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Spirit of The Antichrist

by David Fredrickson

 

The end times was always a favorite subject at the boy’s ranch where I used to teach a Bible study. Perhaps their controlled living conditions and the events that brought them there provide a reference point for their idea of the conditions that one might face in the end times. But the scripture that became the focus of the discussions is Jesus’ words to his disciples as recorded in Matthew 24:4-5. “Watch out that no one deceives you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” 

Most of the young people I’ve worked with in the juvenile probation system have attended ”church” and hope that if they are more faithful to do so after they have served their time, they may have a better chance to overcome their weaknesses. They blame their failure on not being religious enough. In short, religion has become a substitute for a living relationship with Christ.

It is interesting to note that according to Unger’s, the Greek preposition “anti” in composition may denote substitution, taking the place of another; hence, “false Christ.” John the apostle tells us that many antichrists went out from among the believers of his day. Jesus’ words seem to indicate the increase of such imposters in our time.

The religious systems of our day offer a variety of substitutes for the life that comes only through our union with Christ. We can be led to worship forms of worship rather than offer ourselves to the King. We may rely on the professionals to tell us what the scriptures mean instead of depending on the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. There is always the opportunity to serve the “ministry” while becoming too busy to minister to our Lord. We may adopt the “vision of the house” and miss the works that Father has prepared for us before the “house” was built. We can automatically figure our tithe into our budget and fail to give when, what, and to whom the Giver may have in mind. Often, religious duties take the place of authentic relationships.

Surely the most dangerous substitute for the person of Christ himself is the unbiblical office of the “senior pastor.” The scriptures never refer to such a position in the church nor do they ever infer that their exists a “first among equals” in the body. In fact, John the apostle warned the church regarding Diotrophes, a man who “loved to be first.”

Yet every day millions of men and women routinely expect from “their pastor” the headship that belongs to Christ alone. If the pastor approves them, they feel approved by God. If the pastor disapproves of their choices or behavior, they feel rejected by Father. He is often seen as having a more direct line to God than they do, so they expect him to hear God for them. The institution he manages is often referred to as “his church” and the congregation as “his people.” They begin to perform for those “above them” from a sense of obligation that comes from the expectations of others. Often, they are more concerned about pleasing the leadership of a local congregation than they are about pleasing their heavenly Father. In short, their Christianity is being mediated by a mere man.

The heart of the Father cries out through the prophet Jeremiah regarding the house of Judah and the house of Israel of how they had forsaken him for idols. At one point he says, “..the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
Translators of the scriptures were paid to reflect a hierarchical or positional style of leadership by using words not found in the original language such as “rule over,” just one of many words or phrases mistranslated to satisfy the religious bias of the day. But Jesus made it clear that leadership in his church is not to exercise authority over others or hold official positions or titles.

“You know that the leaders of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. IT IS NOT SO AMONG YOU, but whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:25-28, NASB)

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called leaders; for one is your Leader, that is, Christ.” (Matt. 23:8-10)

These scriptures alone make it plain that those who would exercise authority over others in the church have substituted their own authority for Christ's. And those who hold titles and positions of honor are receiving glory belonging to God only.

By holding a position that was intended for Christ, the pastor is unwittingly performing a substitutionary role. As such, he is serving an antichrist system that would usurp the position and privileges of the true church and act as a decoy to all true followers of Christ.
 
The resulting tragedy of such a system is that one’s relationship with Father never reaches the maturity and intimacy intended. Christ has been distanced from his flock by an intermediary whose substitutionary priestly position and function has displaced and minimized the role of the saints as a royal priesthood.

The reader must understand that I in no way intend to discredit the many godly people who are functioning in that position. I accepted the title for many years and did my best to serve God with a pure heart. I had many friends among my peers “in ministry,” most all of whom loved the Lord and served him faithfully. We did not realize that the people we meant to serve often looked to us for affirmation and direction that only their Father has the authority to give. We would have been devastated to learn that we often usurped the place reserved for Jesus Christ himself by attempting to provide a covering with our own authority. Certainly, most of us would never want to abuse the “office” that we thought had been given to us by God. Yet the scriptures make it clear that there is only one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus.

In modern literature and media the antichrist is almost always depicted as an indisputably evil political figure who rises to power in the midst of a world in chaos. But it’s difficult to imagine the elect being almost deceived by such an obvious imposter. John the apostle said in his day that many antichrists had gone out from among the believers. It would do us well to know those who labor among us and beware of those who would rule over us. Better still is to know him who alone is our life and the one true head of his church.




Articles by David Fredrickson
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