From the True Jesus
The world is under strong pressure to turn their backs on the true Christ of the Bible in order to advance a multireligious receptiveness to the appearance of the false Christ of all faiths. The coming Messiah-King of the deceived world will be the Antichrist, the great adversary of the true Christ. An increasing number of people are positively inclined towards his coming, and are completely ignorant of the fact that they were deceived by the devil to engage in paving the way for the appearance of a false prince of peace for all of humanity.
It is inevitable that there should first be a large-scale defection from the truth before the lies of a false Christ can be instilled in people’s hearts. That is exactly what is happening today. A wide spectrum of believers – including a large number of theologians and pastors – are involved in the process of apostatising which leads from truth to error. Many of those who were formerly followers of the exclusive and unique Christian faith in which Jesus is the only Saviour of the world, have made a transition to an inclusive, interfaith approach, thus becoming protagonists of another Jesus, the Antichrist.
How could such a radical mind shift occur among people who have free access to the Bible and should have known better? Deception is always the consequence of ignorance, unbelief, or exposure to false teachings. Such people are ignorant of the full extent of divine truth. They either do not read the Bible or don’t believe what they have read and therefore do not have strong spiritual convictions and a clear Christian frame of reference. The Lord Jesus has warned us with particular reference to the end-time: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). When enough doubt on the true Christ has been sown in a person’s heart, he will start backsliding and easily become a follower of false prophets and false christs (Matt. 24:24).
According to the Bible, this process of falling away from the truth will take on unprecedented proportions in the end-time since this is the prophesied time for the revelation of the false Christ. The rejection of the true Christ occurs during the following three stages:
A weakening of love for Christ
- “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). While the world is becoming more wicked in preparing for the revelation of “the man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3), many Christians are also lured into a permissive lifestyle which carries them away from the Lord Jesus. A true walk with Christ demands a commitment towards self-denial, sanctification, and the filling of the Holy Spirit. When believers fail to strive after these noble objectives they are drawn away from the Lord by indulging in sin, pride and other fleshly lusts.
- Paul says that, already in the first century, many of the “brethren in Christ” had openly backslidden from Christ into a life of sin, and emphasised that carelessness of this nature exposed them to the possibility of becoming completely apostatised: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily ... lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13). We should not give place to the devil in our lives (Eph. 4:27) as that would harm our relationship with Jesus and ultimately destroy it.
- Excessive materialism also has devastating consequences as it causes people to grow cold spiritually by first becoming lukewarm, which is repulsive to Christ: “So then, because you are lukewarm ... I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:16-17). Such people are led away from the spiritual riches of the Lord by their own achievements and prosperity: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness” (1 Tim. 6:10).
- Another important reason for the spiritual cooling down towards Jesus Christ is deception. False teachers often misrepresent Jesus by offering a biased and distorted image of Him in which some of His divine attributes are either ignored or openly denied, thus proclaiming a false Jesus. Paul said to a deceived and backslidden congregation: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus ... you put up with it well” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). Believers are doctrinally carried away from the true Christ. If this process is not checked, complete alienation from the truth may soon follow.
Straying from Christ
Someone who no longer truly loves the Lord Jesus makes room for other kinds of love in his life – love for himself, for sin, for earthly riches and even (at the cost of Christ) for his church and his pastor. Jesus Christ reprimanded a church of this nature as follows: “I have this against you, that you have left you first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4-5). This was not the first warning against apostatising that the church in Ephesus had received. Paul earlier warned them that after his departure they would be deceived by false teachers and drawn away from Christ (Acts 20:29-30). None of these warnings were heeded.
With the passage of time, the congregation gradually discontinued their true fellowship with Christ and subsequently only used His name as a mere symbol of a vague and far-away Deity. Instead of maintaining an active relationship with Him they pursued other loves and selfish objectives. They did not rearrange their priorities by returning to their almost forgotten first love, but preferred to persist with their unbiblical loves and dead form of godliness.
The church in Ephesus had an unteachable spirit and was stubbornly committed to the proclaiming of their typical form of deception. Even after having received a letter of admonishment from the risen Christ Himself, through the ministry of the Apostle John (Rev. 2:1-7), they failed to repent from their error and the Lord ultimately withdrew His Spirit from them. Subsequently, the empty, humanistic sermons on good works and loving your neighbour that were preached by their pastors, but without regeneration and a vital relationship with Christ, became irrelevant and boring to most of the deceived and self-centred members. They started leaving the church in large numbers, the congregation dissolved, the church building fell into disuse and later became dilapidated. Throughout the centuries, only a forsaken ruin was the quiet testimony of a once vibrant congregation of Christ that existed in Ephesus during the distant past. Intense spiritual darkness enfolded this entire country (the present Turkey) and it became a stronghold of a major non-Christian religion to this very day.
Many people find themselves in the same situation today. Despite various admonitions and warnings they continue to stray from the Lord Jesus and ultimately sever their relationship with Him altogether. Paul even warned Timothy against such a possibility: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of which I am chief. ... Wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander” (1 Tim. 1:15, 18-20).
In his second pastoral letter to Timothy, Paul again refers to these defectors from a former life of faith: “[They] have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:18). Today, the situation is much worse as there are scores of apostate theologians who claim that there was no resurrection of Christ – neither will believers in Him rise from the dead at the first resurrection before the millennium (cf. Luke 14:14; Rev. 20:6).
