The Great Tribulation

One day, my friend Pastor Jere Cang called me and said, “Hi bro, I’m going on a Holy Land tour soon. I have two slots. My wife is not sure if she can come. Would you like to join me?”

I replied, “Yes, of course! I’ll be crazy to say no!”

He said, “Okay. I will get back to you in a few weeks.”

A few weeks later, he called again and said, “Sorry, bro. My wife decided to come with me.”

Lord-willing, I will visit the Holy Land and walk the road where Jesus walked.

Everybody wants to go to Jerusalem. But Jesus is saying here, “Get out of Jerusalem.” Why does Jesus call for an urgent escape from Jerusalem? The answer is that the “great tribulation” is coming.

Jesus said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Matt. 24:21). The word “for” gives the reason for Jesus’ exhortation. The “great tribulation” (thlipsis megale) refers to a time of terrible suffering that has never been seen in history and never will be again. It is a one of a kind period, “the tribulation of those days” (v. 29). It has never yet happened in history. It is yet future.

The great tribulation fits the last three and a half years of tribulation in Revelation. John wrote, “But do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months” (Rev. 11:2). “And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months” (Rev. 13:5). Forty-two months is equivalent to three and a half years. For three and a half years, the Antichrist and the nations supporting him shall desecrate the temple of God in Jerusalem. They shall rule the world for three and a half years. This is called the “Great Tribulation,” the period of three and a half years of intense persecution of believers and suffering of all peoples.

When will the Great Tribulation be? The Great Tribulation period will begin at the end of the age, at the middle of the Tribulation period, when the Antichrist, the abomination of desolation, is installed in the Temple. The Tribulation period is a period of seven years, Daniel’s seventieth week (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 9:26). At the middle of the Tribulation period, after the first half of three and a half years, the Great Tribulation will begin.

Where will the church be by the time of the Tribulation period? I believe the church will be raptured before the Tribulation period. Believers in Christ will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-18). God has not destined us for the wrath to come (1 Thess. 5:9).

The sufferings of both believers of Christ and unbelievers during the Great Tribulation will be so great that God will shorten the period. Jesus said, “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matt. 24:22). The point is the intense suffering of people in this period. If God will not cut it short, no one will be saved. The future passive verb “saved” (sozo) means “save, preserve from harm, rescue.” (Friberg) It refers to physical safety, not spiritual salvation. If God will not cut it short, no one will be preserved physically. It implies that the great tribulation will involve physical violence by the Antichrist and the nations.

Why would God cut short the Great Tribulation period? It is “for the sake of the elect” (v. 22). The elect are those who follow Jesus (Matt. 20:16; 22:14; 24:24, 31). God will cut short the suffering of people for the sake of the elect. It means that God blesses unbelievers because of believers.

Do you know that God blesses your family because of you? Do you know that God blesses your workplace because of you? Do you know that God blesses our nation because of Christ-followers?

Conclusion

By the time the Antichrist will appear, I believe that believers will be gone—caught up in the air to be with the Lord. But Christ will come anytime now. He can come today or any day, at any moment.

When He comes, will He find you loving Him and loving others? Are you walking with God today? Maybe you say, “I’m out of touch with God. I want to go back to God. I want to serve the Lord.” Now is a good time to do that.

Jesus’ Exhortation to Escape

Now when the Antichrist is installed in the Temple, the “Great Tribulation” period will commence (v. 21). The Antichrist will persecute both the Jews and Christ-followers. Terrible suffering will come to them in that time period. The need to escape the great tribulation is urgent.

Jesus said, “Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:16). Those in Judea should flee to the mountains. They are to leave the city of Jerusalem. They are to run to the mountains. There in the mountains, people will be safe.

Jesus added, “Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house” (Matt. 24:17). When you see the Antichrist sitting on the Temple, there will be no more time to go down and get your things. You might wonder what the guy is doing on the housetop. Well, he’s relaxing there. The housetops in Jesus’ time were flat. People would go up to the flat housetop and relax there. But Jesus urges that you need to escape immediately. You will have no more time to gather your possessions.

