Signs all around us tell us that some great, climactic event is about to happen. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., are increasing at an alarming rate. Truly, “Christ is coming soon!” Yet, Christ’s coming is expected in different ways by different people. For those of us who are Christians it signifies that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will return to this earth to save His people. This is our “blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13) What many Christians do not know is that people from other religions are expecting Christ to come too. Yes! That’s right! Many people from other religions are anticipating the return of Christ.
I was a little surprised when I read that the New Age movement (revived paganism, including witches, warlocks, necromancers, etc.) is also expecting Christ to come soon. They even use the term Christ in reference to him. Yet, there is something very different about the way Christ is expected by the New Age movement, and the way His coming is revealed in the Bible.
One of the most prominent prophets of the New Age movement is a British painter by the name of Benjamin Creme. He started a movement called Share International. On their official website there is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) with answers by Benjamin Creme. Notice how Creme answered the following question:
Q: Could you explain the relationship between the disciple Jesus and the Christ?
BC: The disciple Jesus, who is now the Master Jesus, was born in Palestine as a third degree initiate.… He was, and still is, a disciple of the Christ and made the great sacrifice of giving up his body for the use of the Christ. By the occult process of overshadowing, the Christ, Maitreya, took over and worked through the body of Jesus from the Baptism onwards.…
Jesus… lives now in a Syrian body which is some 600 years old, and has his base in Rome. He has, in the last 2,000 years, worked in the closest relation to the Christ, saving his time and energy where possible, and has special work to do with the Christian Churches. He is one of the Masters who will very shortly return to outer work [physical manifestation] in the world, taking over the throne of St Peter, in Rome. He will seek to transform the Christian Churches, in so far as they are flexible enough to respond correctly to the new reality which the return of the Christ and the Masters will create. (http://www.shareintl.org/backround/FAQ/faq_main.htm#anchor17)
Creme “insists that a so-called Second Coming that is prophesied by many religions will come in the form of Maitreya,…” (Wikipedia Encyclopedia, article: Benja- min Creme, online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Creme)
The New Age movement believes in Christ and Jesus but, to them, Jesus was only a disciple of Christ, and Christ is another name for Maitreya. They believe that the disciple, Jesus, will “shortly return… taking over the throne of St Peter, in Rome.” Can you see what is happening here? Satan, who is obviously behind the New Age movement, is preparing pagans to accept Christ, to appear as Jesus, and take over the pope’s position in Rome. A 78-year-old, transitional pope has just been elected. Who will follow him?
It is a monumental task for Satan to unite pagans, Christians, Muslims, and Jews all to follow a one-world religion, but the Bible says it will happen, and that the United States will work together with the pope to bring this about. John wrote, “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the papacy 1], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Speaking of the United States*, John continues, “He exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast [the papacy], whose deadly wound was healed.” (Revelation 13:12) “He had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:15) How is Satan going to pull this off? He is going to have to get the support of the people. To do this, he is going to have to do something supernatural and amazing to unite all the different religions to worship the papacy.
It is startling to see how the growing pagan population is being prepared to accept their god, Maitreya, appearing as Jesus, to take over the papal throne and unite the world to worship one god. Notice Maitreya’s stated mission: “Mission of Maitreya, Eternal Divine Path, One World, One Humanity, One Saviour, One God.” (www.maitreya.org) Friends, would Satan prepare his devoted followers to accept Jesus appearing to take over the papal throne if this person is really Jesus? Of course not! Whoever appears as Jesus to take over the papal throne will certainly be an imposter, a false Christ, an antichrist.
Who is Maitreya?
The pagans are expecting Maitreya to come soon to establish peace on this earth and unite the entire world to worship the same god.
When asked “Who is Maitreya?” The Share International website answers:
He has been expected for generations by all of the major religions. Christians know him as the Christ, and expect his imminent return. Jews await him as the Messiah; Hindus look for the coming of Krishna; Buddhists expect him as Maitreya Buddha; and Muslims anticipate the Imam Mahdi or Messiah.
Although the names are different, many believe that they all refer to the same individual: the World Teacher, whose personal name is Maitreya (pronounced my- tray-ah).
Preferring to be known simply as the Teacher, Maitreya has not come as a religious leader, or to found a new religion, but as a teacher and guide for people of every religion and those of no religion.
At this time of great political, economic and social crisis Maitreya will inspire humanity to see itself as one family, and create a civilization based on sharing, economic and social justice, and global cooperation.
He will launch a call to action to save the millions of people who starve to death every year in a world of plenty. Among Maitreya’s recommendations will be a shift in social priorities so that adequate food, housing, clothing, education, and medical care become universal rights.
