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False Church and False Christ, Part 1
Our previous study in this series was entitled “Bride or Harlot?” and it dealt with the picture given in the Scripture of the religious world at the close of this age. We pointed out that according to Scripture there will be only two significant groups in the religious world at the close of this age. One will be the bride the other will be the harlot. Each will be defined by its relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. The bride will consist of those who have remained loyal and faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ; the harlot will consist of those who have turned away into spiritual adultery and not being true to the Lord Jesus Christ and His sovereign and supreme claims as Savior, Redeemer and Head over all things to the church which is His body.
We also pointed out in this previous study that there are only two kinds of religion in the history of the human race and they appear right at the beginning of human history: the religion of Abel and the religion of Cain. The religion of Abel, which is grace received by faith; and the religion of Cain, which is works without grace. And we pointed out that Abel’s religion produced a martyr and Cain’s religion produced a murderer. And we also said that looking into the future Abel’s religion will produce the bride and Cain’s religion will produce the harlot.
At the close of the previous study, we gave a brief picture of the true church as outlined in Scripture, pointing out that she will be totally submitted to Christ in all things, she will have been sanctified and cleansed by washing of the water of the Word of God, she will display as fine linen the righteousness of Christ received by faith and worked out in every action, she will be adorned with the grace gifts of the Holy Spirit and she will be continually looking for the appearing of the bridegroom.
Now in this study I want to give you a picture out of Scripture of the false church and the false Christ, and they are very closely related. Most of what I have to say will be taken from the 17th and 18th chapters of the Book of Revelation. And we’ll turn there now and begin to notice some of the main features of the false church, as presented in these Scriptures. Revelation 17:1 says this:
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters....
The whore—the harlot. And then in verse 15, we are told:
And [the angel] saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the [harlot] sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
So this false church presented under the title of “harlot” sits on many waters and the many waters are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues, so that we see that this church at the close of this age will succeed in gaining the ascendancy over possibly the majority of the human race and will deceive them and in this way, by deception, control them and dominate them and bring them into subjection to herself. The fact that she sits upon them indicates that, in a certain sense, they are subject unto her, they are under her control.
Then we see that she has particular influence with the rulers of the nations. In Revelation 17:2 and :4, we are told this:
With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.... And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.... [And in Revelation 18:3, the same theme is brought out again:] For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
This cup that she holds in her hand full of abominations is clearly the false teaching and the evil spiritual influence that she has and with this false teaching and this evil influence she has caused the kings and rulers of the nations to turn aside into spiritual adultery and also into idolatry, which is very close in Scripture. And it says there in Revelation 18:3, “all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication....” her influence has penetrated to every nation in the world. This is how it will be before the age closes. We’re not dealing with a little insignificant sect, we’re dealing with an extremely powerful spiritual and political force which will arrive at the close of this age.
Then in Revelation 17 and 18 again, picking out certain verses, we have a kind of picture of her appearance, her mode of operation, the atmosphere she creates, the way she exercises influence and, again, it is a picture of luxury, splendor, ceremony and wealth. We’ll read some of those verses.
Revelation 17:4: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, [I’ll come to the significance of these colors in a moment] and decked [or adorned] with fold and precious stones and pearls [very ornate].” Beautiful but in a very sensual way.
Revelation 18:3: “...the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” She has a tremendous supply of everything that is refined and delicate in every realm: art, culture, music, the whole realm.
Verses 11 through 13, when judgment comes upon her the merchants of the earth mourn because their main customer has been destroyed and taken from them. It says there: “...the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more. . . .” And then in these next two verses we have a list of the merchandise of this harlot. And it includes almost everything that is precious and elegant and expensive and that appeals to human eyesight and culture and taste.
The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, [Thyine is probably connected with the word for incense.] and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horse, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
And all that really heads up to that last item: she buys and sells men, human beings. She trades in human souls. She’s the mistress of those she draws and entices and binds with her enchantments and her sorceries, as we will see in a little while.
Now there’s something particularly significant about the colors that are mentioned there. You will find in Revelation 18:12 it’s “fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet” and in Revelation 17:4, the woman was arrayed in “purple, and scarlet” color.
