The Bible leaves no question: there is a True Christ and there is a false christ. The Lord Jesus warned His peo-ple that in the end-time there would be much confusion about the two. Misunderstanding regarding the "author and finisher of our faith" would be so clever that many would be deceived and "if it were possible . . . the very elect" would be among them (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24). The gospel of Mark and Luke record this same solemn warning (Mark 13:22; Luke 21:8).
The apostle Paul speaks frankly of "another Jesus" whom he did not preach and who would be accompanied by "another spirit" and "another gospel." His concern for the church constrained him to warn the saints that "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:4, 14).
Paul was so certain of a possible counterfeit Christ and a spurious gospel that he calls down a curse upon any who should preach such error (Galatians 1:6, 9). With equal force, John warns that the recognition of truth and error would depend upon the confession that "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (1 John 4:1-3). The Greek word for "flesh" is "sarx" and in this epistle of John as well as in his gospel the meaning is fallen sinful flesh (John 1:14). This draws a line between the "christ" of Rome and the true Christ. This "sarx" is the "totality of all that is essential to manhood."1
Christ was not a phantom. He was a real man. Docetism and Gnosticism, that would make Him only appear as man, are little more than pagan philosophies masquerading under the cloak of Christianity. The ultimate understanding and appreciation of the atonement depends upon seeing Christ in the "flesh," taking fallen human nature. Only in this way can He "make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:17).
If Christianity warrants the consideration and recognition it has claimed for two millenniums, there must not be uncertainty about its Author. People who make a profession of this religion must know the real Christ from the counterfeit. Uncertainty and confusion in the church on this vital point place doubt upon the entire body of beliefs, and question the reason for its existence.
Seventh-day Adventists are but one small segment of humanity professing to be Christians, but they above all others must know the genuine Founder of the faith. Within the Protestant Christian community Adventists claim a special place. In particular they do not accept the pagan/papal teachings of the church of Rome. But will their beliefs prove any more seaworthy than others in the ocean of doctrines that circle the earth? Will this vessel called Christianity be more dependable than others? Is there truth in Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam or Judaism? Is the port of destination the same for each "ship," and does the chart on each craft mark out the same route? The plight of humanity demands an answer.
Is it arrogant for a corporate body to consider its doctrines unique among these philosophies, distinct even within the Christian world? Dare Seventh-day Adventists make such a claim? True or false, reason dictates that all these contradictory beliefs cannot be right. But there is ingrained in human reasoning a common want to believe in a supreme being. There is yet to be found a race on earth . that does not have some belief in a god.2 Recent events in the Communist world prove that decades of severe perse-cution with the most persistent opposition to religion can-not kill the human spirit. This historical fact supports the word of John that God gives light to everyone who comes into the world (John 1:9). This allows a place for Adventists who profess to have "light." In the cosmos they have an appointment to fill. If the course of history can teach us anything, we must know it is time to understand that destiny now.
Within the eleven major religions from ancient Iran until now,3 the only one with a central character essential to its existence has been Christianity. Every group in the world that has taken the name Christian claims some connection with the historical figure of a man called Jesus Christ. Other than this Person there is little to bond these groups together. Diverse opinions question who He was and how He relates to humanity.
As unbelievable as it may seem, even Seventh-day Adventists have reached a point where they are wandering in a fog of uncertainty, caught in this web of divergent opinion. The entanglement has become severe. The church has even been cautioned not to discuss the human nature of Christ as this supposedly is not one of the 27 doctrinal beliefs and therefore not essential to salvation.4
What truth is essential for salvation? Can anything be more important than knowing the One who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6)? The Scriptures never hint that the nature of Christ is unimportant and therefore can be passed over lightly.
The Scriptures do make clear that the time will come when the inhabitants of earth will be made drunk with the wine of false doctrine. The apostate church, portrayed as a woman, will be like a harlot unfaithful to her espoused Lover (Revelation 14:8; 17:2; 18:3). She follows her spiritually immoral ways because she does not know the One who became "flesh" to captivate her affections.
When He lived among men, His nature was not so different from the children of Adam that there was no way for ordinary people to know and understand Him. He was one of the common people, and not exempt from the routine matters of life. The popular religions of the world demand a Messiah beyond reach, different, exempt, and secluded from common people.
At the end-time when all nations become drunk with the wine of Babylon's fornication (Revelation 14:8), the world will have a supreme need to see a corporate body of people who know the difference between truth and error. They must be prepared to voice their convictions. To justify their existence Seventh-day Adventists must be that people. Above all others, their calling demands that they know the One after whom they are named, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
|Read Chapter 1 —Is There Confusion Among Adventists?|
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