(1 John 2:18,22; 4:3, 2 John 1:7, Matt. 24:24, Mark 13:22)
I have written before about John. Our understanding is that he was the only one of the 12 who knew Jesus in the flesh and died a natural death. Of course he also knew Jesus after the Spirit. The revelation on Patmos was primarily a revealing of Christ Jesus in His glory. I have written before that the vision changed John forever. He saw the glory of God to a greater measure than, perhaps, any other person in human history. And he fell down as dead.
He wrote the epistles, the letters I prefer to call them, after that experience. He saw the glory of God as perhaps no one else has seen it while in the earth. I have mentioned before that I understand John’s use of the phrase, “it is the last hour,” follows the intense revelation of eternal reality he received. Having seen Christ in His glory, he could more easily recognize the false ideas and personalities among the Lord’s own. So he wrote and is the only one to use the particular Greek word translated as antichrist. While antichrist is a spirit, it manifests in people. This includes those who want to have the preeminence. (See 3 John 9-10). We have seen time and again in history the Lord move by His Spirit, and men look for their personal gain, whether it be fame, the praise of men, or power.
So, John, warns us to turn away from idols and the love of this world. Let us call the world this present evil age. Don’t hold on to anything here for it is all passing away. If we idolize anyone, no matter how wonderful they may seem, we create an atmosphere for vain expectations. And we can be led astray. Do I need to mention Jim Jones, or David Koresh? These were extreme examples of cult leaders who led people to destruction. Among the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were those of the same spirit. Their identity as leaders of God’s people had become dead, empty, and distorted to the point where Jesus called them sons of the devil. I think our present use of classifying actions among the Lord’s people as witchcraft is over-stated. Some of it is simply personally disrespectful. That is not to be unaware of actual witchcraft and betrayals. Each of us needs to be watchful not to slip into a rebellious place because the Lord says it is like witchcraft. This happens all too easily as we want to see control over others.
When we put anyone on a pedestal we move toward that dangerous ground. I have seen it when a gifted person is idolized and allows himself to get too high. He will have a fall and immorality or some other character weakness is exposed. Typically such a person has built a ministry and people have come together and lose themselves into that thing and the Lord intervenes. People often have to leave to grow. Other separations happen. At other times, separations happen when those who have received a revelation by the Spirit are forced out. For them it becomes a birthing into the next chapter that God has foreordained.
May we see that we as the Lord’s people today cannot go back or recreate some better day. The church that grew in the first century dealt with the same types of issues we deal with today. I will clarify that I am not suggesting that every person who gets too high in “ministry” and falls is an antichrist. A continuing revelation of the glory of Christ Jesus is the antidote to thinking of ourselves too highly. There we will know the love of Christ that draws us and separates us to our Father. The church is the place of gathering together to Him. Our response is to say yes to an encounter with Christ. As we move to greater experience of that, room for preeminence of any individual diminishes. Here we find trouble as John addressed in 3 John. Yet John was not all worked up but simply said he would remind the offender of what he had done.
Antichrists have circulated through the earth for 2000 years. Today, we might say that counterfeits abound. The Lord cautioned the disciples that false christs and false prophets would arise. Carefully hear that Jesus says they will show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect, or chosen ones. The call to come to Jesus and to the Father through Him goes out into all the earth. The gospel of the kingdom is being preached and extending into every corner. Jesus said many are called but few are chosen. It is the truth that creates in us a right fear, not to be stuck in an emotion of fear, but to create a focus and spirit of worship. The chosen ones cannot be deceived because they have heard His voice and another, a false one, they will not follow. Simply say yes to the Lord and maintain the love of the truth. He is well able to keep you. Read Psalm 91.