by Mike Ratliff
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)
The rage right now in the church visible is what is called Christian Universalism. This is the theology of Rob Bell as revealed in his book Love Wins. Of course he plays his usual game of never being doctrinally definite about anything so it is impossible to pin him down to anything, but as this fellow says, Rob Bell is a Universalist. He should know because he is as well. I was at a second-hand bookstore about a month ago or so looking for a Greek-English Lexicon. Before I went to where the really special books were I decided to look first in the “Christian” book section, hoping that, perhaps, some seminary dropout had sold his Mounce Greek reference books and I would be the first to pounce on them. But, instead, I encountered two women excitedly talking about a book one of them had pulled from that stack by Rob Bell titled Velvet Elvis. One of the women was trying to convince the other how special it was and why she should buy it. I did not mean to listen, but I kept waiting for some sort of sound Biblical or Orthodox Christian reason that the other woman should buy that book. All I heard was that it was “really cool” and made the first woman feel “special.” I just shook my head, walked over to the reference section, and found a great buy on a 1999 edition from Oxford Press of Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon for $12.00. I think I got a better deal.
From the same bookstore about a year ago or so, I found a book by F.F. Bruce on the Epistles of John. I have used it for a few posts here. In this post we will be focusing primarily on 1 John 2:18-19 and I intend to use it again. From this study I pray that you will see that there are now many antichrists in the world today and that what makes someone like Rob Bell or anyone else who is an enemy of the cross an antichrist is one who is a human representative of the “evil one” and they do his bidding instead of God’s will. Let’s look at John’s evidence.
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 ESV)
18 Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν, καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν. 19 ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν· εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν· ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν. (1 John 2:18-19 NA27)
The first word in the Greek text is the noun παιδια, which is the plural, vocative of παιδίον or paidion, which means “little children,” but in a sense it is like me as a loving grandfather speaking to my grandson. The term ἐσχάτη ὥρα, which the ESV translates as “last hour,” has been interpreted by some to be the same as “last days,” but John is probably referring to the same thing Peter was referring to in 1 Peter 1:5, “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” The words “last time” are the Greek words, “καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ,” at which the final salvation is to be revealed. What John understood and we must as well, in the Christian era, it is always five minutes to midnight. There will be times, as today, when the coming of Christ seems imminent, then there are other times when God grants a reprieve such as The Great Awakening in the 18th Century. In any case, we must be ever vigilant knowing that there are antichrists attacking the Church, the Gospel, the cross of Christ, the Doctrines of the Church, everything that makes up what we call our Orthodox Christian Faith, but first and foremost, they attack the Word of God as His truth for they know that if taken seriously, they are in deep trouble because it reveals that what they are doing is unbiblical, and not of God, and they are, therefore, antichrists.
Also, let us never forget that antichrists not only attack from outside the church, as in cults like the Mormons, but also from within. These seducers are the most dangerous. These are false christs and false prophets (Mark 13:22). These are the deceivers as John calls them in 2 John 7. These antichrists subvert the apostolic teaching.
In v19 we have a test. This test is not very popular with the non-Lordship people, but as we see here, it is entirely Biblical. What does John say? These people were once part of the visible church but they were false believers. If they had been real believers they would have remained and continued. They would have persevered. However, they did not do that. Instead, they went out. Why? They went out that it might become plain that they are not of us. How much more clearly can we state this? This is the test of perseverance. This is steadfast persistence in the way of God, without turning aside from it. Think of the Christian Universalists desiring to do away with the doctrine of Hell as eternal. Why do they want to do that? Their God is all Love with no wrath. His Love overrules His judgment, wrath, and Holiness. Their god is a man-made god of their own imagination that was created to make men happy, but he is not real. All these people are doing is teaching a false gospel that does not save while leading people to destruction saying that the Gospel does not matter.
