham puts the figure just a little bit higher about the audiences that he preaches to. They think they’re Christians, but the fact is, they really don’t know what the score is. And that’s a dangerous situation.
And it’s the first characteristic that the Spirit expressly states: Hold on to your hats as we go down through church history. People are going to depart from the faith. And as we get toward the end, it’s going to be really bad.
Number two, evil spirits or demons will seduce or mislead people. Where do I get that? Take a look at 1 Timothy 4:2: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.” Why? Look at what it says. Because in the latter times, “they will give heed to seducing [spirits].” What’s a seducing spirit? A deceiving. It means to mislead; to lead aside; to persuade or attempt to do evil or wrong. Spirits that seduce, deceive, people. They will “give heed to seducing spirits.”
Now, I’ve got to tell you that when I was in seminary and I read that verse, I thought, “Never in my lifetime. I’m not going to deal with that one. I don’t have to worry about that. I mean, that’s really far out. People are going to listen to spirits? Give me a break.” Then about six or seven years ago, remember Jose Silva from Silva Mind Control? He wrote me a letter from Mexico. And he said, “I’ve been watching your program, and I’d like to come on your program.” Do you know how many people have gone through Silva Mind Control in America? Seven million Americans.
What do they do in Silva Mind Control? Well, they bring you in to quit smoking; to lose weight; to get positive thoughts. But they also help you invite two spirit guides to come in to your mind, and they give you information. And those spirits guides stick with you forever. The basis of Silva Mind Control is two demons coming into you that will help you with all the stuff that you need help on, okay? Seven million Americans have gone through that thing! It’s a four-day course.
The third day, do you know how they test this? They help you to bring the spirits into your mind, and then on the fourth day they test whether or not the spirits have really taken. Do you know how they test you? They sit down, and a counselor sits with the person and you’re the guy and you’ve got your spirits now. And what you’re supposed to do, they have a card of a person that you don’t know. If you’re in the New York area having this course, they pick a card from somebody that lives in California, in San Francisco or Los Angeles. So you’ve got the card. You’ve never met the person.
The guy says, “Okay, go to your little secret place and talk to your spirit guides and ask them to do a psychic scan of this person and to give you that information. And I’ve got the information right here. I want you to give it to me.” So you go into your little trance and you go back to your spirits. You ask them for the information. They’re supposed to give it to you. And you’re supposed to be able to give that information of what is wrong physically with this person that they’ve got from California that you’ve never met. And unless you can do that, you can get your money back. See? Silva Mind Control.
And I had Jose Silva on the program. I said, “Jose, where did you get the information for your course?” He said, “Well, you know, I got it from the spirits.” I said, “Did you always have them?” He said, “Yes. I was just born with them.” Well, in a sense he was, but the fact is, it’s traditional occultism that, if you have father and mother that are in the occult and are involved with spirits, it’s passed on to the kids. And it was passed on to Jose Silva from his parents. And the fact is, he grew up, that’s all he ever knew, and the spirits gave him the basis for Silva Mind Control which seven million Americans have gone through.
But what I’m saying is, they’re getting their information from where? From the spirits. The spirits are seducing people, misleading them.
Now, I asked Jose, I said, “What do you think about Jesus Christ?”
“He was a nice man, good prophet, but he never died on the cross. He never shed his blood for the sins of the world.”
That is heresy. That comes right from the pit. Where did he get that? He got it from the spirits. And, in fact, in reading his books, boy, my hair was going right up on end when I read some of the chapters because of the fact that, when he came to the atonement of Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world, the vocabulary became very strident. He was committing blasphemy over and over and over again. It was like hatred. You could tell the anger coming out.
Anybody that would hold these kinds of thoughts, and it just immediately identified itself with me from other occult material that I’ve read, this is demonic! But seven million Americans have bought in and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. “The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, and they shall give heed to seducing spirits.”
And then, the third thing is the next part of that verse. Number three: “and doctrines of devils.” “And doctrines of devils” or “demons.” What in the world is a doctrine of a demon? Well, we’ve got a whole bunch of it today. It’s interesting that the people in the New Age Movement, many of them grew up in church. Shirley MacLaine grew up in church. They have got doctrines that are contrary to what they were taught growing up in church.
