And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight...
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
There are a number of things that God our Creator desires for His created humanity, and certainly at the top of that list is reconciliation. First and foremost, He wants His created beings, all of whom have been separated from Him through sin, to be brought into fellowship with Him. That separation began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The penalty was death (Gen:2:17 )—spiritual death, immediately, and physical death, eventually. In both cases death involved eternal separation (Mt 25:41).
Scripture tells us that all have sinned, a fact that no one can honestly deny, although the attempts are widespread. Yet the Bible reveals mankind’s condition with absolute clarity: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom:5:12 ); “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom:3:23 ). The consequences of sin are likewise given: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa:59:2 ).
The penalty for sin is eternal, therefore the reconciliation must be eternal: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb:9:12 ). Reconciliation with humanity’s Creator is impossible for a man or a woman to achieve through his or her own efforts. Why? Divine justice demands that the penalty must be paid and the penalty is infinite—endless. Finite humanity itself cannot bring about reconciliation by satisfying divine justice because the punishment is without end, i.e., “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess 1:8-9). What is impossible for man, however, is possible for God (Mk 10:27).
Jesus, who is God, and who became a man—a perfect, sinless man—could (and did) pay the eternal penalty for all of mankind. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn:2:2 ). “But we see Jesus…that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb:2:9 ). As God, He could experience and pay that eternal penalty; as Man, He could die physically—all of which He did on the cross. Although His complete payment for the sins of humanity is beyond our ability to comprehend, Scripture proves that the reality of His atonement is undeniable. Christ’s final words as He hung on the cross are both clear and certain: “It is finished.”
The Greek term used for “finished” is tetelestai. One lexicon explains: “The word tetelestai was also written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show that a bill had been paid in full…. The connection between receipts and what Christ accomplished would have been quite clear to John’s Greek-speaking readership; it would be unmistakable that Jesus Christ had died to pay for their sins” (goo.gl/no6yxC).
Christ’s sacrifice for all has only one requirement in order to bring about reconciliation between God and every human being. His death, burial, and resurrection according to the Scriptures must be believed and received as Christ’s payment for a person’s sins. Faith alone brings about God’s free gift of salvation, and anything added to that is a rejection of Christ’s unfathomable gift that brings about reconciliation.
As I said, being reconciled to God is first and foremost. What then of reconciliation in our personal lives with others once the “first and foremost” takes place? “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor:5:18 ). That ministry, which all believers have been given, has to do with simply explaining the good news of the gospel to everyone with whom God provides the opportunity. Sharing the good news of the gift of eternal life that we have freely received should be one of the easiest things for Christians to do but, sadly, too many believers are reluctant to do it. There’s another aspect of reconciliation that some Christians find terribly difficult, and it has to do with our personal relationships.
Scripture gives us instructions and commands regarding how we, as believers, are to effect reconciliation in our relationships. Matthew:5:23-24 gives us a sense of the priority of personal reconciliation with others before God: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” It seems that God won’t accept one’s service to Him when we are at the same time disobedient to His commands.
Obviously, reconciliation between individuals is very important to God and examples are found throughout the Bible. The brothers Jacob and Esau were reconciled (Gen:33:4 ). After terrorizing believers, Saul, aka Paul, was accepted by those Christians whom he had terrorized! The Corinthians separated themselves from the young man who had his father’s wife, but after he repented he was reconciled to them. Regarding that situation, Paul wrote: “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2 Cor:2:6-7 ). Paul’s letter to Philemon consists primarily of his exhortation to receive back his escaped slave Onesimus. Paul himself had issues with John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas, which caused Paul to separate himself from him. However, those issues must have been resolved, for Paul later declared, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tim:4:11 ).
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to reconciliation among believers is reluctance, even refusal, to forgive an offending individual. That’s why the Lord, knowing the heart of man, underscores the necessity of forgiveness throughout the Scriptures: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22); “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mk 11:25-26).
So what are the factors that prevent us from obeying the commands of God’s Word? Pride…self…our old nature…to name a few. Because pride is a major factor, it keeps us from availing ourselves of God’s grace, because “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet:5:5 ).
Who is ever eager to admit that he or she is to blame—or willing to reconcile when not guilty? All of the things that keep us from reconciling with others can be overcome by simply doing what the Scriptures tell us to do. If we’re willing to do things God’s way, He’ll enable us to obey Him. If that sounds too simple, let’s consider a few ideas that might help a person to turn from his own way to God’s way. Although those justifications shouldn’t be necessary, the examples are much like the deterrents listed in the Bible itself, warning readers of the dire consequences of disobedience.
