The True Christ
Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ had prophesied: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). [See: Beware of False Prophets and Predestination.]
The future time in which this alarming prophecy was to take place is explained in verses 1-3. The disciples of Jesus had pointed out to Him the buildings of the temple in Jerusalem. [This temple, rebuilt by Zerubbabel after it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:8-17; Ezra 3:8-6:15), is known as the "second temple." Later this temple was refurbished and embellished by King Herod (as John 2:20 indicates and as Josephus writes in his Wars of the Jews, Book I, Chapter XXI, Section 1). This was the temple in Jesus' day. The first or original temple, which Nebuchadnezzar destroyed, was that built during King Solomon's reign (1 Kings 5-6).]
Jesus told His disciples: “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” At this the disciples asked Jesus: “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your [second] coming, and of the end of the age?”
Many Bible scholars say that this prophecy became fulfilled when that temple was destroyed when the Roman army sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But, if we look at the “temple site” in Jerusalem today, Jesus’ prophecy that “not one stone shall be left here upon another” has not been completely fulfilled: a lot of stones in the area are still intact, and on top of one another! And Jesus did not come then! This shows that the complete destruction of what remains of the temple is yet in the future. [Whether a "third temple" in Jerusalem will ever be built or not before Jesus returns is a hot issue today; only time will tell. See: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.]
The future that Jesus talked about is our times today! Indeed we’ve seen a few men claiming to be the Christ or the Messiah — and they have had some following. Those who, earlier, claimed to be the Christ have died — proving that they could not have been the now ever-living Jesus the Messiah — and their following has naturally fizzled out. (Read of similar movements and their end, mentioned by the Pharisee Gamaliel, in Acts 5:33-39.) Many more will claim to be the Messiah in the future, and they will deceive many!
As the late American humorist James Thurber concluded in the moral of one of his fables (“The Owl Who Was God”): “You can fool too many people too much of the time!” Satan, through his instruments (false prophets), has done that, and so the vast majority of humanity has been under his sway (Revelation 12:9).
A more deceitful “false Christ”
Perhaps most people can easily see through persons who, down through the centuries up to now, have claimed to be Christ or the Messiah. But what have deceived far too many, as Jesus prophesied, are false presentations by many false prophets [or teachers] as to who Jesus really was, and is – and what He really taught. Books, magazines, television and radio programs, movies, tracts, evangelistic campaigns, door-to-door evangelists, websites, sermons in church and on-line spew out all kinds of different and differing presentations of who Christ was and what He taught.
Back in his time, the apostle John had warned: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 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 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” (1 John 4:1-3).
What do you mean — “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”?
Most people who believe in Christ — whether genuinely or otherwise — accept the testimony of the Bible that God (as the Word) “became flesh” in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14). Many Christmas carols, like the Cebuano-Visayan one I heard and sang in my younger days, tell about this ["Ang Diyos sa kahitas-an nanaog sa kalibutan/God in the highest came down to earth" -- in Jesus Christ]. This is that mystery which theologians call the “incarnation” (from the Latin in, meaning “into” and carn, meaning “flesh” — the Divine Being taking on the fleshly form, in this case the form of man, as Jesus did, by being born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-37).
But, upon a more careful study of the Scriptures, we will find that even many who hold this belief in the incarnation of God in Christ are actually on the side of Satan, the arch-Antichrist! [See: "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!"] There will be many, in fact, who will confess Christ as their Lord — who will even do marvelous things in His name — but to whom Jesus will say: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23)! [See: Is Jesus Your Lord -- Really? and "I Never Knew You!"]
On what basis can we say that these people are with Satan and actually have the spirit of the Antichrist? The basis is in understanding how else Jesus is coming in the flesh. Besides God entering into human flesh in Christ, Jesus said that this can happen also to other human beings whom God the Father has appointed to this blessing. [See: Predestination and The Comings of Christ.]
Notice John 14:21, 23 — “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me [Jesus Christ]. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
God the Father and Jesus Christ — through the power of their Holy Spirit — can, and will, live in the lives of those who love Christ. In a manner of speaking, God enters the flesh or physical body of such people. God, in Christ, “has come in the flesh” of His people!
And how does that happen? Since all have sinned (Romans 3:23) by disobeying God’s law (1 John 3:4), all men have bodies like houses in which there is a lot of foul dirt and corruption. Like condemned houses, sinful men deserve to be destroyed. God will not dwell in dirty, corrupt places (see, for example, Deuteronomy 23:14). But in His love and mercy, God the Father sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior and Redeemer from sin and death [see: Freed From Bondage, Transgressions Under the First Covenant, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]
Thus cleansed and redeemed through Jesus’ blood and resurrection (1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:17; 1 Peter 3:21), God’s “elect” become fit habitations of God the Father and Jesus Christ, through their Holy Spirit. And that only when God’s people truly love Christ as He said in John 14:21 and 23. [See: God's Spirit and Obedience.]
