|- J. Preston Eby -
The subject of the antichrist occupies much of the religious thinking, public preaching, and writing today. Evangelists crisscross the country advertising sensational forecasts of events connected with prophecy which they say are about to happen. Shelves in Christian book stores bulge with books dealing with the antichrist. Radio and television speakers are engrossed in telling curious listeners about this mysterious being. Bible Schools include diligent treatment of this study on their curricula. Information abounds giving dire forebodings of this fearsome creature whose spectral shadow casts a pall of gloom and terror across the future. Tens of thousands of scary sermons have been preached through the years warning that the days would come when the antichrist would arise, and then the Christians in Western lands would have their Bibles taken from them, their children would be trained in atheism, they would be put against the wall and shot in mass massacres, and then with its last gasp the beaten, battered, bruised, broken, bleeding would cry, "Even so, come Lord Jesus, and rescue us from total defeat!" One popular writer writes a series of books, which have brought to him an enormous reputation and (be it said) an equally handsome monetary reward, by telling us, almost as though reading the morning newspapers, exactly what is going to happen at any moment now, yet assuring us in the same sentence, and with the same impression of infallibility, that it really does not concern the Church anyway we shall be safely away in heaven before the events of his books begin to come to pass!
ANTICHRIST - INSTEAD OF
In I Jn. 2:18 we read, "Little children, it is the last hour: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are their 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! The number has been increasing steadily, all through the years, until we now find ourselves surrounded with these men. But who are they, and how do we recognize them?
Let us consider again 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. We find a classic example of this use of the word "anti" within the terminology of the Roman Catholic Church. During the Middle Ages, a man who was considered a hostile, self-substituted, usurping Pope - one occupying the proper Pope's place and receiving his honors and exercising his functions - was called an "antipope". This term is commonly used in history in this connection. Such a "Pope" was not merely a person that was against the Pope. It was a person who was against the Pope by attempting TO TAKE THE POPE'S PLACE. Likewise, the antichrist comes TO TAKE THE PLACE OF CHRIST - and by so doing opposes Christ!
Therefore we find that the word "antichrist" properly signifies one who opposes, or one who sets himself up in the place of Christ, by appropriating some of the attributes of Christ. That is, antichrist appears AS Christ and by so doing is actually AGAINST Christ - usurping that place that rightly belongs to Christ alone! Anything that is placed INSTEAD OF Christ, is literally antichrist. 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 souls, then a whole host of attitudes, ideas, beliefs, doctrines, rules, regulations, rituals, ceremonies, sacraments, ordinances, forms, and empty traditions stalk boldly through the door to TAKE THE PLACE OF TRUTH AND REALITY in our lives. Any little form of SUBSTITUTION that supplants the all-sufficiency of HIS INDWELLING LIFE - is ANTICHRIST!
I continually meet Christians today who are too lazy or unconcerned to press on into deeper depths and higher heights in Christ, but take pride in the fact that they are, at least, average Christians. Well, I ask, what is that? "Well, I get shaved every Sunday morning, and put on my best clothes and go to Church." Well, what more? "I join in a little in the singing, I like music very much, and I sit back and listen to the choir." Well, what else? "I pay for the music director and the preacher of course. We have a smart up-to-date pastor. Oh, he does preach wonderfully! He never hurts anybody; he never calls anybody names as you do; he says we are mighty good people, and pats us on the back, and he is a swell fellow. Yes siree, I am no saint. I am an average Christian."
Well my friend you are very candid, and I will be the same. I will tell you what you are. You are a sham and a fraud. If your Christianity lies in helping to pay a song leader and a minister to read and say nice things for you, and then go back to the job on Monday and your various other pursuits to act in the same carnal and ungodly way as before, you are a sham and a liar, and it is my duty as God's minister to tell you so. And those who sing for you, pray for you, preach for you, and do all those nice little religious things for you are THE ANTICHRIST whom you serve and before whom you bow. You need not look for another!