Under Maitreya’s inspiration, humanity itself will make the required changes and create a saner and more just world for all. (www.shareintl.org/maitreya/Ma_main.htm)
The New Age movement believes that the gods of the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Christians are all the same god, but different avenues of approaching him.
In Buddhism, Maitreya Buddha is the future Buddha.
Maitreya is a bodhisattva who Buddhists believe will eventually appear on earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. Maitreya is comparable to second coming prophecies in other religions, such as the coming of Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu, in Hinduism, the return of Jesus in Christianity, or of Saoshyant in Zoroastrianism. (http://www.encyclopedia-glossary.com/en/Maitreya.html)
All the major religions of today believe that a supernatural savior will come very soon, and he will come in the name of peace to unite the world in common worship. Throughout history, peace has been sought by war. Peace by eliminating opposition. “We can have peace just as soon as we eliminate those who stand in our way.” This is the attitude that has been cherished throughout history, and will be strongly manifested very soon, but the majority has to be united in a common goal before they will be willing to eliminate the few who appear to be standing in their way. Soon this coming imposter Christ will “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:15) First they will be prohibited from buying or selling (Revelation 13:17), and then, if they still do not comply, the order will be given for them to be killed.
This will all take place before the real second coming of Christ, and will be accomplished by Satan impersonating Christ.
The second coming of Christ imitated
When Jesus Christ was here, His disciples asked Him, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus began His answer by saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matthew 24:4) Jesus knew that men would arise trying to deceive His disciples about His second coming. He continued, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24) False Christs will arise showing “great signs and wonders” so convincing that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Jesus said it would happen. Christ’s second coming will be impersonated by an imposter, an imposter so convincing that he will almost be able to deceive the very elect. Jesus clarified further, “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” (Matthew 24:25, 26) Do you think Jesus would warn us not to believe it when we hear that Jesus has returned, if His return was not going to be impersonated? Of course not! Jesus knew that His return would be impersonated, so He warned us not to believe it when it happens. Who do you suppose would attempt such an impersonation? Who would have the ability to “shew great signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24) to deceive people? This grand impersonation will be done by none other than Satan himself. Oh, but Satan is much too ugly to impersonate Christ, his red skin, big horns, and long tail would give him away in a heartbeat. Don’t believe it for a minute! Artists’ rendering of him in this way is a trick of the devil. Satan can appear in many forms, including an angel of light. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) Have you ever seen an angel of light? I have not, but the Biblical description of those who have, reveals that it is an awesome and overwhelming sight. Maybe that is why Jesus said, “If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth.”
Men are very gullible by nature. We judge things by what we can see, hear and touch. Our senses override our reason at times and we can be deceived. If, when we hear that Christ has come, and we go forth to see Him, we will very likely be deceived into believing this is really Him. With the technology today, you can be sure that when Satan appears as Christ, his image will be displayed on televisions all around the world, as well as in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet. The new pope stated that he would “confront this new epoch-making era of mass communications and use it to the benefit of the gospel.” (CNN article: “Benedict XVI installed as pope,” April 24, 2005, online at: www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/24/pope.inaugural/index.html)
When Satan impersonates Christ’s coming, and he is displayed throughout the world, we would be wise to go not forth. Do not subject yourself to be deceived by your senses into believing this is really Christ. He will deceive many by the miracles which he is able to perform. (See Revelation 13:14.)
Jesus very clearly described His coming. Immediately following His warning against being deceived by false Christs, He explained, “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27) Christ’s coming is not going to be secret. He will come with “all the holy angels.” (Matthew 25:31) Jesus said, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30) “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7) When Christ comes, there will be no possibility for anyone alive at that time to miss that event. Every eye shall see him.
John described the second coming of Christ, stating, “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:13-17)
Christ’s coming will not be secret in any way, but Satan is busy preparing the world for a return of Christ that is a physical appearance as a man, taking the papal throne to rule the world and promote peace and equality on the earth. It is his plan to impersonate Christ’s coming, so he is preparing the world for this event. Unfortunately, he has been very successful in his plan, even among Christians, deceiving them into believing in a secret coming of Christ, or a secret rapture. This scheme is aided by his deception that Christ will come to this earth and rule here for a thousand years (the millennium). In this way, he has succeeded in convincing many Christians to expect the coming of Christ in a similar way to the way he has prepared the pagans to accept a false Christ. It will happen! A false Christ will appear, more fantastic and amazing than anything we have ever seen, and he will deceive many people. Please, friends, don’t be one of those who will be deceived. Read your Bible for yourself so you can know how the real Christ will come, and you will not be tricked into accepting a false Christ.
What happens during the millennium?
