CHRIST'S GOSPEL CONCERNING THE ANTICHRIST - Prof. Benne Holwerda
Sing: Hymn 9: 1, 4, 5; Hymn 9: 7.
Read: 2 Thess. 2.
Text: 2 Thess. 2: 6-12.
Sing: Hymn 24: 1, 2, 3, 4; Hymn 5: 8, 9.
Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,
In Paul's letters we come across apparent contradictions when comparethose places where Paul speaks about the time of the end of all things. To the Corinthians he says emphatically that the time is short. In that letter Paul is convinced that the end of the ages are upon us. Because he knows that Christ will come with haste, he warns those that have wives to be as not having wives and to those that buy as not possessing. For the 'order' of this world passeth away (1 Cor. 7). Paul seems to think that the Church is in a transition period in the present world, in which marrying and buying and eating are the important things that dominate all else, but the world is already in the process of passing away. And the new world is coming with haste, the world in which no one shall marry or be given into marriage, because people will be like the angels, where no one will think of his business or eating, because both the belly and food shall be brought to nought.
Paul is emphatic in saying here that the end of all things is near!
But when you lay our text beside it, the difference is striking. Here, Paul emphasizes, "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". Paul tells the congregation who thinks the day is at hand not to be confused in any way! It is not that near and it will be some time yet. For there must first come a great falling away and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Freely translated, this means that the day will not be here for the time being.
On the one hand, the message is that the time is short. On the other hand, Paul preaches that it will be some time yet before the day is here.
Does Paul contradict himself here? Does the one exclude the other?
I don't think so.
Before you say that there is a contradiction here, you must first address the question of the context in which Paul says these things and to which congregation he writes. Of course, this does not mean that there is a twofold gospel and it depends on the attitude of the Church whether Paul will say one thing or another. In no way!
The gospel of the last things was then and is now, one and the same for all Churches. The word is: Christ comes with haste! That is the message for Corinth, but also for Thessalonica. Both congregations reacted in the wrong way to this gospel.
However, they did it in a different way!
Corinth forgot this preaching and was not in the least serious about the imminent return of Christ.
However, Thessalonica made this message the one and only thing. That is why Paul admonishes these Churches that each in their own way departed from the truth that was delivered to the saints, each in a different manner.
For Corinth is a congregation which feels itself wonderfully at ease in this world. As far as they are concerned, the Lord does not need to return. They like this world so well, with married life and doing business! They live happily in this world. They accept history, but detach it from the end of history and therefore also of its meaning! They cut the tie between this world and the one to come!
It is altogether different in Thessalonica. In connection with a word and a letter from Paul, as they said, and in connection with a revelation which was supposedly seen by someone, they expected the immediate return of Christ. It could happen at any moment, they said. It was a question of a few days, perhaps even some hours. And they drew the conclusion that when Christ's return was that imminent, everyday life had no more meaning. They did not need to work anymore. Why bother? Today or tomorrow Christ would come with flaming vengeance!
As a matter of fact, they cut the tie between history and the last day. But this is altogether different from the Corinthians. They said, -- this world!, and let go of the future dispensation. However, the Thessalonians claimed -- the coming world, and therefore detached themselves from history and life as it is today!
Therefore Paul says to the Corinthians who forgot about the day of Christ, 'Brothers, the time is short! Please remember when you marry, or do business, that the order of this world is passing with haste.'
But when he came to Thessalonica, where they saw no future in this life because it was almost come to an end, he urged, 'don't be so hasty! Much has still to happen. Therefore, remain quietly at work.' It is possible that the present Church is more in danger of the attitude of Thessalonica than that of Corinth. For in times of peace and progress we like it here too. When it is like that, the confession about the last things does not mean that much to us.
I believe these last years have changed us. We went through much. Today the world is still ill at ease and relationships are growing worse. Many ask the question, 'how long will it be before a more horrible war shall consume this world?' Many are slowly realizing that with great haste the world is making itself ready for the end. Being in the mood that this world is running to an end, we lose our modesty and in a state of over-excitement do not understand our calling in this world anymore. This is precisely the way it was with the Thesssalonians.
