Saturday, August 5, 2017

Guest Post: Anti-Christianity Ascending- PT 1

When I first began speaking at prophecy conferences years ago, I was intrigued by the fact that during the panel question-and-answer sessions there were always a few questions related to the Antichrist. It was a bit unsettling—probably because I knew little about that end-time biblical figure and cared even less. I therefore avoided adding my uninformed remarks and usually passed the microphone to the speaker to my right or left. Then there came a time when that wasn’t an option, and I had to say something. As I remember it, my comment was something that I now regard as astute sounding but in reality was ignorance verging on stupidity, i.e., some sort of babble about “Why should we concern ourselves with the Antichrist when we believers will be raptured before he comes on the worldwide scene?” I know people who feel that way today, but I gave up that misconception early on, and here’s why.
The Bible is very clear in its pronouncements regarding the Antichrist and what he will accomplish, which includes deceiving the entire world into submitting to him, taking control of world economics, manifesting unprecedented military might, exhibiting supernatural powers, and setting up a religious system that involves the world’s worship of him. In my privileged years of working with Dave Hunt, he addressed, as few others, the increasing apostasy that was seducing Christianity. I then began to realize that the things he was pointing out (such as the information contained in his classic DVD Beyond Seduction) were moving in a direction that would culminate in a condition unparalleled in human history. As I reaffirmed in the June 2017 TBC newsletter, the assorted false religious beliefs, dogmas, and practices, although appearing to differ greatly from one another, have always been rooted together and headed toward the same end. My attitude regarding the significance of the Antichrist and his religion changed with the realization of something that should have been obvious to me: all that entails the Antichrist’s deception of the world and the seduction of Christianity does not wait until after the rapture of the church for their effects to be realized. Those deceits go clear back to Satan’s deception of Eve in Genesis chapter 3, and have continued, and will continue more aggressively, until they climax during the reign of the “son of perdition.”
Obviously, the Rapture has yet to take place. The Apostasy, however, and its impact upon Christendom, is without a doubt growing exponentially, and Scripture gives no indication that the dire effects of the Adversary’s program for his Antichrist will be abated, e.g., that a worldwide revival or some type of collective repentance or reformation will turn things around. Nevertheless, Jesus admonishes and exhorts His bride, the church, as He addresses the seven churches in Revelation chapters one through three, giving them instructions that, if obeyed, will be effective for His glory and their fruitfulness. The Apostasy cannot hinder those laborers in Christ who are steadfast in the faith and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s not to say that a spiritual battle won’t ensue, resulting in trials and tribulations as we fight the good fight of faith, but being obedient and persevering by His grace will enable us to accomplish what God will help us to do. I believe the results will be the rescuing of many of those who have been deceived, whether they are among the lost or among our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are now in a rescue operation situation, attempting to reach “any man” who has “ears to hear” with the truth; and, as for the body of Christ, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Mark:4:23Revelation:2:17).
Although I have been addressing at times over the last few years specific aspects of the coming world religion, it’s a great encouragement to have those whom I respect in the Lord confirm my writings on the subject. One of those friends told me to read a book that he believed would be of further encouragement. I got it and read it. To use one of Dave Hunt’s favorite expressions: “Wow!” That would have been his response, without a doubt. The book is what I would call a “pre-confirmation,” meaning it confirms what we’ve been describing regarding the Apostasy with this amazing distinction: It was written in 1898!
Its title is Christianity and AntiChristianity in Their Final Conflict. In this and next month’s article, I hope to present some of the author’s observations and biblical evaluations, which are rather extensive and primarily cover the years during the late 1800s. Yet the issues addressed read as if they were happening today, because they are all part of the Adversary’s scheme to establish the religion of the Antichrist and his kingdom. The author, Samuel Andrews, claims no special prophetic insight. He simply does what he exhorts all Christians to do, and that is—search the Scriptures for its prophetic information, and discern the things that are taking place in our own day. He wants believers to be like the children of Issachar (1 Chronicles:12:32) who had understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do.
The value of this for every believer should be obvious. Andrews writes: “It is in the light of the present that we must re-examine the prophetical problems of the past. As the purpose of God draws nearer to its fulfillment, passing events will tend to show in their distinctive features the nature of that fulfillment. It is, therefore, for us of today to note the religious tendencies of the present, and to consider carefully their bearing upon the Divine purpose in man as it has been made known to us in the Scriptures. To those who believe that God, who knows the end from the beginning, has through His prophets and His Son declared this purpose in its outlines for the guidance of His children, our inquiry is of deepest interest. ‘We ask, To what stage of His actings have we come? What are the religious characteristics of the present time?’”
He continues: “To ignore the Antichrist of whom she has been forewarned, is for the church to expose herself defenseless to his wiles, deceptions, and attacks…. But for all who accept the Scriptures as an intelligible revelation of a Divine purpose, the first duty is to ask what they teach us. Putting away all prejudices and unreasoned beliefs, we must ask what the Holy Ghost, speaking by the prophets of old and by the Lord and His apostles, has told us of the final stages of the great conflict between good and evil so long waged in the earth, and of its chief actors in the time of the end. It is only through Scriptural light that we can fully know the character and work of the Antichrist; and to this light it is of vital importance that we give heed…. It need not be said that this man and his kingdom are not the accidents of an hour; there is a long preparatory process. As with our Lord, so with him. There is a ‘fullness of time’ for his appearing, and this is not till the antichristian leaven has spread through Christendom” (emphasis added).
