The Awesome Potential of Man—Chapter 1- HOW RELIGION HELD BACK CHRIST’S MESSAGE FOR 2,000 YEARS!
The truth of the gospel—God’s astonishing purpose for man—has been withheld from the world. It explains why you were born. It is incredible knowledge that will leave you dumbfounded! This amazing understanding is now revealed—along with the cover-up to suppress it!
Billions are now deceived. Previous billions have been. Even you have been lied to. A complete seduction has taken place, and all the world’s religions have played a part in it. Knowledge of your incredible future—your awesome potential—has been kept from you!
Many wonder and worry about the unknown—and what their future holds. Others fear they do not even have a future. Still others fear that civilization has no future. You need never be in doubt about your future again—or of mankind’s.
If only humanity knew what God has in store for it! Yet a deliberate suppression of the truth has withheld this knowledge from all but a few. You can be an exception—one of the few who is not deceived!
The world has believed a false gospel for 2,000 years. It has generally supposed that Jesus Christ is the gospel rather than the Messenger of it. The Message—the centerpiece—of the gospel is not Christ. By focusing on Him—the Messenger—religious deceivers have been able to successfully suppress and cover up the Message He brought!
The vital knowledge of how man could have solved his problems and understood God’s Supreme Purpose has been withheld from the world, keeping it in darkness. Man does not know what he is or his reason for being. He does not know the way to abundance, peace, and all the good things of life. The gospel would have shown mankind the solution to its most insoluble problems.
And yet, except for the apostle John, all the original apostles were martyred for teaching the truth of God’s incredible purpose. Jesus was crucified because people did not want to hear His Message!
A correct understanding of the true gospel reveals crucial knowledge. It contains a dimension of understanding that cannot be discovered by scientific inquiry. Every supposed “great religion” of the world has helped suppress it. Their theologians neither comprehend nor are willing to teach it. We will see that they have held back the great key that unlocks your purpose for being—your awesome potential!
How did this happen? And who is behind this suppression of knowledge?
The Super Deceiver
To the unlearned, the Bible is a book of shocking statements. It reveals startling truths, completely unknown even to those who profess to understand it. But there are few statements more astonishing than that found in Revelation 12:9. This verse directly states that Satan the devil—who does exist!—“deceives the whole world.”
This is an absolutely staggering revelation—so much so that most simply ignore or reject it, believing that it cannot possibly be true. But it is in your Bible. And the entire world remains deceived about the fact that it is deceived!
The Bible states that, since his rebellion prior to the creation of man, Satan has greatly “weakened the nations” (Isa. 14:12) and “deceived the nations” (Rev. 20:3) in both understanding and critical knowledge explaining God’s purpose. His deception has been complete. We will explore how he is so effective in greater detail later.
This World’s God
The Bible also calls the devil the “god of this world”—another shocking revelation! This is what2 Corinthians 4:4 states: “In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel … should shine unto them.”
Satan blinds the world to the true gospel for a personal reason. It describes the soon-coming kingdom of God—God’s world-ruling government. Of course, Satan seeks to block people from understanding this marvelous truth, not wanting “light” to shine on God’s incredible purpose for mankind. He wants humanity, collectively, and individually, to think it has no future! Actually, the devil also recognizes that the arrival of God’s kingdom means he will be banished from his current position (Rev. 20:2-3) of global influence as the god humanity unwittingly worships. He will no longer be permitted to deceive or weaken the nations. He also realizes he can never receive what God has offered to men.
In John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11, Christ refers to Satan as “the prince of this world.” These verses state that the devil will one day be judged. Take a moment to read them! John 12:31parallels the judgment of this world with Satan’s judgment. Why? Because this world is his! Paul’s inspired statement reveals that he is literally its “god.”
This is the plain truth from your Bible! Man’s civilization, with its cultures, ways, and systems, is under the control of the devil!
Consider. If Satan has deceived the entire world, then this cannot be God’s world. And since the whole world is deceived, it is cut off from God. Deceived people do not know their purpose for being, and practice lives that reflect this ignorance (Isa. 59:1-2; Jer. 5:25).
We could ask: how can a single being deceive over six and a half billion people? There are two primary ways.