Some time ago I read a parable that goes like this: A king once excelled in greatness, not only in war and affairs of state, but also in music and song, So great was his desire for musical expression that he made himself a harp. And had you seen this harp and heard him play, you would have said the harp was almost alive. As it was, no one ever heard the harp, except the head servant. For on the day that the harp was finished, the king was suddenly called off to war. The head servant was given charge of all the affairs of state, the people, and the harp until the king returned. "Take care of my harp," said the king, "for I intend to use it to bring great joy to my people." But this head servant was a wicked servant, and he said to himself, "I will take the harp, and I will bring joy to the people, and I will make myself king." So he took the harp and began to strum. And as he strummed he broke it - string by string! (For you see, he hadn't truly learned the ways of the king's harp.) Filled with anger, he made himself another harp which looked very much like the real harp but didn't sound at all the same. Where the king's harp played joy and laughter, his harp played flippancy and riot. Where the king's harp played love, his played passion. Where the king's harp played peace, his played something much like peace, but it always left you dissatisfied. Nevertheless, the phony harp was an instant success among the people. For, you see, they had never heard the music of the real harp! And not having ever heard the real, they applauded the counterfeit. The wicked servant was made king within a month. Bigger and better copies of the phony harp were made and spread throughout the land so that everyone in the country had a phony harp. Even now, if you come to that country you can hear the sickening chords of gloom and staleness and niceness and lust.
From the earliest years of my memory there stirred deep within my bosom an insatiable longing after reality. Though only a child, I wanted to know Him who once was spat upon for me, who was crowned with thorns for me, who died and rose again and ascended into the effulgent glory of the Father for me. I wanted to intimately KNOW the Christ, oh! how I wanted to KNOW HIM! At the tender age of twelve the Lord revealed Himself to me in a remarkable manner, flooding my life with billows of His presence, power and glory. I had found the Christ and my heart was filled with joy because of a love I had for Him. I wanted to be near Him and point other men to Him. He was to me the Center of all things and the most important Person in all the universe. From that moment Christ was the ONLY REALITY. He filled the skies. He filled the earth. He filled my life and flooded my heart with unspeakable love, joy, and peace, and unfolded within the depths of my spirit the wonders of His awesome holiness, His ineffable glory, His fearful majesty, His inscrutable wisdom and His unsearchable ways.
Unnumbered multitudes of men and women and children have experienced such a divine encounter with God since that glorious day 1900 years ago when the first one hundred and twenty disciples were assembled in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Suddenly a sound was heard like the rushing of a mighty wind coming straight down from the sky, and flaming tongues of divine fire crowned the heads of those humble saints gathered there. This little band of believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, was ushered into the glory, the awe, the reverence, the holiness, and the power of the Kingdom of God as Christ the Lord returned to them in mighty spirit, to indwell their believing hearts and reign upon the throne of their yielded lives. How they sang the songs of deliverance! How the praises of God echoed down the corridors of their souls and re-echoed among the battlements of celestial realms! With what power, signs, and wonders did they bear witness to the living presence of the Christ! God through them began to shake the entire world. Day after day, month after month, year after year the celestial wonder continued, thousands upon thousands came to drink at the ever flowing fountain of life, and it looked for a time as though all the kingdoms of men would be broken down, and the whole world would come marching to Zion.
But such was not to be, for the long night of FLESH was not yet over. The Church had progressed only a few years into the dispensation of the Spirit when the SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST began to show its ugly head and men began to substitute THINGS in place of the anointing. The apostle John warned of this spirit of antichrist in these graphic words: "Hereby know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and EVEN NOW ALREADY IS IT IN THE WORLD" (I Jn. 4:2-3).
So here it is so very soon! Did you ever see it fail? The moment God begins a mighty work of grace and power and glory, someone rises up in the spirit of antichrist to establish some CARNAL ORDER and puts the unsanctified fingers of FLESH to the exquisite strings of THE KING'S HARP, at once striking a discordant note. It is not long thereafter until all the strings of THE WAYS OF THE SPIRIT are broken, and men begin to make their own harps, designed to resemble to some degree the King's harp, and play their own music. Ah, beloved, if Christ fills us we want no more. If Christ does not dwell richly within us, we must have some thing else instead of Him, and that is some antichrist!
