Q. Matt. 24:24 says false prophets/messiahs will deceive the very elect “if it were possible.” Does that mean what I think it implies, that the “very elect,” the born again, cannot be deceived by false prophets/messiahs? That it is not possible for us to be deceived? How far does God’s hedge extend for our protection? Does it protect against deception by false prophets and false messiahs only, or does it go so far as to protect the Church from being deceived by phoney doctrine? Are we safe from being deceived?
A. Let’s clarify that Matt. 24:24 describes the time of the Great Tribulation after the Church is gone, so the”very elect” the Lord was referring to are Tribulation believers, not the Church.
But since you asked, I believe the history of the Church reveals a pretty dismal record of falling for the various false doctrines that come along. Right from the beginning the heresy called Gnosticism threatened the Church’s very existence. Then came the Roman Church with its post-millennial and a-millennial eschatology, its grace plus works plan of salvation, the sale of indulgences, purgatory, etc. After that we had the mainline denominations who bought into the Documentary Hypothesis, the Theory of Evolution, and Modern Rationalism. Now there’s Replacement Theology, Dominion Theology, the Prosperity Gospel, the Emerging Church and the heresy filled circuses we call revival. And don’t get me started on Christian TV.
I could go on and on but you get the idea. These were all introduced by the church’s leaders, the men entrusted with the care of the flock. So I’d say large components of the Church have been and are being deceived on a pretty regular basis.
I think the Lord was saying that the purveyors of religion during Daniel’s 70th week will be so slick they’ll put all who came before them to shame, and if the Church was still on Earth, many of us would be deceived. The reason it’s not possible is that we won’t be here.