Beware and be watchful!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Brother Stair <brotherstair@overcomerministry.org>
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 06:18:06 -0400
Subject: It is Here
To:

*'**Many False Prophets Will Arise and Deceive Many'*

*W**hen Jesus Christ foretold the major prophetic 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 pangs—or
labor contractions—get 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 Prophetic
trends—religious 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, KJ**V**).*

*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 seriously—much 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
centuries—while 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 mean—the 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 Him—not 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 representatives—but they actually would be part of
a massive religious deception.*

*It is these people—false preachers and Charismatic Religious teachers
claiming to be Christian—who 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.*

*Fruits Of lawlessness*

*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 dec**ei**ving and devouring the
lives of the unsuspecting—as 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 impostors 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" (Matthew 7:21).*

*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?'" (Matthew 7:22).*

*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
Jesus—but 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
required—obedience 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 **w**orldliness and religious traditions over God's law - The
**R**eligious But Lost*

*Jesus applied these principles to the religious leaders of His own day.
For instance, Jesus chided the scribes and Pharisees for establishing
many legalistic and worldly religious 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 vain—uselessly—in this
case by putting the traditions and teachings of men ahead of the
teachings and 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" (Matthew
23:28).*

*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
with" or "nailed to the Cross" may be completely sincere in his
belief—yet he is nevertheless a false teacher and certainly not a true
representative of Jesus Christ.*

*A Counterfeit Christianity thrives*

*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 religious 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" (2 Thessalonians 2: 8-10).*

*The book of Revelation refers to this lawless mystery religion**, that
embraces and deceives the whole world, **as "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT"
(Rev. 17:5) and shows it appearing with "two horns like a lamb"
(presenting itself as Christ-like) but speaking "like a dragon" (Rev.
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 Christian religion—a world-dominating false or
**C**ounterfeit Christianity led by Satan and his ministers, who appear
as ministers of light and righteousness and who's **mission**is to lead
the **multitudes**away fro**m the True Christ, The True Gospel and The
true Christianity**(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 serve and
please **their leaders**. 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 veneer—despite 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, Jesus **Christ**founded, holding fast to
God's commandments throughout history, has remained, in the words of
Jesus, a "little flock" (Luke 12:32) A "Very Few" **(Matthew 7:13-14)**A
Small"**Remnant**" **(Joel 2:32)**. In contrast, the popular substitute
for Christianity has grown enormous and powerful—just as Jesus foretold
in Matthew 24.*

*The worst yet to come*

*Time and again Jesus Christ and His apostles warned of a false
religious system that would arise and claim to represent Him. We see an
outline of this system emerging, through out the Roman Empire in the
writings of the apostles. But how many take those warnings to heart? Do
you? You need to read the incredible story of a pseudo-Christianity that
has soared to great prominence and power—and discover where it is leading.*

*Visit our Sermon Archive Study: "Revealing The Rise Of a Counterfeit
Christianity"
<cid:part1.05070309.00090409@overcomerministry.org>**<cid:part1.05070309.00090409@overcomerministry.org>You
need this crucial information!*

*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 history—yet 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 Christ—in 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 **C**heap **G**race,
**without a true and genuine****F**aith, **without a true and
genuine****R**epentance, **or without a true and genuine full immersion
Water **Baptism?—that we can come to God just **any way we****want to,
without obedience to His Word or**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" (**Matthew 24**: 25).*

*He was warning us to be prepared. Are you?*

*Let Us Pray Together--*

*PRAY:****"God be merciful to me a sinner. Receive me now for Christ's
sake. Cleanse me from my sin by your precious blood, shed on the cross
for me; lead me to be Baptized and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Teach
me to pray each day; to read Your will for my life from your word, the
Bible; and help me to worship and serve You in the fellowship of your
church. I thank you Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!
*


--
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*PETER EGWUATU*

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