Jesus warned, “And let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak” (Matt. 24:18). The field worker will have no time to get his clothes. There will be no time to go home from the office and get your things. Not only will you have no time to pack your gear. You will also have a hard time escaping, esp. if you’re pregnant. “And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days” (Matt. 24:19)! It will be a hard time to be pregnant or nursing a baby.

Jesus then said, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath” (Matt. 24:20). Their escape should not be in winter or on a Sabbath. In winter, the flooded rivers and muddy hills will be dangerous. The cold nights will be very hard for escaping. On a Sabbath, the gates are closed, making escape hard. (Hagner) Jewish Christians will not travel on the Sabbath.

When the abomination of the Antichrist will be installed in the Temple, people must escape Jerusalem and run as fast as possible!

The Abomination of the Antichrist

The writer of Maccabees used the same phrase, bdelugma eremoseos, to refer to the idol erected in the Temple by the Greek king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in 168 B.C.E. (Macc. 1:54). There, Epiphanes offered pigs to Zeus (Macc. 1:45-61). (Morris)

Jesus used the same words about a future idol in the Temple. This abomination, Jesus said, will be standing “in the holy place,” which is the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Macc 8:17; Acts 6:13; 21:28). It will desecrate the Temple of God. It will pollute the sanctuary of God absolutely. It will insult God utterly. It will offend God tremendously.

Paul used this symbol of abomination to refer to the Antichrist.

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess. 2:1-4)

Paul said that before Jesus comes again, a “rebellion” will come first. This rebellion will be led by the “man of lawlessness,” the “son of destruction.” He will exalt himself against every so-called god of worship. He will take his seat in the temple of God in Jerusalem. He will proclaim himself to be God. The Antichrist will pollute the temple of God.

It’s not a question of whether it will happen for it will happen. Rather, it is a question of when it will happen. It will happen in the future, when the Antichrist will install himself in the Temple in Jerusalem (Mk. 13:14). The Antichrist has not yet been installed in the Temple. Thus, the abomination is yet to come, but it is imminent.

The Abomination of Desolation

My sermon series is about eschatology, from the word eschatos, meaning “last” and “-logy,” meaning, “the study of.” Eschatology therefore is the study of last things. Eschatology is “The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.” (Oxford English Dictionary) My sermon series is classified under the last days—the end of the age.

Jesus taught the signs of the end but not of themselves the end (v. 6). The first ten signs are more general signs. (Constable) The eleventh and twelfth signs are more specific events.

Last Sunday, we studied the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth sign—false prophets (v. 11), filled-up lawlessness (v. 12), failing love (v. 12), faithful endurance to the end (v. 13), and far and wide gospel proclamation (v. 13).

Today, we will study the eleventh sign of the end of the age, “the abomination of desolation” (vv. 15-20) and the twelfth sign, “the great tribulation” (vv. 21-22).

Jesus said, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)” (Matt. 24:15). The noun “abomination” (bdelugma) means “detestable thing.” (Gingrich) It refers to “what is extremely hated or abhorred.” (Friberg) The word “desolation” (eremosis) means “devastation, destruction.” (Gingrich)

The genitive case can be a descriptive genitive; hence, “abomination characterized by destruction.” It can be an attributive genitive, wherein the genitive noun “desolation” is a quality of the head noun, “abomination”; hence, “destructive abomination.” It can be a genitive of product; hence, “abomination which produces destruction.”

The phrase “abomination of desolation” refers to an idol that will be installed on the altar of the Temple. (Hagner) The Greek phrase (to bdelugma tes eremoseos) is quoted from the LXX of Daniel. “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days” (Dan. 12:11). Daniel said that in the future the regular burnt offering will be stopped. Instead of the burnt offering, an idol will stand on the altar. The Lord calls this idol, this image, an abomination, a detestable thing. God hates this idol in the Temple exceedingly. He abhors it extremely.

