As we embark upon this brand new year of 2017, I have received a mandate of the Holy Ghost to put the "Body of Christ" in remembrance of the impending return of our Lord and the preceding dangers of deception. The bible is explicit in detail of this glorious event, with all the signs and prophecies that would lead up to and following, called tribulations. Jesus spoke with stern warning to His disciples saying: Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them (Luke 21:8). The warning is to beware of false "CHRISTS." But, what and who is a false Christ? Well, the who and the what, is the simplest to answer. A false Christ is an imposter, a counterfeit. They may look like the real thing to some, but are far from it. They are mere frauds. The who, is; anyone walking the earth claiming to be the incarnate Messiah. This individual has been thoroughly deceived by and possessed with a demon spirit.
How to recognize them requires two dynamics; knowledge of the word of God and spiritual discernment. First, Jesus tells us of the signs of His coming: For there shall arise false Christ and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matt. 24: 24); ( this is the knowledge). Second, Jesus gives instructions on how to test or discern these counterfeits, saying; Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits ( Matt. 7: 15-16) (this is "how" we discern them). The false "Christs and prophets" may be able to show great signs and wonders. But one thing they can not show is a holy and consecrated life. Jesus further states: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring for good fruit (Matthew 7:18). It is clear from this passage of scripture that an individual can demonstrate great power without the righteous fruit of the Spirit. They may have fooled some, but the Lord...never! For He says;
Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have 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, ye that work iniquity.
For those of who are faithful to Jesus Christ, discerning will come easier because of their commitment to His word and level of maturity. Faithful believers are not impressed with methods to promote exaggerated egos for the sake of thrills and large crowds. Unfortunately for those starstruck by great influences and personalities, discerning imposters will be hard for many so-called believers because their allegiance is not Christ-centered. Much of their confessions are lip service at best. Jesus' words should sound the Holy Ghost spiritual alarm in the hearts and minds of every professing Christian because, as we just read, even as the elect, we can be subject to deception. Thanks be to God for the "IF" it were possible. Herein is how we are instructed to guard against such deception, and that is; to watch and pray...always. The Bible declares: And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so the day comes upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and stand before the Son of man -Luke 21: 34-36.
These times that Jesus is speaking of will take intense prayer and spiritual alertness to remain solid in the faith. How often has it been heard in the ears concerning His return, until it no longer has an effect? How many have grown weary? How many are hanging on by a thread and how many have lost their faith? I pray none of these are you, for this is no time to be weak or lose faith. But hold to the profession of your faith. We must by grace, get ready and remain ready. Herein is another reason to remain solid in the faith; Jesus declares: Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me to give every man according as his works shall be -Revelations 22:12 The word quickly means, suddenly. You can rest assured, He is coming again, just as He has spoken. There will be no time to prepare after the fact. We see this example with the five foolish Virgins (see Matthew 25).
I urge you beloved, to understand and take to heart these words Jesus has spoken to all believers for all times. And by these words, we are invoked by Christ to take the more earnest heed, that we may never be led down the dangerous path of deception. For those who find it difficult to discipline themselves in prayer and study regularly are in danger. Lack of these results in a weak and vulnerable soul, susceptible to evil of strong delusions that God will send in the end times. For in the last days, many will call evil good and good evil. Furthermore, the apostle Paul admonishes us to; redeem the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). We are to walk wisely with the understanding of the times and know what the will of God is. Taking every opportunity to fulfill His will. In other words, make every moment count.
Another way to guard against deception is to know from the Bible how the "many" will be deceived. Firstly, faithlessness. Mankind will become faithless, coupled with fear in the last days. Frightened, full of fear because of perils. Jesus questions whether He will find faith in the earth at His return (Luke 18:8). Secondly many will become anxious with a dire need to believe in something and someone to suit their personal passions and who no longer are willing to live a holy and sacrificial life. The truth will be hard to endure. Every way of the true God will become harder and harder for their lifestyle. As a result, being led by their senses, they seek for tangible vices, that may appear safe, therefore many will succumb to deception (Matt. 24:12) and the end is their destruction.
Faithful Christians can take comfort by the words of Lord: be not terrified (Luke 21:9) When you hear of all the commotions and calamities, don't be startled, for all the prophecies spoken by Jesus, must first come to pass, but the end is not yet. But those who endure to the end shall be saved (Matthews 24:13).
And what will the Messiah look for when He returns? What will He expect to see displayed in the life of His followers? The answer is faithfulness. Jesus says: Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately (Luke 12:35-36). Jesus uses this parable to explain faithfulness as alert and prepared, deeming them wise servants. And herein is the reward to follow, for the wise and faithful servant. Jesus says: Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. (Luke 12:43-44).
I pray that you will be found faithful at the return of the Messiah. That you will watch with all diligence "for you know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matt. 24:42).
Jesus foretells of His future return in Matthew 24; 25-26; in order that we may not be deceived saying: Behold I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. Here again is knowledge. Beloved, Christ will not need anyone to point the way concerning His whereabouts. For there is no one given the privilege to know the hour of His coming, not one, except the Father in heaven (Matt. 24:36). Although there have been some who have tried to predict the time of His coming, having failed miserably. If you think about it, the angels who are in the presence of God continually, would not even dare make an attempt to do so. Heretofore, we understand by scripture, the true Christ is coming with a sigh in heaven, the Bible declares; And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthews 24: 30). All the tribes? Yes. The Messiah will not come in secret...every eye, will behold Him!
Now that you have been refreshed with one of the most important gospel messages of the Bible, what are you doing to prepare for the return of the Messiah? If you have grown cold, if you are lukewarm, if you have left your first love, remember from whence you have fallen and repent. Beloved, there is no better time than the present to do so, for we know not when our end will be. Jesus declares: He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. (Revelations 3:6). Beloved, it is time to turn up your spiritual ears and let 2017 be the year of expectancy of the soon return of the Messiah.
I want to encourage all the saints and faithful brethren in Christ with this last word, that you may continue persevering in the faith; and that is; be fervent.
Fervent: in prayer- The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much- Jame 5:16
In spirit - Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord- Romans 12:11
in charity - above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover a multitude of sins - 1Peter 4:8
May God our Father, grace and strengthen you until the return of His darling Son; in Jesus' mighty name: Amen.
Pastor Anita Joe