First, Revelation 12:9 concludes with, “he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Notice that it says, “his angels.” These beings, which he leads, are referred to as demons (or fallen angels), and they assist Satan in his role of superdeceiver. Therefore, Satan does not work alone—he has millions of deceived spirit beings (fallen angels) who help him.
But there is much more to understand. There is a second, equally important way through which Satan has so successfully deceived such vast numbers of people—and hidden their enormous potential from them.
Satan Has Ministers
Christendom is represented by hundreds of different, competing, arguing—and multiplying—denominations, and sects. Supposed Christianity appears in every conceivable shape, flavor, color and texture of belief and custom. Most have assumed that this is the natural state of affairs in the “Christian” world—that this is the way God must want it.
How wrong they are!
Put another way, this means that there are hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, ofclergy who represent and teach the beliefs of this kaleidoscope of differing and disagreeing brands of Christianity. Most who attend these various churches have also assumed, therefore, that all these must generally be God’s ministers—that they represent and teach what Godwants taught. There could be no more dangerous—or plain wrong—assumption!
Now here is yet one more shocking statement!
As the god of a completely deceived world, which must, therefore, include all the differing forms of Christianity and other religions, Satan has his own agents. He uses these agents to unwittingly spread his false doctrines. Yes, he has been able to achieve this almost universal success because the devil HAS HIS OWN MINISTERS! Of course, his agents—his ministers—are themselves deceived into believing that they are God’s ministers. Some teach a few aspects of God’s truth, but virtually none of His most important truths!
Now notice 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. The apostle Paul warned of the cunning with which Satan’s ministers successfully deceive: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
This is a blunt, stunning scripture. Yet, it is true that Satan’s ministers appear to be the ministers of God. Grasp this! Satan does not talk directly to human beings. He works through his servants—his ministers!
And here is the greatest deception of these false ministers: the devil uses them as instruments for spreading a false gospel about the Person of Jesus Christ—instead of HisMessage of the kingdom of God, the one that Christ brought. The greatest truth that the ministers, theologians, and religionists of this world deny is the incredible potential that each human being carries.
The following verses continue Paul’s description of the work of false ministers. They demonstrate the ongoing danger of Satan’s agents seeking to penetrate the true Church to blind God’s true servants a second time to the wonderful truth of the gospel and return them to darkness. Notice: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your [the Corinthian brethren’s] minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes [speaking of false preachers] preaches another Jesus … or if you receive another spirit … or another gospel, which you have not accepted …” (2 Cor. 11:3-4).
Paul warned of “another” spirit that was even able to enter the true Church. This very differentspirit perverted both the truth about the gospel and the real Christ of the Bible. Historically, the counterfeit Christianity of today first appeared almost immediately after Christ’s death and resurrection.
Also, ask yourself: if Christ is the gospel, then why cite “another Jesus” and “another gospel” as two separate doctrinal errors?
We will return to this.
New Testament Warnings
The New Testament contains numerous warnings of seducers, deceivers, charlatans, and imposters who would try to enter the true Church and lead away followers into false doctrines. Most of the apostles, in one way or another, warned virtually every congregation of this danger. It is this same system of false Christianity into which most people have been born and spent their lives.
The apostle Peter warned of false teachers “among you [the Church].” Notice: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
These are strong words. Just as false prophets continually plagued ancient Israel, the Church has been assaulted through the centuries by “false teachers” who, through “feigned words,” did seduce “many” into following them. The goal was to pull people from “the way of truth.”
The apostle Jude, Christ’s younger brother, was equally direct in his warning: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation … and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [license to break God’s Law] …” (Jude 3-4).
This powerful indictment describes those who “crept in” and caused some to no longer fight for “the faith which was once delivered.” Notice it says that some of these imposters had been “before of old ordained.” Because they were ungodly, they taught others to break God’s Law as well. We will examine Acts 8 momentarily to better understand where these men came from. Their system and doctrines are far from new.
John recorded nearly an entire chapter of Christ’s own words of warning to all His future sheep. Christ pulls no punches when describing the true nature of false leaders and teachers. Here are excerpts from that chapter:
“He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold [the Church] … the same is a thief and arobber.… the Shepherd [Christ and His faithful ministry] of the sheep.… the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.… Then said Jesus … I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thiefcomes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling … sees the wolf coming … and flees: and thewolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep” (John 10:1-13).