My beloved, therefore I open the Word of the Lord as it teaches us here:
Christ's Gospel concerning the Antichrist.
We will listen to that Gospel when our text speaks of:
1. the hiding of the Antichrist.
2. the appearance of the Antichrist.
3. the destruction of the Antichrist.
1. Paul wrote this letter to the Church of Thessalonica. You know that the New Testament letters are never pieces of timeless dogmatics but always the proclamation of the gospel to the Church as it lives in certain circumstances, at a certain time, and is threatened by actual dangers.
Therefore, we must not expect a broad and profound dogma of 'the last things', for Paul's writing is very practical with a view to the situation in the congregation there and then! Only against this background of a concrete situation, the word of the Apostle receives its living and practical significance for us today.
Now a while ago, in the introduction to the sermon, I told you in few words about the actual situation in which the Church of Thessalonica found itself. Things went wrong there. The people lived in great excitement expecting the last day. They said to each other,'the end is near, we can expect it at any moment.'
On a certain day, one started it -- and all of a sudden it went like a fire from one to the other and at last almost everyone was infected. As a result, they over-reacted. For when Paul writes in this chapter that they must be 'not soon shaken in mind', or 'be troubled', you understand something of their attitude. They live in a restless sphere and are greatly excited; no one thinks straight anymore. More often we hear of times like that in history, when people were of the opinion they could predict the time of the end. And there were always times that church people did the strangest things. When the present day Christian reads of all the abnormalities, the question arises, how did they come to these expectations? How did these wild expectations and foolish prophecies enter the minds of believers?
Well, for as far as Thessalonica is concerned, the answer is not difficult.
You must remember it was the time of the so-called 'charisma'; the period of the Spirit of Pentecost, when one received the gift of healing, another the gift of speaking in tongues, and a third the gift of prophecy.
It appears there was one in Thessalonica who said, 'I had a special revelation of the Spirit; He showed me that the day of the Lord is at hand.'
When he came to the Church with that prophecy another said, 'That is right, for I heard Paul say that in a sermon.' Number three had a letter, which -- so it was said -- came from Paul and it said the same thing.
That did it. When the Spirit expressly revealed this, as Paul had also proclaimed in word and letter, then it was undoubtedly true. They believed it and made their conclusions accordingly. It is true, we do not have much information about this. But we can guess what they were thinking. Later history of the Church left us plenty of material to know the results of such movements. When the end of the world is imminent, there is no more meaning for life in this world. The farmer does not have to plow anymore, for there will no other harvest. The business man does no more buying, the manufacturer needs no more material, and mother does not need to mend the clothes anymore, for the world will soon burn. It is all superfluous, for today or tomorrow history and time will end.
You still remember how it was on May 10, 1940, when Germany attacked the Netherlands. No one went to work; it appeared that life had suddenly become meaningless. That was a phenomenon that was only temporal. Things stagnated only for a while, for no one knew what would happen next. But soon after the occupation, life restored itself and they went to work again. We had to go on living.
But if we were convinced that history would come to an end tomorrow, it would not be difficult to imagine what would happen. No one would need to make plans anymore for the future; young people would not have to think of getting married, offices and factories would be rendered useless.
Of course, that is how it went in Thessalonica too. They did not work much anymore; the people flocked together and the excitement of one persuaded another. Marry, have children, work for the future -- all of no more use. All that was now past.
But Paul sees the danger of such thinking and he adjures them to keep cool heads, not to believe all those foolish prophecies and claims.
Truly, Christ comes with haste. But when? Maybe after one hundred years. Maybe after one year. No one knows and no one may say he does know. One thing is certain: Christ has not come today!
Did the Spirit truly reveal this, as one of them had claimed? Foolishness! Is there one of Paul's letters circulating with that message? Then that letter is false! They should know better. For often he had spoken to them of the second coming of the Lord Jesus!
