Series 3 - The Great Teachings of the Bible and What They Mean for You:
Bible Prophecy and You
Hi, friends! Welcome to the second lesson in the "Bible Prophecy and
The closer we get to the actual end of this age—meaning the end of man's
rule and Satan's rule over the earth—the more it seems everyone is
getting on the bandwagon to make apocalyptic predictions about
end-time events—about Armageddon, about the second coming of Christ or
about the total "end of the world"! These days, lots of money is being
made from books ("apocalyterature"), movies and Web sites with a focus
on the "end of days." That's because of a widespread preoccupation with
trying to know the future that has been called "prediction addiction."
Incidentally, the Bible assures us that humanity will not be
destroyed. That is comforting since there are lots of doomsday prophets
predicting that we will be wiped out by nuclear war, by global warming
or cooling, by an asteroid or comet, or by an attack from extraterrestrial
Instead of studying God's revelation, the Bible, it's tragic that many
people instead focus on nonbiblical and antibiblical predictions from
astrology, from psychics like Nostradamus or Edgar Cayce, from Egyptian
pyramids or Mayan calendars, from paranormal visions or from demonic mediums
Most long-range predictions are no better than wild speculation. But
our Creator God does want us to know many things about the future! If
we're willing to study and obey His Word, He'll open our eyes to understand
His perfect prophecies. This series of lessons is giving you a foundation
for understanding biblical prophecy.
Lesson 2: The Deluge of False Predictions—How to Separate Truth From Counterfeits
There is a real Satan the devil who is determined to keep people
from understanding God's truth about the future. His main method is
to produce a mind-boggling smoke screen of false teachings and predictions—in
hopes that people will never find the truth in all the Babylon of confusion.
A United Church of God member in Texas tells this story:
"I came from a Protestant background and had read the Bible my whole
life. But years ago, a friend told me that if I wanted to understand the
Bible, I would have to ask God to open my eyes to His truth. This sounded
so odd to me, but nonetheless, I did ask God to open my eyes to His truth.
Then it was amazing. Things I had read over my whole life and assumed
I understood took on a whole different meaning.
"All during the time I was searching, I was asking God every day to continue
to open my eyes to His truth and wisdom, and He was. I also saw how often
the Bible warns about religious deception and how Satan deceives the whole
"Without realizing it at the time, I was beginning to put on the armor
of God described in Ephesians 6 to protect me from Satan's deceptions.
God was letting me know when I was hearing and seeing something that was
not His truth. I also soon realized I needed God's Spirit to help me separate
truth from lies and to not be conformed to this world. It is a constant
battle and we need God to win."
Share Your Story
Listen to God's Prophecies and "Beware of False Prophets"
When His disciples asked Jesus Christ about "the end of the age," He gave
an amazing detailed prophecy of what to expect in the future leading up to
the end. Because they were on the Mount of Olives at the time, this prophecy
(recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21) is called the "Olivet Prophecy."
In that prophecy, Jesus made it clear what His followers must do before "the
end."He said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all
the world as a witness [or warning]" (Matthew 24:14, emphasis added throughout).
See also Mark 16:15. God is completely fair and merciful. He has commissioned
His Church to warn everyone of the dire consequences of sin as well as the
wonderful results of obedience to God.
However, Jesus, echoing Old Testament warnings, said, "Beware of false prophets"
(Matthew 7:15). A true prophet did not fabricate any pronouncement—he was
a messenger for God's revelations. In fact, if any prediction "does not happen
or come to pass," that proved he was not God's prophet (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
But there have always been plenty of self-appointed "prophets." God said,
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them,
yet they prophesied" (Jeremiah 23:21). Would God say the same thing today
regarding many people who claim to speak for Jesus Christ?
In this lesson, you will learn how you can distinguish between false ministers
and God's true ministers. And you will see how extremely cautious we need
to be when we hear someone making predictions about the future!
What was Paul's warning about false religious leaders?
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so
your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if
he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you
receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel
which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!...