Now, the colors have a significance in the Scripture—certain colors at least. And if you turn back for a moment to the Book of Exodus, the 28th chapter, you’ll find a description of the robes and vestments of the High Priest in the Levitical priesthood for the tabernacle of Moses. And you will find that the things that are adorning this harlot were also part of the vestments of the High Priest, but in the harlot, there’s one thing missing, which is extremely significant. If you look, for instance, in Exodus 28:8, there are many other verses that bring this out, the curious girdle of the ephod, and the ephod was the particular vestment that denoted the priesthood—it separated out priesthood from all other offices and services—
The curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
And there’s one color mentioned in Exodus which is not mentioned in Revelation. Did you notice which one it was? The blue. Now, the picture in Exodus is a picture of the High Priest and it’s a type of Jesus and the colors are very beautiful: blue, purple, scarlet and they really contain a beautiful message about Jesus. The blue is the color of heaven and divinity, the scarlet is the color of humanity with its blood, and the purple is the mingling of divinity and humanity in the Lord Jesus Christ. But you see, in the harlot there is no blue. There’s nothing heavenly about her. It’s all of this world. It’s a counterfeit. Those who don’t watch closely will not notice that there’s something missing. But there is no blue. Take it in terms of the triune nature of man—spirit, soul, body—the harlot appeals to the soulish, she appeals to the sensual, but she has no appeal to the spirit. And this is, I think, to me, very, very significant because whatever education and culture and music and art and beauty and so on they can do, she’ll do it. She’ll be a past master of all these things.
In one of our other studies, series of studies, I dealt with the origin of Satan. I’m not going to go back over that in detail, but I pointed out that as far as Scripture indicates, Satan was in charge of the temple of the worship of God in pre-Adamic age. And if there are two things Satan knows about: one is music and the other is religion. And in actual fact, when music and religion are combined under his influence, their power is bewitching. And this is what we are going to see in this false church. Everything sensual, soulish, but nothing spiritual.
All right. Let’s look on.
The next very significant fact, extremely significant, is found in Revelation 17:5:
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Where you find the phrase in capital letters like that in the King James version, it’s more or less equivalent to putting it in quotes, in modern printing. So, that’s in quotes, if you like. This is what’s written on her forehead. Now mystery means something that has a veiled meaning, but if you can rightly apply it, it shows you the real nature of the thing. So this harlot is in quotes, Babylon. Not the literal Babylon but the spiritual counterpart of Babylon. Now, of course, in the Old Testament there’s a great deal about Babylon. Babylon, actually, was the great destroyer of Jerusalem, God’s city, and Israel, God’s people, under the Old Covenant. The one who actually destroyed the temple and took God’s people totally into captivity was the Babylonian empire. And there’s a tremendous significance running all the way through this. Actually, at the time of the reformation, and I don’t say this to be controversial, Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet entitled “The Babylonian Captivity of the True Church.” And, without going into the details of his application, there is no doubt that this theme is intended to be brought to our attention. Babylon was the one who desolated and took captive God’s city and God’s temple and God’s people. Now, we don’t want to take a detailed study of Babylon in the Old Testament, but let me point out one thing which is emphasized in many passages of Scripture. I’ll turn to just two: Isaiah 47 and Jeremiah 50. Let’s turn to Isaiah 47 first. Isaiah 47:9 and 12-13. Isaiah 47:1 says: “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon.” It is the pronunciation of God’s judgment on Babylon. And then in verse 9 the judgment is unfolded:
But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, [and I would point out that this is going to be fulfilled in the type spiritual Babylon exactly this judgment is coming, as we will see in Revelation.]... these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
Babylon was the mistress of sorceries, of the satanic supernatural, the counterfeit of the true spiritual. And this is going to be reproduced in the false church. And then again in Isaiah 47:12-13, the prophet returns to this theme:
Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, [enchantments and sorceries and then in verse 13, this is almost like a look at a modern newspaper:] Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
So you see that Babylon was distinguished for sorceries, enchantments, astrologers, stargazers, monthly prognosticators. Who knows what one single word in modern use is for “monthly prognostication”? Horoscopes, that’s right. Precisely, exactly. This is the real spiritual forces of this church is in the satanic supernatural. And let us be absolutely clear about one thing: all religion at the close of this age will be supernatural, but it will just depend on what type of spirit, the Holy Spirit or Satan. But the conflict at the end of this age is going to be in the supernatural realm. Actually these messages are coming exactly parallel to another series that I’m giving on spiritual conflict. I didn’t plan it this way but they exactly meet like at the crossroads at this point.
