|- J. Preston Eby -
Innumerable works have been written, countless sermons have been preached, and myriads of tracts have been circulated on the subject of antichrist. The one outstanding feature, however, which attracts one's attention and which must be very perplexing to the average individual, is the confusion which exists, and which characterizes all such efforts. Generally speaking, every scholar has a different doctrine, and every teacher a different understanding of who the antichrist is or will be. And hence, as all doctrines cannot be correct, all therefore must be wrong, with the exception of one.
For years teachers of the Word have been speculating upon the identity of antichrist and the date of his appearance on the world scene. Unfortunately, these speculations have all turned out to be mistakes, which mistakes have to be changed and revised continually to meet changing conditions. It is very humiliating to have world events continually follow a course exactly opposite to that which has been mapped out by one's prophetic teaching, and to have one's predictions proven false almost before the ink is dry on his paper. The Church today is full of energetic and sincere preachers and teachers who are just full and bubbling over concerning things that are going to happen. They tell us that sometime, after certain events have transpired, or before certain other events will happen, there will be a superdeceiver who will arise to show great signs and wonders, gaining political power over all the nations of earth, and ushering in a reign of terror and a time of tribulation unprecedented in the history of the world.
Those of my readers who are old enough remember when the world staggered beneath the weight of the great depression of the 1930's. The planet and all things on it seemed to suddenly fail apart. Thousands of earnest and well-meaning saints believed that this was the certain herald of the end of the age. Preachers became busy picking men such as Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin as antichrists, and indeed they were, but these tyrants, like so many before them, perished and the world continued on its tremulous course.
In the days oil my youth, one of the first books I seriously studied on prophetic subjects was one setting forth "indisputable proof" that Mussolini was the antichrist! The only problem was that book came into my hands in the year 1949, and lo, Mussolini had already died a violent death in the streets of Milan, his name was held in disrepute throughout Italy and the world, and his "empire" was dissolved. Sixty-eight years ago (from 1982) preachers were telling how the Kaiser was the antichrist and was going to upset the world. Then when that failed to materialize, the frittered away much time and wasted much good paper and printer's ink telling us that Mussolini was the one. Then the false prophets declared that Hitler was surely the man of sin who would come riding into world power on the back of a ten horned revived Roman Empire. But Hitler's day ended too, a suicide in his bunker beneath the ruins of Berlin. Of course some of these teachers, too ashamed to admit their error, invented all kinds of ingenuous tales to keep the delusion alive, saying that Hitler's death was a "hoax", he was still alive somewhere in South America, and in due time would reappear on the scene to the astonishment of the whole world. One thing is certain. He never did reappear, and if he did not die in Berlin in 1945, and if he is still alive, he is now a very aged man of (over 100) years! A number of people even thought Roosevelt was the antichrist.
Some students of prophecy, for lack of anything else to speculate on, took up the story several years ago of a famous Arabian prince who was represented as having supernatural powers, and who the ignorant and the deceived were parading before the perennially gullible as the coming superman. This prince was reported by one well known evangelist to have created a fabulous golden celestial city in the middle of the desert merely by his spoken word, to have called down fire from heaven, and to have performed a number of other such phenomenal feats. According to the prince's own word, as quoted by this evangelist, he would reveal himself to the world as God and Ruler sometime during the 1960's. He failed to make his appearance. But certain saints in California, upon investigation, found that the man who invented the tall tale concerning this Arabian prince was working as a humble clerk in San Francisco, California during the time he was supposed to have been in Arabia as a guest of this prince.
In the last few years we have heard some teaching that Henry Kissinger is the antichrist, or David Rockefeller, or Anwar Sadat (now deceased), and another person stated that she expected him to come from outer space at any minute! "O, My people, they which lead you caused you to err" (Isa. 3:12; 9:16). But we now know the answers to all these predictions. They were nothing more than the presumptuous guesses of idle shepherds who were destitute of truth. And the unbelievable reality is that many Christians are so gullible and so susceptible to this kind of sensational trash, that they have no better sense than to glory in it, even though the statements are proven false, one after another, by the actual events then transpiring before their very eyes.
