Will The Real Christ Please Stand Up?Erwin W. Lutzer | November 29, 1987
Selected highlights from this sermon
The New Age Movement believes in a “christ” and that we can gain a christ-consciousness. But the biblical Christ is unique among the plethora of lies. Jesus of Nazareth, the historical Christ of our faith, was fully God and fully Man, and He rules over all competitors as our Savior, King, and Judge.
Let’s pray together one more time and ask God to guide us as we share the Word.
Father, today we want to thank You that You are the God of the universe. We thank You that You created the world and You hung it on nothing. And we rejoice today that You understand the details of the snow. We thank You, too, that You understand our own hearts, and You know those who are bowed before You today who have problems that seem to be overwhelming. You know those that belong to You but who are walking distantly, following at a distance. You know those, Lord, who have never received You as Savior, and we ask in these moments that Your blessed Holy Spirit would guide us as we preach. And we pray that every single individual here may listen with an open heart. Do Your work among us today, Lord, whatever the cost might be. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
It was about two years ago I was seated at a banquet next to a woman pastor who speaks to thousands of people here in the city of Chicago every single week. She even had her own television program. And I knew that she was a woman who was blending New Age teaching with Christianity. I could tell that by the way she advertised in the newspapers. So because I was seated next to her I said to her, “Tell me, do you believe that Christ is the only way to God?” And she said, “Why, of course, I believe Christ is the only way to God.” So I thought to myself, “Well, Lady, I have to pin you down. I can’t let you get by with that answer.” So, after a few more bites of steak, I turned to her and said, “Do you believe that all the religions of the world are equally valid and right?” And she said, “Yes, yes, I believe that all the religions of the world are equally valid and right.” I said, “Well, how then do you reconcile the statement that you just made that Christ is the only way to God? How do you reconcile that with the belief that all the religions of the world have equal validity?” She said, “Well, I don’t want to answer that question, because I want to remain your friend.”
And I said, “Well, come on, now. We can still be friends, we’re adults, even if we disagree. Tell me.” She said, “When I speak about Christ, I’m not talking about Jesus of Nazareth.” She said, “To me Christ is the Christ consciousness that exists in every single human being throughout the world regardless of their religion,” and she said, “that to me is Christ.”
Jesus Christ, the historical Christ, I might say, predicted that the time would come when many people would believe in Antichrist, when there would be many Christs that are in the world, and many people who use the word Christ who do not refer to Jesus of Nazareth. And because we may be living in the last times it is correct for us to say that there are two different kinds of Antichrists that exist in the world. The first is what I call the spirit of Antichrist. It is the Christ consciousness that this pastor referred to when she said that that for her was Christ.
Helen Schucman said that she received a revelation from God. It was dictated by Jesus, she said, and that revelation, which is entitled, “A Course in Miracles,” which incidentally is being bought and being used and is a primer actually in the occult which many people are into today. In that book she says, “The Son of God is not Jesus, but our combined Christ consciousness.” That’s the Christ that is being spoken of today.
People who believe in this Christ consciousness have two things that are oftentimes said about it. First, they believe that the historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, was really nothing more than one of many Christs. So Buddha was Christ, and the spirit of Zen is Christ, and Muhammed is Christ, and Maitreya is Christ, and on it goes. So they believe that Jesus of Nazareth was one Christ among many Christs.
Benjamin Creme, a leader in the New Age Movement, in fact, says that Jesus is not “the” Christ. He was “a” Christ but not “the” Christ. He says that “the” Christ is Maitreya, and that Jesus was actually at one time his disciple.
So what does the New Age teach regarding Christ? So far as the historical Christ is concerned, they treat Him with restrained respect. He was one Christ among many Christs. That’s one of the things that is taught. Secondly, they believe that all of us can become Christ. If only we understood our own deity, if only we were more self-assured and recognized who we are, we can become Christ too, because Jesus saw Himself as God, and we have to see ourselves in the same way.
Shirley MacLaine says, “Affirmations are spoken resolutions which, when used properly, align the physical, mental and spiritual energy. Ancient Hindu writings say that when we use the words ‘I am,’ these set up a vibrational frequency in the body and the mind which align the individual with his or her higher self, and thus with the God source. Therefore, if you say audibly, ‘I am god,’ the sound vibrations literally align the energies of the body to a higher attainment. You can use ‘I am god,’ or ‘I am that I am’ just as often as Christ did,” she says.
