By Kuozhan, Canada
The Lord Jesus said, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Mat 25:6). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). It can be seen from the Lord’s words that when we hear someone spreading the news about the Lord’s coming, we should be the wise virgins and actively seek and investigate. Only in this way can we welcome the Lord’s return. However, the pastors, based on the verses “Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Mat 24:23-24), always tell us that we mustn’t believe those who preach that the Lord Jesus has returned because they are preaching the way of false Christs and deceiving people. So, many brothers and sisters are very confused: “When hearing someone bearing witness to the return of the Lord Jesus, should we actively seek and investigate it or avoid and refuse it? What should we do to conform to the Lord’s will?” As to this question, I’d like to fellowship with everyone about the truth concerning how to discern the true Christ from false Christs. As long as we grasp the truth of this aspect, we won’t have to worry about being deceived by false Christs and false prophets, nor will we miss the opportunity to welcome the Lord’s return because of passively defending.
Let’s first have a look at a passage of words, “To investigate whether it is God’s incarnate flesh, man must determine this from the disposition He expresses and the words He speaks. Which is to say, whether or not it is God’s incarnate flesh, and whether or not it is the true way, must be judged from His substance. And so, in determining[a] whether it is the flesh of God incarnate, the key is to pay attention to His substance (His work, His words, His disposition, and many more), rather than external appearance. If man sees only His external appearance, and overlooks His substance, then that shows the ignorance and naivety of man” (Preface). These words clearly tell us that discerning false Christs involves looking at their essence, not at their external appearance. That is to say, we must look at their work, words and disposition in order to discern. Now, let’s read some of the Lord Jesus’ words and communicate about the substantial differences between the true Christ and false Christs as well as how to discern them.
First, we should look at the work they do.
The Lord Jesus said, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Mat 24:24). The words of the Lord show us that false Christs and false prophets mainly rely on performing signs and wonders to deceive God’s chosen people. This is the primary manifestation of false Christs’ deception of people. We can be clearer about this issue after reading this passage of words: “If, during the present day, there is to emerge a person who is able to display signs and wonders, and can cast out demons, and heal the sick, and perform many miracles, and if this person claims that they are Jesus who has come, then this would be the counterfeit of evil spirits, and their imitation of Jesus. Remember this! God does not repeat the same work. Jesus’ stage of work has already been completed, and God will never again undertake that stage of work. … In the conceptions of man, God must always display signs and wonders, must always heal the sick and cast out demons, and must always be just like Jesus, yet this time God is not like that at all. If, during the last days, God still displayed signs and wonders, and still cast out demons and healed the sick—if He did exactly the same as Jesus—then God would be repeating the same work, and the work of Jesus would have no significance or value. Thus, God carries out one stage of work in every age. Once each stage of His work has been completed, it is soon imitated by evil spirits, and after Satan begins to follow on the heels of God, God changes to a different method; once God has completed a stage of His work, it is imitated by evil spirits. You must be clear about these things” (“Knowing God’s Work Today”).
This passage clearly tells us that God is always new and never old, and that He does not repeat the same work. Just like when the Lord Jesus came to work, He did not repeat the work of setting forth laws in the Age of Law, but began the Age of Grace and did the work of redeeming mankind. He provided man with the way of repentance, healed the sick and cast out demons, and in the end was crucified for man, redeeming mankind from sin. So when the Lord Jesus comes back in the last days, He will also begin a new age and do new work, and will not repeat the work that He has done. And the false Christs? They are all evil spirits who fake Christ. They are incapable of doing the work of ushering in a new age and bringing the old age to an end. They can only perform some simple signs and wonders to imitate the Lord Jesus to deceive those who are muddle-headed and unable to discern. But they are incapable of copying what the Lord Jesus did as raising the dead and feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, or rebuking the wind and sea. That is totally beyond them because they do not possess the authority and power of God. Therefore, He who can open up a new age and bring the old to an end is the true Christ, while those who are incapable of doing so but can only follow on the heels of God and imitate the work that God has already done are undoubtedly false Christs.
Second, we should look at the words they speak.