ANTICHRIST - INSTEAD OF
In I Jn. 2:18 we read, "Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have beard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; wherefore we know that it is the last hour." God's penman, 1900 years ago wrote, that as the coming of the antichrist heralds the last hour, therefore, since there were at that time "many antichrists", this fact proved that he himself was living then in the "last hour". And if he, John the beloved, saw many antichrists in his day, after only a few decades of progression into the dispensation of the Spirit, how much more may we today say that there are "many antichrists" after 1900 years of apostacy and shame, during which time God also said that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (II Tim. 3:13). How much more should we today expect to find the Church full of these antichrists, since God also promised that in this same age "there will be a time when they will not endure wholesome instruction, but, having itching ears, will accumulate teachers for themselves, according to their own lusts; and they shall indeed turn away from the hearing of the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Tim. 4:3-4).
John saw many antichrists in his day. The number has been increasing steadily, all through the years, until we now find ourselves surrounded with these men. But who are they, what are they, and how do we recognize them?
First, let us consider the meaning of the word. It comes from a compound Greek word made up of the preposition "anti" and the Greek word for Christ which is "Christos". "Anti" is a Greek word meaning "opposed to" or "instead of" or both of these meanings. The Greek word "christos" means "anointed". When "anti" is compounded with a noun signifying an agent of any kind, or functionary, the compound signifies a vice-functionary, or a functionary of the same kind opposing, or sometimes both. Some apply only the first meaning - a person "against" Christ. But this would not be a very specific point of identification. Millions of people have been against Christ. Paul, before his conversion, was "against" Christ. The Jews, pagans, communists, and members of non-Christian religions of all kinds have been against Christ. But such a broad application of the word could not be what was meant by John. His description is far more definite than this!
When John spoke of certain people which were a type of antichrist which was to come, he did not refer to all opposers of Christ. Instead, he referred to a certain class of people - apostates who were teaching things that were contrary to the revelation imparted by the Holy Spirit! These were not openly against Christ, they were professingChristians and apparent ministers of Christ! Therefore we find that the word "antichrist" properly signifies one who opposes, or one who sets himself up appropriating some of the attributes of Christ. That is, antichrist would appear as Christ and by so doing would actually be AGAINST Christ - unsurping that place that rightly belongs to Christ alone! Anything that is placed INSTEAD OF Christ, is literally antichrist. We have contained and practiced a lot of attitudes, ideas, beliefs, doctrines, rituals, ceremonies, sacraments, ordinances, religious forms, babylonish traditions, which have TAKEN THE PLACE OF TRUTH AND REALITY in our lives. These may have contained bits and shades of truth and life, but they WERN'T THE LIVING REALITY OF CHRIST HIMSELF at all! They were shadow, but not substance; form, but not essence. Any little form of SUBSTITUTION that detracts from HIS INDWELLING LIFE is ANTICHRIST.
If at any time we accept an "instead of" rather than HIS WORD AND WILL AND LIFE WORKING WITHIN US, we have accepted that which is "antichrist". It is not merely that which is in direct opposition to Christ, but also includes anything, which of itself might be good, but is used INSTEAD OF Christ. And, beloved saints, the battle is not so much an outward one, but an INNER CONFLICT, until we are so cleansed by His blood, so purged of babylon's spirit and ways, that CHRIST IN US becomes our ONLY hope of glory! Praise God, the consuming fire of the dealings and processings of God in our lives is being, used to remove all these "substitutes" and "counterfeits" and bring us down to the true and only reality found in the LIVING CHRIST.
FROM GLORY TO GLOOM
One of the questions which arises and which may well deserve our immediate attention, is why so much confusion does exist, and why the subject of antichrist receives so much attention. One would surely be led to believe, by all the hue and cry, that the antichrist must be one of the major themes of the Word of God and we must be warned over and over about his coming. One would presume that the Bible writers spoke of this man in glowing terms and articulate language, giving profuse descriptions of his appearance. So let us examine the facts.
