In bringing to a close this book on the Antichrist, we are conscious that |there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed| (John 13:1). We have sought to present as comprehensive an outline of the subject as our present light and somewhat limited space would permit. But little more than an outline has been given. Abundant scope is still left for the interested reader and student to work out and fill in the details for himself. This, we trust, is what many will do. The subject, though solemn, is one full of interest.
No doubt the subject is new, and hence, mysterious to some of our readers. These we would ask to turn back to the first chapter, and re-read the whole book. That God will yet permit the Devil to bring forth his satanic Masterpiece, who shall defy God and persecute His people, should scarcely be surprising. In each succeeding age there has been a Cain for every Abel; a Jannes and Jambres for every Moses and every John the Baptist. It has been so during this dispension: the sowing of the Wheat, was followed by the sowing of the Tares. It will be so in the Tribulation period: not only will there be a faithful remnant of Israel, but there shall be an unfaithful company of that people, too. And just before the Christ of God returns to this earth to set up His kingdom, God will suffer His arch-enemy to bring forth the false christ, who will establish his kingdom.
And God's hour for this is not far distant. It was when |the iniquity of the Amorites| was come to the |full| (Gen.15:16) that God gave orders for their extermination (Deut.7:1, 2). And Israel's transgressions (Dan.8:23) and the transgressions of Christendom (2 Thess.2:11, 12), will only have come to |the full| when those who rejected the Christ of God, shall have received the christ of Satan. Then, shall God say to His avenging angel, |Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time has come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe| (Rev.14:15). It is this which makes the subject so solemn.
What God has been pleased to make known concerning the Antichrist is not revealed in order to gratify carnal curiosity, but is of great moment for our daily lives. In the first place, a proper apprehension of these things should cause us to seriously search our hearts, and to examine carefully the foundation upon which our hopes are built, to discover whether or not they rest on the solid Rock Christ Jesus, or whether they stand upon nothing more stable than the shifting sands of human feelings, human resolutions, human efforts after self-improvement. Incalculably serious is the issue at stake, and we cannot afford to be uncertain about it. A mere |hope I am saved| is not sufficient. Nothing short of the full assurance of faith ought to suffice.
Unspeakable solemn is what we read of in 2 Thess.2:8-12: |And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the Lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.|
There are three points in the above verses by which the writer and the reader may test himself. First, have I |believed the Truth?| |Thy Word is the Truth.| Have I set to my seal that God is true? Have I applied the Word of God to myself, and taken it to my own heart? Have I personally received the Saviour that it reveals?
Second, do I have |pleasure in unrighteousness?| There is a vast difference between doing an act of unrighteousness, and having |pleasure| therein. Scripture speaks of Moses |choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season| (Heb.11:25). And again, it speaks of some who |knowing the judgment of God that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them| (Rom.1:32). So it is here in the passage before us. They who |believe not the Truth,| have |pleasure in unrighteousness.| And here is one of the vital differences between an unbeliever and a genuine believer. The latter may be overtaken by a fault, his communion with Christ may be broken, he may sin grievously, but if he does, he will have no |pleasure| therein! Instead, he will hate the very unrighteousness into which he has fallen, and mourn bitterly for having done that which was so dishonoring to his Saviour.
Third, have I |received the love of the Truth?| Do I read God's Word daily, not simply as a duty, but as a delight; not merely to satisfy conscience, but because it rejoices my heart; not simply to gratify an idle curiosity, that I may acquire some knowledge of its contents, but because I desire above everything else to become better acquainted with its Author. Can I say with the Psalmist, |I will delight myself in Thy statutes[hellip]Thy commandments are my delights| (Psa.119:16,143). The wicked love the darkness; but God's people love the light!
Here, then, are three tests by which we earnestly entreat every reader to honestly examine himself, and see whether he be in the faith. Awful beyond words is the only alternative, for Scripture declares of those who have |believed not the Truth,| who have |pleasure in unrighteousness,| and who have |received not the love of the Truth,| that |for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the Lie: that they all might be damned.|
Again; if we diligently search the Scriptures to discover what they teach concerning the Antichrist -- his personality, his career, his ways, etc. -- the more we are informed about him the better shall we be prepared to detect the many antichrists who are in the world today, now preparing the way for the appearing and career of the Man of Sin. There is no reason why we should be ignorant of Satan's devices. There is no valid excuse if we are deceived by his |false apostles,| who transform themselves into the apostles of Christ (2 Cor.11:13). Christians ought not to be misled by the many false prophets who are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). Nor will they be, if they study diligently those things which God has recorded for our enlightenment and to safeguard us against the subtle deceptions of the great Enemy.
Again; as we give diligent heed to the prophetic Word, as we take its solemn warnings to heart, the effect must be that we shall separate ourselves from everything which is anti-Christian. |Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you| (2 Cor.6:14-17).
This call is not directed toward Christians separating themselves from their fellow-Christians. How could it be? Scripture does not contradict itself. God's Word explicitly says, |Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching| (Heb.10:25). But the same Word which tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, commands us to have |no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness| (Eph.5:11). God forbid that His people should be found helping forward the plans of the Prince of Darkness.
Finally, as we read prayerfully the teaching of Scripture concerning this Coming One, who shall embark upon the most awful course that has ever been run on their earth; as we learn of how he will ascend the Throne of the World, and be the director and dictator of human affairs; as we discover how he will employ the mighty power, with which Satan invests him, to openly defy God and everything which bears His name; and, as we are made aware of the unspeakably dreadful judgments which God will pour upon the world at that time, and the fearful doom which shall overtake the Antichrist and all his followers; our heart will be stirred within us, and we shall not hesitate to lift up our voices in warning. The world is in complete ignorance of what awaits it. The nations know not what is in store for them. Even Israel discern not the dark night which lies before them. But as God instructs us concerning what He is about to do, it is positively criminal to remain silent. The voices of all whom God has been pleased to enlighten ought to be raised in solemn and united testimony to the things which God has declared |must shortly come to pass.|