Here is an odd fact… The Rapture was supposed to be on my 30th birthday. Harold Camping became the latest in a long line of discredited prophets to set a date and watch it fail. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear… ZAP… has anyone seen Wes?
If there is anything that has soured the general public in our country towards the Christian faith recently it has been an unhealthy view of the end of the world. Both you and I can name countless preachers who preach solely from the book of Revelation promising timelines, signs, and answers. We all can remember men and women who have placed dates on calendars only to watch them pass by.
As I began to study for my sermon this week I came across a term which carries so much baggage in today’s world that I am cautious about even touching it. It has been connected to our current president, Elvis, Hitler, John F Kennedy, and even Prince William. It is my hope as I preach from scripture this Sunday morning and as I blog that I would bring clarity to this very muddied term…
The word is used in two contexts in the Bible. The first is certainly the one which has the most attention brought to it and is the most well known. This being is the agent of Satan come to deceive the hearts of men and lead them away from Christ. (2 Thess 2)
The second way in which the word antichrist is used is the way we will approach it this Sunday. 1 John 2 18 states “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.” The passage brings many questions to my mind… Does this mean that there are multiple dispensations of the antichrist? Does this somehow point to a complex system that must be dissected and people named? Here’s my conclusion: these “antichrists” are men who were a part of the church but now, by their lives and actions, are opposed to Christ.
We know that John wrote his first letter with the purpose of assuring a church of their salvation after many of their members fell out of the church and into their sins. I believe John uses the term antichrist to show the seriousness of situation. He uses this loaded term like a line in the sand to show who belongs to God and who opposes Him.
Every church has watched as men and women have come in, joined them, and fallen away. 1 John teaches us a very simple concept: you know you belong to Christ if your life displays his work; everyone else lives in opposition to him. You are either for Christ or against Christ.
As I type this I can think of many close friends, some I was in the youth group with, some I went to a Christian college with, some I have had the privilege to pastor and love but have fallen away and live lives far from Jesus. If I take John at his word, as I understand this, any person who is not displaying the work and light of God is lost, living in rebellion to him, and in need of a savior.
As I type this I pray that God might put on my heart and yours these people who were with us, but not of us and give us a passion to take the good news of Christ back to them so that they might turn from their rebellion and to Christ.