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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, October 12, 2008
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

The commentary on this verse is our text, Matthew 24:24,

“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” (Matthew 24:24).

The Disciples asked Christ, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). And Jesus gave them a list of signs – all pointing to the end of this world. The very first sign He gave was the appearance of false, imitation “Christs.”

I was converted through hearing a sermon from II Peter, chapter three, on the end of the world, preached by Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge, on September 28, 1961, shortly after he left Fuller Theological Seminary because of its drift toward theological liberalism (Harold Lindsell, Ph.D., The Battle for the Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1976, p. 111). So the subject of Bible prophecy was very important to me in those early years, and it still is. I listened to Dr. M. R. DeHaan speak on Bible prophecy on the radio on Sunday afternoons. I heard Dr. J. Vernon McGee teach on prophecy as he taught the Bible every morning on the radio while I drove to work. I heard Billy Graham preach on the signs of Christ’s coming on his “Hour of Decision” radio program in those early years. My own pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, often preached on prophetic Bible themes. It was very common in those days, over forty years ago, to hear preaching on the Second Coming of Christ and the end of this age.

Today, when it is needed most, we hear little on this subject. We need to hear more on this subject today. It is needed now – more than ever – as this world plunges down a slippery slope toward judgment.

The Disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). Then Christ gave them several signs. But the first one was this – the sign of many false Christs. Jesus said,

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

Look at what Christ said in verse 24,

“For there shall arise false Christs…insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Both of those verses speak of deception in the last days concerning the real Christ. The word “deceive” in both verses is translated from forms of the Greek word “planaō,” which means to “cause to go astray…from truth” (Strong), “to deceive, by leading into error” (Vine). The point is this – there will be great deception concerning Christ in the closing days of this dispensation. There will be many counterfeit Christs. That is the sign – many false, counterfeit Christs. That has happened increasingly over the years. The accumulation of false Christs, leading up to our day, is unprecedented in world history. We are now confronted with so many false Christs that it is bewildering to the average person. And it is my purpose tonight to give you two of them, and then to tell you from the Scriptures, who the real Christ is. I could give you several others, and I will next Sunday night, but I am focusing on two of the most common false “Christs” of our day, which I believe are a sign of the nearness of the Second Coming of our Lord and the end of this present age.

I. First, there is the false Christ of theological liberalism.

I know about that false Christ. He was presented to us at two of the theologically liberal seminaries I attended after graduating from college. To make it simple, this false Christ is merely a man. There is nothing supernatural or divine about him. He is merely a man. They may say that he had some special calling of God and some great ethical and moral things to say. But in the end, he is not the Christ of Scripture, he is not the incarnation of God in human flesh. He did not take sins upon Him to the Cross. He did not die to pay for our sins. He did not rise bodily from the grave. He did not ascend bodily into Heaven. And he is not coming again bodily in the clouds to set up his kingdom on earth. No, the false Christ of theological liberalism is not the Christ presented in the Scriptures. He was just a good man, a great moral teacher, and we should follow his example and try to be good people like he was. That is the liberal position on Christ.

Spurgeon was confronting this false view of Christ when he said, “I stand for the truth of the atonement though the church is being buried beneath the boiling mud showers of modern heresy” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Blood Shed for Many,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974, volume XXXIII, p. 374). It was in Spurgeon’s time that the false Christ of theological liberalism became popular. And this error continues today in the main Protestant churches. It was popularized by Albert Schweitzer’s book, “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” (1906) and other books like that. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a wicked liberal, wrote popular books about Christ like that. Barack Obama’s long-time pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, taught about Christ from this perspective. I’m glad Obama finally left that liberal church a few months ago!

The liberal theologians say that Jesus was just a great man; as they say, “a great moral teacher.” It was against this liberal view that C. S. Lewis said,

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Macmillan, 1952, pp. 40-41).

