Monday, January 16, 2012

First John Chapter Two, Part Eight

2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. The NKJV renders the verse: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” Clothed in a little more modern English we deduce a few things. John tells us that this side of the cross is what he terms “the last hour.” In other words there is nothing keeping the Antichrist and God’s culminating plan for time and creation from coming to pass. No prophetic fulfillment awaits; no necessary long intervals of time: no, the Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night, and the son of perdition awaits revealing, 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8.


John forecasts the arrival of “the Antichrist” (Satan’s chosen parody of Jesus) as a future time, while he warns that already (even in his time) there were many antichrists abroad. What is an antichrist? One criterion is that he denies the deity of Jesus Christ, that God came in the flesh, 1st John 2:22-23; 2nd John 1:7-9. Modern antichrists include Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell and Mary Baker Eddy, according to the standards set down by John. An antichrist then seeks to pervert the person of God and substitute God’s revealed truth regarding His nature with their own subjective concepts and opinions about His nature. They reject the truth and embrace lies, 2nd Timothy 4:3-4. The result is that God will bring upon them strong delusion to secure them in their position (giving such people only what they want); their ultimate end will be destruction, 2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12.

John gives us this sign that the appearance of these antichrists demonstrates that it is in fact the last hour. Satan does not know when his hour will be when the man of sin is revealed. He is powerful and brilliant, but he is not omniscient like God and must wait for his time, a time God will reveal when He removes the presence of the Holy Spirit from this earth in the unique moment Christians refer to as the Rapture, 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-7. The body of Christ indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit shall be taken out of the way, and the son of perdition will at last step forward into the full spotlight to begin his career in earnest. This is one reason why speculating regarding the identity of the Antichrist is futile; Christians will not know because he won’t be revealed until we are gone from this earth. Much of Revelation will be far clearer to those who are left behind and must enter the Tribulation period that comes as God’s judgment upon this rebellious world system, Luke 21:34-36; Revelation 3:10; 1st Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 2:5-9.

2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
To understand this verse more clearly rewind to verse 18. John just informed us that many antichrists had come, and that this was a sign that we were living in what he termed “the last hour.” He continues this discourse by stating that such (antichrists) went out from “us.” In other words John was seeing even in his day professing Christians that rejected the revealed truth of God’s person and substituted it with their own ideas of who and what God was. Christ is that stumbling stone, and many, even after reading the stark testimony of Scripture declaring His unique deity and equality with the Father refuse to submit to its teachings. Such was a first century teacher named Cerinthus, who taught that Jesus received His divinity at His baptism, and this divinity departed prior to His crucifixion.

Here we have an ancient form of what we now dub “the cosmic Christ” or “Christ consciousness” latent in every human being. Cerinthus may not have gone that far, still implying that a divine entity inhabited Jesus’ earthly body, but it is a severe perversion of truth, outright heresy, and blasphemy. One does not need to have formerly been a professing Christian to teach in the spirit of Antichrist. Anyone who denies the revealed nature of God, especially expressed in the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, speaks with the spirit of the son of perdition.

Charles Taze Russell (founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) was a professing Christian in his youth until he decided that belief in a triune God was too difficult to comprehend so he rejected it, along with a plethora of other historical Christian doctrines. The same is said for Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism. An angel appeared to Joseph (depending on which version of his vision you read) and gave him the restored gospel that included polygamy, secret ceremonies for the dead and clerical robes that blatantly honor Satan. Joseph Smith failed to heed the warning in Scripture that condemned even an angel from Heaven coming with what Paul termed “another gospel,” Galatians 1:6-9.

John asserts that if such men had truly been of God they would have remained within the Christian fold. Since they departed—not only departing but becoming inveterate enemies of the historic Christian faith—they revealed that they never truly were “of us.” In fact John says that the very reason they departed was to make it manifest (apparent) that such men were not true Christians. Perhaps they simply could not comprehend or accept God’s gospel of grace which has Jesus Christ as its central theme and saving substitute. Such men are described in our Lord’s parable of the seeds: “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side,” Matthew 13:19.

2 comments:

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  2. Because he is not omniscient, Satan has had to always have an antichrist ready to step up when the time comes. I suspect that some of those who have been named as the Antichrist may in fact have been his man of the hour, but as you say the real one will have obtained some power but not his full amount until the Lord comes. I think it's kind of funny how hard Satan has to work to be ready.

    Much of the speculation about the tribulation is wasted as, like you said, the ones here at the time will have a lot of understanding we don't have. It was primarily written for those alive then.

    ReplyDelete

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