False Christs, false prophets, and false teachers represent a major New Testament theme. Each of these three categories can be distinguished from one another.
False Christs are types of the coming ant-Christ, the man of lawlessness (2 Thess 2). These are Messianic figures, noted by their magical signs and wonders. With these spiritual powers, they deceive many. The spirit of anti-Christ has been at work since the commencement of the New Testament age (1 Jn 4:3). These are false leaders; for the church has only one Leader, who is Christ (Mt 23:10).
With every false Christ, there is the suggestion that he is to be trusted for deliverance. Like Jim Jones leading his people into the jungle of Guyana, so false Christs lead people into the desert, or into secret compounds for secret meetings. Their sole objective is to mislead people (Mt 24:26). Unregenerate people are gullible to charismatic leaders in religion. There is also a religious regimen, or the promise of secret knowledge for the follower. False Christs have help from religious leaders called, “false prophets.”
False prophets give power to false Christs. By doing so, they gain power, prosperity, and fame themselves. The most common false prophet is the one who assures his audience that he has knowledge of future world events.
The Seventh Day Adventists (William Miller), the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Charles Taze Russell), and modern-day radio prophets, like Harold Camping, all fall into this category of claiming to know the day of Christ’s return. Their followers number in the millions. The Mormons (Joseph Smith/Brigham Young) promise that deity, including sovereignty over one’s own planet and people, awaits their faithful followers.
The future is crucial to the false prophet because of its fluid uncertainty. If a religious man comes along and promises to tell you the events of the future, biblical or non-biblical, he is claiming special knowledge. False prophets of the Bible predict future scenarios they have invented from erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures. These are pioneers of new ideas, new views, and new systems of eschatology. The more complex the system, the better for sales of books, media, and seminars for financial profit.
False teachers are not inventive pioneers. They are re-tellers of the false prophet’s media promotion of false Christ’s. The false Christ is a narcissistic megalomaniac (king). The false prophet is a chief interpreter (high priest). The false teacher simply multiplies the scope of the false doctrine’s reach (priest). The false teacher is a student of falsehood, and he or she serves to promote lies within the system of lies. Many deceive and many are deceived (Mt 24:5, 11).
The clarity, even simplicity, of the holy Bible is missed by students of the doctrines of demons. The multitude of religious deceived are far more interested in the newest liturgies, philosophies, psychologies, and man-centered wisdom than they are with ancient holy Writ. The deceived despise sound doctrine, in favor of entertainment. They love movements more than the church. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached in the 1950s, “One of the greatest dangers, perhaps, confronting us as Christians today is to think in terms of ‘movements’ instead of ‘churches.’ In the New Testament it is always churches — our tendency is to go for movements.”
The ultimate false Christ is coming at the consummation of the present evil age. His clerical army of false prophets will promote him and defend him against his only critics…the elect saints during the great tribulation (megale thlipsis). Under intense persecution, the Christians living in the last days will experience what Christians have endured in every age. Their persecution will be greater than has ever been suffered, by the body of Christ, before in history.
The false teachers will assure the worshipers of the image of the beast (anti-Christ) that he is the true Messiah, but his signs, wonders, and powers will be from Satan himself (2 Thess 2:9), the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). Christians, like the two witnesses of Revelation 11, will continue to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, but many will die in the wake of Antichrist’s hateful wrath toward the saints of God.
The saving grace of all Christian suffering is remembrance of one’s election, Christ’s redemption, and the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit, who guides His elect saints into all truth, which is our ever-present defense against false Christs, false prophets, and false teachers.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 1, 2021