The Great Imposter

Rock of Offence Special Commentary

The following is a special insert included on certain commentaries
dealing with the "false or different gospel of Christ" that Paul
warned about in his epistles to the Church. It will repeat
some things already addressed in this study, but may also provide
answers to some questions not previously covered.

Some older readers may recognize the graphic above. It's the logo of an early television program. Between 1956 and 1967 CBS produced a prime-time game show entitled "To Tell the Truth". My parents regularly watched this show. The theme carries an important message for Christians today. The program consisted of the host, Bud Collyer, a panel of four Hollywood celebrities and a set of three mystery contestants. Broadcast time only allowed 2 or 3 sets of challengers to appear. The object of the game was simple--at least on the surface. All three challengers introduced themselves as the same individual, using the same name. The host read a statement describing the life and experiences of the person who all the contestants claimed to be. The panel of celebrities was allowed to question the three contestants to determine which one was telling the truth and which two were lying. At the end, each celebrity voted for whom he or she thought was the person the host described in his opening statement. Wrong guesses credited money to all three contestants, who split the winnings equally. The largest sum of money was awarded when the three contestants "stumped the panel" (no one guessed correctly). It was in the contestants best interests to fool the panel. The famous line at the end of each round was, "Will the real [person's name] please stand up!"

Several identities were discovered quickly. Yet, some clever contestants would "stump the panel".

Spiritual counterfeits appear to us in a similar way.

Counterfeit Spiritual Truth
Is A Dangerous Game

The modern-day believer in Christ faces the game of "To Tell The Truth" on a spiritual level. However, in the real world, being "stumped" or fooled by a religious counterfeit can cause you to lose the life that Jesus came to give. Counterfeit Bible doctrine comes at us in much the same way as the two imposters on the television game show. They all look and sound Biblical. They all look and sound like the "real thing". Unless you ask some very direct questions and examine the facts, you will never discover their real identity.

In Proverbs 14:12 the Bible warns;

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

This same thought is carried over in a judgment pronounced upon Israel by the prophet Hosea who said;

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me...."

Here, we are warned that there are some actions God will not ignore. Rejecting correct knowledge about how God grants true salvation today is one such action. Just because we personally choose to believe something doesn't mean that God is somehow forced to operate according to our beliefs. Most Christians today follow a way that they think is right. They heard someone give a sermon about Jesus Christ and decided to commit their life to Him. There's nothing wrong with this decision. Every new professing Christian starts out the same way. I started out this way. We all want to follow a spiritual path that's right, otherwise, what's the point?

The subject discussed in this commentary is not about our desires and good intentions. For the most part, our intentions are always noble and righteous. The real issue is "the way" (or spiritual path) we choose. If we choose a wrong way, even if we're convinced it is right, God warns us that it could carry many serious unintended consequences, AND MAYBE EVEN HIS REJECTION. This is the reason the apostle Paul sternly warned first century Christians to "examine themselves" to make sure they were "in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5). Paul gave this warning because there are generally two types of faith operating in the institutional church, and a prominent group of evangelists were teaching the wrong kind of faith, which led many astray. This exact same dangerous condition continues today and most of us are spiritually programmed to ignore the problem. This "programming" causes us to be unaware of the danger. For many, the desire to be accepted by their church or religious peer group guarantees that they will be willingly blinded to the danger for the rest of their lives.

The Great Imposter

Understanding the nature of spiritual counterfeits turned my Christian worldview upside down and ended my participation in the modern-day church growth and unity movement. Once I discovered the strategy and tactics of the enemy, I was forever changed.

Satan is the "Great Imposter". The Book of Revelation uses various names and titles to describe him such as, the great dragon, the devil and the deceiver of the whole world. His main objective is to deceive the inhabitants of earth concerning God's plan of salvation through Christ and His free gift of eternal life. This means he tricks us into believing a lie by making us think its truth from the Bible. He has 6000 years of experience dealing with the human race. His first victims, Adam and Eve, were caught in his deceptive trap of spiritual death. They didn't discover their mistake until it was too late. This same fate awaits many unsuspecting professing Christians today. Satan knows our weaknesses and how to gain our trust. Paul warned that the devil's most dangerous and effective tactic is appearing as "a minister of righteousness" and "an angel of light". Most people, including many Christians, mistakenly assume that all angels, especially the ones that appear in special "visions and dreams" are sent from our Heavenly Father. Some angels are sent from God, yet the Bible warns us that others are sent by the devil.

