Millions profess to “follow Jesus,” but are they all worshipping the Jesus described in the Bible? There are so many denominations and religions with Jesus at the center of their religion but they all have different doctrines “traditions of men”. Which is the true Jesus Christ of Nazareth?
What first comes to your mind when you hear the word counterfeit? Perhaps you think of counterfeit money. Counterfeiting currency is probably as old as money itself. Professional counterfeiters can turn out a product that is virtually impossible to distinguish from the genuine by the untrained eye. Even before the introduction of paper money, counterfeiters mixed base metals into what was supposed to be pure gold or silver, or “shaved” the edges of a coin so that it weighed less than intended.
Label counterfeiting is also an ongoing problem in today’s global economy. This involves cheap knockoffs that imitate quality products. They carry the same logo, but are made with low-grade materials and carry a much lower price tag. Preoccupied with the thrill of a perceived bargain, the buyer is caught unaware. When the item’s performance proves to be inferior, disappointment sets in.
But such deception can reach beyond consumer products. Consider that we can also be taken in on religious matters. A surprising number of Christians around the world—while sincere—have been misled by religious leaders. Are you sure what you are being “sold” is genuine? For instance, are you aware that the Bible mentions two persons called “Jesus”?
The apostle Paul forewarned of a clever counterfeit facing the early Church: “For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him” (II Cor. 11:4).
Paul was afraid that if false teachers came to the Corinthian congregation and preached “another Jesus” or “another gospel,” they would tolerate this instead of rejecting them. How many spend time determining if they are following the right Jesus? Could you believe a different gospel, brought by a different spirit? Is the Jesus you know the real Jesus?
Portrayals of Jesus
What is Paul talking about when he speaks of “another Jesus”? The Greek word translated “another” in this verse is allos, meaning “different.” We are considering a different Jesus—not the One of the Bible, not the only begotten Son of God, but an impostor.
Many ideas and practices that have absolutely no scriptural basis have been accepted by mainstream Christianity. These practices, introduced gradually by false teachers, have been accepted through tradition. This was also foretold: “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily [secretly] shall bring in damnable heresies” (II Pet. 2:1).
For example, many Christians have grown up exposed to illustrations of what they believe to be the Son of God. Most artists’ renderings of Jesus picture him in a helpless state, at the beginning or end of his life—either as a newborn or hanging on a cross.
During the Christmas season, Christianity venerates “little Lord Jesus,” portraying him as an infant in a manger, “tender and mild.”
Often found behind the pulpit in churches, many paintings or statues of Jesus display a gaunt, forlorn, longhaired man who often has his hands clasped in a prayerful position, gazing upward. Even Jesus’ death has been trivialized, depicting him with a slight trickle of blood oozing from the crown of thorns piercing his head, and another from wounds in each of his hands. Some artists even insert a “sacred heart” with a crack running through the center, depicting Jesus as having died of a “broken heart.”
Every spring, millions gather early Easter morning to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. These annual sunrise services supposedly remind them that Jesus rose from the dead. Yet this tradition springs from ancient sun worship rituals that predate Christ’s earthly ministry.
Later in the year, adherents look forward to trading gifts on his “birthday” (supposedly December 25th), and become enveloped in the “spirit of Christmas.”
Have you not wondered why there are so many non-biblical customs surrounding holidays that are purported to honor the Jesus Christ of the Bible?
Worship Based on Emotion
In much of Christianity today there has been a shift toward a new center, which may loosely be described as a shift from mind to emotion. The modern demand is for a religious “worship” experience that stresses feelings above reason, logic and doctrine.
Many have abandoned biblically-defined worship and adopted religious entertainment, calling it worship. They have a pretense of Christianity, but it is only a façade, as Paul wrote: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:5).
For many, the final authority in matters of faith and morals is no longer the Word of God, but the inner workings of the human mind. Some denominations view the Bible as merely a historical document requiring human interpretation to correct its “errors.”
People can unknowingly worship in ways that are far different from what they sincerely believe or intend. Grasp what is at stake with another Jesus. With a different savior ultimately comes a different “mediator,” “high priest,” “shepherd,” “bishop of our souls,” “apostle,” “king of kings,” “lord of lords,” and all of Christ’s other titles and roles.
When one does not understand the “simplicity in Christ” (II Cor. 11:3) and allow the Bible to interpret itself, the inevitable result is to soon be unwittingly following a very different savior (vs. 4).
Nullifying the Law
The Jesus commonly spoken of in the large denominations of accepted Christianity promotes the idea that keeping God’s divine laws is no longer needed because they have been “nailed to the cross.” All a Christian must do is “accept and believe in him” to be assured a place in heaven. Beguiled by this notion, the majority reject the seventh-day Sabbath, the annual Holy Days and other truths of the Bible, leaving an open door for a host of non-biblical practices. The first-century apostles resisted this slippery path into lawlessness, but many believers allowed themselves to be led astray.
Paul foretold a time when fables and the traditions of men would be substituted for the truth: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4).
