ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS 6-23-19

Accept No Imitations

June 23, 2019

I’m sure many of you remember the old Parkay commercials.  A tub or carton of Parkay margarine is on a table with someone about to spread some on their toast. The Parkay speaks and says “Butter”.  The person responds “Parkay”.  This goes on until the person tastes the Parkay and then says “mmm, smooth, creamy… Butter!”  To which the margarine responds, “Par-kaaay”.  There are similar margarine commercials…  Chiffon fooled Mother Nature.  “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” urges you to “Be a Believer”.   Think of these margarines as Satan’s false prophets.  They have fooled someone into thinking they are truly of God, when they are only an imitation. 

When it comes to God, and His Word, how do we tell the real from the imitation, and the truth from the lies?  Every denomination and sect of Christianity has a founder, and each claims to have special insight into the interpretation of Scripture and/or a revelation from God himself.  So how do we tell the John Wesleys from the Charles Taze Russells?  Or the Martin Luthers from the Joseph Smiths? 

In our service on Pentecost you heard the following Scripture, “But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.”  (1 John 4:3)  The key words here are “does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus”.  Therefore any religion, sect, denomination, or church that denies or perverts the truth about Jesus is not of God.  It may claim to be Christian, but according to the Bible it is actually anti-Christian in spirit.

So what do some of the well-known offshoots of Christianity believe about Jesus, since that is how we are called to determine whether or not they are faithful to the truth?  Let’s start with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  From all outward appearances they seem to believe much the same as us about Jesus – that he existed before his human incarnation, died and rose again, ascended into heaven and will return.  But, they do not believe in the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  They do not believe Jesus is equal to God the Father.  The Son of God, yes, but as the first creation in heaven, subordinate to the Father; even though Jesus said in John 10:30 “I am the Father are one” (after which the Jews tried to stone him).  In fact, if you dig deeper into their doctrine, you will discover that they believe Jesus and the archangel Michael are one and the same.  This is a misinterpretation of the references to the ‘Angel of the Lord’ in the Old Testament, who is indeed a preincarnate manifestation of Jesus, and I will post a link that delves deeper into that subject on our website when I post the sermon*.

Then we have the Mormons, founded by Joseph Smith who said he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who told him of an ancient record containing God's dealings with the former inhabitants of the American continent. In 1827, Joseph supposedly retrieved this record, and shortly afterward began translating its words by what he claims as the "gift of God." The resulting manuscript, the Book of Mormon, was published in March 1830. On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became its first president believing the Bible to be fallible and that these new revelations override it as the keystone for their beliefs.  But remember what you heard in our second Scripture reading (Galatians 1:6-9), “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (vs. 8).   On the surface, as with all imitations of true Christianity, Mormons appear to revere Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.  But listen to what they truly believe about God the Father and God the Son:  “Joseph Smith taught, ‘God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!’ Mormonism also holds to a plurality of Gods and contends that ‘as man is - God once was; as God is - man may become’ which directly contradicts Isaiah 43:10 in which God states, “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”  Additionally, the Latter-day Saints compromise the nature of the God-man, Jesus Christ. In Christianity, Jesus is the self-existent creator of all things. In Mormonism, he is the spirit brother of Lucifer who was conceived in heaven by a celestial Mother and came in flesh as the result of the Father having sex with the Virgin Mary.” ** 

Now, listen to what the Pew Research Center says about Satan’s current pet religion, “In the next half century or so, Christianity’s long reign as the world’s largest religion may come to an end, according to a just-released report that builds on Pew Research Center’s original population growth projections for religious groups. Indeed, Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2015 and 2060 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group.”***  Many Christians, even Pope Francis and others prominent leaders, have been deceived into thinking that those following the prophet Muhammad are their brothers and sisters in Christ.  But using the magnifying glass of 1 John 4:3, what do they believe about Jesus?  “Christians believe Jesus is God, but the Quran is so opposed to this belief that it condemns Jesus worshipers to Hell (5.72).”**** Indeed, “while Muslims accept that Jesus was a servant, teacher, and lover of God’s Word, they do not believe that he was divine or the son of God. The Quran describes the miracles Jesus performed, such as healing the sick and raising the dead, but does not ascribe these miracles to his divinity.  Muslims do not believe in original sin. They see no need for a savior and, moreover, do not believe in Jesus’ crucifixion. The Quran states that Jesus was assumed into heaven (3:169) before his actual death.”*****  No death on the cross and resurrection means no salvation.  We need to pray for those who have been so deceived that they might come to know the truth before it is too late.

Yes, the Bible warns us over and over about false prophets such as those I just mentioned, and countless more.  2 Timothy 4:3 warns us: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” May we all beware of false prophets, who come to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15).  Amen.

*https://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/theologically-driven/who-is-the-angel-of-the-lord-in-the-old-testament.html 

**https://www.allaboutreligion.org/mormonism-vs-christianity.htm

***https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/06/why-muslims-are-the-worlds-fastest-growing-religious-group/ 

****https://www.rzim.org/read/rzim-global/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god

*****https://www.uscatholic.org/articles/201609/what-do-muslims-think-jesus-30772 

VIDEOS:  

"This is Amazing Grace"  (Phil Wickham)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgsbaBIaoVc

"Greatness of Our God"  (Newsboys)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf8qQLGZ3o8