What are you doing today that God detests and abhors? Many people trust in idols made by human hands. But God hates that. God calls images and idols an “abomination.” “The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deut. 7:25-26; cf. 27:15; 29:17-18). It is not only the veneration and worship of images that God hates, but the very images and idols themselves.

I read that the Simala Shrine in Sibonga was built in 1998 by the Marian Monks from Pampanga after several miraculous events occurred, including the shedding of tears of Mama Mary.[1] “There were even lots of nurse’s caps, crutches, wheelchairs, notes of person who were healed and experienced the divine intervention of Mama Mary. Miracles really do happen when you believe.”[2]

According to the Bible, what does God say about idols? He hates it. He commands against making any graven image of any kind (Ex. 20:4-5; Deut. 5:8; Ps. 115:4-8). Since the Bible is true, and God hates idols, He will not answer any prayer offered to idols. It means also that God cannot work a miracle through idols; for then He will be contradicting Himself. But God cannot err. The miracles of idols can only come from a different source–the Devil himself. The Devil has made it his mission to draw people toward the very things that God hates–idols. God cannot be the source of miracles of idols that He hates. He will not answer prayers through idols.

What are you doing today that God abhors? Do you say you love God but in actuality, you love your money? God hates that also (Matt. 6:24; 1 Tim. 6:10).

Do you say you follow Christ but you hate other people? God hates that sinful attitude also (1 John 3:15; 4:20). Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you” (1 John 13:34). We cannot say we love God but hate other people as well.

A Pastor took his three year old daughter to bed. He asked her what she would like to pray about. She answered: “onions.” They prayed about onions.

The next morning, he asked his daughter why they always prayed about onions. She replied, “Because you said in your sermon that we should pray for things we don’t like.”[3]

 Maybe you will say, “Pastor, I’m doing something that God abhors. But I cannot tell you now.”

It’s okay. God is calling your attention now. I don’t need to know. Yet God knows and sees you. Call on the Lord now and ask Him to deal with you.

[1] “Solo Trip to the Miraculous Shrine of Simala in Sibonga, thepinaywonderer.com. Cited July 29, 2017. Onine: http://www. thepinaywanderer.com/2015/05/solo-trip-to-the-miraculous-shrine-of-simala-in-cebu.html.

[2] Amor Diaz, “The Mystery and Miracles in Simala,” elhizamour. wordpress.com. Cited July 29, 2017. Online: https://elhizamour. wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-mystery-and-miracles-in-simala/.

[3] Sermon Humor, javacasa.com. Cited July 29, 2017. Online: http://javacasa.com/humor/sermon.htm.

Far and Wide Gospel Proclamation

The tenth sign of the end of the age is the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). The gospel of the kingdom is “the good news that the reign or rule of God has begun to be realized in history through the presence of Jesus Christ.” (Hagner)

Matthew wrote, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matt. 4:23; cf. 9:35; 10:5-8; 24:14). The preaching ministry of Jesus is the communication of the gospel. The healing ministry of Jesus is the manifestation of the gospel. Both the preaching (communication) and the healing (manifestation) of Jesus demonstrate the presence and reality of the reign of God (kingdom) in history. Thus, the gospel of the kingdom is both the communication and manifestation of the presence and reality of the reign of God through the words and acts of Jesus Christ. (Hagner)

Jesus said that this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom with accompanying signs and wonders. Hence, the gospel will be proclaimed with signs and wonders. Signs and wonders will accompany the preaching of the gospel. “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. . . . And these signs will accompany those who believe’” (Mk. 16:15, 17; cf. v. 20; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31; 5:12-16; 6:8; 8:6-7; 15:12). Paul wrote, “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5; cf. Rom. 15:18-19).

God’s timing is perfect for this topic of gospel proclamation. This morning, we held “The Gospel Workshop” for the first batch. Last Friday, our small group started studying Mission. We talked about the miracles that God is doing in Muslim countries, where they have no Bible, no church, and no way to hear the gospel.

