Unveiling the Antichrist

Digital-Fingerprint[1]Lessons from the Letters of 1,2 and 3 John: lesson 3 in 8/ 1 John 2:18-2:24

True Colors 1 John 2:18-21, Matthew 24:1-14

The Antichrist

Most Christians have heard something about such a person; most unbelievers have too for that matter. John speaks about two kinds of antichrists in his letter.  He says “the antichrist is coming” and he also says “even now many antichrists have come.”  We’ll take a look at both, but first let us understand who he is writing his   warning to.

 Dear Children

John, in his letter writes a warning to his readers whom he refers to as “children”.  He is not addressing the “fathers” (mature ones in the faith) or even the “young men” who are “strong in the Word.”  He addresses his “dear children.” These are new believers, those who look up to others for leadership and guidance.  John is warning them not to be led astray by teachers who preach a false message about Christ.  Many teachers at the time, (Gnostics) and even individuals peppered throughout the church did not live or believe according to God’s Word (even though they might even attend a church regularly). They invented and taught their own brand of   spirituality that replaced Christ with a man-centered religion. Does this sound like the American Church today?

A new Christian is often caught up in his/her “feelings” of being newly accepted into God’s family and filled with His Spirit, but they have not yet become strengthened by the truth of God’s Word (“young man”) or developed deep roots of faith through the trial and errors of walking with God (“Fathers”). This is why John warns the “Children” in the faith. They are most likely to lose their way by following untruths taught by the spiritually lost.

The Last Hour

John urges his “children” as a good shepherd to be cautious of false teachers and the spiritually undisciplined who might lead them astray. He refers to the times in which he lived as the “last hour” or as Jesus called it “the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3c) .

This is not unusual for any believer. For no one knows the day or the hour that the end of all things as we know it will come or when Jesus will return (Matthew 24::36, 42). We should live expectantly and look forward to that day, just as a bride looks forward to seeing her groom on their wedding day.  John had seen the crucifixion of Jesus, the martyrdom of many of his fellow Apostles, and the killing of many Christians—not to mention his own persecution.  Little did John know at the writing of his letter that he would later be exiled to the island of Patmos and receive a revelation of the true “last days” which would be far into the future.

 Those Who Left and Those Who Remain

True colors eventually show! John was sure that he was in the “last days” because many were falling away from the faith as Jesus exclaimed (Matthew 24:10-12). And so we continue to see this today.  How many have worshipped with us and now are not walking with God. How many T.V. evangelists have strayed?  John said “they never really belonged to us” or in other words, they never really belonged to Jesus.  Where did they go?  They rejected God’s truth for the applause of the world.  Some of these may have never really believed and only used Christ for personal gain.  Others will fall away for a time and then return after “the school of hard knocks”.  We may be fooled sometimes but God knows all and eventually…true colors will show.

Two Antichrists 1 John 2:22-23, Matthew 24:15,23-27,32,42-44, Daniel 9:27,12:8-13

  1. The first antichrist that John refers to is “The Antichrist” (The Beast) who is prophesied about all throughout scripture; a man who will literally be possessed by the devil and rule the world for a short time. Don’t think for one minute that he will come with devil horns and fangs. He will likely be politically correct, good looking, a great orator and a likeable leader…at least at first. He will set up an abomination” (by proclaiming himself to be God) in the newly built temple in Jerusalem after the first three and a half years of the tribulation period (1,290 days) and people will worship him.  Jews at this time will flee into the mountains (Matthew 24:16) and at the end of 45 days, according to the prophet Daniel (“the end of 1,335 days”) those that flee will be delivered; however, God will bring about the desolation of the world for all else who remain. (The Beast of Revelation 13:14-18)
  2. The second antichrist that John refers to is the “antichrists who have come.” These antichrists are anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. When a  person, a movie, a joke, a book, a song, a church, a pastor, a teacher, a parent or anyone who leads the masses denies the deity (the Godhood) of Christ he/ she is an antichrist.