Where did they get these doctrines? Do you know that it’s very interesting today that in Los Angeles we have people that are called channelers. Do you know what a channeler is? A channeler is a person who opens himself up to a demon, and gives himself over to a demon, and a demon speaks out of him. They would call it a “spirit guide” or something else. But the fact is, they give control and the spirit takes over their voice and everything else, and speaks. They’re very entertaining. They’ve been on Merv Griffin; they’ve been on Donahue; they’ve been on Oprah. Do you recognize that in our country today, we have people that are demon possessed and they allow the demons to speak to them across television to millions of people?
The first time this happened was way back when Shirley MacLaine did her television program “Out on a Limb.” In that program, they actually used a channeler, Ryerson, who channeled a demo,n and the demon spoke in the movie. That was the real deal. But he was speaking to tens of millions of Americans. And after that program, a whole five million people started following Shirley MacLaine and what she was talking about.
But what I want to get to is that these channelers have opened themselves up to the spirit and they give themselves over. It’s nothing more than the old mediumship—demon possession. Do you know how many we’ve got of those kind of people in Los Angeles? Just the city of Los Angeles alone? We have over 1,000 of those kind of people in L.A. alone servicing the movie stars and the people in the industry. It’s over a $400 million dollar a year business in L.A. alone, just to go and see a channeler. You’ve got to call and make an appointment. If you want to talk with them on the phone, it’s $50 every ten minutes.
Now, what I’m saying is that these spirits are speaking out, and they’re giving information. But the information is taking people away from biblical Christianity. So Shirley MacLaine can say, “Yeah, that’s what I used to believe, but I don’t believe that anymore.” And what’s interesting is that the doctrine that they are getting from the spirits is kind of cohesive. We can kind of call it Eastern mysticism, an eclectic type of philosophy that is called the New Age Movement, but it’s different from biblical Christianity.
And I would like to give you just a couple of the lies that came right back from Satan himself, that he passed on to the demons that the New Age Movement is using today that you can find were given right back in Genesis. Take a look at it, if you would. Genesis 3, verse 1. Let me give you a couple of doctrines by demons, a couple of examples. Genesis 3:1. I’m going to read from NIV on this one, okay? Starting in verse 1: “Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made; and he said to the woman [here’s lie #1], ‘Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”
What Satan always does, as does every person in the New Age Movement, “God didn’t really say that, did He?” See, God lied. He has lied to you. He didn’t really mean that. He didn’t really mean you ought to abstain from sex. He didn’t really believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. I mean, come on! So the first thing is, Satan tells people, “God didn’t really say that: you must not eat from any tree in the garden.”
“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it, or if you touch it, you will die.’” Verse 4. “‘You will not sure die,’ the serpent said. That’s lie #2 that’s still being spread today: “You will not surely die.”
I had Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, that wrote the book On Death and Dying, the five stages of death and dying. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a world famous psychiatrist from Zurich, Switzerland, and went to teach at the University of Chicago. And along the way, one day, she told me that she stepped off the elevator at the University of Chicago, and there she knocked right into somebody she thought she had buried five years ago. She said, “That really got my attention, because I knew this lady was dead.”
And the lady said, “I’ve come to give you a message.” Kubler-Ross said, “I must be hallucinating.” Kubler-Ross was an atheist, a skeptic of the first rate, but here was this lady. So she was psychoanalyzing herself, and she was walking back to her office, and here’s this lady walking with her. And she said, “I got to the office, shut the door. The lady sat down. I went to my desk. I sat down. And the lady said, ‘I’ve come to give you a message.’”
Kubler-Ross thought and she said, “Would you mind taking this piece of paper and writing the message out for me?” The lady smiled and said, “Yeah, I know what you need.” And so she wrote the message out to her, which Kubler-Ross framed and hung on her wall right in back of her desk at the University of Chicago. That started her to looking into the occult.
She went down to a fellow in North Carolina, and he helped her get into having an out-of-body experience. And in that mystical out-of-body experience, which is nothing more than the demons ticking off the neurons in your mind so that you have pictures that you see. It’s like hallucination where you are seeing something but there’s really nothing there in reality. It’s just your mind playing a video in your head. But Kubler-Ross was getting information that was real information. For example, she was taken out of the room and she was seeing what was going on in another room. Well, I think the demons were just giving her that information. It wasn’t that she was really floating over there. But she thought she was.
