False Christ’s

RECENTLY A TERRORIST event in Japan attracted the attention of the news media worldwide. It was a most unusual terrorist attack that left ten people dead while injuring 5,500—all felled by nerve gas. Packages of poison liquid were placed on five subway passenger trains during the peak of the morning rush-hour on March 20th in Tokyo, Japan, which threatened 5.8 million people carried on three major railroad lines each day.

Passengers on one train reported that a man with a white mask and sunglasses placed a lunch box wrapped in newspaper on an overhead rack, and then got off the car. Shortly after that, more than 200 passengers riding the subway train began coughing, and complaining of headaches, diminishing vision, and nausea. Several collapsed onto the floor, and some blacked out.

It was found that the packages of liquid contained dissolved sarin, a nerve gas. Sarin was developed by Nazi scientists in the 1930’s. They used the gas experimentally in death camps, but never against the Allied troops. A nerve gas attacks the enzyme cholinesterase, which transmits nerve signals in the human body. Interference with this enzyme causes suffocation from paralysis of the diaphragm and other breathing muscles. Atropine is used as an antidote. Nerve gas was not used in warfare during World War II, although both sides had stock piles; however, Iraq’s army is widely believed to have used sarin against Iranian troops, and against Kurdish rebels in recent times.

The amazing part of this incident is that a religious sect called Aum Shinri Kyo (the Sublime Truth) was responsible for the horrible attack. This sect practices a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism, and claims to have 10,000 members in Japan, 30,000 in Russia, and more in Germany and Sri Lanka. It is registered in Russia under the name, “The Study of the Supreme Truth of Aum.”

At the time of the subway attack, the leaders of the group were preparing a threatening message that poison gas attacks or other calamities would kill 90 percent of the people living in major cities in the coming years, and that the world would end by 1997. When all types of chemicals, military supplies and food were found in this sect’s warehouses, a spokesman for the group said they were preparing for Armageddon, a word found in Revelation 16:16. Until now, there is no clear motive or objective known for the menacing attack, and the leader has disappeared.

One might be predisposed to shrug off such an incident as arising from a fanatical oriental religion. Yet two years ago in the United States the public was made aware of a religious group which was supposedly preaching the Bible, and whose roots were seemingly in a conservative and non-violent protestant denomination. They were led by a radical leader who had built a large complex in Waco, Texas. He had heavily armed his followers with guns, preaching fulfillment of prophecies in the Book of Revelation.

When the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the complex, leading a raid on it, many of their members were slain in a shoot-out, and the compound came under siege for many weeks with a large number of women and children locked inside. Finally, the Dept. of Justice approved an assault on the complex, thereby causing its leader to start fires which killed most of the trapped members.

The reaction of the Christian world to these bizarre episodes is to suppose that such actions are inspired by the Devil, and that any strange-behaving religion is a cult to be shunned. Bible students are interested in such incidents as signs of Christ’s presence, as given by Jesus in the 24th chapter of Matthew.

Jesus said: “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. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming [presence] of the Son of man be.”—Matt. 24:23-27


Christ is a Greek word that means ‘anointed’. Its equivalent in Hebrew is Messiah. The concept of anointing stems from God’s instructions to Israel for the establishment of a priesthood; and the anointing oil—a specific composition prescribed in Exodus 30:23-33—was not to be used in any ordinary way, but solely for the purpose of anointing the priests. Later this ceremony was extended to include the anointing of the kings of Israel.

The significance of the priestly anointing ceremony was that of consecration, or, being set apart for service to God. All the High Priests and underpriests of Israel were consecrated and anointed, as we read in Exodus 28:40,41. “For Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, … and thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”

Later, when the elders of Israel demanded a king, they approached Samuel, the last of the judges, with their request. The Lord told Samuel to respect their wishes, but to make it plain that Israel was rejecting God, not Samuel, and to describe plainly the pitfalls that lay ahead. When Samuel had done so, the people were not to be swayed and still wanted a king, The Lord told Samuel to give them a king. (I Sam. 8:19-22) In the events that followed, Saul was chosen by the Lord to be king, and he was anointed by Samuel. (I Sam. 9:27; 10:1) Samuel asked Saul, “Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” See also I Samuel 15:1.

