Matt 24: 4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15 "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
Of course my introductory statement is a total lie. Jesus’ warnings are not empty. They are serious and need to be heeded, yet so many who profess belief in Jesus do NOT believe they need to heed His warnings. They consider themselves immune from deception. They believe they will be kept from deception.
Perhaps their main assurance is the single phrase “if that were possible” that Jesus adds when He mentions“the elect” . However I think that assurance is based on presumption: people PRESUMING they are part of this deception-proof elect – and yet they assume they don’t have to heed Jesus’ words of warning.
Can anyone really be part of “the elect” if they don’t consider that ALL of Jesus’ words need to be personally heeded?
Within the context of these warnings we are told that “he who stands firm to the end will be saved". Jesus did not say those who are saved will stand firm to the end.
I see the matter of the elect and deception in this way. It will not be possible for “the elect” to be deceived because “the elect” are those who DO take Jesus seriously enough to avoid falling for the various false ministers He warned about.
We should not see the single phrase “if that were possible” as assurance of safety, but we should take the rest of Jesus prophecy as an indication of the strength and danger of the deceptive forces – that extreme diligence is required to ensure we stand firm to the end and are counted among “the elect”.