Just what is to be gained by being unwilling to reconcile or forgive? Nothing good! It’s all about self. But pride blinds one to the fact that unwillingness to forgive is self-destructive. Rarely does it have an effect on the person against whom the grudge is held. For many who refuse to reconcile, it conjures up feelings that feed their prideful sense of superiority. Yet Proverbs:12:1 calls the person who rejects biblical instruction and correction brutish, or stupid. Furthermore, the longer that such feelings are sustained, the easier it will be for a root of bitterness to take hold. At the very least, a bad attitude will prevail, affecting others, especially the family members who have to live with the individual. So we see that nothing is gained, but much is lost.
Worst of all, refusing to reconcile injures a believer’s relationship with the Lord. God certainly does not change or go back on His declaration that He will never leave nor forsake a believer (Heb:13:5 ), but those who disobey God will hardly draw closer to Him! By choosing their own way, they’re in the process of drifting away from Him (Heb:2:1 ; Rev:2:4 ), or worse. Verses such as Ephesians:4:32 and Colossians:3:12-13 are not suggestions but rather commands that must be obeyed: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Those who claim to be believers but refuse to comply need to take to heart the admonition given by Jesus: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk 6:46).
Throughout the Word of God believers are exhorted to deny themselves, putting Christ first and then others: “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor:5:14-15 ); “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself” (Rom:15:2-3 ); Love “seeketh not her own” (1 Cor:13:5 ); “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph:4:1-3 ). An unforgiving heart stands in direct opposition to those verses and many more.
In my four decades of being a biblical Christian, I had to learn about reconciliation the hard way, which meant through my own experiences rather than by simply obeying what the Scriptures clearly present. I lost a number of friends during that time for a number of reasons, whether through what I did, or said, or wrote. Early on, my approach was to engage them in communication, mostly to defend myself, regardless of whether or not I was at fault. That attitude never brought about reconciliation, even when I made my case using scriptural support. More often than not, it worsened the relationship.
So what did I learn? I needed to do what the Word of God commanded. When convicted of my own wrong in a situation, I needed to repent of whatever it was and try to make amends. What about when I wasn’t at fault, or when I was biblically correct in what I had written, but a brother took offense? I would often respond in order to better explain my point of view or to clarify what I had written that would provide a better understanding. It appeared to be the right thing to do, as long as I could make reconciliation my goal rather than my defense of myself. But even when I did what I could to reconcile, rarely did my attempts meet with success, at least for a while.
What I learned over the years helped, however. First of all, it takes two to reconcile. Both parties must be willing to obey the Bible’s teachings and do things God’s way, which may involve the instructions found in Matthew 18. If, however, I’m willing but the other person is not, we can’t be reconciled. That doesn’t excuse me from doing all I can to obey God’s Word regarding the matter. To not do so doesn’t please the Lord, nor does it help to bring about the possibility of a resolution to the situation. What I’ve also learned is that when I’ve attempted to dispute the issues of disagreement, no matter how meekly, more often than not I’ve unintentionally created obstacles that thwart resolution. The more I “debated,” the greater the disagreement seemed to grow. In other words, I realized that I was hindering what might have been an eventual reconciliation.
On the other hand, I have experienced a few truly miraculous reconciliations! How did they happen? I believe they were all helped by my getting out of the Lord’s way, meaning that I stopped defending myself. Instead, I turned the circumstances over to God, doing what His Word said, with His help, and committed those situations to continual prayer. It was the Lord who turned the hearts of those in opposition toward reconciliation, which only He could do. As it says in 2 Timothy:2:25 regarding those in opposition, “if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”
God knows everyone’s heart and what needs to be done to effect change, which only He can do. Others, however, cannot know or do anything about our hearts, but they can see how we as Christians handle things. God’s Word instructs us to “Be not wise in your own conceits,” not repaying “evil for evil,” but rather do good to others “in the sight of all men” striving to “live peaceably” (Romans:12:16-18 ). That’s God’s way, and anyone who wants to experience peace in his own life but has departed from God’s way must begin the reconciliation process first and foremost with Him.