THE ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT
I have pointed out that "antichrist" is a compound word made up of the preposition "anti" and the Greek word for Christ which is "christos". "Anti" means instead of and "christos" means anointed, and by extension anointing. Our Lord Jesus Christ is THE ANOINTED, but Christ in us is THE ANOINTING, as the apostle affirms, "But you have an unction from the Holy One ... the anointing which YOU HAVE RECEIVED OF HIM abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the SAME ANOINTING teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide IN HIM" (I Jn. 2:20,27). There is in the Christ within, or in THE ANOINTING such a generous, copious, abundant, plentiful, profuse, rich, full, and overflowing bestowal of the grace and abilities of God that there is no need for anything that men might add to such an anointing. And that is the great truth that the man-made Church systems do not and cannot understand. The CHRIST IS SUFFICIENT. The ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT! Nothing else is needed to quicken, support, or guide the true Church of Jesus Christ.
The anointing is sufficient to bring it into being. The anointing is sufficient to quicken it and give it life. The anointing is sufficient to teach and mold the lives of the members of this Church. The anointing is sufficient to bring it unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. No rituals of any kind are needed. No sacraments of any kind are needed. Its ministers need no robes, no costumes, no ornaments of any kind. This true Church has no need of ceremonies, no lofty spires, no stained glass windows, no chiming bells or great and wonderful organs to inspire worship in its members. It has no need of elegant and costly Church edifices, fine furnishments, artistic choirs, polished orators, and no need of a hierarchy of any kind, elevation, or rank. Its apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are not lords but SERVANTS, and therefore need no couriers running before them to announce their coming. THE ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT.
There are many Christian people that the devil does not bother himself about. When the devil comes to certain Churches and looks in, he thinks he is not in any trouble at all; because he sees a fellow there in the pulpit who has all his religion written out before him, and he finds the people grinding out their prayers from a prayer book, just in the same way that a Tibetan turns a prayer wheel, always saying, "God have mercy upon us poor miserable sinners, for we have left undone the things we ought to have done, and we have done the things we ought not to have done; and there is no help in us." The devil thinks that is right, and that congregation can be left safely.
But in the true Church there need be no creeds and no litanies memorized and repeated over and over for these are "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" and, though we know not what we should pray for as we ought, the Spirit also helps our infirmities ... the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered... He searches the hearts... and makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26, 27). THE ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT!
There is no need for these or myriad more religious trappings in the true body of Christ, for the ANOINTING WITHIN will abundantly supply this Church with all of everything it can possibly ever need. This anointing has no need to count noses or erect attendance boards to show how many people attend the meetings, neither does it need a membership roll to keep track of its members or what they are doing. The hour has come for us to realize that only THE LORD knows them that are His. Only THE LORD can call His sheep by name and lead them in and out to find pasture. Only THE LORD can look into the four corners of the earth and call forth His elect. The anointing within every member keeps that member in his or her proper place at all times and in everything. Who, then, are we to circumscribe anything? We must learn to know men not by what they say, what they believe, how they appear on the surface, where they are, or by what Church they do or do not attend, but by that strange witness that made Jesus say to Peter, "You are Peter," and by that same spiritual revelation that made Peter say to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" How often we have been shockingly disappointed in men! Ah, how often has the man who could "preach like Paul" surprised everyone by suddenly divorcing his wife and taking off with the Church organist! And the brother in whom we trusted the most has forsaken us, turned on us, and rent us to pieces, while the man we thought would never receive the message of the hour has been unexpectedly quickened by the spirit of revelation from God, finding a swift entrance into the things of the Spirit. Thank God, we are truly learning to "know no man after the flesh," from a human point of view, in terms of natural judgment, by what can be discerned by the seeing of the eye or by the hearing of the ear - but after the spirit. THE ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT!
Let all men know that this anointing does not consist of any physical demonstration or words. Across the land, especially in "Spirit-filled" circles, we have heard much of the anointing, and for the most part the anointing has been considered to be in operation when the subject displayed some kind of physical manifestation or fervor. Precious saint of God, let me say here and now that the anointing has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with seeing a flash of light, feeling a tingling sensation running up and down the spinal column, emotional excitement, breaking out in "goose bumps", trembling, jerking, jumping, running, arm-slinging, loud and vociferous hand-clapping and singing peppy choruses. In fact, it is very easy for any of these things to be SUBSTITUTED FOR the anointing, literally being "anti-christos" - in place of the anointing - antichrist!