And so the fact was that Kubler-Ross all of a sudden started to think that there was something more, and she came to the idea, “You know what? We are just not material substance, we are spiritual.” And you know what, “We don’t really die, we are reincarnated.” And today, in the New Age Movement, they’re not afraid of death. Shirley MacLaine says, “You don’t have to worry about death because, really, you never stop living, you are just recycled.” And that’s what the serpent said to Eve: “You will not sure die!”
I had Elisabeth Kubler-Ross on the program with Dave Hunt and a doctor who was from the AMA, heart Surgeon. He was just on Donahue not too long ago. And the deal was, she said, “I don’t fear death, and in all of the near-death experiences, I’ve never seen a hell experience. You don’t have to fear death. God is not a God of judgment. You don’t have to worry about sin. There is no hell. The fact is, when we all die, we’re going to go through this tunnel and we’ll see the great white light and the fact is, things will be great.” She had catalogued 20,000.
On our program I brought this doctor, Dr. Maurice Rawlings, who in working on a fellow. He was a heart surgeon. This man was taking the treadmill test, and all of a sudden his heart stopped, and he was resuscitating him. He was in a near-death experience. He was passing out. And so he was down there pushing on his heart, trying to get it started so that he could put a wire down there to electrify the heart, and so on, and keep it going. And every time he would start putting the wire down there, he wouldn’t be pushing on the heart, and so the guy would go back into unconsciousness. He would kind of clinically die again.
But all of a sudden, this guy kept coming back and saying, “Doctor, doctor, you’ve got to do something for me. I’m in hell!” He didn’t even believe in God. He says, “Hey, save you from hell! I’m trying to save your life.” And the fact is, so he’s working on this guy, and every time he’d lose him the guy would come back and say, “Doctor, doctor, you’ve got to pray. I’m in hell.” And the guy was scared. You could see the goose bumps. He was just frozen with fear. And the doctor knew that.
He didn’t believe it at all, but thought, if it would help him, he’d say a prayer. So he told the guy, “Look, repeat after me: ‘Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and keep me from hell. Amen.’” Guy prayed that. He was still working on him, trying to save his life. His heart was going in and out and so on. And now, as the guy went back and forth, he had perfect peace. Well, he saved the guy’s life.
Well, he got home and started getting a little nervous about what he had just seen. He started reading all the books that he could. He discovered that the Bible talked about what he was actually seeing in these near-death experiences closer than anything else, and he became a Christian. And then he started documenting near-death experiences of people that were dying: people at football games; people in their hospital bed; and so on. And he was reviving them and so on. The guys that he saved, he found out that at that time, on the program—we had 300 people that he had brought back in near-death experiences—and half of them were hell experiences. And some of them were good Baptist Sunday School teachers. And so I had him there to tell Kubler-Ross, who had said she had never seen a hell experience what it was like and just because I knew she wouldn’t believe him, I brought ten of those people that had hell experiences in the audience. I thought that would make a good program, don’t you?
But the lie that was spread, and Kubler-Ross and others believe it is, “There is no hell. You won’t die. Don’t worry about judgment.” That’s a doctrine from the devil himself, right from Genesis 3.
Let me give you another one, and we’ve got to move here. “‘You will not sure die,’ the serpent said to the woman, ‘for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.’” “You will be like God.” That’s number three. What does Shirley MacLaine do on “Out on a Limb”? She stood in front of the ocean and what did she do? She put her hands up and she said what? “I am God. I am God.” I had one guy on our program that said, “Right on, Shirley! Walk right on out onto the water there. Let’s see you do it.” Because there was One that could walk on the water that said He was God. Right on, Shirley. Walk right on out there. Let’s see if you are God. But Satan says, “You will be like God.”
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for fruit and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom….” Today, I can’t tell you all the groups that want to,… you do their steps, you come to their course, and they will give you secret wisdom. You will be able to tap into the energy of the universe through their methodology. Okay? I can’t believe it. These four lies, Genesis 3. They’re the big four in terms of the New Age Movement today, still being believed. The Bible says:
1. People will depart from the faith.
2. Evil spirits or demons will seduce. They’ll mislead people.
3. People will follow doctrines made up by demons.
Go over to 2 Timothy 4. In 2 Timothy 4:3 Paul says, “For the time will come when they will” what? “not endure sound doctrine.” Point number 4, in the Church, up ahead, people will not put up with those who teach sound doctrine. They won’t stand for it; they won’t bear it; they won’t tolerate it.
