For the month of September, we are going to address two important topics through the preaching at The Fellowship. We’ll spend one week looking at how the Bible addresses the life of single adults. It is a fascinating study to see how God’s Word gives guidance and encouragement these believers.
Then, for two messages, we will address the objections of same-sex marriage proponents have toward the churches view of traditional marriage. I am confident that believers can be prepared to give a sound answer to the major objections. We’re going to take the objection and then allow the Bible to speak to it.
To get ready for these messages, we took a very different approach by beginning the month with a message entitled “Who Is the Antichrist?” For the record, I have no idea who the Antichrist is. But, by exploring the topic, it allowed our church to understand that we must allow the Bible to drive our thinking instead of a predetermined theological grid. My fellow teaching pastor Marty Duren wrote much of the early part of the message notes and then we studied through it all together to come up with the final product; which is likely the longest set of preaching notes I’ve ever used. My notes follow and you can watch the message from our Two Rivers campus here.
Who Is the Antichrist? — 1 John 2:18-23
- The interest spawns questions like: When will Jesus return? Is the church staying or leaving? What kind of judgment will happen? Who is the Antichrist?
- Perhaps no figure throughout Christian history has created more curiosity than the antichrist. In every generation there has been a potential antichrist.
- Brief history of those popularly called “the Antichrist.”
- Nero, Caligula, Napoleon, Hitler, Kissinger, Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, King Juan Carlos,Spain & Prince Harry.
- Actually, it’s probably the Windows operating system.
- “End times” views tend to change with “the times.”
- Some church leaders have claimed the following:
- Italian monk Joachim of Fiore announced that the Antichrist was already alive and that at any moment, perhaps in the year 1260, the last chapter in world history would begin.
- Pope Gregory IX excommunicated Emperor Frederick II in 1239, accusing him of being the Antichrist. Frederick responded by accusing the next pope, Innocent IV of being the Antichrist sometime after 1243.
- Colonial American pastors viewed the pope and/or the King of England as the Antichrist. Cotton Mather preached in 1692, “We have a sufficient assurance that the Duration of Antichrist is [drawing to a close].” Mather interpreted the move of Christians into New England was nothing short of the “last conflict with antichrist…in the utmost parts of the earth” (1702).
- Jonathan Edwards calculated that the Antichrist would fall no later than 1866.
- In the 1970s and 1980s, Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, revived “antichrist fires” and sold 19M copies. In 1981 he proclaimed that the EEC [EU] “will be headed by the Antichrist…and…perhaps is already a member of the [EU] parliament.”
- Pat Robertson, in a 1980 newsletter wrote, “There is a man alive today, approximately 27 years old, who is now being groomed to be the Satanic messiah.” He would now be 56 years old.
- In more metaphorical thought, a computer in Brussels, Belgium, was feared to be “the Beast” as early as 1975 and in the 1979 book, Fiber Optics: The Eye of the Antichrist, Emil Gaverluk and Patrick Fisher maintained that the Antichrist was monitoring all households via fiber optics inside television sets.
- Poor biblical interpretation, and dangerous, try to interpret scripture according to the days’ headlines.
- Understand the original meaning of the text so you can understand how to apply it in the present.
- Seek to understand the original meaning before you begin slapping today’s headlines on a Bible passage.
- Seek a biblical worldview rather than being an alarmist.
- Our understanding of “The Antichrist” is related to a specific eschatology.
- $5 word of the day: Eschatology. It is the study of last things or end times.
- How we view the end of the world is a controlling factor in how we view this character Antichrist.
- 3 passages guide us toward the person who will be known as The Antichrist:
- Daniel 7 (little horn), 2 Thessalonians 2 (man of sin), & Revelation 13ff (beast)
- Unification of Daniel’s “little horn,” the “Antichrist,” the “man of sin” and “the beast” is the result of a very specific view of the end times more than the clear teaching of Scripture.
- The idea of The Antichrist is dependent upon a series of linked scriptures, related to the term “antichristos.”
