WRITTEN THINGS AND SEDUCERS,
THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST
AND THE COMING ANTICHRIST
By REV. W. S. HOTTEL
"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you," I John 2:26.
Things written are for our assurance. Only divine revelation can give true light and bring assurance. 'Man's ideas are always confusing and misleading. Faith is based upon revelation and not upon speculation. In order for our assurance to be secure and assuring it must have a good foundation. Faith in itself is of no value it it is based on an unreliable and rotten foundation. Convictions may simply be head-strongness and arrogance if not based upon a principle of divine truth.
"These things have I written," as here found have to do with a divine revelation concerning false-teachers and false teaching. We are living in the days of "seducers" and "seduction," or :as otherwise known "strong delusion" (II. Thess. 2:9-11).; God has not left us in the dark as to either of these. We may know the true from the false teacher, we may know the truth from satari's lie. The nature and character of them both have been' vividly set forth in the Scriptures.
New Theology Dreams
The world is full of religious dreams, vague and visionary pictures of some sort of religious fancies. The apostles of the new gospel and the new theology have been trying hard tor a long time already to do away with the supernatural Christ. They explain the New Testament story concerning Christ on merely human and natural lines. To them the story of Christ is but a myth, and the incidents recorded concerning His life are merely a dream of a few sentimental persons. What of the eternal existence of the Christ? Say they, "He had none." To these "filthy dreamers," Jude 1:8, and men of "fables," II Tim. 4:4; Christ is purely an ideal. These free-thinkers are trying their utmost to eliminate the supernatural. They are seeking to rob creation of its creator and the Bible of its divine author and authority. Already have they abandoned the simple preaching of Christ and His cross as the only means of salvation and peace, and the preaching of the Bible as a rule of life and conduct. Thus they are: drifting with the tide which is atheistic, materialistic, humanitarianistic and socialistic. These principles no doubt have already saturated to a great extent the labor movements of this country.
We are not loath in admitting that we might as well get ourselves ready to say farewell to society and government, such as this present age knows. However to us who have the Spirit of God dwelling and ruling in us these are only confirming evidences of the truth. These things call us to a more close walk with our Lord, and are signs, to us of the advent of Him who said to His own, "I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am ye may be also," John14:3. But what of the schemes of these humanitarians? Will they eventually succeed as they claim they will? They apparently succeed for awhile, but their success is by no means permanent. The best platforms and the highest ideals they can frame and adopt, will not change the human heart. Human nature is utterly corrupt and selfish. The best that can be said about the best of man in himself is all said in a few words, namely "an absolute failure."
The Antichrist Denies the Christ
These seducers are elsewhere referred to as "antichrists" (I John 2:18). Antichrist, means against Christ. The Great word "anti christos" (Dr. Strong), means an opponent of the Messiah. There are already many anti-christs, and the spirit of antichrist is at present at work.
There are hosts of evil headed by Satan (Eph. 6:12). Satan was one of God's highest creatures, who was lifted up through pride and fell (Ezek. 28:12-19; John 8:44; Is. 14: 12-14), and with him also a host of angels (Jude 1:6; II Peter 2:4). Hence he organized a kingdom of evil which is in direct opposition to Christ. Of this kingdom he himself is prince (Eph. 2:2; John 12:31; I John 5:19 R. V.). In the days of Christ's, earthly life he assailed Him to His overthrow in the wilderness, where Christ the second Adam, the head of the new and heavenly race, was tested as the first Adam was in the garden of Eden (Matt. 4; Gen. 3); but Christ overcame him. The antichrist denies the coming of Christ in the flesh. This denial is three-fold, namely, past, that Christ was in the flesh; present, that Christ is in the flesh; future, that Christ will again return in the flesh. The supreme mark of all denial is the incarnation of Christ. But the incarnation is a fact of Scripture and he who denies this fact denies the Scriptures, and "The Christ."
