Sermon #16 1 John Series
Title: “It is the last time.”
Text: 1 John 2:18-20
Subject: The Signs of the Times
Date: Tuesday Evening — August 14, 2012
Tape # 1 John #16
Readings: Don Raneri and Rex Bartley
Do you want to know who antichrist is? Would you like to know what that spirit of antichrist is which will permeate the world in the end time? Would you arm yourself against the influence of that wicked one who shall drag unsuspecting multitudes into hell at last? Open your Bible with me to 1st John 2:18-20. — 1 John 2:18-20. As God the Holy Spirit will enable me, I want to talk to you about the signs of the times. The title of my message is — “It is the last time.” Our text is 1 John 2:18-20.
(1 John 2:18-20) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 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. 20 ¶ But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Proposition: John teaches us that — The end time is to be identified by a general opposition to Christ in the religious world.
Divisions: I want you to see four things in these three verses.
First, God the Holy Spirit tells us by His servant John that this present Gospel age is the last time. Do you see that? — “Little children, it is the last time.”
We live in perilous times, those perilous times our Lord Jesus and the inspired writers of the New Testament (Peter, Paul, John, and Jude) warned us repeatedly. All of those things that have been foretold as characteristic of the end time may be seen in our day. Here John tells us plainly that the Biblical warnings of antichrist must not be understood only of some future time. Here, God the Holy Spirit tells us that we are living in “the last time.” “The last time” is this present Gospel age. It began with the first advent of our dear Savior and will end with His glorious second advent.
This is the day of grace. This is the day of salvation. There will be no other! This is the last time, the last click of the clock. — “We then, [as] workers together [with him], beseech [you] also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
Second, John tells us that in the last time many antichrists (false prophets and religious teachers) will arise denying the doctrine of Christ.
(1 John 2:18) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
The beloved pastor knew that his days upon the earth were numbered. He knew that with his death the apostolic era would end. He was the last living apostle. When he died, the apostolic age would also die. And he knew that after his death grievous wolves would enter in, scattering the flock. Therefore, he gives this tender warning — “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
Here John sounds a word of alarm to all Christians in the world. The people of God are as little children in the world. They are harmless, inoffensive, and tender. But they live in a world of cruelty, abuse, and malice. We are the children of God, living in a world that is at enmity against our Father and His house. The children of God in this world live in perilous circumstances. Therefore, John braces God’s little children against offences that will surely come, offences which might disturb their peace and trouble their minds. He seems to say, “As you look around you and see the offences that abound on every hand, remember, — It is the last time.”
With those words, the beloved Apostle warns us what we must expect in this day in which we live. Since the new age had dawned with the coming of Christ, believers knew that they were living in the last age of the world. These are “the last days.” The age of the end had already come. This world of darkness is vanishing away. And John was convinced not only that it was the last time, but that it was the last hour of the end time!
At the same time, there is a word of comfort hidden here. We know that these things must come to pass. And when we see them, we must not be overwhelmed by them. When we see those things coming upon us, we must look up; our Redeemer is coming! The last hour is rapidly approaching.
Nearly two thousand years have passed since John wrote, “It is the last time.” Now, in order for us to understand that phrase, we must understand the purpose of the Apostle.
When John said, “It is the last time,” he meant that the Gospel age was the last stage, or period in the history of mankind. Men speak of the “Dispensational Calendar,” and list many things which must occur before the Lord’s return. And thus Satan has taken our eyes off of the coming of Christ and focused them on “prophetic signs and events”. Let us return to the expectant hope of the New Testament. We look not for the rebuilding of a physical temple, the regathering of the Jews, or the increase of turmoil in the middle-east. No, we look for our triumphant Redeemer and King! He is coming. There is nothing revealed in this Book that must be accomplished before Christ appears in His glorious second advent — Nothing! This is the next great event — Christ shall come — “Then cometh the end!”
I repeat what I said just a few minutes ago: The last days began with the coming of Christ and the accomplishment of our redemption by Him. — “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath spoken in these last days unto us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The sure testimony of the last days was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, by virtue of the death, resurrection, and ascension of God’s Messiah upon his throne (Joel 2:1, 28-32; 3:16).
(Joel 2:1) “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand.”
(Joel 2:28-32) “And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”
(Joel 3:16) “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD [will be] the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”
No More Apostles
Dr. Gill suggests that John is referring to the Apostolic age. Being the last of the apostles, John knew that after his departure many imposters would arise, as indeed they have. John was the last of the apostles. Those today who pretend to be apostles of Christ and to have the apostolic gifts are liars and imposters.