- Christians’ view of the “end times” tends to change with the condition of the culture. When things are going good, a tendency toward post-mil views. When things are going bad, a tendency toward pre-mil views.
- Every one of us is born into a time and context. There are many things that we assume to be true merely because all the people around us assume them to be true.
- Illustration: People once believed the world was flat because people believed the world was flat. It was “group think” & “mob mentality.”
- The influence of The Scofield Reference Bible, The Niagra Bible Conference of the early 1900’s, The Late Great Planet Earth, and The Left Behind Series cannot be overlooked. We must take care not to make the same mistake that has been repeated throughout history.
- What if we believe what we do about “The Antichrist” as a result of its current dominance rather than its biblical accuracy?
- The Antichrist is right here in the Bible. Carefully understand it.
- Let the Bible be the master of your doctrine. Do not let your doctrinal system be the master of the Bible.
- Every part of the Bible is equally important because it is how God reveals Himself and His ways to us. But not every portion of the Bible can be equally understood. History and gospel are one thing. Prophecy and apocalyptic literature is another.
- What you know, obey.
- What you are learning, continue to seek the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work in you.
- The “spirit of antichrist” relates to believers, truth, and error.
- The Bible describes the Antichrist for us. Mentioned less than 5X & speaks more often to a spirit than to a specific individual.
- 1 John 4:1-3 — “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” Where is this seen? In the “many false prophets [who] have gone out into the world.”
- 2 John 7- “Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”
- 1 John 4:6 – “By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.”
- The antichrists are those who reject the incarnation & work of the Messiah.
- The enemy that we must currently concern ourselves with is the spirit of deception. It is the false teaching in the church and the deception in the world that draws people’s gaze away from Jesus.
- The spirit of antichrist is far more influential than the person, “the Antichrist.” Pre-mil view is 7 years of influence vs. 2,000 years of undermining the gospel.
- “Each one of us acts as an Antichrist whenever we hear the gospel and do not do it.” –Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver
- The “spirit of antichrist,” in all cases, has to do with error being proclaimed over truth in the body of believers. The same with “false christs” in Matthew 24.
- Matthew 24:4-5 – “And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.’”
- Matthew 24:23, 24- “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs [plural] and false prophets [plural] will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
- Signs –semeion– miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God’s
- Wonders –teras– miracle
- In this day, we must guard against those who work against the gospel with spiritual messages.
- The church must speak the truth in an age of situational morality.
- Trying to uncover the secret plot by The Antichrist to take over the world was never commanded by the Bible.
- Rather, actively recognizing and correcting the error of the spirit of antichrist is something we must do.
3 application points to help guide you forward:
Remain calm and alert about the end times.
- The “man of sin,” understood to be a reference to the Antichrist, will be revealed… in time.
- The word revealed is apokalypsis, same as revelation.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3- The “day of the Lord” had not come and they were concerned that they had missed it, had slept through it.
- Embrace the mystery of the future as told through the truth of the Bible.
- Do not embrace an unhealthy obsession with the future that causes you to neglect present realities.
Study the truth so you can easily identify deception.
- Spend less time studying the antichrist and more time studying Jesus Christ.
- ILL) Bank tellers do not study counterfeit money. They study the real thing so anything fake is alarming.
- The scripture does not teach that we should seek the identity of the Antichrist.
- Ephesians 5:15, 16- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
- Don’t obsess over who The Antichrist might be. Battle with the many antichrists in our midst that deny the gospel.
- Study the truth in personal devotions and with others in a LifeGroup
Guard your world.
- Be on guard against those who twist the truth. Heretics are easy to spot. Manipulators are more difficult to identify.
- If a spouse… If a parent… If a teenager… If a LifeGroup leader…
- Stay rooted firmly in the truth when the world and wayward believers attempt to lead us astray.
- The Bible both confronts sin and presents truth.
- We guard our world by being a personal witness to the truth. Personal evangelism is the best way to guard those around you from false gospels and false christs.