Actually, the Bible has very little to say about antichrist. The word "antichrist" appears only five times in the whole Bible. None of these occurrences are in Daniel, Revelation, or any other prophetical book. Four of these five are in the little book of First John and the last is in the book of Second John. Antichrist is referred to in the singular, plural, as HE, and as IT. John penned these warnings to the saints somewhere near the close of the first century A.D. Those to whom John wrote were expecting this antichrist to come contemporary with the presence of Christ in this age of the Holy Spirit. John tells them that we know we are living in the last hour and Christ is actually here, or His opposer would not have risen up. To John, the fact that many people in the Churches had become antichrists in his day was definite proof that it was the "last hour". John was living in the early part of that "last hour" and we are living in the latter part of it, but both he and we live in that same Holy Spirit day or dispensation. It is the day of a present Christ, returned in mighty spirit and power at Pentecost, and reigning over His Kingdom of redeemed men, purging and processing a "little flock" of faithful ones to become the firstfruits of His redemption, in due time to bless all nations, restore all things, and deliver the whole creation from the bondage of corruption that God may be ALL-IN-ALL. We would naturally expect them "opposing" spirit to rise up at that time, and so it did.
The burden of John's message was for the saints to FOLLOW ON, to grow and increase in the spirit and glory of God poured out upon them from THE BEGINNING of this glorious day. Notice how John stressed that which troy had heard and received at the "beginning". "That which was from the BEGINNING, which we have heard... declare we unto you... This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you" (I Jn.1:1,3,5). John speaks of the instruction they had "heard from the BEGINNING" and the word which they had "heard from the BEGINNING" (I Jn. 2:7). "Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the BEGINNING. If that which you have heard from the BEGINNING shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father" (I Jn. 2:24) . . He mentions "the message that you heard from the BEGINNING," "that which you had from the BEGINNING," and "as you have heard from the BEGIN- NING, you should walk (progress) in it" (I Jn. 3:11; II Jn. 5; I Jn. 3:6).
The dawn of this day brought a revelation of God, fuller, truer, more glorious by far, than any that had preceded it. "God was manifest in the flesh," men saw, and heard, and spoke with, incarnate Diety. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son." "No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." Not the power and wisdom only, not the righteousness and justice only, but the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man, appeared, in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. God was proved to be a gracious Redeemer, as well as a holy Lawgiver, and an Almighty Creator. The great salvation so long foreshadowed, was accomplished and brought nigh to man. God provided Himself a Lamb to take away the sins of the world, and that Lamb, His own glorious Son, the Lord of all! "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
What a flood of light fell upon the world in the ministry of Jesus and His apostles! The gift of the Holy Ghost, with its attending gifts of power, knowledge, and utterance, followed on the ascension of the risen Saviour. The Church, the body of Christ was birthed, and gathered from Jew and Gentile alike, a vast-multitude into its bosom. The shadows of the Law were replaced by the glorious and eternal realities of a living, indwelling Christ. In those few holy years Christ was the only Head of the Church and unity and harmony flowed like a river and the body of Christ was one. There was no government but the government of the Spirit. Love and wisdom shone like the sun from the mind of God. When the human body knows no government but the government of its head, all is order and unity, and there is health and power. So also it was with the body of Christ.
And what glorious days those were! One only has to read the book of Acts to see how much God blessed His people in those days. Mighty signs and wonders were performed as God confirmed His Word with signs following. The Word of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit, swept the world like a prairie fire. It encircled the mountains and crossed the oceans. It made kings to tremble and tyrants to fear. It was said of those early Christians that they had turned the world upside down! - so powerful was their message and spirit. In spite of persecution it grew and multiplied, for God dwelt mightily in the midst of His people. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord covered the earth as the waters cover the sea. Paganism fell. The mighty Roman Empire shut up its idol temples, sheathed its persecuting sword, and sat down as a disciple at the feet of Christ and His apostles.
In the midst of such a precious walk in the Spirit the apostle John, filled with divine wisdom and keen in spiritual discernment, foresaw that the Church would spread over the world, and that, becoming popular, many would arise within its ranks who would appreciate its FORM without having been transformed by its SPIRIT. Grace had wrought a wondrous work, but alas! with many the INNER NATURE remained unchanged. The natural man with his carnal mind was still at enmity with God, and the cloak of Christianity could not long conceal his corruption. The beautiful infant virgin Church was not very old before the seeds of REBELLION against Christ began to appear. We read of the deception of Ananias and Sapphira and of the murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. We read of hard-bitten-old Judaizers who insisted on adding the bondage of their law to the liberating grace of Christ, perceiving not that those who freely partake of the grace of God already have the very SPIRIT OF THE LAW written and engraven in their hearts.
