Prof. Barry Gritters
What is Antichrist? In these last days, this ought to
be a burning question. Who is the Antichrist? How can a lover of
Christ identify him? What will he look like? How will he behave? Where
will his headquarters be located?
If you are expecting here an identification of a man
or men who are Antichrist, you will be disappointed. If you are
expecting a prediction as to how many years before Antichrist arises,
you will not find it here. We hope to be faithful to the Reformed
tradition of sober exegesis of God's Word and careful maintenance of the
Reformed faith. (Besides, a desire to identify the Antichrist has often
sidetracked the church from the important present calling she has
regarding Antichrist's spirit. To see what we mean by this, read
on to the end.)
The confessions of Reformed churches say very little
about Antichrist. Except for passing references, one finds very little
on eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) in the Reformed
confessions, and nothing in The Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg
Catechism, Belgic Confession and Canons of Dordt) about
Antichrist. This is not due to lack of firm positions on eschatology at
the time the confessions were written (between AD 1563 and 1619) but to
this, that eschatology was not one of the vital issues of the
Nevertheless, the Reformers themselves had a good
deal to say about Antichrist, not systematically, but throughout the
whole of their writings. A treatise of Martin Luther written shortly
before his death in 1546 was entitled, "Against the Roman Papacy; an
Institution of the Devil." Luther began the holy tirade thus: "The Most
Hellish Father, Saint Paul III, in his supposed capacity as the bishop
of the Roman church ..." (Luther's Works [Fortress Press], vol.
41, p. 263). In that treatise he says that the pope is "the head of the
accursed church of all the worst scoundrels on earth, a vicar of the
devil, an enemy of God, an adversary of Christ, a destroyer of Christ's
churches, a teacher of lies ... a brothel-keeper over all
brothel-keepers and all vermin, even that which cannot be named; an
Antichrist ..." (Ibid., pp. 357-358).
In Calvin's treatise of 1544 entitled "The Necessity
of Reforming the Church" (Selected Works of John Calvin, vol. 1,
part 1, Tracts [Baker, 1983]), Calvin says, "I deny that See [i.e., the
Roman Catholic's throne of authority; BLG] to be Apostolical, wherein
nought is seen but a shocking apostasy—I deny him to be the Vicar of
Christ, who, in furiously persecuting the gospel, demonstrates by his
conduct that he is Antichrist ..." (pp. 219-220).
The Westminster Confession, Presbyterian creed
of the next century, includes an article in which it boldly identifies
the pope as Antichrist.
There is no other head of the church but the Lord
Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof;
but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition that
exalteth himself in the church against Christ and all that is called
As heirs of the Reformation and as those told to
discern the signs of the times, we, too, are concerned with the
Antichrist. We will consider, then, Antichrist's identity, his purpose
and method, our calling to oppose him, and his certain destruction.
Scripture teaches Antichrist to be a political,
religious, individual, yet to come in the future (as of this writing),
who is opposed to God and God's Christ and God's church. Although the
only places in Scripture the name Antichrist is used are I and II John
(I John 2:18, 22; 4:3,
II John 7), the Bible is replete with instruction regarding the
reality we call Antichrist. The key passages are
Daniel 7-8, 11;
II Thessalonians 2; and
Revelation 13, 17 and 18—where Antichrist is referred to as a beast,
a little horn, a false Christ, that wicked one, and the man of sin.
Antichrist: A False Christ
Antichrist's name gives us indication of what he is.
He is Antichrist As every Jew knows, the name Christ is
simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, whom the Jews
expected to come in God's name to save them. The Messiah, or Christ, is
the one anointed by God and qualified to carry out a certain work in
God's name. Christ's work is to redeem God's people from sin and death
by His own death, and to renew God's creation as a creation of
righteousness and peace. The man Jesus of Nazareth (died circa AD 33) is
this Christ. He is God's anointed, the servant of Jehovah. He is
qualified to do the work of redeeming God's people and renewing
creation. The confession of the church down through the ages is, "Jesus
is the Christ."
Antichrist is a false Christ, according to
Matthew 24:24. He claims to be anointed by God with the Holy Spirit
and claims to be qualified to do the work in God's name of redeeming
God's people and renewing the creation. But he is not. He is a liar. His
claims are false. He is a false Christ.