Christ God in Flesh
John in his gospel tells us, "In the 'beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, * * * * full of grace and truth," John 1:1,14. Nothing can be more plain and definite than this. The Greek word for the word "Word" used here is, Logos (Dr. Strong), and means as Dr. Strong also says, something said including the thought as well as the divine expression. The same word is often used in referring to the spoken Word (Luke 8:11,12,13,15,21; 10:39; 11:28; 24:19; John 2:22; 4:41; 5:24; 5:38; 8:31, 37,43; 17: 6) as also in the Acts and Epistles where the Word of God is referred to. The written and the living Word are closely identified. Just as a word is the expression of a thought, so the "Word" is the expression of the thought and concept of God. Christ incarnate,—the "Word" is the full and exact expression of God the eternal (Heb. 1:3). He was the embodiment of all the treasures of divine wisdom, knowledge and power (I Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:2,3). He was the power by which was effected the creation of the universe, as well as the one for whom all things were made, and by whom all things consist (Col. 1:15,17; John 1:3).
The "Word's — God "tabernacled among us" in a tent of flesh and blood. He laid aside His glory (John 17:5), that is the outward and visible manifestation of the Godhead (Phil. 2:6,7). He did not lay aside His deity but His outer glory. To say that He laid aside His divinity is to rob our Redeemer of His power, redemption of its certainty and blessing, and to say what the Word of God nowhere even hints at. His very being, person, Word and work tell forth His deity. It He was only human then He had His 'beginning at His birth, and consequently could not have had an eternal existence. If He was not eternal and divine, if He was not "God manifest in the flesh," I Tim. 3:16, how could He have laid aside anything at all? You cannot lay aside what you do not possess. But He was the "Word," — the eternal expression of God, and He "made Himself of no reputation," lit- of His outward glory and majesty, retaining both His divine nature and attributes; and "took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men," Phil. 2:7. Thus truly the "Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," John 1:14. Christ among men was God the Eternal, Almighty and Faithful one among men.
Christ the Anointed
Let us briefly notice one other Scripture in this connection while passing by. One of the names given to the Son of God, is the name "Christ," and this is of peculiar significance. We remember that this is a Hebrew name. Dr. Strong in his Greek dictionary tells us that the original word for Christ is Christos, and means the anointed. This answers minutely to the Old Testament prophecies, — the prophecies concerning prophet, priest and king. In the Old Testament Scriptures God predicts the raising up of a prophet from among Israel (Deut. 18:15,19), the future office work of a priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4) and the birth and reign of a future king over the house of Israel (II Sam. 7:7,10; Is. 9:6,7).
When these entered upon their office work, they were anointed with oil, which anointing was typical as well as suggestive (I Kings 19:36; Exod. 29:7: I Sam. 16:13). They were thereby officially dedicated to their office. This anointing in a sense and to a certain measure meant authority as well as efficiency. In it lay a certain measure of practical qualification.
They were from henceforth honored and protected by God In a special way. They were God's servants to His people. So also was Christ anointed with the Holy Ghost, at His baptism by John in the Jordan (Matt. 3: 16; Mark 1:10,11; Luke 3:21,22). Here He became officially "the Christ." He was here dedicated to His threefold office, that of prophet, priest and king, and was empowered by the anointing, the Holy Ghost, to fully fulfil His mission and perform His work. From henceforth He began to preach and perform miracles. He preached no sermon, and wrought no miracle, until He had 'been publicly acknowledged and officially anointed by God.
Although He was rejected and crucified by His own people. He nevertheless answered to both the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, and was a man "approved of God," Acts 2:22. There will be another absolute rejection of Christ, and usurping of the throne of the world by another, — the antichrist; which rejection is now going on in mystery (II Tim. 3:1,5; 3:8,10; Rev. 3:14,18; Gen. 3: 5), and will finally terminate in the full and complete deification of man (Rev. 13:18).
