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Rev. Gritters is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Byron Center, Michigan.

A major sign of the end times is the rise and development of Antichrist. In the last days, shortly before the return of our Lord, Antichrist will come to rule the world, conquer the nations, and overcome the saints, as a power that cannot be resisted. He will be the antithesis to Christ.

The name Scripture gives, him is “Antichrist,” in the singular. He is “the man of sin” and the “son of perdition,” who “opposes,” “exalts himself,” “sitteth in the temple of God,” shows “himself that he is God,” and is “consumed.” If Antichrist is to come in the place of Christ and against Christ (as the name indicates), it would seem that he would present Himself as the Christ. My assumption here is that the Antichrist will be one man.

This is not to say that there are not even now manyantichrists, as the New Testament makes plain (I John 2:18), that is, many persons who come to oppose Christ and His work. Nor should this distract our attention from the spirit of Antichrist that is already in the world, working furiously to destroy the church of Christ. When the Scripture refers to Antichrist, though, we are pointed to a man who will come as a spiritual and political head of the world.

A radical departure from the faith (see the last article, “The Divorcing of the Truth”) will usher in the man of sin, the Antichrist. This is a natural development in the history of the world and the church. The falling away prepares for the Antichrist, who could not be successful in his mission unless most church members were already duped. The Antichrist is the climax of the departure from the faith of the gospel.

There are two errors that must be avoided in connection with the coming of Antichrist. First, we must not be unrealistically optimistic about the future. We know that Christ will conquer in the end—has conquered, really—as we sing, “Christ shall have dominion over land and sea.” We know that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. But this does not mean that there will not be horrible times for the church, that the battle will mean blood and fire and painful wounds. The institute will be destroyed, many saints killed, the ability to buy and sell removed for those who will not bow to the beast and his image. The future is not rosy. There is a battle to be fought.

But we ought not to be pessimistic and frightened about these times either. The danger is more real for us that we be paralyzed with fear from this message of “gloom and doom.” “What will happen to our family, friends, church, homes, schools? Where will we go when the Antichrist comes? Will we be able to stand against his forces when he demands submission and unconditional obedience?” More importantly, because of his deception “will we be able to detect him for who he really is?” The Lord gives us great and precious promises. No one shall be able to pluck you out of his hand. We are more than conquerors through Christ, because Christ is victor over the Antichrist. He shall come to consume him with the breath of his mouth.

The key texts to study in connection with the Antichrist are II Thessalonians 2Revelation 13 and Revelation 17, and Daniel 7and Daniel 8, (as well as I John 2:18 and similar passages). Read these Scriptures carefully.

The symbolism of Revelation 13 points out that there are two sides to Antichrist’s kingdom: a political side and an ecclesiastical side, a reign over the church as well as a reign over the world.

The political side of Antichrist’s reign is represented by the first beast of Revelation 13. Coming out of the sea, which represents the nations of the earth (Daniel 7:2, 3and Revelation 17:15), it wears the crowns of royalty (See also Daniel 7:17, 23). This kingdom will be a combination of the world powers of the past as well as of the present. Whereas in Daniel the prophet spoke of different beasts representing different nations, John shows in Revelation one monstrous creature, one conglomerate of nations. The beast has ten horns, representing a complete measure of power to rule (see Revelation 13:7). The wound that God inflicted on Babel’s attempt for political world unity will be healed (Rev. 13:3). Instead of conflict, cold war or hot war, there will be peace. “And they worshiped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”

Young people, do you read the newspapers and news magazines? Do you analyze history and current events? Don’t be blind to the developments in the world today. The Berlin wall is coming down and the Germanies may unite. Czechoslovakia is abandoning (apparently) its Communist rule. Other Communist countries are leaning toward Capitalism. What this may mean for the future of the world is not known. But keep your ears to the ground and your eyes pealed. A great world communication system; one world language and monetary system; one great government. Are they possible?

There is also an ecclesiastical side to the Antichrist. This is represented by the second beast of Revelation 13.

Four things stand out regarding the symbolism of this beast. This second beast comes out of the earth. It looks like a lamb. It speaks like a dragon. It stands in the service of the first beast. This beast represents, not another kingdom, but the spiritual side of the first kingdom. The beast may seem fierce, but he looks like a lamb, evidently the looks of Christ. The Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God (II Thess. 2:4), is worshiped by earthlings, again, a sign of a religious empire…The beast will persuade people to build an image, to which he will1 give life, which they will worship.

