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The Persecuted Church

 

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How did Jesus describe the time of the end would be like, and are we living in the time he spoke of?

Matt. 24:3- 5 “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. Jesus answered by first saying “beware, watch out for deception.” He repeated this warning three times in His Matthew 24 discourse. This is not something that will only concern Israel, but will be a worldwide concern at the end. This becomes the most important sign of the end.

Deception comes in various packages. Some are as innocuous as getting ones focus off the issue at hand. For example The Evangelical Environmental Network believes we are to save our environment just like we do people, the gospel is applied to all of creation. In there statement of faith they make the point we are to worship only the Creator - never His creation. Nearly 500 Christian leaders have signed EEN's Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation <http://www.creationcare.org/Resources/Declaration/declaration.html>. This seems to be a growing trend of wanting to save the worlds eco system along with the Christian message. This has been the new age message all along and is now being adopted by evangelistic churches and organizations. There is the Eco-Justice Working Group under the National Council of Churches, which has all kinds of churches and organizations signed to work for a better environment.

Today a good portion of the church have become busy uniting with those who disbelieve to make a more pleasant world where we can all live in peace. So we have numerous people from churches working on peace efforts with other religions.

The World Congress of Faiths believes that understanding between people of different religions is important for good community relations, for moral and spiritual renewal and for world peace.

Many of the globalist environmentalist organizations that call themselves interfaith, are not only dismissing the Gospel, they are actively promoting the eastern mystical religions among Christians. Within this framework there are those who claim Christianity that want to change the Christ of the Christians Matthew Fox states “ Perhaps a new (The Coming of the Cosmic Christ by Matthew Fox, 1988)

California Bishop Swing decided to bring together people of different religions and spiritual traditions, The united Religions Initiative (URI) is said to be a growing global community dedicated to promoting enduring daily interfaith cooperation, they seek to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. titled Sourcebook of World Religions: An Interfaith Guide to Religion and Spirituality is available from New World Library

URI has been approved as a Non-Governmental Organization associated with the United Nations!

The United Religions Initiative also works with UNESCO, along with them we have the world council of churches, and the world parliament of religions.

In their preamble they state we unite to build cultures of peace and justice. We unite to heal and protect the Earth.

A Call for Evangelical Renewal Chicago Declaration II In 1973 a group of evangelical Christians gathered in Chicago to offer a declaration of social concern. They state, “We dream of a Church that leads in caring for creation and calls Christians to serve as faithful partners of God in renewing and sustaining God's handiwork. These organizations foster the view that all religions (in which they include Christianity) share the same God and are one in their ultimate ambitions.

What we are seeing is  “ecumenism” transitioning to the “interfaithism.” This is part of the deception Jesus warned of.

However there is a greater mobilization taking place within the churches walls. Within the Matt.24 construct Jesus goes on to say, “For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.” Not a few, but many. His discourse in Mt.24 helps us have insight to the spiritual state of the world prior to His return. They will not come in the name of Buddha, not Mohammed, not Bah’u’llh etc.. Why? Because it is Jesus’ name that is the name above all names in this age and in the age to come. It is His name they will claim when they try to deceive, and it is a wake up call for the Church. For Jesus warned at the end, half the virgins would fall asleep and have no oil to give them light. If your not awake seeing the deception sweeping the world, nor standing against it, you may be one of the virgins that fall’s asleep.

If the very first thing he warns the disciples about is deception, how much more should we be on guard almost 2,000 years later just before His coming! This word for deception is an interesting one; it refers to when the one sheep wanders astray from the fold or from the truth into error. We are living in days he warned of almost 2,000 years ago, a time of spiritual deception. Personally being involved in cult and religion evangelism I have never seen before what is happening today.

I wish I could say it is the cults that are the problem but it is not. Don’t get me wrong they are a huge issue and we need to know about them. People do leave the Church because of their persuasive lies. For example the Mormons have 11 and a half million members now and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have reached 14 million. But it’s not from the outside that brings the most danger to our house, our family and church, but what’s on the inside.

I'm not laying down any new doctrine or trying to be provocative. I'm just speaking my conviction from the Word of God; we have missed an important point to the “false Christs” of today.

Let me ask you are we still sitting waiting for this prophecy to be fulfilled? Are we still waiting for a single “false Messiah” or a number of such characters to appear on the public scene first? This may be a dangerous position to take if we exclude the Church from deception, I think many of us have missed the main meaning of this particular passage, Jesus is not warning the world, but the Church. “Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.” Many, not a few, and it becomes obvious they must have a platform inside the church to do this.

