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1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
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1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
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1st John 4:17-21
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1st John 2:18-27

 

“Little children, 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.  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.  But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.  Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.  Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.  Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning.  If that which ye have heard shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.  These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:18-27).

 

“Let’s open in our Bibles to 1st John chapter 2.  Let’s once more say a word of prayer, and we’ll get started.  ‘Lord I thank you that we can once again study your Word together.  And of course, Lord, as we have been studying 1st John, well we sense your exhortation to us.  You certainly have made strong statements to us.  You don’t want us to be comfortable and complacent or slack about our walk with you, that’s for sure, as Christians.  You’ve made some strong exhortations to us about what it means to walk with you, Lord.  But you also have given just words of comfort and encouragement.  You don’t want us to be discouraged.  You want us to be encouraged in this battle that we find ourselves in.  But I thank you Lord as we continue to study your Word, just the nuggets you give to us, the tools that you give to us, the reminders.  And we just ask now as individuals, of course we’ve come from different communities, different families, different experiences this week, but you have a word to say to each and every one of us, in our own hearts, in our own lives.  There’s things we certainly need to know and to understand, for the week that’s ahead of us, for the time that’s ahead of us.  But also Lord I just would like to say a prayer, if there is anyone here this morning that has never asked Christ into their heart as Lord and Savior that you’d speak to them, as they need you so much, they need you so desperately.  It’s about knowing you in a personal and intimate way, and that’s only possible as we place our faith in Jesus Christ.  So Lord, as we look at your Word, I ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us and upon myself now as we go through your Word.  In Jesus name, Amen.’ 

          Well, so far in 1st John, we have seen the importance of having of course fellowship in an intimate relationship with God.  John has been making that point to us really clearly, the apostle John.  God isn’t interested in religion, he’s interested in a relationship, and a close walk with him.  So he’s been speaking to our hearts about that.  John has made that real clear.  But as it’s so important, he’s also laid out and listed for us hindrances, things that can potentially hinder our fellowship with God, he’s laid them out for us, specifically issues of the heart.  Just a bit of a summary as we get started, he’s talked to us about darkness, when there’s darkness in our lives, there’s sin.  Sin can hinder our fellowship with God.  God is light and in him is no darkness, as he’s told us.  But also he’s talked about other issues at heart, such as disobedience to God’s commandments, of course that’s also sin [1st John 3:4, “sin is the transgression of the law.”]  But he’s told us about knowing God, and those that know God are those who obey the Lord’s commands.  He’s also talked about too, a love for our brethren, if we don’t have a love for our brethren in our hearts, if that is lacking, that’s a statement about our relationship with God.  Because if there’s an intimate relationship with God, certainly it’s going to be seen also in love for the brethren.  Then last week he noted to us the dangers of the love of the world.  If there is a love for the world, he made it very clear that to love the world is not to love the Father.  So if there is a love for the world and the things of the world in our hearts, it’s certainly hindering our love for God and our fellowship with God.  So John has been showing us these things, because fellowship with God is so important.  And here are some of the things, issues at heart that can hinder that fellowship.  Last week, with that we noted then this struggle, this battle we find ourselves in.  We want to be near the Lord.  There’s all these things that are seeking to catch the attention of our hearts, there’s these struggles.  Paul talks about in Galatians the battle between the flesh and the Spirit.  So we talked about this battle within, this battle to want to be near to the Lord in close fellowship, but we find ourselves struggling and fighting against these different things.  But now as we continue in 1st John, as believers in Jesus Christ, he wants us to know that there’s not only this battle within, but there’s also an important battle we need to consider that is taking place around us.  And he focuses now on that, this battle around us which is the battle of truth.  At this point in time I could, those of us that listen to our radio station, I could just play for you Ken Grave’s, Pastor Calvary Chapel, his intro to his teaching program “God’s Sword”.  If you’ve heard him, as most of us have that listen to our radio, you know it starts with the music, and then Jim comes on, the announcer, and says that there’s a battle going on, and it’s a battle against truth and error, this battle around us.  And that’s where John now brings us. 