We’ve seen over and over that the New Testament defines and defends the true gospel and condemns all false gospels. We also can see why this is the case: the battle for souls is between God’s truth and Satan’s lie. Thus, each person’s eternal destiny depends upon what he or she believes. One cannot believe both the Truth and the lie. Even though one believes in God (who is He?) and that Christ is our Savior (what does that mean?), if God’s truth has been compromised or perverted, such a gospel doesn’t save but eternally damns those who believe it.
Why is this so? Doesn’t such condemnation seem harsh? Why is what one believes so vital? Isn’t it enough to be sincere? Yet how can one be sincere and believe Satan’s lie instead of God’s truth? Surely God has given each of us the capacity to know the difference! Thus, those who reject the Truth condemn themselves.
Among the most solemn and terrible verses in the Bible, we must include 2 Thessalonians:2:10-12 . There we are told that when the Antichrist controls the earth, to all who “received not the love of the truth” God will send “a strong delusion that they should believe the lie: that they all might be damned.” Can anyone complain if God helps them to believe the very lie that they insisted upon embracing? The damned are caught in the net of their own rebellion and left for eternity with the lie they loved. How horrible! Yet how just! From such a fate Christ died to save us.
Our rebellion against the infinite God requires an infinite penalty that we as finite creatures could never pay. We would be separated from God eternally. He could not simply make a “bookkeeping entry” in heaven and forgive us, for that would violate His justice. God so loved mankind that He came down through the virgin birth and became a member of our race in order to be, on the Cross, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Having paid the penalty in full demanded by His own justice, God can righteously forgive all who admit their guilt and accept the pardon He graciously offers.
When the Philippian jailer cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”, Paul and Silas gave a simple answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts:16:31 ). Surely that means more than simply believing that someone called Jesus Christ existed. Who was He? Lord means “God”; Jesus means “Savior from sin”; Christ means “Messiah,” the one promised in the Scriptures. His very name indicates that He is God who became a man to die for our sins in fulfillment of what God’s prophets foretold.
The Old Testament repeatedly presents God as the only Savior. He offers to save Israel from her enemies, and he also desires to save all men, both Jews and Gentiles, from the judgment sin brings. God declares, for example, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else” (Isaiah:45:22 ). Thus, when Christ said that He had come “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke:19:10 ), He was declaring that He was God the Savior—exactly the name that the New Testament repeatedly calls both Christ and God the Father.
Paul wrote, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” He went on to explain why they were not saved, though they had “a zeal of God”: “For they...[seeking] to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end [goal] of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans:10:1-4 ). Despite their zeal for God, the Jews were lost because they would not come to God on His terms.
Suppose one claims to believe that Christ died for man’s sins but that one must add to their beliefs good deeds, trust in Mary to intercede, suffer in purgatory, belong to a certain church or keep certain rules or sacraments in order to be saved, or that Christ must be sacrificed again in the Mass. Is that man saved? The Bible says no. To believe that anything else is necessary for salvation is to deny that Christ paid the penalty in full, thus rejecting the gospel. How can those who trust in a church for salvationbe trusting only in Christ and His finished work? Or what about those who agree to accept some church’s interpretation of God’s Word? Can it be said that they personally know God and are believing in Him?
Many who claim to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” have attached their own meanings to the seemingly biblical words they use. Thus are manufactured the many false gospels that usually include false concepts of “Christ.” The Science of Mind cult, for example, teaches, “We do not deny the divinity of Jesus, but rather we affirm the divinity of all people....” They call Jesus a Savior, but add, “Any world teacher [Buddha, Muhammad, Freud, et al.] who helps mankind to be free from material, intellectual, or emotional bondage is a spiritual ‘savior.’” Yet Robert Schuller put a picture of Della Reese, a leader in Science of Mind, on the cover of his Possibilities magazine and featured her as a Christian.
Mormonism teaches that “God” (who has another “God” over him and so on endlessly) was once a sinful man redeemed by a “Christ” on another planet. The “Christ” of our planet (Satan’s half-brother in a pre-earth spirit world) was conceived when “the God of this world” came to earth in his physical body and had sex with Mary. Mormonism’s “Christ” was not God who became man, but a spirit entity who came to earth to get a physical body so he could become a “God,” a metamorphosis that is the ambition of every Mormon male (females become goddesses). To a Mormon, eternal life is not a free gift of God’s grace but must be earned and culminates in one’s becoming a “God,” who manufactures another world with another Adam and Eve, another Satan, another fall, another Jesus, and so on, ad infinitum absurdum.