We have already stated the fact that the Greek word for antichrist is "antichristos," and means an opponent of the Messiah. The Apostle John in his epistles speaks of "many antichrists" already being, and also of the "spirit of antichrist" as already operating (I John 2:18; 4:3). The two are not divorced from each other, but are cooperating with each other in their operations. Just as the true believer is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, —the Spirit of God, of Christ and of the truth; so these antichrists are indwelled by the spirit of antichrist, satan and the lie (I John 2: 21). The "many antichrists" are acting under the direction of, and are inspired and empowered by the "spirit of antichrist."
Thus it is easily seen that the present operations of the antichrist are as yet divided into many channels, while however the object in view as well as the underlying purpose are a unit. There are at present "many anti-christs" inspired by the "spirit of antichrist," which will finally and ultimately terminate in one antichrist.
The Antichrist a Person
The final antichrist will be an individual — a person. He will not be a system whether civil or ecclesiastical, but will marshal and combine all systems and be the one supreme legislator and director. He is called by Paul in Second Thessalonians two, the "man of sin," that is the final and full incarnation of all sin. He will be the full incarnation and manifestation of all sin, just like Christ was the full expression and manifestation of God in the flesh (John 1:1-14; Heb. 1:3). All sin, which is "the transgression of the law," I John. 3:4, will find its ultimate fulness in him. Paul also in this same chapter calls him the "son of perdition." There is something very marvelous about this name, that is the fact that the very betrayer of the Son of God was called by Christ by this identical name (John 17:12). It may be possible for satan to resurrect Judas from the dead for this very purpose. He is the great imitator and counterfeited anyhow; and God raised Christ from the dead as a proof of His sonship and deity (Rom. 1:4), so satan may also imitate even this miracle, for it is by the miracles and wonders he performs that he deceives the nations of the earth (II Thess. 2:9,12; Rev. 13). But notice this, — his very name suggests his destiny as well as his character. "Son of perdition," —that is as the Greek word "apoleia" (Dr. Strong), implies or means, ruin, loss, and destruction. The final destiny is physical, spiritual and eternal ruin and destruction. The same word is used in Philippians 1:28; First Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; Second Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:8,11. The Apostle likewise assures us that Christ will consume him with the spirit of His mouth, and "shall destroy" him with the brightness of His coming,—His presence (II Thess. 2:8).
Once more he is called by Paul in this same chapter, that "wicked," or "lawless one." All these names imply and suggest individuality and personality, as well as his very character, and destiny. He will be the absolute final personification of all sin, wickedness and anarchism. He will be a defiant despot, an ignorer of all restraint, law and order, the full expression of the present day liberality, broadness, denial of truth and anarchy.
The Spirit of Antichrist Works Through Human Teachers
So then 'because the "spirit of antichrist" is already at work, the Apostle warns us against him saying, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world," I John 4:1. The exhorta-tion plainly is that we shall prove the teachers by the spirit of their teaching. For just as the Holy Spirit works through human instrumentality, so does the "spirit of anti-Christ." He works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2), while the Spirit of God works in and through those who obey the truth. The Spirit of God is definitely said to speak of Christ, to take the things of Christ and reveal them unto the believer, and to guide the believer into all truth (John 16:13-15): He constantly honors and lifts up Christ and operates through the truth. The truth is; the only thing He: honors,— the written being the voice of the Spirit. The sum and substance of the written Word is the living Christ, who Himself is the Word (John 1:1-14) as well as the truth (John 14:6). So then: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world," I John 4:2, 3. A positive mark of distinction between the spirit of truth and of error, as noted in the teachers, is altogether the crowd that hears them. The world loves its own and likewise hears them. Those who are of God speak the truth of God, and all those who are of God will hear them (I John 4:5,6).