Antichrist: Opposed to Christ and to God
A little word study may help to understand the prefix
"anti" in the name Antichrist. Just as antivenom is given to counteract
the venom of a snake bite, and antiseptic is used against infection, so
Antichrist is against, is opposed to, Jesus Christ. This tells us the
essence of what Antichrist is: he is opposition to God's Christ. He
is opposition to Christ personally; he is against Christ's Church; he is
against Christ's Word, Holy Scripture. Furthermore, because Christ's
mission is to show the name of Jehovah God to men by showing Himself to
John 14:8-9 and
Revelation 13:6), Antichrist is opposed to God Himself.
So, although the Antichrist will leave the impression
that his motivating force is love, concern for humanity, and pity for
the oppressed, what drives Antichrist is not love but hatred. The one
motivating force in his life is opposition to Jesus Christ, opposition
to all that He stands for, and to all that stand for Him.
Antichrist: In Place of Christ
The name Antichrist also indicates
substitution. Antichrist opposes Jesus in order to supplant Him, to take
His place as Christ. Although the English language does not often use
the prefix "anti" to mean substitution, it is a common use of the
preposition in the Greek language. When Scripture says that Jesus died
"for His people," one of the prepositions used is anti
indicating that He died as a substitute for His people. This is the
secondary meaning of the preposition anti. Antichrist purposes
to be "in the place of," or "a substitute for" Jesus the Christ.
II Thessalonians 2 points out how Antichrist comes as an impostor of
the Christ from God, and how there is a striking outward similarity
between Antichrist and Christ. Will Jesus Christ be revealed some day?
So will Antichrist (vv. 3, 8). Will Christ be in God's temple?
Antichrist will sit there also (v. 4). Is Christ God? Antichrist will
claim to be (v. 4). Did Christ support His claim to be God with signs
and wonders? Antichrist, too, will perform signs and wonders (v. 9).
Christ has a kingdom; so will Antichrist. Christ comes by the power of
the Spirit; Antichrist will come by the power of a spirit, who is the
Does it surprise anyone, then, that in the Middle
Ages Antichrist was called the "ape of Christ?" He comes in the place
of Christ, making himself out to be Christ. In every way
mimicking Christ, Antichrist will propose to be Christ. Antichrist is
Satan's counterpart to Christ. Jesus was God's choice to establish His
kingdom, redeem His people, renew creation; Antichrist is Satan's choice
to establish his kingdom, gather in as many people as he can, and
subject all to himself. All of God's plan hinges on the works of Jesus,
the Christ; all of Satan's plans hinge on the working and success of
Antichrist: An Individual Person
Although there is difference of opinion among
Reformed students of Scripture regarding this, it is not difficult to
see why many believe that Antichrist will be one man.
A reality that stands opposed to Jesus, but also that
claims to be the Christ, the anointed of God, must be a man as Christ
was a man, a man in whom they put their trust, a man to whom the people
can look for deliverance from their miseries. How can something claim to
be Jesus, the man, and not be a man himself? Supporting this logic,
II Thessalonians 2 seems to make this plain. Antichrist is "that man
of sin" and "the son of perdition" (v. 3); he shows "himself that he is
God" (v. 4); he is "that Wicked [one]" (v. 8).
Antichrist will be a definite individual, a
particular human being. A single individual of outstanding ability and
extraordinary power will arise, who is opposed to Jesus Christ and
claims to be the Christ.
It is significant that Antichrist will be a man.
Antichrist will not be some strange creature, unrecognisable to you and
me, some foreigner, a man from Mars or another solar system. Antichrist
will not be a stranger to humanity. Indeed, he will be the final and
full development of man, of the human race. You will know him well, for
his nature will be your nature. Man always has and always will claim
equality and identity with God (witness the insane ravings of the
Shirley MacLaines and others today). This man's claims will be
believable; he will be one of us.
Antichrist: A Political Power
Revelation 13 gives further instruction about Antichrist, teaching
that his kingdom will be both a political and an ecclesiastical empire.
The vision of
Revelation 13 must be read in the light of
Revelation 12, where the dragon cast out of heaven, identified as
the devil and Satan, pursues the woman (who represents the church of
Christ) in the new dispensation.
The dragon is angry because the woman's man-child,
Jesus Christ, is caught up into heaven before the dragon can devour him.
Now he spits his poisonous black bile on the woman, persecuting her,
making war with her seed! He hates and tries to devastate the church.