The anointing is given to make a man able to be a person he could not naturally be and to do a work he could not naturally do. It is impossible for a natural man to love his enemies, to bless them that curse him, to do good to them that hate him, or to pray for them which despitefully use him and persecute him. But the ANOINTING will do that! It is my earnest prayer to God that our eyes may be enlightened and our understanding made keen by the Spirit of God so that we may grasp the truth that all the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount REQUIRE THE ANOINTING TO MAKE THEM WORK. Only the anointing will cause us to go the second mile. Only the anointing will turn the other cheek. Only the anointing can or will forgive. Only the anointing will pray, fast, and give without pretense or outward show or secret hope of personal gain. Only the anointing can make us the salt of the earth or the light of the world. Only the anointing can transform us into Sons of God. BUT THE ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT!
The means by which God separates people unto Himself and for His purposes is called in the Bible "the anointing". Let us look at this "anointing" and meditate deeply upon its origin and use in the Scriptures. The term anointing first appears in the book of Exodus in connection with the consecration of the Priesthood and the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. When they built the Tabernacle, God commanded that they should apply the "holy anointing oil" to the Tabernacle and all the articles within it (Ex. 29:7,21; 40:9-16; Lev. 8:10-12,30). All the Priests who served and the High Priest also had to be anointed with the anointing oil. Once the Priests and the articles were anointed, they BECAME SEPARATED AND SANCTIFIED UNTO GOD. Later, Kings and Prophets were anointed by God for His service. The purpose for which God anoints people is that the anointed ones may be separated unto Him to fulfill His will and purposes. The holy anointing oil in the Old Testament symbolized the Holy Spirit, and today it is the moving of the Holy Spirit in us that constitutes the anointing of God. I Jn. 2:27 says, "The anointing which you have received of Him ABIDES IN YOU, and you need not that any man should teach you: but ... the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth..."
Let us look even deeper into what this anointing means. The anointing of I Jn. 2:27 in the Greek is not a noun, but a verb pertaining to a certain kind of motion. It does not bespeak an oil in a motionless state, inactive, standing still, but an oil in a state of motion and activity. If you only have the oil in a vessel it is not "the anointing". But when the oil is poured out and applied it then becomes "the anointing". In the vessel it is merely oil; poured out it is anointing and separates and sanctifies and changes the proprietorship and function of that upon which it is poured! Thus, in this day of reality, the anointing is not the Holy Spirit, but the MOVEMENT AND ACTION of the Holy Spirit WITHIN US! You say, "I have the Holy Spirit, therefore I have the anointing." Not so! The Holy Spirit in the vessel IS NOT THE ANOINTING, only as the Spirit MOVES AND ACTS WITHIN YOU do you have the anointing. The Spirit must not be motionless within us, He must be active and energizing - speaking, stirring, dealing, quickening, changing, transforming, acting, manifesting the glory of God in our lives!
After the firstborn Son had received the Holy Spirit at His baptism, He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Lk. 4:18). From that moment the Spirit MOVED IN AND THROUGH HIM and His whole life became the revelation of His Father as the nature, mind, wisdom, will, words, power, and glory of God were manifested through Him, climaxing in His triumphant resurrection from the dead!
And now - a vast company of "many brethren" are receiving of that same anointing, that MANY SONS may be brought to the same glory in which Christ now dwells. Yes, beloved, we also are called to be ANOINTED ONES, that the name of the Father may be called upon us, creating this bond of union between the Son and the Sons of God, transforming us into His image, that as He is, so are we in this world! We are discovering what it means to be ONE WITH HIM, and He ONE WITH US in the absoluteness of a divine immanence, dwelling in us, even as the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father. Let us bow in holy reverence to worship and adore, and to live and walk in the blessed reality of such an high and holy calling!
The anointing will lift all who abide in it into the proper spiritual standing and state before God. In the presence of the anointing nothing needs be PRAYED DOWN or WORKED UP. I must assure you, dear ones, that anything that can be either PRAYED DOWN or WORKED UP IS N-O-T F-R-O-M T-H-E A-N-O-I-N-T-I-N-G, for "the anointing which you have received of Him ABIDES IN YOU." Beloved, if the anointing abides in you, and you abide IN HIM, what, under all God's heavens, could be added to you FROM WITHOUT? Stop seeking anything at all from or through the myriad SUBSTITUTES pawned by the countless modern day antichrists. Man with all his religion, his Church membership, his organization, his preachers and priests, his bishops, cardinals, popes, and his programs and ritual has NOT FOUND GOD, nor been conformed to His image.