The "spirit of antichrist" through his teachers speaks of the world; he is humanitarianistic and materialistic, and of course the world hears them. The test therefore to be applied to them is the spirit of their confession. The Holy Spirit always confesseth Christ and the truth. The "spirit of anti-christ" honors man, lifts up worldly wisdom, magnifies the material, —the visible and vanishing; and minifies the truth and rejects the deity of Christ, as well as His present, incarnation in human lives and His coming again in flesh. He is not the pope of Rome as many would have us believe. This can be easily proven. The pope of Rome gets his power not by denying Christ and the Father, but by pretending to be the true vicar of Christ. Then again there is a plurality of popes while the antichrist will be one person. All heads and leaders of false and deceptive religious systems are distinctly inspired and controlled by the "spirit of antichrist," and will ultimately bow at the shrine of this satan's masterpiece of deception, satan's instrument of incarnation, and will obey his dictates and mandates. The antichrist will deny both the Father and the Son (I John 2:2), and will exalt himself to the very place and throne of God (II Thess. 2:4). This is the mystery of iniquity that is already working (II Thess. 2:7,8), the spirit of the "lawless one" operating. This "mystery of iniquity," "the spirit of the antichrist," the "lawless one" is plainly seen in communism, socialism, altruism, materialism, humanitarianism and atheism so rampant in this our day, which is a sign of the times.
The Antichrist in Figures
The future, final antichrist is variously pictured in the Scriptures, He is described under figures in prophecy denoting his character, method of operations as well as his attitude toward God, His truth and His people. The most noted of these figures possibly is a "little horn," spoken of by the prophet Daniel. The first mention made in Daniel of this "little horn" is in chapter 7 verse 8; where Daniel undoubtedly speaks of the end of Gentile world dominion. A horn in the Scriptures is a notable type of power, and in Daniel refers to a king. The "little horn" (king) in chapter 7 verse 8, plucks up by the roots, three of the other ten horns (kings). This plucking up by the roots suggests their complete subdual, so that as Scofield says, "The separate identity of their kingdoms is destroyed." The "ten horns" are evidently suggestive of the ten kings of the Roman empire, which correspond with Daniel's vision of the ten toes in chapter 2. In both visions it is evident that the next thing following these kingdoms and kings is, the throne of the heavens is set up, and the Ancient of days takes into his hands the government of the world. In chapter 2, the vision deteriorates from the "head of gold" (vs. 38) to a mixture of part iron and part clay. Iron stands for strength while clay stands for that which is rather fickle and easily moulded. This well compares with the popular sentiment, and loud heralded gospel in politics, "a government for the people and by the people." This caters to the popular will of the people and constitutes the whole affair very fickle. This paves the way and prepares the kingdoms of the world for the reign of the antichrist, the "little horn" of Daniel 7:8. How remarkable that following the part mixture of iron and clay in chapter 2; and the rise and rule of the "little horn" in chapter 7:8; immediately the kingdom of heaven is set up and all other kingdoms are subdued.
Here we have a marked sign of the nearness of Christ's coming, who is by Daniel called the "Ancient of days," Dan. 7:9, and the "stone cut put of the mountains without hands," Dan. 2:45. In Daniel 7:25 we note that the distinguishing feature of the "little horn" (king) is hatred of God and of the saints. He shall speak great swelling words against God (see also Rev. 13:1-6). The antichrist will deny both the Father and the Son (I John 2:22).
