Is it possible that a man under the cloak of the ministry of the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ could be a servant of Satan? The Apostle Paul wrote about such “super apostles” troubling the churches in his day:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness… (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
Paul actually compared them to the Serpent who deceived Eve by his craftiness, leading her to believe a lie.
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)
Such ministers were leading the church astray from its first simple devotion to Christ, offering them a subtly different gospel, a “Jesus” of a different nature from the One they had received through Paul.
For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it! (2 Corinthians 11:4)
What would be the outstanding characteristics of such men, and what would be their fruit? You can know a tree by its fruit.1
The true Savior said to beware of men who come in their own name, receiving the praise of men.2 Such must have been those Paul spoke of as “the most eminent” apostles who were so eloquent in speech3 that the people weren’t so interested in Paul’s straightforward manner.4 It was a far cry from the days of the first disciples who were devoted to the true apostles’ teaching and fellowship.5 They did not shirk the demands of discipleship, but delighted in serving one another and sharing all they had.6
Paul saw the day coming when the church would not endure sound teaching, but would want to have their ears tickled, and would welcome men with charisma and charm and a more appealing message, schooled in the most prominent seminaries.7 Such men would come peddling their own flavor of teaching and the people would not only accept it gladly, but even pay for it!8
Eventually both these peddlers of the Word and their hearers would be caught in the snare of the evil one, being taken captive by him to do his will.9 The result would be the perilous times Paul spoke of10 when the churches would be full of selfish people who pursue their own wealth, are boastful and irreverent, have disobedient children, tolerate division and backbiting, are indifferent to the poor in their midst, and make room for every worldly pleasure — all neatly packaged in a religious system that denies the power of God to save and purify a people for His own possession.11
Does this sound familiar to you? Hasn’t what Paul saw ahead now fully arrived?
What do you suppose the Son of God would say to the religious leaders of today whose gospel does not include His commandments? Have they replaced the gospel of the kingdom12 with the less-demanding gospel of just going to heaven when you die?
According to the latest census figures, there are about two billion people (one-third of the world’s population) who claim to be Christians, including more than 680 million who claim to be “born again” Christians. In America, 46% of the population claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But considering the Master’s own words, what gospel do you suppose these many received?
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Is two billion what He meant by the few? Or even 680 million? If only a handful of true disciples turned the first-century world upside down,13 what should the world be like if there were actually 680 million true disciples on the earth?14
Could it possibly be that the Christian evangelists of today are actually blind guides leading the blind into a pit?15 For example, what if Billy Graham turned out to be one of those false apostles that Paul warned us about? What if his gospel is not the same as Paul’s? What if he is preaching another Jesus,16 not the True One?17 Just think of all his converts and the terrible shock and disappointment that would await them! And what would be his end18 who led so many millions onto the broad road to destruction?