“Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:4
What does it mean to “come in the name of Christ?” Though we may not claim to be the Messiah, in our discussions with others we may accidentally insert false teachings and claim they are from Christ.
The Apostle Paul warned: “If anyone teaches otherwise (in this case that we should show disrespect to those in authority over us) and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have been robbed of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 6:3-5
To be clear, Paul wrote these instructions to slaves, which invites a discussion on slavery. But his message remains: show respect to all who are in authority over you and agree with the instructions and words of Christ and God.
Jesus warns that we are to be alert. Test every spirit, every doctrine (1 John 4:1-6). Examine every teaching.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. – Ephesians 5:6-12
Should you find yourself learning under someone who affirms and promotes sinful practices, walk away. Find teachers and leaders who honor God’s instructions; learn from them.
“After wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and the beginnings of birth pains, you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. You will be hated by all nations because of Christ.” Matthew 24:9
In America, individuals seeking to serve as judges are attacked for affirming their belief in God’s Word. Christian groups on college campuses are banned for affirming their belief in God’s words. Advocacy groups are demanding that The Department of Education pull the accreditation of Christian colleges if they do not amend their beliefs. In the U.K., Barclays closed the bank account of a Christian charity for sharing the Good News of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Christian foster care services that place children in homes are threatened with lawsuits for affirming God’s design for family. Christians in America continue to enjoy greater freedoms than any in the world, but Christ warned this will not always be the case.
“At that time many will turn away from the faith.” – Matthew 24:10
According to the Barna Group, “rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading have been dropping for decades. Americans’ beliefs and its religious identity is changing.”
Tessa Landrum of Kentucky Today, writes, “Those born between 1995 and 2015 are “individualistic, lonely, and social justice oriented. They were raised on technology and their lives are often built around the online world. They are activists and volunteers who want to make an impact on the world. They were raised during the Great Recession and value financial stability. They are sexually fluid. And they account for 25.9% of the American population. They will change the landscape of our society with their ideas and values – many of which omit the idea of Christian faith and the prospect of church membership.
In his book Meet Generation Z, James White writes, “the most defining mark of members of Generation Z, in terms of their spiritual lives, is their spiritual illiteracy. They do not know what the Bible says. They do not know the basics of Christian belief or theology. They do not what the cross is all about. They do not know what it means to worship.”
What about you? When persecution costs you your job, health insurance, home, friends, family relationships, will you turn away from Christ? Will you love yourself and your neighbor more than God?
Christ gave us the formula for social change.
“Love the Lord your God with:
all your heart (starts with love for Him)
all your soul (the very essence of who you are)
all your strength (energy exercised and exhibited)
all your mind. (transformed through the reading of His word with illumination from His Holy Spirit)
Love your neighbor
Love yourself.” Luke 10:27
Any time we invert this formula and attempt to:
we, at best, produce individuals who help others through self-sustained good works, rather than through the endless power of Christ’s Holy Spirit.
At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Christ as an infant. He will return as King of Kings. Will you be ready?