Doctrine of the Antichrist Revealed

 

 

Who Is The ANTICHRIST?

 

                                 To what or whom does the term "Antichrist" refer?  Is this

                                 some unique teaching or heresy about Jesus Christ Himself?

                                 Is an "antichrist" merely a false teacher who teaches contrary

                                 to the teachings of Christ?  Is there a special "Antichrist" who

                                 will appear during this pulsating "End Time" generation?  Is

                                 the "antichrist" those who proclaim the divinity and divine

                                 pre-existence of Christ and claim He was "God incarnate"? 

 

                                                           William F. Dankenbring

 

         A strange new teaching has come across my desk recently -- a unique idea which I have never heard of before.  The author begins by pointing out basic truth -- that the term "antichrist" means an opponent of Christ, one who not only sets himself in the place of Christ, and in the guise of Christ, but also opposes Christ.  He then points out that the antichrist is also  the "man of sin" foretold by the apostle Paul (II Thess.2:3-4).  This evil man will represent himself as "the incarnate God."  Thus this new teaching proclaims that there is to be an "opposition Christ" who proclaims that he is "God incarnate."  So far, I would have no quibble with him.  But he continues.

 

         Says Sidney Hatch, in his article "Christ vs. Antichrist -- In Search of the Biblical Jesus,"

 

                                 "This, then, is the characteristic of the opposition-Christ:  One who

                                            claims to be God incarnate [ie., "God in the flesh"].  It is in contrast

                                            to Jesus of Nazareth who did not claim to be God incarnate.  Rather,

                                            he claimed to be the Son of God . . ."   (emphasis mine). 

 

         This writer goes on to claim, not only that Jesus never said He was God in the flesh, but that all those who teach that Jesus Christ is divine God, who took upon Himself human flesh,  are actually the real "antichrists"!

 

         According to Sidney Hatch, it was the Gnostics who drew a distinction between "Jesus" and "the Christ." He points out that Gnosticism taught that "the Christ" was an "emanation" or "aeon" (spirit being) from God.  Thus, the Gnostics claimed Jesus Christ had two natures -- one human, and one divine.  Says Hatch, this destroys the relationship between God and Jesus as Father and Son, setting up "the Christ" portion of the Lord Jesus  "as a second God." 

 

         Hatch then writes that only those who confess that Jesus Christ "is come in the flesh is of God" (I John 4:1,2) -- that is, all others are "a deceiver and an antichrist" (II John 7).  According to Hatch, "in the flesh" simply means "as a human being."  Says Hatch:

 

                                 "Jesus the Messiah was 'a human being.'  And, conversely, a human

                                            being was the Messiah, not an aeon or emanation from heaven.  That

                                            child born of Mary was the spromised One.  It is not necessary for

                                            there to be a 'divine' side from heaven for Jesus to be the Messiah."

                                

         Hatch continues:

 

                                 "Certainly the antichrist, or the spirit of antichrist, is in the world

                                            today -- and has been since the great apostasy of the fourth and fifth

                                            centuries under Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian.  Today's

                                            'Christology' or teaching about Christ is essentially that of the

                                            'opposition Christ' of those early centuries.  We are told that there

                                            is a 'fully God' side to our Lord, and a 'fully man' side.  To avoid

                                            the problems this creates, we are told that the two are perfectly

                                            united into a 'God-man' (a term unknown to Scripture).

 

                                            "This creates more problems than it solves.  A person who was

                                            'fully God' could not die on the cross for our sins.  Such a person

                                            would possess immortality (I Tim.6:16).  It is best, therefore, to

                                            believe in and assert  (without equivocation or apology) the unique

                                            and complete humanity of Christ our Lord."

 

         Hatch goes on, stating, "It is not necessary for Jesus to be God in order to be the Messiah.  In fact, such a thing would thwart God's purposes to redeem man and the earth." 

 

         Where Hatch gets the idea God intends to redeem man "and the earth," as well, I do not know.  To be best of my knowledge, Christ died for the sins of mankind -- not the physical earth!  Nevertheless, his statements, at first glance, seem positively outrageous.  No doubt conventional theogians, who believe in the Trinity or Triune Godhead, would resist this new theology as heretical and dangerous.  However, it is not merely that Sidney Hatch attempts to debunk the Trinitiarian myth that is at issue here -- he also attacks the pre-existence and very divinity of Christ the Messiah!  Is that true?  Was Christ merely a "human being," as Hatch claims, who "made good"?  Was Jesus merely a "human" -- born of a human woman, Mary -- and not divine at all? 