Yet Robert Schuller has Jack Anderson, a leading Mormon, as a guest on his Hour of Power and passes him off as a Christian—and our four living ex-presidents [as of 1991] and President Bush, all professing Christians, along with Billy Graham and other leaders, praise Schuller for his Hour of Power. Earl Paulk likewise calls Mormons “Christians.” The Church Council of Greater Seattle apologized to American Indians for Christianity’s opposition to traditional Native American spiritual practices (i.e., their pagan religion). The “formal apology” was read to a group of Indians by Episcopalian Bishop Robert Cochrane. Pope John Paul II has likewise endorsed the same paganism. Ecumenism is both appealing and appalling.
In Catholicism, everyone, no matter of what religion, is somehow “saved” through some mystical association with the Roman Catholic Church. Summarizing this doctrine in a popular Catholicnewspaper, Fr. Benjamin Luther writes, “The Catholic Church has not and cannot change its teaching that it is itself necessary for salvation....” This priest then goes on to explain how Catholics can, nevertheless, deny that Rome teaches that outside of her there is no salvation. One need not be a member but can be saved through “some form of participation in the life of the Church. Pope Pius XII spoke of ‘hidden bonds’ joining nonmembers [with the Church]. So, the Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and even those following the great pagan religions, such as the Hindus and Buddhists, can share in the supernatural life—and the grace—found solely within the visible boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, through the Church alone they [all] can gain salvation” (Catholic Twin Circle, Jan. 8, 1969, p. 15). Amazing! Although opposing God’s truth and persisting in their pagan practices, all religions can be united under the Vatican! What a perfect setup for the apostate world religion under Antichrist!
St. Olaf (a Lutheran college) in Northfield, MN, features courses in Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. Anantanand Rambachan, a Hindu scholar who has taught at St. Olaf for five years, argues that “the biggest barrier to creating understanding among the great religions is the Christian claim that there is only one way to be saved.” In agreement, Lutheran pastor Clark Morphew declares that “Worldwide religious harmony [is] hampered by ‘one way’ dogma.” Christ’s claim that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John:14:6 ) is brushed aside by professing Christians in the interest of “religious harmony.” Tolerance for Satan’s lie has become the one virtue! How prophetic were Gorbachev’s words: “Tolerance is the alpha and omega of the new world order.” Truth is not a factor!
With the growing apostasy and popularity of New Age ideas, of ecumenism and disdain of doctrine even among evangelicals, the distinctions between the Truth and the lie are being ignored as if what one believes makes no difference after all. Standing for truth is considered to be “negative,” and letting those who believe false gospels go to hell without telling them the truth is considered an act of “love.” After all, that’s what Mother Teresa, the ultimate exemplar of loving one’s neighbor, has been doing for decades. Rather than giving the gospel to recipients of her charity, she has encouraged Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, et al., to draw closer to their gods—and has been praised by evangelical leaders for launching those in her care from a clean bed into hell!
Souls are being lost eternally! It has never been more important than now to be ready and able “always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter:3:15 ). Why a reason? Because “faith” is not blind; it is not a “leap into the dark” but is based upon solid evidence. Why must there be evidence? Isn’t it enough simply to “believe”? Believe what? One would be a perverse fool to believe anything and everything. Then what and in whom is one to believe? Obviously, there must be a sound reason for believing “x” and not believing “y.”
The gospel is the “good news.” We have great news to rejoice in, to be excited and happy about, and to share gladly with others. But we must know how to explain it so that the issues are made crystal clear. We owe it to those around us to present the gospel so clearly that they have every fact necessary for making the right choice. And that includes soundly refuting Satan’s lies. As Paul exhorted Titus, “In all your teaching show the strictest regard for truth, and [for]...the seriousness of the matters you are dealing with. Your speech should be [so] logical...that your opponent may feel ashamed...” (Titus:2:7-8 , Phillips trans.).
One of the greatest needs in the church today is for training in sound apologetics not only to counter atheism (which is the real “faith” of very few) but false religions, which have ensnared so many more. Why do young people so often “lose their faith” or get caught up in cults when they go off to college or university? Those who “lose” it never had genuine faith—didn’t know why and in whom they believed—or it would have stood every test.