And so people today are into Christ consciousness, and the universality of Jesus Christ, the Christ that exists in every man. But as this woman told me in a moment of honesty, “This is not Jesus of Nazareth.”
Now do you think that this is a new theory? No, actually it’s been around as long as Neoplatonism has been in the church. And that’s why I ask you to turn to 1 John, because John was writing against the view that said that Christ was not a historical personage, but there was a spirit of Christ that existed in the world. First John 2:22: “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”
And then 1 John 4: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” And if it was in the world in the first century, it most assuredly is in the world today.
Now, turn in your Bibles also to 2 Corinthians because the Apostle Paul talks about the fact that in his day there were already many Jesuses. It isn’t just one Jesus. There are many Jesuses. Second Corinthians 11:2: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus (“There isn’t just one Jesus. There are many Jesuses.”) whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted…”
Paul says, “There are three things that go together.” He says, “There is another Christ, there is another spirit, there is another gospel,” and he says, “I’m afraid that you might be moved away from the simplicity that there is in Christ, and just as Satan beguiled Eve, so you may be deceived and be led away to another Christ, another Jesus.”
You see, when people say today, “I believe in Jesus,” you have to ask them, “What Jesus? There are many Jesus’s.” Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian, admired by so many people for his hospital in Africa, wrote a book on the historical Christ in which he said that Jesus was essentially insane, and that’s why He believed in His deity and His Messiahship. So there is an insane Christ that Schweitzer believed in.
The great German theologian, Bultmann, came up with a mythological Christ. Immanuel Kant, the great philosopher who changed the direction of philosophy, ever since he lived in the 1700s. Immanuel Kant believed in a human Christ, and there are people today who believe in this Christ and that Christ, so we must ask which Christ? So a pastor who is admired today by many Christians, who is listened to for her practical insights from Scripture, says to me at a banquet, “When I preach Christ,” she says, “it is not Jesus of Nazareth.” It is another Christ that is being spoken about.
So first of all, we know that in this world there will be a spirit of Antichrist. The spirit of Antichrist says that we are all Christs. There is a universal Christ-consciousness and it is that consciousness that we proclaim, say some.
There is, of course, a second kind of Antichrist in the Bible, and the spirit of Antichrist precedes the coming of the real Antichrist, the man. The Bible calls him the man of sin. He is the one who is going to rule and he is the one who is going to come and deceive all the nations of the earth. And his legacy, as you know, is in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation. I want you to turn there to see some of the verses. It talks about the fantastic claims that this Antichrist is going to make.
You know, back in 1982 there was an advertisement that appeared in many magazines, and I have a Xerox copy right here. It says, “The world has had enough of hunger, injustice and war. In answer to our call for help as world teacher for all humanity, the Christ is now here. How will we recognize Him? Look for a modern man concerned with modern problems, political, economic and social. Since July 1977 the Christ has been emerging as a spokesman for a group and community in a modern country. He is not a religious leader, but an educator in the broadest sense of the word, pointing the way out of our present crisis. We will recognize him by his extraordinary spiritual potency, the universality of his viewpoint, his love for all humanity. He comes not to judge but to aid and to inspire.” He says, “At the center of this spiritual hierarchy stands the world teacher (Here’s his name now.), Lord Maitreya.” And incidentally it is believed that he was born in 1962. At least that’s what the proponents of this advertisement say.
“He is known by Christians as the Christ, and as Christians await the second coming, so the Jews await the Messiah, the Buddhists the fifth Buddha, The Muslims the Mahadeen, The Hindus await Krishna. These are all names for one individual. His presence in the world guarantees there will be no third world war.” And so the ad says, “Without caring there can be no justice. Without justice there can be no peace. Without peace there can be no future. And Maitreya is alive in the world today, waiting to be revealed,” the ad says, “for all the world the recognize him.”
Look at this advertisement. This says, “Drugs, aids, poverty, rampant crime, mass starvation, nuclear threats, terrorism! Is there a solution? In answer to our urgent needs the Christ is in the world, a great world teacher for every religion, and those with no religion. A practical man with solutions to our humanity, he loves all humanity.” And then it goes on to discuss him and when we will see him. “Born in 1962.”
