Another Jesus - A Different Gospel
The Word of God warns us against deception
Throughout the New Testament the Word of God warns us to be on our guard against deception. Of course, deception is something that has always existed and church history is saturated therewith. Deception was the reason for the reformation. So what's new? Not much - except perhaps the scope and subtlety thereof. The Bible teaches that in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ a great falling away in the Church of Jesus Christ will occur. This prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes and Christians of all denominations are being swept away by the current.
The great danger of the deception of our time is that it is extremely subtle and is occurring inside mainstream protestant and evangelical churches. The result is that many well-meaning Christians are not even recognising that they have been deceived. Let us look at a few Bible verses warning us explicitly against deception.
In Mat 24:24, speaking of the end times, Jesus said: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Col 2:8: “ Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
2 Thes 2:9,10: “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."
1 Tim 4:1: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, ..."
2 Tim 3:1-5: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, ... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. ..."
The character of deception
What we have to understand about deception is that it is subtle - it is never obvious. It is not easily noticed and often only comes to light over time. When you are openly being deceived it is not deception anymore - it is temptation or seduction. The character of temptation or seduction is clear from the outset. Temptation is not such a great danger to the child of God as deception, because a child of God can see temptation and seduction immediately for what it is. But deception is usually only revealed over time, sometimes a long time.
The focus of deception
Deception always focuses on a wrong understanding or misrepresentation of God -- His character, who, what and how He is -- and together with that the fundamental content, meaning and consequences of Jesus Christ's death and His resurrection. For this reason a Christian must know the whole Bible! This is the reason why a Christian must work through the Bible systematically from beginning to end -- and not only read selected portions of Scripture.
Many Christians read the Bible like they eat fish -- they eat the meat but spit out the bones. Denys Arcand, who produced the film “Jesus of Montreal” said the following: “The Bible is such an old and mysterious book --- it’s so full of contradiction that you can use it anyway you want. It’s been used by people to justify almost anything. Those words are so enigmatic that any mind can take them and twist them into whatever meaning it wants.”
Someone once rightly remarked that the truth is not found in the words, "It is written ... ", but in "It is ALSO written ..." (Jesus unto Satan in Matt 4:7) The danger of deception does not so much lie in blatant untruths, as it lies in half-truths, twisted truths and omitted truths.
Another Jesus and a different gospel
2 Cor 11:4: "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it!"
It is unfortunately true that many well-meaning Christians of our time are worshiping another Jesus than Jesus Christ of the Bible. Can it be that two Christians in the same evangelical church or assembly are worshiping a different Jesus? How can this be? After sincere evaluation and consideration I have come to the conclusion that this is not only possible, but a common occurrence. It came as an eye-opener to me.
The Jesus you worship can be one of two -- He is either Jesus Christ of the Bible (even though your knowledge of Him may still be limited), or he is a Jesus that you are visualising in your mind on the basis of what you have been told and know about him, or what you want to or are willing to know about him. The last-mentioned usually being the main catalyst for deception.
The Bible teaches that there are two categories of Christians -- spiritual and carnal Christians. 1 Cor 3:1: "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ." The difference in a nutshell is basically that the first group is fully and wholly committed to Jesus Christ and the truth of the Gospel as revealed in the Bible, and the other only partially -- up to the end of their comfort zone. This second group is especially susceptible to deception and delusion and it is to this group that the apostle Paul directs the warning in 1 Cor 3:18: "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise."
As we have seen in the verses of Scripture above, Satan is actively engaged in trying to deceive Christians through a misrepresentation of Jesus Christ. Never think that because you are a born again Christian you are immune against satanic deception! If you believe that, it is in itself a deception. Satan will do everything within his power to keep the eyes of Christians shut to the truth of the Word and the Gospel. Four out of five of the Biblical warnings we have quoted in the second paragraph are addressed to born again believers.
How can we recognise the other Jesus? Well, let me repeat -- this is mostly not easy, and we must be very careful not to promote division through unsubstantiated statements. Christians may differ on many peripheral issues without effecting the fundamental truth of the Gospel. We must therefore be able to discern whether our differences constitute a fundamental issue concerning the character of God.
What are the characteristics of the other Jesus?
The other Jesus is wearing a range of different jackets, but I want to describe to you some of the characteristics of the other Jesus that I have intimately been confronted with. I challenge you to recognise the subtlety of the deceiving statements below.
