Dear children, this
is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even
now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
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. (1 John 2:18-19)
These days, any kind of teaching about the coming anti-Christ is
very popular. But less than 60 years after the cross John was already
writing about the spirit of anti-Christ being evidenced in the false
teaching that would later come to be known as “gnosticism”. The fact that
those false teachers had come from among believers gave them a certain
credibility in the growing church, but in John’s view the error of their
doctrine proved that they had never been true believers.
“For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their
going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19)
We’ll explore the power of that observation in a minute. But
first let’s review the basics of gnosticism as it was being presented in
John’s time. In essence gnosticism held that all spirit was good and all
flesh was evil. They further believed that good and evil cannot exist
together, so neither can spirit and flesh. Therefore God, being Spirit,
could not dwell in Jesus, with His body of flesh. Jesus, being a man
and therefore evil, couldn’t have been sinless, so He couldn’t have
qualified to be our redeemer. Because of this, they claimed, the path to
salvation was not through His death on the cross, but through the
progressive attainment of secret spiritual knowledge (Greek: gnosis).
This same idea permeates Freemasonry, Scientology and the New Age religions,
demonstrating that gnosticism in various forms is still around today.
Now back to John’s amazing declaration.
“For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but
their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” If these
proponents of gnosticism had truly received the Gospel in their hearts, they
wouldn’t have begun propagating false doctrine. Their belief in the truth
would have prevented this. The fact that they were teaching lies proves that
they had never believed the truth.
Think about that. The fact that they were teaching lies proves
that they never believed the truth. Ever hear a speaker who sounded so good
and was so persuasive, but put forth a view that you knew to be at odds with
Scripture? I’m not talking about ancillary things like how old we’ll be in
Heaven, or what the Millennium will be like on Earth, but basic components
of the Gospel.
Let’s take the Doctrine of Grace for example.
“For it is by grace you have been
saved through faith – and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God –
not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephe.
According to the way I read
1 John 2:18-19, any teacher who
denies that salvation is by grace alone is teaching a lie. If he says we
have to do more than believe and receive in order to qualify for eternal
life it means the truth is not in him. Remember, grace plus work is no
And what about those who believe the false teaching?
“But you have an anointing from the
Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (1
John 2:20). Here John explained that just as those who have the truth in
their hearts would be constrained from teaching lies, so also we who believe
the truth will be constrained from believing those lies. Those who claim to
be Christian but then join a religion that rejects the truth in favor of
lies, demonstrate that they never really believed the truth in the first
“The coming of the
lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all
kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil
that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to
love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thes. 2:9-10)
The implication here is that those who are perishing knew the
truth but refused to believe it. Their unbelief was willful and intentional.
Many scholars believe these people will not get a second chance to believe
the truth after the rapture but will be deceived by the false teaching of
the anti-Christ and will perish.
“For the time will
come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their
own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers who say
what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from
the truth and turn aside to myths (mythology).” (2
Tim. 4:3-4) Again, the notion here is of willful and intentional
rejection of the truth in favor of more palatable lies. I’m convinced John
was of the opinion that the people Paul was writing about here didn’t just
stray away, they never believed in the first place.
A Tale Of
In Matt. 7:13-14 Jesus
“Enter through the
narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to
destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the
road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Some religions promote a way of salvation based on works.
Others try to combine grace and works. They may claim to be Christian
or they may claim a different God. But they are all on the broad road
heading for the wide gate. The small gate is labeled “grace” and the
narrow road is called faith alone.
This is what led Jesus to issue the warning that not everyone who
calls Him “Lord” will enter the Kingdom. Even if they drive out demons
and perform miracles in His name, He will deny ever knowing them (Matt.
7:21-23). They’re on the broad road.
He said only those who do the will of the Father in Heaven will
enter the Kingdom. And what is the will of the Father? Listen to the
Lord’s own words.
“All that the
Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive
away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will
of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall
lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in
him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”
Our Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and
believes in Him shall have eternal life. It’s the shepherd’s job to
keep the sheep, and it can never be said that the Good Shepherd saved us but
then couldn’t keep us. If we present ourselves to the Father as sinners in
need of a Savior, and ask that the death of His Son be considered as payment
in full for our sins, the Father will place us under the protective care of
His Son and no power in Heaven or on Earth can ever can ever steal us away.
If we happen to wander off for some reason, He will track us down and bring
us back because it’s the Father’s will that the Son should lose none of us.
As I understand 1 John
2:18-19 then, believing that trusting in Jesus alone can’t save us is
evidence of the spirit of anti-Christ. If someone thinks they have to do
even part of the work, or that even though He did save them He could
subsequently lose them, that’s the spirit of anti-Christ. Those who believe
these things may have come from among us, but they never really belonged to
us. Selah 05-05-12