Prominent pastor and author Michael Youssef has warned that many churches today are failing to teach the full Gospel or equip Christians with biblical knowledge, setting the stage for the world to be deceived by the Antichrist.
In an interview with The Christian Post, the 74-year-old pastor of the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia, honed in on the increasing biblical illiteracy prevalent among professing Christians, something he sees 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 highlighted some of the popular heresies he sees in both Evangelical and mainline churches today. In an effort to be “seeker friendly,” for example, many churches advocate distancing from the Old Testament or suggest that some of its teachings, such as views on homosexuality, are outdated.
“This is what is preached from major pulpits: homosexuality was wrong in the Old Testament because 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 said 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.
“It’s very, very important for the Church to be mobilized because it has to be in community,” he said.
Families, too, play a vital role in establishing biblical literacy and preparing for the End Times. Youssef underscored the necessity for spouses to be united in their beliefs and teachings and for parents to educate their children about potential challenges they might face.
“The husband and wife must be united, and if they’re not, they need to fast and pray until they come to unity about how to teach their children,” he said. “The family must be united, the Church must be united. We cannot stand alone. We have to stand together in a community of faith, the family in the home, and then the gatherings of multiple families, which is the Church.”
“I want people to come to Christ, absolutely, but come to the right, real Christ; the Christ of the Bible,” he said. “And then, once you come to Him, feed on the Word of God, because that is our nourishment. Spend time daily in the Word of God, because biblical illiteracy is the greatest problem in the Church in America. That is really my biggest burden for us.”
Youssef is among a growing number of Evangelical pastors sounding the alarm over the lack of biblical knowledge among believers and the devastating ramifications for the Church.
According to the State of the Bible 2022 report released by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, only 39 percent of Americans say they read the Bible multiple times per year or more. Currently, only 10 percent of Americans report daily Bible reading, a four percent decrease since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biblical scholar and pastor Voddie Baucham recently told CP that because many churches today lack a Gospel-centered foundation, they are ill-prepared for the challenges of the post-Christian era.
“In this post-Christian era, where we’re all being sort of painted with the same brush, people who have not relied on the Gospel to build solid foundations are seeing their sheep scattered. They’re really not legitimate sheep in the first place, and they also don’t really know how to respond, because the response in many instances has been, ‘No, no, no, no, we’re not like them.’ And ‘them,’ of course, are conservative, Bible-believing Evangelicals, those people who have always been vilified by the culture at large.
“But that’s not working anymore,” he said, “because it’s not enough to just not hold firmly to the truths of the Gospel and to not hold firmly to those things that the culture finds offensive. Any identification now with Christianity, which is seen as the sort of ultimate hegemonic boogeyman in modern, Neo Marxist culture, is offensive. So, a lot of people are caught off guard because of compromises that they made a long time ago that looked like they were paying off.
Baucham stressed the need for churches to stand firm on biblical truths without compromise, even in the face of cultural pressure and vilification.
“We need to prepare ourselves for the opposition, not only the opposition coming, but for the opposition that’s already here,” he said. “We need to know what we believe and why we believe it. We need to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask us for the reason for the hope that is in us. We need to be prepared to speak to this post-Christian culture. Finally, we need to be prepared to accept the consequences of doing so, which are unpleasant.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com
Free Religious Freedom Updates
Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.