THE FALSE PROPHETS
had prophesied, the false prophets contrived to change the essential meaning of
the Gospel so that it became quite different from that which the Bible recorded
or Jesus taught.
It has long been generally believed that Jesus Christ was
a unique incarnation of God such as had never before appeared in religious
history and would never appear again. This tenet made the acceptance of any
later Prophet impossible to a Christian. Yet there is nothing in Christ's own
statements, as recorded in the Gospel, to support this view, and it was not
generally held during His lifetime.
Jesus emphatically claimed to reveal God, Whom He called
Father, but continually differentiated Himself from the Father. In many such
references as "Him that sent me,"
"my Father is greater than I," "I
go to the Father," "I will pray the Father," "I
do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me," He made this abundantly clear, and even
stated specifically that the Father had knowledge which was not possessed by
the Son. "But of that day and that
hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven,
1. Matt. vii 15-23 and see pp. 11, 12.
2. John xiv 28.
3. John xvi 16.
4. John xiv 16.
5. John viii 28.
neither the Son, but the Father." He referred to Himself as the Son, and as a
Prophet, and was so regarded, and related His Mission to those of Moses
and Abraham before Him, and to others to come after Him, specifically "he, the Spirit of truth," who would
reveal the things which Jesus did not.
The followers of every world religion have invented for
themselves a similar belief in the uniqueness and finality of their own
Prophet. The result has been that no religion has acknowledged a Prophet of a
later religion. The Hindus do not acknowledge Buddha, the Buddhists do not
acknowledge Christ, nor yet do the Zoroastrians. The result of this delusive
belief has been that the world religions have not tended to the unifying of
mankind but rather to its further division.
Another opinion which Christians universally hold about
Christ is that His teaching was absolute and final. They believe that if the
Truth were party withheld from them for a time because they could not bear it,
it was divulged at Pentecost in its fullness and that now nothing remains to be
revealed. But there is nothing in the account of Pentecost to suggest such an
interpretation and there is no one who will believe that Jesus would have named
the false prophets as characteristic of His age if this warning was to be
followed by an immediate release of all Truth to the Church. What the Bible
shows is rather a succession of teachers — Abraham, Moses and Christ,
each measuring His Revelation to the needs and maturity of His auditors: Jesus,
for example, changes the divorce law
1. Mark xiii 32.
2. Matt. xiii 57. Luke xiii 33.
3. Matt. xxi 11, Luke vii 16.
4. John xvi 12, 13.
and says, "Moses gave you this
because of the hardness of your hearts but from the beginning it was not so."
Many times He says, "Ye have heard
it said by them of old time . . . but I say unto you . . ."
Another universal opinion among the Christians is that
Christ was the Lord of Hosts of the old Testament. Yet the Jewish Prophets had
foretold that when the Lord of Hosts came He would not find the Jews in the
Holy Land, all would have been scattered among the nations and would have been
living in misery and degradation for centuries; but when Jesus came Palestine
was full of Jews and their expulsion did not begin until the year 70 A.D.; it
may be said to have continued till the year 1844.
To confirm orthodox Christian opinion it is customary in
all churches to read on Christmas morning, as if it referred to Jesus, the
passage which Isaiah wrote about the Lord of Hosts (Isaiah ix 6-7):
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government
shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The, mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase
of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David,
and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with
justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts
will perform this."
Yet the descriptive titles given do not belong exclusively
to Christ, while some of them He specifically repudiated
as if to make such a mistaken reference to Himself impossible. He disclaimed
being the Mighty God when He called Himself "the Son of God;"
disclaimed being the Father when He said, "my Father is greater than I;"
and being the Prince of Peace when He said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword." He disclaimed bearing the government upon His shoulder or
that it would be His judgment and justice forever when He said, "My kingdom is not of this world."
Many of these false interpretations involve repudiation of
the Word of God in favor of the word of man. This impious act is so craftily
performed, with such an air of humility, that it might escape the notice of the
most sincere and devout of worshipers. Probably few churchgoers realize to-day
that the Gospel of Christ as known to the few in the pulpit is wholly different
from the Gospel which Christ preached in Galilee as recorded in the Bible.
In spite of Christ's promise of further revelation of
Truth, through the Comforter, through His own return, through the Spirit of
Truth, the Christian Church regards His revelation as final, and itself as the
sole trustee of true religion. There is no room for the Supreme Redeemer of the
Bible to bring in great changes for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In
fact this Kingdom is often described as a world-wide Church.
Having thus closed God's Covenant with the Bible, sacred
history — God-directed — came to an end, and secular history,
having no sense of divine destiny nor unity, began.
1. John v 18-47 where Jesus repudiates the charge that He claimed
equality with God.
2. John xiv 28.
3. Matt. x 34.
4. John xviii 36.
Jesus' revelation was purely spiritual. He taught that
"My kingdom is not of this world"
and that the "kingdom of heaven is
within you." His great gift to man was the knowledge of eternal life.
He told men that they might be physically in perfect health and yet spiritually
sick or even dead. But this was a difficult truth to communicate and Jesus had
to help men to realize it. He would say that He was a spiritual physician and
that men whom He cured of a spiritual disability were cured of blindness,
deafness, lameness, leprosy and so on. This was the real meaning of His remark
at the end of a discourse, "He that
hath ears to hear, let him hear." For a hearer might hear the physical
word of Jesus and yet fail to comprehend the spiritual meaning. Jesus, in other
words, was forever trying to heal spiritual infirmities. He thus would be
understood by His disciples as a healer of spiritual ailments but by others He
might be taken as relieving physical ills only.
Doubtless Jesus could, and often did, heal bodily ills by
spiritual means, but this was nothing to do with His real work as a Redeemer.
On the other hand these spiritual cures which He effected might be
misinterpreted as physical miracles, and so were little stressed by Him.
("See that no man know it.")
Christ's spiritual mission was, at an early date,
materialized, specifically in regard to such things as the miracles, curing the
blind and deaf, raising the dead. Even His own resurrection was made physical,
missing the point entirely. Moreover, none of the complex order, of the
ceremonies, rituals and litanies of the Church can be attributed to Christ. All
are man-made, by inference or invention.
1. Matt. ix 30.
Well might Christ warn His followers that false prophets
would arise and misinterpret His teachings so as to delude even the most
earnest and intelligent of His believers: from early times Christians have
disputed about Christian truth in councils, in sects, in wars.
To sum up, if Christians say "our acts may be
wrong," they say truly. If they say "however our Gospel is
right" they are quite wrong. The false prophets have corrupted the Gospel
as successfully as they have the deeds and lives of Christian people.