The arch-deceiver Satan has been the “spirit” behind these false presentations of Christ which have deceived not just a small percentage of humanity but, in fact, the whole world (Revelation 12:9) — humanity in general. Satan (which means “Adversary”) is God’s number one enemy! Satan has — and is — the “spirit of the Antichrist” that has now enveloped everyone on earth, except for a few (God’s “elect”) [see: Predestination].
Amidst this confusion — which is not from God (1 Corinthians 14:33) — where is the true Christ? Where can we find a true and faithful presentation of the true, real and genuine Christ? How can we tell the true Christ from the false?
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
This sweet hymn or song of praise is certainly very Scriptural. It agrees with Hebrews 12:1-2, which says “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
Israel’s King David followed this exhortation when he declared: “My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net” (Psalm 25:15).
The question, however, is: how sure are we that we are looking to the true Jesus, the true Christ — and not some false Christ? Jesus warns us that, in these last days, many false “Christs” will arise and could possibly deceive even the very “elect” of God (Matthew 24:24). [See: Predestination.]
Hopefully, this article on the true Christ helps you to look only to Him and not a false Christ! As you do,may God help you avoid — even escape from — the snare that Satan has laid upon all of mankind (Revelation 12:9; 2 Timothy 23-26), even the snare of sin, “which so easily ensnares us.” [See: "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!" The Law of Christ, and Is Jesus Your Lord -- Really?]
Up to God the Father
Jesus revealed a vitally important truth that many have either overlooked or pooh-poohed: that no one can come to Christ — know who He really was and is — unless God the Father draws that person to Christ and grants that he may come to Christ (John 6:44, 65). Without the initiative of God the Father, no one can come to a true understanding of who Jesus really was and is. Without this, one would be more likely to know a false Christ instead!
In Matthew 11:27, Jesus tells us: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him [the Father].” Jesus also said: “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.” The apostle John said this of Jesus Christ: “No one has seen God [the Father] at any time. The only begotten Son [Jesus], who is in the bosom of the Father, He [Jesus] has declared Him [the Father]” (John 1:18).
God the Father, then, grants that right and true knowledge of and about His Son Jesus only to those whom the Father draws to Christ and makes it possible for them to come to Christ. [For more Biblical insights into how and when God the Father calls people to Christ, see: Predestination.]
Jesus and God the Father distinct divine Persons
The preceding Scripture passages are but a few of many which show that Jesus was, and is, a divine Person distinct from God the Father — yet one with Him. [For a more lengthy discussion of this subject, see: The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered.] Jesus acknowledged that He was One sent by His Father (John 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36, 37; 6:38, 39, 40, 44, 57; 7:16, 28, 29; 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42; 12:49; 17:3, 18; 20:21, etc.). Jesus said that God the Father who sent Him is greater than He (John 13:16; 14:28). The Sender is distinct from, and superior to, the One Sent. They cannot be one and the same Person, as Unitarians claim erroneously.
These preceding Scriptures concern Jesus’ being first sent to earth as a human being by His Father. However, before this happened, God the Father had sent Jesus, as the God of the Old Testament, to do what the Father willed. Jesus had been:
- Sent to create and uphold all things. Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “God [the Father], who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers [of Israel] by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power….” John 1:1-3, 14 and Colossians 1:15-16 buttress the truth that Jesus (as the “Word”) had created everything — including angels and human beings — before He became the “Son of Man.”
- Sent to deal with God’s “firstfruits” or “firstborn.” After Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out from the Garden of Eden, Jesus chose or appointed certain people (among them, those listed in Hebrews 11) to become the first batch to be a part of God’s divine family [see: Predestination and "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!"]. God called Israel His “firstborn” (Exodus 4:22). Jesus dealt with His “chosen people,” the children of Israel directly, or through His prophets. Jesus gave them The Ten Commandments and other laws in the Old Testament [see: The Law of Christ]. He blessed or punished them according to their obedience or disobedience to His law [see: God's Kingdom and Israel].
“In the fullness of time” God the Father in heaven sent the God of the Old Testament to become the God-Man Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4) in order to fulfill the Father’s purpose [see: Peter Knew "The Holy One."] Jesus was:
- Sent to declare who God the Father is. As mentioned earlier, in John 1:18 we find Jesus’ first mission: to “declare” the Father. Heretofore, the people of the Old Testament and in the early New Testament period had known only the God or LORD of the Old Testament — the God who later became a human being in Jesus Christ. Jesus taught and did things as His heavenly Father had instructed Him (John 12:49-50; 14:10-11). Since then, God’s people have known, and learned to pray to, “Our Father… in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-13, etc.).