Parents often worry that their children will be persuaded by their peers to abandon their “faith” and to indulge in evil. Peer pressure in school, however, can only destroy a faith that was itself the product of peer pressure in church or family and lacked sound reason. It may have been pressure from parents, spouse, or friends to “believe” in order to gain their approval. Or pressure from pastor or preacher to “go forward” in order to be accepted into the group and enjoy the benefits of belonging. Or it could have been the call to “come to Jesus” for the wrong reasons: perhaps for healing and prosperity instead of cleansing from sin.
Many Christians who reject the false gospel and know the truth are yet afraid to have their faith challenged by non-Christians at work or at school. We dishonor God if we fear that our faith will not survive the battle that comes from witnessing boldly for Him. As a young man at UCLA I read everything I could find written against the Bible by atheists, agnostics, or skeptics. It strengthened my faith to see what pitiful arguments they had in comparison to God’s truth! We must put what we believe to the test, especially in daily life, living triumphantly for Him rather than for self.
It isn’t how intelligent we are that counts but whether what we believe is the truth. Our Lord promised, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth and the truth shallmake you free” (John:8:31-32 [emphasis added]). It is a freedom from the fear that others may embarrass us if we proclaim the gospel, with the freedom that it offers from the power of sin to deceive and attract us. What we really believe not only determines our eternal destiny but our conduct here and now. Thus, God’s truth guards us from evil.
As an 18- to 20-year-old in the armed services during World War II, I saw those around me indulge in every sin imaginable, and they tried to persuade me to join them. Yet I was never tempted even in the slightest to conform. Is that to my credit? No, for according to what I believed about the eternal consequences of such behavior I would have been a fool to join in. What you and your children will do depends upon what each one really believes.
An entire generation is being lost because a false psychological gospel of self-esteem and a lack of sound doctrinal teaching that explains why God’s way is best is robbing them of the Truth that is worth living and dying for. Let us be “lovers of truth” and effective witnesses with our lips and lives for our wonderful Savior. Be enthusiastic and bold! What good news of freedom in Christ we have to proclaim to those who are enslaved by Satan’s lies!
It used to be that if I wanted a confirmation of what Dave Hunt and I were writing regarding the spiritual changes we observed taking place in the US and, more specifically, in Christendom, I’d talk to missionaries who had returned home on furlough after spending a couple of years ministering overseas. Many were quite shaken by what had transpired here in their absence, especially in their local churches. Among the changes they saw were the strong influences of so-called Christian psychology, the Purpose Driven and seeker-sensitive approach to church growth, militant Calvinism, Replacement theology with its tendency toward anti-Semitism, the Contemplative movement, the Hebrew Roots movements, the Emerging Church movement, kingdom dominionism, etc. Some found themselves in situations in which they had to decide whether or not they could continue fellowshipping in the church that had sent them into the mission field and was their primary support. “Heartbreaking” only partially describes their reactions.
It used to be that their responses were clear indicators of changes that we here in the US often miss or don’t immediately realize because they appear slowly and even stealthily. It’s much like the old “frog in the pot” parable, in which a frog was placed in a pot of tepid water, with the water temperature being very gently increased. The frog adapted to the warmer water until it eventually cooked to death. Now it appears that Christendom is being cooked at a fast-food rate. False teachers have abandoned trying to ease in “new teachings” and are now racing headlong into heresy after heresy. One example among a multitude of shockers that could be given: pews are pushed back in the sanctuaries of many evangelical churches to make room for the practice of Jesus Yoga, Yahweh Yoga, Holy Yoga and Kid’s Holy Yoga, Praise Moves, Yogafaith, or Christoga (see “New Age Mysticism Déjà Vu Part 2”)! Forget subtlety. It’s anti-Christianity, full speed ahead!
How could such a thing happen? Samuel Andrews’s book Christianity and Anti-Christianity In Their Final Conflict gives us answers. But how did he acquire his acute awareness? Simply from the same source that he challenges readers of his book to seek out answers regarding such things—the Bible: “It is only through Scriptural light that we can fully know the character and work of the Anti-Christ; and to this light it is of vital importance that we give heed, for we are forewarned that he will present himself to men under an aspect best fitted to deceive.” Andrews claims no special prophetic insights, and although his approach is somewhat unique, it isn’t complex. Reading the Bible and taking it at its word is the first prerequisite. The Scriptures prophetically declare that apostasywill take place in the last days before Jesus returns, and it begins with what Hebrews 2 warns believers against: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (v.1). That slippage has become a landslide today. Jesus is more specific in Revelation 2 as He addresses the church at Ephesus, first acknowledging their good works, and then: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.”
