When the Jews chose to release Barabbas instead of Jesus, it was actually a more deceptive situation than most people know. There are a number of Greek manuscripts that record that Barabbas’ first name was Jesus. His name was Jesus Barabbas. In Aramaic the word bar means son and abba means father. So Barabbas means the son of the father. In the judgment hall when Pilate asked the people which prisoner to release—Jesus the son of the father, or Jesus the Nazarene, the Christ, they chose Barabbas, Jesus Barabbas, to be released to them and that Jesus be crucified.
Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, was concerned that they would easily be deceived. He said, “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” II Corinthians 11:3.
He then explained how that would happen. “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached [one], or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received [two], or a different gospel which you have not accepted [three]—you may well put up with it.” Verse 4. If you receive another Jesus, a different spirit or a different gospel you will be corrupted.
This is not only history but this is going to happen again and this time it will not only affect the Jews; the whole world will be deceived.
Many people do not understand the primitive meaning of the word anti-christ. Anti-christ comes from two Greek words, anti and christos. The common thought is that the anti-christ is somebody who is against Christ. The average Christian thinks the anti-christ will be some communist dictator or atheist that will arise in Jerusalem and lead some apostate Jews against the Christian religion.
It is true that the Greek word anti did develop into the meaning of something that was against, but the primitive or original meaning of the Greek word anti is someone who stands in the place of somebody else. So an anti-christ is somebody that stands in the place of Christ and not an atheist. He not only stands in the place of Christ, but people will believe he is the real Christ. However, this imposter is another Jesus.
Recorded in II Thessalonians 2, Paul warned the church about the anti-christ that was to come in the latter days. He told them about the great falling away, the great apostasy that is going to come in the future. He told them about the man of sin that, “… opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Verse 4. The anti-christ sits as God, as a divine personage in the temple of God.
The New Testament talks about the fact that God has a temple in heaven. But the word temple, when talking about the anti-christ sitting in the temple of God, does not refer to God’s temple in heaven. Heaven is not the only place where God has a temple. In I Corinthians 3:16, 17, Paul says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
A temple is a dwelling place for a deity. God’s temple is the house where God dwells. Paul said to the Gentiles who had become part of the Christian church, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation [dwelling place] of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19–22.
Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they also were becoming part of this temple, a dwelling place or habitation for God, in the Spirit. In verse 21 he called it “growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” The Christian church is a temple for God in this world. In II Thessalonians 2:4 it says that the man of sin “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” This is an anti-christ. It is not really God.
What does it mean to sit as God, in the temple of God? Since the 4th century, John Chrisoster, one of the church fathers, taught, “We don’t know who the anti-christ is or exactly when the anti-christ is going to arise, but,” he says, “we know one thing. We know that the anti-christ is going to arise in the church.” How did he know that? Because the Bible says that “he would sit as God in the temple of God.” If the anti-christ sits as God in the temple of God, he must sit as God in the church.
God Alone Receives Worship
In Revelation 22:8, 9, it says, “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’ ”
Notice, an angel from heaven would not allow John to worship him. He stated that you worship God, not an angel. God alone has the right to be worshiped. Angels do not have that right, but the anti-christ is described as sitting as God in the temple of God and he receives worship.
God Alone Forgives Sins
Another thing that God has a right to do that we do not is to forgive sin. When a paralytic lying on a bed was brought to Jesus, He said, “ ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’ And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This man blasphemes!’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven to you” or to say, “Arise and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ ” Matthew 9:2–6.
When Jesus forgave sins He was accused of blasphemy. Luke 5:21 states: “Who has power to forgive sins, except God alone?” literal translation. But the anti-christ claims power to forgive sins. None of the apostles ever claimed the power to forgive sins. Instead, they taught people to look to God for forgiveness. The anti-christ, being a man, claims to be God.
In John 10:31–33, it says, “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of these works do you stone Me?’ The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make yourself God.’ ”
For a man to make himself God is blasphemy. For a man to claim to forgive sins is blasphemy, and for a man to receive worship is blasphemy. The anti-christ does all three of those things and the people who will worship him and bow down to him at the end of the world believing that this is the Christ. It will appear that the whole world is converted, but they will be worshiping another Jesus. They will be deceived just as were the Jews. They accepted a different Jesus. Soon we are going to face a situation where millions of Christians are going to believe that they have had a revival and reformation and that they have received the Holy Spirit. However, it will be a different gospel and a different spirit—another Jesus.
A Different Gospel
Referring to the anti-christ, Paul says, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” II Thessalonians 2:9–11. The definite article, “the” is in the original text. It is not any lie, it is the lie.