Remain 1 John 2:24-29, 2 Peter 3:3-13, 17-18

John is clear with his “children” in his letter of love; he encourages them to “remain”. Remain in the truth, be led by God’s Word and His Spirit (“Anointing”)  The Apostle Peter also echoed John’s admonitions.  “Scoffers will come with their scoffing” he said, but the Lord will come just as He promised. Those who “remain” will not be put to shame.

The church (believers in Christ) has been forewarned. John and Peter did this so that we will not be carried away by the errors of others who claim to know God.  In this day and age of believing that “all roads lead to God” and that everything mysterious is acceptable to follow (i.e. angels, communication with the dead, astrology, etc.), or that God is god in any way one perceives him (or her) to be; the disciples make it clear.  Christ alone is true (John 14:6) and “no lie” comes from Him.  We are to remain in Him and grow in the grace (the expression of Christ’s love to others) and the knowledge (the study of the Bible) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everything else is a diversion.

In His Steps (Walking away from Abortion)

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Lessons from 1,2,and 3 John (2 of 8) John 2:3-17

The Most Dangerous Places in 2016

San Pedro Sula, Honduras is considered the most dangerous city in the world with 171.20 murders per 100,000 followed by Caracas, Venezuela, Acapulco, Mexico and Joao Pessoa, Brazil. The top 6 most dangerous U.S. cities are: 1. Detroit, Michigan, 2. Memphis, Tennessee, 3. Oakland, California, 4. Saint Louis, Missouri, 5. Birmingham, Alabama, 6. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Syria is the world’s most dangerous country in 2016 with death rates at 200,000 and another 1 to 1.5 million people injured.

All of these facts were compiled based on the number of murders and violent crimes per number of people in a population; however, with these stats in mind none of these ranks as the actual most “dangerous place to be in the world.” An American mother’s womb is that place. Over 3,000 babies are aborted everyday in the United States and a staggering 86 percent of all those abortions are done for the stated reason of convenience.

 Sunday, January 22nd, 1984 was first instituted as National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday by former president Ronald Reagan. It was specifically executed to address the American  government’s responsibility to uphold the Constitution relating to the protection of America’s “unborn children.”  Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973 America has aborted over 57 million unborn babies. Our American government  and its people have failed to protect what our scientist have labeled “life which begins at conception.” Today, our current administration continues to support Planned Parenthood with tax payers dollars.  An organization that is known to have harvested and sold the aborted parts of babies for profit.  Meanwhile, our president and Americans at large have the audacity to say “God bless America”.

 America has sinned, is sinning and continues to sin without remorse in regards to abortion. 

Politically agree or disagree, but a man’s arms are too short to box with God. Killing or abusing a life for  the convenience of another is Biblically called murder/ sin and God demands repentance from America and its individual people… and then, and only then does forgiveness come. (1 John 1:9) Denying sin makes God out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:10

 Do you believe the written word (the Bible) is God’s word? Do you do desire to do what it says ?  Or, does His Word have no place in your li1 John 1:8-10

In His Steps 1 John 2:3-6, James 1:22-25, 1 Corinthians 6:12

A classic book was written by Charles Sheldon titled IN HIS STEPS. Over the years, this book has inspired many Christians to live out their faith in Christ.  It was one of the tools that God used to call Terryl and I into ministry.  The premise of the book is what would happen if people actually asked “what would Jesus do” before acting in business, relationships, social activities and ministry.  What if one actually gave up ones rights to succumb to the righteousness of God?   The book follows several people’s lives who do just that.

The steps of Jesus are well laid out in scripture. He has made Himself quite clear  on most every issue of life.  We must decide to follow Him or self.

Ask yourself this question: Do your rights get in the way of His righteousness in your life?

Do you truly seek God’s direction in His Word so that you can walk in His steps? Or are you choosing your own steps and expecting Him to follow?  It is true that a Christian has freedom in the Lord. He is no longer condemned by his sin; however, as the Apostle Paul said in this regard:  “everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial…but I will not be mastered by anything.  But far be it that we choose not to be mastered by Christ!

 Old & New 1 John 2:7-11, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, John 15:12

The “old command” that John referred to was the Shema (“to heed”) of Deuteronomy 6:4. It was God’s expectation upon His people to “follow in His COMMANDS.” John was stating that God’s will had not changed for His people since the beginning.  The “new command”; however, was given by Christ, (“Love each other as I have loved you.”) it was the product of loving God as the Shema Instructed. Jesus didn’t just tell us to love others—He demonstrated that love as He walked upon this earth, and gave up His rights for our redemption. Loving “our brother” is a direct result of loving God. Giving up our “rights” to love another is “following in His steps.”

 Do Not Love The World 1 John 2:12-17

John addresses “children” of God, “fathers” of households, “children” of those fathers who follow their example and the “young men”  who will overcome evil because of their witness. To “love the world” is to love self over God—my rights over God’s righteousness, but to love God is to set an example for others in self-sacrificing love.  Will you walk in His steps?

 Abortion is clearly putting your stated rights over the right of another to live. If you are considering an abortion please seek biblical pastoral counsel before terminating the precious life of your child.  There are alternatives.  If you have already had an abortion there is forgiveness and healing as you confess your sin to Him. (1 John 1:9)  I would be my privilege to put you in touch with people that can truly help you.

The Cure

cure[1]Love Letters: Studies through the letters of the Apostle John:                       1 John 1:1-2:2

Louis Pasture “Man of Cures”

If one were to choose among the greatest benefactors of humanity, Louis pasture (1822-1895) would certainly rank at the top. The French chemist devoted his life to solving practical problems of industry, agriculture and medicine.  His discoveries have saved countless lives and created new technologies from which the world has profited.  Among his discoveries are the pasteurization process and ways of preventing silk worm diseases, anthrax, chicken Cholera and rabies.  His contributions developed the first vaccines.  Pasture was a scientific genius whose discoveries have extended all of our lives through disease prevention.

Louis Pasture had five children, three which died very young. Two of his children died of Typhoid Fever and another of a tumor.  These personal tragedies led to pasture’s drive to save people from such illnesses.  Although pasture could not save his own three children, he was able to save a nine year old boy.  Joseph Meister had been bitten by a rabid dog. Pasture was urged by the boy’s mother to treat him with his controversial new rabies vaccine method.  Ten days later, after multiple injections, the boy recovered and remained healthy. Doctors and scientist of his day ridiculed Mr. Pasture and labeled him a “mad scientist”; however, today he is considered a hero of modern medicine.

  • What if Mr. Pasture had kept his cures to himself for fear of public opinion?

Man’s Most Deadly Disease 1 John 1:1-7, James 1:15

Regardless of mankind’s “public opinion” on the issue of the world’s most deadly disease, only sin’s mortality rate is at 100%. Biblically speaking, the last days will introduce new strands of diseases that will wipe out populations (Luke 21:10-11, Revelation 6:8) Even now there are rapidly appearing and highly-resistant strains of diseases that Mr. Pasture had once been on the cutting edge of wiping out.  Since his discoveries, most diseases have become treatable with the ever-growing arsenal of antibiotic compounds, or with vaccines which had been ingeniously contrived to prevent or cure them with great efficiency, but time is changing things.  The medical world sites three main reasons for the revival of ancient diseases and the birth of new ones in the world today:  they are 1) expanding population, 2) the increase in world travel and 3) the excessive or incorrect use of drugs which has encouraged bacteria to mutate and gain resistance.  The Bible cites a greater reason…that is the increase of sin.  (Matt 24:12, James 1:15)

Where Mr. Pasture discovered cures to so many diseases, the Apostle John clearly stated the cure for sin (through Jesus Christ)! At the beginning of his letter her states:              “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim…”  John’s testimony of Christ and his remedy for sin was not a hypothesis or a theory; it was fact-based on his own life-changing experiences with Jesus.