1. The primary characteristic of the other Jesus is love. However, the fact that He is also holy is of lesser or little importance. His holiness is hedged in his love. His love has overcome his holiness on the cross. This is why his holiness is actually not relevant anymore. When I am born again, I am born into the love of Jesus. His love breaks through in my life -- and the fact that I am a sinner is actually academic. Regeneration is not necessarily accompanied by true and whole-hearted repentance. All I have to do to become a child of God is to believe Jesus died for my sins and accept Him as my Saviour.
2. The love of the other Jesus is human-focused love. Joh 3:16 says that God so loved the world ... This means that he loves humanity in their sin and in spite of their sin, for Jesus died for the sin of the world. This is why anybody can come to (this) Jesus just as you are (and stay as you are). Sin is not an issue of primary importance, for Jesus forgives our sins of the past, present and the future. If I am his child the sin-problem has been dealt with. I must now live (my life) to the full while treating people with love and care. (This) Jesus is now on humanity's side - he is now in humanity's service.
3. The love of the other Jesus is firstly self-focused love. (This) Jesus is seeking my best interest here and now and wants to bless me. It is his will that I should be well here on earth, that I am successful and happy in my occupation, that I am healthy and prosperous and that I will be able to help others and lead them to this wonderful Jesus. The first and great commandment is that I should love my neighbour as myself. Therefor I must firstly love myself and develop a healthy self-image. Others must be able to see and experience the love of (this) Jesus in my life (without being convicted of sin - that is judgmental).
4. The love of the other Jesus is only positive love. (This) Jesus is not legalistic, is divorced from the law, and he only speaks to me through the nice and positive portions of Scripture. I only read (Christian) books that encourage me and make me feel good. (This) Jesus only speaks 'life' through me - not 'death'. He lifts up all people with positive declarations. I speak well of all people even in their sin -- except those who anger me, including those who confront me with truth from the Bible -- they are legalistic and judgmental and are resisted with all my might. I distance myself from these (so-called) Christians. It is actually these 'legalistic', 'judgmental' and 'death-speaking' people who must come to repentance.
5. The other Jesus reveals himself in humanistic love to his children. They live in a 'relationship' with him, they 'speak' to him and he to them. They experience the love of (this) Jesus in their hearts.
6. Who is this Jesus? This Jesus is a loving 'Superman' with no connection to the God of the Old Testament and the Bible, Creator of heaven and earth. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, ...” 1 Tim 4:1.
What are the characteristics of Jesus Christ of the Bible?
1. The primary characteristics of Jesus Christ of the Bible is holiness, righteousness and love. Jesus Christ of the Bible is first and foremost holy and righteous -- that is why His love is so immense! His love is precisely revealed in His holiness and righteousness! The evidence of true regeneration is conviction of sin and repentance. This is why every person who confesses to be born again must have a testimony that he or she has been convicted of, and repented from a life of sin.
2. The love of Jesus Christ of the Bible is God-focused love -- it is Divine (agapao) love. The first and foremost evidence that someone possesses this love is that you love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself -- after you have been delivered from your life of sin and you have surrendered your sinful self-image and self-interest at the Cross of Jesus Christ. Your understanding of love has completely changed since it does not emanate from within your natural self anymore -- it is the outflow of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
3. The love of Jesus Christ of the Bible is self-less love. Jesus Christ of the Bible is seeking my best interest - but this best interest is hidden within His plan and purpose for the world and for me. My life is God-centered -- not man-centered! My own prosperity and happiness are no more of primary interest, but rather that I am living in the center of God's will and plan for my life. I have acquired a vision for a lost world and I am driven by a burden for others, who just like I was, are lost in sin. I have a desire to work for Him (part time or full time) and if I have to surrender convenience and pleasure to be obedient to His calling, I do so with pleasure because my happiness and fulfillment do not emanate from earthly things anymore, but from the indwelling Holy Spirit who fills my life with the power of which Acts 1:8 is speaking.
4. The love of Jesus Christ of the Bible is founded on truth. Jesus Christ of the Bible does not teach positive declaration -- He speaks the truth in love -- and sometimes that is very negative if it is meant to warn someone on a road to destruction! For this reason Jesus turned over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple and drove them out with a scourge. This is why Jesus called the Pharisees 'serpents', children of the devil and 'generation of vipers'. There is a vast difference between declaration of truth and positive declaration. Positive thinking and declaration is the devil's imitation of faith and a satanic deception. This is one of the reasons why many who testify of regeneration have never whole-heartedly repented of their sinful lives. Jesus Christ said in Joh 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” Jesus said this after He made the following extremely negative statement: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." Joh 6:54
5. Jesus Christ of the Bible reveals His love in truth to his children. Jesus Christ of the Bible asks your and my entire heart and life! Jesus Christ of the Bible does not hush people to sleep in their sin. Jesus Christ of the Bible walks with His children on a road that includes affliction and suffering in order to educate them in the faith and to know Him better. Heb 12:3-8 says: “... For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. ... And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." ... But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."