For someone to be called the Messiah is nothing new. However history shows that no one had claimed to be Christ before Jesus’ time. There were warrior type messiahs who tried to liberate the Jewish people before Jesus that were executed by the Romans, but none claimed to be the Christ. Christ is an exclusive Jewish term found in the Holy Scriptures, not in other religions. But many have adopted its terminology ignoring its exclusive meaning of being only one of a kind. God’s “only begotten son” is the Only Christ.

In Acts 5:34-40 Gamaliel recalls Theudas who gathered 400 people and proclaimed himself as the Messiah, but was killed and his followers scattered. At the time of the census, during Jesus’ birth, Judas of Galilee had met the same fate. Even after Jesus in 130 A.D., Bar Cochba was a messiah who led a revolt in Rome at the time of Hadrian and was killed. Rabbi Akiba was also proclaimed as Messiah; his revolt was filled with bloodshed and failed. Then there was Moses of Crete who was to part the waters like the Red Sea; he jumped in and drowned along with the rest of his followers who could not swim. In 720 A.D. Abu Isa from Baghdad became famous for being the only messianic coward on record. The list grows more sordid as history progresses. In 1750 Jacob Frank announced his Messiahship and had Leib Krysa, a self- proclaimed prophet, act as John the Baptist and announced Frank as Christ in Poland. Jacob Frank replaced Jesus in the Trinity as the Son of God and was quickly put in chains by the Roman Catholic poles, only to be set free by the Greek Orthodox Russians. He later lived his life in extravagance and he and his followers vanished from the scene. Ten years later Baal Shem Tov, meaning “master of the name” entered his claim to fame. He is reputed to be the founder of early Chasidim. He was the first Messiah “wanna be” actually to have miracles accredited to himself.

Skipping over several hundred years with numerous prophets who predicted the end of the world, we land in the year 1787 with mother Ann Lee. She had a vision while in prison that she was to restore true Christianity, establishing a perfect society on earth. So began the Shakers, who believed Mother Ann Lee was the second coming on earth, and that the kingdom was beginning with the Shaker church.

Then there was Bah’u’llh, who broke off from Islam and founded the Bah’’s in the 1844. He called himself the “glory of God;” after he died his followers said he was the fulfillment of the second coming of Christ. Believers of Bah’u’llh said, “He is the Promised One of all Religions, whose coming was foretold in all the sacred Scriptures” (Welcome to the Bah’ House of Worship, p. 2). In our modern time we are all familiar with two destructive men who led many to their deaths and called themselves Christ: David Koresh in 1994 and Jim Jones of the People’s Temple in Guyana, 1978. Their names have become dreaded bywords in our time. In 1982 Benjamen Crme advertised in newspapers all over the world that THE CHRIST was now here. Crme claimed a Pakistani named Maitreya was an ascended master and the Christ of our age. And presented him as a teacher for people of every religion and even no religion.

In 1992 Revelation Sung Myung Moon declared himself as the Lord of the 2nd advent, the Messiah. Where Jesus failed in his mission Reverend Moon was supposed to succeed through his mission is to bring an age of peace by his message of families and marriage. Maitreya the new age Christ says the Christ spirit is him; He is the one that overshadowed Jesus at his baptism. His solution is for everyone to do service to humanity and usher in the age of peace. We can see that there are not just a few who call themselves Christ. On one occasion Evangelist Morris Cerullo told his audience “You’re not looking at Morris Cerullo-you’re looking a t God; you’re looking at God. You’re looking at Jesus.” (Morris Cerullo, The Endtime Manifestation of the Sons of God, (San Diego: Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, n.d.), audiotape 1, sides1 & 2. Popular healer Benny Hinn stated “I am mashiach,” in the Hebrew. I am a little messiah walking on earth, in other words.... May I say it like this? You are a little god on earth running around (Praise-a-Thon TBN, Nov. 6 1990) But he didn’t stop there he called us all the same, “Christians are little messiahs. Christians are little gods." ("Praise-a-thon (TBN),11/90, “Our position in Christ,” tapeA031190-1)

There are more people saying they’re Christ, the Messiah today, than at any time in history. This is going on inside and outside the church. This is just the warm up for the real thing that is soon to take place.

