************ Sermon on 1 John 2:22 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on December 1, 2019

1 John 2:18-26
1 John 2:22
"Warning Against Antichrists (2)"
Advent 2019

On this, the first Sunday of advent, we continue our study of antichrists. Most people have come across the word "antichrist." As I said last time, it means someone who opposes Christ AND/OR tries to replace Christ. Someone who appears in the last days or the last hour. Someone who hates Christ and the Gospel and Christmas and Easter. I also mentioned last time there are antichrists and there is an antichrist; in fact, there are many antichrists and one final antichrist.

What the antichrists say strikes against the very heart of Christmas. They deny Jesus is the Christ. They deny that the little baby in the manger is the Christ. They deny that in Jesus God sent the Christ. It is very well possible that there are antichrists present in this building this morning -- people who deny Jesus is the Christ. For sure there are antichrists in our schools, government buildings, running for political office, and behind a myriad of Political Action Committees trying to push various political agendas. Whether we are talking about one of the many antichrists or the final antichrist, they all deny Jesus is the Christ.

I Antichrists Deny Jesus is the Christ
A Who is that baby in the manger? The Spirit-inspired message of the Bible, of John, is that Jesus is the Christ.

Last week one of our members asked me what the title "Christ" means. I was a little startled by this question because I was already thinking ahead to this week's message.

Who is that baby in the manger? He is not merely a good man, a righteous man, a wonderful teacher, a compassionate man, a miraculous healer, a lover of God. He is not merely a rabbi. He is not merely the son of Mary and Joseph. He is not merely the brother of James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon. He is Jesus the Christ.

Antichrists love to diminish Jesus. They want to make Him less than He really is. They want to make Him nothing but a man -- maybe a better man than the rest of us, but still just a man.
(1 Jn 2:22) Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.
Hear that? Antichrists deny Jesus is the Christ.
B Jesus is the Christ. The Old Testament word is "Messiah." Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. The two titles mean "anointed, anointed one." Jesus is the Christ; He is the anointed one. It is the Catechism that best explains what this means:
Why is he called "Christ," meaning "anointed"?

Because he has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit
to be
our chief prophet and teacher
who perfectly reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;
our only high priest
who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;
and our eternal king
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who guards us and keeps us
in the freedom he has won for us.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 31)
Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. He has been ordained and anointed as chief prophet, only high priest, and eternal king. The message of the Bible is that no mere man can be any of this -- which is why the Christ, the Messiah, is the Immanuel, God with us, the Son of God.

C The baby lying in the manger is the Christ, the Messiah. Which means it is He Who brings the blessings and promises of the Messianic Age. Let me summarize those blessings and promises:
The glory and splendor of David's rule will return to the Promised Land. ●
There will be prosperity for all. ●
There will be no more hunger. ●
God's people will be set free from foreign domination. ●
The wicked heathen will be punished. ●
The rich will no longer oppress the poor. ●
The lame will begin to leap and jump and dance. ●
The blind will see a world of vivid color. ●
The deaf will listen to the songs of birds and the music of harps. ●
The deserts of Israel will be turned into fragrant gardens. ●
Swords and spears will be hammered into plows and hoes. ●
Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low, crooked roads will become straight, rough ways will become smooth. ●
The temple will be rebuilt and God will fill it with His glory. ●
All that is wrong will be set right. ●
Sins will be forgiven and peace will prevail. ●
Enemies will become friends. ●
Jerusalem will be at the center of the world, and all the kings and rulers of the earth will come there to worship Israel's God.
Jesus gave us a taste of the Messianic Kingdom when He healed the sick and fed the hungry and died upon the cross. All these promises will be fully realized when He comes again.

Do you see what it means that Jesus is the Messiah? It means Paradise. It means a return to the perfection of the Garden of Eden. It means the glory and splendor of heaven.

Can you imagine a perfect world? A world without the darkness of sin, oppression, idolatry, and ignorance? A world without crime, drive-by shootings, pollution, death, hardship? A world without war, struggle, injustice? A world without the threat of a nuclear holocaust? A world that doesn't have to worry about countries like North Korea or Iran? A world without racial violence? A world without desperate poverty? A world without civil war? A world without war lords or crime lords or drug lords? A world without floods, hurricanes, droughts, famines, earthquakes, explosions? A world of love, peace, joy, hope?

That's the kind of world the Christ, the Messiah, brings. His coming heralds the beginning of a glorious, wondrous, beautiful time for the people of the Lord. But the antichrists deny Jesus is the Christ who makes these promises a reality.

II Antichrists Try to Lead Astray
A Who is that baby in the manger? He is the Christ, the Messiah! He is not just a man, or a good man. He is not just a religious figure. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the eternal Son of God. But Satan does not want us to believe this. So Satan sows lies. He bombards the church with heresy and false teaching. According to verse 26, he is "trying to lead you astray."