6. Who is Jesus Christ of the Bible? Jesus Christ is no one else than the incarnation of God the Father in a human body, Creator of heaven and earth. He is the same God who saved Noah and his family and destroyed the first world through the great flood because of their sin. He is the same God who called Abraham and Moses and led the people of Israel in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night through the red sea; who gave the law to Moses and wrote the ten commandments with His finger on tablets of stone; who called David and the prophets and prepared Israel for the revelation of the Messiah, Son of God, through the virgin birth. There is NO difference between the character of God of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ, Son of God, of the New Testament. They have the same character because they are the same person!
God surrenders people to delusion
Throughout the Old Testament we read that God surrendered His people Israel to their enemies when they persevered in disobedience. This is prime evidence of God's character of holiness. God never excuses sin and disobedience. God never sweeps sin under the carpet. God forgives our sin when we confess our sin and delivers us from the power of sin through the Blood of the Lamb and the ministry of His Holy Spirit, but He never ignores or excuses sin. There are always consequences when we persevere in sin. For the unbeliever the consequence is eternal death and damnation -- for the believer the consequence is a broken relationship with Jesus Christ, receptivity to satanic deception, and either a failed or a fake Christian life.
In New Testament context the enemy is Satan and his demonic kingdom. The Christian is involved in a spiritual war against Satan and his demons here on earth! (Eph 6:10-17.) Spiritual warfare is a subject on it's own and I do not intend to cover it here. However, what is important to understand for now is that persevering sin opens a doorway in the life of a believer for demonic deception. God surrenders people to satanic deception when they persevere in sin, disobedience, error, or resisting the Holy Spirit in their lives - and born again believers are not exempted. For example, we read in Rom 1:18-28: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, ... Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, ... who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, ... For this reason God gave them up to ... God gave them over to a debased mind, ..." The same principle is revealed to us in 2 Thes 2:7-12. We find this principle also in Psa 106:13 -15.
When I have repeatedly warned someone close to me pursuing a wrong direction of the pending danger, and that person continues to reject my counsel, I arrive at a point where I stop warning him or her and surrenders the person to his or her own delusion (with sorrow). This is exactly how God behaves towards everyone who resists the truth and authority of His Word. He surrenders you to your own delusion to continue believing the error that you prefer to believe -- with the tragic consequences it may hold for you in the long term!
How to be delivered from deception and delusion
In the very first instance you must arrive at a place where you see yourself as a sinner -- not only academically (or theologically), but truthfully! A great need exists in the Church of Jesus Christ across the spectrum for sound teaching on the subject of sin. Sin is not only the things we do wrong, but the wrong nature that we have been born with. This is where sanctification comes into the picture. It is necessary for us as born again Christians that the faculties of our will, intellect and emotion to be purified and brought under the full control of the Holy Spirit in order to think and feel in harmony with the Word and will of God for our lives. Sin is not only the things we do wrong, but also the wrong way we reason, think and feel about God and His Word.
Deception is the result of an area of a Christian's mind and emotion that is not under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. Even born again believers have to understand that our natural mind, emotions and desires are contaminated by our sinful nature -- and have to be purified through sanctification. Our thoughts, our feelings, our human judgement, desires and dreams are contaminated by sin because we have been born with a fallen, sinful nature -- and this is true of the best and most wonderful person on earth! You do not have to be a murderer, adulterer or a liar to qualify as a sinner! In God's eyes the nature of every human being descended from Adam and Eve is contaminated with the sin-virus! Your most wonderful deeds and your most wonderful love you may have for your family and friends, are unacceptable to God because it emanates from a self-centered, sinful nature. Rom 3:23: "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ..."
Secondly, you must have a desire to be delivered from your sin and your sinful nature! If you have no such a desire, or you have never seen yourself as a sinner in need of purification and deliverance, it is possible that God has given you over to deception. Then you have to begin searching after Jesus Christ of the Bible! Please excuse my 'death-speech' -- but it comes from a heart of love!
Thirdly, you must come to true repentance and trust God to purify you from sin. You must come to Jesus Christ in absolute surrender of your entire life, body, soul and spirit and trust Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit. If this is what you want to do, you will find a model prayer on this web page that will help you.
All Scripture quotations were taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible
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