The very moment the love of God and the power of His indwelling Spirit begins to wane from our spirits and fly out the windows of our soul, then EXTERNAL FORMS, RITUALS, and OBSERVANCES with all their emptiness and foolishness stalk boldly through the door. Then men begin to cry for SOMETHING OTHER THAN CHRIST, or for another head in place of Christ, saying, "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas" (I Cor. 1:12).
I do not believe there is any way to explain, imagine, or understand the many ways this SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST works. Even before the apostles had passed from this life, a spirit and system had set in among the saints of the Lord and many people were wearing the Babylonish garment. They were instituting rules and regulations, laying down laws, formulating creeds, observing days, establishing sacraments and ordinances, elevating human government, becoming disciples of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, and of many others. The Babble had begun and the mysterious antichrist was raising his ugly head.
Before too many years had passed men began to set themselves up as "lords" over God's people in place of the Holy Spirit. Instead of conquering by the power of the Spirit and by truth - as in the early days - men began to substitute THEIR ideas and THEIR methods. Soon the glory and power, the presence of God in the morning time Church began to be eclipsed, and the power of carnal-minded men gradually TOOK THE PLACE of the awesome presence of God. Consequently, man's carnal understanding was put upon the Scriptures, and as the Spirit of Christ fled from their midst, men established a vast and elaborate system of SUBSTITUTES to take the place of reality. When one does not possess REALITY then something else will be used to fill the void to take the place - instead of - an ANTICHRIST!
The powerful, mighty, glorious presence of the indwelling Christ was supplanted by endless ritual and ceremonial cleansings and outward observances of feasts, holy days, communions, and robes, shrines, cathedrals, holy orders, incense etc. etc. The ministry could only teach and practice these things because they had lost the presence of HIM. As the blind led the blind the visions of the people were in error and darkness, the pure vision and experience of CHRIST LIVING AND REIGNING IN HIS PEOPLE was lost to them.
An apostacy of a dark and dreadful nature arose, and in the progress of ages assumed enormous proportions, and a character so diabolic, as to exceed in guilt ALL the idolatries of the people of Israel in the Old Testament times. The greater light granted was abused and perverted, until it became a darkness exceeding any previous darkness - and the central period of its duration is, by common consent, called "the dark ages". The religion of Christ became gradually, as we have seen, the religion of antichrist. Carnal observances replaced spiritual experience, the ceremonial took the place of indwelling life, human tradition obscured the Word of God, human authority asserted itself in opposition to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and idolatry replaced true and spiritual worship.
As the flesh asserted itself the well of spiritual life ran dry, and all sources of free-flowing truth and life and light ceased from what was known as "the Church", and as the drought increased the land of Christendom became parched and made as hard as stone from the calloused dust that was to be pliable, moldable clay formed into vessels of honor and respect and glory unto the King. Ah, I do not hesitate or fear to tell you that religion is there, but it is a hollow mocking form; worship is there, but it consists in lip service and genuflexions, it is not worship in spirit and in truth; the Word of God is there, but it is locked in the prison-house of blinding tradition; adoration is there, but it is the adoration of saints and angels, of Pope and Virgin Mary, of picture and crucifix, of statues and dressed-up dolls, of shrines and altars and buildings, of concerts and programs and pageantry, and of a bearded God in the sky. Before all these they bow! How low the blind leaders of the blind bend, before the idol-God they create! Dressed in fine linen and gorgeous silk, in lace and scarlet, and robes of glittering gold, they lead the people from the pure spiritual life of Jesus Christ dwelling and formed in the hearts of redeemed men, to holy sacraments without transforming power, to holy places of stone and marble, to holy fumes of burnt wood, to holy days of their own appointment, to holy water which can never wash away sin, to holy candles which enlighten no dark mind, to mass, to confession, to penance, to indulgences, to extreme unction, to myriad more religious exercises, to anything, everything, EXCEPT to God the Judge of all, to Jesus Christ the only Saviour, and to CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY!