Have you ever noticed that every cult, every heresy, every false teaching and doctrine attacks the nature and person and work of Christ. I am thinking of liberals, Mormons, JWs, Jews. They claim to be God's people, they look and sound real, but they are not.

B Unless you believe the baby in the manger is the Christ you are one of the antichrists John writes about in our text -- you deny the Father and the Son. If you deny Jesus is the Son of God, you are one of the antichrists. If you deny that Jesus is God in human flesh, you are one of the antichrists. To say Jesus is anything less than what He is, to deny anything that Scripture says to us about Him, makes you an antichrist. To deny the truth of Christmas makes you an antichrist.

It is popular today to say all you need to believe is that there is a God and you will be saved. Not so. You have to believe the baby in the manger is the Christ. You can't be in God's kingdom and receive eternal life unless you confess Jesus is the Christ come in the flesh. To say otherwise, to believe otherwise, is to deny the Father and the Son. Because the Father and the Son are one.

C John says antichrists try to deceive the faithful. "They are trying to lead you astray" (1 Jn 2:26). Trying. They try. But they are unsuccessful. They try but they don't succeed. More on that in a minute.

III Antichrists Leave the Church
A The antichrists come into the church. They infiltrate and sow their lies. They attack the nature and person and work of Christ. They deny Christmas. Do we worry about them? Do we conduct a witch-hunt to identify the antichrists among us? Do we have reason to fear the antichrists? Not really. Why not? Because they always end up leaving the church. Listen to how John puts this:
(1 Jn 2:19) They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
Did you hear that? "They went out from us." They come into the church. They try to destroy the church with their lies and deceptions about Christ. And eventually they -- and their followers -- leave. Let me put it this way: wherever there is a true church, a pure church, a people who love Jesus, a congregation who confesses He is the Christ, these liars and deceivers and antichrists don't survive. They eventually realize there is no room for them and their heresies and their followers in the church.

"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us." They are like Judas. They show their true colors. They show they are not true Christian believers. And they leave. Obviously, the Spirit of God is at work in their leaving.

B Now, I am going to say something that may sound outrageous. God uses liars and deceivers and false prophets to clean His church. Under the providence of God false teachers come into the church and pull out people who are not real and genuine about their faith. But what they mean for evil God turns into good.

"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us." They abandoned us. They left us. They took their ideas and followers with them. Why? Because they never really were one of us. They aren't real Christians. If they had been real and true and sincere in their faith, they would have remained with us. Their going, their leaving, is clear evidence of their heart. Let me put it another way: False Christians can't stand to be around true Christians; eventually, they tire of those who confess Christ and leave. Antichrists end up leaving the church. They don't survive the truth. They come, they do their work, they leave with those who are not real.

Let them go. They are a danger to the church. They work for Satan.

C Don't be shaken when this happens congregation. Realize God is at work.

Don't be shaken when this happens congregation. Don't doubt your faith, your religion, your beliefs. Don't doubt Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. Why can I say this? Because true Christians don't leave the faith, they don't abandon the church. Satan can send false teachers into the church. He can put them on TV, radio, podcasts, the internet. But they will not draw true believers away. Because true believers stay. Because true believers continue to confess Jesus is the Christ. True believers don't abandon the truth for a lie because God preserves them in the faith. As Paul writes to the Philippians:
(Phil 1:6) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
True Christians stay true to the faith. Period. There are no defectors among those who are born-again. The lies of Satan cannot cause true believers to abandon the faith.

Don't be shaken, but don't tolerate them either. They will not destroy your faith but they can cause doubt. They will not pull you away from Jesus but they may weaken your devotion to the Lord. They may make you less confident. But they cannot take away your eternal life. They cannot destroy your faith. Like the waves of the sea, they may toss true Christians back and forth. They may blow us around with the winds of their false doctrines. But they cannot make us lose our salvation. They cannot divorce us from God. They cannot stop us from being God's children. They cannot lead us astray. Remember, they are trying to lead true believers astray, but they don't succeed.

They leave. You stay. Their leaving shows they love the lie. Your staying shows you love the truth and that God protects you and that your faith is real.

I want you to think of the American and European and Western World church scene in this light. As you know, church after church has gone liberal. They fall for the lies of Satan and deny Jesus is the Christ. They have gone out from us. The result? The Christ-denying churches are separate from the Christ-confessing churches. Don't think that is a bad thing. It is God keeping His church pure. If they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

Who do you say Jesus is? That's the question we must answer this first Sunday of advent. The issue always is Jesus. Antichrists deny He is the Christ. True Christian believers say He is the Christ and nothing -- not even the gates of hell -- can move them from this confession.
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