The Lord Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jhn 14:6). It can be seen that the words said by Christ are all the truths, which can provide man with life, point out a path for man, and constitute man’s life. Just like when the Lord Jesus was doing His work, He expressed the way of repentance based on the needs of mankind, taught people to love others as they love themselves, to forgive others seventy times seven times, and taught them to confess their sins and repent, pointing out a new path of practice for people living under the law.
The Lord Jesus also told us, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (Jhn 16:12-13). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7). “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev 5:5). It’s evident from these verses that when the Lord comes in the last days, He will express many truths that we do not understand, and that He will open the scroll and loose the seven seals. According to these prophecies about the Lord Jesus’ return, we can be sure that when the true Christ comes, He is able to express the truth. This is for certain! Let’s read another passage of words: “God become flesh is called Christ, and so the Christ that can give people the truth is called God. There is nothing excessive about this, for He possesses the substance of God, and possesses God’s disposition, and wisdom in His work, that are unattainable by man. Those who call themselves Christ, yet cannot do the work of God, are frauds. Christ is not merely the manifestation of God on earth, but instead, the particular flesh assumed by God as He carries out and completes His work among man. This flesh is not one that can be replaced by just any man, but one that can adequately bear God’s work on earth, and express the disposition of God, and well represent God, and provide man with life. Sooner or later, those fake Christs will all fall, for although they claim to be Christ, they possess none of the substance of Christ. And so I say that the authenticity of Christ cannot be defined by man, but is answered and decided by God Himself” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life”).
From these words we can see that Christ is God incarnate Himself, the Spirit of God realized in the flesh, and that He can express the truth at any time and in any place to supply and shepherd man. Most false Christs, meanwhile, are possessed by evil spirits. In substance, they are evil spirits and demons without the slightest truth. Thus, no matter how they interpret the Bible or talk of profound knowledge and theory, they do nothing but deceive people and harm them. Nothing they do is edifying to us. All they do is bring ever more darkness to our hearts; they leave us with no path to tread and will ultimately bring us to ruin. Only Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. Therefore, the One who can express the truth, show us the way, and give us life, is the One who is Christ, while those who call themselves Christ but are incapable of expressing the truth are surely false Christs. This is the basic principle of identifying false Christs and false prophets.
Third, we should look at the disposition they reveal.
The Lord Jesus once warned us, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mat 24:5). In this verse, the Lord Jesus told us another characteristic of false Christs—they all have arrogant and self-important dispositions, and like to show themselves off and proclaim themselves to be Christ in front of people so as to make people worship them as God.
We will understand this better after reading this passage of words: “The more false they are, the more such false Christs show off themselves, and the more capable they are of working signs and wonders to deceive man. False Christs do not have the qualities of God; Christ is not tainted by any element belonging to false Christs. God becomes flesh only to complete the work of the flesh, not simply to allow all men to see Him. Rather, He lets His work affirm His identity, and allows what He reveals to attest to His substance. His substance is not baseless; His identity was not seized by His hand; it is determined by His work and His substance” (“The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father”).
From this passage we can know that the more false they are, the more such false Christs will show themselves off in front of others to deceive them, while Christ lets His work affirm His identity. Just like when the Lord Jesus worked, He healed the sick, cast out demons, fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, and raised the dead. Even though man didn’t know Him, His authority and power proved His identity as the incarnate God Himself, because aside from God, no one possesses such authority. So when Christ comes to work, He never cries out that He is God and Christ or shows off Himself. Rather, He just does His work and speaks His words humbly hidden in the flesh to supply men with what their lives need, which demonstrates the supremely honorable and holy substance of God’s life. False Christs, however, always cry out that they are Christ, and some even shamelessly say that if you do not listen to them you cannot enter the kingdom. They do everything they can to get people to meet them, or perform some signs and wonders in order to beguile people. There are many, many examples of this. So another important principle of discerning the true Christ and false ones is looking at the disposition they reveal.
Dear brothers and sisters, the above are the three principles of discerning the true Christ and false ones. Only if we grasp these principles can we avoid being deceived by false Christs and be wise virgins to welcome the Lord’s return.
a. The original text reads “as for.”
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