We continue our examination of an article, sent to us by a reader, with the above title. Do you remember the approach of Y2K? End times madness” was in full swing. On Tuesday evening (8-3-99) I heard TV evangelist John Hagee proclaim that the coming of Christ was so near, “That I could disappear before this speech is completed. It is just that close.” He actually said the rapture should occur within six months! The host of the show, Benny Hinn was clearly staggered at Hagee’s radical prediction. I think it should be obvious by now (2013!!) that Hagee’s prediction was false. Hagee’s reasons for believing the end of the age is a close parallel those of the article. See my book, Leaving the Rapture Behind for a full and devastating refutation of the rapture doctrine.
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 the Christian age had come! This is a specious argument fabricated simply to maintain a presuppositional theology. It 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? No, the false Christs were to be a sign of the end of the age (Matthew 24:2-3; Luke 21:8). They were not to be a sign of the beginning of a new age, or to be a timeless sign of an extended age. They were to be a sign of the end! This argument is simply an attempt to avoid John’s emphatic declaration that the end of the age was near 2000 years ago!
Thus, to claim 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, and 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.