A true story is told of many Muslims in Syria coming to Christ after seeing miracles.

Nivine accepted Christ wholeheartedly and even started coming to the meetings along with her paralysed daughter, he said.

About two weeks later, when Nivine was worshiping during a meeting with her daughter next to her, she noticed that the girl’s hands were moving.”

Another Muslim named Amad who heard about the healing place in his town also brought his son, who was then suffering from a “worsening skin disease.” The believers prayed for him and the next day, the child woke up with clear skin.

“It was undeniably a miracle. The whole family has come to believe in the Lord, and they want to be baptised,” said the director.[1]

Yet I must stress that the signs and wonders are not there to prove the gospel, for the gospel is by itself the power of God unto salvation, but to show the presence of the kingdom (Matt. 10:1, 5-8; Lk. 10:17-18). Jesus said, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lk. 11:20). In Acts, signs and wonders confirmed the presence of the kingdom. Today, miracles confirm the presence of the kingdom in many closed countries, including China, North Korea, and Muslim countries.

Does it mean that miracles will go with gospel preaching every time? No, because God will send the signs by the sovereign act of His own will, His own time, and His own place (Heb. 2:4). But the sign of the presence of the kingdom is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel of the kingdom.

Thus, the proclamation of the gospel is a “testimony” to all nations. The noun “testimony” (marturion) means “evidence.” (Friberg) The worldwide proclamation of the gospel is the evidence of the presence of the kingdom of God in this world. The worldwide proclamation of the gospel is a testimony to all nations that the kingdom of God is here and now.

Now when the gospel is proclaimed to all the world, the end will come. The worldwide preaching of the gospel is the sign of the end. This is not to say that the coming of Christ shall depend on the worldwide preaching of the gospel. The coming of the end is not conditioned on the worldwide preaching of the gospel. Conversely, the worldwide preaching of the gospel will not cause the coming of the end. Rather, the worldwide gospel preaching is the sign that the end will come.

[1] Shianee Mamanglu-Regala “’Unprecendented’ number of Muslims in Syria embracing Jesus after witnessing God’s miracles — Christian Aid Mission,” Christianitytoday.com. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/unprecendented.number.of.muslims.in.syria.embracing.jesus.after.witnessing.gods.miracles.christian.aid.mission/81601.htm.

Faithful Endurance to the End

The ninth sign of the end is the perseverance of believers to the end. Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13) The verb “endures” (hupomeno) means “with the accusative of the thing be patient under, suffer, endure, put up with.” (Friberg) The phrase “to the end” is in the accusative case. The context is about the tribulation and persecution of believers. The same word is used in Heb. 12:2 about Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (emphasis added) Hence, to endure here is to bear all suffering and to persevere in tribulation in the last days.

In the last days, believers will suffer terrible tribulations. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Pastor Joseph tells of the endurance of Christians in Baghdad, Iraq.

We have new blood, born-again new believers,” says Pastor Joseph. “That is a challenge. It brings a new culture to the church. Recently, a man converted. He is married to three wives and has children with all three of them. He asked me what he should do. I told him to keep them, what else could I say? This is only one of the problems we face with new converts.

About 45% of my church now comes from a Muslim background,” says another anonymous church leader. . . .

“People are impressed that Christians come to them, show them love and support them when they are from another religion. This is especially significant because their fellow Muslims fight them and even want to kill them.”[1]

We just celebrated our 31st Anniversary of GGCF. I was watching old pictures of old GGCF members last Sunday. I wonder where are the old members now? Are they faithfully serving God or faithlessly living for themselves? You must endure, not just today, but to the end.

Jesus is not talking about losing one’s salvation if one does not endure. Rather, He is confirming the salvation of those who endure to the end. He is talking about perseverance in suffering. Jesus is speaking about a true believer, not a fake believer. At the end of the age, people will persecute followers of Christ. The fake believers will fall away (Matt. 24:10). But the true believers of Christ will remain faithful to the end (v. 13).