This little book on the Masonic Lodge out in the lobby, pastors all across the country have gotten that book and they thought, “Boy, this is clear, plain and simple to understand. I’m going to preach this to my congregation.” Three-fourths of them have been bounced by their congregation. I mean, just thrown out: “Goodbye, God bless you. You’re out of here.” Why? Because they couldn’t endure sound doctrine. In fact, there’s been so many of them that they’ve formed kind of a little like “Alcohols Anonymous” Club that’s “all the pastors who have been thrown out because they’ve preached on the Masonic Lodge” Club.
Now, some of them have courageously preached it and had complete revival in their church. But what’s going on? By the way, a lot of the men have come up that are in the Lodge during this week and they have said, “What about this?” And they love the Lord. They’ve said, “We’ve never known.” I said, “Right. That’s why we wrote the book. You don’t know.”
But I’ve found that guys that really love the Lord, when you show them the evidence, when you just show them what the little blue book said in the Lodge, the Holy Spirit convicts them and they come out. It’s that simple. Why? Because they belong to the Lord and the Lord brings them out. There’s no big deal. It’s the guys that don’t, that fight it like mad, that kind of bother me. They say, “I want to kill you because you’re doing this.” What?
All I’m trying to show is, the guy says, “It’s not religion.” They talk about 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree; Masonic funeral; how a man can get to the Celestial Lodge Above. What’s that? “Well, that’s not religion.” The Celestial Lodge Above where God, the Architect of the Universe, presides? What do you need to do? “By your purity of life and your rectitude of conduct, you will gain eternal life in the Celestial Lodge Above.” What in the world is that? Do you see Jesus’ name there? “No. That’s not religion.” No? But you’re telling people how to get to heaven. That’s a false Gospel.”
Paul says in Galatians 1, “Anybody that preaches any other Gospel than the one we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” What does anathema mean? “Go to hell.” That’s what it means. “Be damned.” Stick with the Gospel. The guys that love the Lord, they just come out when you show them the truth. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is there. They’re true. But the Bible says there’s going to be a whole group of people from the churches that in the latter days, when you preach the truth, what are they going to do? They’re going to bounce the guy that preaches the truth. They’re going to bounce him.
Go to the same verse, down a little bit further. This is the fifth point. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they”—I love this King James language—“shall they heap to themselves teachers.” They’ll pile up teachers. On what basis? “After their own lusts.”
Point number five: People will choose churches that preach what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. But they’ll still call it “Christian.” Have you ever heard a famous preacher say that what he does is, he goes out and he takes a survey and finds out what people want to hear and then he crafts his sermons that direction? What if they don’t want to hear about Jesus? What if they don’t want to hear about the atonement? What if they don’t want to hear about hell? And, of course, he’s decided people don’t want to hear about sin. So what do we do? “We don’t preach on those things anymore. We preach on something else.” The Bible says that will be a characteristic of the religion of the last days.
We’re only at point 5 of 18, so tomorrow night ought to be a pip, right? “The Characteristics of the People and the Religion of the Last Days” and the Return of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ says, “I’m coming back. One of the things you’re going to see as I come back is going to be the fact there is going to be apostasy that grows and increases in the Church, and it’s going to culminate someday in a worldwide religion of a substitute Christ who will actually be a false Christ who will be the Antichrist. But he will claim that he’s God.” There will be a displacement of the worship of the true God to a false God. There will be giving up of doctrine, true doctrine, biblical doctrine, to false doctrine. Be aware of it.
Jesus, in Matthew 24, the first thing He says, “Don’t be deceived. Don’t let anybody deceive you. Be on your guard.” Why? “Because,” He said, “I’ve told you everything in advance.” We’re starting to see that. Maybe we are living in that generation when we will see it all come about. We’ll get right to the end, and those of us who know the Lord, we’ll be raptured out of here before the final phase, the seven-year period of tribulation takes place. But maybe we’ll see the beginning of the end. Did you ever think you would see people that are filled with demons on television giving information and it being acceptable to our American audiences? I never did. But we’ve got it today. The Bible says, “In the latter times, some shall depart from the faith; they’ll be misled by seducing spirits and follow doctrines of demons.”
Here’s where I’m going with this tonight. The Bible says these things. Jesus says these things. And we are living in days that have these characteristics, which tells me that if Christmas is coming—when Christ comes to earth, and the wrap-up of evil comes and the Antichrist, we can start to see glimpses that it could be right around the corner, then Thanksgiving—then the rapture—has got to be that much closer. It could happen any moment.
