In this session Derek finishes looking at the spirit of Antichrist, which he began yesterday. Then he begins to deal with the person known as the antichrist. He notes that the “falling away” or apostasy must occur first. This apostasy a deliberate rejection of revealed truth, and it will open the door for this man.
Interestingly enough, you see, both these two religions that we have looked at, Judaism and Islam, originate in the Middle East. If you go on a tour in Israel and you have a guide, they will probably tell you at some point that the Middle East is the origin of the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
It is my guess, and I just offer this as something for you to think about, that the spirit of antichrist will succeed in the professing Christian church in eliminating Jesus. We will ultimately have a Christianity without Jesus. It will be a moral system, a legal system, a system full of all sorts of pageants and religion, but without Jesus. And you see, once you have eliminated Jesus, you have opened the way for a synthesis of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I am inclined to think (this is just a personal opinion) that the antichrist will head up such a religion, uniting Judaism, Islam and apostate Christianity. I think we are a very long way toward it. When you consider that both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have in recent years conducted in Christian churches ceremonies where Islamic priests and all sorts of Hindus, American Indians, were all welcomed as brothers together. See, you can just read that in the newspaper but that is the spirit of antichrist. Its purpose is to eliminate Jesus. He is the stumbling block. The cross is the stumbling block. Do away with Jesus and the cross and Christianity can merge with all sorts of religions and I personally think we are far on the way toward that. That’s my personal opinion. I think we have to be very cautious in our attitude and our approach to these things, because I think the spirit of deception is at work.
Then, as I said, there have been many lesser anti-Christian persons or systems. For instance, about thirty years ago I was in Kenya in educational work. And I personally have a great respect in a way for Jomo Kenyata, the first president of Kenya. But in the period leading up to the independence of Kenya, under what they called the Mau-Mau Uprising (you probably remember the word Mau-Mau), the followers of Mau-Mau took all the Christian hymns that the missionaries had taught them and reworded them, putting “Jomo” in place of “Jesus.” So that is again just a simple example of the spirit of antichrist. I’m not saying Jomo was an antichrist, I think he was a good man in some ways, although he was never a Christian. But I think he did a good job; I don’t want to be lined up as a critic of him. But the spirit that was at work was the spirit of antichrist.
Now, let’s come to the final manifestation of the spirit of antichrist in the antichrist. Now we are dealing with something that, as far as I know, still future. If it is not future, I have not discovered it yet. So there is always a possibility of error and I am not by any means laying down the law claiming that everything will be exactly the way I present it, but I want to direct your attention to these very important passages of Scripture so that at least you are not ignorant of them. That you are not unaware of what Satan is planning and you may be able to form some opinion about how far he has come in carrying out his plans.
We will turn first of all to 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, which really is mainly given over to dealing with the appearance, revelation, manifestation of the antichrist. It is also dealing with preparation for the Lord’s return. And of course they are very closely intertwined, because the final satanic act before the return of the Lord will be the antichrist. In fact Paul says,
“The Lord will destroy the antichrist with the brightness of His coming.”
Personally I have no real aim to be a hero. I’m prepared to let Jesus deal with the antichrist, myself. I think He is the only one who can. I think the true Christ, the true Messiah, will deal with the false when He comes. I think that’s one of the main purposes of His coming. It is to defeat, cast down and overthrow the antichrist.
Anyhow, if we turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, beginning in verse 1, and just reading to verse 3:
“Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [That is the theme of this passage. And the word coming there is the word parousia in Greek, which is normally used for the second coming of the Lord Jesus.] Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him [that is the church which is to be caught up to meet Him] we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled [don’t be disturbed, don’t be deceived] either by spirit [that is, a false prophecy or a false teacher] or by word.”
As some prophetic message that circulates, like the one that was circulating recently that Jesus was coming on the twelfth of September. I don’t know whether this circulated in Britain, but I was just amazed that multitudes of Christians who believed it in the United States. It shows me the appalling, abysmal ignorance of at least American Christians and I don’t know whether Christians in other nations are much better; I’m really not prepared to say. I mean, there were thousands of people who believed this teacher who said that Jesus was coming on Rosh Hoshana, which is the Jewish New Year. I don’t suppose they were really embarrassed that He didn’t come. That is the amazing thing. They can still go on believing people after they have been totally wrong.
Anyhow, I just understand why Paul wrote these words. “Don’t be shaken or troubled, neither by spirit, or by word or by letter as if from us.” See, the nerve of Satan, that he was capable of people getting the letters in Paul’s name, sign them with Paul’s name as if they were written by Paul.
I had a friend once, a minister, he’s still a friend of mine as a matter of fact, and he used to circulate (he is a good brother and if I gave you his name most of you would know him) his own teaching tapes when he was pastor of a certain church. Well, a certain group who had a very erroneous doctrine, got his tapes and on the blank side recorded their own teachings without saying it to him, returned it to him and after that when the church lent out the pastor’s teaching they were also lending out on the same tape this completely erroneous teaching. Don’t imagine that Satan does not have nerve. He has endless nerve. There is no limit to his nerve.
“Don’t be deceived as though the day of Christ had come. [Some people were teaching that He had come, even then.] Let no one deceive you by any means. [And I’d like to say to every one of you, let no one deceive you by any means.] For that day will not come unless the falling away comes first.”
The word “falling away” in Greek is apostacia, it means an apostasy. It means a deliberate rejection of revealed truth and I think we are living in the days of apostasy. I’ll come to that a little later.
“Unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of sin [or the man of lawlessness] is revealed, the son of perdition.”
So there are two further titles of the antichrist. He is the man of lawlessness. He is the supreme embodiment of man’s rebellion against God and rejection of God’s laws. And he is the son of perdition, the one who is headed for a lost eternity. It is interesting there is only one other person in the New Testament who is called son of perdition, Judas Iscariot. He was a false apostle.
So we see here again the implication that this person will start in association in some way with the Christian church. Personally, I think he will be charismatic. Super-charismatic. I really mean that.
“who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God.”
We will not go further than that for a moment, but there we have now three different names for the same being: the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition. And we have one other important name in Revelation 13. Let us turn to Revelation 13, beginning in the middle of verse 1. This is part of a vision that John had in this revelation.
“I saw a beast rising up out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns. And on his horns ten crowns and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, his throne and great authority.”
Who’s the dragon? Satan, that’s right. That is absolutely clear.
So here is some person that is going to arise to whom Satan will give his power. Why will Satan give his power to this person? Because that will enable this person to gain the dominion over the entire human race and to either persuade or force the entire human race to do the one thing that Satan wants most: to worship him. This is his goal. He has been working on that patiently and perseveringly for many, many centuries and he is very near to the achievement of his goal at this time.