These illusionary characteristics lay a foundation for unimaginable religious deception. In modern-day language, it means that the devil has created a "look-alike" (counterfeit) system of faith that some refer to as "Christian religion". (We also refer to it as "Pharisaical theology" and the "Galatian error" on this website.) This system has its own churches, which appear to be godly. It always portrays itself as a "Christian" (or being "from Christ"). It has its own "theology" that claims the Bible as its authority, yet redefines its principles to support a deceptive agenda that can be traced all the way back to the first century. It has its own prophets, who claim to speak for Christ, yet can actually speak for our enemy in order to subtly lead us astray in our faith. The counterfeit church has its own ministers, who claim to be uncompromisingly committed to God's Word and a preacher of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). These preachers appear, on the surface, to be God's most humble and dedicated servants. They can be a pastor of a "Bible-believing" church and will earn your trust by being one of the most loving and helpful individuals you would ever want to know. All of these people are convinced that they're serving the God of Heaven. They're totally sincere, yet unaware of their true spiritual condition.

In order to achieve the goals of the modern-day church growth movement, the devil's role as an "imposter of Christ" can never be fully exposed and taught because it offends the core beliefs of too many tithe-paying church members. Through silence or neglect, many leaders leave the impression that professing Christians can hold beliefs that contradict the principles of the New Covenant and still remain valid members of God's family. It is suggested that these beliefs aren't wrong, just different. This is why we see main-line denominations and many "evangelistic ministries" departing from the truth of the Gospel for an "out of context" bible message (theology) that satisfies the largest number of people. This "big tent Christianity" mindset that places unity above the truth of Scripture does much damage and carries serious unintended eternal consequences. This is the environment where our enemy sets up his counterfeit "Christian" ministry.

The Bible records one type of righteousness under the Old Testament religious system and a totally different type of righteousness under the New Covenant of Christ (in the New Testament). These things are easily taught "out of context" and go unnoticed by most Christians. That's why the "truth seekers" among us must confront these stealth "ministers of righteousness" with some hard questions about the source of their message. REMEMBER THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A COVERT BIBLE-BASED INFLUENCE THAT EXISTS IN THE MAINSTREAM CHRISTIAN CHURCH AND NOT NECESSARILY THE POPULAR RELIGIOUS CULTS THAT OCCASIONALLY SHOW UP AT OUR FRONT DOOR.

While addressing the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul refers to the devil by another troubling title.

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom THE GOD OF THIS WORLD hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Cor 4:3-4 KJV)

Paul calls Satan, "the god of this world", who seeks to blind our minds. What methods do Satan and his "ministers of righteousness" use? They hide the light of the glorious gospel of Christ by replacing the real Jesus and His Gospel of Grace with "another Jesus" and his "different gospel" (Galatians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 11:4). I am reminded of an old cliché, "The devil is in the details". Concerning the topic we're discussing here, this saying is literally true. Many ministers preach righteousness from the Bible. Yet, very few Christians ask the all-important question: Are they preaching Christ's New Covenant type of righteousness, or something else? The devil could be in the details.

"....And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9)

When we consider these things, our Heavenly Father is giving us a terribly frightening revelation from His Word. It is far more than just a warning. The devil, the great imposter who impersonates God, tricks a lot of church-going people into believing his out-of-context Bible teachings. Exposing this hidden demonic agenda that operates unhindered within the Christian Church was one of the apostle Paul's most difficult tasks. Today, a majority of professing Christians are taught to oppose the Grace of Christ by their church or denomination. They mix or replace God's Grace with a "religion of works" (also known as Old Testament "works-based righteousness") established upon out-of-context Scripture. This distorted Biblical teaching (actually a false theology in disguise) is then reintroduced as, "The Biblical Gospel of Christ". Yet, the apostle Paul warns the Church that their doctrine, which appears to carry the authority of Scripture, is actually "a different gospel" that does not come from Jesus Christ, but from our enemy.

Joe Kovacs, author of the book "Shocked by the Bible", voiced the same concerns several years ago in an interview with Good News Magazine.

Note: Including these quotations in this commentary
should not be considered an endorsement of all teachings
by Joe Kovacs, nor should it be interpreted that he is
in total agreement with our teachings on this subject.

(Start Quote)

Joe Kovacs: If you understand who Satan is and the origins of Satan, you would know what he's doing. Satan, "the god of this world" [2 Corinthians 4:4, King James Version], is not the ultimate God who created everything. He is the ruler of this present society. Satan was originally an archangel of God. He was booted out of heaven because he tried to lead a rebellion of angels against God.

The Bible refers to this rebellion, saying he ascended above the clouds to be like the Most High. He has a "god complex" and thinks he can do a better job than God. Who knows what his motivation is, but apparently he was a brilliant individual. The Bible calls him an angel of light. He is able to appear as very good so he can lead people away from God.

He wants to be God and to be worshipped. I can say unequivocally that most people on earth, no matter what religion they are, think they are worshipping the true God. However, they are actually worshipping a corrupted form of satanic confusion that was begun back in the Garden of Eden.