In chapter 13 we have the appearance of two beasts
which are the product of the dragon in chapter 12—his creation and
servants ("... and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and
great authority;" v. 3). This first beast is a wild animal which arises
out of the sea. It looks like a leopard, but its feet are like bear's
feet and its mouth like a lion's. Its seven heads and ten horns make us
think of the dragon himself in chapter 12:3 where he was pictured with
seven heads and ten horns. The heads of the beast are full of blasphemy.
And one of the heads has a scar from a wound now healed. After the beast
has risen from the sea, the whole world worships this beast, while it
spews out blasphemies against God and makes war with the saints and
This is the same beast that
Revelation 17:3 refers to, where it is described as scarlet in
colour, ridden by a great whore. If you study the vision in
Revelation 13 in connection with
Daniel 7, you will see that the vision of
Revelation 13 is based on that of
Daniel 7, and that the beast of
Revelation 13 is the beast of
Daniel 7. John's beast from the sea is a combination of the leopard,
bear, lion, and indescribable fourth beast of
Daniel 7, whose ten horns give rise to one horn that speaks great,
boastful things, and makes war with the saints and prevails!
What does this beast from the sea represent?
Antichrist! But Antichrist as a world government, a political power, the
likes of which this world has never seen. The origin of this beast is
the sea, which represents the restless nations and peoples of the
Isaiah 57:20 teaches, "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it
cannot rest, whose water cast up mire and dirt." If more is needed,
Revelation 17 tells us that "the waters which thou sawest, where the
whore sitteth, are peoples and multitudes and nations." Little doubt is
left when we see that the beast has horns and crowns. In Scripture horns
are symbolic of power, and crowns of ruling authority. Besides,
Revelation 13:2 says that the beast has power and a throne and great
authority; and verse 7 says that he has power over all kindreds and
tongues and nations. If any question remains,
Daniel 7 says that the four beasts are four kings; and
Revelation 17 says the beast from the earth is a king. The centuries
of division and separation on this earth will end in one world
government. The Antichrist is a political reality, a new world order, a
We emphasize the point in the preceding paragraph
because there is often the impression that Antichrist will simply be a
religious figure. Scripture makes clear, however, that Antichrist will
be a political power.
This political power will be a worldwide power. The
beast has ten horns and ten crowns, representing fullness of
power and authority over the nations of the world. Verse 3 says that all
the world wondered after the beast. Verse 7 says that he has power over
all kindreds and tongues and nations. And verse 8 says that all that
dwell on the earth shall worship him (all, of course, except those whose
names have been written in the Lamb's book of life).
But it is a worldwide power that is the goal of, and
embodiment of, all previous world powers. This is brought out in
Revelation 13 in two ways. Follow along carefully as we look at this
important point. First, the beast of
Revelation 13 has the characteristics of a leopard, a bear, and a
lion, so that, even though it is the final development of
Daniel 7's fourth beast, it somehow embodies the other three as
well. The four beasts of
Daniel 7, almost all agree, represent four great world kingdoms:
Babylon headed by Nebuchadnezzar; the Medes and Persians led by Cyrus;
Greece and Macedonia under Alexander the Great, and, finally, Rome. The
Revelation 13 is the final development of the old, Roman kingdom
(which indicates that Antichrist will come out of the Christian West,
and not the pagan East), but it takes into itself also the other great
Secondly, that Antichrist's is a worldwide kingdom is
also the meaning of the seven heads of the beast described in
Revelation 17. The 7 heads of the beast are 7 kingdoms—five of them
had already fallen, one of them was still standing (at the time John
wrote this prophecy about AD 95), and one yet to come. Rome was the
kingdom in existence, and the one yet to come is the Antichristian
kingdom. The five which have already passed out of existence were the
Greek kingdom, the Medo-Persian, the Babylonian, the Assyrian, and the
kingdom of Babel, headed by Nimrod. We see, therefore, one beast with
seven heads. And now the Spirit teaches us that the great kingdom of
Antichrist, as the embodiment of these former kingdoms, succeeds where
the other kingdoms ultimately failed, achieving its goal of world
dominance. Nations cease their warring; the planet is united; the world
is one. And that world belongs to Antichrist.
The healing of the wound in
Revelation 13 points to the success of Antichrist. We must not fail
to see the significance of the healing of the wound.
