And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. Mark 13:21
Does the name Marshall Applewhite mean anything to you? How about Bonnie Nettles?
Probably not. They are a here-today-gone-tomorrow kind of couple, people who had their fifteen minutes of fame and then disappeared from almost everyone’s remembrance. Maybe I can jog your memory with a final clue: Heaven’s Gate. Does that help you remember? For those who are still drawing a blank, let me share that Applewhite and Nettles were the founders of the cult which believed that Jesus was a spaceship-riding alien whose mission to move humanity to another level was aborted by His crucifixion.
Applwhite told the Heaven’s Gate believers not to worry since Jesus had come back in the person of himself to finish the job. The education process was completed when the faithful showed their willingness to hitch a ride on an alien spacecraft that Applewhite said was hiding behind the newly discovered Hale-Bopp comet.
Thirty-nine people confessed their faithfulness to Applewhite’s promises by committing suicide.
When the Heaven’s Gate story broke ten years ago this week, most people wondered, “How can anyone be deceived by such foolishness?”
I still wonder why people believe the Bible when it talks about Jesus as being a real person, but prefer the explanations offered by the DaVinci Code when it comes to the Savior’s death and resurrection. I’m confused when folks trust Holy Scripture when it tells of the Jesus who was tried and crucified by Pontius Pilate, but turn their backs to His resurrection from the dead. Was it only a few weeks ago that everyone was talking about Jesus’ family crypt which some scholars theorized had been discovered in Jerusalem?
Knowing history would be filled with Marshall Applewhites, DaVinci Codes and FILLED Jesus’ tombs, the Savior warned His followers, ‘If somebody says they’ve discovered Me, don’t you believe them; they haven’t discovered Me because they can’t discover an ascended Savior.’
So what can we believe? The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Let us hold fast (to) the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (10:23) Which is why I can confidently encourage you with these words: “No matter what you hear today; no matter what story breaks on the news; no matter how all the world contradicts God’s Holy Word, hold fast. Hold fast to the Scriptures which tell of the Savior who was born for you; lived, died and rose for you.”
THE PRAYER: Dear ever-living Savior, send Your Holy Spirit upon me that I may be unwavering in faith and faithful in witness. Defeat the lies of Satan, and confound the words of those who would confuse those You have redeemed. In Your name I ask this. Amen.
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