 

         Hatch's article is the most artful causistry one could imagine.  He not only claims that Jesus was not divine at all, but also that to believe Jesus was divine is the "spirit of ANTICHRIST"!

 

         Talk about turning the truth upside-down and inside-out!

 

         Does Hatch really know what he is talking about?  Or could he  be another "deceiver and an antichrist"?  Surely, if Christ is the divine Son of God, then Hatch's theory explodes into thin air, revealing him  to be the very "antichrist" which he accuses others of being!

 

         Let us carefully consider this matter. Just who -- or what -- is the "ANTICHRIST," according to the Scriptures?  What is the TRUTH?

 

                                                       What John Really Said

 

         In his first epistle, the apostle John wrote, "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming,  even now many antichrists have come.  This is how you know it is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.  For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us but their going showed that none of them belonged to us" (I John 2:18-19).

 

         John goes on, "I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.  Who is the liar?  It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Such a man is the antichrist -- he denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also" (I John 2:20-23).

 

         John implies here that even though a great "Antichrist" will come in the end time, there were already "many antichrists" existing in his day.  He says that they were at one time brothers in the Church, but they left the Church, the body of Christ, and obviously began teaching their own doctrines and dogmas in opposition to and against the truth of Christ!  John referred to these false teachers as "liars," false ministers who knew better, and said that in their doctrine they denied both the Father and the Son!  How did they deny them?  Just what was their false doctrine?  Were the original antichrists the "Gnostics," as some would have us believe?  Or were those known as "Gnostics" merely one branch among "many antichrists," as John said abounded in that time?

 

         Jesse Lyman Hurlbut in The Story of the Christian Church tells us about that early period:

 

                                 "Side by side with the development of theological doctrine was the

                                            rise of the sects, or as they were called, the heresies in the Christian

                                            church.  As long as the church was Jewish in its membership, and

                                            even afterward when it was controlled by practical men of the Jewish

                                            type, such men as St. Peter and St. Paul, there was only a slight

                                            tendency toward sbstract and speculative thinking.  But when the

                                            church found its largest constituency among the Greeks, and

                                            especially the mystical, unbalanced Greeks of Asia Minor, all sorts

                                            of strange opinions and theories arose, and grew to power in the

                                            church.  The Christians of the second and third centuries battled

                                            not only against a persecuting heathen world, but also against

                                            heresies and corrupt doctrines within their own fold. . .

 

                                            "The Gnostics (Greek gnosis, 'knowledge') are not easy to define,

                                            because so varied in their doctrines in different localities and at

                                            different periods.  They arose in Asia Minor -- that hot-bed of wild

                                            imaginations -- and were a grafting of Christianity upon paganism.

                                            They believed that out of the supreme God emanated a large number

                                            of inferior deities, some beneficient, others malignant; and through

                                            these the world with its mingled good and evil, was created;  that

                                            in Christ as one of these 'emanations,' the divine nature was for a

                                            time indwelling; and they interpreted the Scriptures in an allegorical

                                            manner, making every statement mean whatever the interpreter saw

                                            fit" (p.64-65).

 

         These Gnostic ideas were not derived from the Bible, but from their own imaginings and unconverted fertile minds.  Their concept of a multitude of divine "entities" in space is certainly not Scriptural.  However, this heresy of the Gnostics in no way should be confused with the Biblical doctrine that the Logos, a member of the Godhead, literally became a man, the man Christ Jesus, and died for our sins! 

 

         The Gnostics had many strange and weird ideas; but that does not mean they were wrong in believing in the pre-existence of Christ!

 

                                         The Humanity and Godhood of Jesus Christ

 

         The apostle John himself tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4).  "The Word BECAME FLESH and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). 