I don’t know whether this is the real Antichrist. Some people think I predicted Christ was going to come in three months’ time. Remember I said that it looked as if that is entirely possible that he will come in a few months’ time because the world has never been more ready for the coming of Antichrist.
Notice it says in Revelation 13:5, “And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies.” He begins by giving these nice speeches about love and justice and peace, but after he has authority he speaks blasphemies. “And authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.”
Benjamin Creme, who believes that Jesus of Nazareth was a disciple of Maitreya, says that he believes that the real Savior is Lucifer. He says that Lucifer was both the prodigal son and the sacrificial lamb.
In 1982 somebody asked Creme this question. They said, “Have you met the Antichrist?” And he said, “No, but I have met the body in which the Antichrist is going to dwell.” So even Creme knows that what will happen is there will be an ordinary man with extraordinary powers indwelt by Lucifer, and the nations of the earth are going to fall down in worship and adoration, all of them submitting to the authority of one called Antichrist that Jesus predicted and that the Bible predicts as even now in the world. By that I mean the spirit is for sure already in the world, and perhaps the Antichrist, who will have to arise out of Europe as the book of Daniel makes claim, may already be alive right now, waiting for the revelation to take place.
So you have the spirit of Antichrist. You have the real personage of Antichrist. But then there is a third Christ also. And that is the real Christ. That is Jesus of Nazareth. How do we know Jesus of Nazareth? How do we recognize that Christ? First of all, we know, of course, that that Jesus was fully God. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given… His name shall be called wonderful, counsellor, The mighty God.” He was God back in the year 315. There was a council called the Council of Nicea. And the reason that these 318 delegates met was to discuss whether the essence of Jesus Christ was similar to that of God the Father or whether it was the very same as that of God the Father. And after debate the Council concluded that Jesus is of the very same essence as God the Father, “God of very God,” the Council said.
I know that Creme says that when Maitreya comes and stands next to Christ that Maitreya will be taller. But the Bible says that Jesus Christ was God of very God.
Secondly, it also says that He would come in the flesh. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ come in the flesh. And whoever denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, the text says, the same is Antichrist.
The lady sitting next to me at the banquet, as I very gently warned her of what she was teaching, the spirit of Antichrist, denying that Jesus Christ is in the flesh, preaching a Christ who is not Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth, fully God, also fully man. The Council of Chalcedon met because the influence of Platonism was so heavy in the Christian church that there were people who denied that God could ever become a man because they said if He did, He’d become tainted with matter. And so they denied that God had come in the flesh. And a council was called to discuss whether or not indeed Jesus was one-hundred percent man. And the answer of the Council of course was very fortunately a Biblical answer, that yes, Christ is also fully man. God of God, man of man welded together in one person forever. It says in Hebrews, “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” He is God. He is man. He is Savior.
None of this nonsense about us not needing a Savior. The Bible does not teach that man’s greatest problem is ignorance. It teaches that man’s greatest problem is sin, and that no man will ever become God. There will always be an infinite gap between us and Christ. It is true that He is “the” son of God. We are sons of God, but the gap between Him and us is an infinite gap, and always will be.
He is Savior. He is also King. Maitreya says here, “He does not come to judge but to enlighten.” Well, Jesus comes to judge, the Bible says. He comes to judge the quick and the dead. He comes to judge all people. Scripture says that all judgment has been committed unto the Son.
You know, the Encyclopedia Britannica, those thirty volumes, contain a lot of information. No matter how bright you are, you could never read all those volumes and be examined on them and pass the test. At least I don’t think that you could. If you think that you could, you would not win any prize for humility because I don’t think that you could. But do you know that all that information in the Encyclopedia Britannica was all written with just 26 letters of the alphabet. All of that complicated information.
And the Bible says that Jesus is the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the A and He is the Z. He is everything that God considers to be important, and He has in Him, the Bible says, in Him are hidden all the treasures of the Godhead bodily, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Jesus of Nazareth. Not in this man but in Jesus of Nazareth!
Do you now understand why Jesus said that one day there would be many people who would come before Him, and there would be some who would be very excited, expecting to get into heaven? You can almost sense the excitement that is in their voices as they stand before the Lord. And Jesus said, “Not all that say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven. Many shall say to me in that last day (Now listen to what they say.), ‘Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? Lord, have we not cast out demons in Thy name, and in Thy name performed many miracles?’ And Jesus said, ‘I will say to them, “Depart me you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you. I never knew you.’”