The faith of many modern believers is overthrown in the uncharted waters of rational postmodernism because of their rejection of scientifically inexplicable miracles and other supernatural interventions by God. They have left their first love and became shipwrecked in their spiritual lives since, among others, they no longer believe in the resurrection of Christ and His disciples (1 Cor. 15:17-23). Such people do not heed biblical counsel on how to remain anchored to biblical truth, and also fail to nurture their spiritual lives by growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Neither do they know how to remain spiritually standing against the incessant attacks and deception of the Evil One (Eph. 6:10-13; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 2 Pet. 3:17; 1 Tim. 4:1).
It is evident to true disciples of Christ that apostatised “Christians” are only nominal believers as they no longer maintain a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Some are doctrinally deceived and do not believe in the true gospel message. Others are morally entangled in sin. They are, like the lost son, completely caught up in a worldly lifestyle of materialism, unbridled humanistic liberties, extravagant parties, double standards and other sins. They are also called upon to repent from their waywardness and return to the Father’s house. If they don’t, they will die in their sins and bear the consequences of their rebellion.
Verbal blaspheming is only one form of the dishonouring of God’s Name. Many people are engaging in such persistent blasphemy that they cannot even utter two sentences without taking the name of God in vain in all its forms. There are many other ways in which God is insulted, blasphemed and belittled by His adversaries. Spiritual treason against Him is particularly common. Blasphemers relentlessly attack the Triune God in an effort to negatively present the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit by distorting and ridiculing their divine image and attributes, equating them with idols, and even denying their existence.
Among the group of blasphemers there is also a large number of theologians who do everything possible to deprive Jesus of His deity and depicting Him as an ordinary human prophet. They deny His supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit, His oneness with the Father, the redemptive significance of His crucifixion, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension, and the promise of His second coming from heaven. Modern science is their “god” and they do not accept any deity, person of phenomenon that is believed to have supernatural qualities.
Humanistic theologians regard the biblical Jesus who is worshipped by evangelical, Bible-believing Christians as the “cultic Jesus”. To them, He is a fictional deity who originated from the idealistic thinking of the apostles and early church fathers. They were allegedly envious of the gods worshipped by the heathen nations and subsequently created their own god by subjectively declaring Jesus to be God. To them He is the human manifestation of the Triune God (Col. 1:15; 2:9).
According to rationalistic theologians, the biblical Jesus who originated from heaven as the Son of God and God Himself, never existed. They offer their own, humanly conceptualised Jesus, i.e. the “historical Jesus”, as a substitute for the “biblical Jesus of faith.” This Jesus is not the supernatural God-Man, his crucifixion is not related to the forgiveness of sins, and he merely came to teach us the virtues of love, humility, tolerance, and compassion towards marginalised people in society, thereby giving rise to a social gospel. The main emphasis of their ministry is the rendering of assistance to poor and oppressed people. Furthermore, they apply Christian tolerance to our relationship with other faiths to justify interfaith relations and multireligious ecumenical ties.
In the USA, the proponents of theological rationalism established the Jesus Seminar in 1985, through which an alternative “historical Jesus” is offered to the world under the inspiration of the devil himself (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-8). Leaders of this movement were also invited to South Africa, and here they openly scoffed at the alleged supernatural attributes of Jesus. According to them, His crucifixion was a mere political act (the execution of criminals) with no atoning value, He was never buried, His body was probably eaten by dogs, and He never rose from the dead. They also branded His Father as a vindictive God for surrendering His Son to such severe suffering and cruel death on the cross.
The acceptance of this extreme heresy of the historical Jesus led to a growing movement in South Africa, which deeply penetrated most of the theological faculties in the country. People who have adopted a mindset in favour of “another Jesus” are forerunners of the Antichrist. Already in the first century, the Lord Jesus has warned agnostic Jewish leaders that if they rejected Him they would, through their own ignorance and unbelief, throw in their lot with the false Messiah (John 5:43). They will embrace this impostor with open arms when he comes.
Precautionary measures against apostatising
If we are sure about our salvation we should strive after a pure heart and the filling of the Holy Spirit. We should perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1), as then alone Christ would be fully seen in us. He must increase in our lives while we keep on decreasing (John 3:30). We should develop spiritually to ensure that we grow up “to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:13-14). That is our only guarantee against backsliding.
When Christians do not grow up in the Lord, spiritual stagnation will follow which is highly conducive to backsliding. The sliding track of apostatising is a serious and dangerous place to be in as it leads to death if a person does not turn around in time. James says, “... and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas. 1:15).
It is therefore very important that the signs of backsliding be detected at an early stage and that appropriate steps be taken to check it. Firstly, a person grows cold in his love towards Jesus Christ. The reasons for this situation will be obvious as it is always caused by sin or spiritual deception of one or other kind. If a person fails to address the problem he will wander away further from Christ and eventually lose his first love. Should he still not come to his senses and repent he will end up among the mockers (Ps. 1:1). Here he will associate with agnostics and other people who ridicule the Christian faith.
In an advanced stage of apostatising, the power of delusion will be working so strongly in the backslider that he will believe the lies of the great adversary of Jesus (2 Thess. 2:11). Under the influence of satanic deception he will then be prepared to enter into a covenant with the Antichrist, oblivious of the fact that it will lead to his final and everlasting ruin (Rev. 14:9-11).
that they should believe a lie:
(2 Thess. 2:11)
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind,
be sober, and hope to the end for the grace
that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
(1 Peter 1:13)