What is far more insidious to me, though, is the underlying meaning of what Yeshua was telling His followers (I believe). For, if you are a follower of the TRUE Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, and you are in His word (the bible) on a regular basis (as He indicates that His disciples would do, cf. John 8:31), you (we) will be able to see through the various attempts to get us to follow the multitude of false "christs" out there, or even worse, believe that we are some sort of "christ" ourselves! However, we can still be deceived, if in fact He was/is warning us of something far harder to detect, especially if we do not exercise true biblical discernment (which can ONLY be obtained by acting as Yeshua Himself said would mark His disciples - ABIDING in His word, which means reading, studying, and applying it to/in our lives daily). And this deception will come in the form of the following: someone who claims that they follow Yeshua (Jesus) - says that He (Jesus) is the Christ, and then proceeds to deceive others, by leading them contrary to the bible. Case in point: Oprah. She, while proceeding to promote more and more the teachings and ways of all sorts of New Age mumbo-jumbo, will still quote from Paul, or Jesus, etc. This is pretty easy to see through for many Christians (though there are MULTITUDES of professing "christians" who apparently have little more biblical discernment than a gnat following her). But how about someone like Barak Obama? Though he claims to be a believer and follower of Jesus, it does not take long to listen to his words, watch his actions (via his Senatorial voting records, et al) and see that he is not following the Jesus of the bible. Was HE one of the deceivers Jesus was talking about in Matt. 24, vs. 5? Folks, it gets worse than that. The way many high profile Pastors are going, it makes one wonder, ie. Joel Osteen. Now, before I go on, I would like to say that I will withhold judgment concerning salvation - that is God's and God's alone to make. But I AM told to judge "righteous" judgment (cf. John 7:24), and to take heed that I am NOT deceived. How am I to do that without making judgments? So, please refrain from throwing out "judge not, least ye be judged..." without first understanding the context with which Yeshua spoke those words. Since I mentioned Joel Osteen already, let me justify my mentioning of him. I am not seeking to judge whether he is a true, saved follower of Jesus our Messiah. That's not my job. But I AM to discern whether or not he teaches and promotes biblical truth; and if he does not, then I am to disregard his teaching (cf. Deut. 13). So with this in mind, what do we do with the teachings and actions of Benny Hinn? Kenneth Copeland? How about the now becoming more and more famous Todd Bentley? Shall we dig further? How about someone like Rick Warren, regarding whom there is an ever increasing divide among Christians concerning what he is promoting, his agenda, actions, AND associations? Tell me, is his P.E.A.C.E. plan a biblical plan that brings Yeshua to the Nations, and the Nations to Him, or a humanistically driven plan that unites a conglomerate of religions (contrary to Jesus own words that if He be lifted up, He would draw all peoples to Himself, not to each other in the name of "P.E.A.C.E."? I realize that simply bringing up some of these very popular teachers I put myself in danger of being attacked for being "judgmental", "legalistic", "unloving", etc. My intention is to sound a wake up call (see my second post - July, 2008) to the body of Messiah (Jesus' followers), and urge everyone to begin to take a hard look at where we are going as a whole, and just what we are really willing to stand for. If any/all of these men are truly Christians, and are saved, then I suggest that at the least, they are leading people off course, and thus putting those that listen to them at greater risk of being deceived even further. I do not (I repeat, do not) judge whether or not they are saved. But I do highly question the ideas and teachings that they promote, and all I ask is that you do the same.
"Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." - 1 Cor. 14:20
This brings me to my ultimate point. I believe that the underlying warning that Jesus gave to His disciples in Matt. 24:5 was this: that there would be MANY (can I say it again? MANY) who would come, in His name (don't we pray in His name, ie. His authority?), claiming that He, Jesus, is indeed the Christ, and would deceive MANY. In other words, MANY false "christians" - MANY naive believers who listen to them. Friend. Dearly beloved in Jesus. We MUST seek to take hold of His word, the bible, and dive into it DAILY, seeking the LORD for wisdom, understanding, and discernment, that we might not get sucked into the whirlwind and plethora of false christs, AND false FOLLOWERS (so-called) of Christ. We MUST begin to seek His word, AND obey it.
In the Name of The only begotten Son of God, the Holy One of Israel and our Great God and Savior, the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) Mashiach.