Beware of False Christ’s + Matthew 24:1-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”
These are the words of Jesus. In the Last Days, Jesus tells us, “There will be false christs.”
These are the Last Days. There are false christ’s today. “‘The time is coming,’ St. Paul says, ‘when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.’” That time is now. The end is at hand.
After today, there are only two Sundays left in the church year. Today and for the next three weeks, the church year will focus upon Jesus second coming, His coming again to judge the quick and the dead.
But even more important than Jesus’ second coming, because He has already come, He is here now and He will come again, just as He promised; the important thing is who do we believe Jesus Christ, to be. What is important is what we believe about Christ, what we teach about Christ, and what we confess to the world about Christ.
First, as we confess together in the Apostles’ Creed, we believe that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died on the cross died. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. This is the true Christ. With these words, we believe that Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary. If this is not the Christ you believe in, you believe in a false christ.
With these words, we believe that He has purchased and won us poor miserable sinners from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. If this is not the Christ you believe in, you believe in a false christ.
With these words, we believe that we are made right with God, that we are in a right relationship with God, because of the works of Christ, not of our own works. We cannot earn God’s favor. As St. Paul teaches, “It is by grace we have been saved through faith. And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Look at the picture on the front cover of your bulletin, there is an image of the true Christ. Coming out of his mouth is a sword, which is the Law of God, the Ten Commandments. By our failure to keep these Laws of God perfectly, we humble ourselves before the true Christ and confess that we are poor, miserable sinners, we have sinned against God and man, deserving temporal death and eternal punishment. The Law of God works like a sword, punishing us, disciplining us, humbling us, bringing us to fear and shame. We are heartily sorry for our sins against God and neighbor and sincerely repent of them, desiring to turn away from evil.
Again, look at the picture on the front cover of your bulletin, coming out of the other side of Jesus’ mouth is a lily, which is the Gospel. The Gospel, is the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keeping our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is where we turn to after we have repented of our sins and turned away from evil. The Gospel is true comfort and joy for the sinner.
Realizing our sins, we pray for Christ’s boundless mercy. We pray that Christ would not punish us for our sins of thought, word and deed. We desire grace. We desire God’s love, even though we do not deserve it. We trust that because of Christ’s holy, innocent, bitter suffering and death, God is gracious and merciful to us, poor, sinful beings. This is like the smell of a sweet smelling lily.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. To believe that we do not sin or that our sins are not that, is to believe in a false christ. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
If we confess our sins, the true Christ is faithful and just, eager to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To believe that Christ either can’t or won’t forgive sins is to believe in a false christ. For God the Father did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The forgiveness of sins, given to us by the true Christ, is to our comfort and strengthen, as we what He did on the night of His resurrection from the dead, when He appeared to His disciples and showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”
The true Christ demands that His Holy Word be taught in its truth and purity, and we, as His brothers and sisters, would lead holy lives according to it. To live and believe and teach otherwise, is to separate ourselves from Him and His love. Anyone who teaches or lives or believes contrary to Christ’s Holy Word, contrary to His Law, contrary to His Gospel creates false christs, creates false belief, separates themselves from the true Christ, even denies Christ. On the Last Day, when Jesus comes again to judge the quick and the dead, He will say to those who follow false christs, “Depart from me. I do not know you.” It is our prayer that He would protect us from this.
“If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” We see these false christs today. We see their followers today. We see too many among us being led astray.
Look at those who reject the notion of sin and repentance and forgiveness. Look at those among us who focus upon on pleasure. Those among us who think that pleasure is good and pain is bad. With these people, as they follow these false christs, there is no right and wrong, there is no judgment and condemnation – ultimately, there is no heaven or hell. People who listen to this false christ believe that because Jesus loves them, He wants them to be happy, and if it makes them happy it must be good, even if God’s Holy Word has already said it is a sin.
This way of thinking, this false christ, that everything that brings pleasure is good, needs to be repented of and turned away from. The false christ who gets us to believe that as long as I am happy, it is okay, established beliefs and practices like, “Me FIrst”, “My Body-My Choice”, “Free Love” and “No Fault Divorce”. This false christ that focuses upon pleasure being good and pain being bad has gotten rid of the Ten Commandments and the need for repentance. It has removed the need for forgiveness, because there is no sin to be forgiven for. It has removed hell and judgment and punishment from our thoughts and prayers. And in so doing, ultimately, has removed a need for heaven, because those who are happy on earth have no reason to look forward to heaven. All of these false christs have separated us from the true Christ, who by His death on the cross has paid the price for our sins and rose from the dead and ascended into heaven that we would have true peace. Amen.