Turn also to Jeremiah, which is another prophecy of judgment on Babylon and again is to be fulfilled in type at the close of this age. Jeremiah 50:2. Verse 1 says:
The word that the LORD spake against Babylon.... [verse 2 says this:] Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces [those are all different names for Babylon]; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
She was the center of idolatry and image worship. And then in the 38th verse, the same 50th chapter of Jeremiah:
A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols.
They’ve carried idolatry and the worship of images to such an extreme that it’s almost a kind of spiritual insanity. And of course the spiritual power in all this is the power of Satan.
Now, turning back to Revelation 17, we come to one of the most significant statements made. And before we study this verse, let me say, in case anybody should misunderstand me, that I am not making veiled references to the Roman Catholic Church nor to the World Council of Churches nor to the Ecumenical Movement or any other such thing. All I am doing is simply pointing out what is said in Scripture—how it’s to be applied is not the business of this study.
But the 18th verse of Revelation 17 is as clear and as specific as any single verse in the Bible. There is no question as to what it means. Revelation 17:18:
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Now when you have a present tense in the Book of Revelation, then you have to remember that the present tense applied to the time at which the Revelation was given, which was to the apostle John about the year 90 A.D., something like that. And at that time this reference to a great city which reigned over the kings of the earth was absolutely specific. There was only one city that could possibly qualify for that description—it was the city of Rome. And there is no reason whatever to doubt. We are specifically told at the close of this chapter that the city dealt with is the city of Rome. And I haven’t the faintest shadow of doubt in my mind that that’s precisely what it means. There is no reason to be hyper-spiritual or to look any other way for the meaning. It is in Rome that this centers. And, with that, you can compare verse 9 of the same chapter:
And here is the mind which hath wisdom [which is able to interpret things]. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
Now all the writers, historians and poets of Rome for centuries always emphasized the fact that Rome was built on seven hills. Again, this is as objective and as definite as the fact that President Nixon is the President of the United States. There isn’t any question whatever about it. It isn’t a matter of theory or guesswork, it’s absolutely specific.
All right. Now let’s look at the working out of Cain’s religion in the harlot. I pointed out that Abel’s religion produced a martyr, Cain’s religion produced a murderer, and believe me neither the crop of martyrs nor the crop of murderers is yet complete. Revelation 18:20—when the judgment comes upon Babylon, the word comes from heaven:
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
The great enemy—the apostles and prophets—is this idolatrous religious system. And in verse 24, an even more remarkable statement. When I read this statement and the meaning of it really reached me, I was staggered by it.
And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Every murder traces back to this religious system. You see, Cain’s religion, when it first appeared on the scene of human history, immediately produced a murderer and it’s never changed its character. If there never had been a religion of Cain, there would never have been a murder. Every person murdered, the responsibility ultimately is traced back to this religious system.
I want to read those words again so that you can see that I’m not exaggerating. “In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Remember, Satan is a murderer. Jesus said three things about him that we should never forget: he is a liar, he is a thief and he is a murderer. And his religion is a religion that ends in murder.
Now let’s look for a moment at the picture of judgment as it will come upon this false church. Revelation 18:8-10:
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: [totally burned up] for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
If you look in verse 15, you will find this very significant statement:
The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.
They wouldn’t dare to come close. Judgment is going to come by fire, in one day. It’s going to be total and it’s going to be such that people are going to be afraid to approach it. Now this is simply a speculation on my part but to me if there ever is a picture anywhere of atomic weapons turned loose, that would be it. Because of the radio active character of what they produce, people would stand afar off, but the smoke would ascend up into heaven and they would see it and the destruction would be immediate and total and irremediable and if there is to be at any time atomic weapons launched on a major scale as referred to in prophecy, I would say this is the obvious place. And it’s clear that the false Christ will be the one that will unleash this judgment on the false church. You see, if you ever make a bargain with the devil, he’ll always break it sooner or later. He never keeps his bargains. As I understand Scripture, the false Christ will get to power through the false church, but having arrived in power, he will turn against her and destroy her ruthlessly. And this I think is indicated in Revelation 17:16–17:
And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore [the harlot], and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. [You see, the burning is administered by human agents.] For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast [that’s the antichrist], until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
You see, the woman comes up riding on the beast, but in the end the beast turns against the woman and destroys her. In other words, the false church rises by manipulating political power but in the end the antichrist rises by manipulating the false church and having made use of her to get into power, he turns against her and destroys her ruthlessly. This, I think, is a pretty clear outline.