This deception began in the first century but has grown much worse in recent times. Most receive teachers who tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Wrong conduct is justified—explained away—giving no regard to the warning, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
Paul wrote of “another gospel” and “another spirit,” appearing in conjunction with this other “Jesus.” When one examines the facts of history, it becomes evident that traditional Christianity brought in a different Jesus, and with him came a different gospel.
The one impersonating the true Son of God brought a social gospel of “love” and “tolerance”—one that does not require any personal responsibility, such as repentance. Its message is just “come as you are” and “believe on him” to receive salvation.
Today we hear a great deal about the person of Jesus Christ—confining the message solely to the things about the Son of God, but not about the message He brought. As a result, millions believe on Jesus, but do not believe Him—what He taught! Jesus Christ taught “the coming of the Kingdom of heaven or the Kingdom of God”.
Notice Mark 1:14: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” The real Christ brought a message from His Father: news of the soon-coming kingdom of God—a supergovernment that will teach humanity to obey His Law, which leads to achieving the abundant life all have longed for, but were never able to realize.
There are many different “gospels” being offered, such as the gospel of salvation, the gospel of grace, the social gospel, the prosperity gospel and many other hybrids.
How important is it to believe the real gospel the true Jesus brought? In Mark 16:16, the resurrected Christ said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.”
This is not a trivial matter. Eternity is at stake! It is so important that God inspired Paul to write, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, [the same gospel Jesus preached] let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
Gal 1 verse 9: “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.”
Is your minister cautioning you on the dangers of these counterfeits? If not, why?
Spirit of Error
Observed objectively, when you compare the worship described in the Bible to modern Christianity, they appear as two totally different religions. The terminology is similar, like counterfeit labels on bootleg items. The names of the lead characters are the same, but the substance is different. Do “Christianized” traditions of men honor God—or someone else?
The different spirit bringing these erroneous gospels emanates from the master counterfeiter whom the Bible calls the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). Seeking to counterfeit every aspect of God’s Plan, this powerful being “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). His spirit influences and directs human agents whom he uses to fulfill his will: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:13-14).
Both Jesus and another Jesus go by the same name. Both Jesus and another Jesus use the same Bible. Both Jesus and another Jesus refer back to the same Man who walked the earth. Thus another Jesus is the Nicene Christ, the Christ of the Nicolaitans!
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:23-24 [KJV])
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, 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, ye might well bear with him” (2nd Corinthians 11:1-4).
What Did the real Jesus Preach?
The predominant focus of mainstream Christianity is the undeserved crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent forgiveness of sins that is available through accepting that sacrifice. While this selfless act was and is unquestionably momentous, and its effects exceedingly far-reaching, many would be shocked to find out that the Bible defines the gospel differently than what they have always been told. A thoughtful reading shows that accepting Christ’s blood in payment of our sins—as foundationally important as it is—is actually not the focus of the “good news” that He brought and that the apostles continued to preach.
In addition to dying for our sins, Jesus Christ came to earth as a messenger from God the Father:
Behold, I send My messenger [John the Baptist], and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant(Jesus Christ), in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
Jesus did not speak His own words, but the words that the Father gave Him (John 8:38-42; 12:49-50; 14:24). His message was not primarily about Himself, but rather the good news that the Father ordained to be announced on earth. While Jesus Christ was categorically the most important individual ever to walk this earth, the Bible shows clearly that the gospel that Jesus brought was not simply about Himself. Read His statements, and prove this for yourself:
» And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
» And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)
» Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
» [Jesus] said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:43)
» Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings [gospel] of the kingdom of God. (Luke 8:1)
» The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. (Luke 16:16-17)
» And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The inspired Word of God makes it abundantly plain: The “good news” that Jesus Christ brought was about the Kingdom of God! The “gospel of Jesus Christ” is simply the message of good news that Jesus preached—not a message about Jesus. It is not primarily a message about the events in His life and of His becoming the Savior of the world—although it most certainly does include all that. But if the events of His life are not seen in the context of what He said, the resulting “faith” will be full of error and ultimately disastrous!
The announcement of “good news”—the very best news that could be heard today—which the Father gave through Jesus Christ, was about His Kingdom being established on earth.
But what is a kingdom? It is essentially a nation, with all of its citizens, land, and laws, ruled by a government. In biblical usage, a kingdom can also mean a family from a single parent grown into a nation.
A kingdom has four basic elements: 1) a king, supreme ruler, or governing agent; 2) territory, with its specific location and definite boundary lines; 3) subjects or citizens within that territorial jurisdiction; 4) and laws and a form of government through which the will of the ruler is exercised. If we ignore any one of these essential elements—if we ignore the message that Jesus Christ brought from the Father—we will have a distorted faith, one that will not bring salvation.
The Gospel Jesus Preached
Over the passing centuries since Jesus lived, traditional Christianity has unfortunately obscured many of the teachings of Scripture. In some cases, this veiling of certain truths has been deliberate—for instance, in the doctrines of justification and of the Sabbath—while others have been allowed to fade from memory or to be eclipsed by emphasis on other doctrines. The early Roman Catholic Church bears much of the blame for these significant changes, having decreed through their councils that Roman Christianity would follow paths contrary to God’s Word.
