Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] Jesus Christ foretold the major trends that would come before His return to this earth. Do you know His first sign that He mentioned? It wasn’t wars, it wasn’t famines, it wasn’t pestilence, and it wasn’t earthquakes. It was religious imposters!
Jesus prophesied that these false religious leaders would come in His name. So how seriously do you take that warning?
Jesus Christ cautioned us all that before His second coming, a series of events would lead up to the critical point of our time. Yet surprisingly, Christ said that these were just the “beginning of sorrows” or the “beginning of birth pains.” So just as labor contractions get stronger and closer together as the delivery approaches, so these terrible trends would come with more and more intensity and frequency as the end of the age approaches. These chilling developments cannot be avoided.
Do you understand what lies ahead? What exactly did Christ mean by His warning? Today’s program focuses on a startling teaching of Jesus that surprisingly, most Christians don’t understand. Stayed tuned to Beyond Today as we discuss “Shocking Teachings of Jesus: False Christs.”
[Announcer] Join our host Steve Myers and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] Jesus Christ is concerned about you. So much, that He forewarned you about a deception. It just may be the most serious kind of fraud—false religion.
Notice how Jesus’ specifically warned all of us: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5, KJV).
What exactly was His warning saying? Many translators of modern versions of the Bible conclude that Jesus was only talking about those who would claim to actually be the Christ or the Messiah themselves. Over time, there certainly have been such people. And later in that same conversation, Jesus did warn that at the end of the age, “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24).
So part of His warning was—we must be vigilant. Watch out. Don’t ever be fooled by anyone falsely claiming to be Christ or someone saying that they are the coming Messiah.
But is that all there is to Jesus’ caution? Remember what He said in verse 5. He said that many would come in His name. So we have to ask, have there been many people that have claimed to be Jesus Himself over the years?
Well there have been a few, but there haven’t been many. And of those claiming to truly be the Christ, how many were actually taken seriously? Certainly, not many individuals claiming to be Jesus have actually been taken seriously. If you check out Wikipedia, it lists only 33 people who have claimed to be a Christian messiah since the time of Jesus Christ.
These few false Christ’s did not deceive what would you say, “many” in the two thousand years since Jesus’ prediction. And, there hasn’t been a huge increase in the number of those deceivers in recent centuries. Now, it’s been interesting to note that there has been a definite increase in the other prophesied signs of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. So what was Jesus saying?
Some have wondered if Jesus was talking about a different kind of Messiah. They speculate that He referred to a false savior figure—like the Roman emperors of New Testament times or perhaps Napoleon, Hitler, Mao or others in our modern era. But this is not the way that Jesus’ disciples would have understood the meaning of “the Christ” or “the Messiah.” They knew He was speaking of the prophesied anointed spiritual king.
So this brings us to a crucial aspect of what that prophecy of Jesus was talking about. He said, “Many shall come in my name “—His name being Jesus. He’s indicating that they would come in His name. Not that they would assume His identity—they wouldn’t have His name or actually claim to be the Christ. Instead, Jesus is saying, they would presume to represent Him.
Now this is important: these people would claim to be Christians, claim to serve God, claim to speak on behalf of Jesus—but in reality, they do not.
So a clearer interpretation of what Jesus meant in Matthew 24 would be: “Take heed that no one deceives you by saying they speak for Me, Many will come claiming to represent Me [the Christ], yet they will lead many astray.”
This is reflected in several Bible translations:
“Many will come using my name…, and they will deceive many people (GW).”
“For many will come on the basis of My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’. And they will deceive many (DLNT).”
“Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come… and they will fool many people (GNT).”
You see, Christ warned that many would proclaim and preach Jesus and would claim to be His representatives—but they would actually be part of a religious deception.
His prophecy shows that the great end-time delusion will parade under the banner of Christianity. Shockingly, this Christian looking religious hoax is happening all around us!
Jesus said that these people—declaring to represent Him are actually false preachers, false teachers. They claim to be Christian, but they’re spreading deception and deceiving more and more people as the end of the age nears.