What good, O man, will these things do if after a lifetime of trusting in them and looking to them for help you find yourself at the end of your earthly sojourn without having been transformed into the likeness of God's Christ, and with no hope of sonship? These external observances will not suffice in that hour. BUT THE ANOINTING IS SUFFICIENT! In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, divorce yourself completely and forever from all the substitutes, the realm of the INSTEAD OF. You will find absolutely nothing in it that will satisfy the deepest cravings of your heart after God. The anointing IS ALL YOU NEED.
If the early Church had been organized after the manner of the harlot church systems of today, the records would have been quite different from what they are. We would have had some reference to our Lord's installation of the apostleship with great ceremony, Himself sitting somewhere in state as a Pope, receiving the apostles in scarlet robes as cardinals, etc. etc. We would have had strict laws and regulations respecting Friday, abstaining from meat, etc. - and specific instructions about the observance of Christmas as His birthday. There would be something respecting "holy water" sprinkled upon the apostles or upon the multitude, and something about making the sign of the cross. Mary, our Lord's mother, would not have been forgotten. An account would have been given of her claimed miraculous conception and she would have been announced as "the mother of God," and Jesus Himself would have been represented as doing her some special homage, and as instructing the apostles to approach Him through her. Some injunction would have been given respecting "holy candles," when and how and where they should be used; some instruction respecting the invocation of saints; some instruction about the amass," and how Peter, meeting with the other disciples, was recognized as the Pope; how they prostrated themselves before him, and how he performed mass for them all, declaring that he had power to re-create Christ in the bread and to sacrifice Him afresh for personal transgressions.
We would have some account of Stephen's burial; how Peter or the others "consecrated" a grave for him, so that he might lie in "consecrated ground," and that they put in his hand a "holy candle" while they said certain prayers over him. We would have had rules and regulations respecting the observance of Lent and Easter, and respecting various orders of the clergy, higher and lower, Reverend, Right Reverend, Most Reverend, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, and Popes; and particular directions how each and all were to attain their positions, seeking honor one from another, and who should be greatest. We would have some statement about how Paul set in "the Pastor" over each Church, how Paul later returned to visit the Churches and met with "the Pastor" of each, and how the sick should call for the Pastor of the Church, and let him pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.
We would have some reference to the need for the Church to be recognized by and chartered by the State so its ministers can legally marry the young and bury the dead; we would have some specific examples of how Paul conducted funerals, how Peter performed weddings, and how the Pastors performed dedications. There would be instructions on how to organize a Church, the formation of the "board," how to conduct business meetings, and what percent of the members present constitute a ruling voice. We would be informed how to "call" a preacher, how to hire and fire ministries, and told of the importance of the choir. We would be instructed about the work of the Sunday School, how to select the Sunday School Superintendent, and the necessity of Sunday School "Quarterlies". And there should be multiplied other recommendations about rituals, altar calls, mourner's benches, special numbers, revivals, concerts, Christmas programs, Easter sunrise services, festivals, ceremonies, sacraments, communions, counsellors, Church buildings, spires, building funds, drives, campaigns, crusades, invasions, Bible Schools, non-profit corporations, etc. etc. etc. The fact that these matters are in no sense of the word even hinted at by the Lord or by His holy apostles and prophets is evidence that the whole Church world has gone far afield, the whole system is literally antichrist, instead of Christ, IN PLACE OF THE ANOINTING! But T-H-E A-N-O-I-N-T-I-N-G I-S S-U-F-F-I-C-I-E-N-T.
You will probably ask me the question, "Do you not believe in meetings, the assembling of the saints, and the ministries in the body of Christ?" I answer with assurance, "Most certainly I do!" But THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE BASIS FOR ASSEMBLING OURSELVES. Our Saviour gave us this basis when He said, "Where two or three are gathered together inMy name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mat. 18:20). The vast majority assemble not in the name of the Lord but because of tradition. All their lives they have assembled at certain times and to them it would be sacrilege not to do so. Others assemble for social and business purposes, and others for the sake of making proselytes, and still others for the sake of furthering their particular denominational program. Praise God, the consuming fire of HIS dealings and processings in our lives are being used to THOROUGHLY PURGE AND CLEANSE OUR HEARTS of Babylon's spirit and ways until once and for all we shall forsake all the traditions, giving ourselves over to true oneness with Christ, that He may teach us how to gather IN THE NAME OF THE LORD IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. When our minds are one with Him and all earthly program and tradition has vanished away and He takes His royal seat upon the throne of our hearts, then we are truly able to assemble IN HIS NAME. Then we are LED BY HIS SPIRIT, and then there is a freshness for those who gather, and a flow of His life, light, and love, and confirmation to be received from each member.