The gospel that Jesus taught during His ministry is one such area that has been purposefully diverted from scriptural reality. Ask any nominal Christian what Jesus’ gospel was, and the answer is likely to be, “He preached a gospel of grace” or perhaps, “a gospel of salvation.” Both of these are correct answers but not strictly accurate ones. Many Protestants sit in their pews each week and hear a gospel about Jesus Himself. This, too, is not wrong—certainly, Jesus is central to the gospel—but it is not exactly what the Bible says it is.
Mark 1:14-15 provides the inspired answer to our question: “Now after John [the Baptist] was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'” (emphasis ours; see also Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14). His message, then, was bigger than grace and salvation—as wonderful as they are—or even bigger than Himself, for that matter. His message was about the reign, the rule, the dominion, of God the Father, as well as of the Son, the One who is to be the King of that Kingdom (see John 18:37; Revelation 19:11-16).
The phrases “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” are found over a hundred times in the New Testament, the majority of them in the four gospels. “Kingdom of Grace” never appears, nor—to the surprise of many—does “gospel of grace.” “Gospel of peace” is found twice, in Romans 10:15 and Ephesians 6:15, both probably echoing Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15. In Ephesians 1:13,
Paul calls it “the gospel of your salvation.” Yet, by far, the gospel is most often called “the gospel of Christ,” “the gospel of God,” or something similar. From the Bible’s own wording, then, we can conclude that the divinely inspired gospel is about the Kingdom of God.
“The gospel of the Kingdom of God” encompasses grace, faith, redemption, justification, sanctification, salvation, glorification, and all the other doctrines of Christianity because all of these teachings comprise the major tenets of God’s way of life and the process of fulfilling His plan for humanity. The Kingdom of God is the goal of God’s great purpose, and if we desire to have a part in it with Him, it must be our goal too. Jesus’ preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God provides us with our objective, as well as with all of the component parts needed to reach it.
As many know, the word “gospel” derives from an Old English word, gödspel, which literally means “good news” or “good tidings.” Thus, when Christ preached, He proclaimed the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God. But, some may wonder, is this not God’s world? Is He not its Creator? Is He not sovereign of the entire universe? Why, then, did Jesus have to announce that God’s dominion was on its way?
The answer is simple: This is not God’s world! Yes, He created it. Yes, He governs all things. However, from the time of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden, God and man have effectively been separated from each other. The holy God cannot abide sin: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you,” declares Isaiah 59:2. In turn, sin has made humanity hold God at arm’s length for thousands of years, and man’s banishment of God from his life has resulted in his perpetually miserable condition: war, poverty, disease, deception, distrust, and death.
Taking advantage of the vacuum, as it were, Satan the Devil has enthroned himself as “the god of this age” and blinded the minds of men and women to the truths that would set them free (II Corinthians 4:4). He has managed to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9), not only about himself, but about God and His way of salvation. This is why, among the first things He had to do, Jesus had to endure the Devil’s temptations and overcome him and them without sinning (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He had to prove Himself superior to Satan’s devices and worthy of His throne over the whole earth and all mankind.
Luke in particular shows the link between Jesus’ overcoming of Satan and His preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Just three verses after the end of the temptation narrative, Luke recounts the episode of Jesus’ announcement of His Messiahship in Nazareth’s synagogue (Luke 4:16-21). He quotes from Isaiah 49:8-9, which provide His job assignment:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Luke 4:18-19)
His mission, He says, is to preach the good news to the spiritually poor people of this world, whom Satan has imprisoned and deceived, and to begin the process of freeing them from the oppression of sin. He would proclaim liberty from their debt of sin, just as the year of Jubilee freed the Israelites from their financial debts (Leviticus 25:8-12). The Jubilee is a type of Christ’s thousand-year reign, often called the Millennium, which will begin with His second coming and the binding of Satan (see Revelation 20:1-6).
The gospel of the Kingdom of God balances these present and future elements of God’s purpose. By His calling, God is selecting a few chosen servants to be the firstfruits of His Kingdom (John 6:44; Matthew 22:14; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4). These elect, who believe the gospel, are put through the process of salvation: They hear God’s Word, believe, repent of their sins, are baptized, and receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. God forgives and justifies them through His grace, and then they become sanctified both by the imputation of Christ’s holiness as well as through the lifelong process of overcoming their sins, growth in righteousness, and bearing fruit of godliness.
At Christ’s return, they will be resurrected and changed into spirit, given eternal life, and glorified as God’s sons and daughters. They, as the Bride of Christ forever (Revelation 19:7-9), will reign as kings and priests (Revelation 5:10).
Such is the gist of Jesus’ message of good tidings to mankind. In reality, it is the message of the entire Bible—God’s wonderful plan of salvation and the establishment of His everlasting Kingdom.