Jesus had a long talk with his close followers about the end times. Matthew 24 recounts his words and the warnings he gave them about the end.
— Verses 4-5 – False Messiahs will lead the faithful away from the faith.
— Verses 6-8 – Wars will be prolific.
— Verse 10 – The faithful will be persecuted.
— Verse 11 – False prophets will arise and lead many astray.
— Verse 12 – The pain of world events will turn love cold.
— Verses 23-26 – False prophets will lead followers of Jesus astray.
A consistent theme of Jesus’ warning concerned false teachers, Messiahs, and prophets. John labeled these people as “antichrists.”
Before the end, an antichrist (singular) will appear. Before that, antichrists (plural) will deceive the church.
Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour (1 John 2.18).
Antichrists in History
There has been an antichrist movement from the first century until now. At the root of all antichrist activity is an effort to draw away devotion to Jesus Christ.
Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and former pastor of Saddleback Baptist Church, keeps it simple.
One of his excellent sayings is, “Keep the main thing the main thing.”
Antichrists don’t focus on simple love, devotion, and partnership with Jesus. They complicate things with philosophies, intellectual arguments, and false claims.
At their very foundation, antichrists seek to draw us away from the main thing – faithful discipleship to Christ.
Antichrists in the Church
Scott Peck, author of the classic “The Road Less Traveled,” wrote a lesser-known book on evil.
Peck believes that the greatest evil is wrong that masquerades as good.
Antichrists who lead God’s people away from a relationship with our Lord and Savior operate within the church.
They went out from us, but they did not belong to us, for if they had belonged to us they would have remained with us.
But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us (1 John 2.19).
The attitudes and actions of antichrists take different forms. Here are some examples, but they are by no means exhaustive.
— So-called scholars who deny the Biblical account of Jesus.
— Clergy and politicians who merge the Christian faith with their nation’s ambitions.
— Hucksters who turn a prayer into an ATM, dispensing blessings when the right amount of faith is reached.
The above three examples have produced best-selling books, popular TV programs, effective political strategies, and blessed Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
They are anti-Christ because they draw people away from being fully devoted followers of Jesus.
To borrow the saying from Rick Warren, “They fail to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Antichrists deceive people because they tell their listeners that they have special knowledge that has been kept from them.
The Gnostics of the second century based their anti-Christ message on a secret knowledge that only they possessed.
The Patriarch of Moscow holds the key to the Orthodox faith, which allows him to bless missiles that destroy property and lives in Ukraine,
Health and wealth preachers are summarized by Reverend Ike, a radio preacher of a former generation who claimed, “You can’t lose with the stuff I use.”
John wrote to inform his audience that we DO have enough knowledge. The Holy Spirit has given it to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.
I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth (1 John 2.20-21).
“Anointing” refers to a special endowment (‘chrism’) of the Holy Spirit. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is experiential knowledge of God’s redemptive work through Jesus.
We know the truth because the Holy Spirit witnesses to the truth in our inner self.
God has given us two gifts of knowledge, the Bible and the witness of the Holy Spirit.
We will know the truth and recognize the lies of the antichrists as we faithfully read the Bible under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Rudy Ross and I continue our study of 1 John today. Our video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.