False Christs and the True
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
(Matthew 24:4-5, 21-24)
The Word of God warns us plainly and repeatedly that in the last days, the days in which we now live, many false Christs would appear, that many would claim to be Christ who are impostors, false Christs and deceivers, and that many false prophets would arise pointing us to these false Christs, saying, “Lo, here is Christ, or there.” As you care for your soul, as you care for the souls of your family, as you care for the souls of perishing men and women, and as you care for the truth of God and the glory of God, I urge you to give earnest heed to the words of the Son of God in this passage.
The plain fact is there are many false Christs, many antichrists, by whom the souls of men are deceived and damned. I want to be as charitable, kind, and gracious as I can; but charity, kindness, and grace will not allow me to be silent while immortal souls are deceived and God’s glory is trampled beneath the feet of men. If you trust a false Christ, you cannot be saved any more than you could be saved by trusting a tadpole. We are called of God to trust, love, follow, and obey the true Christ and him only. Salvation is promised to none but those who trust the true Christ. Therefore, we are warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” We must take heed to the teachings of Holy Scripture, lest we be deceived by some false Christ.
The Liberals’ Christ
The false Christ presented by liberals was a social do-gooder. “Of course,” we are told, “he is not God.” The virgin birth, the incarnation, the resurrection are all things that must be understood allegorically. In fact, the Christ of the liberals is considered by many to be a man of very questionable moral character. Any who are deceived by liberal theology and the Christ of the liberals are willingly deceived. We are not deceived by the Christ of the liberals. Only a prating fool would pretend to be a Christian while teaching what liberals do concerning Christ. The Christ of the liberals is a false Christ. All who trust the Christ of the liberals are lost.
The Cults’ Christ
The false Christ presented by various cults is represented to us as a good man, a prophet, a teacher of morality, the first and greatest creation of God, or even a sort of secondary god. But the Christ of the cults is never represented as the true and eternal God. Their Christ receives his existence from another god, one who is greater than he is. This, of course, is not the Christ of the Bible. We are not deceived by him. The Christ of the cults is a false Christ. All who trust the Christ of the cults are lost.
The Papists’ Christ
Roman Catholicism proclaims another false Christ. The papists profess that Jesus Christ is God, that he came into the world as a man, that he suffered the wrath of God as a substitute for sinners, that he died, was buried, rose again the third day, ascended back to heaven, and that he is coming again. But the Christ of Romanism is not a complete Savior. The Christ of Rome cannot save sinners without their own good works, the intercessions of priests, and the sacraments of the church. The Christ of Rome is not the Christ of the Bible. We are not deceived by him. Though many are damned by the darkness of Roman Catholic idolatry, that is not a danger and deception by which any who read these lines are likely to be deceived. The Christ of the papists, we know, is a false Christ. All who trust the Christ of Rome are lost.
The Arminians’ Christ
However, there is a false Christ much more dangerous than the antichrists of the liberals, the cults, and the papists. There is a false Christ by whom the souls of men have been deceived for years, by whom millions are being deceived today. In fact, I am compelled to say, the vast majority of those who profess faith in Christ are followers of this false Christ, who will ultimately lead them to eternal ruin. This Christ, this antichrist, is such a dangerous and deceptive Christ that our Lord tells us he would deceive the very elect, were it not impossible for God’s elect to be deceived (Matt. 24:24). He must be identified. The Christ I speak of is the false Christ of Arminian, freewill, works religion.
Few think it uncharitable to denounce the false Christs of liberals, cults, and papists as antichrists, and warn men that following those false Christs will result in everlasting damnation. Yet, whenever anyone boldly asserts that the Christ of Arminian, freewill, works religion is a false Christ, and that all who trust him are lost, he is immediately castigated as an evil man. Be that as it may, as a watchman upon the walls of Zion, I am responsible to warn you of the danger of this antichrist.
The Christ of Arminian, freewill, works religion is extremely dangerous because in many ways he appears to be the true Christ. The free-willers and work-mongers of this age tell us that Christ is the true God, in every way equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They even assert that he saves by grace alone, without the works of man. They insist vehemently that good works play no part in their salvation. The devotees of this Christ will have nothing to do with the Christ of the liberals, the cults, or the papists. But “take heed that no man deceive you.” Do not be fooled. The Christ of Arminian, freewill, works religion is not the Christ of the Bible. He is a false Christ. All who trust this false Christ are lost, too.
Be sure you understand the issue. The issue is not what or how much does a person have to know to be saved. The issue is who. Who must I know? The answer to that question is plainly stated in John 17:3. We must know the true God and the true Christ. Let me make five comparisons of the false Christ of modern religion, the Christ of Arminian, freewill, works religion, with the Christ of the Bible. When you have considered these five comparisons in the light of Holy Scripture, I have no doubt that you will see the obvious distinctions between the false Christs and the true.