- Sent as the Son of Man and Son of God in order to be mankind’s Savior from sin. As a mortal Son of Man, Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). At Calvary Jesus “gave His life a ransom for many” — and “for all” (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6) — to free mankind from the clutches of sin and death. He died as a Son of Man and was resurrected as the Son of God for our full forgiveness from sin and for our full atonement (“at-one-ment” or unity) with God (Romans 5:9; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 1:4). [See: Two Goats Together.]
- Sent to prepare the way for God’s kingdom. While on earth, Jesus called and taught His disciples who would — and did — carry on the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom of God, and the gospel of salvation in Christ, making disciples of all nations and teaching them all that Christ commanded them (Matthew 28:18-20). The people whom God has called and chosen to receive salvation in this age will then become part of the “firstborn” children of God. God has prepared them and will continue to prepare others to serve as “kings and priests” when Christ returns to establish God’s kingdom on earth. [See: Predestination and God's Spirit and Obedience.]
- Sent back to heaven to be High Priest forever. Acts 1:1-12 narrates how, after His resurrection, Jesus was with His disciples again and, after 40 days, He was “taken up into heaven.” There, at the right hand of the Father’s throne, the glorified Jesus sits as our High Priest to intercede, on our behalf, with the Father (Hebrews 8:1-2; 7:24-25). Thus the true people of God can boldly come to the Father, in prayer, in their weaknesses and in the time of need, and receive help (Hebrews 4:14-16).
At the end of this present age [see: "The Next Chapter of History"], God will:
- Send Jesus as King of kings to rule the earth with His saints. Jesus will “destroy those who destroy the earth” — Satan being the chief destroyer [that's what his other name -- Abaddon or Apollyon -- means (Revelation 11:15-18; 9:11; 20:1-4)]. Jesus will resurrect the dead saints and change living saints to immortal, spirit life (1 Corinthians 15:50-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). [See: "I Never Knew You!"] With Christ they will rule, for a thousand years, over the nations that remain after the devastation of this earth (Revelation 20:6; Daniel 7:27). They, together with those saved and made immortal during those 1,000 years, will help Christ judge all the rest of humanity who have never been saved (Revelation 20:5, 11-12) [see: Predestination]. At the end of the ages, after the earth will have been purged by a globe-encircling fire (2 Peter 3:10-13), God the Father Himself will come down with “the holy city, New Jerusalem” to live on this then purged earth with mankind, by then fully His Spirit-born, immortal children and family (John 3:5-6; Romans 2:7; Revelation 21:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28) — for all eternity.
Christ to uphold God’s law in God’s kingdom
Instead of the maverick “Christ” who overturned God’s Old Testament law, as pictured by many who should now be shown to be “false prophets,” Jesus Christ has always upheld that law, which He Himself (as the God of the Old Testament) gave to Israel, not just for the good of Israel but for all of mankind. [See: The Law of Christ.]
Isaiah 2:1-4 prophesies about Christ’s rule over the whole earth after Jesus returns. Many people from different nations that survive the great devastation at Christ’s return will come to Jerusalem, where Jesus will set up His throne. They will be taught God’s ways: “For out of Zion [the holy mountain] shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Jesus will rule the nations “with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27; 19:15).
He will rebuke, even punish, strong and stubborn nations (Isaiah 2:4; Zechariah 14:16-19). He will not allow evil and wickedness to linger but will judge wicked men quickly. As a result, there will be no rebels and disturbers, and God’s kingdom on earth will experience abundant and lasting peace and prosperity as never before (Ecclesiastes 8:11; Proverbs 11:10). [See: World Peace -- At Last!]
At the same time Jesus will also show abundant mercies and blessings to those who will humble themselves and submit to His rule (Isaiah 16:5; 30:18-26; 31:1-8; 35:1-10; 40:10-11; 56:1-7; 57:15-19; Micah 4:1-4, etc.). [For more about that coming kingdom and how this world will be transformed under Christ, click on this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, choose "Books & Booklets" and scroll down to the booklet titled "The Wonderful World Tomorrow -- What It Will Be Like" or the book titled Tomorrow's World -- What It Will Be Like.]
More about the true Jesus
As John wrote of Christ, “And there are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen” (John 21:25). This article can scratch only a very small surface of the total immensity of information about who the true Christ was, and is, and will be (Revelation 4:8; 11:17; 16:5).
For other aspects of the true Christ, click on this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, choose “Reference Material” and scroll down to the index, under the topic “God,” for the booklet titled: “Jesus Christ — The Real Story” (UCG).
May God grant you the eyes to see and the heart to know the true Jesus Christ, and may you truly believe — and worship — only Him!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.