Text: 1 John 2: 18-29
Proposition: Antichrist refers to both an individual and to the effect of Satan in preparing the world for this person. The main point John makes is how we stand firm in Christ.
Introduction: The Battle of Verdun was fought from 21st of February to 18th of December in 1916. It was the largest and longest battle of the First World War. The armies of the Germans and the French had combined casualties of over 800,000, an estimated 70 percent were caused by artillery. The Germans launched two million shells during their opening bombardment—more than in any engagement in history to that point—and the two sides eventually fired between 40 to 60 million shells over the next ten months. The use of artillery fire was not only effective in destroying opposing forces it prepared the way for a general to lead his forces in eventually taking over the land. Artillery fire can seem to be random at first but as it sustains its attack it breaks down the resistance and support structures that are in its way.
I’m telling you this because of what we are about to read and make no mistake, the effects of the damage done by long range sustained attack have been devastating. Shell after shell of syncretism, evolution, abortion, relativism, euthanasia, genderism and unbelief have softened up the landscape of godliness. It is being made ready for that which is about to occur. Turn with to 1 John 2:18 to 29.
I. The Time Frame… What the Term ‘Last Hour’ Means.
We know that John wrote this letter towards the end of the 1st century so when we hear John say this is the last hour, there is a tendency to say he got it wrong, to even conclude that every day will just continue as the one before it did. Let me suggest to you that the ‘last hour’ refers to the time between Christ’s First coming until the time of His Second coming. We don’t when Christ will return for His church and call it up to Him in the rapture, but we do know that by the Word of God when that does happen it will be followed by the person of the Antichrist stepping onto the stage of history. Look at what John writes in verse 18, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” When John says, ‘as you have heard’ he is likely referring to Scripture where Danial wrote of the antichrist, 600 years before Jesus was born. Jesus spoke of the antichrist in Matthew 24:23, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.” Paul wrote about the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2. The point is that the church had heard that the antichrist was coming, and now you too have heard. Then John says that not only is it the last hour but that many antichrists have already come. From the time of the Incarnation of Christ to the time when Jesus comes for His church in the rapture many antichrists have come.
That calls us to define the next term.
II. The Person… What the Term ‘Antichrist’ Means.
The ‘anti’ that prefixes this term means two things. It refers to being that which is instead of Christ and it also refers to that which is against Christ. When John says that there have been many antichrists already, he is referring to the many men and women who have put forwards ideas that sought to replace Christ and even concepts that were openly against Christ. From the first century and on there have been many antichrists and like artillery shells, millions of artillery shells, their goal has been to soften up the defenses of the church and ready the world for the day when the Antichrist steps on the stage. So the word antichrist refers to both individuals and movements that have sought to replace or oppose Christ over the ages and it also refers to a single individual who is about to step onto the stage of history that will make all those who have preceded him look like a warm up act. The Antichrist is a satanically inspired and empowered person who will seek to gain a one world government that is glued together by political, financial and spiritual controls. It will crush any religion, ideology, nation or group that resists it. The reason we can say that this is the last hour is because the Antichrist will do what no other human has ever be able to do, to have control over the entire world. The Antichrist will be the first to achieve this and if that sends a shiver down your back, take comfort in this truth. He is only able to do so because of the permissive will of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now John makes the main point of what it is that he really wants to teach. The issue of the antichrist is the background, the canvass upon which John now wants to paint one of the most powerful doctrines of the church. In the next 11 verses he is going to layout the certainty and effectiveness of this doctrinal truth. Have a look at it with me.
III. The Power in the Doctrine of Perseverance.
Look at how John starts this in verse 19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” So who is he referring to, who are the ‘they went out from us?’. I would suggest it’s the people who previously attended that congregation. Okay so what does he mean, ‘they were not of us’ ? I think that this is ultimately a reference to being in Christ and not just attending or belonging to a particular church. The issue is that because of the bombardment of antichrist’s lies these ones have never come to faith in Christ. They were always hanging onto the world, hanging onto something that was instead of Christ. It’s not even that they were against Christ but rather they were anti what Christ had purchased with His blood and body. At some point they left the church, not to go to another church necessarily, but they left because their hearts were hardened, When John says, ‘if they were of us they would have continued with us’ he is referring their absence of saving faith in Christ. These ones had left and the principle reason was that they were spiritually dead. It’s like what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,”. ‘They were not of us’, does not refer to people who are born again who move to another church for whatever reason. It refers to the unsaved who leave the church and by doing so evidence their spiritual state. To be of us means that these who stay and are of faith in Christ. They are of us in the sense that they are of the body of Christ, one in faith, one in baptism and one in the Lord. So look at what John says next in verses 20, 21, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” Let’s look at this, let’s break down a little.
1.You have an anointing – this does not refer to some kind of spiritual gifting, it refers to the truth that when you first believed in Christ you received the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…”. That’s the anointing that John is referring to, the seal of the Holy Spirit of God in you and upon you.
2. You know all things – this doesn’t refer to your ability to be a know it all, to excel at game shows. It means that because of the Holy Spirit you can now know what is in the Word of God, it’s not beyond your understanding. You can know the things that God wants you to know about sin and Satan, about Christ and forgiveness and about who you are as a member of the body of Christ. You now know all things in this context. The word of God in your heart and mind will guard you against the lie of antichrist which will always aim at that which is instead of Christ or out right against Christ.
So John then says in verses 22, 23, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to be swayed by the influences of an antichrist view. If you deny that Jesus is the Christ, the only Messiah and the only Savior then you also do not have the Father as your God either. The two are inseparable, Jesus and the Father are One.
Here now is the great Doctrine of Perseverance presented, “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” What do you think he means by, ‘let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning’ ? I’d submit that what he is referring to is the Holy Spirit as He makes alive in you the truth of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, the central point of the entire Scriptures. If that truth abides in you through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the truth you heard from the beginning, the truth that you hold to steadfastly against all the ploys of antichrist tactics, then you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. In fact you are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and the promise is that Christ has given you eternal life!
Drop down to verse 27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” In other words, the presence of the Holy Spirit in you will direct you into the truth of the Word. It’s the Spirit of God that catches your attention, that invites you to agree with Him and that builds you in your faith in Christ. As the anointing of the presence of the Holy Spirit moves in you by faith, with understanding, by conviction, in humility, to the glory of Christ… you will abide in Him. The doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is really the persevering power of the Holy Spirit in you keeping you on track, guarding you against deception, growing you in the Word, building you as an integral part of the whole body of Christ that is held together by that which each part supplies. The doctrine of perseverance calls to you who know Jesus, it’s the power of God in you to fulfill His promises towards you because of your faith in Christ, even to the extent of verse 28, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” The doctrine of Perseverance will see you right to the door. That’s why Jesus could say without hesitation, I am the Way, the Truth and The Life, no one can come to the Father but by Me. And by Him, in Him, in the Holy Spirits care, He takes us all the way. Hallelujah!
The shelling of the antichrist will continue, stand firm, resist the devil and he will flee from you, let the light of Christ shine in you. Persevere in His hand.