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The series of articles that follow were originally emailed to hundreds of people from around the world. Part 1 is similar to the article you have just finished reading, entitled False Christs.

Jesus Christ warned that there would be many "false christs" in the last days. Traditionally, we have been told that these false christs are egotistical leaders in religions outside the mainstream of Christianity. There are a host of new religions, each boasting their own guru or messiah, and the list seems to be growing each year.

But Jesus also said, "Many [of these false christs] will come in my name." (Matthew 24:5) That brings the warning a bit closer to home. According to this, there must be false leaders who try to pass themselves off as followers of Jesus Christ (i.e. who come in his name), and we need to know how to recognise them. Most of us have been told that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses fit this description, and we have been trained in recognising errors in their teachings.

A "false christ" does not have to claim that he or she is equal to (or better than) Jesus to be a false christ. The word "christ" simply means "anointed by God". In other words, anyone who claims to be speaking on behalf of God, (i.e. saying, "I am anointed by God"), is claiming to be a "christ" of sorts. If they really are pointing people to Jesus Christ and his teachings, then their anointing and authority is valid. But if not, then it is a "false anointing" and they are "false christs". It is our job to determine whether they actually do have God's authority in what they are saying. (And it is our job as his "body" to have a true anointing ourselves that results in turning people to Christ and not to ourselves.)

The description Jesus gave of the false christs that would arise in the last days became more specific in Matthew 24:24: "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." Signs and wonders are not the primary teaching of the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses; but they are emphasised by some other religious leaders. So there must be false teachers who appear to be even more genuine than the Mormons and JW's. But they may still be claiming authority that God never really gave them.

When you read the writings of the apostle Paul, you see that he had some serious disagreements with leaders at the very top of the church at that time, and he argued that his own ministry was anointed by God, whereas some of the others were "false apostles". (2 Corinthians 11:13) He brags about having withstood Peter "to the face" when he felt Peter was wrong. (Galatians 2:11) Paul knew that we have to be willing to stand up to anyone if we are to be loyal to the one true Jesus Christ.

Predictions about the last days (i.e. the days in which we are now living) indicate that there will be a great "falling away" (or "apostasy") within the church. (2 Thessalonians 2:3; Matthew 24:12)

So, if we are going to stay true to Jesus the Christ, then we must determine that we will follow Him and Him alone. We must determine that our loyalty will not be divided between Jesus Christ and any other human leader. The Apostle Paul himself said that if he should say anything that came across as being contrary to the gospel that Jesus Himself preached, then he would rather be "cursed" than to let anyone use that as an excuse to turn away from the one true Christ. (Galatians 1:8)

So the point of this letter to you is that we are living in a spiritually dark age, a time of which Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find [any] faith [at all left] on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) It is no longer safe to put your faith in the church as an institution, nor to put your faith in religious leaders simply because they hold positions of political authority in a particular denomination. Each one of us must know in our own hearts how to tell truth from error, and how to tell the teachings of Jesus, the one true Christ, from the teachings of every other person claiming to have authority from God.

It will not be long before Jesus returns; but in the mean time, we are going to be faced with subtleties and deceptions that will deceive everyone except the "very elect". (Matthew 24:24) The "very elect" are those who want to know the truth more than anything else on earth. If we truly hunger and thirst after God's righteousness, as revealed through the teachings of his Son, we will be filled. We will not be deceived. But if we do not have that pure desire to know God's will, then we will latch onto almost anything as an excuse to escape responsibility for following Jesus Christ, (and Jesus Christ alone) in these last days.

If, by some miracle, you are one of those who wants to stay true to the one true Christ in these last days, we want very much to be in contact with you in the days ahead, so that we can encourage one another to stay faithful. We would appreciate hearing from you.

He is coming!

(See also God Has No Grandchildren, and Protestant Popes.)

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