Misleading God’s people: A national pasttime?

“See to it that no one misleads you….. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” (24:4,11).

Our Lord knew His people.  He knew that there was something about their makeup which would make them susceptible to being misled.  By “being misled,” we mean being conned, scammed, hoodwinked, deceived, tricked, lied to, fooled, and abused.

In Old Testament days false prophets came through the land, preaching half-truths and whole lies and filling God’s people with false expectations and pagan ways.  The New Testament church, just beginning to find its way and choose its methods, quickly became the target of these scammers and con-artists.

In Matthew 24, our Lord cautions His people to keep their guard up concerning prophecies about end times: His return, signs of the end, fulfilment of certain prophecies, apostasies, portents and omens.

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Fearmongering: The cheapest kind of preaching

“Men’s hearts will be failing them from fear” (Luke 21:26).

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

When I was a kid–sometime in the early 1950s–I recall attending a revival meeting with my grandmother in Birmingham.  The preacher scared the living daylights out of everyone with his prophecies about the future, his warnings about Russia and Communism, and his forecasts about what was about to happen.  Later, as Grandma and I walked down those dark streets to her apartment, every plane going over seemed ready to drop an atomic bomb on us.

Scary preaching is foreign to the New Testament.

The great apostle actually thought teachings of the Lord’s return and the believers’ victory over and escape from this world should comfort us.

But listen to the typical prophecy preacher.   So many will use passages about the Lord’s return and the end times to strike terror into the hearts of the faithful.  They speak of the martyrdom of millions of the faithful, of the havoc to be wreaked throughout the world by the Lord’s death angels, of the Beast and the Antichrist and the desolation of abomination.

Matters of which they understand little.

God’s final warning!  The end is near!  Signs of the time!  The Antichrist is alive and living in New York City at this moment.  The United States in Bible prophecy!  Nuclear war predicted in Bible prophecy!

Sound familiar?  If you’ve observed the religious scene for the last 20 years or more, you’ve heard it all.  Turn on the television and you can hear it today.

There’s a reason for this.

Fear-mongering is a well-calculated plan to get religious but ignorant people into their organizations or onto their mailing lists, and then motivate them to open their bank accounts.

After all, fear works. Fear motivates.

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