          In verse 18 of 1st John, chapter 2, this is important.  We have this battle within, this struggle of the flesh against the Spirit.  But what is also important to notice and to consider and to learn is about the battle that is around us, and it is this battle against truth.   Now one interesting thing that John is going to share with us about this battle is where it also takes place.  Not only is it taking place in the world, but also right in the midst of the walls of the Church is this fierce battle against truth, and he’s going to show us that this morning.  We could say that this is an all out war against the Church.  It’s a great battle, and we’ll talk about that as we go through these verses.  Now as he exhorts us, as he does consistently about this battle, he doesn’t want us to be discouraged as he makes some strong statements.  He wants to also encourage us and give us comfort, and you’ll see that, he does exactly that, he balances everything out as he makes strong exhortations about just giving us those clear lines, separating line, that line in the sand.  Yet he comes also to encourage the Church with words of comfort and encouragement.  And we’ll also see that he gives us some great insight.  You know, we’ve got this battle around us, battle against truth, and he’s going to give us some great insight that will help us to stand and be victorious.  Let’s begin with verse 18.

 

What is the antichrist, three ways the term is used

 

          “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.”  So here we have this danger.  John has told us a lot about the danger within, now he focuses on this danger around us.  And what is this danger?  It is what he calls “the antichrist”.  Now what does he mean by “the antichrist”?  As we study further into this Epistle, and we’ll see it in the other Epistles, he actually uses that term in three different ways, this term “antichrist”.  One way, he refers to it as meaning the spirit that’s in the world, the spirit that exists that is opposing in every way possible Jesus Christ and denying Jesus Christ.  There’s this spirit in the world.  We’ll see this more in chapter 4, verse 3 where he says “And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God.  And this is the spirit of the antichrist which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”  So this spirit of antichrist,  this spirit that’s in the world.  That’s one way he uses it.  A second way that he uses this term “antichrist” is to refer to those false teachers that have been influenced by that spirit of the antichrist.  I mean, it’s within them, influencing them.  In fact, he refers to that, right here in verse 18, “even now many antichrists have come”, these folks that have been influenced by this spirit in the world and they have it within them.  A third antichrist that he’s referring to is this one particular individual who in the end time is going to come and just lead the world in rebellion against God and against Jesus Christ.  He is called “The Antichrist”, and you see that in verse 18, “We have heard that the antichrist is coming”, and he talks about that a bit more as we go on, the antichrist.  Now the Greek word for “anti” here, this prepositional prefix, means “in lieu of”, which means the Antichrist will seek to present himself as the Messiah in lieu of Jesus, in lieu of Christ, exalting himself as God.  So he tries to exalt himself as the Messiah in lieu of Jesus Christ.  But that word “anti” also can mean “against”, and there’s no doubt, as this man gets established in the second phase of his activities, he is going to ferociously set all his energies in the world against Jesus Christ.  As Paul told the Church in Thessalonica, 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, verses 3-10, “Let no one deceive you by any means, for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. The coming of the lawless one, that is the Antichrist,  is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.”  [look up and read this in the king James version as well, it’s basically the same, but there’s a little bit missing in the version he’s quoting, or he left it out.]  So, the Antichrist is this man that the Bible tells us is really completely possessed by Satan himself.  [Adolf Hitler, as observed by a British Naval intelligence officer once, went into a classic case of demonic possession right in front of this man and the others within the room.  I firmly believe that possession “incident” was by Satan himself.  It terrified everyone in the room.  Hitler probably had Satan entering and leaving him throughout WWII.  Satan hates the Jews with a passion.  Look what happened at that time, the Holocaust.]  And he will seek to control the world through a one-world government, and as he does that, he will also seek to have all the world, all the people worship him, in fact he’ll even go to the temple, to get all the people to worship him as God, placing himself in the position, at least declaring himself to be God.  But what Paul also tells us there in Thessalonians is that this man will also be able to perform miracles, and with that he’ll do signs and wonders, and with that deceive the masses of the people.  In fact, God will even say, as he says in Thessalonians there, that God will allow them to be given over to the deception, because of issues in their own hearts.  Well, the antichrist, you see, John mentions there in verse 18, we have the three different ways the term is used, and the last one being that person the Antichrist.  Now John is a true shepherd, so he here now wants to warn his audience.  And he starts with this way of referring to his audience, when he uses the term “little children”.  He’s done that multiple times.  Of course, being as old as he is, he could call anybody “little children” when you’re like 100 years old.  That’s about what he is.  But it’s just an endearing term, it’s a very shepherding, a very loving term that this man has towards the Church.  But he warns about this great danger, this danger of being deceived by such a spirit, one of these false teachers.  Now I think it’s interesting, and you are probably considering it, many of you might be, and that is, he says “Little children, it is the last hour” [King James “the last time.”].  Well he said that 1900 years ago.  It is the last hour?  1900 years ago?  That doesn’t seem like the “last hour” to me.  Did John actually think that the return of Jesus Christ was imminent, 1900 years ago?  And if so, I mean, and we believe these Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, if he believed that, there seems to be a problem, because Jesus didn’t come 1900 years ago.  Here we are today, he still hasn’t returned.  So what does he mean by this “it is the last hour” [“last time”]?  Well, the Greek term that John uses here doesn’t necessarily refer to the end time in that sense, when Jesus will come back.  But it actually refers to the period of time since the 1st coming of Christ, it refers to the Age of the Church.  In fact, the King James, when it renders that, I’m reading from the New King James, if you have the King James, it renders the Greek as “it is the last time”.  So it is the last time, it’s kind of time, it’s not so much a duration of time.  So in the New King James, the NIV, when he says “the last hour”, he’s referring to just this period of time, this kind of time, he’s not so much referring to time in the sense of the last time.  But even if John, and I bet he did, and also Paul, I mean, John did believe that the return of Jesus Christ was imminent.  Although that’s not necessarily what he’s referring to here.  But he did believe that.  And as he did, I think we can also remember, Peter’s words in 2nd Peter chapter 3, verse 8.  Peter said “But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.”  So the Holy Spirit could certainly say “here it is the last hour”, because God is outside of time, and in his perspective it is the last hour, it’s been the last hour since Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, I mean, it’s a done deal, because of what he’s done.  And this truth is certainly important for the Church throughout the ages, realizing indeed the shortness of time.  So as readers, you and I, any time, any generation would read it as the last hour.  I think there is that sense of conveying “time is short”.  That is something that is so important for believers to remember, even though it’s been 1900 years.  It was short for them, and it’s short for us.  There is this sense that, you know, the world is passing away, as he mentioned before.  And we need to be living for the things of the Lord with all our hearts, all our resources and all our time.  When you start to think that ‘Well, there’s plenty of time’, that’s a danger because it starts to cause complacency in the Church.  And there’s no time to be complacent, that’s for sure.  And the reality is, I’m only going to be here so long.  And that time goes pretty quickly.  I’ve only got so much time.  So, there is a sense of urgency, of getting the Gospel out to the world that is around us.  So, it is the last hour indeed. 

