8 Compelling Reasons Why: Christ Is Coming “Very, Very Soon” #5
We continue our examination of an article that was published in numerous prominent newspapers in the mid 1980s but which I thought would be helpful to take another look at since we are hearing the identical claims today, in 2022!!
A note: I seem to have lost the remaining three articles in the series, so this will be the last one in response to that newspaper article. My apologies for this.
I well remember that with the approach of the millennium, i.e. the year 2000, “end times madness” was in full swing. I personally sat and watched TV evangelist John Hagee proclaim that the coming of Christ (by that he meant the rapture) is (was) so near, “That I could disappear before this speech is completed. It is just that close.” (On the Benny Hinn program, Tuesday evening, 8-3-99). Hagee’s reasons for believing the end of the age is so close were basically echoes of those given in the article.
Reason #5 for believing in the imminent parousia (presence, translated coming) of Christ is said to be “Counterfeit spirituality is everywhere with cults and false christs (Matthew 24:24).”
Jesus did predict that there would be many false christs and prophets before the end. But did Jesus say this would not occur for thousands of years? No! Jesus said the false christs would appear in his generation “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall by no means pass away until all these things be fulfilled!” (Matthew 24:34) Isn’t it time to take Jesus at His word?
Scripture affirms that many false prophets and would be christs appeared in the first century. Acts 5 records the presence of some who came at a very early time. In Acts 8, we find the story of Simon the sorcerer. Early church history says he claimed to be the Great God Himself. In Acts 13, we find Elymas the false prophet.
The Jewish historian Josephus, contemporary of Paul the apostle, says there were countless false messiahs and prophets running around all over the country side in the years leading up to the fall of Jerusalem. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, chapter XIII.)
Writing in the same generation to whom Jesus spoke, John penned these words, “Little children, it is the last hour. As you have heard that antichrist should come, even now there are many antichrists. Thereby we know that it is the last hour!” (1 John 2:18).
John referred to previous predictions of the coming of false christs and antichrists, this would be Matthew 24 and Thessalonians. They were to come in the last time. John said the predicted antichrists were present, and their presence proved that the critical climatic time had arrived. Could there be any more powerful declaration?
Some have attempted to mitigate John’s forceful statement by claiming that what he meant was that the presence of the antichrists proved that the Christian age had come! That is without merit! Are we to believe that the way to tell if the kingdom of Christ is established is to look around for antichrists? Are we to believe that antichrists are the distinguishing and identifying mark of the Christian Age? This argument is a specious attempt to avoid John’s emphatic declaration that the end of the age was near 2000 years ago!
Thus, to claim- as the newspaper article did in nearly forty years ago! – that Jesus’ parousia is near today because of the presence of false prophets and messiahs is to deny Jesus’ statement that His prophecy would be fulfilled in His generation. It ignores the historical and Biblical testimony that great numbers of false messiahs did appear in that generation. It also denies John’s emphatic, and inspired, declaration that the time of the end had come 2000 years ago! To apply those predictions to the modern generation is a misapplication of scripture.