Antichrist ministries carry in them the nature of this world's bestial system, and they do everything patterned after the world and the harlot systems - to build a name for themselves, and a kingdom, to gain, to usurp control over other mens lives, to establish a creed or a movement, to solidify a power base under them, and for financial gain. The true ministries in the body of Christ carry in them the nature of Christ, taking the way of the cross, being stripped of all fame and earthly glory, going without the camp to bear reproach and shame because of what GOD has spoken into their heart. They seek no power over other men's lives, no control, nothing for themselves. They are maligned because they have "no works" that the flesh can boast in, they are scorned because they have no name, no title, no identification the world recognizes. These build no kingdoms about them, establish no hierarchies, but are LIVING EPISTLES OF CHRIST, "examples to the flock" (I Pet. 5:3), and "servants of all" (Mat. 20:25-28).
FALSE "ANOINTED ONES"
This is the day of false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ, and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; therefore it is no great wonder if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works (II Cor. 11:13-15). Men have vainly tried to satisfy their minds as to who the antichrist will be and from whence he shall come. Reverent meditation upon the above quoted passages of Scripture should make it abundantly clear that he does not arise in Jerusalem or Rome, or from Berlin, Moscow, Cairo or Washington, D. C., but IN THE VERY MIDST OF THE BODY OF CHRIST! How patiently, painstakingly, and accurately the apostle John details this truth for us in these inspired words: "Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from US, but they were not of US; for if they had been of US, they would no doubt have continued with US: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of US. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I Jn. 2:18-19; 4:1). I have emphasized the "US" in these verses so as to make it clear that the antichrist is from among the professed saints - NOT an atheist or a European dictator or an apostate Jew!
The impressive words of wisdom penned almost a decade ago by a man of revelation and keen spiritual discernment, are quoted here for our edification: "Our Lord warned us that 'there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many' (Mat. 24:5, 24). Now when Jesus said many, then there must certainly be many. If, however, you are expecting to see men stand on a platform saying, 'I am Christ,' you will wait a long time, for few men will ever openly manifest their error in such a way; but yet, if they did, you may be sure they would find plenty of followers.
"Now the word CHRIST means ANOINTED, and you have only to cast your eyes about you to find MANY MEN and MANY WOMEN who are claiming to have a SPECIAL ANOINTING from God for this particular hour. These are saying, 'I am the anointed, or I am Christ.' THE MEANING IS THE SAME. The literal translation of Mat. 24:23, 24 from the Emphatic Diaglott brings this out with great clarity thus: 'Then if any to you should say, Lo, here the anointed, or there, believe not, for MANY FALSE ANOINTED ONES shall be raised... and shall give signs and great wonders, so as to deceive if possible even the chosen.' This passage of Scripture is of enormous importance, and it should be applied without hesitation, discrimination, or fear to all men and women who make great claims for their ministry. It should also be applied to all sects and denominations, for they ALL CLAIM to possess the one true way. Every informed person must be aware that at this very moment there are MANY who claim they are THE ANOINTED for this hour. They are God's man or God's woman, or God's prophet or God's denomination. Without difficulty I can think of a dozen such men over the country at the moment. One claims to have a golden altar powerful enough to stop an invading horde of two hundred million Chinese. Another claims he is Elijah the prophet and goes to great lengths to prove it. A dozen men claim to be God's man of the hour. Many women are claiming to be SPECIALLY ANOINTED to bring new revelation for this last day. And then there is that archdeceiver who throughout successive generations has blasphemously claimed to be Christ's representative on earth.
"All these and many more claim to be ANOINTED OF GOD, and every one of them have hundreds of followers, while some of them count their followers in millions and hundreds of millions. These are false prophets and false Christs, false anointed ones, deceiving many by their crafty claim to be anointed of God. Full well did Peter say, 'There were false prophets also among the people as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not' (II Pet. 2:1-3).