This is -- Paul is convinced of this -- not just fanaticism, which makes people somewhat nervous and confused and has no further influence in their life of faith. No, this will cause big problems. In fact, with this attitude, they had really departed from the Scriptural teaching of the last things.
Therefore Paul is greatly concerned and he says, 'Now I beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled'. Precisely, because we expect His day, and because we will be gathered to Him, you must stop your sickly and nervous expectation of the immediate return of the Lord.
Christ is coming with haste, and we shall go to Him. Yes, they say in Thessalonica, 'that is exactly why!' That is why we don't work and marry anymore and are no longer interested in children.
No, Paul says passionately, because history is hastening to its end, that is why we want to work and marry, watch our children grow up and plow the fields. For exactly because history will be completed, you may not now cut off the thread of history. Then history will not run its full course, but will stagnate!
He who expects the Lord to return will not sit down somewhere with his arms crossed. He does not say, 'here I am, waiting for what is coming.' For by not working anymore, he stops the course of history.
Is it not so? When you long for the end of your travels, you do not pull the emergency brake on the way down to your destination, you don't jump off the train, but you remain seated until you have reached that destination! So when you are waiting for the end of history, do not attempt to stop the movements of life and take your leave of history. You must live this life to the full, until God in His time stops history. When we hope to be gathered unto Christ in the day of His appearing, we must take care that history continues in the place where the Lord gave us a task. For the end cannot come before the last child is born and the last potato is taken from the soil. Paul tells them, 'do not let them confuse you any longer.'
Perhaps you will say that the Thessalonians could not help it? They did not know any better. How could they know that the one brother told a lie when he spoke of a prophecy by the spirit? They did not know whether that letter was real or not!
But indeed they could! For Paul had told them about some things that must happen before Christ came back. He had told them several times: first must come a great falling away and the man of sin must be revealed, the Antichrist. They all knew that as long as the Antichrist had not appeared, the Lord Jesus could not come. With these words, Paul gave the Antichrist and his coming a place in our expectation of the day of Jesus Christ. Why did the Antichrist not yet appear? What was he waiting for?
Paul asked the congregation of Thessalonica, 'Remember ye not, that when I was with you, I told you these things?' The apostle expresses himself in a remarkable way. In verse 6 he says, 'You know what withholdeth him'. But in verse 7 he speaks of, 'only he who now letteth' (withholdeth). That means we must distinguish here, -- there is something that withholdeth Antichrist; but there is also someone who holds him back.
I should translate this word 'withholdeth' a little different. It would be better to say 'who delays him', who causes a 'delay', as one is delayed at a railway crossing waiting for the train, or when the traffic is delayed by ice and fog.
These verses are somewhat difficult and that is partly caused by the translation. You can see in your Bible that the translators have felt these difficulties, they have added a few words for explanation. Maybe it would be better if I first give a somewhat different translation.
When you take your Bible, you read first in verse 4 who the Antichrist is -- He is the mighty opponent and elevates himself above all that is God or is worshipped; he goes so far as to sit in the temple of God to be worshipped.
Verse 5 continues: Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And then begins our text: And now you know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The question is this: what hinders the Antichrist from appearing today? What is he waiting for? For Satan would like nothing better than to see him come, better today than tomorrow. The sooner his open and brutal resistance comes out into the open, a radical contempt for the Lord and complete defiance of all what is holy -- the better he will like it. Is he not very angry, because he knows his time is but short? But why then does he not bring the Antichrist into the world?
Paul answers that Satan does not do this willingly. He is compelled to wait! He is unable to let the Antichrist come now. He is held up and is delayed. If he could follow his own desire, the Antichrist would be here today. But something comes in between; there is also someone who comes in between.
We become aware that there is a power in history that holds back. There is also a certain person who causes delay. Here are questions difficult for us to answer. What power is this and what person is behind it? Paul says here so lightly, 'you know it, for I told you'. But the exegetes have to guess. Can we know it? I say, 'We can'.