In Daniel 8:9 we read of another "little horn" which Scofield says refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, who B. C. 175, profaned the temple and terribly persecuted the Jews. This "little horn" with its record then belongs to history; while the "little horn" of Daniel 7, belongs to prophecy. The first one belongs to past events; while the second one belongs to future events. But this "little horn” (Antiochus) is also a very marked type of the coming antichrist as is plainly evident from verses 24, 25 of chapter 8. He is designated here as wise, shrewd, crafty, self-inflated, murderous and antagonistic to the "Prince of princes" (Christ). The antichrist ts also spoken of in Daniel as the "prince" associated with the "abomination" (Dan. 9:26,27), and especially with the self-willed king in Daniel 11:36-45. This is indeed a remarkable portrait of the antichrist, whom Paul calls the "man of sin," the "lawless one" (II Thess. 2), and John the "beast" (Rev. 18). Note here his marked characteristics:
(1) Lawless,—for he "shall do according to his will." He will be a full fledged anarchist. (2) Self-inflated,—for "he shall exalt himself." (3) Self-assuming,—for he shall "magnify him-self above every god." (4) Blasphemous,— for he "shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods." He shall be the arch enemy of God and utter bold and blasphemous sentences against the name and character of God. (5) He is evidently a Jew,—for he shall not "regard the God of his fathers." (6) He has a great disregard for Christ,—for he shall not regard the "desire of women," which plainly was Christ the "Anointed," for as soon as man had sinned and fell, God promised that the "seed of the woman" shall bruise the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). This was God's promise of a future deliverer and redeemer, and undoubtedly many a mother in Israel had the desire in her heart to give birth to the child "Emmanuel" (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). (7) He will be a rationalist and markedly possessed by socialistic principles,—for he "shall honor the God of forces" and shall "divide the land for gain." He shall Indeed be a great king, a cruel despot and a great financier.
In Revelation chapter 13, the antichrist is described as the "beast." In this chapter we read of two "beasts," the first rising up out of the sea and the second one out of the earth. The sea in Scripture invariably stands for the nations of the earth, so the first beast coming out of the sea must be some great world power, who according to the description, has no real understanding of God. And verily the very name used, "beast," denotes this. Then too this "beast" is a suggestive combination. The leopard, bear, and lion, three kingly beasts, form this one "beast." Then too this beast is empowered by the dragon. Thus we see a combination of all that is beastly and brutal, invested with satanic power and wickedness.
The End of Modern Civilization
This "beast," whose one head was wounded as it were to death; and was now healed, possibly stands for some interrupted power, and very probably Rome. All that follows the rise and reign of this beast, is hatred to God, His people (here Israel) and devil worship. This "beast" seems to be a fair imitation of Him who "spake as never man spake," and in it satan at last finds one willing to take the kingdoms Christ refused (Matt. 4:8-10). All earth dwellers shall worship him; thus the end of our boasted civilization and loud lauded "progress" will be devil worship. This will be a time of severe trial to the elect Jews (Matt. 24:22).
The "beast" out of the earth follows this beast, and works in harmony with it, causing all the earth dwellers to worship the first beast. Here is all "deceivableness of unrighteousness" with lying signs and wonders; here is the final "strong delusion,"—the antichrist —in whom terminate all seducers, and seductions (II Thess. 2:9,12). This "beast" is the coming "man of sin," and his last attempt to take the place of God. Here is the worst form of idolatry ever practiced; here is the final confederacy of human powers, the heading up of man's ingenuity and wisdom, which as James tells us is degenerating in its progress; it being "earthly, sensual and devilish," James 3:15. This "beast" is the final exaltation of the "God of forces," Dan. 11:38; the god of the scientist, free thinker, philosopher, spiritualist, socialist and of the unbelieving theologian and creed worshiper. In this "beast" we find the final wind up of trades unions, combines and trusts; the full manifestation of anarchy and hatred to God, His people and His Word. Here we see the full and final development of evil; the harvest of iniquity; the absolute deification of man and nullification of God. All this means to the earth dwellers a terrible time of trouble, and to Israel the "great tribulation."
The signs of the presence and manifestation of the "little horn" of Daniel, and of the "beast" of Revelation 13, are plainly evident in the spirit of communism, socialism, free thought, atheism and anarchism in the political world; and the spirit of liberality, higher criticism and bold rejection of the truth in the religious world.
Satan the god of this world is rapidly uniting his forces and speedily hastening on to his final goal, that of being the universal and absolute sovereign of this earth.