The apostle Paul spoke about this religious lie as well: “Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They’re as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse” (2 Timothy 3:13, MSG). You see, not only do they deceive others about the truth of the Bible and God’s way, these false teachers, they themselves are deceived.
Jesus gave us many strong warnings about false ministers and teachers: “Be on your guard against false religious teachers, who come to you dressed up as sheep but are really greedy wolves” (Matthew 7:15, Phillips). The Living Bible puts it this way: “Beware of false teachers who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are wolves and will tear you apart.”
Instead of being Christ-like shepherds, these false teachers—these deceitful ministers only appear to be Jesus’ followers. What would they look like today? Today they look good. They look right. They look like Christian pastors, teachers and evangelists, but their true nature is like one who devours the lives of the unsuspecting—just like a killer wolf among the flock.
This same metaphor was used to warn the Church leaders in Ephesus: “I know that as soon as I’m gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. So stay awake and keep up your guard” (Acts 20:29-30, MSG).
Even though these false ministers were already around in the first century, there is no doubt that they’re here now. But you don’t have to be fooled. You don’t have to be taken in by their teachings. So how can you identify these imposters?
Jesus explained: “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17). Jesus is saying that you can know by looking at visible results, visible outcomes. In other words, He’s telling us that you can know who is on the same page as Christ and who is not.
Here’s how. Jesus gives us an example of what to look for in evaluating truth: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). You see, simply calling Jesus “Lord,” merely recognizing Him won’t be enough.
Then notice: “Many people will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not preach in Your Name? Did we not put out demons in Your Name? Did we not do many powerful works in Your Name?” (Matthew 7:22, NLV).
The reality of what Jesus predicted is that these pastors, these preachers come in the name of Jesus’—and they do works in His name. They preach and they teach saying they speak for Him. But their lives are not truly conformed to God’s will and His way. Jesus concludes, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:23).
These individuals are deceived about their own spiritual standing. They think they have a special relationship with Jesus—but He ends up telling them they are gravely mistaken. Imagine that. He says that in reality, He doesn’t know them at all.
Well why not? Because they don’t honor God by obeying His law. The Bible clearly tells us: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4).
Jesus says He doesn’t know them and they don’t know Him. In fact, He’s telling us too—that if we really know Him, if we really understand what He requires, it’s obedience. And Christ clearly stated in Matthew 19:17, “If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments” (CEB).
This is a critical factor that Jesus emphasized time after time. He said: “Whoever… breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called the least [by those] in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).
Did you notice why they’re disgraced? Christ said it’s because they disobey God and teach others to disobey Him. So it’s not just a matter of they themselves disregarding God’s commandments—they also promote and teach others that same disregard for God’s true way. And that can include their words or their examples.
So just like Christ predicted, this trend has gotten worse and worse in religion. Have you ever noticed how He applied these principles? For instance, Jesus corrected the religious leaders of His day for having many religious sounding traditions that discarded God’s actual commandments. He said: “why do you break God’s commandment through your tradition?… your tradition empties the commandment of God of all its meaning. You hypocrites! Isaiah describes you beautifully when he said: ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:3-9, Phillips).
That’s a shocking teaching of Jesus. It’s actually possible to worship God in vain. Imagine—useless worship! So Christ poses a question we all must answer. Are you worshipping God uselessly?
Do you really obey the teachings of Jesus? For example He said, “the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Well do you worship God on the day that is His day? The Sabbath—it’s not just any day. The Sabbath is not Sunday. Jesus set the example and taught that He is Lord of the Sabbath—Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. That is the day to come together for collective worship.
So do you follow Jesus’ teaching? Do you worship in the way that He commanded? Remember Jesus said, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4).
Ministers and churches that ignore the weekly Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, they fall into that category that Christ warned about—useless worship.
Have you noticed the trend? Has worship now become more about the free premium coffee and the snacks or is it to come together and praise and worship of God on His day? Don’t forget, Jesus was referring to the Fourth Commandment. Not a suggestion, but a commandment. The Bible clearly says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Have you ever wondered worshipping on the biblical Sabbath?
