I love to go shopping. I love wandering through malls and Target and looking at cool stuff to buy. It’s cathartic to me for some reason. Unfortunately, that is what many people are doing these days with their faith in God.
It used to be that God was considered distant, mean, and strict. Now, believing in God has gotten cool. Why? Because seekers are putting together their own tenets of the faith–who is God, how do we have a relationship with God, and what difference does He make in our lives–and they are looking to other faiths to cobble together their own personal “truth.”
This is where our enemy, Satan, gets involved. For various reasons, people are rejecting the church, whether evangelical, protestant, or Catholic. Some of those reasons are valid in my opinion: spiritually abusive pastors, sexual scandals, extra-biblical teachings, and some just plain weird practices invented by man, to name a few. False teachers, including cult leaders, take advantage of these people who are hurting and confused. They maybe still want to believe in God but know they can’t do that church thing again.
So basically, the false teacher says to them, “let’s go shopping! God has a big wonderful mall for you to choose from.” He urges them to let go of their strict dogma and move forward to freedom and love. Well, that sounds kind of nice. What does that mean? Rev. False Teacher takes you to a “Divine” store where you can still have Jesus in your life but only as a model for enlightenment for you. In this store Jesus is not God, He is a god–a state He achieved by the way He lived His life. This is basically Buddhism dressed up with Christian terms to make it palatable for Westerners and people who come from Christian traditions. The false teacher cherry-picks some nice quotes by Jesus out of the Bible about loving your neighbor and helping the poor but fails to mention that Jesus claims to be God and that He is the only way to the Father.
Let’s move on to another store: “Avatars.” When Hinduism hit the shores of the West in the 60s, Jesus was considered an avatar, placing Him on the same level of Krishna, Rama, and other divine incarnations. Swamis and yoga masters considered the teachings of Christ, when followed properly, to be a legitimate pathway to the unified consciousness achieved in yoga. As Philip Goldberg states: “This was a Jesus I could live with: exalted in a way that befits a giant of history, but without the grandiose, cosmos-altering triumphalism that relegates non-believers to either irrelevance or damnation.” According to many Buddhists, Hindus, and false teachers within Christianity, Jesus is just one of many Sons of God.
While selecting this new Jesus, the false teacher keeps whispering in your ear that the Bible was written by men, not God; that Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead after being crucified, it was a vision and an “experience” by the distraught disciples; the God of the Bible is always changing and He wants you to be free and happy; to let go of the ancient teachings of God and Jesus; and hell and heaven only exist in this life. This frees you up to accept this new Jesus, stripped of all of that intolerant, unloving, and strict doctrine.
People are free to believe what they want, but the Jesus of the Bible doesn’t leave room for any of these beliefs. In John 1, Jesus was with God in the beginning, and is God…all things were created through Him…He didn’t become an enlightened human being during His life on earth.
John 1:14 says “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father [God], full of grace and truth.”
John 3:36 says “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”
Jesus is speaking in John 5:24: “I assure you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”
God gave Jesus ALL authority to offer salvation and to pass judgment (John 5:26, 27). In John 8:23, 24, Jesus says: “You are from below, He told them, ‘I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Peter agreed: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people and we must be saved by it.” (Acts 4:12)
Jesus speaks very bluntly in John 8:42-47: “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Yet because I tell the truth you do not believe Me. Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”
Jesus also said He will rise after being crucified: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Luke 9:22
The Jesus of the Bible does not leave room for believing He is one of many Sons of God, that He is an enlightened human being, that He didn’t physically rise from the dead, that there is no judgment for rejecting Him as the Son of God. C.S. Lewis said it best:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.
The Bible warns us in many places to watch out for false teachers. Jude 1:3, 4 says: “Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.”
Jesus IS the only way, the truth, and life and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Reject what man has done to the church and to you, but don’t reject the truth about Jesus. He came to earth because God loves us so much and doesn’t want us to perish.
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [punishment for sins] for our sins.” I John 4:9, 10
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