Although Andrews identifies much of what that “leaven” entails, he underscores the sickly spiritual condition of the church that has initially allowed that leaven to enter and to permeate the body of Christ: “If we now ask for the cause of this change, its deepest root, we find it in the Lord’s words addressed from heaven to the church at Ephesus—the representative of the church of the apostolic age: ‘Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love’ (Revelation:2:4). Here was the first step in the falling away. In all other respects the Lord highly commends the church. Let us carefully note the significance of this first downward step—the loss of the first love…. Love is the bond of all true spiritual unity and communion, and finds its fullest scope in the relation of the church to her Head. If it fails, there comes estrangement, separation (emphasis added). If the church ceases to be one with the Head through her loss of love, she no longer has full communion with Him, and cannot grow up into Him in all things, and come unto the measure of the stature of His fullness.” He adds, “Let us now note what the Lord said of the spiritual condition of the church just before His return. It would be one of great worldliness. ‘And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold’” (Matthew:24:12).
In chapter two of Hebrews we find this warning: “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). Andrews’s emphasis upon believers letting their love of Jesus “slip” as a critical aspect of their diminishing judgment and disobedience to His commands sets his book apart from most others I’ve read that stress biblical discernment. Too often they major on the symptoms (specifics of a false teaching) and miss the root cause. Andrews identifies the cause that begins the process of drifting away from the truth of God’s Word and then describes many of the disastrous consequences as that trend had impacted the church throughout history, and especially during the late 1800s.
What are some of those consequences that he noted one hundred and eighteen years ago? See if you recognize any relationship with the erroneous beliefs, practices, and religious and political agendas of our day.
Here are a few glaring issues that he addresses:
1) The increasing antagonism of the world toward biblical Christianity
2) The apostasy as it grows exponentially within Christendom
3) The [growing] belief that worldwide revival is coming, the world will be converted, and Christianity will take dominion prior to Christ’s return
4) The idea that a “new age” is dawning, with pantheism being its chief doctrine
5) The teaching that God is all and is in all
6) The hope that science will ultimately reveal all knowledge
7) The belief that evolution is how the world came about
8) The concept that mankind is evolving into godhood
9) The argument that these false beliefs will unify humanity
Andrews describes how those concepts were not just in the domain of the religious leaders of his day but worked their way down to the masses from the philosophers and scientists through the literary authors, poets, artists, popular novelists, newspapers, and trendy magazines.
The author’s approach to discerning his times was quite simple and unique yet foundationally biblical. He shows what the Scriptures decree will be the culmination of history prior to the return of Jesus Christ. That end will include the establishment  of that kingdom of the Antichrist followed by its utter destruction. Andrews then draws from God’s Word the many characteristics of that man of lawlessness, who is revealed to be the demonically empowered epitome of deception, and extrapolates those features back to his own era. For example, Scripture tells us that the Antichrist will set himself in the temple of God showing that he is God and is to be worshipped as God (2 Thessalonians:2:4). Andrews points out that for the world to believe and accept such an idea there must be a previous and perhaps long-term conditioning that precedes the event. He then considered the populace of his own day (118 years ago) in order to see if the deification of a human might be rationally acceptable.
He didn’t have to look very far. The basis of the idea was promoted seemingly everywhere. Unitarians, Transcendentalists, Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, and Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophy spread the word. The enthusiasm for naturalism, socialism, evolution, and pantheism aggressively rejected biblical Christianity and exalted mankind through the various media. The favored writers of that day, such as Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman, all believed in and advanced their faith in the divinity of humanity. They drew heavily from their readings of the sacred texts of Hinduism, which we recognize today as being central to the beliefs and practices of the New Age Movement. The belief in godhood for humanity was the “new age” hope of Samuel Andrews’s day. He notes, “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, [it] is pantheism” (i.e., God is all and in all). When Andrews uses the term “new age,” however, which he does throughout his book, he means it as a complete change from biblical Christianity: “We have come to a new age, and a new age must bring with it a new religion, not a revivification of the past; one based upon a new conception of God, simple, comprehensive, and fitted to be a world religion.” That “new age” and “new religion” is embodied in the religion of the Antichrist.
Christianity and Antichristianity in Their Final Conflict was quite controversial, and the author addressed his critics in his book’s second printing. Some objected to what they considered the overall “pessimistic tone” of Andrews’s work, and others were upset by the fact that he painted a picture of “the world as growing worse, rather than better.” Professing Christians and some true believers of his day were greatly influenced by evolutionary thought and believed that humanity was evolving upward. Consequently, they could “find no place for any development of evil and an Antichrist.” Andrews’s response: “In all questions as to the future of humanity, we must either picture this future for ourselves, or accept Divine revelation.” And it is “Divine revelation,” God’s written Word, that sets the course for his book.
In Part 2, we will glean more insights from this amazing book that was written more than a century ago yet reads as though it were penned today. Two things come to mind as I begin the follow-up article: 1) God’s prophetic Word has been and is being manifested for each believing generation for the spiritual protection and fruitfulness of those who read it and act in obedience to its warnings. 2) It’s greatly encouraging to know that previous generations were aware of the things we see taking place today. Only the Adversary’s players have changed, as well as the increase and intensity of the apostasy.
Our hope is to reprint Christianity and AntiChristianity in Their Final Conflict and have it available in the Fall. We covet your prayers for that endeavor.