One professor at the liberal United Presbyterian seminary I attended, while earning my Doctor of Ministry degree, said, “Hymers is a good student, but he holds a very narrow view.” That’s what they say when you believe the Bible – that you have a “narrow view.” Well, you also have a narrow view when you look in the rear view mirror in your car. But if you don’t look there, you’ll get in a wreck when you change lanes! And that’s the way the Bible is. If you don’t look there, in the Bible, to learn about Christ you’ll be in a real wreck at the Last Judgment!

Jesus asked the Disciples,

“Whom do men say that I am?” (Mark 8:27).

“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias [Elijah]; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14).

In other words, people were saying that He was a man, as the liberal theologians now teach.

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16).

Jesus answered Peter,

“Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

It takes the power of God to reveal who Christ really is, that He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Godhead, the Second Person of the Trinity. 

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

Dr. Ryrie said this is “a strong statement of the deity and humanity of the God-man” (Charles C. Ryrie, Ph.D., The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978, note on Colossians 2:9). The liberal theologians do not know this truth about Christ. They think He was only a great moral teacher because they have never been converted by the power and illumination of God.

“For there shall arise false Christs…insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

The Christ of liberal theology is only a great moral teacher. But this is one of the false “Christs” that have appeared on the world scene as a sign of the end-times, because the real Jesus is far more than just a great moral teacher!

II. Second, there is the false Christ popularized by much of Decisionism.

The Fundamentalist movement arose, beginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century, as a reaction to theological liberalism. The liberals said that Christ was only a great teacher. The Fundamentalists argued that He was God as well as man – the God-man. The full deity of Christ was emphasized by the Fundamentalists. They were correct to do this.

However, their emphasis on the deity of Christ began to morph and change into a false doctrine over time. This was aided by the “Decisionist” emphasis on “Ask Jesus to come into your heart” – epitomized by Robert Boyd Munger’s popular tract, “My Heart – Christ’s Home.” Gradually, many “Decisionist” evangelicals began to think of Christ as a “spirit” that lived in their hearts – and the Biblical doctrine of the resurrected Christ at the right hand of God, up in Heaven, was obscured and downplayed.

As a result of the Decisionist emphasis on “Ask Jesus to come into your heart,” the humanity of Christ was forgotten by many, and He became only a spirit. But the real Jesus is not a spirit! That was made very clear by Jesus after He rose physically from the grave. When the resurrected Christ appeared to the Disciples,

“They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37).

But the resurrected Christ said to them,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:39-40).

A few days later,

“It came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51).

Then two angels came and said to them,

“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

So, the same flesh and bone resurrected Jesus went up into Heaven at the Ascension. And “this same” resurrected “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39) Jesus will come back, down from Heaven, just as He went up (Acts 1:11) when He returns in glory at His Second Coming!

Today, the real Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father in His resurrected “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39) body. We are told repeatedly in the New Testament that He is not here on earth. We are told repeatedly that He is up in Heaven at the right hand of God in such verses as Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; I Peter 3:22; Luke 22:69; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; and many other verses in the New Testament. Mark 16:19 sums up all these verses by saying,

“After the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

Thus, we see that the Decisionist idea of Jesus as a “spirit-Christ” that comes “into your heart” is false. The “spirit-Christ” of “Decisionism” is a false Christ, as false as the “great teacher-Christ” of theological liberalism.

“For there shall arise false Christs…insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

We pray that you will come to the real Christ by faith. He really is the God-man. He really is the Second Person of the “Godhead bodily.” He really has died on the Cross to pay the penalty for man’s sin. He really has risen bodily, “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39) from the dead. He really is up in Heaven at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34, etc.). And if you come to the real Christ, He will wash away your sins with His Blood, and you will be saved for all time and for all eternity. May that be your condition, I pray. In His name, Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 24:36-52.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Is Coming Again” (by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“For there shall arise false Christs…insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

(Matthew 24:5, 3)

I.   First, the false Christ of theological liberalism, Mark 8:27;
Matthew 16:14, 15-16, 17; Colossians 2:9.

II.  Second, the false Christ popularized by much of Decisionism,
Luke 24:37, 39-40, 51; Acts 1:11; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2;
I Peter 3:22; Luke 22:69; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20;
Mark 16:19.