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into
apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into
an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform
themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to
Satan the devil "deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9) He never lets
up in his efforts to use false ministers and others to mislead people. Outwardly
they usually seem spiritual, but their messages are counterfeits—mixtures
of truth and error. As Paul said, what they preach is actually "another Jesus"
and "a different gospel." The Bible warns about false messages and false messengers
In the Olivet Prophecy, what was Jesus' first warning to His disciples?
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately,
saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of
Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to
them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My
name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many."
And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives
you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive
Jesus meant for us to beware of the many churches and religious
leaders claiming to represent Christ (calling themselves "Christian") but not teaching
the Bible accurately. Some are insincere and have wrong motives. Others are
sincere but they are sincerely wrong! Some will even "show great [miraculous]
signs and wonders to deceive" (Matthew 24:24). It will be extremely easy to
be misled and confused if we aren't continually turning to the Bible to see
what is true and what is false.
What additional warning did Jesus leave His disciples?
Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones
and donations, He said, "These things which you see—the days will come
in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown
So they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, but when will these things be? And what
sign will there be when these things are about to take place?" And He said:
"Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name,
saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after
In the end time, many religious leaders (and nonreligious people) would be
saying that we are in the end time! That can have two bad consequences:
First, since that part of their warning message is true, it influences
people to believe the rest of their message is true. Second, with
all the counterfeit messages around, it makes it much harder for people to
find the truth and God's true messengers!
Regarding the end time, what is the most common question?
"Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when
all these things will be fulfilled?"
"When will these things be?" Naturally we all are curious
about when Christ will return and when other events will take place. Even
after Jesus' resurrection, the disciples were still asking when (Acts
1:6).Because of this curiosity, many preachers and writers make lots of money
by predicting when Christ will come or when "the world will end."
But can anyone figure out when Christ will return?
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,
but My Father only."
And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which
the Father has put in His own authority."
No, we can't! Jesus told His disciples that only God the Father knows the
time. But He did say that we should "watch" for signs that will indicate how
far along we are in the prophesied sequence of events (Matthew 24:32-44).
How can you recognize a false minister even when some of his or her
predictions turn out to be true?
And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper
and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the
dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do
not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he
gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass,
of which he spoke to you, saying, '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, for the Lord your God is testing
you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul.
You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments
and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet
or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in
order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the
land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you
from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall
put away the evil from your midst."
If a false minister is not correctly teaching all of God's Word, there is
"no light" in him. If he is not teaching obedience to God's commandments,
he was not sent by God. Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 when He said, "Man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). Likewise,
true ministers of God will be striving to teach every word of God.
What is much more important than knowing when Christ
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief
would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken
into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour
you do not expect."
"Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves
be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding,
that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed
are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly,
I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down
to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second
watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
"But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour
the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to
be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming
at an hour you do not expect."
Be ready spiritually at all times. Even if you knew exactly when
Christ would return, you still would not know when you will die. That can
occur at any time. So God wants us to stay ready and prepared by staying close
to Him—loving, obeying and serving Him every day.
In other lessons, you will learn more about major end-time events prophesied
in the Bible and about what the true gospel is, what the Kingdom of God is
and how you can prepare for eternal life in God's Kingdom.
By the time Paul wrote his second letter to the Church members in Corinth,
the influence of false teachers was so bad that a large portion of his letter
(2 Corinthians 10:1 through 13:10) was devoted to helping the members to
see the many things that were wrong with the attitudes and actions of those
teachers and the errors in their teachings.
Read 2 Corinthians 11:2-15 and jot down two lists for comparison—the characteristics
of the false teachers versus the characteristics of Paul. Or if you like
to mark your printed Bible, you might instead make little markings in the
margins to call attention to the characteristics that Paul is emphasizing.
This exercise will help you to be better prepared to know what to accept
and what to reject when you hear or read something that is supposedly a
Next Lesson: The Valuable Benefits and Purposes of Bible Prophecy!
Questions about this lesson? Feedback about
of a Counterfeit Christianity
False Prophets Will Arise and Deceive Many
The Great Seducer
Christ's Olivet Prophecy: Where Are We Now?