Matthew 24:5 Jesus said, “Many will come in my name.” In Greek the phrase “ in my name” also means His authority; they base their claims and authority on the use of Jesus’ name. In other words they claim their authority is from God and Christ, that they were sent from Him, they represent him or have a special mission. So in this way Cult leaders and new-age “messiahs” come “in My Name”, but they do not necessarily have to claim to be Jesus. Notice For many will come in his name. they say they received their authority from Christ, not from Buddha, not Mohammed, not Baha’u’llah. These religious leaders came in Christ’s name. This would include Islam as they believe Mohammed is the comforter Christ sent and the last prophet equal to, or greater than Jesus; Bahais believe Baha’u’llah is the second coming of Christ, and that he is the last prophet and all should become Bahai.

This passage does not just have the narrow meaning of those claiming they are Jesus. This is not the only thing Jesus meant. I think we have missed an important point about the “false Christs” Jesus warned of. Yes, there have been many who said they were Jesus; but there are also many false teachers today who are a fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus did not say they will only come in his name but they will also be saying, 'I am the Christ.” The Greek wording is “pseudochristos” from two words “pseudes” (untrue, erroneous, deceitful, wicked: false, liars) and “christos” meaning anointed-- the anointed. These are false anointed ones. They will say, “I am Christ, “Christed”(anointed), just as Jesus was a man who was “christed,” (anointed) which was a early heresy in the Church by the Gnostics. The word Christ means anointed (one). While it is in reference to His person, it also has another meaning. People will say, “I am anointed too; they will claim to have power just like Jesus. Jesus also said they will say “Christ” (the anointing) is in the inner rooms or out in the wilderness, meaning he will be in different places all over the world. Isn’t that exactly what we are hearing today?

Christians are to PRAY “in his Name,” they minister “in his Name.” They preach and do good works “in his Name” using His the authority, power, strength, and teachings of Jesus Christ are our reference point and source for all we do. Nonetheless there was never any apostle who called himself using the term “anointed” for himself, yet today we have a huge group saying this today.

Jesus Christ alone had the title “Christ” because He is The Anointed One. God anointed Him as Priest, Prophet and King. We have the anointing but it certainly does not mean the same thing as he being the anointed, the messiah.

I Jn. 2:27: “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” Notice it was given; past tense, we received it. In other words, (He) is implanted in us. It’s not a matter of us getting more of the Spirit, as much as it is giving more of ourselves to him. As we surrender areas our lives to Him so He is able to rule over and control us, thus we are continually being filled with the Spirit. Is the anointing teaching you the truth and helping you discern truth from error?

False prophets had already begun inside the Church after the last apostle. One of the more influential was Montanus in Phrygeria in Asia minor in the late 1st cent ...declared the age of the Holy spirit had come and the end of the world was soon coming. They believed the prophetic revelation continued, speaking in the first person of the paraclete given by the prophetess Priscilla and maximilla, He and his two prophetesses went about prophesying in the name of the Spirit, and foretelling the speedy second coming of Christ.” Phrygeria was to be the New Jerusalem. Joseph Smith said the Independence, Miss. was to be the New Jerusalem. There is a man on TV here in Hawaii that says Makakilo will be the New Jerusalem.

Matt. 24:23-25 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. "For false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. "See, I have told you beforehand.”

Lets break it down and see what he is saying here. They will be accompanied by not just signs and wonders, but GREAT signs and wonders. The word for great is large, mighty, loud. The purpose is to deceive and it has a target, US, the elect.

The word for “Signs” distinguishes them from others, the great (greek- megas) great as in the external form or appearance of things. In particular, of space and its dimensions. In this case used of things which overstep the province of a created being, proud (presumptuous) things, full of arrogance, derogatory to the majesty of God.

The word “possible: is dunatos; coming from the root of dunamis meaning powerful or capable. It has an ability because of its power, strength to do something. That something is to deceive even the elect.

So this verse literally reads more accurately that “false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and convince by great signs and wonders deceiving, among the elect. In other words their target will be the elect to remove them from the faith.

This great deception that is to take place in the last days was prophesied by the Lord to inform us when we could know his coming is near. This becomes a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of the world as well as the church. Paul, Peter, John all wrote about men with designs to deceive God’s people. In almost every letter of the New Testament we are admonished, warned about being deceived in various ways. It’s not the elect who will do all the signs and wonders. We may do some, but Jesus is addressing a group of people claiming to have power in an unprecedented manner. It’s the elect who are being tested by them to see who they will be faithful to! This is stated by Jesus Himself who said in v.4, “see to it no one deceives you” and then describes the various ways the deception will come.

