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False Christs



There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24

If we really are living in the last days, then this warning from Jesus must apply to something that is happening in the world today; and we need to give serious thought to the implications of it. It's true that, from time to time some new "messiah" appears and claims to be Jesus. But for the most part, these kooks don't fool many of us.

And it's also true that the mainline churches try to pin this warning on any new movement that doesn't conform with the mainstream, whether or not their leaders are claiming to be Jesus.

But the real deception today is the mainstream itself. Jesus's description of true prophets was one of persecuted, unpopular nonconformists who dared to knock the establishment. (Matthew 5:11-12)

And his picture of false prophets is just the opposite: people who are widely revered as "righteous", and who even appear to be promoting the true prophets of the past, while continuing to persecute the dissenters of the present. (Matthew 23:27-31) So who are the false christs of today? In a way, they are the false prophets themselves, since "christ" simply means "anointed one", and pastors, priests, ministers, etc. all claim to have God's anointing. They do not need to claim that they are Jesus to be claiming that they have God's anointing.

Many argue that it is not the laity's job to question whether this anointing is genuine or not; or they invent spurious criteria for determining whether the anointing is genuine (e.g. how many converts they have made, or how many "miracles" they have performed).

But the greatest deception of all is just that the person who is actually referred to as "Christ" by the bulk of institutional Christianity is himself a false Christ. They may call him Jesus, or the Lord Jesus Christ, or Our Lord and Saviour, but the bottom line is that he is a myth, a counterfeit, an imposter. He bears almost no resemblance to the true Christ of history and of the Bible.

Until people see this, they will continue to be confused every time we refer to the teachings of the real Jesus. They will sense that he is different to the Christ that they have been introduced to by their religious leaders. And so they will be inclined to change the subject, turn away, accuse us of trying to work our way to heaven, laugh at us as being unrealistic, or in some other way snub the real Christ each time we try to present him and his teachings. In the face of that, we must have the confidence to say it very clearly: Unless they accept the teachings of the real Christ, as contained in the Bible, then the Christ that they asked into their hearts and accepted as their hope of salvation is a damnable fake, a total fabrication of an apostate church. He must be exposed, renounced, and replaced with the one and only Son of God.

The single greatest objection that we receive when people read our comic book version of the Gospel of Luke, is that we have put a picture of someone who looks a little like Billy Graham next to a statement from Jesus that false prophets will always be popular. We never said that the person in the picture was a false prophet, but just the presence of that picture offends people, and becomes their excuse for rejecting the book as a whole. In other words, this outstanding tool of evangelism (our Liberator comic), presenting the teachings of the true Christ in a totally illustrated, easy-to-read format, is being rejected in defence of a picture that may or may not be Billy Graham and that may or may not be considered by us to be a false prophet. We have asked people why they did not assume that the picture was representing someone who supported what Jesus was saying, just as a picture of Sister Teresa might be considered such a representation if it appeared next to Jesus saying something about helping the poor. They have not been able to answer that question, without betraying their prejudice.

Nevertheless, let us look at the Billy Graham phenomenon. The biggest defence for Billy is that he has "led thousands of people to the Lord." But which "Lord"? Our Bible and our Lord says, "Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but only those who do the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many good works?' And then will I profess unto them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Does Billy Graham's 'Lord' say that? On the contrary, Billy Graham's 'Lord' says that all you need to do is to say a little prayer and ask him into your heart and you will be eternally saved. In fact, about the only way that you could lose your salvation would be if you should listen to anyone like ourselves and our Lord, who tries to tell you that you have to "do the will of the Father" to be saved.

Think about all these thousands of people who come forward at the Billy Graham crusades (and the many imitations of those crusades that take place in churches all over the world each week) because they were told that they need only ask Jesus into their hearts to be saved. Who is it that they are asking into their hearts? True, it's someone called Jesus or Christ or Lord. But if it's the true Christ of the Bible, wouldn't you think that someone somewhere would at some stage think to ask whether the Christ of the Bible ever taught that all you need to do to be saved is just to raise your hand, walk forward, say a little prayer, sign a card, and then find a church to attend regularly? No one seems to even think to check with the Jesus of the Bible for his opinion. Why is that?

The answer is because they have not exercised faith in him. The one in whom they have placed their faith is Billy Graham (or whoever else has fed them that lie). They have, consequently, asked Billy Graham (or some other pastor or priest) into their heart; but they have called the person in whom they have placed their trust Jesus or Christ or Lord.

Ever wonder why they are called Billy Graham Crusades and not Jesus Christ Crusades? It is because Billy is more popular, and people have more faith in Billy than they do in the Christ of the Bible. After all, Billy's formula for salvation is a lot cheaper than what the real Christ requires.

It has taken me half a lifetime to recognise this very simple truth. For years I tried to reconcile "my Jesus" (i.e. the one I discovered by reading the Four Gospels) with the Jesus of a billion churchgoers around the world, and it never worked.

I still believe that people who have expressed faith in a false Christ can be saved if they are sincere and if this is the best that they know... in the same way that I believe an idol-worshipping heathen can be saved if he or she is walking in all the spiritual light that he or she has. I believe this because I believe in the atoning blood of Christ, which covers all those errors in theology, as long as the person was acting in genuine, sincere faith based on their understanding of God at the time.

Of course I have a responsibility as a follower of the true Christ, the Saviour of the world, to inform both the Hindu idol-worshipper and the Billy Graham worshipper of the error of their misdirected faith. And when I do, I have a right to expect that they will show their genuineness by wholeheartedly embracing the Christ of the Bible in preference to the counterfeits that they had previously embraced. In fact, when this has happened in real life, such people have invariably confessed that they were never satisfied with the counterfeit, but that they had just never known that there was something better.

Of course, at the same time, I can expect that most idolatrous Hindu priests will try to stone me before they will consent to the truth of my message. And the false prophets in the church will do much the same thing, damning this message of God's grace through the Christ of the Bible.

Nevertheless, once people have heard what we have to say, they become responsible for the new light that they have. You who have read this essay are also responsible for what you have just heard about the true Christ of the Bible and the light of his teachings.

There is only one Christ who can save you, and he is the Christ whose message appears in the first four books of the New Testament. Although he knows you will never be perfect, and he died so that you could be saved despite your imperfections, he will not give this saving grace to you without evidence of true faith in him and all that he said.

The only kind of faith that can save you is the kind that Abraham had... the kind that would sacrifice your only son if that is what God required of you. Don't take our word for it; and above all, don't take the word of all the other more popular authorities in the world. Just start reading the teachings of Jesus for yourself in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As you read, ask yourself what he expected of his followers. And then start obeying him like your salvation depended on it. Because it does!

(See also Willing To Be Made Willing?, and Billy Graham.)

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