One of the heads of this beast had a "deadly wound
that was healed." The explanation of this is that in the time of Nimrod,
at the tower of Babel, there was an attempt to unite all men into one
great world power. God frustrated this attempt by dividing the men and
women into different races with different colours and languages, so that
they were forced to separate. Races have remained separate ever since.
All their efforts to be united have been frustrated up to this point. At
the end, Antichrist will succeed.
This, we believe, is what
II Thessalonians 2 speaks of when it says, "he who now letteth will
let, until he be taken out of the way." That is, "He that restraineth,
will restrain ..." There is something or someone that restrains,
hinders, impedes, the Antichrist from coming; but in the end, that
hindrance will be taken out of the way so that the Antichrist can
succeed in uniting all the kingdoms and nations of the world into one.
One must be blind and deaf not to detect this
happening today. In a way that has never happened before, that was
impossible before, nations are holding hands and talking peace. Walls
are coming down. Economies are becoming more and more interdependent.
The union of all the world into one is on the horizon. One day soon the
sun will rise on a united world, and Antichrist will be its bright and
Antichrist: An Ecclesiastical Power
But Antichrist is not only a beast from the sea. The
second part of the vision in
Revelation 13 further reveals him as another beast, one arising from
the earth. This beast serves the first beast, wielding the power of the
first beast, making all the world worship the first beast, and showing
that without it the first beast is nothing. And the point of the vision
is that the reality of Antichrist is two cooperating powers, the one
political, the other, ecclesiastical.
The beast that arises out of the earth looks like a
lamb. It had two horns of a lamb, but it was a beast. So immediately we
understand the nature of this beast; it is a deceptive creature—a
ferocious beast disguised as a gentle lamb. The horror is that this
beast masquerades as Jesus Christ, who is THE Lamb of God. This beast,
too, is powerful, for it has horns. However, the power of this beast is
not political or military. Rather, its power is the power of persuasive
speech. It speaks like a dragon, persuading the world to worship the
first beast, to build an image of the first beast, and to bow down to
It is plain that this beast represents false
religion. Preaching and teaching make men worship something or someone.
But this is false teaching and lying preaching. That's evident from the
fact that this beast looks like a lamb, looks like Jesus Christ and all
that Jesus Christ represents, but in actuality is a beast. He claims to
speak like Jesus, but has the foul breath and fiery speech (in the eyes
and nostrils of God) of a dragon.
This beast will not arise from Hinduism or Buddhism
or any other pagan religion; he will arise out of Christianity itself.
Few Christians would believe a Ghandi's claim to be Christ. When one
Revelation 19:20, that becomes obvious. There, in the passage that
describes the defeat of Antichrist, we read that the beast was taken,
and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before the beast.
This second beast represents false Christianity, the apostate church
that calls itself "the Church of Christ" (we mean by this designation
the broad "church," and do not intend it to be confused with a certain
denomination of that name).
The work of the second beast is the service of the
first, the cooperating with the Antichristian world government. What is
that service? It is causing all the world to worship the first beast. He
will call all men and women of the world to bow down to the first beast,
who is the "Saviour of the world." Now the prophecy of
Revelation 17 comes to pass: the kings of the earth commit
fornication with the whore, the false church.
If one asks what he should look for in the days to
come, we say this: there will be political union all nations will
be gathered together into one mighty empire. This is the first beast.
There will also be religious union, joining all the religions and
religious empires of the world. The powerful ecumenical movement of
today, led by the religions of Christianity, will in the end fully
succeed, swallowing up all the other religions of the world. You may
expect to see one man over it all. Antichrist.
Why in the world would anyone work such deceitful
effrontery? Why such effort in a sham kingdom? Why would any man with
that kind of worldwide sovereignty even want his kingdom identified with
Christ, labelled with the name of God?
To ask these questions is to answer them.
Antichrist's purpose is to destroy the saints, God's elect. And here we
get to the heart of the matter. The man Antichrist, indwelt by Satan's
spirit, is opposed to God and opposed to Jesus His Christ. With a hatred
that can be traced back to the fall of the angels prior to
Genesis 3, he despises God and God's cause in Jesus. But he cannot
touch God because God cast him out of heaven, according to
Revelation 12; and he cannot touch God's Christ, because Jesus was
caught up into heaven. So the only thing that remains for him to do is
to breathe his fire on the seed of the woman, the Church of Christ.
