“But as time now presses for the consideration of the question immediately in hand, and as what has been already said in the introduction with regard to the glory of God, may suffice, it is proper that we take the Holy Scriptures themselves in hand, and find out from them what, and of what manner, the coming of Antichrist is; on what occasion and at what time that impious one shall be revealed; and whence and from what tribe (he shall come); and what his name is, which is indicated by the number in the Scripture; and how he shall work error among the people, gathering them from the ends of the earth; and he shall stir up tribulation and persecution against the saints; and how he shall glorify himself as God; and what his end shall be; and how the sudden appearing of the Lord shall be revealed from heaven; and what the conflagration of the whole world shall be; and what the glorious and heavenly kingdom of the saints is to be, when they reign together with Christ; and what the punishment of the wicked by fire.” – Hippolytus: Treatise on Christ and Antichrist
Hippolytus (c170-c236) was considered one of the most important 3rd-century theologians in the Christian Church in Rome. He was a disciple of Irenaeus who in turn was a disciple of Polycarp the disciple of John the Apostle. In the modern age, we have been filled with numerous theories of Eschatology and there is great debate today over who or what the antichrist is. The mentorship of the early church was something they took seriously, and above we see the thread from the Apostle John through to Hippolytus. Hippolytus came into conflict with the popes of his time, he opposed the Roman bishops who softened the penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. It becomes evident by Hippolytus’ treatise that he viewed the coming of Antichrist to be yet future. And his dissertation of the Antichrist is biblically accurate. Numerous early Church Fathers wrote in reference to the Antichrist such as Irenaeus and Jerome. Irenaeus wrote that the Antichrist shall come as “an apostate,” the very embodiment of “satanic apostasy.” From the fist century Church, believers were convinced that the Antichrist figure would eventually come on the world scene. It must be understood that the prefix “anti” in connection with the Anitchrist can mean either “against” (i.e. in opposition to) or “instead of” (in place of). It becomes clear in Scripture that both apply as he will oppose God by speaking blasphemy against God and will stand in the place of Christ asserting he is God. The most compelling characteristics of the Antichrist is depicted in Daniel 11:21, which tells us he will come to power and “seize it through intrigue” (flatteries). He is a master of deception, empowered by the father of lies.”
The end result of deception is apostasy and Jesus in the Olivet Discourse gives clear evidence of the scale to which the church will be overrun with deception just prior to His Second Coming. No less than three times Jesus mentions the emergence of “false Christ’s” and “false prophets” appearing on the scene who’s primary agenda is deception (Matt. 24:5, 11, 24). These deceivers will perform great signs and wonders to deceive (if possible) God’s elect. Today, with all the hype surrounding signs and wonders and all the talk of the supernatural, the ground work is being laid for the one person (Antichrist) to appear on the world scene who will bring it all to pass. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 states his coming is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders and with all unrighteous deception. What many seem to misunderstand is the counterfeit is always camouflaged, on the exterior there is always an outward show of genuineness. The two essential elements which characterizes the genuine, distinguishing it from the counterfeit is “the love of the truth,” and the “belief of the truth” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Deceivers produce convincing, but deceptive, signs and lying wonders, not every miracle comes from God, nor are such wonders any less miraculous because of their origin. One thing is certain, the miracle itself is not reliable, it must be tested by the Word of God.
Today we have the Benny Hinn’s, Bill Johnson’s, and Todd Bentley’s, whose ministries center around the supernatural. To date, there have been no confirmable organic healings from these ministries, no confirmed dead raised though claims to the contrary have been proclaimed by these ministries. The deception surfacing from these types of ministries have been by their theatrics of miracles and their ability to sway people by fair speech, and smooth words. When you look beyond the miracle to the man, examining their teachings, they have ways of behaving and teaching that are intended to make people notice them instead achieving the particular aim of glorifying Jesus Christ. Presently, the signs and wonder movement uses a straw man tactic to shift the focus from Jesus Christ to the miracle itself and to the man. Miss direction is a magicians trick, ministries today use the same tactics by putting focus on the supernatural rather than on Jesus Christ. Jesus stated in John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” The Holy Spirit is in all pretence “truth” who’s witness of Christ is authentic, He testifies of Jesus Christ, never of Himself. The focus on the Holy Spirit today is a miss direction and is used today with the “Operation of the Gifts” to make Ministers popular. Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, the sum total of divine attributes resonate in Jesus Christ. If a miracle is valid it will point to the Person and Work of Christ, not the vehicle or vessel through which it comes.