"Notice that Peter gives a GLARING CLUE that unmistakably identifies a false ministry. THROUGH COVETOUSNESS SHALL THEY WITH FEIGNED WORDS MAKE MERCHANDISE OF YOU. THEIR need of YOUR money is always evident in every meeting they hold, every article or letter they write. They need money for this, money for that, money for missions, money for the destitute, money for their broadcast, money for their new tent, money for their buildings, and with a thousand other plausible lies they make merchandise of the gullible people who blindly follow them. You will hear them tell how God revealed to them that a certain number of people in the meeting have a certain amount of money that they are to give, and they usually get it. This is not God's doing, but these are FEIGNED WORDS by which they make merchandise of you. From all such turn away."
If a "false anointed one" is not an "anti-christos" then I fail to even imagine what further credentials might be required for an antichrist! These false ones, psuedo-Christs, the Greek would give, make their own claims about themselves, and "he that speaks of himself seeks his own glory" (Jn. 7:18). And yet it is true that HE IS ANOINTING HIS OWN WITH THE SAME SPIRIT OF WHICH HE IS, for "You have an unction from the Holy One... the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you." The false anointed ones, the antichrists exalt self, the other EXALTS CHRIST.
CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH
The inspired written continues in I Jn. 2:22-23 saying, "Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son. Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: but he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also." But what does he mean here when he speaks of denying the Father and the Son? Let us make no mistake about this. Fortunately, a little further on John himself enlarges on this statement so that we need not be left in the dark. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know you the Spirit of God: EVERY SPIRIT THAT CONFESSES THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COME IN THE FLESH IS OF GOD: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come In the flesh is not of God: and THIS IS THAT SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world" (I Jn. 4:1-3).
Now let us get these statements clear in our minds. John declares an antichrist to be one who denies that Jesus is the Christ, which is denying the Father and the Son. But how does he do this? BY NOT CONFESSING JESUS CHRIST HAVING COME IN THE FLESH! But what does this mean? It states that we know the Spirit of God by His confessing Jesus Christ having come in the flesh. Does this mean that Roman Catholicism is the Spirit of God? It confesses that Jesus Christ was a man, born of a virgin. It confesses that He came in the flesh as a babe in Bethlehem. They even parade Him before the world hanging on a cross, crucified. Millions of others around the world, representing every kind of religion and false cult existing, including the Moslem, admit the same historical facts. Do all of these represent the Spirit of God?
These verses must have a deeper meaning! It is not considering the fact of Jesus Christ having lived on earth as a man. Anyone will admit that. But the profound truth which all of popular religion has missed, is the fact of the Christ actually coming into this flesh, my flesh, your flesh, and becoming an eternal and inseparable part of us! "And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ IS (now) COME in the flesh is not of God: and THIS is that spirit of antichrist... you are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is HE THAT IS IN Y-O-U, than he that IS IN the world" (I Jn. 4:3-4). Every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ I-S come in the flesh - is antichrist! Why? BECAUSE: Greater is He that IS IN YOU (your flesh), than he (the spirit of antichrist) that IS IN the world!
"Christ lives IN ME," Paul wrote in Gal. 2:20. Again in Col. 1:27 he wrote, "Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory." THIS is the Christ Who has come in the flesh: He that IS IN YOU, and will never leave nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). And this is eternal life: being joined eternally and inseparably to God by means of the Christ within. This is the Christ from Whose love no power nor creature in heaven or under heaven can separate us (Rom. 8:35-39). John declares, "Beloved, now are we the Sons of God" (I Jn. 3:2). And Paul adds, "And because you are Sons, God has SENT FORTH THE SPIRIT OF HIS SON INTO YOUR HEARTS. Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a Son" (Gal. 4:6-7). THIS is the Christ that IS come in the flesh!
Paul preached not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord. After stating this himself, he follows on to say, "But this treasure (Christ) WE HAVE IN EARTHEN VESSELS" (II Cor. 4:7). On another occasion Paul writes to the Galatians and calls them his little children "...of whom I travail in birth again until CHRIST be formed IN YOU" (Gal. 4:19).
