Bob's Sermon for Sunday, May 5, 2018

 

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“Could you identify the antichrist if you saw him?”

 

1 John 2:18-23 NIV

 

     (1 John 2:18) “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

      (19) They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

     (20) But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  (21) I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.

     (22) Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. (23) No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

 

What or who is the antichrist?

 

     Mistaken ideas of the antichrist’s identity create confusion and fright. A sampling of internet opinions proves my point:[1]

1.       “Who ... or what ... is the antichrist? Evil alliance—or sinister individual? Some say his appearance is still in the future. Others say he appeared long ago in the days of ancient Rome. But the Bible indicates that he is alive today! Bible prophecies teach that this antichrist power will play a crucial role in the final events...”

 

2.      A Catholic view of Antichrist quotes Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 AD:

"As in Christ dwells the fullness of the Godhead so in Antichrist the fullness of all wickedness. Not indeed in the sense that his humanity is to be assumed by the devil into unity of person ..., but that the devil by suggestion infuses his wickedness more copiously into him than into all others."

St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa III: 8:8)

 

3.      The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Post: “Jul 22, 2017 - Is the Antichrist alive today? I'm not sure I know what the Antichrist is, but the world is in such a mess that I sometimes wonder if we're already living in the last days.”

 

4.      PBS Frontline by Professor L. Michael White, Univ. Texas, Austin.

“It often comes as a great surprise to people to discover that "the Antichrist" does not appear in the Book of Revelation at all. In fact, it's nowhere else in the Bible . . . except in a few passages in two of the Johannine Epistles (i.e. 1 & 2 John). So the key questions are these: Where did it come from?”

 

5.      “There is much speculation about the identity of the Antichrist. Some of the more popular targets are Vladimir Putin, Prince William, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Pope Francis I. In the United States, former President Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump are the most frequent targets. So, who is the antichrist ...”

 

6.      “Jul 29, 2015 - If you type "is Pope Francis antichrist" into Google, you'll get about 425,000 results in .37 seconds. By way of comparison, if you ask Google the same question about Pope Benedict you only get 137,000 and it takes a little longer—.47 seconds.”

 

7.      “Ronald Reagan: Reagan has 6 letters in each of his names. Survived a mortal wound as some believe the antichrist is prophesied to endure. His first lady wore a lot of red. Upon his retirement, he moved to a house at 666 St. Cloud Street.”

 

     You see why improperly identifying the antichrist leads to confusion. People have always wondered how to properly interpret words and signs.

“Darius I became king of Persia in troubled times, and so in 512 B.C. he
sought to secure the northern boundaries of his empire by conquering the Scythians (I have included a map that shows where Darius ruled and where the Scythians were) But instead of meeting for battle, the Scythians stayed a day's march ahead of Darius's troops, practicing a scorched-earth policy that exasperated Darius. He sent messengers to the Scythians, inquiring whether they would fight or surrender. The Scythians sent back a mouse, a frog, a bird, and five arrows.”

“‘Victory is ours,’ Darius said to his captains. ‘The mouse means the land of Scythia will be surrendered to us; the frog means that their rivers and lakes will also be ours; like a bird, the Scythian army will fly from our army; and these arrows signify that the Scythians will lay down their arms.’

“An adviser to Darius, however, interpreted the message differently:

‘The Scythians mean that unless you turn into mice and burrow in the ground for safety, or turn into frogs and hide in the waters, or turn into birds and fly away, you will all be slain by the Scythian archers.’ After deliberations, Darius accepted the second interpretation and retreated from Scythia.”[2]

 

     If we improperly interpret what the Bible tells us, we could face worse disasters than what Darius I nearly experienced. Defining the antichrist is not our only challenge. The first phrase in our text raises questions: “Dear children, this is the last hour.”

When he wrote, “Dear children,” the Apostle John was not beginning a kids section in his book.John was getting up in years and likely wrote to Christians, young in the faith.[3] It is unlikely that John’s readers equaled him in experience and personal knowledge of Jesus. At the age of 27, I began teaching a Ladies Bible class for many years. I found that regardless of their age, those women never objected when I referred to them as “girls.” 

 

     The rest of John’ first phrase presents a greater problem. What did he mean: “this is the last hour”? Was he warning that the world’s end and Jesus’ return were within hours of occurring? If John meant readers to understand an hour that way, he made a 1900 year blunder. The final hour would have concluded by the time John finished writing the book. Even if the Roman postal service guaranteed overnight mail, hours would pass before the letter was delivered.

 

     To us an hour is 1/24 of a day, 60 minutes.[4] What did “the last hour” mean?

 

     The word in our text originally meant: “a time set for something.” Concerning the topic “time,” one of our daughters sent Norma this text yesterday: “Right now chocolate is good for you. Romaine lettuce can kill you. I’ve been training my whole life for this moment.”[5] Returning to the meaning of the word translated “hour” in our text, we see the original sense in John 16.

