ONFS, Acrylic on Canvas, 165cm x 110cm (65″ x 43.5″)
“Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save.” (Isaiah 45:20)
“And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:21-22)
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me.” (John 14:6)
In Jesus’ famous End Times discourse in Matthew 24 he said, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).
Jesus goes on to say:
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man [Jesus’ Second Coming]” (Matthew 24:23-27).
I think it’s extremely important to notice that when Jesus was questioned about his Second Coming, his very first words were: “Watch out that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4). As he continued his discourse, he went on to warn us a few more times about guarding against deception and against false “christs”. He also said, “…many false prophets will appear and deceive many people” (Matthew 24:11).
Clearly, from Jesus’ warnings, we know that there will be a massive amount of deception in the End Times and that there will be many deceivers who will lead people astray into their eternal deaths. (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
A number of people have professed to be Christ (or a Christlike figure) over the years and have deceived many people. Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i religion, was one of these people who claimed to be the returned Christ and the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Sadly, Baha’u’llah was deceived, for he did not come back visibly in the clouds with great glory in the full sight of everyone, in accordance with the prophecies Jesus spoke concerning his return:
“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:27)
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man [Jesus] will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). (See also Acts1:11).
(Jesus gives more details about the events and signs surrounding his Second Coming in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17:22-37 and Luke 21:5-36.)
God does not want us to be led astray by these people into eternal destruction. Instead, Jesus came to show us the true way of salvation–how we can be saved from our sins, reconciled to God and enter into an eternity with him in heaven. (See “Message” and “Is God Real?”).
Jesus said, “…for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).
Jesus also said, “‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me’” (John 14:6). In other words, Jesus is saying that there is only one way to heaven (and that is through faith in him and his atoning death on the cross).
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
(See also John 3:16-18, John 10:1-30, Matthew 20:28, John 10:25-26, John 5:24, John 6:40).
On that final Day, when Jesus returns on the clouds with great power and glory, proving himself to be the one, true God and Savior, it will be extremely apparent to everyone on the face of the earth that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men [the name of Jesus] by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). All of the world’s other “gods”, religious leaders, religions and systems of belief aside from the Savior, Jesus Christ, will be shown for what they truly are: False and having no way of salvation in them. (See 1 Kings 18, 1 Samuel 4-6).
Every other “god”, religious leader, religion or system of belief professes to be either “the way”, “the truth” or “the life”, but Jesus says that he alone is all of them at the exclusion of everyone else and everything else, for the Lord himself says:
“…there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:21-22).
The God of the Bible (Yahweh) came and dwelt among us as the Person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:3, John 1:1-3,14; Colossians 2:9). Jesus is not just a good teacher, a great example, a prophet, a messenger of God, one of many gods or one of many different manifestations of God. We cannot assimilate Jesus into any other god, religion, or system of belief, nor can we add him into a pantheon of gods or receive him as one of many different manifestations of the same ‘god’.
Jesus is NOT whatever WE make him out to be.
JESUS IS WHO HE IS!
God says, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14), and he is exactly who he said he is: God and the one and only true Messiah (Christ) and Savior, for he himself states the exclusivity of his Deity and that he alone is the only source of eternal salvation. (See Matthew 26:63-64, John 14:6).
Therefore, it is not just those who specifically claim to be the returned “christ” who will deceive people in these Last Days. It will also be the other spiritual leaders and religions that profess to be what Christ is alone: “the way”, “the truth” and “the life” (John 14:6).
How then, amidst the myriad of religious beliefs in the world today, are we supposed to believe that Jesus Christ is the only, true God and the only, true way to heaven at the exclusion of every other ‘god’, ‘prophet’, religion or religious leader?
Because Jesus Christ was the only One who laid down his life to ransom us from our sins and to rise from the dead (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21). No other ‘god’ or religious leader has done that for us.
Furthermore, Jesus confirmed the fact that he is God and the world’s only Savior by fulfilling every single one of the 300+ Biblical prophecies about the Messiah (Christ). Only God could have done that!