          Now, as he says, as he writes this, 19 or so hundred years ago, he notes that, “even now many antichrists have come.”  You know, as he’s saying that fifty or sixty years after Christ, that’s about the time now [90’s AD], that there’s been many false teachers already, many false Christ’s that have come.  He is saying that.  It’s continued throughout history, but even at the very getgo there were many that started to manifest themselves.  Of course, as you remember, as you noted, John is writing against this heresy of Gnosticism that was already infiltrating its way into the Church, this belief that Jesus when he came, you know, ‘matter is evil, spirit is good, therefore the spirit cannot touch physical matter’, so they had a real problem with Jesus becoming a man [in the flesh, flesh and blood human being], God the Son becoming a man.  And they had this weird teaching related to that.  So it began to influence the Church, so indeed he’s writing against that.  Of course as you look at the New Testament, you know, Paul often in his letters wrote about the false teachers that were already starting to abound, and throughout the New Testament this warning.  Many, many false teachers and antichrists have indeed come.  [There are many differing parts of the body of Christ, many with differing secondary beliefs, and it is often the way, for one group to attack another due to the differences, calling other parts of the body antichrist, and heretic, when they are indeed not so.  So we must be careful not to judge what we don’t fully understand.  I am often reminded of the Sabbatarian Churches of God, often attacked as heretic, or legalists, when if the truth be known, they may actually be the remnants of the early Christian Judeo-Christians of Asia Minor.]  And it [these heresies and antichrists] started from the very beginning, and it’s something that’s been continuing through the Church.  You know, Paul says to Timothy that this battle against false teachers, you know, many of them have come, and it continues to happen.  Paul says in 2nd Timothy that this is going to grow worse and worse in the latter days.  He says in chapter 4, verse 3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their one lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”  So many had come, but also the Bible teaches that it’s just going to multiply and get worse and worse.  In fact, Paul says to Timothy, it’s going to be so bad that, as a whole, as a generalization, people won’t even want to hear the truth anymore, but will heap up many multitudes of teachers that will say exactly what they want to say and not what the Bible says.  So, it’s a sign of the end of the age that there’s more and more false teachers around us.  And of course, these antichrists, the multiplication of them continues to prepare for that one final hour where the Antichrist, The Antichrist reveals himself. And I do believe that that hour for the Antichrist is not far away for sure, as you consider the Scriptures, you see what’s going on in the world, I believe the Antichrist, I believe he might even be alive today.  And it’s just a matter of time until he reveals himself.  Somebody passed me an article last Sunday and it seems to tie right into this message, so I’ll share it with you.  But it’s an article called “The New World Religion.”  And it’s about the U.N.’s Earth Charter, and the significant players that are involved with this Earth Charter that’s now part of the U.N.—guys like Mikhail Gorbechov, Steven Rockefeller and Morris Strong, guys like that, significant players on the world scene are all part of this thing called the Earth Charter.  In fact they recently had a world summit, this summit was called, it was on sustainable development, but was called the Earth Summit too.  They had one earlier, a number of years before, and this is the second one.  But they’ve developed this Charter that they’re seeking to have permeate all of society.  And the intent is to have it permeate all of society, starting even at the schools, which they already are doing, the Charter is already working its way into the schools, it’s working its way up.  But the idea is to get everybody to adopt this mentality, this Earth Charter, this type of reasoning, it’s really to influence the psychology, the psychological state of the world, in order to prepare really for the one-world government.  And they’re kind of wrapping it up to save the environment.  Well anyway, the Earth Charter, here’s what’s so interesting, this is what caught my eye, the Earth Charter has been incorporated into some books they developed, they call them ‘Sacred Books’, and they’re called, I believe this is the term, Temenos books.  Maybe you’ve heard about this.  “Temenos is a magical sacred circle where special rules apply, and extraordinary events inevitably occur when you apply these rules.”  So what they’ve done, these guys, Mikhail