 

         Sidney Hatch claims that there was no "divine" component to the birth of Jesus Christ -- that He was merely a "human being."  He, then, must like the Gnostics "reinterpret" to suit his own fancy these powerful verses in the Gospel of John -- or ignore them completely!  He must also refuse to take at literal, face value, the Scripture in Matthew were we read of the birth of Jesus Christ:  "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about:  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with CHILD THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT" (Matt1:18).  An angel of the Lord told Joseph that the child "conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (verse 20). 

 

         Obviously, Jesus was unique.  His Father was literally God the Father!  The "sperm" cell that united with the egg in Mary's womb was the Logos or Word of God, which had been transformed into a physical, fleshly human male reproductive cell by the power of the Holy Spirit!  It united with the egg in Mary's womb, and the result was a child who was truly flesh and blood in every way, and yet was also God transposed into human flesh, literally -- the One who was to become the Messiah! 

 

         Paul tells us more about this amazing transformation.  He writes, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too SHARED IN THEIR HUMANITY so that by death he might destroy him who holds the power of death -- that is, the devil -- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.  For this reason he had to be MADE LIKE HIS BROTHERS IN EVERY WAY, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Heb.2:14-18).

 

         Jesus therefore was divine God who was converted into human flesh so that He could die for the sins of mankind!  God the Father said of Him, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever" (Heb.1:8). 

 

         Jesus is God's true Son, "whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the UNIVERSE" (Heb.1:1-2).  Contrary to those who deny the overwhelming evidence in Scripture of the divinity of Christ, one of the "Elohim" who created all things (Gen.1:1-2), one of those God Beings who said, "Let US make man in OUR image" (Gen.1:26), Jesus is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over ALL CREATION.  For by him all things were CREATED:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible . . . all things were created by him and for him.  He [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col.1:15-17). 

 

         Was Jesus very God? 

 

         Paul taught that He was.  Paul wrote:  "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, BEING IN VERY NATURE GOD, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in HUMAN LIKENESS.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" (Phil.2:5-8).

 

         In the book of Revelation we read of Jesus:  "He said to me:  'It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I WILL BE HIS GOD  and he will be my son" (Rev.21:6-7).  Isn't that plain language?

 

         This Alph and Omega, the First and the Last, is not the Father -- it is Christ the Son (Rev.1:12-18; 3:14; 22:12-13).  Here He plainly says that He will be very "GOD" to those who overcome!

 

         It should be plain that the TRUE "ANTICHRISTS", then, are all those preachers, teachers and writers who so smugly DENY the very Lord and Saviour, and GOD, who died for them and gave His life to pay the penalty for their sins! THEY are the REAL ANTICHRISTS!

 

         Until I read this article by Sidney Hatcher, in which he accuses all who believe in the divinity of Christ as being "antichrists," however, it never dawned on me who the real antichrists were.  But as Herbert W. Armstrong used to say, those who point the finger at somebody else have four fingers pointing back at themselves!  By his accusing true believers in Christ as being "antichrist," Sidney Hatch reveals himself to be that very thing which he accuses others of!

 

                                                       The  End Time Antichrist         

 

         The Greek word for "antichrist" is antichristos and means "opponent of Christ."  The Greek word "anti" means "opposite," "instead of," and denotes contrast, substitution, or correspondence.  In other words, the term "antichrist" can refer to one who fights against Christ, an adversary of Christ, as well as one who substitutes himself for Christ, claiming to be Christ, God, or the Messiah!

 

         Antichrists are all of the above, and more.  They can be lying pretenders, false Christs, as well as false ministers opposing Christ and His truth.  Jesus Himself warned, "Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, clailming 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive MANY" (Matt.24:4-5).  He went on, "And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people" (verse 11).  These events were prophesied to happen increasingly around the "End Time," just before His second coming! 

 

         Jesus went on, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it.  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect -- if that were possible.  See, I have told you ahead of time.  So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.  For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man" (Matt.24:23-27).

 

         Such an Antichrist, of course, is the "man of sin," prophesied by the apostle Paul, who wrote, "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [of Christ's return -- verse 1] will not come until the REBELLION occurs and the MAN OF LAWLESSNESS is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.  He will oppose ["anti"] and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God" (II Thess.2:3-4).