The phrase “to the end” could mean, “after suffering all persecution,” for the context is about believers suffering for Christ (v. 9). It might mean “until death.”

He who endures to the end will be “saved.” The word “saved” here refers to spiritual salvation, not physical. It refers to eternal life. Jesus is not saying that endurance is a requirement of salvation. Rather, endurance is the mark of salvation. Jesus said that false believers will not endure but fall away (v. 10). In the case of the rocky soil, the mark of no salvation is falling away (Matt. 13:21). The one who falls away therefore is a false believer. Now Jesus says that the one who endures to the end will be saved. The one who endures is the true believer. Thus, endurance is the sign of salvation in one’s life. The truly saved person will endure to the end; but the unsaved will not. Salvation is not a 100-meter sprint, but a marathon.

Are you saved today? Then you will endure to the end. The power of God will make you endure to the end.

[1] “Christians in Baghdad: A Church Behind Concrete Walls and Barbed Wire,” July 19, 2017 by Open Doors USA in Middle East. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/christians-baghdad-church-behind-concrete-walls-barbed-wire/.

Failing Love

The eighth sign of the end of the age is the failing love of many believers. Jesus said that “the love of many will grow cold” (v. 12). There will be a cooling of love for people. Jesus talks of people suffering (v. 9), of people falling away (v. 10), and of people being deceived (v. 11). Now, he talks about people failing to love each other (v. 12).

There is a song entitled, “Where is the Love?”  by Black Eyed Peas.

What’s wrong with the world, mama

People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas

I think the whole world addicted to the drama

Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach?

Or would you turn the other cheek?

According to the Guttmacker Institute, the abortion rate in 2014 was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44.[1]

Approximately 500,000 children live in foster care homes.

Children are placed in foster care for physical abuse, extreme emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or simply because there is no family member available to care for the child.

Nearly 60,000 children are reported to be abused or neglected each week in America, with an estimated 900,000 confirmations of violence every year.[2]

Where is the love there? At the end of the age, it will grow worse, as Jesus prophesied.

Yet the cooling of love can also mean the cooling of love for God. For Matthew, love for God and love for one another is the summary of the Law (Matt. 22:36-40). (Hagner) Since the sum of the Law is love for God and love for one’s neighbor, obedience to the Law means love for God and for each other. Conversely, disobedience to the Law is a failure to love God and each other. Thus, more obedience means more love for God and for each other. Less obedience means less love for God and for each other.

By implication, lawlessness means no love for God and for each other. An increase in disobedience to the Law will result to an increase in the failure to love God and one another. As lawlessness will increase, loveless-ness will increase also.

[1] “Induced Abortion in the United States,” Guttmacher.org. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states.

[2] Kate Moulene, “America’s Abandoned Children,” Huffingtonpost. com. Cited July 22, 2017. Online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-moulene/americas-abandoned-childr_b_867265.html.

Filled Up Lawlessness

The seventh sign of the end is increasing lawlessness. Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). The word “lawlessness” (anomia) means “sin as a frame of mind” (Gingrich); “an individual violation of law sin, wrong(doing)” (Friberg). To be lawless is “‘to live as though there were no laws,’ ‘to refuse completely to obey the laws,’ or ‘to live as one who despises all laws.’” (Louw-Nida).

I drive every day and I see lawlessness on the road every day. A driver stopped his jeepney in the middle of the road to get passengers. He was blocking traffic. When I told him to move forward, he said, “Just transfer to another jeepney, sir.” Drivers don’t stop at the white lines for the pedestrians. People always run when walking on the white lines, fearing that the cars will hit them.

There’s lawlessness everywhere. People will violate traffic rules so long as there are no traffic enforcers. Some people will not issue receipts to avoid taxes. In the recent war against drugs, suspects were killed like pigs. There is no respect for human life. That’s lawlessness.