The Apostle John is the author of five New Testament books: the gospel of John, the three short epistles that also bear his name (1, 2, and 3 John) and Revelation.  John was part of Jesus’ inner circle; and along with Peter and James, John was given the privilege of witnessing Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9)  His importance in the twelve grew as he matured, and after the crucifixion, he became a “pillar” in the Jerusalem church (Galatians 2:9), ministered with Peter (Acts 3:1, 4:13, 8:14) and finally was exiled to the Island of Patmos by the Romans where he received from God the majestic visions that comprise the book of Revelation.  In his early days with Jesus, at times, John acted rashly, recklessly, impetuously and aggressively.  (mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:51-54, Matthew 20:20-24) Yet in time, John would become the one who was entrusted by jesus to care for Mary in her old age (John 19:25-27) and to write the final letter to all churches for all time.  Revelation 1;1-2   His Epistles (letters) are filled with expressions of love; both God’s amazing love for His children and how His children are to love others.   In this opening passage John makes it clear:  1)that Jesus is life  2) that he (John ) has witnessed that truth, 3) that Jesus is truth light and  4) that only the blood of Christ is the remedy for sin and all are sick.

Sin Sick   1 John 1:8-2:2, Romans 6:23, 5:19-21

It is ludicrous for one bitten by a rabid animal to say, “I am not in need of a vaccine.” It is equally as insane for anyone to say that he or she is without sin and needs no cure.  Sin is also incurable and its result is death.  Romans 5:19-21.  Only the blood of Jesus is the purifying agent of a cure. 1 John 1:7

Gnosticism:  One of the most influential forms of false teaching that prevailed in John’s time was Gnosticism. The word comes from the Green “gnosis” meaning knowledge.  Many false teachers claimed to have secret knowledge which could enlighten a man and free his soul from physical bondage.  Sin was taught to be a figment of one’s imagination.  Denying sin was to be without it and therefore to engage in it without penalty.  Does this same form of thought prevail in our modern society today?  You bet it does!

Pass It On

Like Mr. Pasture we must pass on the cure so that others can be healed. Like john we must proclaim the truth of sin and the remedy in Christ so that others may be saved.  How can we watch them die when we have the cure?  That which you have heard, seen with your eyes and touched…proclaim it—the cure!

Saeed is Freed but America is on a Leash

1452078_388563361278035_927014203_n[1]Today I am praising God that Iran has freed four innocent U.S. citizens who have been held as their prisoners., including Pastor Saeed Abendini whom we have been praying for diligently for three years. A fifth man — described as a recently detained student — was also separately released. I am not praising God that this freeing occurred because of a “swap”. America has released 7 terrorists to Iran in this swap, and let us not forget that this is the second batch of terrorist that Obama has released in such a “swap”.  Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, currently under investigation for being a U.S. traitor, was released from captivity at  the release of five Taliban prisoners kept at Guantanamo Bay – all of them were either senior Taliban figures or Taliban officials with connections to Taliban leaders, and all labeled by the Pentagon as highly dangerous to the security of the U.S. and its allies. I am also not praising God for a president and an administration that made a deal with Iran that pays them 150 billion dollars and gives them free reign to monitor their own nuclear facilities.  Recently, let us not forget, that ten U.S. Marines were also held at gunpoint and held for 15 hours by Iranian soldiers before they were released after an apology by Secretary of State Kerry. It has been determined that the boats drifted into their waters because of engine trouble.

While president Obama touts that “the state of the Union has never been stronger” the state of America has never looked so weak internationally. It is evident that our country no longer leads the free world. We now appear to be on the leash of tyrants. It is likely that more hostages will be taken from America by terrorists in the future since the return rate is so good. The old idiom will prove true once again in reference to these devilish dealings: “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”.

Praise God for Pastor Saeed’s release…but God help America.