The lie is the same lie that the devil told Eve in the Garden of Eden. He offered another gospel, the lie that you can be saved in your sins. You do not have to overcome your sins to be saved. You just need to keep them confessed. Many Adventists believe the lie and there are people in other churches that believe the teaching that you can be saved in your sins if you just keep them confessed. For this reason Roman Catholics are scared to not go to confession. They believe they must not die with unconfessed sins. Many Adventists have been taught the very same thing and have the same fear.
To confess sins is the first step but it is not enough; overcoming faults must follow the confession. To confess sins without turning away from them is to believe in a different gospel. The Jews were able to choose Barabbas because they had believed a different gospel and received a different spirit, which caused them to accept another Jesus. They were looking for a Messiah who would give them victory over the Romans. When Jesus made it plain that He had come to give them victory over their sins and not the Romans, they rejected Him. If the Lord does not give you victory over your sins, He cannot give you eternal life.
Ellen White goes into some detail about why the Jews rejected Jesus: “But when Jesus announced, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears’ (Luke 4:21), they were suddenly recalled to think of themselves, and of the claims of Him Who had been addressing them. They, Israelites, children of Abraham, had been represented as in bondage. They had been addressed as prisoners to be delivered from the power of evil; as in darkness, and needing the light of truth. Their pride was offended, and their fears were roused. The words of Jesus indicated that His work for them was to be altogether different from what they desired. …
“Who is this Jesus? they questioned. He who had claimed for Himself the glory of the Messiah was the son of a carpenter, and had worked at His trade with His father Joseph. …
“What a contrast between His teaching in regard to the new kingdom and that which they had heard from their elder! Jesus had said nothing of delivering them from the Romans. …
“As they opened the door to doubt, their hearts became so much the harder for having been momentarily softened. Satan was determined that blind eyes should not that day be opened, nor souls bound in slavery be set at liberty. With intense energy he worked to fasten them in unbelief. They made no account of the sign already given, when they had been stirred by the conviction that it was their Redeemer who addressed them. …
“But Jesus now gave them an evidence of His divinity by revealing their secret thoughts. ‘He said unto them, Doubtless ye will say unto Me this parable, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done at Capernaum, do also here in Thine own country. And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is acceptable in his own country. But of a truth I say unto you, There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman, the Syrian’ (Luke 4:23–27 RV).” The Desire of Ages, 237, 238.
Think through the meaning of what Jesus said to them. The widow in Zarephath, a heathen, was more worthy to entertain the prophet in her home than any of the widows in Israel. There was a similar occurrence in Elisha’s time. Naaman, the Syrian, was the only leper healed by Elisha. That meant that the heathen were on a higher level in God’s eyes than were the Jews, although they were God’s chosen people.
“Our standing before God depends, not upon the amount of light we have received, but upon the use we make of what we have. Thus even the heathen who choose the right as far as they can distinguish it are in a more favorable condition than are those who have had great light, and profess to serve God, but who disregard the light, and by their daily life contradict their profession.” Ibid., 238.
This was too much for the Jews to bear. When Jesus had said these things the Jews got so angry that they took him out of town and were going to throw Him headlong over a cliff. If the angel had not intervened, He would have been killed right there.
Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry He again visited Nazareth. “Unbelief, having once been cherished, continued to control the men of Nazareth. So it controlled the Sanhedrin and the nation. With priests and people, the first rejection of the demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power was the beginning of the end.” Ibid., 241.
That is a very scary statement. Human beings are creatures of habit. To reject an impression of the Holy Spirit once makes it easier to reject it the second time. After rejecting it a second time, it will be even easier a third time.
“Their rejection of the Spirit culminated in the cross of Calvary, in the destruction of their city, in the scattering of the nation to the winds of heaven. …
“The lessons of Christ revealed their deficiencies of character, and demanded repentance. If they accepted His teachings, their practices must be changed, and their cherished hopes relinquished.” Ibid.
Are you willing to change, to leave something behind that is highly cherished, in order to have eternal life?
“In order to be honored by Heaven, they must sacrifice the honor of men. If they obeyed the words of this new rabbi, they must go contrary to the opinions of the great thinkers and teachers of the time.
“Truth was unpopular in Christ’s day. It is unpopular in our day. …
“The Jewish leaders were filled with spiritual pride. Their desire for the glorification of self manifested itself even in the service of the sanctuary. They loved the highest seats in the synagogue. They loved greetings in the market places, and were gratified with the sound of their titles on the lips of men. As real piety declined, they became more jealous for their traditions and ceremonies. …
“They did not appreciate the fact that real greatness can dispense with outward show.” Ibid., 242.
