Is “Christ” the family name of Jesus? Mr. Christ? That’s what the students were wondering as they began their class on the New Testament in a secular Israeli university. You can’t blame them for the confusion because the word Christ doesn’t appear in the Hebrew translation of the New Testament at all. “Christ” is from the Greek word, “Christos”. In Hebrew, that word is “Moshiach”, or Messiah. Yes, the word “Christ” quite literally, and very simply, means “Messiah”.
It didn’t take long for the Israeli students to wrap their heads around the concept, since the meaning of the Hebrew word for Christ (Messiah) is obvious enough: Anointed one. The One promised throughout the generations, by all the biblical prophets.
In Israel most Jewish people assume Jesus was just a man. It is common in Jewish thought to believe the promised Messiah would also be just a man—that the Messiah would be a man anointed for a task, like Cyrus in Isaiah 45. However, the prophets spoke of a Christ, a Messiah, who would clearly have divine attributes. For most Jewish people the very idea of a divine Messiah is a big hurdle. However, for many Gentiles in the West, the concept of “Christ” has taken a very bewildering detour in meaning.
The New Age “Christ” Deception
Having lost all touch with the real Hebrew origin of the word, or any understanding that it’s simply Greek for “Messiah”, the idea of “the Christ” has taken on a life of its own, bearing no relation to the promised Messiah spoken of throughout the ages. In much modern, New Age type thinking, the concept of “christ” is more like a super life force, akin to New Age concepts of “chi”. The “god in all of us”. The idea of “god” in this schema, again, bearing no resemblance to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This way of thinking is often referred to as “Christ Consciousness”, and stands in opposition to the true Messiah. Here is a definition of this New Age counterfeit:
“Christ Consciousness is an awareness of the higher self as part of a universal system. Although it can be interpreted in a number of ways, a common understanding is that Christ Consciousness is the state of consciousness in which a person has found self-realization and unity with God or the Divine. It may also be used as a synonym for the yogic and Hindu concept of samadhi, or deep spiritual bliss.” (Definition from Yogapedia)
Unlike the true promised Jewish Messiah of the Hebrew Bible, this version of “christ” is a figment of the imagination for people seeking New Age enlightenment.
It’s all about the self—self actualization, self help, self improvement… whereas the true Jesus teaches us to die to ourselves: to pick up our cross and follow Him:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
Jesus also clearly said,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
All are invited to come to Jesus, but there is no other way, there is no other truth, and eternal life is found only in Jesus. There is only one Christ, in the true sense of the word. The promised, anointed one. The Messiah.
There is only one Messiah
Two globally prominent proponents of this Christ Consciousness are Oprah Winfrey and self-help guru Eckhart Tolle. Oprah regularly imparts her beliefs that people should follow their hearts and pursue their inner longings, rather than live a self-controlled life restraining themselves from sin. People such as Oprah and Tolle believe that God is within us, and that we are part of God. Of course, this new-fangled form of pantheistic thinking makes God’s sovereign right to judge suddenly irrelevant, and the cross becomes a mere symbol of sacrifice and virtue, rather than the only means we can be saved.
Their fake version of Jesus would never judge or condemn anyone, so salvation becomes unnecessary, as it is in Buddhism and eastern religions. This is a dangerous deception, because if people don’t realize they are in need of saving, they do not realize they need a Savior.
Oprah and co. may sound on the surface to be talking about Jesus but they are in fact are toting New Age mysticism which is based entirely in their own minds.
“Here is where you got to be careful,” says Josh McDowell. “Not only Oprah but others use Christian or religious terminologies that Christians would accept as Christian. The Christian God is a personal creator God in whom all truth resides, who is totally outside of ourselves and outside of our universe. When Oprah and others refer to God, it is an impersonal force. And I think one way that comes out is that they will say, ‘Look within you and find yourself from within. Find that God-consciousness. That is God.’”1
We need to be wise in these days of deception, and understand the tantalizing counterfeit being offered to the world. One of the most vocal critics against this deception is a man who was delivered out of it. Steven Bancarz was a famous influencer within the dark world of New Age mysticism. He had an encounter with the one, true God of Israel as an autonomous and separate being, uncontrolled by any man, and Creator of all. But the wonderful thing about this true and terrifyingly independent Creator God is that He is real, and He loves us. Experiencing the love of God changes lives. The fake Jesus of Christ Consciousness is no more capable of loving us than an imaginary friend.