Of course, we did not hear Paul's preaching in that city. However, exactly the fact that he had dealt more often with these things in the worship service proves that it was something important for that time and that place. But it was something of essential importance for the faith of the Church of all ages! We may be convinced, even if we did not hear Paul's preaching in Thessalonica, that the Lord gave an answer to this question in Scripture.
Different answers have been given through the ages. Concerning the power of withholding, several answers have been given. One thinks of the power of the State, the judiciary, which keeps sin in check and so hinders the antichristian flow of unrighteousness. Of course in those days it was Caesar and today in every country it is the people in governments. They have also thought of the angels as those who witheld.
But all these explanations do not satisfy in the least. For if legal order was meant here, as it is embodied in governments and laws, we must ask the question of why they withhold the Antichrist? What is the sense?
Do not forget, beloved, Christ has great haste to come. He too says, the sooner the better. As soon as it is possible! Why then would He withhold Antichrist and thereby Himself by governments and legal order?
It seems to me that we don't have to guess. I believe we may know it from the Scriptures. When Christ speaks of the end of all things, He says much about the horrors which shall precede: wars, earthquakes, famine. But then follows, and that is remarkable, 'And the gospel must first be published among all nations'. The end comes with haste, but first the preaching of the Word must be completed.
I read the same in Revelation when it speaks of God's last gift of grace to this world, as it comes in His two witnesses. When does the beast from the abyss appear? When these two "have finished their testimony (Rev. 11: 7).
Here Scripture gives us the answer: complete lawlessness will be checked by God until the gospel is preached unto the ends of the earth! That means the proclamation of the gospel is the power that keeps Antichrist back. And then the Lord Jesus is the person Who causes the delay.
That held him back then, it holds him back now!
For Paul proceeds, "the mystery of iniquity does already work". We can see it all around us. Not only trespassing the law, but also negation and contempt of the law. For we must pay attention to the word 'lawlessness' in this connection. For in lawlessness sin reaches its pinnacle. Lawlessness is worse than stumbling or coming short; it is also worse than trespassing.
All the others are sin, of course! But the one who stumbles acknowledges he did wrong. In his life there is still something like a norm. When someone confesses he came short, he says there is a law above him which requires satisfaction. He acknowledges, 'It is not enough, I only brought ten percent, but it had to be one hundred.' He who trespasses still sees a limit. He went over it, but he knew that here is a limit!
The lawless do not care about norms or limits. The lawless man says, 'I will go exactly as far as I want to go. I acknowledge no God, I bow for no norm, I honor no law, I simply laugh about all that is holy.'
Paul had traveled far and wide, and saw it perfectly: it is the attitude of man worldwide. Lawlessness on all sides! It is already working, it can be seen. But he discovered something else: it is 'only' the mystery of lawlessness. That satanic spirit of brutal resistance is already in the world and shows itself, but not yet openly. It is done in silence. Therefore the powers of lawlessness are moving, but they are still under cover. Satan is still showing himself as an angel of light! As yet he is not proudly showing himself in his real nature.
There is not one in the world who lives in a completely nihilistic wayand rejects all norms. Why is that so when the spirit of nihilism isgeneral and infects everything? Paul answers that there is a power working in history that withholds. The preaching holds everything back. The gospel must first be preached.
Lawlessness will come to its own in due time and not before that. It would already show itself today, but it must wait until the hour which God has fixed for her in history. The gospel has priority in this world, it must first reach the ends of the earth. Mysteriously it agitates and ferments on all sides. But Christ Jesus still holds him back. Before Antichrist can come, Christ must be out of the way. Do you now see that it is all gospel? Are you now comforted, you troubled man, who lives in the crazy world of today? You who at times claim that your life in these days is subject to fate?
You see how lawlessness agitates and makes a hell out of life. Diplomats do what they will. International righteousness is fiction, even though the term has never been mentioned as often before. What we have seen since the war is but bitter little of what really happened. For most of it takes place behind the scenes and no newspaper tells us what is really happening. But the little they reveal makes us shudder. Promises and declarations in abundance, but lawlessness dominates, our young men are bleeding to death. But, and this is remarkable, they all give an appearance of righteousness to their normless actions and at times of religious fervor. Today we still see the mystery of lawlessness. O yes, you shudder of all this untruth and duplicity. But the fact that all these diplomats can do no different is very comforting!