 

     Jesus (John 14, 15) told the disciples about the future and promised he would help them deal with it. They would face trials, he said, but he would send the Holy Spirit to assist them. Then in John 16 Jesus explained:

 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time (hour) is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

4 I have told you this, so that when the time (hour) comes you will remember that I warned you.”  

 

     The hour (time) came when the Apostles began preaching Jesus’ resurrection; all faced martyrdom: according to strong tradition, only John survived to old age. The fact that Christians in many places are persecuted today indicates that we are still living in the “last hour.” The word translated “hour” here, and in our text means a time set for something to occur and thus it can mean a long period of time. 

 

     But what or who is the antichrist?

 

     People tend to disregard two facts about the antichrist: First, the antichrist is not a single individual: “Even now many antichrists have come.” In 1966 a doctor friend and I were eating breakfast in a little café inside Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital.” In California during those times, restaurants always served water to customers when they were first seated. After a while, the café waitress snapped, “Is there something wrong with you? I can’t tell you how many times I have filled your water glass!”

 

     The doctor said, “Bob, I noticed that you do have polydipsia.”

 

     Dipsia means thirst and “poly” means much or many. In our text, that word (poly- πολλοί) follows antichrists. When folks single out an individual and name that person as the antichrist, they disregard the fact that John said that there are many antichrists.

 

     Here’s a 2nd truth: you can identify antichrists by what they teach.

 

     In John’s second epistle he told us:[6] “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

 

     John identified an antichrist as anyone teaching that Jesus did not come in the flesh.

 

     These two truths force us to reexamine many antichrist assumptions.

 

     Here is some info you need to know. In verse 20 of our text, John wrote: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One. . .

 

     Interpreters have abused this passage, too. You often hear it said of preachers and Christian musicians: “He/she had a special anointing tonight.” If you have accepted Jesus, God’s Son, as your Savior and Lord, have been united with him in baptism, and gratefully own Him and praise Him, you are anointed.  

 

     Our text indicates this truth. In Greek the terms “Christ” and “anointing” come from the same word stem. Christ (christos” is a verbal adjective and means “spreadable”, “smeared on”, and “anointed.” The word translated anointed is a related term “chrisma,” “what is spread on,” “rubbed on” or a medicine used as an ointment.”[7]     

 

     One type of ancient anointing was medicinal, kind of like the “Blue Emu” that Johnny Bench sells; and I suppose the type Shaq sells, also. 

 

      A more important type of anointing was legal. Presidents of the U.S. usually take an oath of office with their hand on a Bible. In Jesus time and before, they installed kings and priests by anointing them. The pouring of oil on the king gave the anointed one power, strength, and majesty.

Christ is not Jesus’ last name or surname; it identifies him as the anointed one.

·    To call Jesus the Christ is to recognize him as ruler of the Cosmos.

o   He created all things.

o   John emphasized this in the opening of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word . . . the Word was God . . . all things were made through him.”

       Jesus as Creator is the Book of Hebrews’ opening theme:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”     

 

             ·  In calling him Christ, we also accept that he is the only anointed priest qualified to represent us before the Father.

That last part of Hebrews 1:3 emphasizes Jesus’ work as our high priest: “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” 

 

o   No angel or departed soul can represent us.

o   Christ is our great high priest.

     “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”[9]

 

     Do you fully recognize Jesus Christ as king of the Universe? Do you fully accept him and go to him as your one and only priest? Many of us say we do, but sometimes we have a “funny” way of showing it. Intending but not doing is not sufficient. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.”

A) Tonight, look at the stars the Son of God created and think of his power and intelligence and majesty.

B) He came to earth and lived in a flesh body just like ours.

C) Though he was innocent, enemies executed him.

D) Three days later, he was alive.

E) He is coming again to raise and claim those who believe in him and salute him. 

     23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”[10]

 

 


[1] I purposely did not list all the sources, but you can easily find them on Google.

 

[2] The Ultimate Reference Book, Darius I (550 B.C.- 486 B.C..), Persian king

[3] Pediatrician is derived from “paidia” the Greek term translated children.   

[4] Most people in John’s time used sundials. Depending on the time of the year, and one’s geographical location, “an hour by sundial” varies greatly.  G. Bilfinger calculated that in Alexandria, Egypt, the average length of an hour from mid-June to mid-July was 70 minutes. From mid-December to mid-January 50 minutes. In Rome, the variation was even greater. It changed from 75 to 44 minutes. For this and a full discussion of non-Biblical and Biblical usage of “hour” (ὥρα), see Gerhard Delling’s treatise on pp. 675-681 TDNT, Volume IX. 

[5] Original source unknown.

[6] 2 John 7-8

 

[7] See the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:34. He treated the victim’s wounds with wine and oil. The wine possibly served as a sedative, painkiller, and disinfectant, and the oil soothed and promoted healing.

[8] See articles by Grundmann, Hesse, de Jonge, et al in TDNT, Volume IX, and pp. 493-580.

[9] 1 Timothy 2:4,5

[10] As the church grew and the gospel spread into places where Greek culture was strong, the differences between biblical thought and Greek thought had to be addressed. To many Greeks, the spirit in a person is good and immortal, the mortal flesh is evil. The Christ could not have inhabited flesh because flesh is evil. This mistaken idea is still pervasive even in many Christian circles. 


 

Bob Blair

PO Box176

Cleghorn, IA 51014

 

 

 

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