Ask yourself: Do I praise and worship God and Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, on the day that He created? Does my church recognize that from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset is the Sabbath, God’s day of rest and worship? Does my pastor’s teaching match with the teachings of Jesus or is there a difference? You could even ask your minister about this shocking biblical teaching.
Notice what God says in His Word: “You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to me. No matter where you live, you must rest on the Sabbath and come together for worship. This law will never change” (Leviticus 23:3, CEV).
Yet, you may be told it doesn’t matter when you worship or how you worship. But wait—the shocking teaching of Jesus is clear: “If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments” (Matthew 19:17). So as you consider that teaching—ask your pastor about it. Does the answer match with Jesus’ teaching?
Don’t fall into the dangerous trap of thinking this was done away. This command was not altered or changed to Sunday or any other day. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Far from destroying or abolishing the law, Jesus said He came to fill the law to the full—to complete it and perfect it. To give it it’s true spiritual meaning. He did this by showing the deeper spiritual intent and application of the law.
Do you understand that deeper meaning of Jesus’ teaching? Does your church? Does your pastor? Do you uphold this clear teachings of Christ?
Now, listen carefully! It’s possible to be a false minister and not be a hypocrite. What I mean is, someone preaching that God’s law was nailed to the cross or that you don’t have to observe the Sabbath, may be completely sincere in his or her belief—a nice person. But the problem is, it’s still a wrong teaching!
The apostle Paul warns us: “For such are false apostles and deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15, MEV).
Yet, here’s what’s so critically important to ask: Are they truly honest to the Bible? Do they follow the accurate teachings found in God’s Word? Ask them about what you’ve been learning. Being faithful to the truth of God must be the most important thing of all to us.
When Jesus Christ said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), He was speaking of the events, the actions, the commandments and the truths of God—they should not be broken. So, to do helpful things—to do good works and yet not be honest to the Bible is vain worship. Not to recognize the authority of Scripture—it’s more than bad. Jesus said, anything else is counterfeit and actually evil.
Remember—just being nice is not the measure of godliness. Being sincere is not the measure of right and wrong. God defines what is right and He does it by His laws and His commandments. Unfortunately, Christianity in general has rejected many of God’s clear instructions. You don’t want to be in that category.
Jesus’ prophecy of false teachers coming in His name, claiming to represent Him and speaking on His behalf began almost right from the start. Today, as He prophesied, the heresy has grown and grown so that “Many men, claiming to speak for me, [for Christ] will come… and they will deceive many people” (Matthew 24:4-5).
Now it’s become a heretical system that the apostle Paul referred to as “the mystery of lawlessness,” which he said was “already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
You see, this false Christianity—a pretty scary deceitful system was prophesied to persist until the end of the age: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).
The book of Revelation also refers to this deceptive mystery religion that appears “like a lamb”—looking Christ-like, but speaking “like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). So we know this is an extremely powerful “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
What Jesus, the apostle Paul and the book of Revelation describe is a great counterfeit religion. A world-dominating false Christianity led by Satan and his priests, his pastors and teachers, who appear as ministers of righteousness.
Now as shocking as it may sound, most of those who claim the name of Christian are actually a part of those who come in Jesus’ name, trying to representing Him—but as He predicted, they shall deceive many.
Here’s a short quiz to see if you’re being trapped by this deceitful counterfeit Church and its false Christs. Ask yourself:
1. Do I know God’s commands? Do I follow them?
There is no question, Jesus tells us “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
2. Have I ignored important biblical truth and God’s commandments in favor of popular traditions?
Do I celebrate unbiblical holidays that look Christian, yet are merely ungodly days covered with a Christian coating?
3. Do I believe the Bible and obey? After all Jesus said He is Lord of the Sabbath, so do I observe and worship on the Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset every week?
Well, how’d you do? I pray you passed the test. You don’t want to be found worshipping God in vain. So let’s all beware and be watchful.
