Skip to comments.'Many False Prophets Will Arise And Deceive Many'
Posted on 04/18/2013 6:26:35 AM PDT by DouglasKC
article by Tom Robinson
When Jesus Christ foretold the major trends that would precede His return to earth, the first sign He mentioned was religious impostors who would come in His name. Do you take that warning seriously?
When Jesus Christ's disciples asked Him what would herald His coming to rule all nations, He answered by first relaying a series of developments that would lead up to the grand climax of the present age: religious deception, wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes (Matthew 24:3-8; Mark 13:3-8; Luke 21:7-11).
Jesus said that these were just the " beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8,emphasis added throughout)or, as the New International Version better renders this, the "beginning of birth pains." As birth pangsor labor contractionsget stronger and closer together as delivery approaches, so these trends would appear with increasing intensity and frequency as the end of the age approached.
Let's take a closer look at the first of these trendsreligious deception.
"Many shall come in my name . . ."
Just what is the nature of this deception? Notice Jesus' specific warning: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (verses 4-5, King James Version).
Modern Bible versions often place quotation marks around "I am Christ," the translators assuming that Jesus was talking about people who would claim to actually be the Christ or Messiah themselves. There have been such people, and Jesus warned later in the same discourse of "false christs" at the end of the age (verse 24).
Yet there clearly have not been, as verse 5 requires, "many" such individuals who have been taken seriouslymuch less deceived the "many"in the two millennia since Jesus said this. And there certainly has not been a great increase in such individuals in recent centurieswhile there has been a marked increase in the other prophesied signs.
Some have proposed that Jesus was referring to false "savior" figures like the Roman emperors of New Testament times or Napoleon, Hitler, Mao and Saddam Hussein in the modern era. But this is stretching the concept of "the Christ" or "the Messiah" far beyond what Jesus' disciples would have understood it to meanthe prophesied anointed king of the line of David.
Indeed, notice again that Jesus said, "Many shall come in my name "His name being Jesus . Furthermore, they would come in His name, not with His name or bearing His name. In other words, they would presume to represent Himnot assume His identity.
So a clearer rendering of what Jesus meant in verses 4-5 would be: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many shall come claiming to represent Me, saying that I [Jesus] am the Christ, yet shall deceive many." That is, they would proclaim Jesus as the biblical Messiah and would claim to be His representativesbut they actually would be part of a massive religious deception.
It is these peoplefalse preachers and teachers claiming to be Christianwho would proliferate and deceive ever more people as the end of the age neared.
The apostle Paul later affirmed, in a Christian context, that "evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).
So not only do they deceive others. These false teachers themselves are deceived.
In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus issued the following warning regarding false prophets or preachers: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). Jesus being the great Shepherd, His followers are portrayed as sheep. Yet these false prophets only appear to be Jesus' followers. Their true nature is one of devouring the lives of the unsuspectingas a wolf among the flock.
Paul would later warn of this as well. He told the leaders of the church in Ephesus: "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves" (Acts 20:29-30).
Yet such imposters would be identifiable. Jesus explained: "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:16-17). By "fruits," Jesus is referring metaphorically to visible results or outcomes.
He then gives us an example of something to look for in our evaluation: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' [merely acknowledging Him as Lord], shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (verse 21). Then notice: "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [preached or taught] in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'" (verse 22).
Again, as in Matthew 24, we see such preachers coming in Jesus' name having done various works in His name. But their lives are not lives conformed to the will of God. Jesus concludes, "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:23).
Practicing lawlessness means living as if God's law is done away or of no consequence. Notice that these individuals are deceived about their own spiritual state. They think they have a special relationship with Jesusbut He ends up telling them they are gravely mistaken. In reality, He doesn't know them at all.
Why? Because they don't honor God by obeying His law. As the apostle John would later explain: "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 is telling these false prophets that He doesn't know them and they don't know Him. For if they knew Him, they would understand what He requiredobedience to God's law. As Jesus stated in Matthew 19:17, "If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments. "
Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus 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).
Notice that Jesus speaks here of those who would disobey God and those who would teach others to disobey Him. So it's not only a matter of practicing lawlessness but also of teaching it, whether through word or example.
Exalting traditions over God's law
Jesus applied these principles to the religious leaders of His own day. For instance, Jesus chided the scribes and Pharisees for establishing many legalistic traditions that sidelined God's actual commandments. He said: "Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor 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 15:6-9).
Thus it is actually possible to worship God in vainuselesslyin this case by putting the traditions of men ahead of the commandments of God.
Moreover, the scribes and Pharisees went beyond mere false teaching. As Jesus explained, "All their works they do to be seen by men" (Matthew 23:5). He castigated them, "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (verse 28).
Yet it should be made clear that it's not necessary to be a hypocrite to be a false preacher. A man preaching that God's law is done away may be completely sincere in his beliefyet he is nevertheless a false teacher and certainly not a true representative of Jesus Christ.
Jesus' prophecy of false teachers coming in His name began to be fulfilled even during the era of the apostles. Paul mentioned a number of false teachers. He said a "different gospel" was already being preached (Galatians 1:6).
Paul even identified a heretical system he referred to as "the mystery of lawlessness," which during his ministry was "already at work" (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
This system, he showed, would persist until the end of the age: "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 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 " (verses 8-10).
The book of Revelation refers to this lawless mystery religion as "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT" (17:5) and shows it appearing with "two horns like a lamb" (presenting itself as Christ-like) but speaking "like a dragon" (13:11). The "dragon" in Revelation is Satan the devil, who deceives the whole world (12:9).