GOD IS SUFFICIENT
I want to speak with utmost solemnity here. Beloved brother, sister, if any man will follow God and walk in the glorious light of revelation streaming into the hearts of those called unto Sonship in this momentous hour at the close of the age, it will not be long before he discovers that the coming of antichrist IS NO BRIEF FUTURE EVENT, lying between us and the dawn of the age to come; he was revealed 1900 years ago, and has run a long and pompous course; but once discerned by the Spirit, and forsaken by any saint of God, he is speedily CONSUMED WITHIN by the spirit of Christ's mouth and the brightness of His coming.
The fact that the traditional doctrine of antichrist as some individual superdeceiver-maniac yet to emerge upon the world scene with international political power has been, and is now held and taught fervently by the HARLOT CHURCH SYSTEMS, is itself a plea that IT MUST BE ERROR. If BABYLON staunchly believes it, arrogantly teaches, it, continuously preaches it, loudly proclaims it, dogmatically defends it, and resolutely demands it - then, dear child of God, must it not, in all probability, be WRONG?
In the Spirit of Jesus Christ I exhort you, beloved reader, wait not for a mad-man antichrist to appear upon the scene, for you will surely be disappointed. "Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; wherefore we know that it is the last hour" (I Jn. 2:18). Anything that is placed INSTEAD OF Christ, is literally antichrist. All the things which appear so good and religious, but which usurp the place of the LIFE OF HIS SPIRIT, are antichrist. The natural mind is ever seeking something visible and tangible. Throughout the centuries in the life of the Church systems they have accumulated a great number of traditions, rites, creeds, ordinances, methods, institutions and practices each of them supplanting something of the pureness and freshness and glory of the Spirit of Christ. These things have become so universal in the Churches of the world, and in the lives of their members, that there is no thought of ever being able to "run" the Church and its business without them! Generation after generation, people have been raised up from childhood in this atmosphere and have absolutely no knowledge of anything else or another way. It never even enters the minds of these people that THE CHRIST is the Head of the Church, He is the Life of the Church, and the whole sufficiency for the Church, its people, its work, and its needs.
Each Church must be constantly creating new plans, programs and activities to keep the people busy "doing something". The idea is to keep the people busy and to keep up the interest, so that they may be kept in that Church. In the Church world such a Church is known as a "lively" Church, and the pastor is known as one of the more successful pastors. Spirituality has little, if anything, to do with it, for the whole group, including the pastor and Church leaders, is simply a natural body of people, carrying on what THEY THINK is a Church.
Then there are the creeds to be learned, catechisms to be memorized, and confirmation services to go through. There are so-called prayer meetings (where very little praying is done!) to be attended, committee meetings to be held, programs of all sorts to be developed in both Church and Sunday School, choir practice, youth meetings, door-to-door canvassing, and Vacation Bible School. All these are things that must be partaken of if the person is to remain a member in good standing and considered "spiritual" and a "mature Christian" by the Church.
In the minds of most people today the Church systems are looked upon as the true Church, and whatever it does or says is considered to either come directly from God or is sanctioned by God. I must say that such thinking is a product of the ignorance and dense darkness of nearly all people concerning the things of the Spirit of God. The world today has its own religious dictionary of definitions of "God" and "Spirit" and "Church" and they think and speak in the framework of those definitions. But GOD SPEAKS A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE and has a different dictionary of definitions by which He speaks to His people and according to which He works!
If all the multiplied practices and methods employed by the Churches today WERE SUDDENLY SWEPT AWAY, it would in all probability CEASE TO FUNCTION! If all the preachers and priests were compelled to lay aside their robes and their trappings and stand before the people in ordinary street clothes, they would lose much of their glamour and most of their prestige. If they had to tear down their altars, their elevated platforms, their statues, lay aside their professionalism and showmanship, and throw out the candles and the prayer books, their services would appear very "lack-lustre", losing their sense of beauty and pageantry.
