Another Jesus (excerpt from the article "Religious Deception")

by Prof. Johan Malan

The kingdom of darkness infiltrated the Christian church with a view to adulterating it by proclaiming a counterfeit Jesus, a counterfeit spirit and a counterfeit gospel.

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise indicated. Only very archaic terms have been substituted, between brackets, with correlating terms from the New King James Version (NKJV). All pronouns referring to the Godhead are capitalised. Edited by Bernard and Kathleen Reeves of London.

A solemn warning

Since the start of the Christian era, many churches have shown a fatal inability to distinguish between the truth of God’s inspired Word and misrepresentations of it: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-8).

The congregation in Corinth suffered from the same lack of discernment and spiritual insight: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent [deceived] Eve through his [craftiness], so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, [you put up with it well]… For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no [wonder]; for Satan… [transforms himself] into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:2-4,13-14; emphasis added).

From these quotations it is evident that there are three main ways in which the truth of Scripture can be falsified by Satan to deceive Christians and lead them astray. These perversions involve crucial issues at the very core of our faith and are intended to deceive people into accepting another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel.

Satan’s strategy to attack, misrepresent and pervert the Christian faith has continued unabated throughout the entire church dispensation. It is crucially important that the particular forms of deception current in these last days should be rejected and exposed by all who profess to be Christians.

Another Jesus

The following are the most common ways in which the Person, work and image of the Lord Jesus are distorted so as to present a counterfeit Jesus who is powerless to save lost sinners from the righteous judgement of a holy God:

Jesus the human teacher

In sects such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and in other religions such as Islam, the deity of Jesus is denied. Most portray Him as a merely human prophet or unusually gifted teacher, while explicitly denying that He is the Son of God: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” (1 Jn. 2:22-23).

Tragically, the antichristian denial of Christ’s deity is now common in many professedly Christian churches. Theologians also have an increasing tendency to deny His miraculous conception and virgin birth, thus attempting to reduce Him to an ordinary, fallible human being. A powerful movement promotes the deceptive idea that the historical Jesus (i.e. the so-called real Jesus) is to be clearly distinguished from the mythic Jesus (or cultic Jesus) which, they allege, the Church’s tradition has transformed Him into.

A shocking fact about this current campaign against the true, biblical Jesus is that many leading theologians in university theology faculties actively support it by questioning biblical statements that He is the true Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. In the effort to reconcile the above two incompatible images of Him and to discover the ‘real’ historical Jesus, the biblical Jesus is stripped of His deity.

Leading this campaign among academics is the Jesus Seminar, established in USA in 1985. Many theologians elsewhere are following suit. The University of South Africa’s Institute for Theology and Religion published Images of Jesus in 1997, in which they seriously distort His biblical image.

If Jesus was not truly “God with us” (Mt. 1:23) and sinless He could not have offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of Adam’s fallen race. In the first Adam we are all spiritually dead, as we inherit his sinful nature. A dying race needs a second Adam, a perfect God-Man, to re-create us in His image by imputing His righteousness and imparting His eternal life to us (1 Cor. 15:22,45; Rom. 5:14-21). Jesus is the God-Man – Himself God, Son of God and Son of Man. To deny His deity by depicting Him as merely a prophet is to rob the world of its only hope of a Divine Saviour.

Jesus the example

Preaching today in many formal and spiritually dead churches often presents the life of Jesus merely as an ideal example we should follow. In such moralistic sermons, no reference is made to His substitutionary death and shed blood which alone can cleanse from sin. Instead of the need for new birth, Christian virtues are taught, without the risen Christ who alone can empower us to “walk in the newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). People are only taught to be good citizens, love their neighbours and live morally good lives.

The result of this kind of preaching is that Jesus does not become real to them as they only have a vague mental perception of Him. By mental effort they try to follow His example, but He is not a living, spiritual reality to them, because they have not yet become “new creatures” in Him (2 Cor. 5:17) through faith in His finished work. Though they speak of Jesus, they do not know Him personally and since they have been given a false ‘image’ of Him, their efforts to follow His example are misguided and flawed.

Jesus the giver of gifts

Many people are attracted to Jesus because they feel they can derive various benefits from Him. He should heal them, bless them, prosper them and provide for all their material needs. They see Him as the One who restores to human beings the exalted position humanity had before the Fall! They wish to regain dominion over creation, to wield miraculous powers and even to become ‘gods’ in their own right.