I want you to notice that these people will not be barred from heaven because they didn’t believe in Christ. Of course, they believed in Christ. They cast out demons in His name. They prophesied in His name. They did many wonderful miracles in His name. They believed in Christ. The problem is that they were lost forever because they believed in the wrong one.
My daughter and I were sitting and watching television this past week, and we watched the show for nearly an hour of an evangelist who was on the show, who for one half of that hour spent time telling the audience why they should all send him a thousand dollars because he said, “If you send me a thousand dollars, if you make a vow to send me a thousand dollars,” he said, “several things will be true of you. First of all,” he said, “you will decree with God as to what is going to happen in your life because God will be obligated to bless you.” That’s number one. “Number two,” he said, “it will break any curses that are on your life. If you have a poverty curse, for example, that will be broken.” And he listed the curses that giving him a thousand dollars could break.
He also did miracles in the name of Christ. They showed some video clips of him healing a woman who had impaired hearing. And I assume she was healed. There was no reason to doubt it. But when the show was over I knew in my heart that this was another Jesus. With Jesus, yeah! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, in the name of Jesus, but it wasn’t this Jesus. It was another Jesus.
One day I was driving along and I always like to stop and talk to those people who sell flowers out on the street, and I rolled down the window and I had only a moment to say something before the light changed and so I said, “Did you know that Jesus Christ is able to get you out of this cult and deliver you and free you so that you can be free?” And the person said, “I’m into Jesus as much as you’re into Jesus.” He said, “I love Jesus. I serve Jesus and I read the Bible.” But I have a suspicion, knowing what the cult believes, that this is another Jesus. It’s Jesus! I don’t argue with that. Yeah, yeah, it’s Jesus. It’s just that it’s another Jesus, some other Jesus.
My dear friend, I want to know what Jesus I believe in. I don’t want to put faith in a mystical Jesus that dwells in every human being regardless of their religion. I don’t want that Jesus. I don’t want the Jesus, the greedy Jesus that says, “Give me a thousand dollars and I’ll remove a curse that has been put on your life.” I don’t want that Jesus.
I don’t want the Jesus that is in the Himalayan mountains that I read about. I don’t want that Jesus. I understand he’s Jesus, but I don’t want that Jesus. I don’t want the Jesus that lives in Oregon. I don’t want that Jesus either. As a matter of fact, I don’t even want the Jesus who lives in Arizona. I don’t even want that Jesus. I don’t want a Jesus who was born in 1962. I don’t want that Jesus. I’m not denying he’s Jesus. He says he’s Jesus, so I guess he’s Jesus, but I don’t want that Jesus.
The Jesus I want to trust is Jesus of Nazareth. I want a Jesus that has some nail scars in His hands. That’s the Jesus I want to believe in. I want to believe in a Jesus who was nailed to a cross, put in a tomb, and resurrected. And when He was going up to heaven the angels said, “This same Jesus that is going up into heaven will so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go.” That’s the Jesus that I want to believe in. (baby cries) And there’s somebody else that agrees with me (laughter) with emphasis. (laughter)
I have to ask you today, “What Jesus is it that you are believing in? What Jesus is it that you are trusting? Who is He? Is He, as Paul says, another Jesus, another spirit, and is there another gospel that you are believing?
Let’s turn to the book of Galatians, chapter 1 for just a second. Galatians, chapter 1, notice what Paul says about those who come with another Jesus and another gospel. Verse 6, Galatians 1:6: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (Remember Paul says there’s another gospel, another spirit and another Jesus, and they all go together) which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the Gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”
There is in the world today another Jesus. There is another spirit, and there is another gospel. And people who are doing miracles in the name of Christ, people who have the name of Christ continually on their lips, some of those people will discover that they are barred forever from heaven because they believe in the wrong one. They believed in Jesus, but not Jesus of Nazareth.
Are you believing in the wrong Christ or have you put faith in the only one qualified to save you, the one from Nazareth?
Our Father, we know that we are living in a day of Antichrist when all over people are saying, “Here he is. He’s in the wilderness.” People are saying, “No, he’s in a very remote country preparing his entrance in the world.” Others are saying, “No, he’s in everybody.”
We ask, Father, today that You will help us to be clear about the Jesus in which we have believed. Make that clear to us we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.