Among Christians there are several ideas about what will happen during the millennium. The Bible makes it clear that all the wicked will be dead during the millennium: “But the rest of the dead [the wicked] lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” (Revelation 20:5) It is evident that they will be on this earth during that time for their resurrection from their graves will not have occurred yet, and their graves are on this earth. What about the righteous; where are they during the millennium? The Bible tells us that they are with Christ. Does the Bible tell us where Christ is during this time?
In Paul’s account of the second coming of Christ he does not indicate that He ever sets foot upon this earth. He wrote, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) At the second coming of Christ the righteous will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord and be with him there.
There are several reasons why I do not believe that Christ and the righteous will be on this earth during the thousand years.
1) There is no record in the Bible stating that Christ or His people will be on this earth during the millennium.
2) Just prior to the second coming of Christ there will be a great earthquake causing every island to flee away and every mountain to be cast down. “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.… And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” (Revelation 16:18-20)
3) The landscape of the earth will be in a very chaotic condition during this time. “Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.… The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.… The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:1-5) Isaiah continues, “…the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” (Isaiah 24:18-20)
4) The surface of the earth will be littered with many dead bodies during this time. “For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” (Isaiah 26:21)
5) The Bible describes a time when there are no inhabitants on this earth. “I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.… Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” (Zephaniah 3:6-8)
6) This old earth is said to be destroyed by fire, after which there will be a new heaven and a new earth. “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:12, 13)
7) The new earth will not be in existence until after the thousand years are completed. (See Revelation 21.)
This is very conclusive evidence that Christ and His righteous people will not be on this earth during the millennium. So where will they be? We are told that they will live and reign with Christ and that judgment will be given to them. This evidently will be in heaven in the city which God has prepared for His people, for the New Jerusalem is said to come down from heaven after the thousand years. (See Revelation 21:1, 2.)
The biblical evidence is clear that during the thousand years the righteous will be in heaven with Christ, and the wicked will be dead in their graves awaiting their resurrection at the end of the millennium.
What about the secret rapture?
Many Christians honestly believe that Christ will return secretly to rapture His people prior to the great tribulation, which occurs just before the millennium. If this is true, there is no need to prepare for such a tribulation. If this is not true, many will be caught in the tribulation without making the necessary preparations. Paul wrote concerning this time; “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) As you can see, it is very important to understand the truth about this subject. Let us take a few minutes to examine what the Bible says about it.
A few well-known verses used to support the idea of a secret rapture are found in Matthew 24. “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matthew 24:40, 41) Many assume that those who are taken are the righteous, being secretly raptured, leaving the wicked to wonder what has happened to those missing. However, if one would just read the preceding three verses it would be very clear what is spoken of here. Here are the verses in their context:
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” (Matthew 24:37-41)
Jesus made a parallel here and said that it would be the same when Christ returns as it was in the days of Noah. In the days of Noah those who were taken were the wicked, taken in death by the flood. So shall it be when the Lord returns. Those who will be taken will be the wicked who are taken in death at the brightness of the Lord’s return. Let us look at a few other verses which mention the same event.
When the Lord returns there will be two classes of people upon this earth, one of which will cry out, “…this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.” (Isaiah 25:9) The other class of people will “hid[e] themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,” and say “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Revelation 6:15, 16) Regarding the coming of the Lord, Malachi wrote, “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.” (Malachi 3:2) John wrote, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17) The obvious answer to who will be able to stand is the righteous—those who have prepared themselves to meet the Lord.
Paul wrote about the destruction of the Antichrist power in this way; “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8) When the Lord returns, only the righteous will be able to stand the “brightness of his coming.” Isaiah wrote concerning the coming of the Lord: “Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:6) Who will be left? Certainly! It will be the righteous.
Time is short, friends, and if we do not have a strong connection to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, we are fair game for the enemy, and we will be deceived. God forbid that this should happen to any of us. Spend much time in secret with the Lord. Tell Him all of your concerns, struggles and goals. “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalms 62:8) If you are struggling with a sin in your life, give it over to God before it is forever too late. If you are hanging on to a sin that you refuse to give up, you have sold out very cheaply. Eternal life in paradise is much more valuable than we realize. A little self-sacrificing now is a small price to pay to maintain our connection with God and our eligibility to enter into His kingdom.
Do not be deceived into thinking you can hold onto your sins all the way until Christ comes, and still make it into heaven. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Ceasing from sin does not save us (we can only be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ), but not ceasing from sin can cause us to be lost. “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
Take the precious little time we have now to draw close to God, to encourage our brethren, and alert the world of their need for a Saviour. Don’t be so caught up with the cares of this life that your preparation for the life to come takes second place. There is nothing in this world more important than preparing for the world to come. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Romans 13:12) “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)
Footnote: For a thorough study on these prophecies, please read the March and April 2003 issues of Present Truth, as well as the May and June 1999 issues. All are available on our website. Back