Gorbechov, they’ve developed these texts, then they put it into little books they call “Sacred Books”.  What’s even further interesting is these books are housed in what they call “The Ark of Hope”, they’ve actually built an ark that looks just like the biblical Ark of the Covenant, looks just like it when you see the design of it.  In fact, it has poles through it to be carried just like the priests carried it.  And evidently when they started this whole thing they had kind of a special religious ceremony in Vermont and carried it by foot with some men to a sailboat and the sailboat took it to New York City [must have gone down the Connecticut River] and they had a special ceremony, they walked with it for a number of blocks and they brought it to the U.N. and then they brought it to Johannesburg for this summit.  But they’ve got this sacred book, and now they have this ark, called the Ark of Hope.  Now they also have in this Ark of Hope a papyrus version, and obviously it isn’t very old, still looks old, looks spiritual, of the entire text of the Earth Charter.  Well, the Charter’s authors are not shy about the importance of their handiwork, in fact early on, a number of years ago, Mikhail Gorbechov put it this way, “My hope is that this Charter will be kind of a Ten CommandmentsereHereWWg, a Sermon on the Mount, that provides a guide for human behavior towards the environment and the next century and beyond.”  He said that in 1997 in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.  But then Canadian billionaire Morris Strong in his opening address in the Earth Summit put it this way, “The changes in behavior and direction called for here must be rooted in our deepest spiritual, moral and ethical values.  I could go on and on and talk about the New Age, this is all about New Age, the New Age religion.  But significant players, and already they have developed texts for classrooms and it’s being brought into classrooms.  If you read it initially, some of it seems just fine, but the idea is, it’s set in a way to also have a religious tone.  And there’s no doubt about it, it is preparing, it potentially will prepare, but the day is going to come, there will to a one-world government and a one-world leader, and he’s not a guy I’m going to follow because the Bible says he’s the Antichrist.  And he’s a man completely possessed by Satan, and he’ll want the whole world to worship him.  We have the danger here that John tells us about.

 

Their departure

 

