Sermon title:

UFOs, QAnon, Vaccine & Prophets

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, February 7, 2021

 

 

Fake news and misinformation have been a problem

for a long time—a very long time.

 

In his 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians,

the Apostle Paul had to warn that church

not to be deceived,

even if they received a fake letter

appeared to be from him.

 

He wrote them at 2nd Thessalonians 2:1,

1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be easily disconcerted or alarmed by any spirit or message or letter seeming to be from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has already come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way.

 

So deceptive information and fake news

was a problem, even back then,

and even in the Christian churches.

 

To guard against fake letters pretending to come from Paul,

he included in each letter

a greeting in his own handwriting.

 

The Apostle dictated his letters to secretaries,

but added a few words in his own handwriting

as a guarantee of authenticity.

 

At 2 Thessalonians 3:17, for example, he wrote,

“Here is my greeting in my own handwriting——Paul. I do this in all my letters to prove they are from me.”

 

Later in this sermon,

I’ll talk about steps we can take

to verify information we receive today.

------------------------------

 

But, back in the First Century,

the deceptions going around came in many varieties.

 

The warning we just read from the Apostle Paul

was against those     alleging that

the Day of the Lord has already come.”

 

That false teaching still circulates in some churches today.

 

It is called “preterism.”

 

The preterists teach that the Second Coming of Christ

already happened, way back in the 1st Century.

 

And there were other falsehoods & fake news

circulating in the early Christian Church

that Paul and the other Apostles

had to warn against.

 

There were the Judaizers who insisted on

circumcision for all Christian men

to bring them under the Law of Moses.

 

Remnants of that false teaching are still around today

in the Sabbatarian sects that claim falsely

that Christians should still observe

the Jewish Sabbath and Jewish holidays.

 

The Judaizers’ teaching also shows up in the so-called

"High" churches that copy Jewish Temple worship

with a hierarchy and priesthood

in special garments performing ceremonies

in front of the church

at an altar—

like the priests in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

-----------------------------------

 

Another false teaching circulating in the early churches

excused sexual immorality.

 

Peter and Jude warned against

the sexually immoral teachers in their letters,

and in the 2nd and 3rd Chapters of Revelation

the risen Christ speaks from heaven

against those like Jezebel and Balaam

in the early churches.

 

Jezebel’s immoral teachings are running wild today

in churches that just wink at

couples living together without being married,

and in churches that

approve of homosexual marriage.

---------------------------------------

 

A fourth falsehood that circulated in the early churches,

was the teaching of the Gnostics.

 

Scripture doesn’t mention the Gnostics by name

but the Apostles denounce their false teachings,

which involved supposed secret knowledge.

 

The false spirit of Gnosticism is still around today

whenever supposed secret information

leads to the formation of in-groups

who feel the Gospel of Christ isn’t enough—

and that their secret knowledge is needed

understand what is going on in the world.

---------------------------------------------------

 

A few years ago, it seemed

that the problem of false information

would soon go away—

due the invention of the Internet.

 

People could use the Internet

to verify information

and quickly distinguish truth from falsehood.

 

Since the dawn of the Internet,

people have been calling this "the Information Age."

 

When I was growing up, if I needed some information

for a homework assignment,

or just to satisfy my own curiosity,

I had to go to the public library,

and spend hours

searching through books and encyclopedias.

Now, we just google it

and the information is right there in front of us.

 

So, they call this “the Information Age.”

 

But I believe it’s really the mis-information age.

 

How can you sort out truth from the falsehoods

that flood the Internet and the airwaves today?

 

Who is really behind the lies?

—lies that circulate on the Internet, on TV news,

and on the front pages of major newspapers?

-------------------------

 

If I believed everything I've heard the past few weeks—

I would believe that our government

is in touch with space aliens from another galaxy.

 

They’re just biding their time

before they make the news public

about making contact with the UFOs.

--------------------------

 

If I believed everything I've heard the past few weeks—

I would believe that the COVID vaccine

turns us into antennas to absorb harmful 5G radiation.

 

And that the vaccine is part of a plot by Bill Gates

to microchip and barcode everyone on the planet.

 

And that it makes us part monkey with monkey DNA,

and that the vaccine is the Mark of the Beast.

 

Many people do believe these things.