The departure from one’s love of Jesus, no matter how slight, is still a departure. Good works, regardless of how seemingly good, without the love of Christ included, will result in a slippage. At what cost? Jesus told the “church of many good deeds” that if they didn’t return to their love for Him, He would remove the lampstand (i.e., the light given to them), and they would no longer reflect Jesus, who is that “true Light” (John:1:9 ). So began the bride of Christ’s slide into apostasy.
Andrews realized that if there is a departure from the faith it will have serious consequences that will escalate to an awful conclusion resulting in devastating spiritual wreckage. He found this stated, in no uncertain terms, in the Book of Revelation. Andrews’s rather unique approach was to ascertain all that Scripture said about the last days prior to Christ’s return and, in particular, about the man who is the embodiment of wickedness, the Antichrist. Using those characteristics of the “man of sin” and what he is enabled by Satan to do, Andrews searches through the chronology of the Bible and church history, looking for traces and traits of the apostasy and its numerous elements that will contribute to the formation of the religion of the Antichrist.
Andrews provides an example based on this statement: “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, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians:2:3-4 ). Andrews surmises that the reception by the entire world of someone who claims to be God and who will be worshiped as God is not something that humanity will readily accept without great cause and expectancy. He recognizes that the conditioning of the world by Satan is necessary in order to make his “man of sin” credible: “It need not be said that this man and his kingdom are not the accidents of an hour; there is a long preparatory process.” The world’s rejection of Christ, the only true God manifested in the flesh, demonstrates that there must be more to convince people that worshiping the man of sin (rather than the sinless God/Man) is both advantageous and right. Andrews finds in Scripture what has been referred to as “the lie” (Romans:1:25 ), the belief that finite created beings can be as God, or are a part of God. The lie began in heaven when Lucifer declared, “I will be like the most High” (Isaiah:14:14 ). The lie came to earth in Satan’s offer to Eve: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis:3:5 ).
Throughout Scripture and history we find examples of people worshiping mortal men, from the Caesars to the Roman and Greek gods to individuals such as Herod Agrippa (Acts:12:22 ). Even the Apostle Paul was thought to be a god by the barbarians on the Island of Melita, and the people at Lystra, referring to him, exclaimed: “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men.” Yet those local incidents were a far cry from what will take place regarding the worldwide worship of the Antichrist.
Andrews’s approach to end-times prophecy is not complicated. He read what the Bible declares will take place just prior to the Lord’s return, and then he surveyed his own time (the late 1800s) to see if what was being popularized had any relevance to the fulfillment of latter-day prophecy. Unlike some in our day who turn every news event into a literal prophetic fulfillment, Andrews addressed the big picture conceptually: mankind will universally come to believe in the deification of man and the worship of man. The evidence that this development was well on its way was plentiful in Andrews’s day, primarily due to the belief in pantheism and panentheism. They are the belief that God isn’t personal but a Force, the substance of which everything consists and which is in everything. Thus, man is God or is a part of God.
The teaching that God is an impersonal Force is foundational to Eastern mysticism, especially Hinduism. In the West, Andrews saw that the philosophers who greatly influenced his era (Kant, Hegel, Spinoza, etc.) drew upon Eastern mystical concepts in formulating their views of God. He quotes a well-known historian of the early 1800s who recognized the same: “Among the different systems, by whose aid philosophy endeavours to explain the universe, I believe Pantheism to be one of those most fitted to seduce the human mind in democratic ages….”
The belief in Pantheism was further promoted by well-known literary figures (Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Shelley, Browning, et al.), whose writings advanced their belief in the exaltation of nature and the deification of mankind. Many in the sciences joined their ranks based on the endorsements of Huxley and others promoting evolution, especially in the rejection of a Creator.
As the affinity for the pseudoscience of evolution grew, ideas were added that reinforced the belief in mankind’s evolution to a higher state. Darwin predicted that “in the distant future man will be a far more perfect creature than he now is.” Andrews writes, “In this belief as to the future of man, the leading evolutionists…look chiefly to the gradual evolution of humanity under the law of the survival of the fittest…. Philosophy and science in many eminent representatives agree in affirming that there is no personal God, only a universal, impersonal Spirit or Energy, of which everything that exists is a part. This, viewed on the material side, is atheism; on the spiritual, is pantheism [with its deifying affirmations].”