Saul eventually fell out of favor with the Lord and Samuel was instructed to go to the home of Jesse, the Bethlehemite, to anoint one of his sons as the new king. After interviewing all Jesse’s sons, David, the youngest, was brought from the field where he tended sheep, and God said to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him: for this is he.” (I Sam. 16:12) “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.”—vs. 13

The anointing ceremony of both priests and kings of Israel were intended to typify the anointing by the Holy Spirit of those selected by God to be kings and priests in his Millennial Kingdom. Hence, the use of the descriptive phrase, ‘the Lord’s anointed’ or ‘Christ’, who is the chief priest.

Satan, the Adversary of God, has, from the outset, sought to deceive the world in this matter. His strategy has been to raise upon the scene false Christs, who claim to have a special dispensation from God to lead the faithful to salvation. Anyone who claims to be sent of God to be a leader, particularly when these claims are said to be in fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, no matter what religious beliefs are involved, falls into the classification of being a ‘false Christ’. Jesus warned that the appearance of such false Christs would be prevalent, not only during this entire Gospel Age, but also would continue to the very end—even during his presence as the true Christ.

The disciples of the Early Church were eager to know when Jesus would be present again, and what would be the signs of the ‘end of the age’. The very first words of Jesus in response to this inquiry were, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, 1 am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4,5) Even throughout the long waiting period before Jesus would return, Satan tried to deceive the believers with false Christs.

During our Lord’s ministry upon earth, Jesus gave a very important lesson on this matter that we know as the parable of the wheat and the tares. The lesson is significant because it deals with false religions, imitation Christians, and clearly shows the Devil’s involvement with these. The parable is found in Matthew 13:24-30. It reads as follows:

“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

To determine the lesson in the parables given by Jesus often requires diligent searching of other Scriptures. We are fortunate that Jesus gave the interpretation of this parable to his disciples when they asked him to do so; the meaning of the parable is recorded in Matthew 13:37-43. We read: “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the Wicked One; the enemy that sowed them is the Devil; the harvest is the end of the world [age]; and the reapers are the angels.

“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world [age). The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

Jesus identifies himself as the sower, saying, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;” he also reveals the purpose of his work, which is the development of the children of the kingdom, pictured by the growing wheat. These ‘children’ will be associated with Jesus in the work of the kingdom, and in Acts 15:14 are also called “a people for his [God’s] name.” This work, started by Jesus at his First Advent, progressed successfully as long as the apostles were on the scene. But when they ‘fell asleep in death’, our Lord’s archenemy, Satan, sowed in the field—which represents the world—seeds of tares, which are imitation wheat.

Tares are worthless plants which we call weeds. The usual procedure is to root them up as suggested by our Lord’s servants; but the Lord said, ‘No, lest the true wheat be uprooted at the same time’. He said, ‘Let both grow together until the harvest at the end of the age’. Jesus could have set in motion the means whereby this deception could have been immediately exposed before the Dark Ages began. He chose, rather, to wait until the end of the age before doing so. Satan was permitted ‘free rein’ to set up his masterpiece—a counterfeit kingdom to that of Christ, with counterfeit Christians. It is evident that Satan, in exercising this freedom, continues to set up new ‘false Christs’ even in the end of the Gospel Age, as predicted by Jesus.

The world of mankind—either consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously—longs for the Lord’s Kingdom, as the words of the Apostle Paul indicate: “The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19, RSV) Little wonder that they should be gullible enough to fall prey to Satan’s schemes to set up false Christs. This has been the case since the apostles fell asleep, and so many sincere people have been deceived into believing that they are children of the Kingdom—wheat; when in reality they are imitation children—tares.