Wise Men Still Seek Him 2016

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Without Directions   (Matthew 2:1-12)

Have you ever traveled somewhere unknown without following the directions? We take for granted that a pilot knows where to fly, a captain knows where to sail an engineer knows which direction to take on the train tracks.  They have studied for years to follow such directions, but what about you?  Do you always follow the directions that have been tried and true?  I remember many times in my life when I suffered for not following directions.  Others suffered too; that is to say those who were following me.

Over 2,000 years ago three (or more) magi (mystic Astrologers) from the East charted their directions carefully by studying ancient scriptures, star charts and land maps. These “wise men”, as they are traditionally called, followed their directions so carefully that after months of travel came directly “to the house” where “the child” Jesus was.  After their visit they continued to carefully follow additional directions that God gave them in a dream as they took another route home to avoid King Herod.

EPHIPHANY (The Word)

The word epiphany defined is a sudden realization: a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence, or as in the case of the wise men, the appearance of God:  the manifestation of a divine being.

EPIPHANY (The Celebration)

Epiphany is the celebration of God revealing His “directions” to man. It is celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 6 each year in the church.  The official Christmas season, popularly known as either Christmastide or the Twelve Days of Christmas, extends from the anniversary of Christ’s birth on December 25 to the feast of Epiphany on January 6.  Epiphany has been known to have been observed earlier than AD 194, is older than the celebration of Christmas itself.  Epiphany serves as a great reminder, in each new year, that God desires to direct our lives supernaturally.  If we choose to listen.

BUMPS AND DETOURS IN THE ROAD

The journey (beautifully illustrated in the movie The Nativity) of the wise men was not a quick or an easy one. Our daily journey in following Christ is not without bumps and detours either.  To get to any worthwhile destination takes perseverance and determination.  No wonder the word disciple stems from the root word discipline.  Are we disciplined as we follow Christ in life?

The wise men had King Herod as their detour to visit the Christ child. Who is your detour as you seek Jesus.  Perhaps you too need to find “another route” to avoid the temptations that would pull you away from following Christ in this new year.

BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS: Joshua 1:7-9, 5:113-6:6, 12-16, 20

 The Bible is full of epiphanies. God has always offered His directions to people who would heed them.  Joshua was one such man.  He was the general of an army dwarfed by the task of leading God’s people into the promised land.  His success was not guaranteed unconditionally.  His success, like our success in life, was held together by carefully following God’s directions.  (see also James 1:22-25, 2:18-20) God was clear to Joshua; he would be prosperous and successful as he followed God’s Word.

Soon Joshua was tested in regards to this truth. He found himself up against the huge and sinful fortified city of Jericho, and then came an epiphany.  An angel told him that god had delivered the city into his hands if he would only be strong and courageous and do all that the Lord commanded.  There was no doubt jeers and mocking as Joshua led his army in 13 endless circles around the walled city of Jericho, but on that final round the people who were silent gave a shout at his command and the walls came tumbling down just as the Lord promised.  (Note:  actually, the walls blew outward.  Archeologist discovered that the walls of Jericho were not crushed inward from an outside attack.  They fell outward as if the attack came from within its own walls.)

 KINGS WILL BOW Philippians 2:9-11, Matthew 6:33, 7;7-8

In today’s story we learned about 4 kings. Traditionally three bowed before Christ and brought gifts and one attempted to rise above Him and destroy Him.  Little did Herod know that, even in his resistance of Christ, he was fulfilling prophecy that proved His Lordship.  (Matthew 2:13-18)  The three kings brought gifts to Jesus: Gold to signify His kingship, Frankincense to signify His priesthood, and Myrrh to signify Him as Savior and Lord.  Their greatest gift was their individual worship.

 No matter what our choice may be in this new year, God’s Word assures us that every knee will one day bow to Him and confess that he is Lord. Will you persevere like the three wise men and be determined like Joshua to follow God’s directions carefully; or will you, like Herod, attempt to be king of your own destiny?  Seeking God first will insure the best for you and those who follow your lead.  My advice:  “Be strong and courageous and be careful to obey.”  Wise men (and women) still seek Him.