Revelation 12 describes this church as the "remnant of her seed,
which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus
Matthew 24 they are described as the "elect" of God.
The devil knows that to attack the Church is to
attack Jesus, the Christ; and to do damage to the body of Christ is to
inflict damage upon Christ. He also knows that, because the members of
the church are the chosen of God, eternally loved by God (Deut.
7:6-8), to destroy them is equivalent to defeating God. So the
objects of his fury are the beloved of God.
His worldwide empire will be less an inflating of his
ego than an attempt to see come to pass his millennia-long dream of
defeating God and God's purpose in the woman's Seed. In his mind, the
promise of God that the Serpent's head would be crushed must never be
fulfilled. He must have the victory over and defeat God. To defeat God's
people is to defeat God.
He desires to have you, who keep the commandments of
God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ—the elect of God. And if that
is true, you must know how he works. You must understand his methods.
Antichrist goes about his business by speaking the
II Thessalonians 2 says that he comes "with all deceivableness of
Revelation 13:12 says, "and he spoke as a dragon ..."
Revelation 17 tells us that he was a false prophet, a prophet being
one whose calling it is to speak and to teach. The armies of the world
may have guns and tanks and bombs to bring people into submission; but
the power of speech and ideas is a mighty power. In his initial attempts
to destroy the cause of God, the devil used a serpent to deceive the
woman with crooked speech: "You will be like God." Now he uses a
"dragon" who speaks crafty, lying words. His speeches will be heard by
millions who will hang on his persuasive rhetoric. The content as well
as the form of his speech will attract. Like most false prophets, he
will even be sincere and passionate. But he is a liar. He adds dashes of
truth to the mix, so that his lie tastes like truth. He will use all the
right catchwords, using the language of the church, even throwing in a
Bible text or two. But he is the ultimate Liar, and will deceive many.
He will use every tool available: school teachers,
politicians, news broadcasters, artists, musicians, scientists and
doctors, lawyers and businessmen. All will be pressed into the service
of Antichrist to deceive men. But especially he will use those whose
calling it is to persuade and to teach—men who claim to be preachers of
the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is this message that has such power to deceive?
What is it that is preached by the now-apostate churches once rooted in
true Christianity, that stirs up mankind to this ecumenical worship?
What gospel will attract the hordes of men and women? What good news
will knit the souls of such diverse peoples and nations and tongues?
The gospel of Antichrist is humanism—the happiness of
man, the glory of man, the peace and prosperity, the health and wealth
of man. The number of the beast, do not forget, is 6-6-6, the number of
But we remind you, the Antichrist deceives. He will
not tip his hand by declaring publicly, "I am the Antichrist." He will
not claim that there is no God, no Christ, no salvation, and that the
message of the Bible is a lie. But he will say, "I am your Messiah; you
are God (Shirley MacLaine has comrades and consorts in the Rastafarians
of Jamaica, whose word for "divine" is "I-vine"!);
and an earthly life of peace and prosperity, of health and
happiness—that is salvation." The distant rumblings of Antichrist's
thunder are growing louder.
Performing miracles, Antichrist will establish
himself and validate his claim as God's anointed. This is the emphasis
II Thessalonians 2. Men have always performed miracles to establish
their authority, presenting them as the credentials of their divine
appointment. Moses did in Egypt. Elijah did on Mount Carmel. Jesus
Christ and His apostles did. So will Antichrist.
Revelation 13:13 says that the second beast "doeth great wonders
..." and verse 14 that "he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the
means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the
Matthew 24:24 indicates the same thing: "For there shall arise false
Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders;
insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
This is the teaching of
II Thessalonians 2:9, "even him whose coming is after the working of
Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders ..." The works of
Antichrist will be the works of Satan, who has power beyond the natural
ability of man.
Nor will these be fake miracles. These will not be
just magic tricks of talented men like Harry Houdini and David
Copperfield, but amazing deeds that simply defy explanation in human,
scientific terms. Buttressing the claims of Antichrist will be nothing
less than the superhuman power of the devil himself.
The Church's Calling: Oppose Antichrist Presently
The critical danger for the church today is
exactly the reality called Antichrist. There is a danger that the
church, as it were, posts a lookout to scan the horizon for Antichrist,
so that the lookout can warn the people of God when the enemy has
arrived and sound the warning to give battle. In the meantime the church
is busy with its own legitimate work, but supposes that the Antichrist
is of no danger presently. That is precisely what Antichrist
wants the church to believe.