Such people also end up serving ‘another Jesus’. They do not identify with the crucified Christ, and reject persecution, disease and suffering as being the consequences of weak faith. Using visualisation and positive thinking techniques they create their own reality, so becoming masters of their own destiny. By relying on various innate strengths in their own psyche, they fail to put their trust in the crucified Christ to sustain them by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus had a large following when He healed the sick and performed many other signs and wonders. However, the majority of His opportunist and sensation-seeking followers deserted Him when He emphasised union with His body that was to be broken, and His blood that was to be shed for sinners, as the only basis for true fellowship with Him. To many of the opportunists this was a hard saying: “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (Jn. 6:66; see also v. 53-65).

Many people imagine their own popular Jesus whom they are following. They are offended if somebody points out to them the spiritual risks of building their faith on a Jesus who is confined to signs and wonders, rather than the Crucified One who died that we might be forgiven and made “alive unto God” (Rom. 6:11).

Jesus the political liberator

A Jesus who is a freedom fighter and who champions the oppressed is often proclaimed in the Third World. He came to set political captives free and to uplift them on the socio-economic level of existence. This Jesus is only concerned with their secular affairs. He did not come to liberate them from sin, but from governments which impede political, social and economic progress. He blesses them in the struggle against their oppressors without denouncing their amoral behaviour or stressing the need to engage in a spiritual struggle against the real oppressor of their souls, Satan.

Jesus the sinner

The Jesus depicted in many Hollywood films is a fallen sinner like other human beings controlled by their fleshly passions. This blasphemous depiction of Jesus is the theme of films such as Jesus Christ Superstar, The last temptation of Christ, and Jesus of Montreal. In the last-mentioned film the counterfeit ‘Jesus’ is outrageously depicted as staying with other young people in a Montreal flat, where they live licentiously and overindulge in liquor.

There are no limits to the evil imaginations of depraved, satanically inspired people who distort the image of Jesus. He is even depicted as a homosexual by some. On a painting exhibited in Archbishop Tutu’s Cape Town cathedral, Jesus was portrayed as an Aids victim full of sores. All such wicked misrepresentations of Jesus are part of Satan’s age-old smear campaign against Him. During His life on earth, He was branded as a sinner, blasphemer, glutton, drinker and friend of extortioners and immoral people: “Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of [tax-collectors] and sinners” (Mt. 11:19; see also Jn. 9:16,24).

The true Jesus whom we worship, is without sin. He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26; see also 4:15). Do not profane or mock the holy Name of God, or of Jesus His beloved Son: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).

The cosmic Jesus

The intensified campaign to misrepresent the Person, character, work and Name of Jesus is aimed at preparing the world for Satan’s great end-time counterfeit Christ, the Antichrist. Jesus Himself warned that the world will be deceived by this impostor and others who would impersonate Him: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many” (Mt. 24: 4-5 NKJV).

The New Age Movement presents a Jesus who is the personification of the messianic expectations of all the religions of the world. To the Christians he is the Christ, to the Jews the Messiah, to the Hindus Krishna, to the Muslims the Imam Mahdi, and to the Buddhists Maitreya Buddha. He is, therefore, the cosmic Christ, or universal Christ, of all faiths who will head up a spiritual hierarchy that unites, synthesises and thus supersedes all the religions on earth.

In the concluding chapter of the book Images of Jesus, a theologian of the University of South Africa, Mr. G.A. van den Heever, makes a strong plea for a multi-religious consideration of the position and role of Jesus. In this chapter, Jesus in the world religions, he says: “If it is true that the ‘construction’ of Jesus in early Christianity is similar to that of Buddha, Zoroaster and Krishna, then one needs to give an answer to the question of what possible gain there could be in a comparative venture such as this… It should encourage Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus towards a healthier, more tolerant interchange on the cultural and religious front. However much we like to believe in our own uniqueness, we drink from the same wells.”

Satan promotes false images of Jesus to discredit Him in order to prepare the way for his false Christ, the Antichrist, “that man of sin… the son of perdition… that Wicked… whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish” (2 Thes. 2:3,8-10).

In his book Searching for the Real Jesus (1996) Dr. Douglas Groothuis clearly refutes the agnostic speculation and serious distortion of Jesus by modern theologians: “Jesus is not an ambiguous inkblot upon which we project our pet theories, hopes, or fears. He is a living reality who can be mastered by no one, since He is the Master of the universe. He challenges every counterfeit with His genuineness, every distortion with His veracity… The cross remains a fact of history, and the gospel continues to be the only means of setting people free” (Jn. 8:31-32).

To enable one to identify all the distorted images of the counterfeit Jesus as false, the true Jesus must be known, served and worshipped with an undivided heart. Paul committed himself to gaining an intimate knowledge and relationship with Him: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord… that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:8,10). Peter says that we must grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

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