In summary: “It was not simply the absence of outward glory in His life that led the Jews to reject Jesus. He was the embodiment of purity, and they were impure. He dwelt among men an example of spotless integrity. His blameless life flashed light upon their hearts. His sincerity revealed their insincerity. It made manifest the hollowness of their pretentious piety, and discovered iniquity to them in its odious character. Such a light was unwelcome.” Ibid., 243.
“If Christ had called attention to the Pharisees, and had extolled their learning and piety, they would have hailed Him with joy. But when He spoke of the kingdom of heaven as a dispensation of mercy for all mankind, He was presenting a phase of religion they would not tolerate.” Ibid.
The number of parallels between the first and second advents of Christ discerned through a study of the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy is astounding. Ellen White said that the Lord told her many times that the experience of the Jews before the first coming of Christ would be the experience of God’s people before His second coming. The Desire of Ages is not just a book about something that happened 2,000 years ago. In every chapter you can see similarities between the events of Christ’s day and events of today. Many do not realize what is going on right in front of their eyes.
The chapter “The Crisis in Galilee” describes the rejection of Christ by the people in Galilee. “All who received Him would partake of His nature, and be conformed to His character. This involved the relinquishment of their cherished ambitions. It required the complete surrender of themselves to Jesus. They were called to become self-sacrificing, meek and lowly in heart. They must walk in the narrow path traveled by the Man of Calvary, if they would share in the gift of life and the glory of heaven.
“The test was too great. …
“Jesus told them plainly, ‘There are some of you that believe not;’ adding, ‘Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father’ (John 6:65). He wished them to understand that if they were not drawn to Him it was because their hearts were not open to the Holy Spirit. …
“As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them.” Ibid., 391, 392.
I Never Knew You
In the last days when this different spirit takes control of the churches, they will believe that they have received the Holy Spirit. They will think that they are all following the Lord, but they will have a different spirit and be following anti-christ. When the real Jesus comes, they will argue with Him. Jesus predicted that “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. These people are not the atheists. They claim to be Christians and they call Jesus Lord. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ ” Verse 22. They know they are saved; they had the Spirit; they prophesied and even worked miracles in His name, but they had a different spirit. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Verse 23.
The majority of Christians will receive a different Jesus and think they are having a great revival. They will think they have received the Holy Spirit because they will have the power to prophesy and work miracles. The Bible says that the devil can work miracles, that he is going to work many of them in the last days, and that it is by means of these miracles that he will gather the whole world together. Atheists and infidels alike who have evidence of one or more of these miracles will accept whatever they are told without Biblical evidence.
I was sent an account concerning a physician who evidently was an agnostic. After a supposed near-death experience, he now believes everything that he has been taught, whereas before he had no belief in God or in His word. Now he thinks he believes the Bible, but has been taught through a different person’s vision rather than from God’s word. Consequently, he has become totally mixed up. That is just a foretaste of what is coming in the future for millions of people all over the world if they do not study God’s word and know truth for themselves. People without any previous belief at all will appear to have the greatest revival and many will be deceived into accepting another Jesus.
Ellen White wrote: “I saw our people in great distress, weeping, and praying, pleading the sure promises of God, while the wicked were all around us, mocking us, and threatening to destroy us. They ridiculed our feebleness, they mocked at the smallness of our numbers, and taunted us with words calculated to cut deep. They charged us with taking an independent position from all the rest of the world. They had cut off our resources so that we could not buy nor sell, and referred to our abject poverty and stricken condition. They could not see how we could live without the world; we were dependent upon the world, and we must concede to the customs, practices, and laws of the world, or go out of it. If we were the only people in the world whom the Lord favored the appearances were awfully against us. They declared that they had the truth, that miracles were among them, that angels from heaven talked with them, and walked with them, that great power, and signs and wonders were performed among them, and this was the Temporal Millennium, which they had been expecting so long. The whole world was converted and in harmony with the Sunday law, and this little feeble people stood out in defiance of the laws of the land, and the laws of God, and claimed to be the only ones right on the earth.” Maranatha, 209.
Catholics, Protestants and most professed Seventh-day Adventists are all going to have the same experience and think it is a marvelous revival and reformation under a spurious spirit that results in spiritualism.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine [the teaching], whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority.” John 7:17. This is a marvelous promise for those living in such deceptive times that will only get worse.
People are deceived when they do not receive the love of the truth. In accepting a different gospel and being unwilling to give up their sins, they accept a different Jesus. The false spirit allows you to hold on to sin and promotes a false gospel. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. He is the agent ordained to purify the soul and clean up the life and prepare the body temple for the indwelling of Christ.
We must know God’s will and recognize His voice. Any voice that speaks contrary to God’s word is a deceiver. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free from sin and ultimately from this world, to be able to spend eternity with the One Who loves us and died to deliver us and redeem us for Himself.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.