By Nathan Jones
Who will be the ultimate false messiah and false teacher?
I was recently interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we'll look at the very first sign Jesus gave in Matthew 24 which tells us that we are living in the end times — the sign of false teachers.
The Ultimate False Prophet
Vic: First John 4:2-3 says, "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."
The dramatic rise in cults and false prophets today are working up to the ultimate false prophet. That's what you're warning us about, right, Nathan?
Nathan: Correct. A discussion of false prophets and messiahs today actually is working us towards its ultimate fulfillment, and that's the rise of the Antichrist and his False Prophet.
Let's remember the three questions the Apostles asked Jesus about the future in Matthew 24 and Luke 21:
- When will the Temple fall? And we know that happened in history in 70 AD.
- What will be the signs of the end of the age? That is the end of the Church Age, the time we are living in right now., which ends in the Rapture
- What will be the sign of Jesus' coming? In other words, the things that will happen during the coming 7-year Tribulation just before Jesus returns at the end.
We read in the Bible and in historical accounts about different false prophets and false christs who came around before the Temple fell in 70 AD. In previous segments we also talked about the many false teachers who are here today. But, what this wave of false Jesus' is ultimately working up to is the final false christ and false prophet. The false christ the Bible calls the Antichrist, who will be the one-world leader during the Tribulation. His False Prophet will serve as his P.R. man.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term Tribulation, it's the seven-year time period coming upon the world after the Church is raptured out of here. It will be the worst time in all of human history. The Bible says there's no time that's as bad as that time period will be.
Despite all the false messiahs today, this false christ will be the only one claiming to be God during the Tribulation. He will crush all the other religions and form a one-world religion that worships only him. He will be possessed by Satan, so it's really Satan the world will be worshiping.
This Antichrist will have a false prophet, a false teacher, who will be the P.R. man for him. He will be out there telling people that they must worship and follow the false christ. He'll set up an image, though no one is sure what this image is at this time, but it is considered a living image. Maybe it's a video recording, a hologram, a robot, or something kind of like what King Nebuchadnezzar made in the book of Daniel. Maybe the image is a statue that he had everybody worship, but as you remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said no. The Antichrist's False Prophet is going to set up this image that everybody can worship so that the whole world then will be enslaved to this Antichrist and his False Prophet. Read about this in Revelation 13.
Vic: Second Thessalonians 2:3 reminds us to let no one deceive you by any means, referring to this deception that's coming and this lawless man that's coming. Therefore, we need to be careful today with what we watch on TV and listen to on the radio, because there are so many false, cultic religions that are popping up. Even watch out for some of the modern day televangelists. We must be especially careful with what our children hear because these false teachers and false christs are also going after our kids.
Nathan: Yes, deception especially targets the kids because they are most vulnerable. It's like cigarette ads, for as you know, they're are often aimed at kids. Alcohol is aimed at teens today, even though it is illegal for them to drink it. Unethical advertisers know that they have to catch new markets young and when they're confused.
The Ultimate Test to Discern Deceivers
Nathan: What's interesting about the Antichrist and the False Prophet is that their teaching are meant to bring Satan glory through a works-based salvation. This is another trait of these false teachers. You can identify what a false teacher is teaching if they say that you have to do any kind of work to accept God's grace.
Works-based salvation is a lie. God's salvation, Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us, is not by our works, but by God's grace through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus did all the work on the cross. We can't do any work at all apart by the Holy Spirit that pleases God. When a cult starts telling you that you need to pray this many times, or you need to read this, or you need to go out and do this or that, or you won't be saved, then you know that they are espousing a false teaching. The passage says it is by grace alone that we are saved, and that it was grace, because the work of salvation was completed by Jesus Christ.
Vic: Excellent point, Nathan! Jesus Christ died and rose again. All His prophecies have been fulfilled and all the prophecies that the Bible talks about happening in the future will be fulfilled. The Rapture of the Church will happen and Jesus Christ will come to judge this world. People therefore need to repent and turn to Jesus now before it's too late.
Nathan: Exactly. We don't know the day or the hour of Jesus' return, but He said his return is going to happen like a thief in the night. You can't know when a thief is going to break into your house, just like you can't know when Jesus will return. But, like we've been reading in Matthew 24, Jesus gave us signs that point to His soon return. One of those signs which we've been discussing is the proliferation of false teachers and false christs. We are seeing that very thing happen in our day. These deceivers are all over the place claiming to be gods and telling us to follow them. This sign is one of the most prolific signs that Jesus gave us indicating when He's coming back.
Nathan: So the questions to you is, "Are you ready? Have you given your heart to Jesus Christ? Have you asked Him to be your Savior, forgiving you of your sins and giving you a new life?"
Jesus did all the work of salvation on the cross. Only Jesus provides the way to reconciliation with the Father. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, our sins are forgiven. We have a new life and a new promise of eternal life. Jesus also gives us His Holy Spirit to help us discern the false teachers.
Vic: We just hope that people will grab hold of this great opportunity to accept Jesus' salvation. It is available for all who call on the name of the Lord.
The Truth and You
Vic: Nathan, would share with that person who might not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ how they can get started? Maybe give them a prayer so that they can praying about starting that eternal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Nathan: Jesus Christ died for your sins. God wants to restore fellowship with humanity again, having it just like it was back in the Garden of Eden when man and God walked and talked and had fellowship together. But, mankind decided we wanted to be our own gods, and we rebelled against God. Ever since that first sin we've been separated from God. We can't see Him one-on-one. We can't talk to Him one-on-one. We can't have that deep fellowship, so God wants that fellowship restored.
To fulfill God's sense of justice, a death sentence was placed on us for our rebellion. That's why Jesus died on the cross and rose again, conquering death. He is the perfect Man and God combined. He died on the cross for us so that when we believe in Him by faith our sins are forgiven. We no longer stand guilty before God. One day we'll then be able to stand before God with the fellowship restored. We will talk to God face-to-face once more. We will finally see Him. We will live with Him in His love forever.
To accept Jesus as your Savior, all you have to do in our heart pray, "Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior." And Jesus promised He will do just that, and He will give you a new life in Him.
Vic: What wonderful encouragement for anyone to receive the love of Jesus!
In closing, Nathan, would you share a word of encouragement? Maybe there's someone who has fallen into the trap of deception and is in a cultic religion. They don't know how to get out. Maybe they're stuck in the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormonism. What would you say to them?
Nathan: I would say to them that God's calling you out of the false teachings you are under. It's hard to admit when we've been deceived. We've all been deceived at one point. That's why we need to go to the Bible and read what the Bible has to say for our infallible source of truth. So, if you're being taught that you have to work your way to heaven or you're going to have to be good enough, or if you work and do certain things in order to be saved — that's a false teaching. Flee from it!
I know to give up the life you knew means you're potentially going to have to give up your family, your friends and your acquaintances. How much better is it that Jesus has saved your soul and to know that you're going to live with him in heaven forever? It can be hard to give all that up, but it's so much more to know that you'll have eternal life with him.
Vic: Nathan, thank you so much for that wonderful word of encouragement. When Jesus called us to follow Him, we were warned it wasn't going to be easy. There was going to be a lot of persecution, and we're seeing that increase today.