Trinity 25 (2014)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
November 9, 2014
Central Passage
Matthew 24:15-28

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Popular theology – popular, not orthodox theology – has made the Great Tribulation into some chaotic time of severe upheaval and murderous rage carried out on the world. Popular theology paints pictures of horrific scenes of Christians being burned alive, drawn and quartered, beheaded, and otherwise murdered in the most brutal ways imaginable. Then, too, popular theology has made the Great Tribulation a time when demon hordes inflict all manner of evil upon mankind, brutalizing them in ways that only Hollywood can imagine on the silver screen. Popular theology also makes the Great Tribulation, Armageddon, a future event, a time to come.

Popular theology is wrong.

The most heinous, vile acts against humanity are already being done. And they have been done since Cain raised his hand against his brother, Abel, and murdered him. A brutal murder, that. Not shot but beaten to death. Beheadings, being burned alive, drawn and quartered, and whatever other evil one can image – even being ripped from your mother’s womb – is and has been inflicted upon humanity since time immemorial. And it has not slowed down. It has only become protected by the gods called “Tolerance” and “Freedom” and “Choice” and “Allah”.

So popular theology is wrong. The Great Tribulation isn’t sometime in the mists of the future, it is now; when men, women, and children are being offered up in sacrifice to false gods. The blood runs deep, as deep as a horses bit and bridle.

But popular theology is wrong in another way. A more devastating way. Popular theology paints the Great Tribulation in such a nasty fashion that it overshadows the far worse aspect of the Great Tribulation. And that is that false prophets arise to lead us astray.

Our Lord says to not be afraid of the one who can kill the body only. Don’t be afraid of the beheading Muslim or the fanatic LGBT group that will take us to court and take our freedoms. Don’t be afraid of the militant progressives who will stop and nothing to legitimize their warped, ungodly desires. Don’t be afraid of the politician who will persecute you through legislation or taxes. All they can do is kill the body. But a false prophet can kill the soul.

The Abomination of Desolation is a preacher – a false preacher. He is one who stands in the Holy Place. The Holy Place isn’t Jerusalem or the temple, the Holy Place is the Church, the abode of God, the true temple of the Most High. The true Holy Place is where God meets His people and instructs and comforts them. The Abomination of Desolation will stand in pulpits, be it wooden such as this or televised or coming across the radio waves. The Abomination of Desolation is a false preacher, a false prophet who would lead astray even the elect, if that were possible.

Now you understand. (“Let the reader understand” Matthew 24:15.)

So no matter what you are doing or where you are or who you are with. When you hear the false prophet, flee. He will tell you that Christ is there but He is not. False prophets preach a false Christ. They do signs and wonders. They tell stories and speak of events that would make you put your trust in their stories – stories such as communicating with the dead or seeing visions of Jesus or of miraculous healings. All these things are possible, for with God nothing is impossible. But the false prophet doesn’t just say they are possible, the false prophets takes them as proofs of God’s love and election. The false prophet would make you take such stories and miracles as proofs of God’s love and election.

But they are not.

The true enemy of the Christian is not those who would destroy the body. The true enemy of the Christian – the one that causes great tribulation – is the one who would lead us astray by signs and wonders. The devil can appear as an angel of light. Why wouldn’t he except to capture souls and lead us astray? But this isn’t fanciful or magical. It happens in real time and space. People – well intentioned people – tell stories – true stories, even – that would act as proofs of God’s love and election. False prophets – the abomination of desolation – don’t hurt us, not our bodies, they capture our imagination and would cause us to cling to false promises of God’s love and election.

We are tempted to be led astray when people talk about how they know God loves them because they were healed of some disease or because they narrowly escaped death. The abomination of desolation will preach that we can be assured of God’s love and election because we’re not destitute or because we’re good people or because we’re Americans or because we’ve never had an abortion or cheated on our spouse or lied. The abomination of desolation will tell you that God loves you because you’re healthy or because of any of a thousand other reasons that sound good and are good. But it’s all a lie meant to lead you astray, even the elect if possible.

The lie is to confuse God’s love with God’s election. The lie is say that because He loves us then He has also elected us unto salvation. But that’s just not true. Not according to the Bible anyway, for many are called but few are chosen. God loves the world and so He gave His only-begotten Son to die for the sins of the world thereby reconciling Himself to all humanity. It’s what we call the universal atonement. The only Son of God gave Himself for all the children of men. That’s God’s love. But it’s not His election.

You know God loves you because Jesus died for you and is risen from the dead for you. You know you are elect of God because this is preached to you; because you are washed in the blood of Jesus in holy baptism; because you participate in Christ in His most holy meal. You know you are elect because you gather with Christ. The Spirit of the living God calls you; not with signs and wonders, not by stories of heaven or threats of hell, not by visions or dreams, but by the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And in calling you by the Gospel He saves you by the same, causing you to cling to Christ alone as not only your salvation, but also as the proof of your election. For we are elect in Christ.

Flee false prophets and their false christs who do many signs and wonders and would cause you to put your faith in those things as God’s election of you. And run here to the Lord’s gathering where the true Prophet and Christ gives you His very body and blood as a sure and certain sign of the Father’s love for you and of your election to grace and eternal life in Christ.

One more thing must be said, though I think we could stop here. And that is that many will think, “Does that mean everyone who comes and eats and drinks and hears” is elect and will be saved?” To this I answer: What is that to you? You follow Christ. You eat and drink. You listen to Him and you receive His benediction and blessing. Let Him worry about the rest. Today is the day of salvation, as will tomorrow be when it is called “today”. So today call upon the name of the Lord for whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

+ In Nomine Iesu +