1. The Christ of modern, freewill, works religion loves everyone in the universe and wants to save them.
We are told that Christ loves all men alike, desires the salvation of all men alike, and is gracious to all men alike. That makes the love, will, and grace of Christ helpless and useless. But that language cannot be applied to the Christ of the Bible.
If God loves all men without exception and some are not saved, what does the love of God have to do with anyone's salvation? Absolutely nothing! If that were the case, God's love would be fickle, changeable, and meaningless. It could give no comfort to anyone. But God says his love is saving (Jer. 31:3, 38-40). Thank God, he does love many; but he does not love everyone (Rom. 9:13).
The true Christ, the Christ of the Bible, the saving Christ loves his people, wills and prays for the salvation of his people, and is gracious to his people, the people unconditionally chosen unto salvation from eternity, whom he came to save (Ps. 5:5; 7:11; 11:5; Matt. 1:21; 11:27; John 10:16; John 17:9-10; Acts 13:48; Rom. 9:21-24; Eph. 1:3-6).
2. The Christ of modern, freewill, works religion tries to save everyone.
We are told that he offers salvation to every sinner and does everything he can to save them all; but that his offer is rejected and his work is frustrated by the will of those who refuse to come to him and be saved.
If God the Holy Spirit calls all sinners alike to life and faith in Christ and some die without faith, what does the Spirit's call have to do with anyone's salvation? Absolutely nothing! If his grace can be resisted, it is not the distinguishing factor in salvation. But God says it is (John 6:63; 1 Cor. 4:7).
The Christ of the Bible does not merely offer salvation. He performs it. Grace is not an offer. It is an operation. The Son of God effectually calls to himself all his elect, his sheep, and sovereignly works salvation in them by the irresistible power and grace of his Holy Spirit. Not one of them will be lost. Is this, or is it not the teaching of Holy Scripture? (Psa. 65:4; 110:3; Isa. 55:11; John 5:21; 6:37-40; 10:3, 25-30; 17:2; Phil. 2:13)
3. The false Christ of Arminianism cannot regenerate and save anyone who does not first choose to be saved by him.
We are told that man has a freewill, but that Christ’s will is bound by and must wait upon man’s will because it would not be right for him to violate man’s will.
If it is the will of God that everyone be saved and some perish in hell, what does the will of God have to do with anyone's salvation? Absolutely nothing! His will would be frustrated, defeated and reversed. But God says his will is absolute, unalterable (Isa. 14:24). Salvation comes only by God's irresistible will (Rom. 9:16).
The true, saving Christ does violate man’s imaginary freewill; and I am very thankful that he does. Had he not violated my freewill, I would be lost or in hell now. The same is true of you. He sovereignly regenerates and saves every chosen, redeemed sinner. His operations of grace are totally independent of the will and choice of the sinner. Apart from his work of grace in us, spiritually dead sinners never would or could believe on him and come to him in faith. Faith is not our contribution to the work of salvation. Our faith in him is the result, not the cause of God’s saving operations. — “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (John 3:3-7; 6:44, 65; 15:16; Acts 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 9:16; Eph. 2:1-4, 8-10; Phil. 1:6, 29; Col. 2:12; Heb. 12:2).
4. The false Christ of modern, Arminian, freewill, works, man-centered religion died on the cross for everyone in the world, to make it possible for everyone in the world to be saved, but actually secured no one’s salvation by his death.
We are told that Christ by his death made it possible for all men to be redeemed, justified, and saved, but that his death has no efficacy and saving power for anyone until they believe on him. Thus, we are informed that the Son of God died in vain for all who perish in unbelief. Though he tried to save them, he failed.
If Christ died to redeem everyone and some yet die under the wrath of God, what does the blood of Christ have to do with anyone's salvation? Absolutely nothing! If Christ died for those in hell as well as those in glory, his blood is of no value at all. It saves no one. It does not wash away sin. It was shed in vain! But God says all for whom Christ's blood was shed shall be eternally saved by it (Isa. 53:10-11; John 10:15, 25; Rom. 8:34).
The Christ of God is not a frustrated failure. He died for God’s elect and effectually put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself. Having satisfied the justice of God for us, he obtained eternal salvation for us. We were and are forever pardoned, justified, and sanctified by his blood (Isa. 42:4; 53:8; Matt. 20:28; John 10:14-15, 26; Acts 20:28; Rom. 5:9-10; Eph. 5:25; Heb. 9:12; 10:10-14; 1 Peter 3:18; Rev. 5:9-10). The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ shall never be discovered a miscarriage.