So what we're seeing here is an extremely powerful "wolf in sheep's clothing." What Paul and this section of Revelation are describing is a great counterfeit of the true religiona world-dominating false Christianity led by Satan and his ministers, who appear as ministers of righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
As shocking as it may sound, the world religion that now lays claim to the name of Christianity, having nearly 2 billion adherents, is that very lawless mystery system! This is not to question the sincerity of its many followers. Most are motivated by a sincere desire to please God. But sincerity is not the measure of right and wrong. God defines what is right by His laws and commandments, and Christianity in general has rejected many of God's clear instructions.
Early on, this religion shed many important biblical doctrines and commandments in favor of popular pagan concepts and traditions. Christmas and Easter, for instance (the name "Easter" even deriving from the pagan goddess Ishtar), are merely pagan holidays covered over with a Christian veneerdespite the Bible's explicit command that we not worship the true God with pagan customs (see Deuteronomy 12:29-32).
It is just as Jesus said of the Pharisees: "In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. "
The true Christian Church, holding fast to God's commandments throughout history, has remained, in the words of Jesus, a "little flock" (Luke 12:32). In contrast, the popular substitute for Christianity has grown enormous and powerfuljust as Jesus foretold in Matthew 24.
The worst yet to come
Recall Christ's warning that false teachers would be on the rise through history, culminating in the vast and powerful deception of the last days. Of the time just before His return Jesus said, "False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).
These signs and wonders are the same ones Paul mentioned. They have happened at times throughout historyyet will grow in magnitude at the end of the age, reaching their height with the coming of the great false prophet, who also appears to be representing Christ but in reality is the Antichrist.
All of us need to be wary and watchful. We must examine the fruits of all those who claim to represent Jesus Christin the way they live and the doctrines they teach. Do they insist that we are required to obey God's commandments? Or do they preach a message of cheap gracethat we can come to God just as we are without making any fundamental changes in our behavior?
Remember, most of those who claim to represent Jesus actually don't. Moreover, as time goes on, ever more pretenders will arise, however sincere they may be.
And finally, bear in mind that the greatest period of deception ever is just ahead of us. "See," Jesus said, "I have told you beforehand" (verse 25).
He was warning us to be prepared. Are you?
2Ti 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
2Ti 2:26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will
Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
Col 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
See also: The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity
Still posting that religious nut-case heretic Herbert W. Armstrong’s stuff, I see.
lol...this was written by a fine man named Tom Robinson whom I've actually had the pleasure of meeting.
Been a while my friend...how are you? Things going well?
Sounds a lot like the Methodist Church. That seems to be the denomination that’s leading the charge on gay marriage.
Oh, yeah. I forgot about the Episcopalian Church. I didn’t know about Presbyterians.
Just the tip of the iceberg to come. Christianity will be unrecognizable soon...
Herbert W. Armstrong certainly was a false prophet and he spawned many smaller false prophets.
I don't think he called himself a prophet...plus he didn't deceive "many"...his church was always tiny and is practically nothing now.
re: “Still posting that religious nut-case heretic Herbert W. Armstrongs stuff, I see.”
You got it. This is the “United Church of God” which split off from Armstrong’s World-Wide Church of God in 1995. They deny the Trinity, think we have to follow all Old Testament laws (including dietary - Saturday as the Sabbath). They also believe that THEY are the only true church and ALL others are heretical. They are exactly what the writer in the posted article condemned everyone else for - it is counterfeit Christianity.
lol...yeah that HUGE counterfeit church that deceives the whole world is a Christian church that worships on Saturday.
You also have some facts wrong about United sir (ma'am?). The "church" isn't an organization like United Church of God or whatever organization you represent...it's a spiritual entity consisting of those whom God has called out of the world.
For all I know YOU could be in the church of God....do you think you are?
Texas Eagle;wolfpat, Douglas is posting articles about the united Chuch of g
This denomination has the following believes:
the ECUSA etc are bad, but the teachings of Armstrong are not the solution
re: “The “church” isn’t an organization like United Church of God or whatever organization you represent...it’s a spiritual entity consisting of those whom God has called out of the world.”
Not sure what you are referring to. The link to the article YOU posted was to the United Church of God. You were the one who posted it, do you not know where the article came from?
re: “lol...yeah that HUGE counterfeit church that deceives the whole world”
The size of the church isn’t the issue - it’s what they believe and teach. Heresy is heresy.
I don't see much controversial about the biblical doctrine to beware of false teachers who preach false doctrine. It is part of basic Christian theology 101. It is a theme which appears in just about every NT book except Phileamon and is the major theme of Galatians, 1 John and Jude. 2 Timothy also devotes a substantial amount of text to it.
I'm very proud of my church Cronos and I thank you for highlighting it. But you're doing it in a negative pejorative way!
Start with Fundamental Beliefs. It's NOT your traditional Christianity for sure, but it's also not corrupted like so much of traditional Christianity is.
Next, you can look at This is United Churh of God. This gives you some background about the organization and some of the practices. We're a very small church, but full of the love of Christ.
This are some of the free booklets you can read online. Or you can send for a free paper copy.
This link is to my local congregation in Grand Rapids if anyone wants to stop by and visit.
If you're not around use this to Find a congregation near you
The church of God isn't a building or an organization. It's the body of Christ...it's spiritual, not physical. An organization like United Church of God can contain members of the church of God.
Hope it helps...
What is your view on the great counterfeit system Christ is referring to in scripture?
Many = most. Many = almost all. Many = everyone but a very very small and recent sect?
Wow. Something was obviously lost in translation! ;)