Verse 19, he says “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, we have the danger, and now he talks about their departure.  These false teachers, these antichrists, he says here were once in the Church.  And he speaks of their departure.  They were once part of the Church, they appeared to be a part of the Church anyway, but in reality as he says there in verse 19, they were not true believers.  They looked like they were, they were in the Church, but as time went on it became evident that they weren’t, because he says they left the Church.  And they went out then heralding a completely different gospel and a different message about God and about spirituality, so these antichrists, these false teachers.  Now this issue was such a burden to  John, it’s a burden to him.  So he shares it with the Church.  But it was also a great burden to Paul.  And if you read the Bible reading in the back of our bulletin yesterday, Saturday, it was listed to read Acts chapter 20.  And there in Acts chapter 20 Paul sits with the Ephesian elders, his last time with them, and he says this to them, he says “For this I know, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock”, but then he says this, “also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves.  Therefore watch and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn you every night and day with tears.”  He says men will come from among yourselves, they will rise up.  And he says ‘I warned you with tears for three years, day and night, don’t forget it, it’s so important.’  It was a real burden to him.  And why was it such a concern?  Well just think of the danger that is placed amongst God’s people when there’s men, dynamic men, very personable men, very influential men hanging out in the church, they seem like they’re the real deal, but all of a sudden they start to teach things that are a little different, say things that are a little different.  They begin to manifest themselves.  But if there are young believers, not very discerning, in the church, what happens is they get led astray.  So it’s a great danger,  because so often they start right within the Church.  So there is a danger to those who are not prepared.  I think of Judas, Judas is right at the first 12.  Judas is an example of that, one of the 12, but he was never a true disciple.  Though, if you had ever asked the other eleven, before that day there on the Mount of Olives, they would have said ‘Oh, Judas, what a man of God, what a brother.’  But just think of what the disciples must have been struggling with and going through when they stood there on the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane, and up comes Judas with all these soldiers to arrest Jesus.  This was a guy that they had thought all along was a brother, one of the disciples, part of the Church, real contributor, real man of God.  Clearly they never would have guessed it as you read the gospels, but the man was never a Christian [nor was he ever a Messianic believer in Yeshua haMeshiach].  In fact, Jesus, as you remember in John chapter 6 when we studied it, he said “he was devil, he was a devil”, had an antichrist, a false spirit within him.  But so able to deceive and appear one way.  And then the time came where he manifested himself.  And Judas, what he did, that’s happened throughout history.  In fact, if you investigate the cults, the history of the cults, most of them around us are, any antichristian religion, you’ll find that most of them, their founders started in the Church.  We could just list off a bunch of names, most of them started in the Church, David Koresh kind of guys, they were in a Christian church, but they never were really part of the Church, they were in the local church, but they weren’t part of the Church of Jesus Christ [i.e. the body of Christ, not born-again].  And then the time came, they began to manifest themselves and draw away people away unto themselves [like Jim Jones.  He too started in a Christian church].  But it goes on and on.  I believe Shirley McLain, if I remember my history right, I believe she was in the Church, child of a pastor,  Charles Darwin all these other things are anti-Christian in their teaching, in their doctrine.  It started with people that were actually in the Church.  You know, I was reading the local newspaper back in January, and there was an article about this guy Herald Camping.  Maybe you’ve heard of him, he heads up the radio, I don’t know if you call it ministry anymore, family radio.  And I’ll be honest with you, I used to listen to him in San Diego a little bit, because it was a talk-radio and it’s kind of like the radio program we have “To Every Man An Answer”.  People would call up with any question and we’d give an answer.  And often, it was interesting, his answers.  But I can remember, even telling my wife, I’d listen to him, didn’t know anything about him at the time, and I’d hear some of his answers.  And once in a while it would just rub me wrong, and I would say ‘You know, there’s something just odd there, he’s got some great stuff and then he spits out this other stuff’ and I stopped listening to him.  Well, if you remember Herald Camping at all, his colors started to be more and more manifested.  In 1994 he then predicted the end of the world, in September 1994, it got world attention.  He said “The world was going to end.”  Of course it didn’t.  And I remember moving out here, and learning that his radio ministry had a license in the Boston area, and I figured he was done, so maybe we could get that application, I remember calling his ministry and saying ‘Hey, you guys predicted the end of the world, could we have your license’, and ah, it didn’t work.  [laughter]  Now, he’s gone even further.  This is what John is saying, they start out, I mean there are many Church leaders listening to Herald Camping, and more and more people are saying ‘This guy is getting bizarre.’  But just recently, and that’s why it was in the newspaper, he’s been stating that it’s time for all Christians, God wants all his people to leave the Church, organized Church, and to just stay at home, have your Bible study at home---it’s not time anymore for Church leaders, or baptism or Communion, he says all churches are of the devil, all churches.  That would include this church, it would include any church.  That’s what he’s saying now.  [Come with me down to Guyana to drink Cool-aid, remember that?]  So, he’s been teaching this for the last two years, wants people to just leave the Church.  But you know he was originally part of the Evangelical Christian Reform Church, although he isn’t anymore.  Well, that’s the type of, you know we could give more and more examples.  And there’s no doubt, even today, in the Church there are men hanging out, women hanging out, they appear one way, but in time, give them a little bit more time, their colors will be manifest, because there’s a different thing going on in their heart.  They are what we call wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They look like sheep today, but eventually the teeth will be seen.  Sheep don’t have carnage on their mouths and these guys eventually do, and they gobble up sheep, they are against God ultimately and against the Church.  So, there’s this danger, when he speaks of their departure.

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