To Decieve, If Possible, Even the Elect
By Ron Kempen, Gospel LIght Ministries
The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, is interesting in many ways, but nothing beats the verses warning us about the dangers of our future in Matthew 4:23-24 which say, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Behind these words are stern warnings for us to pay attention to what Jesus is telling us for our own good. Two areas of danger I see today that could relate to the warnings Jesus gave us in this passage in Matthew are two websites I found on the Internet: Ascension Press and Catholics Come Home. While we can apply Jesus’ warning to these programs, recently there seems to be an increase in Catholics who are fighting for their religion more so than ever before. It’s like a tug-of-war. We are warned to beware of deceptions that will increase, while those loyal to deceptions are fighting hard to protect and defend them.
What are these two Catholic programs and how do they so smoothly attempt to deceive people? The material that follows is coming straight from the information that is sent out to the programs’ members in advertisements each month. This month we’ll look closer at the Ascension Press material and leave the Catholics Come Home material for next month.
The Ascension Press has been, for the past few months, sending me some very well-thought out studies. One of the studies is called The Quick Journey Through the Bible and it came with this informative ad: “The training begins with an inspirational talk by Thomas Smith. He explains why and how learning the ‘big picture’ of God’s plan in Scripture
makes the Bible easier to read, understand, and apply to our lives. Then you will be given step-by-step instructions on running a fruitful and life-changing Bible study at your parish, including: how to build a strong faith formation team, how to create a promotion plan, how to prepare a ministry budget, and more.”
Another study is called Walking Toward Eternity: Engaging the Struggles of Your Heart. The ad for this one said, “This ‘Walking toward Eternity’ is an inspiring series designed to help participants live their faith more fully. Through daily prayerful meditation with Scripture, you will be drawn into an intimate and life-changing encounter with Christ. Engaging the Struggles of Your Heart, the second series in the Walking toward Eternity Program, is a challenging study that can open our eyes to obstacles in our Christian walk such as greed, envy, fear, and shame. Through prayer, reflection, guidance, and the aid of the Holy Spirit, we begin to engage these difficulties in a positive way as we continue
toward our goal of union with Christ.”
Still another study is called Oremus, and is described as “a Catholic prayer
study program that will teach you the essentials of a fruitful prayer life.” The ad for this one said, “Do you find it easy to pray? Is prayer an integral part of your day? Do you hear God’s voice in your daily life, and know how to respond accordingly? For many of us, the answer to these questions is, ‘no.’ We all desire an intimate relationship with God. But, since learning to ‘say our prayers’ as children, we never moved beyond rote recitation to an authentic conversation with God. In Scripture we read of profound interactions people have with God. We hear of Saints who seemed to have a direct line to Him their entire lives. But most of the time we feel like this is far beyond our reach. After all, we’re not prophets, and certainly not (yet) Saints! For most of us prayer becomes a source of frustration as we struggle to calm our minds and find even a few minutes to set aside to pray. In our busy lives prayer is seen as a luxury, when in reality it is at the foundation of a healthy spiritual life. The good news is you can overcome your difficulties with prayer, and it is easier than you might think.”
Each of these three studies comes with a soft musical advertisement on how the study encourages an individual to draw closer to the Lord, helps them develop a relationship with Christ that they never had before, helps them grasp the richness of their Catholic faith, and teaches them to learn to lead and facilitate a life-changing Bible study program at their parish. The publishers use common, ordinary people in their advertisements to make the viewers think that it is their own “ordinary person’s” life that will get so much better and Christ-like after doing these studies.
What the ads for the studies don’t show are the subtle, yet controversial, things about the Catholic church - the many “sacred Traditions” - that drove members like this author to leave the Catholic church. It does not surprise me to come across a Catholic individual who defends Catholicism on the Facebook page of Mike Gendron, himself once a Catholic, but who later came to true, saving faith in Jesus Christ and now shares the truth of God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ with Catholics. This particular Catholic individual angrily stated the following on Facebook: “Yes, it is sad that YOU all don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know who you are dealing with here. You don’t know anything about us other than the fact that you think we have been led astray by evil and, actually, you have been brainwashed by one man’s warped viewpoints to such a degree that you are blinded to the truth. All I see here is a bunch of people who were, at best, ignorant of their Catholic faith, that were raised by people who knew just as little (from your above statement), which basically is the result of plain laziness. Then you have the NERVE to blast Catholicism after you were plucked up and brainwashed. So, so sad. You are all such puppets. And what is saddest of all is the fact that in your efforts to pull us from the truth, you are sinning all over the place with your insults and nastiness. First, I was told I’m controlled by a demon (and if you knew me at all you would see how that must have wounded our Lord) and you call popes liars...not nice and not very Christian. Just makes you look like a bunch of jealous haters. Well, you are always welcome back when the Lord rebukes you all and you figure out that you are so wrong.”
The following is my own personal rebuking relating to the above Facebook posting: “You, Mike Gendron, and Jason Hauser make me sick! There are millions of Americans unemployed and struggling night and day to make ends meet, and you are all three making a living spreading lies about God’s Church. You all should be ashamed of yourselves, making money off blasphemy and satanic lies. This is truly a sad, sad world! You all need to REPENT, and stop destroying the word of God, so you can get a high five from your ridiculous social circles. IT’S SICKENING! You three are doing NOTHING for true Catholics, how dare you judge a Catholic’s salvation.....THAT IS IN GOD’S HANDS, NOT YOURS! YOU ARROGANT JERKS!”
There are a few of us who continue to fight this demonic struggle by telling people like this that we’ve seen the “historical” proofs of Catholicism, we’ve been there, and we’ve done those things. We know about their so-called apostolic succession arguments, that they cannot understand why we don’t pay attention to what the many church fathers tell us instead of what Martin Luther or one of our protestant “popes” tells us. They fail to see the twisting of Scriptures that deceives them and how they are believing in a works-oriented religion, trusting in sacraments rather than trusting in Jesus Christ. They fail to see how the sacraments that they think are such a huge blessing are actually replacing - along with their Mariology views - the only thing that saves their soul: absolute faith in the finished work of Christ crucified.
All of this Bible study that is afforded to them actually makes it harder for them to understand the facts: their church is not the one true church that Christ started, and it is vital that we follow the Bible alone as being the absolute authority to lead everyone to Jesus Christ. “What else is there?” I ask you. Instead of listening to “thus sayeth the fathers,” we should be listening to “thus sayeth the Lord” from the very Word of God itself.
As Jesus said once when He was on earth, “You err not knowing Scripture.” We must be aware of Satan’s schemes as well and ask ourselves, “Are we any different - not knowing Scripture and thus making mistakes in our theology?” Or, are we walking on His straight and narrow path, which is the only path that leads to salvation through Jesus Christ? It doesn’t hurt to pause and think about this.