The Antichrist Not Manifested Until the Church is Removed
The antichrist is yet future and will not be manifested until the Church is taken out of the way. "Our gathering together unto Him," II Thess. 2:1, refers to the rapture of the Church, as we have it revealed unto us by Paul through the Spirit in First Thessalonians 4:15-17. The Church is thus destined to be "caught up—to meet Him in the air," before the "day of the Lord" will be realized on the earth. Paul tells us that there is a "hinderer" in the earth who must first be removed before that "man of sin" can be revealed (II Thess. 2:6, 7). This evidently is the Holy Spirit — a person — "He," who is now in the world gathering out the Church and preparing it for the coming of her Lord. While here He likewise through the Church "reproves the world of sin," John 16:8. The true Church certainly shall escape the awful reign of this fierce despot, with its accompanying tribulation. Christ tells the angel of the Church at Philadelphia, "Because thou hast
kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the tribulation the great, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth," Rev. 3:10. With this agree also the words of Christ in Luke 21:36, where He tells His disciples: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." We have a blessed and distinct picture of this truth in the removal of Enoch by translation, before the flood came upon sinful man on the earth (Gen. 5 and 6). Enoch was with his God with whom he walked while sinful, wicked men faced the judgment of God, and perished with a flood. As soon as the true Church through which the Spirit now works, is caught away to meet her Lord, that "wicked" shall be revealed (II Thess. 2:8).
The Church is positively said by the Lord to be the "salt of the earth," meaning that through her presence and influence here the earth,—society, shall be kept from absolute corruption. So then when the salt is removed, the "hinderer" is removed, the preserver is gone and the inevitable is corruption, — absolute and utter. The Lord also says of His own, that they are "the light of the world," and when the light is removed, gross darkness must follow (Matt. 5:13,14; Phil. 2:15). As soon as the true Church is thus removed, and the work of the Holy Spirit through it ceases in the world, an apostate church, a godless world and the unbelieving Jews will receive the antichrist.
The Antichrist and the Great Delusion
The Word of God is very plain and definite as to this. The Spirit in describing the nature of his operations and the secret of his marvelous success, says "Even him, whose coming is after the working of satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness," II Thess. 2:9-12. Christ came in His Father's name and the Jews received Him not, but told them that "if another shall come in His own name, him ye will receive," John 5:43. He will exalt himself and sit in the temple of God and be worshiped as God. Israel having been restored to their own land, but in unbelief, will accept him and make a covenant with him. They said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves," Is. 28:15. But God tells them through the prophet that He will sweep away their refuge of lies and annul their agreement with hell. The antichrist will break his covenant with them and thus will be ushered in the great tribulation. These days will be Jacob's greatest trouble, a time of unparelleled trouble. God in His mercy will shorten them or else no flesh should be saved. Then they will pray in earnest "Thy kingdom come." Then Israel will look for their Messiah, when they realize that they have been deceived by the antichrist.
When Christ returns for their deliverance, He will destroy the antichrist. Paul says: "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming," II Thess. 2:8. The Greek word for the word consume is analisko and means to use up. The Greek word for the word destroy is katargoe and means to render useless, idle, to do away. So we may paraphrase the above verse as follows: "Whom the Lord shall use up with the spirit of His mouth, and shall render useless, idle and do away with the brightness of His coming." The same word is used by Paul in speaking of the end of the devil in Hebrews 2:14, and in reference to the belly and meats in First Corinthians 6:13. When Christ comes in His glory to take unto Himself the kingdom, with His saints who shall reign with Him on the earth, "he shall come to his end and none shall help him," Dan. 11:45. Surely the plans of satan shall be defeated in God's own time, and righteousness and truth will triumph and prosper. The final place of the antichrist will be the "lake of fire," Rev. 19:20. All things are moving along according to God's designing. He directs the march of providences and overrules all human affairs to meet His ulti-mate end. All of God's plan centers in Christ and He will be the final victor, this earth's future king and ruler, the one who will finally bring all things to their lasting and eternal state and condition.