 

In fact, this past week 50 protesters

shut down the vaccination clinic at Dodger Stadium.

 

Their picket signs proclaimed

"Mark of the Beast Ahead"

"Save Your Soul--Turn Back Now"

"COVID=SCAM"

----------------------

If I believed everything I've heard the past few weeks—

I would have believed last month

that we were moments away

from the Emergency Broadcast System

being triggered, followed by

something like martial law—

with high-profile arrests all over the country

accompanied by roadblocks and checkpoints.

 

That falsehood obviously proved false

when it didn’t happen.

 

But all sorts of other stories continue to circulate.

 

The mainstream media—

network TV news and major newspapers—

tell outright lies and distortions

to promote the agendas

of the left-wing socialists

and homosexual activists.

 

And the social media platforms censor or shut down

viewpoints they disagree with.

For example, the Christian group Focus on the Family

posted a news story on Twitter last week

that defined a transgender ‘woman’ as

"a man who believes he is a woman."

 

And that's very accurate: a transgender ‘woman’

really is "a man who believes he is a woman."

 

But, for saying that,

Twitter suspended Focus on the Family's account.

 

Bible-believing Christians

with conservative, patriotic opinions

now face censorship and exclusion.

 

If the media can censor and silence a sitting President,

they can certainly censor and silence

the rest of us.

 

So, that makes the secret messages being passed around

seem even more believable.

 

Videos are tagged with messages like

“Watch this quick, before it disappears!”

“Read this right away, before the censors delete it!”

 

Some beautiful, and powerful, and true

Christian Bible sermons

and patriotic speeches

are being passed around that way.

 

But, so are some false and misleading videos

full of misinformation and deceptions.

 

So, how can we know what to believe?

--------------------------------

 

False and misleading information is deadly

because the ultimate source of all lies

is Satan the devil.

 

At John 8:44 our Lord Jesus said of Satan the devil,

“He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Lies originate with Satan, and he is a murderer.

 

He uses lies to lead people away from life—

to lead them to their death.

---------------------------

 

Consider, for example, the hoax of UFOs and space aliens.

 

 A man in his early 50’s contacted me,

looking to be mentored as a new Christian.

 

He told me he had just come to believe in God

and was seeking fellowship to build his faith.

 

We began meeting together regularly,

and whenever we got together, I encouraged him

to read the Bible, read the New Testament,

read the Gospels,

so that he could get to know Jesus

and hear from God first-hand.

 

He kept saying that he would, but, instead,

he began reading materialhe found on the Internet

about UFOs and space aliens.

 

Instead of reading what the Bible said about Moses,

he read claims on the Internet

that the Ark of the Covenant was actually a radio

given to Moses by aliens from outer space

so they could speak to Moses.

 

That meant Moses was hearing from space aliens

rather than from Almighty God.

 

I tried to get him to read about Moses in the Bible itself.

 

He would have seen that God was speaking to Moses

for a long time

 before Moses the Ark of the Covenant was built.

 

He would have read in Exodus Chapter 25

the detailed instructions God gave Moses

for building the Ark of the Covenant—

its exact dimensions and materials.

And he would have read in Exodus Chapter 37

the name of the craftsman who actually built it,

and how it was built.

 

He would have read Moses’ account of all the materials

that went into the Ark—inside and out—

and seen that it was obviously NOT a radio.

 

But this poor man was too busy reading stories of aliens

and other false religious stories he found online—

he found them fascinating—

too busy to look into the Bible

to read the actual history of Moses

and the real Gospel of Christ.

 

Soon, he no longer wanted to talk with me.

 

He went back to atheistic unbelief,

a victim of the devil’s lies.

 

One of those lies from Satan the devil

is that aliens from outer space

will bless mankind by eradicating all disease.

 

Susceptible people place their hopes in the space aliens

instead of placing their hope in Christ.

-----------------------------

 

But we also find lies, even within the Christian Church.

 

Last year a number of prominent TV evangelists

and church pastors

spoke so-called prophecies

they claimed to receive from God.

 

Many so-called prophets and prophetesses

in charismatic and Pentecostal churches

spoke prophecies in the name of the Lord

asserting that God told them President Trump

would continue in office 4 more years.

 

Some even foretold specific events

President Trump would have to deal with

this year, and beyond.

Now, it’s one thing to say, “I think this will happen.”

