There is much talk today concerning the anti-Christ and who that person might be. There are many opinions concerning this one who is to rise to world power and usher in a period of time in which the world experiences great tribulation by their own making and by the heavy hand of God’s wrath. John encourages his readers to be on alert. The signs of the times are all around us and there are many so-called anti-Christs that are poised to deceive and wreak havoc on the world. In encouraging his readers to maintain a right fellowship with God and with each other, John provides certain facts to consider in order to build confidence in their faith.
It is the last time. First John 2:18 says, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” The Bible speaks a lot about the last days or the end times. There are many places in the New Testament where the terms ‘last days’ or ‘last times’ is used. In some cases, these terms refer to the period of time that began with the first coming of Christ and ends with the second coming of Christ. In other places we find these terms used as a reference to the latter part of that period. In order to understand the last days an understanding of traditional dispensational theology is needed. The Bible shows how God works through various dispensations of time. A dispensation is basically a period of time in which God worked to fulfill His ultimate purposes. In the Garden of Eden we see the dispensation of innocence, after which we see the dispensation of the law, and then the time of Christ and so forth. With the birth of the church in Acts chapter two, we entered into a new dispensation. It is known as the dispensation of the church or the age of grace. This current dispensation will continue until the second coming of Christ at which time a new dispensation begins with the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth that we know of as the millennial reign. However, there is a parenthesis in between the dispensation of the church and millennial reign and that is the period we know of as the great tribulation. This is a period of time when God deals one again with Israel as a nation and unleashes His wrath on the unbelieving world. Just before this parenthesis in time, we have the rapture of the church. When the Bible speaks of the last days, it refers to the time period in which we live today known as the dispensation of the church or the age of grace which began at the birth of the church in Acts 2. However, when John mentions that they are in the ‘last time’, he is referring to the last hour or the last of the last days. I am convinced that we today are living in that last hour. We are living in the final days of the dispensation of the church.
There are many anti-Christs. The evidence that we are living in the last hour of the last days, or the dispensation of the church is the fact that there are many anti-Christs. John has confidence that his readers knew of and understood that there will come one man that we will be known as the anti-Christ.
Consider what the scripture says in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 says: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”There will come a day when a man will rise to power and exalt himself as God. He will be possessed by Satan and will rule the world for a period of time. This is who we know of as the anti-Christ. I believe that the anti-Christ may very well hold some political office today and is just buying his time waiting for the day that he would be revealed as the ruler of the world. However, I also believe Satan always has a man ready to be the anti-Christ when the time comes. Even though we know there will be this anti-Christ who will claim to be God and rule the world for period of time, John mentions that there are many anti-Christs. There is a spirit of anti-Christ in the world and the more this spirit of anti-Christ grows, the closer we are to the rapture of the church and the revealing of the anti-Christ. The fact that there are many anti-Christs today is evidence that we are living in the last hour of the dispensation of the church.
There is a great falling away. Notice what John says in verse 19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”The Pillar New Testament Commentary says, “Those whom the author describes as antichrists were in fact once members of his own Christian community, but they had seceded from it: ‘they went out from us’. Their secession, as far as the author is concerned, only showed that they had never really been true members of his Christian community.” One of the greatest signs pointing to the fact that we are in the last hour of the last days is that fact that many are falling away from the faith. Notice what 2 Thessalonians 2:3 says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”This passage seems to reveal that just before the anti-Christ is revealed, there will be a great falling away. There will be many who once claimed to know Christ as their Savior and they will walk away and turn their backs on God. These who have fallen away are those who may have verbally claimed they knew Christ, but in their hearts, they never knew Him. They did not lose their salvation, they never had it. They were hypocrites and they had the rest of the church deceived into thinking they were true believers when in fact they were not. I am afraid that this time of a great falling away is upon us. Many are leaving the church in droves. Why? Because they never were true believers.
You know the truth. 1 John 2:20-23 says, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” John encourages his readers by identifying them as those who have not be deceived by the spirit of anti-Christ because they know the truth. They have the Holy Spirit living within them and they are truly born-again. The fact is: those who are truly born-again will not fall away. They will not give in to the spirit of anti-Christ. They will not abandon their faith. Those who are truly born again will not turn their backs on God and will not abandon His church.
The signs of the times are all around us. There are many anti-Christs that points to the fact that Jesus is coming soon. There are many who have and will fall away. There are many that are walking away from what they once claimed. This is just a sign of the time in which we live. All true believers in Christ will remain faithful. A true believer will not fall away. A true believer will endure to the end. Are you a true believer?