Andrews wrote extensively of the many things taking place in his time period of 120 years ago that advanced the idea that all humanity is God. The abundant information on that one prophetic point alone brought him to a conclusion that was evident in much of what he observed: worshiping the Antichrist will surely include the recognition of one’s own godhood. He further explains: “It is also to be remembered that in rendering homage to one who appears as the rival of Christ, men will not do homage to one who differs in his nature from themselves, and superior to them; but to their own nature as embodied in him. In exalting him, they exalt themselves” [with the only difference being] “that they recognize in him one in whom is a larger measure of Divinity” (emphasis added).
Christianity and Anti-Christianity In Their Final Conflict reads as though it were written today, with two differences: 1) All the things that Andrews identified in his era are found today albeit in widely diverse, yet connected and expanded, versions, and 2) Their exposition and promotion in our day seems to be taking place worldwide at light speed by comparison.
The following brief summary of just some of his insights leaves one in awe of his biblical and historical discernment:
• As a result of the loss of the bride of Christ’s main focus upon Jesus and her love for Him, her desire to please Him through obedience to His commands will decrease, and apostasy will follow.
• Though a remnant will remain steadfast, the end-time church will supplant the headship of Christ with the rule of men, organizations, and the state. All attempts within Christendom to set up Christ’s Kingdom prior to His return will fail.
• The state will rule over the church very likely through some form of socialism, and Christ will be regarded as little more than a model of social and moral correctness.
• The world will look forward to a more highly evolved human instead of looking back to one in the archaic past, like Jesus.
• Biblical Christianity will be ultimately disparaged and rejected, especially with its doctrine of the sinfulness of man in need of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
• Neo-Christianity will conform to the ways, means, and beliefs of the world.
• Christ, when He is considered, is said to be simply a revealer of the divinity that exists in all mankind.
• Mankind will look to all of its accomplishments in science as proof of its superior human potential.
• Pantheism, as noted above, will be the primary belief that sets the stage for acknowledging and worshiping the Antichrist, as well as humanity’s own divinity.
• The Antichrist will be the chief human adversary of Christ as well as a counterfeit substitute who will set up a false worldwide kingdom. He and his kingdom will be destroyed when Jesus returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom.
Samuel Andrews is clearly a watchman on the wall who, from the Scriptures and his understanding of the times, has set about warning the body of Christ of the evil that is looming and will take its toll on both professing and true Christians. His book was criticized in his day as being too negative, although “proof” of his so-called negativity was drawn from Paul, Peter, Jude, John, not to mention the words of Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation. Some of his detractors thought he should put humanity in a more positive light, recognizing that man is evolving upward, although such an idea had no scriptural support. Prophecy, of course, was disparaged then as it is today. Nevertheless, Andrews forewarned that “Those despising the prophetic word, and not believing in his appearing, will be attracted and fettered by the power of his person: and those whose conception of him is that of an open blasphemer of God, a bitter enemy of all religion, detestable because of his vices, will not discern him should he appear as a saviour of society and a religious leader.”
We believe the Scriptures teach that the Antichrist will not be revealed until after the church has been removed from the world in the Rapture (2 Thessalonians:2:2-8 , John:14:1-3 ), and at Christ’s return His saints will accompany Him (Jude:1:14 ) as He destroys the Wicked [one] (2 Thessalonians:2:8 ). Yet the acceptance of the kingdom of the Antichrist and his religion, as Andrews well supports through the Word of God and to which the history of the church testifies, involves “a long preparatory process” that finally seduces the entire world. Our succumbing to the accelerating spiritual deception of our day can be prevented only by God’s grace as we put our love for Jesus first, do diligence in reading and doing what His Word says, praying without ceasing, and maintaining the fellowship of like-minded believers.
One of the endorsers of Christianity and Anti-Christianity In Their Final Conflict, James M. Gray, who followed D. L. Moody and R. A. Torrey as president (1904-1934) of the Moody Bible Institute, wrote, “Pastors, missionaries, Sunday-school teachers and social workers, bear with me if I say, you must read [Samuel J. Andrews’s] book…. Here are no wild fancies, no foolish setting of times and seasons, no crude and sensational interpretations of prophecy, but a calm setting forth of what the Bible says on the most important subject for these times. The Christian leader who does not know these things is no leader, but the blind leading the blind. And, oh, there are so many of such leaders!” To that we can only add our “Amen.”