I pray that you got the sense of what John is telling us in this passage. The Church, in a sense, has always been in these last days awaiting Christ’s return. We are always 5 minutes from midnight it seems. Sometimes, it seems He is right at the door like right now. We don’t know when that will be; all we can do is be prepared. We must be diligent in our discernment and steadfast perseverance. One of the things that I thank God for as I observe so many tumbling into apostasy is how He is upholding me, keeping me from following them. I know that I stand firm because He upholds me and that there is no way that I could do this in my own strength or resolve.
The fact that the church is continually under attack from these antichrists and supposedly solid “christian” leaders who suddenly turn from the faith and apostatize means that it is the last hour. We saw what that means. Let us obey our Lord in remaining faithful.
Soli Deo Gloria!
You say “I know that I stand firm because He upholds me and that there is no way that I could do this in my own strength or resolve.”…amen! I praise God He upholds us always, but especially in this dangerous season we are in.
This is a good teaching; may the Lord be praised!
Thanks and Amen Lyn!
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Tozer wrote, “So skilled is error at imitating truth, that the two are constantly being mistaken for each another. It takes a sharp eye these days to know which brother is Cain and which is Abel.”
A good word, Mike!
And so much grief in my heart for many close to me, that they do not want to “know that this is the last hour”.
But yes, He is upholding me, and I have surrendered them into His Hand!
I enjoyed your story of the two women in the bookstore…tsk, why do women always need to feel special? How dull. I’m kidding, but it does seem to get them into a lot of trouble…especially with the kind of antichrists that have very special charm and appeal, the kind that worm their way into their homes and gain control…
On another note…due to liberal theology, I can’t believe the distance we’ve come from the focus on the Word…so far so fast, in every denomination. And now as well as denominations, in order to speed the process, we have brands of Christianity…PDL, WOF, NAR sounds almost like washing sodas….
Mike you said:
“I know that I stand firm because He upholds me and that there is no way that I could do this in my own strength or resolve.”
So true. Perhaps it is self confidence that propels these men into the delusional webs and alluring personalities of these false teachers. They are over confident that they can handle it going in, because they know the Word so well…but they are underestimating the power of seducing spirits that blind…and unless we do what the Word says…rebuke them and have nothing to do with them; as mere earthlings, human power in and of ourselves will not be enough to withstand the snares of the evil one once we have yielded.
I have experienced spiritual blindness and it is a very strange phenomenon. We cannot be confident in ourselves. Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. Though he hated it, as we hate our weakness, God knows what we need to keep us clear eyed. Embrace your weakness Mike and resist people pleasing, for Christ’s sake, as I know you do!
One more thing. This week I experienced insults and disturbing criticisms from several different sources that were unexpected. I had a range of feelings from hurt to humilation to self pity…and even though I saw it as some kind of spiritual attack, with a tsunami of ensuing fears and perplexities, and a couple of sleepless nights, it didn’t make it any easier. I can only commit everything to my faithful creator, abandon my own agenda for a solution and pray for relief and wisdom. It is a case for endurance…..
And I was encouraged by what you have said about your own struggles with these kinds of strange trials and behaviours affecting you lately.
2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
1 Peter 2:23
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
I can’t say how many times I had had that “over the shoulder, I can’t believe they like that garbage” in a bookstore moment.
it’s always 5 minutes to midnight…” I like that!
Thanks for the post.
Are we supposed to pray for pastors who are going astray? This is a question I have been dealing with for awhile.
Thanks for that Cristina!
Thanks and Amen Caroloyn!!!
Michael, it’s worse in bookstores like Borders or Barnes & Noble where they put the “Spiritual” section right next to the “Christian” section. Sometimes the books get mixed together. It is amazing as I pick up a book by Augustine and right next to it is a book on Tarot card reading. However, the absolute worst is going to our local Lifeway bookstore here in Olathe, Kansas. Yes, they carry John MacArthur’s books. Yes, they also supply books to seminary students up at Midwestern Theological so I can always find good reference books if I want to pay full price. That is where I got most of my books by Bill Mounce. But, on the other hand, Rick Warren and Beth Moore have their pictures all over the place and their books are predominantly displayed everywhere. They have a section devoted to Ed Stetzer too. Name the heretic and you will find his book in there I promise you.
