Rev. Heys is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Very plainly we are approaching the end of this present world. Our God informs us of this fact through the apostle John. For in I John 2:18 we read: “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.”
We do well, in the first place, to take note of the fact that the name Antichrist literally means “against Christ.” Very clearly we are in the day when, in the church world, there is much teaching and defense of the lie concerning what Scripture teaches us in regard to Christ Jesus, our Savior. And the sad thing today is that, in the church world, there are false doctrines and practices that separate churches and lead church members away from the truth concerning Christ and what actually is Christianity.
Today we are in the last part of that period of time of which the apostle John wrote. In II Thessalonians 2:1-4 the work of the coming Antichrist is clearly revealed in false doctrines and evil practices which we are by the Antichrist called to defend and maintain.
In that passage we read: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not 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 worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Take note then of the fact that antichrists were there already, and that the way was certainly being prepared for the coming of the worldwide Antichrist, who would make life very miserable for us, the children of God.
In Revelation 13:7 we read of the Antichrist making war with the saints, and of overwhelming them, that is, overcoming them physically. What is more, the final Antichrist will come and have power over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. He will be the Antichrist. And we have a timely warning that his day is coming, and that physical torment will be upon us, upon all the elect children of God who are living on earth in that day.
But the comfort for us is that what lies ahead is what God promises us, as the work of His grace in Christ. He will keep us faithful, and cause us to refuse to serve that Antichrist, who will rule over all the nations of this world. In Matthew 27:1 we read that “the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.” And in that passage of Revelation 13 we find the Antichrist “doing great wonders” and deceiving “them that dwell on the earth, by means of the miracles.” We read in the verses following that the Antichrist will prevent both small and great, rich men and poor “to buy and sell” if they receive not his mark on their right hand or forehead. A very, very rough time lies ahead for the believers. How soon this will happen we do not know. But by God’s grace we do believe His Word, and are sure that our calling is to heed His timely warning.
We are not there yet; the true church does not have that cruel treatment upon it. But we must be careful, lest we begin to look for what Satan wants, rather than for what God calls us to do. We do well to consider that glorious truth of our God that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28). We must take God’s warning with the confidence that His promise to His elect will be fulfilled in every small detail, on the basis of what His Son did for us, through His cross and death. He is our Savior, and He is working for our complete salvation from Satan and sin.
How appealing it is, for our sinful flesh, not to be Christians, but to be antichristians. Satan has turned us away from God, and from His love which sent Christ to us as His Son, to save us from the guilt of our sin. But what counts is what God gives us, not what friends and relatives give us. We read in Psalm 139:14: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Similarly, we read in Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.” This is so because He restoreth our souls, leading us beside the still waters, thereby restoring our souls, leading us on the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake. God leads us on the paths of righteousness, and causes goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our lives.
It will be a long time before we again come to what we call Christmas. But we do well to hold on tightly to the truth of Scripture wherein we are in God’s mercy and grace warned of the coming of that universal antichrist. We have a calling to walk and work as Christians, and to look forward to the next Christmas from a spiritual point of view, in order to enjoy the work of God’s grace upon us. He gave us a blessed Savior, and causes us to begin to walk in love towards Him, as our God and Savior.
Let us remember that Christ’s birth and His cross really count. They give us divinely promised blessings. Therefore, in His grace our God warns us of Satan and his lies, which are presented in all the antichristian doctrines that are in the world today. Just look up Genesis 3:1-5. Satan does this today through the doctrine of Arminianism, which presents the lie that man has power to let God save him, and that God is disappointed and kept from what He wants, when man does not do His will.
Look up Romans 9:16, where we read: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God who sheweth mercy.” God does not depend upon our will; and, being born spiritually dead, we cannot want salvation until God has begun it in us. God does not depend upon man for natural things. Nor does He depend on man for spiritual activities. We do not make Him our Savior. He causes us to want salvation. And He gives it to us. God decided eternally whom He will save.
God warns us, not in order to get us to decide whether we will do what He wants. He warns us in order to cause us to want salvation. “All that I am I owe to Thee, Thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me.” This is based on Psalm 139:14. There we read this important truth: “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
We want salvation because God has already begun it in us. An important part of our salvation is that we want it; and that is God’s gift to us. As God said to Satan inGenesis 3:15, He will put enmity in His elect against Satan and sin. And let us, by God’s grace, take hold of that important truth, and heed His warning to us day after day, and time after time. He saves us. We do not save Him from leaving us in sin. God saves us from our love of sin, and causes us to be thankful for His salvation.