In National Geographic’s August 2017 issue (232:2), Jonas Bendiksen embarks on an adventure to find men claiming to be the Messiah. He poses several questions I want to address that would relatively be easy to answer if he ever bothered to attend church.
Concerning the return of Christ, he begins with two questions, “When is ‘soon’? And who is ‘I’?” (86). As far as when Jesus is coming, Jesus has made it explicitly clear, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
We also know God does not perceive time the same way we perceive it. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). One of the many things that significantly separates us from God is that God exists outside of time—He is infinite; whereas we can only exist within time—we are finite. And why not? God created time, after all.
Whether you believe time is a construct that technically doesn’t exist or not, the point is that as finite, human creatures, we cannot help but perceive time and are thus bound to it, whereas God is not bound to time. Rather, time is bound to God. Thus, Peter says, 1 day and 1,000 years have no difference to God. Therefore, “soon” for God could be as long as 5,000 years. In spite of Peter’s warning, Bendiksen obviously overlooked this one fact.
“Who is ‘I’?” Again, an easy question. The “I” is obviously Jesus, who is God incarnate. Again, Jesus makes this explicitly clear. “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Luke 21:27, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Acts 1:10-11, “And while [the disciples] were gazing into heaven as [Jesus ascended], behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.'” The “I” is none other than the same Jesus Christ who died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven. It can be no one else.
The next question Bendiksen asks is, “If Christ were to come back to complete his work today, I’ve thought, what would he think of the world we’ve created? And what would we think of him?” Jesus weeped over the sins of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). Jesus would weep over the sins of the whole world when He returns. Killing babies in the womb is legal in many western civilisations. Euthanasia is becoming widely practised. People are claiming pride in sexual sins like homosexuality and transgenderism. Jesus would weep.
What would we think of Him? We would want to repeat history. We would hate Him and want to kill Him just like before. People already hate Him! The evidence is in those who leave the Church because Scripture condemns abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, and same-sex marriage. People also leave the Church when they find out the claim of Christianity that Christianity is the only right religion since Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6). Anyone who does not worship Jesus, therefore, does not worship the true God and will not see Heaven unless they repent. If they hate Him now, that’s not going to suddenly change when He returns, especially considering the current state of our world. It’d be like cleaning your entire house, leaving for a time, and returning to find that your children utterly destroyed it.
Bendiksen then claims “the New Testament is full of contradictions” and that false messiahs are “more coherent than the Scripture we have” in some ways. Both these statements are absolutely absurd. My question is: What contradictions? Have you tried reading the Old Testament to see its fulfilment in the New Testament, ultimately in Christ, Bendiksen? Have you tried going to church and talking to a pastor about it? Atheists far and wide claim the Bible is full of contradictions, but every time they are proven wrong. God’s Word has survived such false claims for over 2,000 years. This is not surprising, considering His Word is inerrant and infallible.
The claim that these false messiahs are more coherent than the Scriptures is laughable. They could not be more confusing and contradicting. For one, Jesus says so clearly that the Messiah to come is going to be Him and Him alone! And that He is going to descend from the clouds for all to see (Revelation 1:7)! These so-called messiahs could not be more contradictory and deceitful.
Bendiksen’s last absurd question is, “Why couldn’t [the messiah] be one of these guys?” Again, because it’s not the obvious Jesus descending from the clouds for literally the entire world to see. Oh, and not to mention Jesus’ own words again, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:5).
Bendiksen claims he’s “always enjoyed reading Scripture,” but either he’s lying and hasn’t really been reading much of it at all, or he hasn’t been paying a lot of attention to what he’s supposedly been reading. That or he’s been reading the Book of Mormon, which is a parody religion of Christianity, and a poor one at that.
Many will come claiming to be the Christ—the Messiah. These people are false prophets. Many of them are even mentally ill (perhaps they all are). It is the work of the Devil to deceive the faithful into following wolves in sheep’s clothing. We have the words of Christ, and His promise is that He will come descending in clouds for every eye to see, saving those who are justified in faith and condemning those who hate Him and worship false idols like these false messiahs.