Interviewer: Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:4 that there was "another Jesus" with "a different spirit" and "a different gospel." Do you think this scripture reveals what Satan is doing?

Joe Kovacs: I think that Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14], and many, but not all, people think that they are worshipping the true God, the true Creator God of the universe. Yet they are actually following, unknowingly in many cases, Satan the devil. He has brought a brilliant deception upon people of this world and especially the Christian world.

Many people call themselves Christian, and yet they do things that are antithetical to what the Bible teaches. You can go through the Bible and find out what God's teachings are. You can look at what the religions of the world teach and see that they are, in fact, very different from what the Bible teaches.

(End Quote)

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The book of Hebrews instructs us not to neglect the great salvation of Christ. For this reason, we should carefully consider these warnings. The "Stealth War Against the Truth of the Gospel" is fought against the devil's false "Christian religion". The great imposter is very good at what he does. No modern-day Christian is exempt, especially those that think of themselves as "devoted Bible-believers".

The leaders of the early church had to deal with this same problem. The apostle Paul fought this stealth counterfeit theology, which threatened to destroy Christ's New Covenant Gospel, until the day he died. A whole section of our website is dedicated to this important subject, which is available at the following link:

Exposing Religious Deception In The Church:
The Judgment of the Acts Chapter 15
Jerusalem Apostolic Council

A Cause For Concern

Some ministers and various concerned believers privately agonize over this worsening situation. One pastor said that he spends over 80 percent of his ministry time correcting hurtful "out of context" Bible beliefs held by Christians that visit his fellowship. Another individual conducts and publishes yearly research on "the health of the Church" and found that less than 16 percent of all professing Christians in the worldwide Church (all people claiming the label "Christian") believe the minimum foundational truths from God's Word for salvation. Yet, all of them insist that they "believe in Jesus" in one way or another. Others who analyzed the research felt that his numbers were too optimistic and think it's closer to 5 percent. If these numbers are anywhere near to the truth, all of us should be very concerned.

Some Thoughts From Keith Green

Christian music artist and teacher, Keith Green, commented on these disturbing trends in his gospel tract, "Unity, At What Price?" He was concerned about a growing number of churches that made unity a higher priority than "the truth of the gospel". Keith correctly said that there is both a true and a false division that occurs in the Church. He said that "division" is justified if it's about the distortion of the truth. He noted that most churches wouldn't discuss the topic of "what is the gospel" BECAUSE EACH ONE HAS THEIR OWN "DIFFERENT DEFINITION". Think about what's being said here. To avoid heated arguments, they discourage all debates about the true nature of the Gospel of Christ and emphasized the need to "walk in love" and to be "seeker sensitive" to avoid problems. In the following quote, Keith makes more thought-provoking comments....

"Today there is much talk among Christians about the need for unity. Wherever Christians gather you can hear someone saying, "If only all the believers could get together and agree, then the world would sit up and take notice! Then the devil would be running scared! Then there would be real revival!!! The whole "Ecumenical Movement" is based on such a conclusion. I admit the thought sounds wonderful--to have all those different denominations (and non-denominations) in love and fellowship with one another--that would be something, wouldn't it! Ah....but don't hold your can't happen. There'll always be a couple of real Christians around to spoil it! 'What?! You say, "How could real Christians spoil it? Wouldn't they be the very ones who would be the most loving and ready to unite?' Oh yes! True believers are full of love--love for God, love for their brothers and sisters, love of souls--in fact, love would be the very thing that would make them oppose a mass move of unity. 'What?! You say again, Why that's the most absurd thing I've ever heard! How could love keep them from wanting to get together with everyone else who confesses to love God? You're not going to get me to believe that people with such deep love wouldn't just love to see all the churches and professing Christians come together in unity? Why, what could they love more than that??' For one thing, they love the truth! Yep, they're pretty attached to it--those true believers can even seem right stubborn and ornery at times--the way they stick to the truth."

Keith added:

(Emphasis Added)

(End Quote)

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discussion purposes only.

The famous German evangelist and leader in the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, agreed with this position when he said:

"Peace whenever possible, truth at any cost."

Yet, the institutional church today operates by the rule, "Truth whenever possible, peace at any cost". This is the unspoken guiding principle of the unity and church growth movement.

I quote these individuals because I know they understand and preach the Gospel of Christ according to New Testament principles. The problem is caused by a "different gospel of Christ" that is preached in the worldwide Christian Church that seems to originate and agree with the New Testament Scripture--but doesn't. Warning about this "different gospel of Christ" is one of our goals. Many readers may think that we're referring to the popular religious cults that occasionally show up at our doorstep. These writings also apply to them. However, our efforts are directed more at groups that are considered "mainstream" and operate inside the institutional Christian Church.

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Most recent revision February 2014