Some people will keep on sinning. They know that God is against graft and corruption, but they just keep on doing it. They know that same sex marriage or divorce is against God’s will, but they keep on pushing it. That’s lawlessness.

John wrote, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). The practice of sinning is lawlessness. Lawlessness is the practice of sinning. Lawlessness is the lifestyle of sinning against God. Lawlessness is the attitude of disobeying the law of God.

If you keep on sinning, you are lawless. If you do not care whether you offend God, you are lawless. If you do not care if your sin will cause others to sin, you are lawless.

When Jesus comes, He will throw lawless people into hell. In the parable of the weeds, Jesus said,

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:40-42).

Jesus said lawlessness will be “increased.” The verb “increased” (plethuno) literally means, “be brought to the full.” (Hagner) It is like filling a glass of water until the glass is full. It is like filling the chairs with people until the room is full. It is like filling the car with people until the car is full. It will be a “filled up” lawlessness at the end of the age.

False Prophets

The sixth sign of the end of the age is the increase of false prophets who will deceive many people. Jesus said, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray (Matt. 24:11). The words “false prophets” come from one Greek word, pseudoprophetes, from pseudes meaning “false,” and “prophetes,” meaning prophet. (Helps Word Studies) The word pseudo is where we get our English word “pseudonym” or false name; and the word “pseudopregnancy” or false pregnancy. Some men have big stomachs that they look like they are “pseudopregnant.”

How do we determine the true and false prophets? One, a true prophet must be a Jew (“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers,” Deut. 18:18).

Two, a true prophet must speak in the name of the Lord the word he heard from the Lord (“he shall speak to them all that I command him,” Deut. 18:18).[1]

Three, his prophecy must happen. (“When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken,” Deut. 18:22).

Eraño Manalo prophesied that the children of his church will remain faithful to the end. Six years after his death, his wife, sons, and daughters were kicked out of the church his very own son, Eduardo Manalo. Yet millions in the Iglesia Ni Cristo follow him today.

Apollo C. Quiboloy, the appointed Son of God, prophesied that the Almighty Father has appointed Gilbert Teodoro the next president of the Philippines in 2010. It never happened. Gilbert Teodoro was defeated in the 2010 elections. But millions follow Quiboloy today.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses prophesied that the war of Armageddon will start in 1914. It didn’t happen. Yet hundreds of thousands follow them today.

Ellen G. White prophesied that the world would end in 1843, 1844, 1845, and 1851. But it didn’t happen. Yet millions in the SDA church today follow her.

Joseph Smith prophesied that that the New Jerusalem will be built on the state of Missouri, and the house of the Lord will rise there. But it never happened. Yet, millions in the Mormon church follow him today.

Even in charismatic churches, there are many prophecies that did not happen.

Four, his teaching must conform to and not contradict God’s Word (“if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (Deut. 13:2-3; cf. 2 Pet. 1:19-21).[2]

Five, a false prophet denies that Jesus has come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-3).

Six, a false prophet preaches a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

Seven, a false prophet teaches false unbiblical, anti-biblical, and extra-biblical teachings (Acts 2:28-30; 1 Tim. 4:3-4; Tit. 1:10-16).

Eight,a false prophet teaches from the viewpoint of the world and not the viewpoint of the apostles (1 John 4:5-6).

Nine, a false prophet will perform miracles so as to deceive people (Matt. 24:24).

Ten, a false prophet will do ministry out of greed (2 Pet. 2:3, 13).

Eleven, a false prophet will feed the desires of the sinful nature (2 Pet. 2:18; Jude 4; Rev. 2:20).

Twelve, a false prophet will live an immoral life (2 Pet. 2:10-13).

Still, millions follow false prophets today. Don’t be surprised about that. Jesus said that it will be so.

Do you follow the teachings of some questionable teachers? We must not allow any teaching of any false prophet to infect GGCF. We must verify every GGCF pastor’s doctrine and his lifestyle. We must get only pastors who teach the Bible and live godly lives.

