Advocates or Anarchists - The Last Word

With the continuing conflict in the Middle East and the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, coupled with the ever-present terror threat, fears mount in the minds of many. Is this the end?

The Second World War shattered the superficial confidence of the nineteen-twenties, at which time people were celebrating the conclusion of The Great War, hailing it as “the war to end all wars”. The inability of the League of Nations to promote lasting peace has been mirrored by the futility and wrangling of the United Nations, which left God out of its constitution. Resurgent Islamist movements and growing secularism have dashed the hopes of humanity.
Humans made “in the image of God” are learning the hard way that God, the Almighty Father, has the last word. In the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments he has given us all we need for life and godliness. Those who have responded to his love, revealed in “the Word made flesh” have hope amidst all the arguments, bitterness, corruption, power politics and suffering of the modern world. Our God reigns.

The Christian’s great hope is the glorious appearing of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. This was patently proclaimed in the New Testament era and has been prized by believers ever since. Diverse interpretations of this teaching have been given but undoubtedly many of these have been wrong. Some have even forecast specific dates, contrary to the teaching of the Lord Jesus that that he will return unsuspected, as a thief in the night, on a date that the Father alone knows.

Paul addressed the anxiety of Thessalonian believers who sought more information about the return of the Lord Jesus. They were distressed that those who had died would miss out on his return. They would not (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13 through 5:2). Likewise, John in his epistle also follows the Master’s teaching; there will be the Great Apostasy predicted in Matthew 24. The leader would eventually arrive, “the man of sin” or “the man of lawlessness”. He is not, as some suppose, Satan incarnate. He is the Antichrist of 1 John. Who is this? Some have postulated political figures like Nero and Napoleon. Others have argued for systems or nations. However, closer examination of the Scriptures would have spurned such suggestions. He is not so much against or opposed to Christ, as one who claims to be instead of or in place of Christ. Note that he has taken his place in the Temple of God. Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase The Message, describes him as “the Anarchist” leading the rebellion against God. In his epistle, John perceived that there were already “antichrists” working within the churches. Peterson describes them as anarchists. Sadly they can still be found today in positions of leadership, as well as amongst members of congregations; people who foster strife, unbelief and division.

The challenge is clear from the Almighty God who will have the last word. We all must appear before him to give an account of our stewardship. Are we faithful? Or have we forgotten that the gospel is to the Jew first, as Paul put it, and then to the Gentile? What part are we playing? Advocates or anarchists; praying or protesting; building up or breaking down the fellowship; good stewards or miserly hoarders. Remember, God has the last word.

What will his last word be to you? “Come you blessed of my Father. Enter into the Joy of the Lord”. Sadly it could be, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Martin Smyth
Rev W M Smyth is a member of CWI’s Council of Management

This article first appeared in the December 2006 edition of the Herald

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