The Messiah is the one Person God promised throughout the Old Testament to send to earth in order to redeem us from our sins, “…you are to give him the name Jesus [which means “the LORD saves”] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
(In another End Times painting I have done,“Can You See Jesus Fulfilled Biblical Prophecies?” (Signs of The Times Series), I have examined some of these Messianic prophecies. In the text about this work I have also calculated the mathematical odds of someone fulfilling just a handful of these 300+ prophecies. The results are astronomically amazing!)
We must remember that God deeply loves us and created us to be in a personal relationship with him. Sadly, however, we have all sinned against him (Romans 3:23) and are consequently alienated from him because God is perfect in holiness and cannot be in the presence of sin. Furthermore, because God is perfect in justice he must punish us for our sins, which is death and eternal separation from him in hell (Romans 6:23).
However, God still deeply loves us even despite the fact we have sinned against him (Romans 5:6-11). He longs not to condemn us but to forgive us and to bring us into a loving, personal relationship with him (John 3:16). Therefore, God in his great mercy provided the way for us to be reconciled to him.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)
Jesus, who is God, came to ransom us from our sins and their just penalty. Jesus lived the perfect, sinless life we could never live, then he took all of OUR sins upon himself and bore the punishment for them through his death on the cross. He rose from the dead three days later, making reconciliation with God possible for us (John 10:28).
In order to make this ransom effectual, you must personally appropriate it by trusting in Jesus to be your Savior.
First you must repent (turn away) from all your sins. Second, you must place your faith in Jesus, trusting that he has personally paid the full punishment for your sins through his death on the cross. (See “Message“).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
As soon as you confess your sins and place your faith in Jesus, he forgives you of all your sins (past, present and future), reconciles you to God and grants you eternal life.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
“Whoever believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36). (God’s wrath is the just penalty for our sins (Romans 1:18, Ephesians 2:3); therefore, God’s wrath ‘remains’ on the person who refuses to repent of their sins and receive Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for them.)
In this painting, I have depicted Jesus, the one, true Christ, returning in the sky just as he said he would (Matthew 24:30, Acts 1:11). Lightning is visible in both the East and the West (Matthew 24:27), and it is in the shape of the Hebrew letters which say, “Yeshua HaMashiach” (meaning: “Jesus, the Anointed One” in English, “The Anointed One”, which is translated “Christ” in Greek). The lightning is visible for the entire world to see, just as Jesus said his Second Coming would be.
When Christ returns, he will be riding on a white horse, as the Scriptures say in Revelation 19:11-21. However, in order to visually emphasize another passage of Scripture concerning his return I have depicted only his feet:
“Then the end will come, when he [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
By depicting Christ’s feet I am emphasising his supremacy over everything else that is worshipped as ‘god’ or is upheld by man as a way of ‘salvation’. Furthermore, I am illustrating the fact that, on the Day of Christ’s return, he will put all of his enemies—those who have opposed him and those who have deceived multitudes of people into their eternal deaths—under his feet.
Beneath Jesus I have included 6 major world religions/systems of belief, their gods and their religious leaders: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Wicca/Witchcraft/New Age, Baha’ism (which incorporates all syncretistic religions) and Roman Catholicism (especially in regards to Mary being hailed as the “Mediatrix of All Graces” and “Co-Redemptrix” by some, in addition to the papacy. These deceptively usurp and undermine that which Jesus Christ is alone and that which belongs to him alone. (See the Biblical books of Hebrews, Romans and Galatians). “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
I chose 6 religions because it is the number of man and therefore symbolises the full number of all the religions invented by man.
Although some of these religions have over a billion followers and have the richest, most beautiful and ‘glorious’ places of worship in the eyes of men, yet when Jesus returns “…coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30), all of these false gods and religions will appear as they truly are: small, dark and helpless.
Behind these gods lies a vast field of grasses, symbolizing the people of the world who follow these religions even as the wind of Jesus’ Second Coming threatens to uproot them. (In depicting people as grasses, I have alluded to the following Scriptures: Matthew 13:24-30,36-43; Revelation 14:14-20, Isaiah 40:6-8, Matthew 15:12-14).
