Friday, March 7, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ When the Deceivers are Deceived

          As I continue to meditate on the way that antichrists will fill the pages of history between the two comings of Christ, I suddenly made the connection between the deceivers God speaks about in his word, and those who will be sincerely shocked to find themselves on the wrong side of Jesus’ throne in the judgment.[1]

          First, there are two sides. Those on the right are the sheep, the children of God, those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ, received the gospel, and entered into the life of the Church. Those on the left are the goats, the lost, the unbelievers, the children of the evil one, those who have rejected the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

          In the parable of the Great White Throne Judgment of Matthew 25, Jesus makes the issue that the sheep were unaware they were doing so much good in Jesus’ name, while the goats were unaware that they had missed so many opportunities to do good. That difference serves the purpose of that parable, giving people the picture of how serious it is to be sure we are ready for the coming of Christ.

          However, when we make that division, that there are sheep on the right and goats on the left,[2] we can add to the list with other Scriptures that make parallel descriptions. There are believers and unbelievers. There are saints and sinners. There are the children of God and the children of Satan. There are people of faith and people of the flesh. The point is that there are two distinct groups, and the Scriptures describe what kinds of people are in these two groups.

          The one description that is standing out the most for me is that, while the goats of Matthew 25 are bewildered by how they missed so many opportunities to do good for Jesus, that is also the side on which we would need to put the people who are bewildered about how all their good works in Jesus’ name did not get them on the right side of his throne. Near the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he declared:     

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’[3]

          The point here is that there will be people on the left of Jesus’ throne who thought for sure they would be on the right of his throne. They say, “Lord, Lord,” as those who are on the right would also confess, but they are lacking something that would put them on the right. It is not that they lack good works, because they give testimony of plenty of good works. It is not that they were consciously preaching a different name than Jesus, or calling on the spiritual powers of the evil one. And yet, they were not Jesus’ disciples no matter what they thought they were doing in Jesus’ name.

          This brought me to this Scripture: “…while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”[4]There is the explanation of why people who were not truly doing their good works in Jesus’ name could think they were doing their signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. It was because they were both “deceiving and being deceived”.

          I have no doubt that there are many deceivers who know full well what they are doing to turn people’s hearts away from Jesus Christ. However, the ones who will end up thoroughly shocked that they are on the left instead of the right will be those that were deceived in their own work of deceiving. In other words, they bought their own story hook, line and sinker before casting out their line to catch more fish.

          What are we to do with this knowledge that, among the antichrists of the world, will be those who are deceived into thinking they are serving Christ while deceiving others with their signs and wonders? Right after Paul warns about these deceived deceivers, he exhorted young Timothy in this way:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.[5]

          While Timothy had learned these things from his childhood, the same teaching can be applied to believers in any level of maturity. What we must do is “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.” We can trust the “breathed out” words of God. They are fully able to equip us for “every good work”. So, let us be sure that we are saved by grace through faith, not depending on any good works of our own to give us “right” standing before Jesus’ throne,[6] and then we will know that “…we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”[7]

          Let’s spend as much time as we need in God’s word so that we will know and understand how to walk in God’s good works while people all around us are deceiving and being deceived. God’s word equips us for all the good works he prepared in advance for us to do. That means that, even today, while we rely on the same grace that saved us without any good works helping out at all, we can also do the good works God has prepared for any given day.

          From my heart,

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Primarily thinking of the imagery of the Great White Throne Judgment in Matthew 25.
[2] Matthew 25:33
[3] Matthew 7:21-23
[4] II Timothy 3:13
[5] II Timothy 3:14-17
[6] Ephesians 2:8-9
[7] Ephesians 2:10

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