And what I want to know tonight is, my dear sir and my dear lady, are you ready for what the Bible is talking about? I assume that you believe the Bible. I assume that you believe that Jesus Christ is God. But maybe you’ve been in one of those churches where nobody’s told you, “Look, you have got to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus or you’re a hung duck.”
You’re not going in the rapture just because you’re a church member. There’s got to be a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. We were talking the other night, the scary thing that Jesus said in Matthew 24 and Matthew 6 is that He is going to come back as the Judge at the end of the world, and He’s going to gather the nations before Him and He’s going to look at every single person that’s ever lived and He’s going to determine their eternal destiny: whether you go to heaven or whether you go to hell. He’s going to make that judgment, He says, on whether or not He knows you. Not whether you know Him, but whether He knows you.
How does He get to know a person? The Bible says He came “to give His life a ransom for the many.” He shed His blood on the cross and paid for every sin, sir, that you’ve ever committed. That’s what it says. Everything you’ve ever done wrong, every thought, every lustful thought, everything that you’ve ever done wrong, every motive that’s been wrong in your life, everything was picked up and placed on Jesus and God punished Him and gave Him your hell. And He’s done all the work that’s necessary. He’s paid for our sins when He went to that cross. You say, “John, I know that.” Then He went into heaven. He was put into the grave, He rose again. He’s living right now.
And He says, “Look, I’m going to offer you a gift, “‘the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ That gift is this, ‘You can have the forgiveness of all the sins of your life.’” The slate can be wiped clean by God Himself. You say, “Goodness’ sakes. What would I have to do to get that done and to know it?” This is the Gospel. This is the Good News. God says, “I’m willing to do that?”
You say, “What do I have to do? How much do I have to pay? How much time do I have to go to church?”
God doesn’t say any of that, but what He says is, “Look, what you need to do is believe on my Son. You need to receive the gift from Him because He’s the One that’s got the gift. He’s the One that paid for the gift. He’s the only One that can give the gift.” If you are willing to come to the Lord Jesus through prayer through faith and simply say to Him, “Lord Jesus, I know that you’re God. I know you paid for my sins. And I understand that you want to appropriate to my life forgiveness. You want to make me a Christian. You want to put the Holy Spirit of God into my life and the basis upon that is simply grace: favor from you. You’re willing to do it to any sinner that will admit that they’re a sinner and simply receive the gift, that you will save them. It’s that good. You will change them.”
If you will say that to Him and admit that to Him, He will come into your life and make you a Christian. And when the rapture comes, you’ll be out of here.
But you have a choice. You can turn that down. And the way you get to know that Jesus knows you is to do what He says. And He says come to Him and receive His gift. Come to Him and ask Him to come into your life. That’s why it’s personal. I can’t do it for you. It’s a personal thing between you and Jesus. One day I had to pray that prayer for myself and you’ve got to pray that prayer for yourself, or you’re not going. It’s personal.
Jesus waits for you. He looks at your gut. He looks at your heart and says, “Do you really want me? Do you really want this? Do you really want your sins to be forgiven? Then come to me.”
I’m going to give you that opportunity to invite the Lord Jesus into your heart. If you’re not sure, make sure. There is nothing more important that you’re ever going to do than to invite Jesus into your life. I think you can understand that. And so here’s that prayer, and if you would like, say it to God with all of your heart, in your mind, in your heart. And if you mean it, He’ll save you. Here’s that prayer:
“Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I know I’ve broken your laws. I know that I’m separated from you. I’ve gone to church but it’s not real. I don’t know you. What’s worse, you don’t really know me. But I want you. I understand that you died on the cross for my sins. My sins. But you won’t forgive me until I ask. And right now tonight, you see my heart, with all of my heart, I invite you to come into my life right now. I invite you to cleanse me of all the sins of my life. I accept your gift of forgiveness. I put all of my trust, all of my hope, not in my power but in yours. I turn my very eternal destiny over to you and I put it into your hands. I’m going to trust you from this moment on. And when I come to that moment of death, I can’t do anything about that, but I understand that when I die that because I belong to you, you will take me to heaven. You will handle that moment, and I’ll trust you for that, too, tonight. Thank you for putting the Holy Spirit of God into my life and making me a Christian. Show me the next steps of what it is to live with you.”