A Clear and Present Danger
By Eldon McNabb
That which I present here should not be taken as just another attempt to explain "End Times." Rather it is presented to enlighten you about "Jesus Christ, the Son of God," and the great effort by Satan to convince the whole world that there is no Son of God.
I have spent my life, since I was ten years of age, searching for the truth of God in the holy scriptures. In my quest, I have discovered that it is not an easy task to "rightly divide the word of truth." Moreover, the task becomes even more difficult when a premise is presented using terms which are not in the text, such as adding the definite article "the" to antichrist. When we do so, we are more likely to hide the truth from ourselves than we are to find it.
Another common practice which tends to hide the truth from us is the erroneous application of a scripture to an unrelated subject. For instance, it is common to hear preachers refer to "the Antichrist in 2 Thess. Chapter two." (I have wondered for many years, how they relate antichrist directly to that passage, although that wicked one is, by definition, one of them.) In support of their assertion they refer to various passages in Daniel or The Revelation of Jesus Christ, but rarely do they make any reference to the passages in the Bible which actually mention antichrist. The scriptures which mention antichrist must be the foundation of any effort to explain the subject.
I do not desire to "make a man an offender for a word." But What better place to begin our approach to any Bible subject than where it is presented in the text? What better term to use than that used by the Holy Spirit himself, as He gave unction to the writer? That is what I shall do in this treatise.
Another important point is that in our pursuit of the truth, we cannot assume that apparent devotion and sincerity are a guarantee of enlightenment. Nor can we assume that "educated" necessarily implies "knowledgeable." (See Isa. 29:11,12.) If we assumed that, we would need to disregard all of the writings of John Zebadee, and there would be no discussion of antichrist at all, because he alone used the term antichrist in the Holy Scriptures. Acts 4:13 shows that John was "unlearned and ignorant," yet he wrote some of the deepest and most difficult to understand passages in the Bible. Men of all levels of education have difficulty understanding his writings unto this day. All of those things can be known and understood if we will pursue them Godís way, "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor 2:13) That is, "rightly dividing the word of truth."
Jude revealed that the "Church" had developed a deficiency in the operation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, in his time by saying, "Certain men have crept in unawares." If the gift of discerning of spirits had been functioning, those false brethren could not have gotten in undetected. Later, about the time of the death of John Zebadee, those gifts were all but lost to Christianity. By the loss of those gifts, almost all understanding of the Word of Truth, beyond personal redemption, was also lost to them. (Jude 1:3) It was not until just before the beginning of the twentieth century that God restored to his sanctified ones the baptism with the Holy Ghost and the wonderful gifts which accompany that baptism.
We thank God for the dedicated warriors of the cross of Jesus Christ who labored against great opposition during the period of time which has come to be known as the Reformation period. (The four hundred years or so preceding the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in 1896, in North Carolina). Great men such as Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley and others restored the knowledge of the beauty and simplicity of "justification by faith" and "sanctification of the spirit." They spent much righteous energy in efforts to resolve other great difficulties presented in the Word, but without the Baptism with the Holy Spirit they were at some disadvantage. The baptism with the Holy Ghost, is the most vital element in any effort to gain the knowledge of the truth, (1 Cor. 12:13; Isa. 35:8) but it was missing. Yet with great effort, they sifted through many of the errors which they had inherited from their forebears, (Jer. 16:19) and brought forth new understanding of "the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (Mark 1:1)
During that time, many doctrines were formulated and prophecies "explained," including the current general promotion concerning "The Antichrist." However, any doctrine or explanation of prophecy which they passed on to us must be received with some caution, because they had not "received the Holy Ghost since they believed." (See Acts 19:2)
In Jeremiah 16:19 He said, "O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit."
We have now received the Spirit of Truth, Who can and will guide us into all truth. We must take another good, inquiring look into the holy scriptures and to follow the Holy Spirit along "the path of the just," as it "shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Prov. 4:18.
A Sign of The End
John used the term "antichrist" a total of four times, in three passages. 1 John 2:18-23, 1 John 4:1-3 and 2 John 1:7. He began by saying, "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." He then proceeded to tell us where these antichrists come from, and the prominent erroneous doctrine which they teach.
"They went out from us, but they were not of us. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father."
Some of these antichrists are more easily identified than others, but the message of these false prophets is the same: They say, "God is Jesus," or God is God and Jesus was one of His prophets." Or they will say "Jesus was Godís humanity manifested, while his divinity remained in Heaven." Others deny, saying "there is no (nor can be any) "Son of God." The Jews themselves delivered up Jesus Christ to be crucified, because He professed to be the Son of God. Yet they themselves professed to believe in the coming "Messiah." The truth is, if there is no "Son of God," there can be no "Messiah (Christ of God)," either. Yet, Jesus is called Christ no fewer than five hundred times in the New Testament.
Try the Spirits
The next time John made reference to antichrist, it was a caution for us to examine every prophet (preacher), and not to just believe every thing that is being taught. We must put every prophet to the test by examining his doctrine. We must determine whether the fruit of his lips is sound doctrine, or whether he is contradicting the "Word of Truth." Jesus told us this in Matt. 7:15-20, and later John .
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1 John 4:1-3.
When John wrote these words that spirit of antichrist, which was to come had already come, and through its influence many "Christian" ministers had gone out from the fellowship of the disciples of our Lord. However, the controversy over the sonship of Jesus continued on within the church itself. In 325 AD, the Nicene Council chose the doctrine of the Trinity over Ariusí "Oneness" doctrine. (Considering the circumstances, it might not be prudent to assume that either of those conflicting doctrines are venerable.)
It may be that there are even more antichrists today than there were when John wrote his epistle. The Spirit of Antichrist is the motivating force of several religious organizations in the world today, large and small. They profess to believe in Jesus, and many of them even call him Christ, but they are deceivers, as Jesus warned us in Matt. 24:4,5. Some of them are not Christian at all. (Islam for instance, whose Koran even contains much of the Bible) They claim to believe that Jesus is a prophet of God, but deny that God has, or would have, or even could have a son.
True Christian groups might easily develop an us and them attitude. But what about us? We would probably find some version of this doctrinal error preached either officially or unofficially in some sector of almost every Christian group. There are actually several organizations operating under the canopy of the title "Christianity" which function almost entirely by the motivation of the spirit of antichrist. They spend almost all of their religious energy proclaiming that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are one entity, and His name is Jesus.
If you are entertaining the thought that the promotion of that doctrine is justifiable, consider the words which Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene in John 20:17. "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."
"You Have Heard"
To paraphrase Johnís words, "Ye have heard that antichrist cometh, and that the people who promote that doctrine are false prophets, and many of them are here already." Where did we hear this? Who did we hear it from? It was from none other than Jesus himself.
When Jesusí disciples asked him, to, "Tell us of the end of the world," he said, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." We would do well to ask ourselves who these false prophets are, where they are, and how do we identify them?
It is not my intention to be offensive to anyone. On the contrary, I present these facts to help us to overcome the wicked one and to attain unto eternal life, which God has promised us through his son. Paul made it clear concerning all of those who do not receive a love of the truth. "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth."
I am by no means saying that all of those who believe and promote that doctrinal error are lost. However, I hear the gentle rebuff which Jesus gave unto his disciples, "You know not what manner of spirit you are of." We are all subject to going off in the wrong direction on occasion. If we see that we have missed the mark, we must quickly repent and make the necessary corrections, and get back on track. Well did Paul say in 2 Cor. 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith."
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." Again I say, it is time to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith.