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Friday, September 5, 2014

Faith Overcomes Antichrists

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

Faith Overcomes - Part VII

Teachers of the God’s Word are responsible to be instruments of persuasion to those they serve. Their purpose and goal is to lead them to certain faith, and challenge them to continually be learning and applying what it means to be a follower of Christ. “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32 NASU).

Professions of faith are just professions of faith, not necessarily the reality of spiritual rebirth (Matthew 7:21). While a number have spiritual reality at the time of profession, far too many have not progressed that far. This is made plain in many places in the Bible, but many who are idealistic assume that the well know conversions of people like Billy Graham and the Apostle Paul happen to all who pray the sinner's prayer.

Spiritual rebirth involves the Word of God existing as a ruling element in one's mind and heart as the prophet Jeremiah prophesied: “… this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV) And, Peter wrote: “…you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23-24 NASU)

Faith that saves is a result of being persuaded: “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NASU) Faith that saves brings one into a personal relationship with Christ Jesus said: “"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27, 28 NASU) Persuasion is the result of the presentation of information by which a person commits oneself to treat what is presented as fact. Therefore, the Apostle Paul wrote of the certainty of His believing the Gospel: “…I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NASU)

The Apostle John’s great concern was that people would be persuaded to be Christ-followers, and be faithful to that persuasion. However, persuasion is a means not a virtue in itself. Persuasion was the means of deceiving Eve, who pressured Adam to eat the fruit to get the ability to trust her own ability to discern good and evil and reject God and His Word. They did not discern who was trying to persuade them. As Satan used the body of a lowly snake, he uses many other means to persuade professed believers to believe lies. The Lord Jesus warned us that false teachers and even false Christ's would oppose His Word, especially in the last days before He returns. John uses the term antichrist(s). However, even the time of the Apostolic Church was considered to be the “last days.”

Therefore, John describes some of the deceitful things that “antichrists” will try to corrupt believer's faith. An antichrist will try to deceive because he may claim to be even Christ – in the latter days. Like the proverbial snake, he will come in even as a prophet, or a preacher of righteousness, or like a snake in the grass just to be near unobserved until he strikes.

John writes that discernment of whether a person is a spiritually gifted man or an antichrist is discerned from what he teaches in three areas: Christ, law, and grace.

His message is the same as Jesus: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Mathew 7:15 KJV) He agreed with Paul who wrote, “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the circumcision, for we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. “ (Philippians 3:2 KJV) John urges believers in his first Epistle, Chapter 4 to try, meaning to test the spirits, meaning the motives, teaching, and character of those that come forward claiming to have a message from God. Specifically, the test consists of this primary truth: “”Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist. (I John 4:2-3) This is in agreement with Paul who wrote, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 KJV)

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