I realize that there is a great division among religious people regarding Christ’s atonement. I am sorry such division exists, but it does. Most religious people believe what is called universal, or general redemption. They believe that the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for every person in the world and that the intention of Christ in his death was the eternal salvation of all men.
Here are three inescapable conclusions which must be accepted by all who believe that doctrine. — (1.) If it was the intention of the Son of God to redeem and save all men and yet some are not saved, then the purpose of Christ in his death has been frustrated. — (2.) If the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood to save every person in the world and some of those for whom He died go to hell anyway, then, for those who perish, Christ died in vain. — (3.) If Christ died to make atonement for all men and to save all men, and some yet perish under the wrath of God, then Christ failed in his mission. His work of redemption is a failure.
These blasphemous absurdities no child of God can tolerate. They rob Christ of his glory in redemption, destroy the foundation of hope for sinners, and call into question the very Godhood of our Savior. If he is a failure, if he fails to save all whom he came to save, he is not God. Yet, if the doctrine of universal, general redemption is believed, these blasphemous conclusions must be accepted.
Indeed, there are many who acknowledge these blasphemous absurdities, while claiming to be the servants of God. Noel Smith was my first theology professor. He taught biblical interpretation and theology at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. As he endeavored to describe hell, this is what he wrote…
“What is hell? It is an infinite negation. And it is more than that. I tell you, and I say it with profound reverence, hell is a ghastly monument to the failure of the triune God to save the multitudes who are there. I say it reverently. I say it with every nerve of my body tense. Sinners go to hell because God almighty himself couldn’t save them! He did everything he could. He failed!”
Even as an eighteen year old boy, I found that horrendous statement shocking. Yet, I have heard statements similar to it repeated on numerous occasions by radio and television preachers. Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, who was one of Mr. Smith’s earliest pupils in Springfield, also asserts that God is a failure. Several years ago, I heard him assert, “If you go to hell, you will go to that awful place, in spite of the fact that God himself has done everything he possibly could to save you.” Shortly after hearing Falwell’s statement, Al Geisler, who was at the time, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Danville, Kentucky made this statement, as he begged sinners to let Jesus save them at the end of a radio sermon. — “Jesus loved you, died for you, and has done everything he can to save you; but it will all be in vain unless you believe. What a shame it will be that Jesus’ death will be in vain for so many.” I agree. It would be a terrible shame and embarrassment, not for the lost sinner, but for him! It would not be a failure on the sinner’s part, but a failure on his part, if he died to save anyone he fails to save! Such statements are nothing less than the blasphemous denial of Christ’s deity. I repeat, if he is a failure, he is not God.
5. The false Christ of Arminianism loses many who have been saved by him because they do not hang on, hold out, or persevere to the end.
Among the heretical Baptists and most Protestants of our day, some do grant that the sinner has what has come to be called “eternal security.” But it is not security based upon the will, work, and purpose of God in Christ. It is not security based upon the blood of Christ, or the operations of his Spirit. According to the freewiller, all these things are done for all people alike. So their doctrine of “eternal security” is a declaration of security based upon the choice and will of man, not the choice and will of God.
The true Christ, the saving Christ, the Christ of the Bible preserves his chosen, redeemed, called ones by his almighty grace so that they cannot fall away and perish at last. We are kept in life, grace, and faith by the immutability of his will, the power of his blood, the efficacy of his grace, the seal of his Spirit, and the perfection of his intercession (Mal. 3:6; John 5:24; 10:26-29; Rom. 8:28-39; 1 Pet. 1:2-5; Jude 24-25).
At first glance, the Christ of modern, Arminian, freewill, works religion may seem to closely resemble the true Christ, the Christ of Scripture. But he does not. The one is a false Christ, antichrist. The other is true, the Christ of God. One is weak and helpless, waiting upon and bowing to the will of man. The other is the sovereign Lord, who wills what he pleases and does what he will. The one is supposed to be able to save with your cooperation. The other is able to save without any cooperation on your part. His salvation produces your cooperation.
Those who believe on and serve the false Christ of freewill, works religion do not believe on and serve the Christ of the Bible. They are deceived. They are lost. And they shall forever perish under the wrath of God, unless they come to know and trust the Christ of God who saves his people from their sins by himself. We must, as we fear God and care for the souls of men, have no fellowship with and give no credibility to Arminian, freewill, works religion (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Rev. 18:4). We must, in these days of darkness, deception, and delusion, proclaim the Christ of God in all his saving fullness, grace, and glory. He alone is able to save (Rom. 1:15-17). Let us ever adore, praise, and extol the Lord Jesus Christ alone and completely as our great Savior (Isa. 59:16).