Take time to read this entire chapter. Notice the repeated use of the terms “wolf, stranger, thief, robber” and “hireling”—these latter are those who abandon the flock, pursuing self-interest. Throughout Church history, when enemies threatened God’s people, most ministersdid abandon the flock, and many sheep were deceived and swept away from God’s Church and truth.
In addition to the Corinthians, Paul warned several other congregations. Here is what he told the Galatians after they had slipped into false doctrines: “You did run well; who did hinder youthat you should not obey the truth? This persuasion comes not of Him that calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:7-9).
The Galatians had gotten off track. They did not understand that a little false doctrine (“leaven”) eventually spreads (like leaven in dough) through the “whole lump” of God’s many truths. We will see that these Galatians were losing their understanding of the gospel.
The Mystery of Iniquity
Now turn to a warning Paul gave to the Thessalonians, in which he spoke of a “mystery of iniquity” that was already at work in the first century Church. The context there (2 Thes. 2:3) also contains a description of events that would immediately precede Christ’s Return. A “falling away” and a revealing of the “man of sin … the son of perdition” would first have to take place before Christ’s Second Coming. He wrote, “For the mystery of iniquity does already work” (2 Thes. 2:7). Paul understood that certain events were “already” in play in the Church then, just as they would come to be, once again, at the end of the age.
The Book of Acts describes events in Samaria and sets up more facts to consider: “And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.… Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria.… And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:1, 4-5, 8).
When the plain truth of God’s Word is preached to those whose minds have been opened, it does bring “great joy.”
Later, several verses reference one Simon the Sorcerer—often called Simon Magus by various church historians. This man had tremendous influence in the predominantly Gentile area of Samaria. He was a part of the mystery system of which Paul warned the Thessalonians (also see Rev. 17:5, and later in this book). This same powerful system, originally led by Simon, has continually sought to enter the true Church.
Now notice: “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries” (Acts 8:9-11).
The Bible explains what “word” Philip was preaching: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). Notice that these in Samaria were baptized only after “they believed” this message—the kingdom of God—not some humanly-devised counterfeit idea.
Here is what Paul wrote to the Ephesians. This passage describes various offices Christ established within His New Testament ministry. It explains the purposes of those offices in edifying, unifying, and perfecting the brethren of God’s Church. Notice: “And He gave some,apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:11-15).
This is another very strong and instructive series of warnings to God’s people. Christ intended that His sheep listen to true ministers and recognize false “winds of doctrine” that may be packaged in “cunning” and “crafty” ways.
Near the end of Paul’s ministry, just before going on trial for his life, he met with all the assembled elders in Ephesus. This was an emotional meeting, because he knew that he would not see them again. He took time to remind them of their obligation, and of what he had repeatedly instructed them over a period of three years! The responsibility Paul described remains for God’s true ministry today.
Carefully note how Paul stressed the importance of his having preached the kingdom of God: “I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.… Take heed … to all the flock … to feed the church of God.… For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:25, 28-31).
What Paul had warned of did happen. Heretics entered not only the Ephesian congregation but most of the rest of God’s Church and subverted it into false understanding and practices. Church historians commonly refer to the period from the mid-first century AD to the middle of the second century AD as the “lost century.”
During this period, the visible Church radically changed in appearance, becoming almost unrecognizable. Remaining true believers, who were in the small minority, were forced to flee the visible majority, which had departed into error. The knowledge of God’s awesome purpose for human existence became lost to the overwhelming majority of those who were swept away into a false salvation.
Ever since the first century, when Christ established His Church, it has had to fight for the truth. God’s people have always had to be careful—extremely vigilant—about the dangers of false ministers coming among them and perverting some or all of the doctrines of God. And these imposters always teach a false gospel. Remember, Paul warned the Corinthians that they had been “beguiled” into accepting “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4). (My extensive bookWhere Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History! covers this fascinating subject in detail.)
In the next chapter, we will see why the true gospel—and the coming of the kingdom of God—holds the answers to mankind’s greatest problems. Prepare yourself for shocking understanding—and facts!