There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect
. Matthew 24:24

If we are living in the last days, then this warning must apply to something that is happening right now, and we need to learn how to recognise a false Christ or false prophet.

There have been a few people claiming to be Jesus. But for the most part, they don't fool many of us.

Mainline churches often take it further and try to imply that the leaders of any movement that doesn't conform with the mainstream, have claimed to be the Messiah (Christ).  (Rarely is this true.)

But, as I understand it, the real deception is the mainstream itself.  

Jesus taught that true prophets are almost universally persecuted, unpopular nonconformists who dare to criticise the status quo. (Matthew 5:11-12)  Whereas his description of false prophets is just the opposite.  He says they are respectable people who even appear to promote true prophets from the past, except that they continue to persecute critics of the system in the present. (Matthew 23:27-31)

So how can we recognise the false prophets and false christs that Jesus warned about? In a way, the false prophets and the false christs are one and the same.  This is because the word "christ" simply means "anointed one”.  Virtually all church leaders claim to have God's anointing. They do not claim to be Jesus, but they do claim to have God's anointing, which is certainly not a bad thing in itself.

The question we need to ask ourselves, however, is how do we recognise a genuine anointing from God, and how do we recognise a counterfeit?

And this is where we look for a false Jesus or Christ.  If someone (a prophet, teacher or other “anointed” one) is promoting a Jesus who is not consistent with the Jesus we read about in the Bible, then they are a false prophet proclaiming a false Christ.  

I have found that the "Christ” being promoted by most of these preachers/teachers/pastors/priests is a false Christ. They may call him Jesus, but closer examination reveals him to be an imposter, who is dramatically different from the true Christ of history and of the Bible.

Until this is pointed out, people will continue to be confused whenever reference is made to the teachings of the real Jesus. They will pick up that he is different to the Christ that they have been told about by their church leaders, and usually assume that the real Jesus is the one to be wary of.  

Try it.  Talk to someone about some of the things that Jesus told his followers to do, and watch them change the subject, turn away, say that you are teaching a false doctrine, laugh at you as being unrealistic, or in some other way put down the real Christ each time you try to present him and his teachings.  And they will race off to confer with their pastor as soon as they can get away from you, in an effort to get support for their misgivings.

The most reliable way to recognise the false christs is to get to know the true Christ, and then promote him.  The way people react will tell you right away whether their christ is the same.  Sadly, we may need to accept that the christ they claim as their hope of salvation is a fabrication, invented and promoted by an apostate church.

This false christ must be exposed, and replaced with the one and only Son of God.

Le’s look at the Billy Graham phenomenon, which has spread around the world in the past 66 years.  As I write this article, Billy Graham is still alive, and nearing 100 years old.  The biggest defence for him having a genuine anointing was always that he had "led thousands of people to the Lord.”

But which "Lord”?  

The Jesus of the Bible says, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but only those who do the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many good works?' And then will I profess unto them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Does Billy Graham's 'Lord' say that we must do the will of God to be saved? Not at all.  Instead, he says you only need to say a little prayer (usually recited for you, line by line) and you will be eternally saved. According to the fine print, about the only way you could lose this salvation would be to listen to anyone (including Jesus himself), who tries to tell you that you have to at least try to "do the will of the Father" to be saved.

Hundreds of thousands of people have come forward at Billy Graham crusades over the years (and many more at similar “altar calls" that take place in churches all over the world each week) because they were told that they need only ask Jesus into their hearts to be saved.

But we need to ask ourselves, "Who are they asking into their hearts?  It’s someone called Christ. But is it the Christ of the Bible?  No one ever asks whether the Christ of the Bible taught people to raise their hand, walk forward, say a little prayer, sign a card, and then find a nice church to attend?  So why is it that these converts almost never show interest in what the real Christ taught?

The answer is because they asked a different christ (or anointed one) into their heart.  The one in whom they have placed their faith is Billy Graham himself (or whoever else has fed them that lie about what Jesus expects of his followers). They have called him “christ”, but he is a false christ.

Ever wonder why they were called Billy Graham Crusades and not Jesus Christ Crusades? It’s because people (even the converts) have more faith in Billy than they do in the Christ of the Bible. Billy's formula for salvation is a lot easier than what the real Christ requires.  The Billy Graham logo sells in a way that Jesus’ teachings do not.

For years I tried to reconcile the Jesus I discovered by reading the Four Gospels with the Jesus of a billion churchgoers around the world, and it never worked.

I believe (and I may be wrong) that people who have expressed faith in such a false christ can still be saved if this is the best they know.  And I believe this because I believe the blood of Christ covers all our errors in theology, as long as we are acting in faith based on our best understanding of God at the time.

Of course I have a responsibility as a follower of the true Christ to inform Billy Graham worshipper about the error they have made. And I have a right to expect that they will show their genuineness by welcoming the Christ of the Bible in preference to any counterfeit that they had previously worshipped.  Some have done that, and afterwards they have admitted that they were never quite satisfied with the counterfeit.  They knew something was missing, but just didn’t know what it was.

Of course, the false prophets in the church will do much the same as they did to Jesus, damning his message and accusing him of being evil.

Having read this essay you are responsible if you continue to run away from or twist the teachings of the true Messiah.

Only one Christ can save you.  He is the Christ whose message appears in the first four books of the New Testament.  None of us will ever be perfect; Jesus died so that we can be saved despite our imperfections.  But God will not give you this saving grace without evidence of true faith in him and all that he said, which necessarily means at least trying to obey Christ.

Don't take my word for it; and don't take the word of all the other more respectable teachers. Just start reading the teachings of Jesus yourself, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Ask yourself what he required of his followers. Then start obeying him like your salvation depends on it.

Because it does!

For more information related to this article, please check out the following video: Br Dave Ch #3 - The Correct Church