What happens in the world is terrible. It makes one shudder -- the 'diplomacy', the lies, again and again. But the fact that brutal lawlessness is not yet preached in international and national politics is comforting. For it means that Christ is still holding back the Antichrist and presses him into a veiled performing, in order that the gospel may openly be preached unto the end. What dominates world history? Christ! The Church! Preaching! They may make fun of the Church and of preaching, yet, they cannot do what they want. They must wait until Christ is finished with the gospel.
Did you think that Christ delayed his coming to give diplomats time to construct a new map of the world and a new legal order? Did you think He delayed His coming, so the powers that be would have time to get this world in some kind of order? If it was that, the Antichrist would be here today!
But I see him, Jesus Christ! I see Him in the busy traffic of this world, in the great hunt for people, in the currents and the wrestling of spirits. He regulates the traffic and He holds all in place, so the gospel can continue unhindered.
The son of perdition may come, but not before God's work of redemption is known all over the world. Hellish powers shall be on the move, but only when the powers of heaven are completely finished.
The lawless one shall be revealed. But first the law will be preached!
History is not dominated by diplomats and wars. The pace of our time also does not depend on pacts and conferences, but only on Jesus Christ and the preaching of the gospel!
Will we now believe that preaching is not by the grace of politicians!Politics has its limits laid down by Christ, He Who will go to the ends ofthe earth with His grace!
Do you now see it is not the devil who dominates our times, but God's sovereign plan of redemption, Who wants all man to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth?
That is the meaning of our days. And so the gospel is central in our day.
We are often so restless, because we do not live from and by this and because no one speaks of history like this -- not in the Christian press either. Oh, I wish the press understood it's calling. We can see that Christian papers are deteriorating. The style is not right. I will not deny that our papers speak differently from those on the left. But our papers also have foreign news on the front-page in big fat print; furthermore a lot of news of the day with or without commentary. A couple lines of church news, and near the Sunday a meditation for edification.
I will not deny the significance of foreign politics. But the news does not become Christian by our own vision and our own sound. It is only Christian when we do not see foreign politics as a question of people and nations and colliding interests. When we are serious in subscribing, and the critique of what happens, we must confess that the Father rules all things through Jesus Christ! Therefore Church and gospel must be central in the truly Christian paper -- not one heading besides others, but the center of all columns.
When we read of Americans who make their presence felt and Russians who give notice of their sinister power, it can oppress us. But when it is said that today everything is still ruled by grace, because Jesus Christ holds back the Americans and Russians for the sake of preaching, we would be comforted! We would not feel powerless over against mighty world politics. We would see world politics controlled by Christ.
Is that not gospel in itself, that for the sake of the gospel, Christ keeps back the man of sin?
Then you also understand that the Antichrist will be let loose in his hour, for the sake of the gospel.
2. That is number two in our text: the appearance of Antichrist. Paul says of Him: Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan. He uses for 'coming' the same word that the Bible always uses when it speaks of the day of Christ. For literally it says, 'His parousia is in agreement with the power of Satan.'
For what will then happen in the world? Will it be chaos? Total destruction? I would almost say, "If that were only true!" You know, many are restless when they read of nuclear power and things like that. They say that when in another war these weapons are used, no stone will remain upon another. Nuclear arms are for many the terror of the future. But the Bible announces here something that is much more horrible. Not chaos, but a gigantic renewal of life! No complete destruction, but the opposite: 'he comes with all power and signs and lying wonders'.
The Antichrist will not destroy life, but build it, better and more solid than it ever was before. For he will show his power in many ways and it will amaze people. He will come with signs that will blind the senses and make everyone wonder. His coming will be accompanied by wonders, whereby hearts are bewitched. Everyone will be enthusiastic and say, "how is it possible"! But yet, they are powers and signs of the lie -- people will be caught in the blinding scourge of the lie!