Now let’s look at one other very, very significant statement made about this false church which I think every one of us that’s here should take careful heed to. Revelation 18:4:
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
There will be a time, if it isn’t here already, when the identity of this false church will be so clear that every person who truly believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will have a direct scriptural obligation to disassociate himself from that church. And those that remain associated with her will be held accountable for her sinful deeds and must inevitably share in the judgment of God upon those sinful deeds. You see, salvation doesn’t protect us unless it saves it from sin. We can’t be saved, commit sin, and escape the judgment of God from those sins. But if salvation saves us from committing sins, then there will be no judgment because the sins will not have been committed. In other words, being a Christian doesn’t mean that you can do the things that are unscriptural and unpleasing to God and escape the judgment of God upon those things. God’s grace is such that it will enable you to live a life such that God will not be required to bring judgment upon you. And here is one of the points where it’s going to be very applicable. And I imagine most of us in this room tonight will have to apply this Scripture personally within the next ten or fifteen years. It will be very, very clear what is meant by it. And if we continue in association with something that God has condemned as wicked, then we will receive the judgment of God upon us for our share in that wickedness.
So people say to us, as traveling speakers, “Brother Prince, this is my church.” Well, be careful what you identify yourself with because if God’s judgment is going to come on that group and you are a member of it, it will come on you. Now, I’m not specifying any group, please notice that. I think when the time comes the picture will be so clear that we will have no problems about identifying it. But just bear it in mind because I imagine that the majority of people here tonight will have to act on this Scripture. “Come out of her, that ye be not partakers of her sins.” I’d be surprised if within the next fifteen years the situation isn’t so clear in the religious world that there’ll be no doubt in the mind of any reasonable person as to what a believer in Jesus Christ has to do.
Now I want to go on and look at the Scripture’s picture of the false Christ, who is very closely related to the false church, and yet quite distinct because, as I’ve already said, in the end, he’ll be the one that will destroy the false church. Now there are certain specific titles of this person given in Scripture and I would like to just look at them because each of them tells us something about his identity and his mode of operation. Let’s begin in 2 Thessalonians 2. Now the first 12 verses of 2 Thessalonians 2 are probably the most specific in all Scripture about this particular person and two of his titles are given in these verses. 2Thessalonians 2:3, the apostle Paul says:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [that is, the day of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition...
There are two titles of this person: the man of sin and the son of perdition. The word that’s translated “sin” is actually the word for “lawlessness” or rebellion. And he is the consummation of all rebellion against the righteous government of God. He is the one who deliberately sets himself up in opposition to God and to God’s appointed ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ. And then he’s called the son of perdition, and there’s only one other person in Scripture who’s called the son of perdition and that person is referred to in John 17:12. Let’s turn there for a moment. Jesus is praying to the Father, and He’s praying concerning His twelve disciples, and He says there:
While I was with them [the disciples] in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
It is a very remarkable fact that Judas was amongst those whom God gave to Christ. The language is clear there. Judas was an apostle, no one ever questioned that statement. Judas cast out demons and anointed the sick with oil and was reckoned by the other eleven as an apostle to that degree that at the Last Supper, when they were told there was a traitor amongst them, none of them knew who it was. But here he’s called the son of perdition.
Now this is again extremely significant because there are many different passages of Scripture that indicate clearly the antichrist will arise in very direct and close association with the professing church. In a certain sense, he will be a false apostle, or an apostate apostle. He will begin in conjunction with the true church.
For confirmation of that, you might turn to the first epistle of John 2:18-19, where it says this:
Little children, it is the last time: [it’s right at the end of the age] and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come...
This is the third title, so we can just take that in at the same time. This is the third title of this particular person. He’s the man of lawlessness, he’s the son of perdition and he’s antichrist. Now in this connection, let’s notice how he’s tied in as antichrist with the son of perdition.
...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.
I’ve pointed out previously that we have to distinguish between antichrists (plural) and antichrist (singular). There are many antichrists because there are many different groups and persons that have been motivated by the spirit of antichrist. But there’s one final consummation who is THE (singular) antichrist.
Now notice what it says about the antichrist in verse 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.
