Michael Youssef, a prominent pastor and author, has cautioned that many churches today are failing to preach the entire Gospel or equip Christians with biblical knowledge, allowing the world to be duped by the Antichrist.
In an interview with The Christian Post, the 74-year-old pastor of Atlanta’s Church of the Apostles focused on the growing biblical illiteracy among professed Christians, which he regards as the “great problem with the Church in America.”
“Biblical illiteracy is rampant, and people are going to fall for deception, for false teachings, for anything, because they’re not grounded in the Word of God,” he said.
The pastor discussed some of the prevalent heresies he finds in both Evangelical and mainline churches today. In order to be “seeker friendly,” several churches encourage distance from the Old Testament or claim that certain of its doctrines, such as views on homosexuality, are out of date.
“This is what is preached from major pulpits: homosexuality was wrong in the Old Testament because it was associated with pagan worship, but not in the New Testament,” he said.
“That is not true, because the Bible says, ‘He made them man and woman, and He made them to fit in every way and then made them to marry for life,’ and so forth. They throw the whole creation event out of the window. Or, they say, ‘The God of the Old Testament is a God of vengeance, but the God of the New Testament — which is the old first-century heresy — is the God of love. That is absolutely false.
“Yet, many young preachers are now saying, ‘Let’s get unhitched from the Old Testament.’ But the Old Testament is the very foundation upon which the New Testament builds. The Old Testament says Jesus is coming; the New Testament says He’s here. The two are one; we cannot separate them.”
These shifts in teachings, Youssef warned, are setting the stage for the world to be deceived by the Antichrist due to a lack of discernment.
“The world is really being prepared for the Antichrist,” he said. “But when the Antichrist comes and deceives the world, we have no discernment because we do not know the words of Jesus.”
He referenced Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 24 and 25 to identify signs of the End Times and the Antichrist. He described the Antichrist as a “man of peace; a smart, slick politician who’s going to make everybody feel good about him.”
“And then halfway through the seven years, of course, he’s going to turn and begin to persecute believers,” Youssef said.
Some signs of the End Times, like wars, earthquakes and apostasy, have “always been around,” he added. But as the End Times draw near, these “labor pains” will intensify and occur more frequently.
“Our Lord made it very clear that His disciples need to understand that,” he said. “For us, we’re seeing these things are happening so fast as this baby is about to arrive. While some people panic and worry and don’t know what to do, we say, ‘Glory to God. Lift up your head, because the day of your redemption is drawing nigh.’ We know that the baby is getting close to being born now because that is the image that the Lord Jesus Himself gave us.”
In light of this reality, the pastor, who is gearing up for the release of his next book,How to Read the Bible (as If Your Life Depends on It), emphasized the importance of Christians being in community. Churches, like his own in Atlanta, are focusing on building tight-knit groups that can withstand external pressures.
The Church must be mobilized and family members play a vital role in establishing biblical literacy and preparing for the End Times. Evangelical pastors are urging people to come to Christ, the right Christ, and spend time daily in the Word of God.
According to the State of the Bible 2022 report, only 39% of Americans read the Bible multiple times per year or more, and only 10% report daily Bible reading. Voddie Baucham, a Bible scholar and pastor, emphasized the need for churches to stand firm on biblical truths without compromise, even in the face of cultural pressure and vilification.
He emphasized the need for churches to know their beliefs, why they believe them, and be prepared to answer questions about the hope in their faith. He also emphasized the need to prepare for the opposition and accept the unpleasant consequences of doing so.