When John says, “it is the last time,” or “the last hour,” he was pointing out the urgency of the day in which we live. This is the day of the Lord!
The Apostle’s primary design was to assure us that nothing else remained, but the coming of Christ in glory for the full redemption of His Church. He fixed no dates. He set up no signs. He simply assured us that nothing else remained to be fulfilled, except the glorious appearing of Christ.
This is an important lesson for us to learn. — All things are now accomplished. There is nothing in type, prophecy, or promise that is not fulfilled in Christ. The only thing that remains is the great gathering of God’s elect. This is the last dispensation. John’s language gives the lie to our modern day prophets who tell us to look for outward signs that must come to pass before our Lord’s return.
We know that this is the last time, because of the presence of antichrist. — “And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (v. 18) — The term “antichrist” is found only in John’s epistles; but the idea of the coming of antichrist was, evidently a commonly acknowledged thing to believers in those early days of the Church.
It was a well known prophecy that antichrist would come.
Yet, those who suppose that antichrist will be just one superhuman demonic man are gravely mistaken. It is common today to refer to “antichrist” as a false Christ. And there were many who appeared about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem who claimed to be Christ, as our Lord had predicted. But the term “antichrist” means “an adversary of Christ,” or “one who opposes Christ.”
· Here, John tells us that there were many adversaries of Christ present by the end of the apostolic age.
· Without question, the popes of Rome are antichrist.
The great apostasy which took place in the earthly church culminated in Romanism; and the head of that apostasy is Christ’s great adversary upon the earth, the pope, who, sitting in the temple of God, is worshipped as God. Let others unite under the throne of that one who has shed the blood of martyrs, and call him a great religious leader, if they will. I will not. I cannot. He is not the representative of Christ; he is antichrist! But there is a more subtle and more powerfully destructive manifestation of antichrist than the hellish pope of Rome.
What will be the one pre-eminent characteristic of end of the last time? What will be the sign of the end of this Gospel age? Above all else, the end of the age will be characterized by a massive opposition to Christ, a spiritual apostasy, a desertion from the faith of the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:1-15).
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-15) “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
“3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
“13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
We must not be duped into thinking that antichrist is some future monster who will torment the Church in some future age. That is not the case. The modern dispensational concept of antichrist is little more than a remnant of medieval popery. Nothing is more suitable to the papists than to point to some future individual and say will be antichrist. But we should not be deceived, neither by the superstitions of Rome, nor by the fanciful dreams of modern fundamentalism.
Many antichrists were present even in John’s day. — And antichrists abound today on every side. They are nearby and close at hand. Only yesterday they were among us. They were one with us in privilege, profession, and outward character. The sharpest eye could not discriminate between them and us. But now they have gone out from us. As it was when our Lord walked with His disciples upon the earth, so it is now, “many went back, and walked no more with Him.”
Their departure, their apostasy is a positive proof that they were not truly of us. Such apostasy from the ranks of the Church would cause many to be concerned about their own standing; and it is those whom John desires to assure and comfort. It was the Apostle’s purpose in these verses to unmask every deceiver, to warn God’s true people of the general apostasy of religious hypocrites, which was sure to come, and to assure God’s elect of their preservation.
The deceiving doctrine of antichrist is universally received, because it is so appealing to our proud flesh that, were it possible, the very elect of God would be deceived! Those who proclaim the truth of God are denounced as heretics and church splitters, while those who despise the Gospel are hailed as great men.
I ask you, is it not the last time? Today, those men who uphold and insist upon the doctrines of Divine Sovereignty and Effectual Redemption are decried, while those who ridicule sovereignty, and proclaim free-will, and make the blood of Christ of no effect are upheld as great religious leaders.
Since the day of our Lord’s death, the religious world has moved steadily in the direction of this great apostasy and His return. It is indeed the last time!
The apostate doctrine of antichrist is freewill/works religion. Let me briefly show you how the adversaries of Christ oppose Him. It is not with open denial, but with craftiness and deceit. This religious generation is rapidly sliding into hell. I must raise a clarion voice of warning! This religious generation is antichrist.
Modern religion, modern, freewill/works religion is the greatest deception the world has ever known. While claiming to preach Christ, men are everywhere denying him. Like the liberals who went before them, the fundamentalists of our day use evangelical language and give it heretical meanings. They talk of a god who is at the beck and call of sinners, a salvation which does not save, a redemption that does not redeem, and a Lord who is not sovereign, constantly turning men from the truth of God unto fables.