This is a mark of antichrist. They begin in association with the true church. Just as Judas began as a true apostle, but at the Last Supper he went out, thus making it manifest that he was not really with the Lord Jesus Christ and the other apostles. And there is no question in my mind, whatever, that when the antichrist is called the son of perdition and the only other person that has received that title in Scripture is Judas, an apostate apostle, the antichrist will be in some sense an apostate apostle.
I don’t want in any way to seem to be malicious, but in recent years the most clear and vivid presentation of the forces that are at work, of course is found in Bishop Pike. I mean, in many ways he’s just a perfect illustration of this, you see, because he began as a key preacher of Jesus Christ and then went astray, ended up in spiritism and denying, basically, all the great truths of the Christian faith. And died a death that, in some respects, is not unlike that of Judas. I have no desire to be malicious about the man, he’s dead, but I cannot refrain from pointing out to you this shows how close we are to the real thing.
All right. Now let’s consider the meaning of antichrist—the third title which is given there in 1 John 2:18 that we’ve just read. Now antichrist is a Greek word that’s just put over in English letters and it’s formed of two parts: anti and Christos, which is the Greek for Christ. Now remember Christosmeans “the anointed one.” It’s the Greek form in the New Testament of the Hebrew word meshiach, or Messiah in Hebrew, in ________ the Old Testament. Both mean “the anointed one.” When you say that Jesus is the Christ, what you are saying is Jesus is the Messiah. Lots of Christians don’t realize that. And lots of Jews, strangely enough, even Jews living in the United States, hearing the word Christ many, many times have never realized that what it means is Messiah. They’d be quite shocked if we were to tell them that we believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But that’s what it is.
Now then. Anti is a preposition and it has two main meanings in the Greek language and each of them applies in this title. The first meaning is “against,” and the second is “in place of.” And this describes the complete operation of antichrist. First of all, it’s against the true Christ; secondly, it’s in place of the true Christ. So that the spirit of antichrist operating in the church has got to do two things: It’s got to push out the true Christ first—it’s against Him. Having created a vacuum by eliminating the true Christ, it’s then going to fill that vacuum with a false Christ.
Now what we see at the moment in professing Christendom all around the world is the first part of that operation—the “against”; the opposition to Jesus of Nazareth as the true Christ so that, in many cases, the unbelieving, unprofessing world are far more sympathetic to Jesus than the theologians, the seminarians and many religious leaders.
I was talking to some Methodist friends not so long ago and I won’t say where they’re from, and they said, “In our church, Jesus is a dirty word. You can talk about Buddha, you can talk about Socrates, you can talk about Martin Luther King, that’s all right. But talk about Jesus and people get offended.” You see, this is the spirit of antichrist. It’s just seeking to eliminate Jesus. Get Him out of the way.
In that same church, and I’m not attacking Methodists more than any other group, a lady received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and for the first time Jesus became real to her. Now in that church they had a certain period at the close of the morning service before they sang the last hymn where anyone that wanted to come down, as a Methodist, and apply for membership of that church could do so. And the week after this lady received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, in that pause, she walked down to the front and just said, “I want to witness to you all that I have received the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on my behalf.” And the next week, the pastor had twelve letters of protest from different members of the congregation. They couldn’t stand that statement. You see, that’s the spirit of antichrist.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying it’s more prevalent amongst the Methodists than in any other group. But I would say one thing, it’s probably much more prevalent amongst the Protestants than it is amongst the Catholics at the present moment. Let’s be fair about that. It’s stronghold at the moment is intellectual liberal Protestantism. The Catholics, on the whole, basically, have not denied the claims of Jesus. Amongst Protestants, it’s considered old-fashioned to believe in the virgin birth or the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, if you deny the virgin birth, you deny that Jesus is the Messiah because both testaments, Old Testament and New Testament alike, declare emphatically that the Messiah is to be born of a virgin. And the spirit that denies that Jesus is the Messiah is the spirit of antichrist. That’s stated there. 1John 2:22:
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? [the Messiah] He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
He does not deny God, notice that. What he denies is the persons within the Godhead of the Father and the Son. Oh, antichrist has got a great deal to say about God, but he doesn’t like Jesus, the Son of God, and if you deny the sonship, you have to deny the fatherhood, because they are interrelated.