Look out for counterfeits
New Age Christ Consciousness is not the only deception when it comes to Jesus. There are many counterfeits.
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:5)
The intellectual concept
Not only is there a fake version of spirituality, but there is also the danger of seeing Christ purely as an intellectual concept rather than the true and living Messiah. People like Jordan Peterson are bringing many to read the Bible for themselves, which is great, but he seems to have difficulty accepting that Jesus is not a symbol or character from a fable to learn from—He is a real historical figure who really was crucified, buried, and crucially, who rose again! Taking our example from Jesus on how to live is obviously a good idea, but we need to believe in His sacrifice to take away our sin when we inevitably fail. If your version of Jesus did not come back to life, you are following a manmade counterfeit who cannot save you from sin.
The Quranic Isa
Similarly, Jesus is mentioned in the Quran, but the Islamic version (Isa) is not the son of God and didn’t die on the cross—never mind come back to life. The points where we agree are that we can all say He is alive today, and that He will return to judge the living and the dead. But failing to acknowledge the truth of the Gospels (that Jesus Christ died for our sin, in our place, and proved His authority by rising from the dead) will lead to trouble on Judgment Day. We must believe in Jesus, believe the Gospels, and believe what He says about the meaning of the cross and the empty tomb. Only the one true Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Lion of Judah from the line of David, can welcome us into eternal life with the Father.
Artificial Intelligence Jesus
A more recent counterfeit is the AI versions of Jesus Christ popping up, purporting to give advice based on the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Here is a review from a non-believer who tried it out on Twitch:2
The stream uses what appears to be footage of an actor looking like the traditional mainstream American representation of Jesus—bearded and white—repeating on a loop, while an AI-generated mouth is superimposed over the actor’s mouth and appears to speak the words the AI generates… It’s a little cringe, a little unhinged, but I find it wholesome.
He asked if gay people go to heaven, and here’s how AI Jesus responded:
“It’s important to understand that God’s love is universal and that He loves every single person, regardless of their sexual orientation,” AI Jesus said in a compassionate tone. “The primary teachings of Christianity emphasize the importance of love, compassion, and treating others with respect. When it comes to entering Heaven, what truly matters is a person’s faith, actions, and the love they show to others.” Bigoted evangelicals are seething, I’m sure, but OK, AI Jesus.
You can see where this might be going, as with all AI. It depends on the programming, and it is not the real Christ at all. It’s not even close. It’s a caricature, a useless counterfeit. If your idea of Jesus just wants you to be happy all the time and only gives nice answers that make you feel good, you have been tricked. You are not following the real Jesus Christ. The true Messiah invites us to walk with Him on the narrow path, to deny ourselves, to be willing to join Him in His sufferings, and then to enjoy Him forever in paradise.
False Messiahs and Antichrists
In Matthew 24, Jesus answers His disciples’ questions about the end of time. Daniel 9 tells of the end days and the antichrist who would set up the ‘abomination of desolation’ in the temple in the latter days, and Jesus warned of the birth pangs before Jesus finally comes again in glory. In Matthew He says many will come in His name saying they are the Christ. We should expect false messiahs and antichrists—those who stand in the place of Christ, pretending to be Christ and appropriating His title. In the parallel passage in Mark, it is written that Jesus warned,
“Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.” (Mark 13:6)
This phrase “I am he” is the Greek version of the name of God: I AM. But God is not created by man, He is not limited by human beings. He is not controlled by us and does as He pleases… as the antichrist, this imposter who will set himself up in God’s temple, will eventually find out:
“he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4b-10)
God has His own plans, His own purposes, His own mind and heart… and He loves us very much. He longs for all to come to Him and find rest for their souls, and went to great trouble to pay the price for us to have eternal life with Him. The true Christ laid down His life for us. This was the plan from the beginning of time, and all the prophets spoke of the Messiah, the Christ, who would come and save us. The price has been paid, the way has been opened up, and you are invited to come! But there is only one way to come and it’s through believing in the one, true Messiah. Jesus Christ. Eternal life is knowing God, and knowing Jesus Christ, whom He sent. (John 17:3). If you are wise, you’ll make that decision today, if you haven’t already. It’s no good following a false Messiah, a fake Christ. Only the real deal will do. Do you know Him?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Picture by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash