by Mike Ratliff
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “ The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20 NASB)
In our last several posts we have looked at the growing apostasy that appears to be consuming the Church. Let us not forget that there are many who claim to be “christian” who view what we have been discussing and exploring as the very thing they are trying to accomplish. They view our exposition of it as “interference” and “over reaction.” We must never forget that only those who have the truth of God written on their hearts can see the veracity of these things. Only they have the ability to escape the delusion that is swiftly coming upon the earth. I believe we should look at the Biblical truth about the real Christ so that we will be able recognize all impostors. We will do that in this post along with the markings of a genuine disciple, one who has the truth of God written on his or her heart.
1 And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2 And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. 3 And He said to them, “ Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. 5 And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6 NASB)
The New Testament Church was begun by God working through Jesus’ Apostles. They had a divine commission to preach the Gospel accompanied by miraculous works. These men obeyed God and, after Jesus ascended to the Father, they planted churches. When they began these ministries they appointed pastors and elders to shepherd their flocks. These pastors and elders were not given the same commission that the Apostles received. From the time of the first pastors and elders to the end of the age, the Church is supposed to operate in this model.
However, back to this passage. Jesus sent the 12 out to preach and heal. They were commissioned and given everything they needed for the task by God. I have always found it interesting that Jesus instructed them to shake off the dust from their feet for a testimony against those who would not receive the Gospel. They did not change their message in order to appease those who objected to what they preached. Instead, they simply preached the Kingdom. Those who rejected it were given testimony by the shaking off of the dust from the disciple’s feet that they were not of the Kingdom.
In our first evidence that marks the Christ of God is that He already has a Kingdom and it is not of this world. This Kingdom is made up of those who receive Him as their Lord. Those who refuse to receive the real Jesus are excluded from this Kingdom.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:7-9 NASB)
The Christ of God is not subject to earthly rulers in any way. The only time that He was ever under their authority was from the time of Judas’ betrayal until the Resurrection on the third day. When our Lord returns He will not seek alliances and compromises with earthly kings. Instead, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When He returns everyone will know that. Herod was perplexed by Jesus mighty works. We know that the counterfeit Jesus that fools the world actually does seek alliances with earthly kings. He does try to found a world empire. The Lord Jesus Christ already has His Kingdom and it will be fulfilled when He returns.
10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” 13 But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, “Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full. (Luke 9:10-17 NASB)
The Christ of God minsters to His subjects. He does not lord it over them. He heals them and feeds them. Notice that Jesus does not force people to worship Him. The counterfeit will kill those who refuse to worship him. The mighty works of the Christ of God are for the building up of the saints and the glory of the Father. The mighty works of the counterfeit will be to awe the deluded and make people follow him.
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “ The Christ of God. (Luke 9:18-20 NASB)
In this passage we see a poignant moment, a defining moment if you will, in our Lord’s ministry. He has sent the disciples out to preach and heal and they were empowered by God to do so. Then just as they return the large crowd comes upon them. Then our Lord ministers to them and feeds them with just a few loaves and a couple of fish. Then we find Him alone praying. It is as if we are to see the next words from His lips being born from this time alone with the Father. He asks two questions of the disciples. The first was to get the disciples to see that the perception of the crowds of who Jesus was, was very different than reality. Did our Lord go around telling everyone who He was, demanding worship? No, he healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached the Kingdom. These were all fulfillment of prophecy from the Old Testament revealing that He is the Christ, but the people’s sights were much lower. They concluded that He must be a great prophet.
Then Jesus asks the second question, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter got the answer right the first time. He said, “The Christ of God.” We know from Matthew 16:16-17 that Peter got that answer right because it had been revealed to him by the Father. Those born of the Spirit have faith that has been quickened by God. He works in believer’s hearts in their regeneration making them New Creations. All in Christ are now able to not sin. Why? That which is not of faith is sin, but believers can walk by faith instead of by sight. When they walk by faith they are not walking in the flesh. It is these people who are alive and remain at the return of Christ who will have no trouble recognizing Him as the Christ of God.
On the other hand, those deluded into following the counterfeit Christ will not be seeking Jesus the Christ of God, but will be looking for another Jesus who will unite mankind into one government and one religion that encompasses all of the religions of the world. He will become the focus of them all. Jesus Christ says that only those who know Him as the Christ of God, not some other way, are His.
21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, “ The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” 23 And He was saying to them all, “ If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:21-26 NASB)
Jesus informed the disciples that what Peter said about Him being the Christ of God was true, but they must not tell anyone. Of course they were to tell the truth about Him after His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Then our Lord tells them that His future glory as the Christ of God must come after He suffers many things and is rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Then He tells them and us that if we are to come after Him then we must also deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Him. He is telling us that there is a high cost to genuine discipleship. That cost is our lives. We are to live as if we are nailed to the cross with our Lord, that is, to be dead to this world and alive to God. It is a walk defined by submission to others as Jesus commands. It is a walk of being immersed in the Word of God and prayer. It is a walk of utter obedience to Him even if it costs us our lives.
What are the marks of those who want Jesus, but not this life of discipleship? These are the ones who seek to save their earthly life for themselves. They seek the world and its ways. They are ashamed of Him and His words. On the other hand, the genuine disciple of the Christ of God loses His life or the rights to His life in order to gain Christ. The Genuine Christ of God will return in His glory. The counterfeit Jesus will not do this. Instead, he will simply become famous and adored and powerful. Even so, he will not be seen coming in the clouds in great glory as our Lord will.
27 But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” 28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “ Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles:one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “ This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen. (Luke 9:27-36 NASB)
About eight days later the Lord took Peter, John and James up on a mountain to pray. As the Lord was praying, the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing became dazzling white. Moses and and Elijah appeared in glory and spoke of His departure through the events about to come in Jerusalem. This was the fulfillment of Jesus’ words to the disciples that there would be some standing there listening to Him who would not taste death until they saw the Kingdom of God. This was their very brief glimpse into the reality of our Lord’s Kingdom. Then a voice came from the clouds saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” This is the mark of a genuine disciple. He or she listens to the Son. Jesus said that He was the vine and His disciples are the branches attached to the vine. Genuine disciples remain in the vine, the abide in Christ. They mourn over their sin. They repent. They obey their Lord.
The Christ of God is Lord of all. Those who are His follow Him because they know His voice. However, they will not follow a stranger because they don’t know his voice. When the counterfeit Jesus comes he will be a stranger to the sheep of our Lord’s fold. On the other hand, those outside of this fold are fair game. Later, our Lord made the following statement.
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “ If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. ’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. 34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:25-35 NASB)
My brethren, the Christ of God is going to return. Those who are His will recognize Him because they are not looking for Him to return as a man, even a powerful charismatic man. No, they are looking for Him to return in His glory. Those who are genuine disciples of the Christ of God are the ones who have counted the high cost of discipleship and have seen that, even so, it is far better to lay up treasure in Heaven instead of here on earth so they commit their lives in every part to the Lord’s glory. In contrast to that commitment, their love for others and the things of this world is much lower. This commitment goes as far as bearing ones own cross out of the city. This is an analogy of dying to self to the point that self-focus is overcome with devotion to the Lord. Please read this passage from Luke 14:25-35. Mediate on this as you prayerfully ask God to show you the areas of your life that you have not surrendered to Him. Jesus says that He is Lord of all or not Lord at all. This should sober us up quite a bit my brethren.
The Christ of God says that only those who trust in Him for their salvation, not their works, are His. The counterfeit Jesus will demand worship as god, but will do so with the threat of death if one does not. The Christ of God says that we are to walk by faith and trust Him now and when are joined with Him when He returns, we will worship Him because He is God and is worthy. I pray that God has spoken to your heart from His word as you read this humble piece. I pray that you will not worry or be fearful of the man of sin. We must trust that God will keep us from the great deception when it comes. Even so, Come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!