All right. The other title of this person is found in Revelation 13:1 and following. We’ll just read these verses quickly.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast
The Greek means “a wild beast.” Now earlier in Revelation, in chapters 4 and 5, in the King James version you have beasts that are spoken of as being in heaven around the throne of God but the Greek word is different. The Greek word in chapters 4 and 5 means a “living creature,” but in chapter 13 it means specifically “a wild beast,” a beast of prey.
...I saw a [wild] beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard... [and the latter part of verse 2:] the dragon [who is the devil] gave him his power, and his seat [his throne], and great authority. [And verse 4:] And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast...
“The beast”—that’s the other title. And, of course, it means power, ferocity, ruthlessness, cruelty. You get a pretty thorough picture when you put them all together.
Now what the spirit of antichrist is doing at the moment mainly in Christendom is pushing out the true Christ, because until that part of the operation is complete, the second phase of the operation cannot begin. But the second phase of the operation will be to replace the true Christ by the false Christ. There we will have “anti” in its second meaning “in place of, instead of.” And I am sure that many, many Christians, professing Christians, who are quite complacent about denying the claims of Jesus, will be truly shocked when they are confronted with the alternative, because the alternative will be something in the nature of a wild beast. You see, there’s a deliberate contrast in the Book of Revelation between the Lamb and the Beast. The Lamb, the true Christ; the beast, the false Christ. You see, this is all presented in Israel’s history right at the beginning when Pontius Pilate brought forth Jesus and said, “Whom will you have as your ruler, this man or Barabbas?” Jesus, the Lamb; Barabbas, the beast. Barabbas is one of the sort of antitypes of antichrist. The amazing thing is that the whole Jewish nation, through its official leaders, rejected the true and preferred Barabbas, who was a robber, a political agitator, a murderer, a violent man. What made them do that? The spirit of antichrist. A satanic force that came down upon them in their counsel, deluded them, deceived them and made them act really like wild beasts. And that force that worked in Israel 19 centuries ago is working all through the world today. But it’s centered in the church because, until the true Christ has been displaced, the false Christ cannot take His place.
We have seen many antichrists, those of us that have lived the last thirty or forty years or a little more. In a certain sense, Adolph Hitler was something of an antichrist. If you were familiar with what the Germans were saying about him in those days, I met, when I was a young man, I was on a cycle tour through southern Germany. And an enthusiastic Nazi invited me to go up to Bechtesgaden and meet Hitler and it was only because it was on the top of a hill and I had a bicycle that I declined. But this man, I’ll always remember him saying to me in German, “For us, he is a sacred thing.” And in those days, this struck me as extraordinary, but I didn’t see the significance of it. And ??Riddentrop??, who was one of his agents, said, “For us, Hitler is the Holy Spirit.” That was actually in one of his speeches.
Or, another antichrist, really, just a partial one is Joseph Stalin. You see, the communists deny God and then made Stalin their god. And many, many communists in the regime of Stalin would have said, “For us, Stalin is our god.” And many of them did actually say it.
You see, you’ve got to get rid of the true, but the ultimate purpose is to replace it with a false. It’s a vacuum which is going to be filled.
All right. Now let’s look at this picture in Luke 4, which is very, very significant. Then we’ll come back to Revelation 13 in a moment. Now, Luke 4:5-8 gives us the scene of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The second temptation is recorded here in Luke 4. It reads as follows:
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power [all this authority] will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
You see, when Adam fell, his authority, given him by God over the earth, was betrayed into the hands of Satan. Satan said there in verse 6: “for that is [betrayed] unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Now, Satan is looking for a man who will become his agent to gain final control over all nations. And he has to have a man of outstanding personality, intelligence, ability, not just an ordinary person, but a very outstanding man. And he knew that if he could get Jesus, Jesus would be the man. And he said to Jesus, “I’ll make a bargain with you. All you have to do is worship me and I’ll put you in charge of all nations, because it’s all under my control and I can do it.” Jesus didn’t deny that. But He only said one thing, “I will not worship you.” And then He said something very significant, and it doesn’t come out in the King James version. In the King James version Jesus is quoted as saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” But the Greek says, “Follow behind me.” And this is the truth of the matter. Where Christ is preached, the spirit of antichrist will always come. When the true Christ has been presented, then the world will be offered the choice. Which will you have? the true? or the false? It started with Israel. Will you have Jesus or Barabbas? And it will culminate at the close of this age. Will you believe in Jesus, the true Messiah? Or will you allow yourselves to be deceived into accepting the false Messiah? So Jesus said, “Satan I’ll go first. I will not bow down. I will not worship you. But you can follow after me. And the world will have to make its choice.”