It is only the formation of the Christ of God within us that will ever bring us into our true stature and relationship to our Father. Sonship is the actual birth of the Christ creature who becomes the new man within, the new me, the new you. He is both ageless and deathless, the actual Son of the God of heaven. He abides eternally in this human frame, even as He abides eternally in Jesus to perform His mighty works. And it is a union which is becoming a glorious and eternal reality in God's Sons in this hour. But - "many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (II Jn. 7). These deceivers acknowledge the historical Jesus of 1900 years ago, but they recognize Him not as having returned in mighty spirit within a people. These deceivers speak much of Jesus in some far off heaven somewhere, but they reject the manifestation of Him through the members of His body upon earth.
By personal application, if my spirit does not confess that Christ has come in my flesh, I am antichrist. The confession of my SPIRIT is a much stronger confession than might be made by just my mouth. The confession of one's SPIRIT bespeaks an expression arising from an INNER STATE OF BEING, not merely a belief of the mind. If my SPIRIT is confessing that Christ has come in my flesh, it is confessing it by a LIVING MANIFESTATION. Now if I am living out Christ in the nitty-gritty of every day life, under the pressure of all the daily circumstances and life situations, I am confessing with my SPIRIT that Christ is come in my flesh! Ah, I might say with my mouth that Christ is come in my flesh, but my spirit speak just the opposite, as the fountain of my life sends forth polluted waters. Many have a mouth confession of the presence of Christ within whose "spirit confesses not that He is come" in their flesh. Oh! that men might believe it! The Christ within, the anointing within is our only hope of glory!
But antichrist will hear of no such hope of glory. His hope does not rest wholly in the Christ within, but partially in his own works, or faithfulness, or endurance. He is cluttered about with laws, regulations, creeds, ordinances, observances, traditions, religious exercises of this order and that, all of which are designed to assure his right standing with God. He is thus denying the Father and the Son, for God's order is, "You are kept by the POWER OF GOD, through FAITH" (I Pet. 1:5). Anything that purports to ADD SOMETHING to the anointing within, or to fill some place or function in our lives not fulfilled BY THE ANOINTING ALONE - is antichrist!
The notable English mystic, William Law, writing in about the year 1750, made the following statement, to which we all must give sincere and earnest heed lest we, like those who 1900 years ago rejected Christ and the truth He brought, should refuse Him that now dwells and speaks and works within His temple of living stones, accepting in His place the cheap and worthless substitutes of man's invention. Thus writes William Law: "Consider how it is that the carnal Jew, the deep-read scribe, the learned rabbi, the religious Pharisee not only did not receive but crucified their Saviour. It was because they willed and desired no such Saviour as He was, no such inward salvation as He offered them. They desired no change in their nature, no inward destruction of their own natural tempers, no deliverance from the love of themselves and the enjoyments of their passions. They liked their state, the gratifications of their old man, their long robes, their broad phylacteries and greetings in the markets. They wanted not to have their pride and self love dethroned, their covetousness and sensuality to be subdued by a new nature from heaven derived into them. Their only desire was the success of Judaism, to have an outward Saviour, a temporal Prince that should establish their law and outward ceremonies over all the earth. And therefore they crucified their dear Redeemer and would have none of His salvation because it all consisted in a change of their nature, in a new birth from above, and a Kingdom of Heaven to be opened within them by the Spirit of God. O Christendom, look not only at the old Jews, but see thyself in this glass, for at this day (O sad truth to be told), at this day of Christ within us, an inward Saviour raising a birth of His own nature, life and Spirit within, is rejected as gross enthusiasm. The learned rabbis take counsel against it The propagation of popery, the propagation of Protestantism, the success of some particular Church is the salvation which priests and people are chiefly concerned about."
Suppose I were a pursued fugitive. Now, if I could get my pursuers sidetracked and get them to fire on a stuffed dummy made to represent myself, they would thus, by diverting their fire from me, aid in my escape. I do not hesitate to tell you, precious brother of mine, that Satan has a DUMMY ANTICHRIST set up, a horrible creature who will never appear. And the Christian Church is busily engaged in wasting their time and ammunition on this dummy. They are telling what a terrible creature he will be, all the while ignorant of the fact that THE TRUE CRIMINAL IS IN THEIR VERY MIDST!
Writings in This Series: