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A story is told about a meeting Satan had with his chief demons. Christianity was spreading rapidly and growing fervently, and they needed to devise a way to undermine the work. The arch deceiver called for suggestions.

“We could bring some more hypocrites into the church” said one.

“No,” said the devil, “the Christians realise that there will always be hypocrites, and are teaching each other to look to Jesus. That won’t work.”

“What about bringing in some fierce persecutions?” suggested another. “If we make being a Christian unbearable, they’ll run away for sure.”

“That might get some” agreed the prince of darkness. “But what we’ve found is that when we bring in persecution, the few that leave are replaced by dozens more who are convicted by the faith of those who remain. It’s not a successful enough campaign.”

Many ideas were suggested, discussed, and thrown out, when at last Lucifer turned to his council. “I think what would work best” he declared “is to make the Christians lose sight of the return of their God. Yes, I think that would work.”

“You mean, tell them He’s not coming back?” questioned one of the council.

“No,” replied Satan, “that would be foolish. If we told them He wasn’t coming, they’d see right through it. But,” he said, “get them to think He’s not coming for a long time, and we’ll make some progress. Remind them of how generations before thought He was coming back in their time, and it never happened. Make them believe that there are still too many things to happen before He returns – too many prophecies to be fulfilled – yes, that will lull them into thinking there’s still time. Don’t get them to forget it altogether – oh no; just get them to think about it in a distant, almost unforeseeable sort of way. Once we get them to believe that the return of this Jesus couldn’t possibly be as close as their Book says, they’ll stop concerning themselves with being ready. And that’s when we shall have them.”

The chief demons looked at each other and smiled, and then departed to fulfill their assignment.

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