 

         Although this tyrant will not appear until the END TIME, our time, today, even in Paul's day the process leading to his appearance had begun.  Paul wrote, "For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work" (verse 7).  He will be held back until the power holding him back is "taken out of the way" (v.7, latter part).  "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of lhis mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming" (II Thess.2:8).

 

         Paul went on to describe how this wicked individual will deceive multitudes.  "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles [fake mirages, visions, apparitions, weeping Madonnas, etc.], signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful DELUSION so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness" (verses 9-12).

 

         This same wicked individual was prophesied by Daniel who wrote of this diabolical tyrant and world-class deceiver, "The king will do as he pleases.  He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.  He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.  He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers [possibly the Muslim religion and prophets] or for the one desired by women [the "Christ on a cross" of Christian mythology, the "Tammuz" of the ancients], nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.  Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses . . ." (Daniel 11:36-38).

 

         It is characteristic of the Antichrist that he is described as he "that shall come," even as Jesus Christ is thought of as He who will come again.  So even in his "coming," the Antichrist is a counterfeit Christ!  He makes himself out to be "the coming one," thus aping Christ, counterfeiting and opposing Him.

 

                                                    The Test of an Antichrist

 

         However, as there were "many antichrists" even in the days of John, it behooves us to know how to identify a real "antichrist" and the message of "antichrist."  John writes, in chapter 4 of his first epistle, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but TEST the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world" (I John 4:1-3).

 

         John further elucidates this point in his second epistle.  He declares, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh  have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist” (II John 7). 

 

         What is this key that unlocks the identity of the antichrists?  First of all, notice that they DENY that Jesus Christ was fully human, when He walked among us.  This statement makes no reference to His pre-existence whatsoever -- it merely declares that when Christ Jesus was a Man, He was fully human, just as the Scriptures state.  He GAVE UP His divinity.  He literally became a MAN, in every sense of the word.  He was tempted in every point just like we are, only He never gave in to sin.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin" (Heb.4:15). 

 

         Paul explains further, "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek" (Heb.5:7-10).

 

         Thus, false ministers, false Christs and false prophets generally DENY that Christ, although He was God, had become fully human in every way.  He could have sinned -- if He had given in to sin!  But He did not.  He chose to obey God, His Father, in everything!  Those who deny this truth, or who claim themselves to be Christ, or who claim Christ was some sort of super semi-divine figure, are teaching a doctrine of antichrist! 

 

         However, Sidney Hatch goes far afield when he claims that God could not have literally become human flesh and blood -- that if Christ were part divine as to His heredity, then He would have been "immortal" and incapable of death.  If Jesus had a "dualistic" nature, such as the Gnostics proposed, then I suppose the "divine side" of His nature could not have died.  But the Scriptures simply state that God "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).  As Paul said, the LOGOS literally "emptied himself" of his divinity (Phil.2:5, Moffatt translation).

 

         The literal Greek expression in I John 4:2 is that Jesus Christ "is come in the flesh."  The Greek is actually a past participle.  However, the expression in II John 7, "coming in flesh," is the present participle.  This difference could refer to the fact that Christ came in the flesh in His first coming,

and that He will return in the flesh when He comes again!

 

                                                       Another Key Meaning

 

         However, this Greek expression also tells us that Christ is literally living His life in our flesh, as He comes into us through the Holy Spirit, today!  As Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20).  Paul told the Galatians, that he felt as if he were in the pains of childbirth until "Christ is FORMED IN YOU" (Gal.4:19). Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, telling them, "Rather CLOTHE yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom.13:14). 

 

         As Christians, Christ is to abide in us through the Holy Spirit (John 15:1-10).  Paul explained, "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is IN you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus up from the dead is LIVING IN YOU, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you" (Rom.8:9-11). 

 

         Thus another "key" to understanding who the antichrists are is that they will not teach fully the truth that Christ is living His life within true Christians, today.  That is, that He comes inside our flesh through the Holy Spirit and takes up residence in our mortal bodies.  If He literally does this, then He will guide us by the Spirit of God, and He will lead us to obey all the laws and commandments of God which He Himself observed when He was "in the flesh" (Acts 5:32; Matt.5:17-19; 19:17-19) -- including the Sabbath commandment! (Exodus 20:8-11).