The Antichrist arises out of the church, combining the powers of the world and the church to fuse together one politically and religiously unified empire (seeRevelation 17: 1, 2). Again, this is what the church is moving towards today. Think once of all the work the “church” is doing to try to improve the world apart from gospel preaching. The social gospel that Jesus is a savior from problems, mental, political, economic, and social, is the rage. Think of the political involvement of many churches. Think of the Vatican’s (Rome’s) embassies in many of the countries of the world and the astounding acceptance of the pope by the world’s leaders as a political power!

The Lord gives a general picture of what the world will be at the end of time. Down there at the end of time there is a form into which the church and the world must fit. Here we are in the church today, able to see that the “church” is molding itself to fit into that shape. “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.”

One kingdom, with one head, with one unifying power: they will all worship the image of the beast.

Oh, it will be a glorious, appealing, rich, kingdom from the viewpoint of the world. This, too, must be made clear. The devil wants nothing more than the minds of young people to envision an evil empire with hooded guards wearing spiked helmets, evil-looking leaders with black and red flags, riding black horses and exercising a tyrannical and oppressive rule. That’s deception. His kingdom will be a glorious kingdom, the Antichrist’s: politically sound, economically prosperous, socially acceptable, religiously appealing. Wars will be eliminated for a time; famine eradicated or overruled; poverty clean gone. And true religion will be outlawed.

Antichrist!

The power of the beast is the power of the devil himself, of the great dragon (Rev. 12:2, 4). Don’t miss this. Thus, the work of the beast is a work against Christ. He is a false prophet supreme, speaking on behalf of the devil, teaching men, persuading men, to gain them to the devil’s side. To change II Corinthians 10:5, his goal will be to cast down every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of the beast, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of the Antichrist. Revelation 13:5 says, “And there was given him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies . . . and he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”

If Christ came to oppose sin, Antichrist will promote it. If Christ came to represent the righteousness of God, the Antichrist will represent unrighteousness. If Christ came to bring all glory to the Father, the Antichrist will seek it for himself, robbing God. If Christ came to save sinners, the purpose of Antichrist will be to damn them to hell, to bring as many to his domain as possible for him and his minions.

The culmination of the beast’s work will be that the world will be seduced to worship him instead of God, saying to him, “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” This always has been and always will be his goal.

His deception will be powerful, so powerful that if they were not God’s chosen ones, the elect would be deceived. Men and women will not so easily be bamboozled into worshiping something other than God. So, as miracles were given to God’s prophets as credentials, as it were, of their ministry (Hebrews 2:2-4), the Antichrist will use great wonders and signs to “confirm” his divine authority. “I am God.”

This is sometimes questioned. Some believe that Antichrist will have only the ability to display marvelous, natural, earthly powers. I believe that Antichrist may well have supernatural powers. Revelation 13:13, 14 says, “He doeth great wonders… he deceiveth them that dwell on he earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast.”Matthew 24:24 says, “For there shall arise false Christs . . . and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” the words used there being the same as describe the miracles of our Lord, II Thessalonians 2:9 points out: “Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders . . . ,.” The works of Antichrist will be the works of Satan, who has power, given only by God, of course, but beyond the natural ability of man.

The beast will be able to speak! He will make fire come down from heaven. Perhaps he will turn you, then, to the history of Elijah and ask you to begin dancing to see if your God will send fire from heaven. Will you be deceived?

He is coming.

Yes, his spirit and power has always been in the world, ever increasing with the years. The mystery of iniquity is already working. “Everyone that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:3). Let no antichrist beguile you, young people, before the Antichrist comes.

He is not yet here in full manifestation. Though never yet has there been a power like this power, it is coming. I come quickly, says the Lord.

You cannot keep him from coming. You must fight his power, his spirit, his work—not with the sword of the flesh, but of the Spirit. But you will not stop his final manifestation.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints, of young people in Gods church. Don’t deny Christ; wait for the coming when Christ shall finally show his dominion over all things, consuming the Antichrist with the spirit of His mouth and destroying him with the brightness of His coming; purify yourself even as Christ is pure.

God give you grace to be faithful, watching, waiting.

Questions for discussion:

1. Are there parallels in OT history to what will happen in the future regarding the Antichrist? What can we learn from them?

2. Is the pope Antichrist?

3. What would be more deceptive: an Antichrist as one person, or a group of persons?

4. What should we beware of concerning the Antichristian kingdom?

5. Should we wish for the Antichrist to come, since this means Christ, too, will come soon?