If there is any theological topic that draws in weirdos it is most assuredly the study of the end times. There have been numerous books, movies, charts, graphs, and just really weird stuff regarding this. A good rule of thumb is that if Nicolas Cage stars in a movie about a theological topic you are going to get some weirdos making bad interpretations on that topic.
Knowing that this can bring in many strange ideas I want to just clarify a couple of points to help you in your reading.
1. From the time of Jesus’s ascension to when He returns is the end times.
I have heard it said from one of my professors in Seminary that if you want to make a lot of money from book sales all you need to do is sear your conscience and write books about how the end of the world will happen in the next five years. The truth of the matter is that every generation thought they were the last, and we can read into these passages and find descriptions that fit with our day and age just like every past generation did after Christ’s ascension. The point that Jesus is making isn’t for us to be looking for a specific time when He will return but to remember that He is returning. That could mean today or it could mean another thousand years from now, but that is not for us to know, we simply must live faithfully to the time we currently live in.
2. There are signs of Christ’s return, but only the Father knows the day and hour.
This seems like a bit of a paradox; we are told we will know when the end is near but not actually. We have limited information, we know the world must suffer, we know the church must suffer, and that the gospel will spread to the whole world, but we will not know when to set a reminder in our phones for when Christ returns. The point of this is that we are left to only be faithful, in and out of season, glorifying God and enjoying Him. We only look to the promise and endure.
The major point of the text is not to be led astray and do not slack on your mission. Many people will come claiming to be Christ, but do not believe them, when Christ returns it will be obvious (v.27). We must look carefully to Jesus’s words in v.24b, “…so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Three quick observations to make:
i. Satan is powerful.
Satan will use the false prophets to lead people astray, we must be careful to guard ourselves to Scripture. It is what the Reformer Martin Luther penned in his song, A Might Fortress: “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and pow’r are great; and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”
ii. Our Limitations
No one should think too highly in their own ability, for we would all be led astray if it were not for the power of God and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This means humility is our virtue.
iii. The Power of God in Salvation
The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is found in verse 24. All this means is that God will not let his saints go. This is found through John 10 as well as Psalm 37. This only points to God for the glory in keeping us from the evil one. I will end this with the rest of Luther’s song. “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing, dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He, Lord Sabaoth is His Name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.”
Christ has won the battle, take guard against the evil one, cloak yourself in humility, and continually be trusting in the promise of Christ’s return.
By: Jacob Godbey — Pastoral Ministry Exposure Participant