That is the most terrible thing we can think of. Sin is always tempting, something that draws and captivates people. However, now there is something over against it, now there are the bitter results and the acid aftermath. One who lives loosely is soon old, the immoral loses his health and happiness.
But in those days the Antichrist is purely power and sign and wonder. He does not tear down life, but makes it so very desirable. He only does things that make everyone ecstatic. It seems there is nothing in sin that makes afraid or holds back. In those days there remains only temptation and bewitchment, the promise of eternal bloom, thanks to lawlessness -- a promise made true by the facts. What makes it worse is that they are not sensational human achievements which conquer hearts; it is also not human enchantment and temptation, but in all this is the power of Satan!
They are super-natural powers and no human can do anything against it, no one can resist it, no one can escape from it! Because a satanic energy is unloaded, no man has any defense. Today we can, even if it takes some effort, fight against temptation.In the hour of trial anyone still can say, 'No, I don't do it!' But then,they will all be irresistibly sucked into a whirlpool which makes theswimmer defenseless. For then there is nothing, but 'all the deception ofunrighteousness'. Purely the deceit of lawlessness!
At that time, the people are being deceived in a terrible way; they are captured in the grip of the lie. But now there is no one who takes notice. And if they would take notice, no one has the chance to resist. For God sends them strong delusion that they should believe a lie!
You must ask that question: why does Antichrist come first?
Why does the Lord not at once destroy the ungodly? Can Christ not at this time come on the clouds of heaven?
We must ask the question: why is it the Lord lets these peoples come under the power of the lie and in the stupor of irresistible satanic deception?
Paul says it happens, 'that they all may be damned'. It is the reward, for they 'accepted not the love of the truth, that they might be saved'.
For the gospel came to them first and sought to deliver them! God's sovereign will to save them was preached, for He would not see them lost! That is why He delayed the end for many years. It was 'love for the truth' that moved here. Was it not for His infinite love that He made known the truth to deliver them?
Only for that reason the Antichrist is held up and Satan bound. He shed forth the power of the Spirit and the powers of the coming world He put into the hearts of people who were not yet against their will and without defense delivered up to the lie. The powers of hell were restrained and the energies of grace were let loose, that people would be saved.
But when they did not believe the truth, although it came to them with the powers of heaven, the Lord says, 'they despised the truth; now they will believe the lie!'
When they were still able to resist the devil and follow him, the Lord says that they have despised the love for the truth. Now they will be subject to the lie.
They could have been saved, for His gospel sought them. Now, all of them will be judged, for they rejected the word of salvation.
They did not want the powers of heaven. But now they don't get the chance to build up an earthly life of human power with the energies of time. No, they will now be taken along by the powers of hell.
They will not be afraid of sin, to keep them from sinning. No evil results will keep them back from the wrong way. Who will see to it that the Antichrist will show them a good future, fair like paradise. The Lord says, "I will pour wine that will make him drunk. I will not hold him back anymore. I will not send him anymore warnings. I will let them go. And that is not negative, when I give them over to themselves. But I deliver them to another, to the satanic forces of temptation.
So one cannot repent anymore!
So one will not be satisfied with sinning!
So one does not come to his senses!
They loved the lie during the time that the Lord sought to save them with the truth, with power from heaven. Now the lie will take them along irresistibly unto damnation! Not one will escape!
You hear that, beloved? It is the Antichrist who is ultimately God's servant, that not one would escape. It is the Antichrist sent by God that they all should be damned.
It is the Antichrist who takes revenge for their rejection ofthe gospel!
First, he had to wait because of the gospel, that all would hear and believe.
After that he must come because of the gospel that was rejected!
I believe it is time to emphasize these things. There are among our young people some who think little of the worship service. Sit in Church all the time? Catechism classes on top of that! They tell you there are a lot of things much more interesting. They add, 'after another ten years or so, when we are a little older and seen some of the pleasures of life, we will pay more attention to the Bible.' At times their parents talk like that. Children are young only once they say. They must rejoice in their youthful days! Indeed, all of that is true and probably they are serious when they tell you that. After a while they will calm down. They will know more and quiet down. We could say, 'Everything will be all right.' But persistently we forget one thing: Antichrist appears at the hour determined by God!