 

                                                            The Acid Test

 

         If Jesus Christ is abiding within us, and He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8), and He obeyed the laws of God, and taught obedience to them, 1900 years ago, then He will still do the same thing TODAY and forever!

 

         In other words, Christ Jesus clearly taught that the laws of God are in force and must be obeyed today!  The spirit of Antichrist teaches that the laws of God are abolished, done away with, and are nullified by "grace"!  The spirit of Christ says, "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!" (Matt.19:17).  The spirit of antichrist says, "You don't need to keep the commandments; they were 'nailed to the cross.'" 

 

         This is the real "acid test" of whether a minister, prophet, or teacher has the spirit of antichrist -- WHAT IS THEIR OPINION OF GOD'S LAW? 

 

         John himself made this very clear in his first epistle.  He wrote, "We know that we have come to know him IF WE OBEY HIS COMMANDS.  The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a LIAR [and an "antichrist"!], and the truth is not in him.  This is how we KNOW we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him MUST WALK AS JESUS DID" (I John 2:3-6). 

 

         How did Jesus "walk"?  He observed the weekly Sabbath days  and holy days of God (Luke 4:16; Luke 2:41-47).  He taught obedience to all God's commandments (Matt.5:17-20).  The Spirit of Christ, then, will do the same thing -- but the spirit of "antichrist" will claim that the laws of God are abolished and no longer need to be obeyed.   The "antichrist" will claim that the weekly Sabbath is no longer obligatory for Christians to observe. 

 

         Do you see the point?  John explains, "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we OBEY HIS COMMANDS and do what pleases him.  And this is his command:  to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.  Those who OBEY HIS COMMANDS live in him, and he in them.  And this is how we know he lives in us:  We know it by the Spirit he gave us" (I John 3:21-24).

 

         Even as John commands us to "test the spirits," to see whether their origin of inspiration is of God or of some demonic source, even so Jesus Christ told us, "Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them" (Matt.7:15-16).

 

                                                        "Prove All Things"!

 

         Along this same line, the apostle Paul commands and exhorts us, "TEST EVERYTHING.  Hold on to the good.   Avoid every kind of evil" (I Thess.5:21-22).  The final test we must perform with any teaching which purports to come from God is to compare it with the Scriptures very

carefully, and see if it measures up.  Isaiah the prophet wrote, "To the law and to the testimony!  If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn" (Isaiah 8:10).

 

         This principle of trial by testing is found in Deuteronomy 13.  Here we read, "If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, 'Let us follow other gods' (gods you have not known) 'and let us worship them,' you must not listen to the words

of that prophet or dreamer.  The LORD your God is TESTING YOU to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.  It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere.  Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him" (Deut.13:1-4).

 

                                                      Don't Be a Gullible Goose!

 

         Why are there so many warnings from God for us to beware, to be vigilant, and on our guard against false prophets and false teachers?  The sad truth is that God's people tend to be foolish, gullible, naieve, and trusting.  If a person looks good and sounds sincere, they tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Thus many of God's people are ripe candidates for a royal roasting -- they almost seem to be crying and yearning to be led astray by some malicious, malignant ministerial monster in God's sight -- some pleasant-voiced heretic or some friendly, avuncular writer or self-styled "scholar"!

 

         True Christian faith examines a belief or doctrine carefully before putting any reliance, confidence or stock in it.  We must be willing to test ALL who claim to speak or write under spiritual inspiration.  True prophets are the mouthpiece of the Spirit of God, and are inspired by the Spirit of truth.  But false prophets and antichrists are inspired by an altogether different source -- one who denies obedience to God's laws, one who seeks to search out and destroy God's people and lead them to perdition.

 

         There are many voices and much literature today clamoring for our attention, saying, "Listen to this," or, "Read that."  There is an urgent need for discernment among true Christians.  God does not want us to be dupes or pawns of Satan.  Many of us are often too gullible, and exhibit a naieve trustingness, and seem to be too ready to give credit or credence to "new theology" that comes before us.  Unfortunately, as Paul said, too many of us are like "infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Eph.4:14). 

 

         Many of us are not yet "rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith" (Col.2:7, KJV).  Paul warned, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than Christ" (Col.2:8).

