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The Christian Counter

   

Why Anti-Christ Must Appear
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The rumor mill among Christians in Paul’s day worked very well – perhaps too well. One persistent rumor that went ‘round and round’ during the first 20 years of the church’s existence was alleged sightings of Jesus. The Bible student has to understand that communication in those days between distant places was very slow and subject to distortion. So, rumors originating from Jerusalem about a “Jesus sighting” could have taken several weeks to reach Thessalonica with a probability of being enhanced by a dozen people along the way. Further, the only way to verify whether a rumor was fact or fiction was to travel to Jerusalem, and that was out of the question because of time and effort. Consequently, correcting a rumor was practically impossible. Add to this dilemma the vacuum produced by the persecution of early Christians, and any word concerning a possible fulfillment of Christ’s words regarding His return for His followers became “truth.”

 

Finally, the apostle Paul addressed this issue and brought rumors and the appearing of Jesus to an end for the last time. Paul stated that Jesus would not return to Earth until two events occurred: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)

 

Until the Rebellion Occurs

Many people poorly understand the awesome significance of the phrase “until the rebellion occurs”. The rebellion that Paul is referring to is the forthcoming wholesale rejection of the gospel by the vast majority of Earth’s inhabitants. When the Great Tribulation begins, God will empower 144,000 men and women in every quadrant of Earth. These will speak for God and proclaim three clarion messages (described in Revelation 14). The 144,000 will proclaim, “Submit to God and comply with His commandments: “Do not submit to the authority of Babylon”; and “If any man submits to the authority of the Antichrist, he will be tortured to death with burning sulfur.” (Revelation 14:10)

 

Jesus has made it clear: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Consider this: The events associated with the Great Tribulation provide the only scenario in which the gospel can be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony for salvation. Many church groups are doing their best to broadcast their version of the gospel, but when Jesus was looking 2,000 years in the future, He was not speaking of a denominationally oriented broadcast of the gospel on radio and TV. Instead, He was referring to a penetrating presentation of the gospel that transcends every religious barrier. At this moment in time, three billion people have not heard of Jesus Christ! Even worse, those people who may have heard of Jesus do really understand their need for Jesus. For example, the devout Hindu does not thoughtfully consider the gospel presented by a devout Baptist. Nor does a devout Church of Christ member thoughtfully consider a religious message presented by a devout Moslem. Even among Christians, a devout Catholic does not thoughtfully consider the gospel presented by a Protestant, ect. The problem is that devoutly religious people cannot discuss differing “gospels” because their paradigms about God have little, if anything, in common. Therefore, broadcasting the gospel, in the manner that is being done today, is the best thing that can be done right now. However, understand that broadcasting the gospel to the whole world (as Trinity Broadcasting Network and many other religious groups claim they do) is no substitute for what god is about to do. God will open every heart and mind of every sincere person with displays of incredible power and authority by sending judgments upon the Earth. God will stop the world in its tracts with a global earthquake, meteoric showers of burning hail, two asteroid impacts and great darkness. This will get everyone’s full attention so that His eternal gospel can be delivered by the 144,000 and thoughtfully considered by all people, regardless of religious background!

 

In this setting, the rebellion that Paul speaks about comes into sharp focus. As the truth about God’s will, (the gospel) is being forcefully and clearly set before every person on Earth, a decision will be required. The forces of Babylon (the crisis one world government that forms in response to Gods judgments) will be aligned against the gospel. Decisions made for God during the Tribulation will not be easy. Much of the world’s population will reject the truth about God and will stand in direct opposition to the clearest evidences of truth. Notice what Paul says about the wicked: “…They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

 

Notice: The wicked will perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved. God does not hold a person responsible for something they do not understand. God does hold a person responsible when the Holy Spirit brings conviction about the truth and the truth is rejected. In other words, how can we say that a person has refused the gospel until he or she hears and correctly understands the terms and conditions of the gospel within his own religious reality. For example, how can the Catholic condemn the Hindu when the Hindu cannot honestly see things in the same way the Catholic does, or the Hindu condemn a Baptist because the Baptist cannot honestly see things the same way he does. In His great mercy, when God initiates the Great Tribulation, He will open every mind for a short season to thoughtfully consider the truth about His will. Every person will be forced, under dire circumstances, to give due consideration to the terms and conditions of His salvation – every person will understand the consequences of refusing to believe the truth. Then, the end will come, just as Jesus predicted, because every person will make his or her decision for or against the gospel.

 

God Sends a Powerful Delusion

Paul is very specific about the basis for the appearing of the man of sin (the Antichrist). He wrote: “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion.” What reason is Paul referring to? When a person rejects the Holy Spirit’s strongest influence that can be exerted within the soul to submit to the will of God and rejects the clearest evidences of truth that God has set before him, God can do nothing further to save that person! This is amazing, so pay attention to how this unfolds during the Great Tribulation: The Holy Spirit will be poured out to every person, good and bad, (Joel 2:28) stirring the soul of every person in a manner never seen before. Further, the global devastations of God’s wrath (the first four trumpets of Revelation 8) will cause everyone to consider the presence of the Almighty and the principles that govern His Kingdom during a short period of time. The 144,000 will clearly and powerfully present the terms and conditions of salvation. As Babylon inflicts persecution, everyone will be forced to make a decision to either submit to God’s truth or rebel against it. Unfortunately, most of the world will reject the terms and conditions of salvation, crumble under the pressure of persecution and side with Babylon. This wholesale rebellion produces the global rebellion that Paul predicts. When God has done about all He can to save souls, the Antichrist will be released from the spiritual dungeon to accomplish his heart’s desire. God will allow the Antichrist to have great miracle working powers so that those who delight in wickedness will be quickly deceived and thus destroyed.

 

A Six-Step Process

God always follows a consistent pattern when dealing with mankind. This pattern can be seen clearly as God dealt with ancient Israel. There is a process that is illuminated in the Old Testament that the reader needs to be aware of:

 

  1. When a group of people becomes corrupt and degenerate, god sends warnings through His servants, the prophets.

 

  1. History indicates that typically the degenerate group rejects God’s messenger and His message.

 

  1. God responds by sending a destroyer.

 

  1. Then, after the dust settles, God begins the process of restoration.

 

  1. When the destroyer becomes proud and arrogant, then God brings destruction upon the destroyer.

 

  1. It is God’s ultimate purpose to bring about everlasting life and joy in Earth made new.

 

Notice how this six-step scenario played out in ancient Israel:

 

North

 

  1. The ten northern tribes of Israel became corrupt and degenerate. God sent warnings of reproof and correction through eight prophets.

 

  1. Israel rejected God’s message and His messengers.

 

  1. God sent the king of Assyria as “His club of wrath” to destroy Israel in 722 B.C. (Isaiah 10:5)

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