Today: [2 Thessalonians 2:] Is President Donald Trump the Anti-Christ? In 2 Thessalonians Paul seeks to comfort and stabilize an alarmed group of people who have been sold a bill of goods suggesting that the end times had already occurred and left them in a reprobate state. There are many such alarmist influences in Christianity. Dozens of world leaders from ancient times right down to the modern day have been accused of being the anti-Christ, the Beast or the False Prophet. How do we find a place of comfort and maturity when the church is so gullible?
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[2Th 2:1-17 KJV] 1 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. 16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
In chapter 2 Paul references the catching away mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4 describing it as a gathering together unto Him (Jesus). He urges the congregation not to be shaken in their mind or troubled by pretenders who claimed that the day of Christ was passed. He warns them against false spirits, teachers or forged letters claiming to be from himself making any such claims. Why would someone do this? In 1988 a man by the name of Edgar Whisenant published a book “88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Come back in 1988.” The following year he published under the same title referencing 1989 and the next year did the same. What is the attraction of such things?
For one thing the sensationalism galvanizes people’s curiosity. It is incredible how many ministries have made such claims in recent years. If you can instill fear in people, you become an instant authority. While Christian leaders do this occasionally, the media does the same every single day of the world to significant effect and much more slick presentation. The goal is to alarm people and move them in a direction advantageous to those standing to gain by various alarmist elements in the upper echelons of power and influence in our society. Religious leaders along with Conservative groups and liberal groups are equally guilty. Fear moves people financially. Fear drives the electorate. It was useful in Paul’s day and doubly so in the modern age. What is to be our response? Be not soon shaken in mind, neither troubled by the fear mongers whether they arise from our own number or some other arena.
Paul desires that believers resolve within themselves not to be so naive as to believe every report. Regardless of what is taking place around us, the sky is not falling the kingdom is coming. Jesus made the following statement likewise:
[Mat 24:6 KJV] 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Remember that the gospel is the good news. I recall listening to a prophetic minister who was a household name in our movement speak for an hour and a half along very alarmist and conspiratorial lines a few years ago. The deception along with his content was the fact that he used his anointing to do so. The gifts and callings are without repentance. This man did not mention the name of Jesus one time. His words were the exact opposite calculatingly so than the statements made by Paul in our chapter, and he closed the meeting with an open-ended call for concern and fearfulness, and to this day he is considered one of the most insightful, thought-provoking prophetic voices of recent times. What is wrong with this picture?
In v. 3 Paul exhorts the people that no man deceive them by any means. Leaders and social influencers have many tricks up their sleeves by which they effectively capture the minds of their listeners and take them wherever they want them to go. In the case of the Thessalonians Paul calms the people saying these things will not come to pass except there be a falling away first and the son of perdition be revealed. Who is the son of perdition? He is someone who would oppose all that is called God, or that is worshipped so that he as God would sit in the temple declaring himself that he is God. A few short years after this the temple was destroyed. Does this verse have any relevance for us then? Is this an indication in itself that the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt? In the absence of a physical temple does this verse have any significance in your life?
Remember that 1 Cor. 3:16 says that you are the temple. When we look to world leaders or religious leaders for what we should depend upon Christ for we have allowed that leader or teacher or prophet to sit in our temple in place of God. This is the spirit of antichrist that is alive and well in Christian culture usurping the Lordship of Christ in the hearts of millions.
In verse 6 Paul refers to the restraining by the hand of God keeping these things he discloses from fully coming about. True enough (v 7) the mystery of iniquity is working, but the hand of God is sovereign over the timing of such things. For this reason, we should not be so gullible as to think that this leader or that leader is “the” son of perdition. In years past the following were believed to be the anti-Christ but did not prove to be so:
Every pope in office
Osama Bin Laden
The list goes on and on as a tribute to the immaturity and gullible nature of Christians willing to believe any negative report or sensationalist claim of individuals coming up with murky contorted ideas about why this person or that person might be the anti-Christ. Perhaps one day if Donald Trump failed to deliver on the political aspirations of the Evangelical movement he will be the next in the long line of those thought to be the son of perdition. Stranger things have happened.
It is true (v. 7) that the mystery of iniquity according to Paul is actively at work on the earth and we don’t need to look so far as world leaders to see it. The Holy Spirit, however, is the restraining force for now, until a day will come (v. 8) that the iniquity of the Gentiles will be full and the man of Sin (a literal and specific individual) will be revealed in full power as a mover and influencer of culture and world government. That time is not yet for when he manifests there will be no question.
What is the fate of the anti-Christ and the anti-Christ spirit at work already in the earth? To be consumed with the spirit of the mouth of God and destroyed with the brightness of His coming. Who is to be destroyed? The man of Sin who comes with all power (both political power, social influence and spiritual mysteries showing forth in him in lying signs and wonders that will deceive many. The renewalist church with its belief in modern-day miracles will be particularly vulnerable to this person who will embrace them and demonstrate great healing powers and other supernatural abilities. To say this is not relevant because the church will not be present on the earth is a glib conclusion to make. The protection of the believer in that day will be the love of the truth. What is the truth? Is it a doctrine? We know from John 14:6 that for the mature and insightful believer the truth is a person, His name is Jesus. All others will be subject to a great delusion that God himself will send that they should believe a lie and be damned because their confidence was placed other than in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Doctrine cannot save us. Miracles are not the litmus test of authenticity. The election of God is present in that person, and those people who know nothing but Christ and Him crucified and want nothing but to walk in total dependency on Him in a day to day personal relationship.
Because of these things (v. 15) Paul urges the people to stand fast in the things that he taught them. What did he teach them? Col. 1:26-27 says that Paul taught in Thessalonica what he taught everywhere – Christ in YOU the hope of glory. Christ in you is your hope of glory. All else is idolatry. Idolatry proposes the dwelling place of God to be somewhere other than the human heart. When we look to man for what we should only find in Christ, we constitute ourselves as modern-day neo-pagans. Our faith and confidence alone (v. 16) is in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who in His person and His presence dwelling in our heart constitutes our consolation and hope and originator of the grace that comforts us and establishes us in every good word and work.
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