“You also know that liars do not belong to the truth. And a liar is anyone who says that Jesus isn’t truly the Christ. Anyone who says this is an enemy of Christ and rejects both the Father [God] and the Son [Jesus]. If we reject the Son, we reject the Father. But if we say that we accept the Son, we have the Father…The Son has promised us eternal life. I am writing to warn you about those people who are misleading you.” (1 John 1:21-23, 25-26 CEV)
In conclusion, God has demonstrated his existence (Romans 1:18-32, Psalm 19, John 20:29-31, Acts 17:16-31) and has proven that he is the one, true God through the fulfillment of prophecy and through many other demonstrations of his power. Many of these events, such as the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-15:21), his many miracles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts) and his death and resurrection (Matthew 27-28, Mark 15-16, Luke 23:26-24:53, John 19-20, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6) are recorded in the Bible by eyewitnesses.
However, God continues to perform miracles and reveal himself to people today.
(“About The Artist” is a short testimony of how I searched for the true God and how he revealed himself to me.)
(“Salvation Testimonies” is a collection of personal accounts from Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Animists, Atheists, etc., from all around the world and how Jesus Christ came to them and revealed and proved himself to be the one, true God.)
In the end, we must remember that none of us can“create” our own version of “truth” and expect it to keep us eternally safe, FOR EACH ONE OF US IS COMPLETELY SUBJECT TO THE ONE, ABSOLUTE TRUTH, regardless of what religious beliefs we may hold. (See “We Are All Subject to The One Absolute Truth About God Whether We Believe in it or Not (John the Baptist Artworks Series 2)).
There are many sincere people who have had spiritual experiences but are ultimately deceived for they do not have a love for the absolute truth. There are many others who are more fiercely devoted to their own religion and beliefs than they are to the absolute truth; they would never abandon their false beliefs in order to embrace the absolute truth. There are still many others who are careless about the absolute truth and say, “I guess I’ll find out when I die”, but by then it will be too late for them. Still others reason, “How can I ever be completely 100% positive I have found the absolute truth?” (It is possible, but it can only be revealed to us by God–this was my question and my journey).
In regards to absolute truth and the Second Coming of Jesus, this is the warning God gives us:
“Concerning the [second] coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered to him…Don’t let anyone deceive you…for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [the antichrist] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God…
And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one [the antichrist] will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3-4, 6-12)
We escape deception and eternal destruction by having a love for the absolute truth and by pursuing it until it is revealed to us by God.
When we sincerely seek the absolute truth about God, God WILL genuinely reveal himself to us. God is not something foundless that we need to accept in ‘blind faith’–he is real and personally knowable and he does hear and answer our prayers! God promises us:
“‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD…” (Jeremiah 29:13-14)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
This same God will one day return upon the clouds in great glory to judge all of us. In order to be fully prepared for his coming, we must personally know him now, for Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
There was another time in history when multitudes of people were deceived, and so God in his grace, powerfully and blatantly demonstrated to them that he is the one, true God (1 Kings 18).
In the Old Testament, God’s people, the Israelites, were influenced by the pagan peoples around them and began to embrace their false gods, idols and religious practices. Over the course of time, most of the Israelites ended up worshiping pagan gods instead of (or in addition to) the one, true God who rescued them out of Egypt from the hand of Pharoah (Exodus 1-15). At the height of Israel’s apostasy, God sent them the prophet Elijah to turn their hearts back to him.
He challenged the people to have a showdown between the true God (Yahweh) and Baal, one of the most popular alternative ‘gods’ they were worshiping at the time.
Elijah said to Israel’s wicked King Ahab, “‘You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’
So Ahab sent word throughout Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’
But the people said nothing.
Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire–he is God.’
Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.’ So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘O Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or travelling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened. So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelves stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, ‘Your name shall be Israel.’ With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs [about 15 litres, 13 quarts] of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’
‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again.
‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed, ‘O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’
Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God!’ (1 Kings 18:18-39)