This deception has been permitted by God and his Son throughout the Gospel Age. But now that we have reached the end of the age, the harvest, a change has occurred. Those whom the Lord is seeking as a people for his name have been called out of the counterfeit systems of religion—called “Babylon” (Rev. 18:2)—so that “they receive not of her plagues.”—vs. 4

As the parable of the wheat and tares states, angels—or messengers—would be sent to make a separation of the tares from the wheat. Primarily this separation is being accomplished by the sickle of Truth (Rev. 14:15) in the hand of the Son of man. The separation work in this entire period of time is pictured in verses 14-16: “I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.”

The sharp sickle is an apt depiction of God’s Word, which, by its cutting edge permits a separation of the wheat from the tares. The Apostle Paul described the Word of God as “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”—Heb. 4:12

With our Lord present as the chief reaper in this harvest time, a work of separation began. The contribution made to this work by the Bible Student movement was to initiate sincere and intense study of the Bible among small groups of brethren country-wide, and eventually, worldwide. There was a desire to know what the Bible really taught. As an outgrowth of these initial studies of the Bible, six volumes of ‘The Studies in the Scriptures’ were published as helping hands for Bible students. Through these aids, the Bible revealed the requirements for being true Christians, and how these must be followers in the footsteps of Jesus. These studies focused the spotlight of God’s Word on the imperfections of the flesh, as God’s precepts became a ‘discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’. The first of the volumes of ‘Studies in the Scriptures’ was entitled, “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” and it revealed God’s wonderful plan of the ages contained in the Bible, and how it, indeed, was the Gospel or good news unto all people.

The search for God’s people has not been an easy one. The work of the apostles in the Early Church met with much opposition. After the apostles left the scene, intense persecution of the disciples by pagan Rome continued. It was not popular to be a Christian. However, as ambitious leaders took the reins of the church, they found a way to make Christianity popular by introducing some pagan ideas and customs into Christianity. Soon those who adhered to the basic principles of God’s Word found that they were unpopular, and were severely persecuted. Such were the consequences of Satan’s deceptions as they accomplished their purpose.

In accordance with the parable, neither God nor Jesus sought any change of this condition during the Middle Ages. But now, this search is approaching completion, and the time for separation has arrived. With an ever-increasing number of people upon earth, it has become much more difficult to find the few remaining true Christians—the ‘wheat’ class. But the development of modern technology in this time of the end, with knowledge and learning increasing (Dan. 12:1-4), a real assistance has been given to this search by the use of mass media such as the radio, television, and the printed page.

Meanwhile, there is still much sham and false religion rampant. Some that appear as wheat are being discovered to be tares. Soon all imitation Christians will no longer pretend to be the true followers of Christ. Soon the deceptions of Satan will be exposed. This is what Jesus meant in the parable of the wheat and the tares by ‘the burning’ of the tares. The Apostle Paul, seeing that this would happen, sought to encourage the brethren in Corinth by saying, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”—I Cor. 4:5

What praise, indeed, will come to God from mankind when false Christs are eliminated, and as they learn to rid their lives from deceit, falsity, sham, and all the deceptions of Satan, and to, in turn, give all the glory to God for his wonderful plan. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—Matt. 13:43

As the ‘Sun of righteousness’ arises to dispel all evil and unrighteousness, the “plowshares” of trouble (Joel 3:10) will have prepared the earth for a new ‘planting’ of children of the kingdom. This new planting will not have the enemy, the Devil, around to sow seeds of tares to confuse and spoil the harvest. Satan will be bound. (Rev. 20:1,2) The new ‘children of the kingdom’ will be of the earth. They will flourish and grow responsively to “the Sun of righteousness [that] arise[s] with healing in his wings [beams].”—Mal. 4:2

With this encouragement and assistance, every man shall not only give praise to God, but will receive praise from God. They will echo the sentiments expressed by the psalmist, who, speaking for the church, continually during the Gospel Age, have said to their Father: “Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.”—Ps. 65:1, New International Version

Dawn Bible Students Association
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