by Mike Ratliff
15 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 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. 19 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 2:15-19, ESV)
If you are at all familiar with Eschatology and the many different views on the end times then you have undoubtedly read or heard of a man who is referred to as the antichrist. However, you may be surprised to learn that the word “antichrist” is found in the Bible only in John’s epistles of 1st John and 2nd John. The study of this person or persons is not the intent of this article. I have no doubt that in God’s timing the final Antichrist will be revealed, but for now I would like to look at the attributes that we should understand are of the spirit of the antichrist.
William Tyndale, in 1526, was the first to translate the Greek New Testament into English. He had to flee England to finish his work in Germany and the Low Countries of The Netherlands and Belgium. He was constantly in hiding while working on getting as many copies of the English Bible shipped across the English Channel to eager believers as was physically possible. Why was he having to run and hide? The Greek New Testament revealed that the Latin Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, The Latin Vulgate, contained many gross errors. Along with that, the Roman Catholic Church had instituted a huge number of doctrines that were nowhere to be found in the Greek of the New Testament or the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Old Testament. The Roman Catholic Church had long before moved away from Justification by Faith alone. Instead, it taught that works were necessary for salvation. They invented Purgatory, Indulgences, the infallibility of the Pope, and had added sacraments that were not instituted by Christ along with many other heretical teachings about Mary.
Tyndale was a very well educated English Priest. He had attended Oxford from the age of 12 graduating with a Doctorate at the age of 20. He was fluent in eight languages. He linguistic talents enabled him to read Greek, Latin, and Hebrew then write in English in such a way that even the simplest of his readers could understand it and be edified. That was his driving force, to get the Bible into everyone’s hands that could read. This was in direct opposition to the policies of the English Bishops and priests who wanted to keep access to the scriptures as limited as possible so they could keep control for themselves. They passed laws or rules specifying that only the Latin Bible was permissible. Anyone caught with a Bible or even a portion of scripture in English was subject to arrest, torture and execution. And, of course, they burned every copy of Tyndale’s Bibles they could find and often the people that possessed them, alive!
After his first version of the English New Testament, Tyndale released a book titled The Parable of the Wicked Mammon, also in English. It was the first of his extended treatises; it is an exposition of the New Testament teaching that faith is more important than works. It is loosely based on a sermon by Luther about the puzzling ‘wicked mammon’ parable in Luke 16. The Prologue to this work ends with a powerful attack on Antichrist—it is he that can come on again in different name and clothes, like an actor—in a long paragraph identified, by means of Christ’s attack on Pharisees and hypocrites, with ‘our prelates’. There is difference in the names between pope, a cardinal, a bishop, and so forth, and to say a scribe, a Pharisee, a senior and so forth, but the thing is all one.’ In other words Tyndale knew all about the spirit of the antichrist and who were possessed by it.
He continued: The old Antichrists brought Christ unto Pilate saying, by our law he ought to die…They do all things of good zeal, they say, they love you so well, that they had rather burn you than that you should have fellowship with Christ…Some man will ask peradventure why I take the labour to make this work inasmuch as they will burn it, seeing they burnt the gospel? I answer, in burning the New Testament they did none other thing than that I looked for: not more shall they do, if they burn me also, if it be God’s will it shall so be.
Nevertheless in translating the New Testament I did my duty, and so do I now, and will do as much more as God hath ordained me to do…If God’s word bear record unto it and thou feelest in thine heart that it be so, be of good comfort and give God thanks.
Tyndale did indeed go to his death at the hands of these wicked men. Since he was an ordained priest, he was allowed to be strangled first then they burned him. Many of the saints who eagerly bought or distributed his Bibles were burned alive often with the confiscated Bibles used to light the flames. These acts by these antichrists were so severe and complete that only two copies of Tyndale’s first New Testament run are still with us today.
What is the spirit of the antichrist? It is manifested by anyone who speaks of Christ contrary to what the Word of God says. It is also seen in those who try to suppress the truth from the Word about Christ’s teachings. Teachings about Hell, Judgment, and Eschatology are discouraged or ridiculed by these people. Why? Jesus taught us much about all these things. If He said so much about these things shouldn’t we strive to understand them?
Our enemy is wicked yet sly. In our day there are antichrists who have placed themselves in seats of judgment and reject all sorts teachings and all versions of scripture but one and forms of doctrine plus the Christian leaders behind them that they can associate to a conspiracy theory playing upon the fears and curiosities of immature believers who really should know better. They are revealed to be antichrists when challenged by genuine Christian apologists who possess genuine Christian discernment who reveal point by point that their conspiracy theories are more or less attempts to stir people up rather than genuine works of discipleship to point them to Christ to serve him.
Our present day antichrists went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. They teach things directly contrary to what the Bible says about Christ, the end times, repentance, the nature of genuine salvation, The Trinity, etc. They are destructive in that they are self-elevating while attempting to cast other Christian leaders into doubt. If we examine these people and what they say and do carefully, we will find Humanism at their core. All heretical teachings point to Man, while correct Biblical teachings always point to Christ. By these things, those who teach them are revealing their true nature and the fact that we are in the end times. These conspiracy theory antichrists try to point everyone to themselves, not Christ. It’s all about them.
Dear ones, this is why we must study our Bibles. We must become intimate with the truth therein. We must get that truth in our hearts. We must be ready to judge when encountered by these wicked people. I wrote a series of articles called “Judge Not” several years ago. These articles still receive the highest hits on my blog. The focus of that study was on Jesus’ teaching to the Church to not judge hypocritically. Jesus never told us that we should not judge false teachers, but we are never to gossip or judge hypocritically or with false motives. So when we are confronted by a teaching that directly refutes clear Biblical teachings then we must be prepared to confront and rebuke them. Could this be costly? If we are self-absorbed or self-focused then the cost will look enormous. However, if we take the view that Tyndale took against the antichrists in 16th Century England, then we will take his attitude of If God’s word bear record unto it and thou feelest in thine heart that it be so, be of good comfort and give God thanks.
Let us pray for modern day William Tyndales and Martin Luthers to be raised up to be instruments in God’s hands to shine the light of His truth into the darkness that is loved by our 21st Century antichrists.
Soli Deo Gloria!