What is so depressing when we think about poor Bible reading at home? And of the modestly attended evening services?
By doing so we despise the love of the truth!
In time the Lord will take revenge by that man of sin, the one whom He will send with strong delusion! With power and signs and wonders! With the most clever deception of unrighteousness!
The man who presently shows little interest in the Word, can have many good intentions for later, but when the Antichrist comes, these people are absolutely lost! For what will then appear temptation, hellish refinement -- we cannot even imagine today. It will be so irresistible that all that is called temptation today is nothing but child's play.
Powers of Satan!
The Bible says to everyone, 'today you are not yet the prey of the devil.' Today you are still subject to the heavenly powers. It now depends on what you will do with the gospel! If you want to be saved by it, yes or no!
Beloved, do we not see what is going on in this world? Do you not understand that we are fast on the way to the day of the Antichrist?
That is why it is so serious that we have young people in our day who are not interested in catechism classes and that many of our families attend Church but once on the Lord's day. If that is the way we deal with the gospel today, tomorrow will be a helpless prey of the man of sin, the son of perdition!
Everything depends on the gospel! It keeps the world turning. God delays the appearing of the Antichrist in order for you to understand the truth and accept His love unto salvation. What else is the delay of the Antichrist but an urgent appeal: hear the gospel, believe and be saved!?
The Lord warns that hereafter he comes with satanic power of delusion to avenge the rejection of the gospel.
That word too, is gospel, for the Lord adjures you and me: be reconciled to God before you are carried along by the power of the lie!
3. All Satan's work is the lie of lawlessness which appears in the latter part of our text: the destruction of the Antichrist. When at last he has all in his power, then his kingdom collapses, and the laughing world he built will perish. The Lord will destroy him with the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming.
I don't need to say much about this.
The Antichrist was very powerful -- no man could stand against him! But Christ Jesus is right behind him. He simply blows the Antichrist away. He will shatter him with the majesty of His appearing. For the last time, beloved, this is the gospel!
We shudder when we think of the terrible force of the man of sin. When we read this, everyone asks trembling, 'how shall we be able to resist him? How shall we keep our children from that lawless deception?' Especially when we see how weak Christian life was after the war! In what we call orthodox families, there was often very little resistance against the normless American spirit, against all 'culture' brought here by the allied forces! When it is like that when temptation comes with the power of man, what will happen when the powers of Satan are released!
I will tell you one thing, beloved. You who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and love His gospel, you are able to resist through Him. For you will feel the temptation, but you are already captured by your love for God's truth.
When you abide by the Word and bring up your children, oh, the power of temptation will be unmeasurably great! But in us already lives the power of Him Who simply blows the Antichrist away with the breath of His mouth! He will destroy him just and only by His appearing!
And so, beloved, preaching is the heart of history. When the gospel has conquered your heart and conquers that of your children -- indeed, then we stand before a post-war chaos, and that is serious. And we will come to the garden of the Antichrist. That is much worse!
Yet we dare to face the future. For by faith we have seen Him, He Who will destroy the son of perdition with the breath of His mouth. And we long for His coming.
Do not say today, 'I don't like living anymore. My work does not interest me anymore. I am afraid to marry and have children.' But in the difficulties of the times, hold on to the gospel!
You dare to expect the Antichrist and meet his day. He is a monster of sin, but His message is only gospel!
Today he is not here yet, for the sake of the gospel! But he will disappear in a moment, simply blown away for the sake of the gospel -- the gospel that Christ Jesus comes in all His majesty!
Well, beloved, for the sake of His coming and because of the fact that you will be gathered to Him, you will go further into history. Do not leave your place. Live your married life with family and your work. For you are able to go further! At last, all of it was: gospel!
Love the truth, that you might be saved.