When asked by His disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mat 24:3), Christ’s first response was “Take heed that no man deceive you” (v. 4). His coming and the end of the world would be preceded by a vast amount of deception. But since He gave fair warning to “take heed,” therefore if we’re deceived and perish, it will be on us. And the deceivers will be many, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (v. 5). They’ll be the predominant voices teaching the Scriptures. That they’re saying “I am Christ” isn’t that they’ll be claiming to be the Christ themselves. Rather, they’ll be coming in His name, confessing that He is the Christ and epitomizing sheep completely, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15). There will be many and they will be extremely effective. We’ve been warned.
The Protestant message of sola fide or “faith alone” being preached in the world today isn’t the message Jesus Christ preached: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23); “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 9:35); “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mar 1:14); “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also” (Luk 4:43). And it’s being taught that when Jesus foretold “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Mat 24:14), that this is being fulfilled by all the missionaries going out preaching sola fide to all people groups. But that’s not true. It’s “this gospel of the kingdom” that must be preached in all the world—the gospel of the kingdom Christ preached.
Christ’s gospel that “shall be preached in all the world for a witness [martyrion 3142] unto all nations,” will be fulfilled by His two witnesses, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses [martys 3144], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (Rev 11:3). They’ll be prophets of God, “these two prophets” (v. 10), with miraculous power reminiscent of Elijah and Moses, “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (v. 6). And it will take miracles of this caliber to get people to listen to the true gospel message of the kingdom.
The miracles, signs, and wonders worked by Jesus Christ and His apostles confirmed they were speaking for God and preaching the true gospel message: “the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (Jhn 5:36); “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (Jhn 10:25); “believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (Jhn 10:38); “believe me for the very works’ sake” (Jhn 14:11); “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you” (Act 2:22); “preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mar 16:20); “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2Co 12:12); “confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” (Heb 2:3-4). It was the working of miracles that enabled the apostles to evangelize the world with the true gospel message.
Paul foretold of a time when people would be deceived to such an extent that they wouldn’t listen to the truth, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). We’re now living in that time. People won’t listen to sound doctrine because they’re in bondage to the myths that God is three Persons, salvation is by faith, and that their hope is heaven.
Just before the end, however, two prophets of God will preach the true gospel to all the world, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.” They’ll preach that we must live righteously to enter the kingdom, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20), that we must do what we’ve heard Christ command, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26), “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13), “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas 1:22). They will preach “this gospel of the kingdom.”