It’s Not if But When
What will be the effect on (those who stand solidly on the Word of God; boldly calling out, naming and proclaiming, sounding the alarm to avoid those false teachers who claim miracles, signs and wonders), those of us who believe, when (not if) the miracles, signs and wonders are verifiable? Scripture is clear that this will be so. Currently the majority of the discernment ministries out there are focused mostly on the lack of “proof” that the false teachers claim of the miraculous can’t be verified. We need to completely refocus, what will happen to our belief in Christ when:
· arms and legs that are missing are suddenly restored?
· those that were dead are now walking and talking?
· those in wheel chairs come out of them?
· the blind begin to see?
· the deaf begin to hear?
Will we stand strong-solid on God’s Word? Will this possibly be what Scripture calls the strong delusion (2 Thess. 2:11) that “if possible, deceives the very elect?” (Matt. 24:24). One thing is certain, no real miracle, sign or wonder is ever at the expense of the truth. Is the focus on “the Christ” or another christ? Most today claim the miraculous in the name of Christ but when you look deeper you discover the ideology of their belief system stipulates they are “Christ’s.” Many cessationist hang their hat on the lack of proof from ministries claiming the miraculous and their inability to verify claims of healing and the dead raised.
When you consider the Corinthian church, they were prideful, and were arrogantly presuming the full right in this life to things promised in part at the present, things only fully realized in the coming of Christ’s kingdom. They were drawing their ideals from the false standards of fallacious teachings born out of the spirit of this age. Forgetting that this era’s values stand judged under the Cross of Christ, Paul warns them in 1 Cor 4:6 not to go beyond what is written. The “strong delusion” mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 is God’s doing. The reason is because of the pervasive belief in “the lie” rather than a love and belief in “the truth.”
There are two aspects to the antichrist, the “spirit of antichrist,” and the “person of antichrist”. The “spirit of antichrist” can be defined as the spirit of humanism, of man being his own god. However one defines it, Scripturally, it is a spirit that inspires false teachings and functions within the structure of the Church. John defined it as the spirit of error. What fundamentally distinguishes those who are “false prophets, apostles, and teachers” from the people of God is their respective attitudes toward Jesus Christ, i.e. who He is and what He came to do (1 John 4:1-6). Essential to the Church is the Gospel message, justification by faith, the sanctification of the believer (holiness living), and the present hope of the future return of Jesus Christ. These are the doctrines consequential to the “spirit of truth.” Notable to the “spirit of error” are doctrines which diminish the deity of Jesus Christ, His incarnation, His sinless life, His relationship to the Father, His redemptive work on the Cross and His resurrection. And in the place of Jesus Christ, they exalt man to “little gods” as does the Word of Faith teachers, those of the New Apostolic Reformation, and the “Emergent Church Movement.” (NOTE: Serpent said to eve you will be like God) These three stream movements are rooted in the metaphysical cults and new age thought, camouflaged as Christianity they have penetrated denominational lines changing historic Christianity and how we think and view the Scripture. Looking into their doctrines concerning Jesus, these movements have turned the Biblical Jesus into a metaphysical, philosophical creation. The Roman Catholic church, the Greek Orthodox church, the Russian Orthodox church, the Mormon church, the “Christian” cults, and the New Age Movement (comprising of a combination of eastern religious practices), believe man can eventually ascend to godhood through various spiritual disciplines. (NOTE: Lucifer said I will ascend to) The majority of WoF preachers have turned Adam into a carbon copy of God Himself and Jesus into a mere man striped of His deity. However, according to them, Jesus gained godhood after he suffered in hell for the redemption of man. In their reasoning’s, the death of Christ on the Cross was an insufficient price to pay for sin, he had to take on the nature of Satan and suffer in hell to accomplish it. This my friends is the “spirit of error,” the “spirit of antichrist!” And I can tell you with all Biblical accuracy and assurance, they have their “Best Life Now!”