Third, antichrist has many followers. In verse 19 John tells us that — In this last time many will depart from the faith of the Gospel.
(1 John 2:19) “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.”
This is what John is saying: These false professors, these antichrists find and have found their way into the Church. For a time, they keep up their masquerade. But sooner or later, they fall away and depart from the faith of the Gospel.
There is nothing more disturbing to the weak and unstable than to see those who profess the faith of the Gospel turn aside from that profession. Therefore, John shows us the true nature of such men. He sharply distinguishes between “they” who left and “us” who remain. By their defection, these men have given clear evidence of their true character.
John’s purpose in writing such a sentence as this was for the purpose of strengthening the true Church, the true children of God. Saints of God, be assured of this, the nearer the day of our Lord’s return comes, the greater will be the apostasy of men. —— Hear the Word of God…
(2 Thessalonians 2:3) “Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
(1 Timothy 4:1-3) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
(2 Timothy 3:1-5) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
(2 Peter 2:1-3) “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 ¶ And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
(Jude 1:4) “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Jude 1:11-13) “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”
The streets are filled with antichrists! Our churches are flooded with antichrists and the doctrine of antichrist! Sheep counters are taken for shepherds; and the hireling shepherds fill the pulpits of the church, making merchandise of men’s souls. But we must not be alarmed.
These things are but the heralds of Christ’s approaching second advent (Romans 13:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12).
(Romans 13:11-12) “And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”
(2 Thessalonians 1:7-12) “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
“11 ¶ Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we, with tearful eye, behold the departure of multitudes, even many whom we dearly love, from the faith of Christ, let us be reminded that — “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord.” — “I am what I am by the grace of God.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Fourth, John gives us a blessed word of comfort and assurance, teaching us that — Even in the most perilous times God’s elect will persevere in the faith of the Gospel. God’s elect, sinners saved by the grace of God are sealed by His Spirit. We have the saving, teaching unction of God the Holy Ghost by which we are kept and preserved from the delusions of antichrist and freewill/works religion.
The apostle has warned us of the great religious apostasy by which the nations are deceived. But now, lest any true believer fear his own departure from the faith, John assures us of the eternal preservation and final perseverance of God’s elect. We know that no true believer, no heaven-born soul will fall for Satan’s lie and depart from Christ, for this reason: — “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Here again, John unmasked the religious hypocrite and confirmed the true believer. The mere hypocrite has only the name of religion. The true believer has the unction from the Holy One. Every believer has this unction!
What is this unction? The word “unction” simply means “anointing.” This is the thing that the religious apostates lack. They have the form of godliness, but no power. They have a profession of faith in Christ, but not the unction of Christ.
The unction that is given to us is the Holy Spirit. This is that oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed above His brethren. And He is given to us.
Who gives us this unction? John tells us that it is from “the Holy One.” Throughout John’s writings, “the Holy One” is a term used for Jesus Christ, the God-man, our Mediator and High Priest.
The high priest was anointed with oil being poured on his head. It ran down his beard and garments, even to his feet. Even so, Christ our High Priest was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and that anointing flows from our Head, Christ, down to us, every member of his mystical body, the Church.
Apostates are antichrists, but we are join-Christs. As he was the “Christos,” anointed One, so we in Him are “Christi,” anointed ones.
What is the result of this unction? Why was the Holy Spirit given to us? — “And ye know all things.” The Apostle Paul says the same thing in these words: — “And we have the mind of Christ.” John is not here saying that we have universal knowledge. Neither does he teach us that our knowledge is perfect. But he does say that we know all that is needful to be known as the result of our unction from Christ.
The text might be translated — “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all men.” Those whose eyes the Son of God opens see “every man clearly” (Mark 8:25).
The knowledge of which John speaks is an intuitive knowledge. It does not come by study, logic, or reason. It comes by revelation. It is the result of a living union of faith with Jesus Christ. It is an inward, assured knowledge of the Son of God.
For us, for God-taught sinners, the Gospel is not guess work. With Peter, we say, — “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69).
As we see multitudes around us departing from Christ and the faith of the Gospel, let us cleave to Him in persevering faith (2 Peter 3:17-18; Jude 21).
(2 Peter 3:17-18) “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
(Jude 1:21) “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
(Jude 24-25) “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, power and dominion, both now and ever. Amen.”
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