 

Or, to say, “It looks to me like this-or-that will happen.”

 

But it’s quite another thing to say,

Thus saith the Lord...”

or to say, God told me this will happen.”

 

When those prophecies failed to come true,

those speakers were false prophets—

not dear Christian brothers and sisters,

who made a mistake.

 

Prophesying falsely in the name of God

is not a matter to be taken lightly.

 

God told the nation of Israel at Deuteronomy 13:5

The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death

 

And at Deuteronomy 18:20, God told the Israelites,

“if any prophet dares to speak a message in My name that I have not commanded him to speak, or to speak in the name of other gods, that prophet must be put to death.”

If someone in public Christian ministry today

makes false prophecies,

claiming God spoke to him or her,

they should be removed from their position

and publicly rebuked.

 

And I don’t mean they should take a year off,

write a book on how they sinned and repented,

and then resume their position

as a Christian leader.

 

Making false prophecies in the name of the Lord

permanently disqualifies a person

from any leadership position in the Church—

or disqualifies them for at least as long as it takes

to restore their good reputation.

 

The individual may repent

and may be forgiven by the Lord,

but it takes a long time to restore a good reputation—

and a good reputation is a requirement

for leadership in the Church.

1 Timothy 3:2 says,

“a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation.”

 

A single false prophecy can destroy a good reputation

in a moment of time.

 

And you can not earn back a good reputation

in a year.

 

But it often happens today

that false prophecies or sexual immorality

gets ‘swept under the rug’

 to keep the ministry going,

and to keep the money coming in.

 

But if we used to be fans of a Christian personality

who turns out to be a false prophet,

or turns out to be living a lie in his personal life,

we owe it to God and to ourselves

to stop being part of that man’s audience.

 

He should have no further credibility

among God’s people,

even if he is a big-name Christian celebrity.

 

God makes his feelings plain about false prophets at

Ezekiel 13:6where he says,

6 . . . they have told lies and made false predictions. They say, ‘This message is from the LORD,’ even though the LORD never sent them. And yet they expect him to fulfill their prophecies! 7Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, ‘This message is from the LORD,’ when I have not even spoken to you?

8“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign LORD. 9I will raise my fist against all the prophets who see false visions and make lying predictions, and they will be banished from the community of Israel.

 

If someone has made false prophecies in the name of God,

we should no longer listen

to that person’s prophecies or teachings.

---------------------------------------

 

And we should react similarly

to those who have fabricated false information

outside the Church, as well.

 

I don’t mean our friends who passed on to us

a video or a text message

that later turned out to be false information.

 

I mean those who are creating the fake news.

 

Some of the false information—

--especially from network TV--is from left-wing sources

who promote sexual immorality

& attack biblical Christianity.

 

Some of the false information circulating on social media

is from right-wing extremists—

who have been making up fake news for decades.

 

And some of the false information

is from religious cults—

or from political groups that almost turn into

religious cults.

 

So, a guiding principle that can protect us

from being deceived is to consider the source.

 

What is the history of that source?

What is that person’s or organization's track record?

 

Do they promote a political or religious ideology?

 

Have they made predictions in the past?

 

Did those predictions come true, or fail?

 

Asking those questions will protect us

from getting wrapped up in listening to stuff

that leads us away from Christ.

-------------------------------------

 

That principle of checking the source

applies to the online personalities

who fabricated and originated the stories

circulating last month

about activating the Emergency Broadcast System

and declaring martial law.

 

Some of the reports claiming this was about to happen

had a real air of credibility.

They claimed to have received their information

from sources inside the White House

and from top Generals in the military.

 

And it was a time when the U.S. Capital was in turmoil.

 

Establishment politicians seemed frantic and

desperately trying to remove from office immediately

a President who was about to leave office

within days, anyway.

 

And the major media were cooperating together

to censor and silence the President.

 

Drastic things were actually happening

so, could the reports of martial law also be true?

 

They seemed very convincing—

unless you knew the history of those claims.

 

A fake official-looking letter on National Guard stationary

had actually been circulating for almost a year.

Back in 2017 those claiming secret inside information

said Hillary Clinton was about to be arrested,

along with many prominent people,

and that the National Guard was about to bring

martial law.

 

They claimed it was about to happen within days,

or even hours, back in 2017.

 

If we checked the history of such claims

we would not have believed

when they repeated the same claims again this year.

--------------------------------------

 

Another way to avoid being deceived

is to “follow the money.”

 

That old adage to “follow the money” often exposes

the real source or motive

behind false information.

 

For example, at Nehemiah 6:12, governor Nehemiah

writes how he followed the money

to expose a false prophet:

“12I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would sin by doing as he suggested, so they could give me a bad name in order to discredit me.”

 

The man who was giving Nehemiah false information

was being paid by his enemies.

 

When we hear new information today,

we can often check it out

by following the money.

 

Ask yourself:  Is someone making money off this story?

 

Are they selling something?

 

Are they promoting their book?

 

Are they paid by click-throughs?

 

The flow of money on the Internet is often tied to

the number of “views” or “click-throughs.”

 

So, a boring article with no real information

may be given an enticing headline

so you will be tempted to click on it

and view the article.

 

That click-through may trigger a small payment,

which adds up to a lot of money, when 1000’s of people

fall for the “click bait” as they call it.

 

Meanwhile, the misleading headline

creates a false impression for millions of people

who see only the headline but don’t read the article.

------------------------------------

 

That brings us to another way

to uncover bogus information.

 

Examining the details of a report

can reveal if it’s false.

 

For example, a few days ago I saw a news headline

that read, “Harvard’s top astronomer says

our solar system may be teeming with alien technology.”

 

But when I read the article,

I found the story was based

on nothing more than a tiny pin-prick sized dot

seen through a telescope.

 

The rest of the story was imagination and conjecture.

 

And the bottom line was that the Harvard astronomer

was trying to sell his book.

--------------------------------

 

Another example involves a viral video

by a woman doctor

warning people not to take the COVID vaccine.

 

The video begins and ends with the woman

listing her credentials,

and naming books she has written—

so, the video gives her free advertising

for her books.

 

And the video went viral because she says

the COVID  vaccine will destroy human freedom

and enslave humanity.

 

--and that metals in the COVID-19 vaccine

turn us into antennas for 5G radiation.

 

But, if you look up her website, you find that she

has a long history of opposing ALL vaccines.

 

Before COVID came along, she was telling people

to avoid the vaccines for measles and mumps,

polio, diphtheria, and typhoid,

and the seasonal flu shot.

 

So, even before she knew anything about COVID

she was already going to oppose any vaccine for it.

 

But she gets lots of free advertising for her books

through that viral video.

----------------------

 

In another viral anti-vaccine video,

two men keep plugging products they sell.

 

And their video is full of clips

from news programs on RT.com.

 

But a little digging reveals that RT

stands for “the Russian Times.”

 

The news clips in the video

were all produced by the Russian government.

 

Hostile foreign governments have always

produced propaganda

 to sow confusion among Americans

and to turn Americans against each other.

 

------------------------------------

 

But the real danger of lies and false prophecies

is not from the men who propagate them,

but from the one behind them.

 

Ephesians 6:12 says,

 “...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

 

The lies and deceptions flying about

all originate ultimately from Satan the devil, who is

a liar and the father of lies.”

 

He is the real enemy we struggle against.

 

Whether they come from the Left wing or the Right wing,

lies all come from Satan the devil,

and they all lead to death

by turning people away from Christ,

or by distracting people

from the devotion that belongs to Christ.

 

Our Lord Jesus is the exact opposite of

the lying, murdering devil.

 

John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is

“the Way and the Truth

and the Life.”

 

A John 18:37 Jesus said,

“the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

 

The devil loves to set people against each other,

to get people to wage war against each other.

 

And it has been said that

“Truth is the first casualty in war.”

 

Each side tells lies against the other.

 

But our spiritual warfare is not like that,

because the real struggle—

the real life-and-death struggle in this world—

is between the truth of Christ and the devil’s lies.

 

We avoid falling into the devil’s deadly traps

by keeping our eyes on Jesus,

“the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

 

Those who are trained to spot counterfeit money

don’t spend their time studying the counterfeits.

 

They focus on studying the real thing,

and so they easily recognize the phony bills

when they come across them.

 

So, in this world full of deadly lies and deceptions,

we do well to spend our time and energy

focused on Jesus,

“the Way and the Truth and the Life.”