EDITOR'S NOTE: We get a lot of questions from teens asking us what our take is on some random spiritual statement they learned from a YouTube video. Honestly, I'm so glad they're asking, because then we get a chance to walk through the answer with them using the Bible. If something doesn't sound biblical, friends, keep questioning and asking until you find the truth! —Cat
After Jesus returned to Heaven (Acts 1:9), after the Holy Spirit came on the new believers (Acts 2:1-4) and started the church, we read, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). Gathering together for learning and teaching others about how to follow Christ was one of the big reasons they established the early church.
Sometime later, the new church realized the apostles couldn't keep up with all of the widows who need support. "So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables'" (Acts 6:2), so they chose deacons to pass out the food and continued to grow the ministry by teaching at their gatherings.
As the church spread, the author of Hebrews explained the importance of going to church: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23-24).
These gatherings were a vital resource in the lives of new believers. Most people didn't have access to Scripture, and, at church, they could learn from trustworthy teachers.
One interesting resource not mentioned is YouTube.
On YouTube, you can find out how to replace a faucet. How to make burritos. Videos of a gazillion different songs and random people covering those songs in their bedrooms. YouTube is open to (almost) everyone with a video camera and internet access.
If a YouTuber told you to shred a bicycle chain and put it in a PVC pipe with a bunch of mulch and one small mouse, you would probably not believe her when she said this is the new way to make burritos. Because you know what a burrito is, and that ain't it. Then you learn that the "cook" is actually an abstract artist, and it makes more sense.
If you don't have a solid understanding of the truths in the Bible, and you go to YouTube to learn about the Bible, how are you going to know who to listen to? How do you compare what you find with what is true? Who is the YouTuber? Do they understand the Bible? Do they believe the Bible? Is their goal to teach Scripture accurately? Or is it to scare people, sell books, or gather donations?
Here are the basics about the end times: There is very, very little biblical prophecy about the church age—in between the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and the Rapture of the church. Jesus' words in Mark 13:5-8 about sum it up:
Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains."
Now, let's add in some 2 Peter 2:1-3:
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
What isn't mentioned is America. Or COVID-19. Or riots. Or even natural disasters sent by God to punish immoral nations. What WILL happen: wars, natural disasters, and a whole lot of false teachers. But...even if these will increase as the end times approach, they will also continue happening throughout human history.
How are you supposed to know what's God's truth and what isn't? Our #1 suggestion is: read your Bible. Suggestion #2: look for clarification when you have questions. (And that is inevitable when it comes to end times stuff). If you really want to do some research, I highly recommend Bruce Benware's Understanding End Times Prophecy.
I'm not going to say totally avoid YouTube. (After all, 412teens has a YouTube channel.) But just because someone has a camera and an internet connection, that doesn't mean they know what they're talking about—or that they don't have a hidden agenda.
If you really have to watch YouTube, at least check the credentials and background beliefs of the people you listen to. Don't take everything they say as gospel. Even if they don't mean to mislead, misinform, or be malicious, that doesn't mean they are automatically right. Research, research, research.
Of course, I also recommend the Got Questions Ministries articles on the end times, but check them against Scripture too. We're only human and mistakes are possible. If you have a question, ask. Feel free to suggest the 412teens videos or the Got Questions YouTube channel to your friends who get scared of random people's videos. And always-always-always point people to the hope of Jesus.