If the Churches had to drop all their rituals, forms, programs, and ceremonies; all their confirmations, baptisms, and communion services; all their special singing, organ music, and altar calls, they would feel as though they had been stripped naked and could not serve God in any way. All this simply demonstrates the terrible fact that the faith and dependence of the Churches IS NOT IN GOD, but is in the trappings that they have accumulated to themselves throughout the centuries. The thought that God is perfectly able and fully willing to run His Church without the aid of anything in the way of man's contributions, is found to be abhorrent to the average Church member.
I shall never cease to thank God that as Jonah was vomited out of the belly of the whale, I was vomited out of the belly of this religious whale and my heart can now sing with the sweet singer of Israel, "My soul is escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers, the net is broken and I am escaped" (Ps. 124:7). We, as some of you, have been through all of this, and we came sick of it all. It was so wonderful to be free from it all and simply worship the Lord as the Spirit led us to do. Once we begin to KNOW GOD BY THE SPIRIT, once we begin to turn loose of all the "props" of religion, and HIS SPIRIT commences to stir and reign within our hearts, giving us a taste of the powers of the age to come - why would men turn back to those things wherein is no life or reality? Back to the observance of days, ceremonies, symbols and outward show rather than following the pure path of the Spirit. Once the Spirit has begun to move in our hearts, imparting the REALITY of all these symbols, then the moment you forsake the Spirit, returning to the symbols, those very symbols become INSTEAD OF - they are ANTICHRIST! That is the strong beguilement of today.
Surely we are able to see that there is nothing in these religious trappings that would appeal to the SPIRIT of a man. It is the FLESH that attaches value to outward things. For those walking in the sunlight of His glory those things hold nothing anymore, for they are to us but cheap tinsel. What does the regenerated SPIRIT care about such things? Does it really matter to the SPIRIT whether the choir has on robes, whether the windows are of stained glass, or whether the corruptible body consumes a bit of bread and wine? Ah - there are a few simple tests by which any saint of God can try a thing, whether it be of CHRIST or ANTICHRIST. Anything one practices in his spiritual life that is not a product of HIS INDWELLING LIFE - is antichrist. Anything one has participated in or leaned upon which can be eliminated WITHOUT AFFECTING OR DIMINISHING THE INWARD WORKING OF CHRIST - is antichrist. Anything that LOSES ITS FORMER PRECIOUSNESS once we come into intimate relationship with the Lord - is antichrist. And let me add, anything you can get along without, and STILL CONTINUE TO GO FORWARD IN GOD - is antichrist!
God's true Church has never been contaminated by antichrist. There is a little flock, there is a body of Christ, but its members are scattered abroad and almost invisible to the great Babylon. They are the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and they are the called and chosen and faithful who follow the Lamb. They are those who have turned to God from all the religious idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for the glory that shall be revealed when God's Sons come into their own. They are those who have not the FORM, but the POWER of godliness, those who keep themselves unspotted from the world, and overcome all things by faith. Its ministers are not robed in material robes of scarlet and gold; they are robed in the righteousness of Christ. They are not trained in the seminaries and teachings of men, but by the spirit of grace and wisdom and revelation from God on High. They are not busy interpreting the doctrines of the Church systems; their very lives are the interpretation of the Christ enthroned in their hearts. They have no interest in persuading people to believe WHAT they believe; their whole ministry is to bring people into intimacy of fellowship and vital union with GOD and His CHRIST.
In other words, GOD IS SUFFICIENT for this Church He has placed in the world of men! Because God is sufficient, because the Christ within is all-in-all, this Church is left entirely free from all encumbrances to pursue the work God has given it of developing the chosen ones so that the Church may be the revelation of God's manifold wisdom to all the principalities and powers in the celestial realms, and the hope of all creation for deliverance and restoration to the Kingdom of God. Let all who treasure the call to Sonship know that CHRIST WITHIN I-S S-U-F-F-I-C-I-E-N-T! All else is - antichrist!
The truth that is set like a diamond in the pages of God's Word is the absolute and total SUFFICIENCY of Christ within. To say that the Christ Himself is not sufficient for our whole life as Sons of the Most High, that the indwelling Spirit is not enough, that there is something we must do to add to supplement, or improve on what HE IS WITHIN US is an insult to God and to our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet we see men doing this on every hand. The carnal mind is never able to take God at His word! It continually seeks to initiate some additional actions or services on the natural plane to take the place of pure spiritual reality.