We’ve heard a lot to consider regarding Jesus’ shocking true teachings on today’s program. The truth of the Bible certainly stands in stark contrast to traditional religious concepts.
Up next, I’m going to further discuss this startling teaching of Jesus with our Beyond Today panel, but first let’s recap what we’ve discovered today:
Jesus warned that most of those who claim to represent Him actually don’t.
Simply calling Jesus “Lord” or merely recognizing Him, it’s just not enough.
We can’t disobey God and we can’t listen to those who are not being honest to the Bible.
We must recognize the authority of Scripture and follow God’s commandments.
So consider your church and examine your practice and determine whether you’re truly following Jesus Christ and not worshiping in vain.
To discuss the surprising teachings of Christ further—fellow BT hosts Darris McNeely and Gary Petty join me.
Why do you think that Christ was so focused on this issue of false Christs?
[Darris] Because He knew first of all that there was a deceiver, an arch deceiver, Satan the devil. And, that Satan was always countering the plan of God.
[Gary] You know, any organization, a sports team, a church needs leadership. And so churches need pastors, they need leaders. But, church leaders have to be very careful that in their leadership they don’t begin to take on a messianic role. There is only one Messiah and that is Jesus Christ, so we all have to be aware of that.
[Steve] So how exactly do you do that? How do you determine whether I am following someone that’s really not on the same page as Christ?
[Darris] Well look. For an individual who has been watching Beyond Today for some time, they understand, if you have been digging into it, what we teach—the Sabbath, the Holy Days. Here’s a test, go to your teacher, go to your pastor, go to someone that you respect as a religious teacher and ask them what you are learning and ask them why they aren’t teaching it. And judge that response then by what the Scripture says and then you will have a standard to look to and it will probably create a decision point for you as well.
[Gary] You know, we have to admit too, we’re all pastors.
[Gary] And there’s been times in our lives where we’ve all had to face with honesty the Scripture. And all of us have had to change and we will change. And we will continue to change. I mean, we all have to be honest with the Scripture, so we have to be willing to say this is our standard.
[Darris] And let’s not forget Steve, in our Beyond Today Live appearances, we’ve had ministers come up to us who have been teachers of the Bible for decades and I’ve had them tell me that, as they’ve learned from Beyond Today , they’ve learned that they were wrong. And so our message does convict even teachers of the Bible.
[Steve] So the challenge is then, what do we personally do in order to avoid the deception?
[Darris] We have to be like the Bereans. Acts 17, the apostle Paul came across a group of people who searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. They searched in a very critical manner the Scriptures, almost like a legal process of discovery. And that’s how we have to approach the Scriptures and weigh what we’ve thought, what we’ve been taught against the standard of the Word of God.
[Gary] And with this critical thought we also have to have humility before the Word of God. And I just encourage people, pick up the Bible, go to the Gospels and read the life of Jesus Christ. And what He taught and how He lived and start there and be humble with that message.
[Steve] That is so critical. Because throughout the program today, we’ve covered some pretty important differences. Perhaps shocking discrepancies between Jesus’ teachings and Christianity itself. It’s hard to imagine that it’s actually possible to go to church and not really be following Jesus. So how can you discern the genuine teachings of Jesus Christ as opposed to the others, especially when we’re drawing so near to the end of the age?
Well to help you do this, we have a free Bible study aid: Are We Living in the Time of the End? This valuable booklet will help you better understand who Jesus Christ truly was and what He actually taught during His 3 ½ year ministry.
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Jesus warned that if we are not careful, falsehood can take root and grow like a cancer. Even though it may be difficult to spot a false teacher or minister, there is good news. Jesus said, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).
God wants you to be His faithful and trusting son or daughter. If you are shocked by the teachings of Christ, take that opportunity to act. Ask questions and answer them from Scripture. Arm yourself with spiritual knowledge and stay close to the one true God. Be true to the Bible and always recognize the authority of Scripture in your life and you will avoid deception.
That’s the program for today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again for another edition of Beyond Today and join me in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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