God's call to His people is to oppose the Antichrist
now. We are not saying here that the Christian's calling is to be
to oppose Antichrist when he comes, urgent as that calling is. We
are saying that our calling and the calling that we urge you to carry
out is this: Oppose the opposer of Jesus Christ presently. Not someday,
It is possible to oppose him now, for he is present
now. Before you race ahead to find us naming names, or identifying
persons and churches, let us explain.
I John 2:18 does not say, "Antichrist shall come" but
"Antichrist comes ..." That is, there is a process of Antichrist
coming all down through the history of this world. This process involves
the coming of many Antichrists (in the plural). Thus,
Matthew 24 can warn of "false Christs" and can say that many
shall come in Jesus' name saying, "I am Christ." This also explains how
Paul can say in
II Thessalonians 2 that the mystery of iniquity is working.
Even as Paul wrote that letter, the mystery of iniquity was active in
the world, preparing the way for the final Antichrist and his work.
Recognizing Antichrist's "spirit"
Even in the old dispensation there were Antichrists,
like Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, and others. But
especially in the New Testament since Christ's ascension, Antichrist has
been coming. The great Antichristian kingdom with its mighty head will
not appear ex nihilo, out of nothing, but will be the result of a
long and gradual development. And that long and gradual development is
and has been the work of the spirit of Antichrist, the spirit of Satan
himself, laying the groundwork, preparing the way, making ready for the
revelation of the man of sin, the son of perdition.
Was it wrong, then, of the Reformers to say that the
pope was Antichrist? If the Reformers meant that the pope at that time,
Pope St. Paul III, or another, was the personal Antichrist, the man of
sin, the final culmination of the Devil's work in this world,
they were mistaken. He did not complete the picture the Scripture draws.
But one may not dismiss the Reformers as wild-eyed fanatics. Consider:
the pope is and was also a political figure. That is no less
plain today than it was in Luther's day. Then already the pope laid
claim to the right to crown kings and invest them with the authority to
rule the world. Today, the Vatican has its ambassadors in almost every
nation of the world and even we, the United States, send our own
representatives to the pope. The pope is a political head.
Rome has always embodied the Antichristian spirit and
principles: a headship that is in a man, a pope, a hierarchy; an
authority of tradition in addition to the one Word of God; a salvation
by works in addition to faith and grace; a worship of another (Mary) in
addition to the worship of the one alone in whose name we find salvation
A Present Struggle
The struggle of the people of God against Antichrist
has always been and will always be a present struggle. The call to
oppose Antichrist must always be given in the present imperative.
Whether in the future the church's children (your children and my
children) are able to withstand the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition,
depends, to a great degree, on the success of the battle we wage against
his spirit today.
The second beast is working; his labour is under way.
We are not referring to specific persons, or particular institutions and
churches. We are referring to the spirit of our age that rejects God and
God's Word, and promotes with all of its power, MAN. The purpose of
education today is man's welfare; the purpose of science is man's
pleasure; the goal of entertainment is the good life for man. Hedonism
says it all. The world is crowded with Antichrists presently. No, look
not only on the horizon for Antichrist. Look about you. Oppose him
The Manner of Opposition
We do not oppose him with guns and tanks and bombs.
We do not try to prevent his coming or overthrow it when it comes by
political power plays. We oppose him in a spiritual manner, in
the same way Jesus Christ opposed him during His ministry, and in
the way Jesus taught His disciples to oppose him in theirs—by faith and
the powerful Word of the gospel. We oppose all that opposes Jesus
Christ. We oppose humanism that exalts man and promotes the cause of man
and man alone. This is why Reformed believers from the beginning have
maintained that it is necessary for them to maintain good, Christian
schools in which their children are educated. The world inculcates its
young with humanistic values and humanistic goals, and we must have no
part of that mis-education. We oppose humanism from the pulpits of our
churches, and put out those ministers and elders who would preach and
teach this kind of a gospel. In this way we oppose Antichrist today.