 

         There is such a thing as misguided charity and tolerance toward false doctrine.  If we make friends of those who promote false doctrine, then we may one day find ourselves compromising, straying from the right path, and taken in by a "sham."  In some areas, unbelief, skepticism, and doubt, can be just as much a hallmark of a mature, seasoned, adult Christian, as the right kind of faith can be in other circumstances.  We should not be too ready or willing to listen to exciting or challenging new ideas -- they could be as wacky and weird as Satan's horns and pitchfork!

 

         Can we get a right balance between a suspicious scepticism on the one hand, and the extreme superstition that believes everything, on the other hand?

 

         Solomon wisely wrote in Proverbs, "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.  A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil.  But a fool is hotheaded and reckless.  A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.  The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge" (Proverbs 14:15-18).

 

         Solomon also wrote, "For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destdroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm" (Prov.1:32-33).

 

         The Greeks were famous for their interest in speculation and new philsophical and theological ideas.  Luke wrote about them in the book of Acts, saying, "All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas" (Acts 17:21).  As a result, the city was "full of idols" (verse 16).  Being too open-minded is not the way to attain stability and spiritual security. 

 

         James reprimands the doubters who are "like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:6-8).

 

         How about you?  Are you well-grounded in the truth, stable, and sure-minded?  Or are you unstable, always on the look-out for new fanciful doctrines and wild new theories?

 

                                                        A Very Serious Matter

 

         To question the very nature and divinity of Christ is no small matter.  Although such questions may seem titillating, provocative, and intellectually stimulating, to some, the truth is that they jeopardize faith and impugn the Messiah, stripping Him of His very Godhood.  Those who claim that Jesus was merely a man who "made good" fail to see that if such were the case, then His death on the cross could only atone for one other person -- not for the sins of the entire human race!  Yet the death of Jesus, since He was God IN the flesh, atoned for the sins of all mankind -- billions and billions of people who have been born, lived and died, since Adam and Eve!

 

         Furthermore, those who deny the divinity of Christ come under the specific condemnation of Scripture.  Their intellectual ramblings will not save them from divine retribution and punishment.  The apostle Peter wrote, "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there

will be false teachers among you.  They will secretly INTRODUCE DESTRUCTIVE HERESIES, even denying the Sovereign Lord who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves" (II Pet.2:1).

 

         Does this very teaching that Christ was only human not "DENY" the Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ?  It is a vicious and scurrilous attack, just the sort that one would expect from a raging, foaming at the mouth, vicious devil who is bent in these last days to destroy every vestige of truth that remains!  Remember, Satan is FURIOUS -- he knows that his time is short (Rev.12:12).  Therefore he is stepping up his campaign of disinformation and deception as never before. 

 

         Unfortunately, Peter goes on, "MANY will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.  In their greed these teachers will EXPLOIT you with stories they have made up.  Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping" (verses 2-3).

 

         Peter picks up this same theme again in verse 10:  "Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings . . . But these men BLASPHEME in matters they do not understand.  They are like brute beasts [despite their intellectual-appearing approach and cunning inventiveness], creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish" (II Pet.2:10-12). 

 

         Certainly, Satan the devil is going straight for the throat, straight to the heart of Christian doctrine and experience, when he viciously attacks the very divinity of the Messiah.  In so doing he virtually denies the full meaning and importance of the virgin birth!  He emasculates the Scriptural record; he rejects and repudiates the very statements of Christ Himself concerning His origin and divinity.  He warps and twists and perverts the entire gospel, the purpose of human life, and the truth about the Kingdom of God!

 

         The teaching that Christ was both human and divine, in the sense that God gave up His divinity to become a human being, is at the central heart and core of Scripture, the New Testament, and Christian faith.  To deny it is to deny Christ and the full meaning of His Messiahship.  To claim that belief in the divine origin of Christ is "the antichrist" is to completely distort and reverse the truth of God, equivalent of calling black white, sweet sour, and light darkness! 

 

         Brethren, we must come to grips with these matters, and renew our study of God's own Word, lest we fall victim to the snares and traps the devil is setting for God's people, to deceive and delude them.  We must be very careful when studying new theological opinions, lest we succumb to their novel and seductive appeal, "in order that Satan might not outwit us. 

For we are not unaware of his schemes" (II Cor.2:11).