In the prophet Joel, chapter 3:14, looking right to the close of this age, Joel said,
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
And before this age closes, all nations will have been forced down by divine destiny into the valley of decision and no one can come out of that valley without making a decision. The decision is not complicated, it’s very simple: the true Christ or the false? This man or Barabbas. And we aren’t so far from that valley as some would like to think. We’re very nearly there.
Now Jesus would not make the bargain because He was the true Christ but the false Christ will agree. He will say, “All right, Satan, I’ll worship you. I’ll sell myself to you. I’ll put myself unreservedly at your disposal. Now you give me power over all nations.” And Satan will do it. Do you know why? Because his supreme aim is to be worshipped. Being a spirit, he has to be worshipped through a manifestation in human flesh, just as God the Father has to be worshipped through the Son. So, Satan must find someone to be his representative through whom Satan can be worshipped. If Jesus would have done it, that would have suited him perfectly, but Jesus wouldn’t make the bargain and for 19 centuries the devil has been waiting for the man who would. And I’m quite prepared to believe that that man is already born, somewhere in this world, without going into theories or speculation, and he’ll be an outstanding man, tremendous appearance, intelligence, personality, a brilliant man. And when Satan sees him, there’ll come a moment when he will make a deal with Satan. He’ll deal his soul to Satan for the sake of political power. This man will be the beast.
Now turn back to Revelation 13 and read those words again and see how significant they are. Let’s look at the second part of verse 2:
gave him his power, and his [throne], and great authority [exactly as he would have done to Jesus had Jesus agreed]. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; [we’ll consider the significance of that in a later part of these studies] and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
He was a superman. You see, there’s been a lot of preparatory work done in the last fifty years or so to prepare the world for him. One of the men who’d done some of the work is Shaw and his play “Man or Superman” is really kind of preliminary softening up of the human mind to receive superman. And he will be a superman. The world will wonder after him. There’ll never have been a man like this man. Verse 4:
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast....
This is it: Satan’s ambition will have been achieved. He will have the world worshipping him through the beast, the antichrist. In worshipping the antichrist, they will be worshipping the devil. The true Christ refused to make the bargain, the false Christ will make it.
Now we have possibly time in this study to glance at a couple more features before we close. We’ll continue this study in the next, we’ll go on in the next one to complete this study. Let’s turn for a moment to 2 Thessalonians, again, chapter 2 and read verse 3:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come [this is the day of the revelation of the true Christ] expect there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.
Now the falling away is from the true faith of Jesus Christ. There’s only one place where the falling away can take place—that’s within the church. People who have never been in the faith cannot fall away from the faith. But this is a falling away of those who’ve been in the faith and the apostle Paul says, and it’s perfectly logical, the antichrist cannot be revealed until the faith of the church has first been broken down. But when the church has been conditioned to reject the claims of Jesus, and thus fall away from the true faith of Christ, the way will be open for the manifestation of the false Christ. You see, this is exactly what’s going on now. There is a very skillfully planned and highly organized program to disqualify Jesus, to discredit Him, to discredit every major claim that’s made about Him in Scripture—His deity, His virgin birth, His substitutionary atonement, His physical death, the power of His shed blood, His physical resurrection. Every major truth stated in Scripture again and again about Jesus is today under attack and the extraordinary thing is unless you realize what’s behind it is the attack is not coming from the world, it’s coming from the church.
Let me illustrate this and I’ll close. In 1962 I was in Canada, traveling across the nation. And I was confronted with some of the religious leaders of a group in Canada—I might as well tell you what it is, it’s the United Church. And they had just introduced new Sunday School material throughout the United Church in Canada. And I had the privilege of meeting and talking with some of the people responsible and this material contained all sorts of questions like this: Is it necessary to believe in the virgin birth? Is it necessary to believe in the deity of Jesus Christ? Is it necessary to believe in a physical resurrection? And the extraordinary thing is the United Church raised no protest against this new Sunday School material. Do you know who raised a protest? The secular press. The most fantastic thing. They could have got away with it without a murmur with the church members, but the secular press raised an outcry about the systematic denial of the great basic truths of the Christian faith. This is it. There has to be a falling away within the church. Jesus has to be discredited. But when that’s happened, the way is open for the false Christ.