There are two elects in Scripture one is Israel the other the church, it can also be used of believers of any time.V.24 is telling us the whole of the elect will not, cannot be deceived. The elect used in this manner is to the whole church, but this does not exclude individual believers being deceived. Because he said in the beginning of his speech in Mt.24 v.4, “see to it no one deceives you.”

Paul warns about Jannes and Jambres, Pharaoh had his magicians, resisting Moses by copying his miracles. The false prophet and the Anti-Christ will do the same by counterfeiting the apostles and Jesus’ miracles. Jesus’ whole warning in Matthew 7:21 and Matthew 24 is about their ability to produce miracles as their false identification of representing him, when in fact the true representation will be of the mystery of lawlessness, of iniquity. This will be found in the signs and wonders at the end of time, as it reach’s its apex from those who claim to “come in his name.” These miracles and wonders have the power in their manifestations as the apostles, but they are sent to deceive us, they lie. One can be awestruck by its strength and unless they listen to the doctrine being taught they will not recognize what the source is. Many things can seem good to human reasoning at first, but when checked with the Word of God, are found false. It appears that scripture makes a direct correlation of false teaching and false prophets that affect the Church in losing its zeal for the truth and compassion for people at the end of time, so the love of many will grow cold.

I often hear people say that the Devil can't heal He comes only to kill steal and destroy, only God can heal. There are also miracles and wonders in the cults who deny the essentials of the Bible. If these are from God it would be inconsistent with his character to authorize falsehood. Does he heal an individual who denies sin, the need for salvation by Christ by distorting the Gospel and even deny who Christ is?

Can anyone say the true God healed someone in the Mormon Church or in some other cult? What about the gurus who boast of healings and great miracles? Certainly to hold the position that only God heals is disastrous. For there are counterfeits, and if they can take place outside the Church they can also take place inside as well. As Paul states in 2 Cor.11:14 they are false apostles, they look like ministers of righteousness, they can have holiness, they have power, but their doctrine and focus is off. You will be able to tell because they make followers after themselves or their unique teaching and more often than not money is involved.

Yes the Devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, mostly “the truth” (Mt.13 the seed). Jesus said he was liar from the beginning and there is no truth in him. But he doesn’t do this by openly challenging or trashing the Word but uses it and applies it in a twisted way. He does not eliminate all the truth but leaves just enough in it to attract. However the purpose is to foster pride and have the focus taken off Christ. God’s truth is in his Word. A lie is not the opposite of truth but is void of truth, it replaces it by adding to the word or changing its meaning so it becomes harmful to those who eat it.

The fact is Miracles are transpiring all over the world in all different religions. many of these miracles we see today have to do with Idolatry and false worship in some way. Apparitions giving new revelation, statues moving eyes, crying, and bleeding. Could something supernatural soon happen that will propel us into a unity unprecedented in our history? I believe it’s coming.

Not all who do miracles in his name are following Christ. We have the example of Judas who cast out the demons and healed along with the other eleven disciples; this needs to be considered in the equation. This can be one explanation for Matthew 7:21, where people used the power of His name and got the same results. But it was a matter of authority, who was in charge. Jesus said they practiced lawlessness. In other words He was not Lord over their lives, but they used His name for power exhibitions and anything their hearts desired, they promoted their ministries by his name (although many of their ministries are named after themselves), it was about them, not Jesus.

Who are these people who claim to be representatives of Christ? Jesus tells us very clearly “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord HAVE WE NOT PROPHESIED IN THY NAME? In thy name CAST OUT DEVILS and in thy name DONE MANY WONDERFUL WORKS? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me” (Matthew 7:22-23). What a scary thing to have said, those who thought they were doing His work by displays of power and offering it to the sheep. We are not immune to deception and if you believe you are then you may already be deceived. Jesus’ last sermon started with, “see to it that no one deceives you” as the theme for the last days, we are in those days.

We are to contend earnestly for the faith [Jude 3 We are to consistently present the truth. That means we will be constantly battling against error.] Jude’s letter is polemic, in other words it was to defend the faith from inside the church instead of apologetic, defending it to those of other religious and spiritual beliefs. The Church is to be the pillar and ground of truth. We have the message that saves and it is to be continually proclaimed as the great commission continues until the end of time. What is the solution to all this? Keep our focus on Jesus continue in His Word, be watchful, continue to occupy with His work until He comes. It’s going to get radical brothers and sisters, but by his grace and through His Spirit He will be there for us all.

 

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