[1] The LORD said, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak . . . that same prophet shall die’” (Deut. 18:20). It’s a good thing that we are in the Age of Grace and not in the Age of the Law; or many false prophets will die today!

[2] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., “False Prophet,” Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996).

 

Falling Away of False Christians

The fifth sign is the falling away (apostasy) of many false Christians. “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matt. 24:10). The verb phrase “will fall away” is from the Greek, skandalisthesontai polloi, which literally reads, “Many shall be caused to stumble.” The root word is skandalizo, “be led into sin, fall away” (Gingrich); “cause to stumble . . . fall away, give up believing (MT 13.21); (2) passive, as taking offense at Jesus or refusing to believe in him be offended (MT 11.6).” (Friberg) The verb is in the passive voice, “Many will be caused to stumble.” In other words, “many will be offended at Jesus.”

Matthew used the same word in Matt. 13:21 to refer to fake believers. “Yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away [skandalizo]” (Matt. 13:21). Here, Jesus talks about the rocky soil, the rocky heart. Because of the rocks in his heart, God’s Word does not take root. He endures for a while. But when tribulation and persecution comes because of God’s Word, immediately he falls away. He stops trusting God and gives up following Jesus. That is the falling away of fake believers.

Also, Jesus said that they will “betray one another” (v. 10). The verb “betray” is from paradidomi, “hand over, give (over), deliver, give up.” (Gingrich)

When I was a kid, I watched old Tagalog movies on black and white TV about the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. I couldn’t forget watching a Filipino whose head was covered by a hood made of bayong, a native bag. (Remember the TV show, “Pera o Bayong?”) He was a Filipino collaborator with the Japanese army. He would help the Japanese identify a Filipino guerilla fighting against the Japanese.

He was called a “Makapili,” and member of the “Makabayang Kalipunan ng mga Pilipino (League of Patriotic Filipinos), whose members ironically were spies of the Japanese during World War II. The Makapili, with his face and head hidden inside the bayong, a native bag, was feared by Filipinos, who dreaded being picked out as guerillas fighting the Japanese.”[1]

Believers will betray one another by reporting others to the authorities. Then they will hate one another (v. 10). The falling away of fake believers will include betrayal and hatred of one another.

Why would they fall away from Jesus? The answer is in v. 9. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9). It’s due to intense persecution, killing, and hatred of Christians. Many became Christians seeking peace and prosperity in Christ, but only finding persecution. (Morris) So they want to get out. Jesus said it’s because God’s Word is not rooted in one’s heart.

How about you today? What kind of gospel have you believed—the true gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the “feel good” gospel? If you believe the true gospel, you will suffer and endure to the end. But if you believe the health and wealth gospel or the feel good gospel, you will only last until you suffer persecution, until the health and wealth and the good feelings will run out.

Are you faithfully following Jesus or losing faith in God? Are you discouraged by your sufferings for Christ? Is God’s Word rooted and growing in your life? Keep trusting your Lord to the very end!

When I was a new believer, we sang this old song by John W. Peterson.

I just keep trusting my Lord as I walk along.

I just keep trusting my Lord and He gives a song.

Though the storm clouds darken the sky o’er the heav’nly trail, I just keep trusting my Lord. He will never fail.

He’s a faithful friend. I can count on Him to the very end.

Though the storm clouds darken the sky o’er the heav’nly trail, I just keep trusting my Lord. He will never fail.

Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end shall be saved” (v. 13). The mark of a true believer is endurance. The mark of a truly saved person is perseverance. It’s a paradox. If you endure to the end, you will be saved. Yet the truly saved person will endure to the end.

You must endure to the end.

[1] Clarissa V. Militante, “The hooded witness in Makapili tradition,” GMA News Online. Cited June 17, 2017. Online: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/specialreports/1981/the-hooded-witness-in-makapili-tradition/story/.