We oppose hierarchical church government. Hierarchy
in the church (the rule by a few "holy ones," or by an intellectual
elite, from the top down) is Antichristian in spirit and purpose. That
is one main reason the Reformers were opposed to the pope. Audaciously,
he set himself up as Vicar of Christ, head of the church, whose word no
priest or bishop or counsel, much less layman, could question. We oppose
Antichrist today by opposing hierarchy—a lordship of man, a setting
aside of the Word of God and the replacing of it with the word and will
We oppose the ecumenical mania, rife today in the
churches. There are powerful winds blowing—hurricane force winds—blowing
across the churches to bring them together into one, large church body.
Robert Schuller, world-acclaimed pastor of one of the largest Reformed
churches in America, calls the church world: "It is time for Protestants
to go to the Shepherd [i.e., the pope] and say, What do we have to do to
come home?" (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, September 19, 1987).
The bottom line, the common denominator, that summons all together is
the goal of a world in which man will have earthly peace and prosperity.
It seems that the only "heresy" in the minds of most churchmen today is
the questioning of the ecumenical movement. There is even a widespread
notion abroad, showing itself also in Reformed circles, that all the
pagan religions are legitimate, nothing other than the expression of the
universal religious feelings of mankind that probably find their best
expressions in Christianity. Witness the Protestant preachers praying
with Muslims. The basis for that is humanism. The church of Christ today
opposes Antichrist by giving battle to those notions and ideas prevalent
in the church today.
We oppose Antichrist by opposing all heresy in the
church. Heresy, or false doctrine, is nothing less than opposition to
Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. How often
does not Jesus warn His disciples of those wolves in sheep's wool who
will misrepresent the truth to draw men away from Jesus? But how much
concern is there today for fighting heresy, exposing false doctrine for
what it is—Antichristian in spirit and purpose, paving the way for the
man of sin himself who will deceive many?
Opposing heresy, we promote the truth. The people of
God who have a heart for God's Christ and Christ's church take the
offensive in this battle against Antichrist. Promote the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Promote biblical church government. Promote the proper,
Presbyterian form of church government. Promote the proper manner of
church union and reunion—on the basis of the truth of the gospel of God.
Finally, we do battle with Antichrist in ourselves.
For Antichrist has an ally in my own sinful nature. Here is humanism in
its basic form—in my own heart. Here is the false doctrine of salvation
by the works of man, right here in my own proud breast. Here is
hierarchy, the rule by a few—by me. Right here in my own heart I find
sympathy with the notion that salvation comes by faith and by works. In
myself is the lie in its crudest form—"Ye shall be as God."
When the saint fights Antichrist in his heart, with
his heart, God will give him the strength to oppose Antichrist when he
is revealed in the last day, at the end of which he will be destroyed
utterly and completely.
Antichrist's Certain Destruction
Antichrist will succeed in deceiving many. By his
earthly successes and charm, Antichrist will deceive millions. The
ungodly world as well as many in the churches will fawn over him. Those
who do not will not only be mocked, they will be killed.
And for that, the wicked will be damned. This is the
II Thessalonians 2:10-12. Even their deception is a judgment of God
upon them; when Antichrist comes, God will send a strong delusion that
they should believe a lie. The reason for this is that they did not
receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. They heard the
gospel, understood the truth, but rejected it. They will perish with the
But in the end, Antichrist will be destroyed. God's
people will be saved by sovereign grace, through sanctification of the
Spirit and belief of the truth. And Antichrist will be destroyed.
The religious Antichristian empire will be destroyed
by the political Antichristian empire. For a time he uses the whore; in
the end he turns on her (Rev
17:16). The political empire breaks up into the battle of
Armageddon: the kingdom of the beast (the Western, "Christianised"
nations) against the kingdom of the east (the pagan, non-Christian
nations). In the middle of that battle, Jesus Christ will return to
destroy the Antichristian kingdom, consume Antichrist with the spirit of
His mouth, destroy him with the brightness of His coming, and begin the
Jesus Christ reigns!
There will be no struggle by Jesus Christ with
Antichrist. In a moment of time, where the entire history of the world
climaxes, Christ in an instant will destroy the man of sin.
Therefore, do not fear!
The truth of the Antichrist is dreadful. The church
must suffer under him, too. But we are not to fear for a moment. And
when you see the Antichrist in the future, be not in terror. For in that
darkest hour the world has ever known, we will be doing the same as we
have all our lives, waiting "with uplifted heads" for the coming of
Jesus Christ, who will redeem us from all distress.