Men do not need religion. They need Christ. They do not need to know doctrine. They need to KNOW HIM. They do not need to perform ritual. They need to EXPERIENCE CHRIST. Tradition can do nothing for them but cause them to walk in blindness, but Christ is the light of men and the light of the world, and all who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. It is not a soothing service you need to still your troubled spirit. It is Christ!
When Jesus came in the flesh, He came into a world steeped in religion. He came into a condition brought about by centuries of teaching of the law and the rites and sacrifices of the temple worship. Into this had been woven the traditions of the elders, an accumulation of those same centuries. It had come to include also even the washing of pots and cups, together with ceremonies of washing of hands before eating and a multitude of other practices imposed upon the people by their leaders. The temple in the city of Jerusalem was the symbol of all this to the people. Their whole life revolved around that building and the rites and sacrifices the priests offered in it. It was the sacred spot of the nation and of all Jews wherever they were in the world. Every Jew had that one desire to go to Jerusalem and worship. This system of religion was imbedded in the lives of the people, and had been for long centuries. It had become a part of their life and they endured it all with the hope perennial within their hearts that some day the Messiah would come and life not only this yoke, but that of the Roman empire also.
But when the Messiah came, they did not recognize Him. For here was all this great mass of law, ritual and Pharasaical teaching and tradition, while the Messiah was but an unknown man, of almost unknown origin. Jesus brought a new and revolutionary way of life. It was a way of BELIEVING, and not a way of DOING. It was faith in the Christ and right relationship with God and did not consist in the doing of anything, or the keeping of external observances. It was simplicity in the highest degree, set up against organized worship of the highest degree. The revolutionary way of life which Jesus brought to the people was in exact and complete opposition to the bondage under which the people now found themselves.
God's displeasure with this whole religious system of externals was expressed through the prophet as he proclaimed these words of inspiration: "Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (Micah 6:7). Again in Isa. 1:11: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me says the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs, or of he goats." And again in verse 13: "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me, the new moons and the sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is an iniquity (grief), even to the solemn meeting."
Can we not see by this that though God gave all these things to the people, yet they were not pleasing to Him. They were but an interim arrangement and were to be replaced with something else in the age to come. But the rulers of the people had laid hold upon these TEMPORARY THINGS and embraced them as a PERMANENT ARRANGEMENT and a fixed way of worship.
Jesus constantly urged people to COME UNTO HIM and to BELIEVE ON HIM. In Jn. 7:37-38 we read, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him COME UNTO ME AND DRINK. HE THAT BELIEVES ON ME as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." These wonderful words were uttered on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This was the last of the sacred festivals under the old covenant. It began five days after the Day of Atonement, and lasted eight days. It marked the completion of the harvest, and historically commemorated the wanderings in the wilderness. During this festival people lived in booths and tents in Jerusalem to remind them of how their forefathers wandered in the wilderness and lived in booths and tents. The sacrifices at this feast were more numerous than at any other.
The last day of the feast marked the conclusion of the ecclesiastical year. On this day, the last day of the feast, there was the ceremony known as "The Pouring Out of Water." In the fulfillment of this ordinance, the people, led by a priest, marched to the fountain of Siloam at the time of sacrifice, where the priest filled a golden vessel with water, and carried it back to the temple amidst the blowing of trumpets and shouts of joy. Then the water would be mixed with the wine of the sacrifices, and advancing to the altar of burnt offering, at the cry of the people, "Lift up your hands!" he emptied the pitcher beside the altar on the west and on the east. As this took place the people chanted, "With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation!" (Isa. 12:3).
One purpose of this ceremony was to implore God for His blessing upon the rains of the coming year, and His blessings upon the land and its people. So here was the scene. Jesus is standing in the temple watching the ceremonies. For eight days people had been going through these ceremonies and rituals and now they have arrived at the time when they draw water from the well of Siloam. They will have the ceremony of pouring out that water to God, showing to God their hunger for His blessings in their lives. Jesus the Christ is here placing Himself in opposition to all this ceremony, and as they pour out this water unto God, and perform the ceremonies, Jesus lifts up His voice and cries, saying, "IF ANY MAN THIRST, LET HIM COME TO M-E AND DRINK!"