Yes, that phrase is something we need to keep in mind. We don’t know when Christ will return, but we need to walk and minister within that knowledge that it is always 5 minutes to midnight.
Mike, I saw that a church had let their pastor go over this issue, but I hadn’t caught the name. I was rather surprised to see who it was. Having read several of his posts at various blogs, I knew he was a false teacher and a wolf, but just figured his “church” was blind as well, but they fired him. Well…they finally saw the light. I hope they can work with him and either restore him (if he was ever truly a brother) or show him the error of his ways and bring him finally into the truth.
I think we should Montani Semper Liberi until they prove they are totally apostate.
Jim, Chad is the Pastor you are talking about. Unless he has repented, I would be very surprised. I have dealt with him in the past, but its been awhile. It is amazing how obstinate the spiritually blind can be.
Yes, I just didn’t want to mention any names. I know you and Ken and John Chisum all had dealt with him in the past. Probably lots of others. His blindness was obvious, but apparently not to his church-until now.
Jim, even our Lord marveled at the depth of some people’s spiritual blindness.
“They went out from us…” Is a new favorite verse of the pastorprenuers who have seen true believers leave. They use it to prove they are right and we are wrong, and the goats eat it up. Soon it will be used against us more then the old standby forsake not the fellowship…or is it fallowsheep?
As always, out of context and leaving out the spuring one another on, and contend for the Faith.
Mickey, yes I’m sure they do and it is quite tragic that they those who are duped by them say and do that, but in the end… Let us remain faithful.
I heard a wonderful teaching by Warren Smith last Saturday at the Red River Prophecy Conference. He spoke on Persecution in the Last Days. He was specifically speaking about connecting the ties between the top New Agers and the PDC/EC. He specifically likened: the many incidences that Christ was accused of having His power from demons and possessed with demons etc and that the true sheep of the last days will be accused of being under the influence of Beelzebub.
Considering so many verses that have been taken out of context, including 1 John 2:19 – it is not easy to swallow the accusations, twisted right out of the Word, at those who love the Word so much! Yet that is one of the best tactics of the enemy, doubt and twisting the Word. It is even more important to KNOW the Word, testing the spirits, and pray for the Lord’s sight and protection. It is frightening sometimes as an immature believer. I keep pondering the incident in John 6 when many of the disciples were “not walking with Him anymore.” Jesus looked at the twelve remaining and asked them if they wanted to go to. Peter said those most wonderful words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” That’s where I want to be!!
Thanks for that Beth!
Awake Sleepyheads! Yes in the church, within the very midst of the body the apostasy thrives because of the desire of men to please their god.
Yes Nato and that ‘god’ is not the Lord God Almighty, but themselves.
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In reading Luke 22 today, I came across this line that really caught my attention:
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift ALL OF YOU as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
It was Christ’s last hour and he wanted to warn not just Peter but all the disciples… “all of you” of contempt of, and disregard for the danger of complacency toward one’s faith. He was being delivered to Satan for the purpose of sifting his real faith from his religion like wheat from the chaff. Satan desired that all his faith would be found to be chaff and would blow away in the adversity but Christ prayed for him. He warned him ahead of time.
What I see today among those who are hooking up with Political partners for some unbiliblcal agenda, is a self confident attitude that they are so theologically established that they can hold their own when it comes to the dangers that lie in this last hour. And just in the progression of Liberal Theology as described by Walter Martin…they are left with nothing.
Satan prowls like a roaring lion. And we must be alert. Our faith must be solidly founded on one thing only…the Word of God and not our own willpower, prestige or past perfection.