While the spirit of error diminishes the soul, the spirit of antichrist causes deception to prosper. Daniel prophesied of a king (antichrist, little horn) who would rise to power during the 70th week of Daniel. He will be the physical manifestation of the spirit of antichrist already at work in the world. He will understand sinister schemes, and through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule (Daniel 8:23-25). Many view this king as Antiochus Epiphanies who came out of Syria to persecute the Jews and profane the temple between 171 and 164 B.C. He is however the Antichrist of the last days who will actively oppose God and His people. Jesus spoke of Him in Matthew 24:15 as the abomination of desolation as did Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 as the “man of sin,” “the son of perdition.” It must be understood that in Matthew 24, the events Jesus describes occur within the 70th week of Daniel. The Greek word parousia is used four times between verse 3-39 threading the events listed in this chapter together, all centered around the appearing of Christ in the clouds to rapture the living on earth and resurrect the dead in Christ. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see much of the deception Jesus describes prior to the 70th week. In fact, I personally believe much of what we are witnessing today in the WoF, NAR, and Emergent Church shadows upon us this last prophetic week of Daniel. Just as you first see the storm clouds approaching before the storm arrives, we can anticipate the consummation of the age through current events, when we compare them to Scripture, it all lines up. The deception Jesus warns us about in Matthew 24:4 has in all pretense been since the first generation church. However, we see today a global deception growing exponentially through these three movements.
In the study of Eschatology, hermeneutics requires we find a common denominator between various text, (words or phrases, etc.) which links an episode together. Daniels language is clearly eschatological, denoting a multilevel prophetic fulfillment. Prophetic fulfillments closest to the prophets’ own day were mingled with those reaching as far as the final culmination of all things. A motif is an idea, or subject that is frequently repeated in literature. For instance, the “Day of the Lord” is a Motif used by the Old Testament prophets to signify a time in the history of mankind when God directly intervenes to bring salvation to His people and punishment to the wicked. It is a reoccurring theme in the New Testament dealing with the Second Coming of Christ who inaugurates the Day of the Lord, during which Christ’s personal, righteous, and universal rule will restore God’s order to the Earth.
Daniel gives several names to this future figure we identify as Antichrist. Daniel calls him the “little horn,” “Beast,” “Prince,” “king,” just as in the new testament we are given titles such as “beast,” “man of sin,” “antichrist,” “king,” etc. The connection to these titles are seen in his opposition to God, the abomination of desolation, his persecution of the saints, and his self exaltation in the place of God. When you study Daniel chapters 7,9, and 11, along with Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2, all are reoccurring themes connected to the Revelation Beast described by John. Below are three examples:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” – Daniel 11:36
“And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.” – Revelation 13:5-6
False Religious System
That Jesus begins His discourse with a warning of false Christ’s and false Prophets plainly describes a False Religious System within the structure of the Church. A closer look at Matthew 24:5 reveals that many will use His name to advance their deceptive agenda claiming equality, a better way to phrase it is they proclaim “sameness” with Christ. In the Greek, “Christ” means anointed one, the definite article “the” i.e. “I am the Christ” is not found in the Greek grammar. They will come in Jesus’ Name saying “I am Christ” thus misrepresent Him, or re-presenting Him claiming special anointing on themselves. Alone side of these “Christ’s” are prophets forming two man teams who’s agenda will spiral the Church to apostasy.
The Antichrist is also in view as Jesus refers to him in Matthew 24:15 as the abomination of desolation. Jesus shifts His discourse in verse 15 recapitulating what He had just taught in verses 4-14. At the heart of His discourse is betrayal, apostasy, lawlessness, and tribulation, all which coincides seamlessly with the seven seals of Revelation. It is here I stop, articles can become too long, so I will continue this teaching in the next few articles beginning where I leave off here.