A few of the people understood, for some said He was a prophet; others said He was the Christ. But the vast majority of them would not believe. They preferred their forms and ceremonies to the living water! These people were soon to "tear down" the very "temple" that had spoken these words, and it would be "rebuilt", resurrected from the dead, to become the mightiest power in all God's creation. But more than that, the Roman armies were soon to destroy completely the temple of stone in which all these ceremonies were being held, and it would NEVER BE REBUILT. Truly there stood in their midst that day One whom they knew not.
The people were constantly taught and instructed that they must observe all the things the priests and Pharisees told them, or they would perish. Jesus came into their midst and said that all those things would do them absolutely no good whatever, but if they wanted LIFE they should COME UNTO HIM AND DRINK - merely by BELIEVING ON HIM! He was placing Himself and faith in Him against all the accumulated tradition of the people. He was assuring them that they would NOT LOSE A SINGLE THING by coming unto Him, and casting all else away from them. And they would gain LIFE.
But who could hear such a thing in the day of Christ? In fact Jesus Himself said that no man could come unto Him, except the Father who had sent Him, would draw that man. It is just as true today! Ah, beloved, if you were to go into any Church on any Sunday and say to the people, "If you will cast aside all your form, all of your traditions, all your rituals, all your ordinances, all your solemn assemblies, all your myriad activities, all your committees, and SIMPLY COME UNTO JESUS AND BELIEVE ON JESUS AND DRINK OF H-I-M, YOU WILL LOSE NOTHING, but you will gain the glorious and eternal REALITY OF GOD forever," what kind of reception would you receive? You would actually be asking the people to give up EVERYTHING THEY ARE DOING and all the THINGS they have been given by their ministers and Church systems with which to serve and worship God - exchanging it for GOD ALONE. What an unbearable burden it would be for the people to be REDUCED TO GOD, to possess nothing but GOD HIMSELF! You would find this to be an almost impossible thing to accomplish. Truly Christ has been traded for ANTICHRIST!
If you tell them they do not need their forms, or their rituals, their baptisms, their holy days, their confirmations, their committees, their programs, or any of the other activities their Churches engage in, you will be branded a false prophet and given the right foot of fellowship! These same Church members love to sing and talk about Jesus being ALL THEY NEED, but they still must have all these other things! So actually their faith is not in the Christ at all, but in ALL THESE RELIGIOUS THINGS. Jesus opposed all this religious order that He met, and He opposes the whole thing today.
Precious saint of God, the world cares nothing for what we believe about baptism, communion, church buildings, church government, church services, church activities, Sunday Schools, rituals, doctrines, creeds, or ceremonies. But the world does care desperately about getting out from under the bondage of the awful weight of sin, sorrow and death. It needs nothing of WHAT we believe, but it is desperately needing WHOM we believe. WHAT we believe will never, through unending ages, save the world, or even change its way of life. But the WHOM we believe will bring a whole new life to all the world, yea, to all God's creation. How we long to see the Sons of God begin their promised ministry for the release of the whole creation from the bondage of corruption!
We have tried the ANTICHRIST WAY now for nineteen long centuries, and it has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Is it asking too much for once to cast all that aside, just as Jesus asked the people to do in His day, and simply COME UNTO HIM? Shall we COME TO HIM AND DRINK, or shall we go on with our works and Churches and ceremonies just as He found in His day? Shall we choose reality, or continue in the emptiness of what we are doing? Will it be the Spirit, or shall it continue to be THINGS? In this hour it will either be CHRIST ALONE or ANTICHRIST!
Forsaking the "instead of", learn, Oh man of God, to fellowship with Christ, rejoicing in His Holy Spirit, communing with the Father, becoming one with Him in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, walking in His will and doing His bidding, being His sheep and knowing His voice and not the voice of strangers, and you will BE A SON OF GOD, AND GOD HIMSELF WILL RECEIVE YOU AND BE TO YOU A FATHER.
Writings in This Series: