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The Defeat of Anti-Christ - 5

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 10, 2021 7:00 pm

The Defeat of Anti-Christ - 5

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 10, 2021 7:00 pm

Pastor Greg Barkman speaks from 2 Thessalonians about the arrival, activity, and defeat of the Anti-Christ.

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Returning now to 2 Corinthians, or rather 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2.

We will continue where we left off about three weeks ago. Studying this short epistle and this early epistle of Paul to the Thessalonian church in which he was addressing some of their concerns and misconceptions, particularly concerning the second coming of Jesus Christ. And in this section, chapter 2, he gets rather heavily into the subject of the Antichrist.

And there's a lot of interest in that subject among the people of God. Just saying the word Antichrist will cause a lot of people to perk up their ears and to listen more carefully and to bring a lot of questions and speculation to the table. I'm talking about this one that the Bible says will come at the end of time. Now the very word, the term Antichrist, as you know, is only found in the first epistle of John.

You'll find it in chapter 2 and also again in chapter 4. But it's also very obvious that the same individual by different names is found elsewhere in the Bible. You'll find in the book of Revelation reference to the beast and the false prophet. There's got to be a relationship there to the Antichrist.

I won't try to sort all that out now. And as we come to this section, 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, we find that here he's referred to as the man of sin or the man of lawlessness or various other terms that are used for him. But it's clearly the same individual that is in view. There's been a great deal of detail about this man's appearance and his activity and his defeat.

And we need to know these things. Now he was introduced, the Antichrist was introduced to us in the passage we looked at three weeks ago, which talked about him in verses 3 and 4. Let no one deceive you by any means, for that day of the Lord will not come unless the falling away comes first. And the man of sin, some translations have the man of lawlessness, that's one term for him, is revealed. The son of perdition, there's another term that is used for him, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God and that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. This Antichrist claims to be God and tries to demonstrate the kind of power that will convince people that that is actually true, for of course it is very false. Now with that introduction of the Antichrist in the first few verses, we find in our section for today, verses 6 through 12, a further elaboration, expansion, clarification, additional details that are given about the Antichrist.

And I think if we look at this carefully, much confusion about him will be resolved by that careful study of this text. The title of my sermon today is The Defeat of Antichrist, and it involves the arrival, the activity, and defeat of this one who is opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ. To divide our section today, I have three parts. Number one, a present restraint. Number two, a future revelation.

And number three, a divine purpose. A present restraint. Paul tells the Thessalonians and also us that the Antichrist, though he is coming, he's not come yet and there is a reason for it. It is because he has been and is presently being restrained. Verse 6, And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And we're dropping right into the middle of a section, and because there have been several weeks in between, I think I need to just quickly touch upon the background that Paul has in mind very clearly as we come to verse 6. He talks in verses 1 and 2 about some unsettling teaching that had come to the Thessalonian church that had confused them regarding the coming of Christ and even had caused some to believe that maybe he'd already come and they'd missed his coming. We're not even quite sure what all it was that they were confused about, but Paul says there is confusion.

I'm not sure where it's coming from, whether it is coming from false teachers who are outside, whether it's coming from an epistle, a counterfeit epistle that somebody sent that claims to be from me. I'm not quite sure where this is coming from, but obviously you have been misled by false teachers regarding the second coming of Christ. And he said you don't need to think that the second coming has occurred because there are at least a couple of major prerequisites that must come first. And so he tells us what they are in verses 3 and 4, and they are two things primarily and they're tied together, but there is the revelation of this one who is the great Antichrist and there is also the onslaught of the great apostasy.

Now both of these things are at work in a lesser sense even now. John, in talking about the Antichrist, also talks about many Antichrists, plural. There are Antichrists at work now, just like in this passage Paul says the mystery of lawlessness is even now at work. It's not that it's not present at all and then in the future it's going to be sprung upon the earth full blown without any precursor before it.

That's not the case. There is satanic opposition now. There is deceit and counterfeit work going on now. There is much lawlessness being spread in the world now and affecting the church now, but the day is coming when there will be the revelation of one, the man of sin, the man of perdition, the Antichrist, and when he's revealed it'll be clear that this is the one, not a one, not one of the many Antichrists who have been opposing Christ, but when this one comes it will be revealed in such a way that it will be obvious this is the one, the final one, the great one that comes before the coming of Jesus Christ. So don't be misled about the second coming because the Antichrist has not yet been revealed, nor has the great apostasy yet come. Always apostasy in a lesser sense going on in the world. Apostasy is defection from the faith. There are people who apostatize. That goes on, has gone on, went on in Paul's day.

Demas has forsaken me. That's apostasy, having loved this present world. But there's going to be a final apostasy that again will be so obvious because of its magnitude.

It will be unlike anything that has happened up until now. In the greatness of its departure it will be identified, it will be easily identified as that great apostasy that precedes the second coming of Christ. And furthermore, in this background section, Paul says, now I taught you these things when I was with you. And so some of the things that he touches upon in this passage is simply to say, don't you remember what I taught you without telling us what he taught them? So we're left a little bit in the dark. We would like to be a little fly on the wall, go back to Thessalonica when Paul was founding the church and listen in to what he taught them. That would be very helpful in our understanding of this passage. But God the Holy Spirit hasn't given us all of those details. He's given us some of them. But some things he just simply says, don't you remember? I told you about this. I told you about that.

I don't need to repeat that, but I think I need to repeat this. And so we go through these things with some clear information and some murky details that we have trouble sorting out. But from this background, we come to the restraint that is taught us in verses six and seven. And we're told in verse six that before Christ comes and actually before the Antichrist comes, who comes before Christ comes. But before the Antichrist comes, there will be a restraining power. There is even now a restraining power.

That's why he hasn't come yet. That restraining power has kept him from coming. And then the restraining power, verse six, develops into the restraining personality of verse seven. You'll notice in verse six, it's an it, neuter, general. You know that what is restraining?

That he, the Antichrist, may be revealed in his own time. A what, an it, a something is restraining him, verse six. Restrain means to hold back, to hold down, to contain. But that restraining general power develops into a specific person or personality in verse seven. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he, masculine pronoun, he who now restrains will do so until he again is taken out of the way. A restraining power, verse six, a restraining personality, verse seven.

A neuter, general force in verse six, a masculine person in verse seven. And this is connected with the mystery of lawlessness. We've learned in previous occasions that mystery in the Bible means something that is concealed, a truth that is concealed until the time when God chooses to unfold it, unveil it, to reveal it.

And so we realize that this is something that is relatively new. We didn't know, we certainly didn't know that there is this force of lawlessness, this mystery of lawlessness that is even now going on, but being restrained. I think it is this restraint that is primarily involved in the mystery because that has not been clearly taught in any other passage. But now we know that the general lawlessness, the general sinfulness, the general opposition to God and the truth that is going on now in the world today and will continue on in the world today nevertheless is being restrained. It's not being allowed to get as bad as it wants to get. It's not being allowed to run its full course.

It's not being allowed to develop its full power. It is being restrained generally. In fact, it is being restrained by a specific person who is the restrainer and it will be restrained until that person is removed. Now the question about this present restraint and restrainer is who is this restrainer? What is this restraining power? Verse six, who is this restraining person? Verse seven, and there are various suggestions.

I could probably list half a dozen or more, but I'll just list three. There are some that have suggested that this is the rule of law in general, that in the world and in every society there is some recognition of law and there is some government that enforces law. In the days of Paul it was the Roman Empire and so in that day it was the Roman Empire that is considered to be the restraining power. And in other places and other times it is government in general that has this responsibility to hold back the full expression of violence and other expressions of sin that otherwise would go on in society. Government, the rule of law. And though it is clear that God has given government for that very purpose, it is difficult for me to accept that as the explanation here for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is because government in its corruption, its sinful corruption, where the mystery of lawlessness is at work in government, many times seems to become more the tool of lawlessness than the restrainer of lawlessness. But even more than that, the idea of government being the restrainer hardly fits the neuter idea of verse 6 but hardly fits the person, the specific person concept of verse 7. You can't say government is a he who is taken out of the way. So I don't accept that as the proper understanding. There are others who believe the best explanation is to see this restrainer as Satan. I told you I follow closely six selected commentaries in my study of this passage. And at least one of them took that position. One of the others took the rule of government position.

These are not way out in left field positions. They are positions that conservative Bible scholars do take. And some have surmised that as Satan who is holding back the full expression of his satanic power, holding back his supreme agent, the antichrist, even while his lesser agents are busily at work, that he's holding them back until the right time. And when he considers the right time, the opportune time to occur, then he's going to release the power of the antichrist and reveal him.

But again, I find that difficult for a couple of reasons. Number one, it's quite difficult to fit that into the general neuter specific personality of verse 7, so it fits better than the idea of government because government really can't fit verse 7 in my mind at all. Satan could be squeezed into that mold. But the idea of Satan opposing Satan, remember when the Pharisees accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of Beelzebub?

And Jesus said, now come on folks, come on folks. If Satan opposes himself, then his house will fall, right? That's what Jesus said. This is ridiculous to say that Satan is giving me this power because that would be Satan warring against Satan, and Satan doesn't do that.

That's the concept, I think, where Abraham Lincoln got the idea that a house divided against itself cannot stand. That's what Jesus said. So I don't think Satan is a very good explanation. And that brings me then to what I think is probably the right explanation by process of elimination, and namely that this restrainer is none other than God the Holy Spirit.

That fits verse 6. He is a restraining power. Sometimes we think of him that way properly. But verse 7, he is also a personality. He's one of the three members of the Godhead.

He is a person, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And furthermore, that makes sense because he's not, it's not Satan opposing Satan, but the Holy Spirit holding back Satan, holding back his full power. And who else really has enough power to restrain Satan except God, really?

Who does? Government doesn't. We see the failure of government over and over and over, all around the world and all down through history. But God has the power to restrain Satan. God has the power to dictate when the antichrist may be revealed.

Not now, not now, you can't, no, okay, now. And so I accept the Holy Spirit as the best interpretation because it fits best by process of elimination. I can't find anything else in the list of possibilities that commends itself to me as strongly as this one. And so that's why I choose that as the proper understanding, the Holy Spirit of God. But that moves us then secondly from a present restraint to number two, a future revelation, verses 8 through 10. And that is the future revelation of the antichrist. The time of the revelation is given to us in the beginning of verse 8, and then a description of the revealed one is given to us in verses 8 through 10.

The time of the revelation is indicated by these words, and then. Verse 7, for the mystery of the lawlessness is already at work, only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way and then, the restrainers taken out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. When the restraint is removed, when this personality is no longer restraining, when God's appointed time has come, then the lawless one, the antichrist, will be revealed.

Now following that, in verses 8 and 9 in the first part of this trend, we have a description of this revealed one, and I will give you five descriptions. He's described, number 1, as the lawless one, number 2, as the defeated one, number 3, as the satanic one, number 4, as the miracle working one, and number 5, as the deceptive one. He is the lawless one. We just read it in verse 8. And then the lawless one will be revealed. Some manuscripts say the man of lawlessness or the man of sin. But the lawless one, and that refers back to what has already been said. In verse 3, let no one deceive you by any means, for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin or the man of lawlessness is revealed. Verse 7, for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. The mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Verse 8, and then the lawless one will be revealed. It all ties together. And so he's described as the lawless one, the one who is opposed to the law of God.

That's primarily what's in view here. Everything that God says do, he says don't do. Everything God says don't do, he says do. He's opposed to the law of God, the lawless one. Secondly, he's described as the defeated one, and this is interesting to me. Back to verse 8, then the lawless one will be revealed. And it's almost like Paul can't get to the end of his description to tell us that he's going to be defeated. It's so important that you know that this one, in the magnitude of his wickedness, is not going to succeed.

And so he puts this almost prematurely. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming. He is the defeated one.

Paul thought that was important to know up front before he went any further. He's going to be defeated by Christ at his glorious return when he comes to the brightness of his coming. He's going to be defeated effortlessly with the breath of his mouth and the brightness or the glory of his coming. The breath of his mouth certainly can refer to the word of God, which is the breath of God. We heard that this week in our Bible conference about the opposite of fake news.

I'm trying to remember what the exact title of the series was. News You Can Trust. News You Can Trust. And it was all about the Bible, the word of God. But as much as anything, this just says as strong as he is, as powerful as he is, as effective as he is, as able as he is to deceive multiplied billions of people and to elevate himself to the place of preeminence in the world so that all other religions are banished until the whole world is worshiping him alone, that's incredible power. Nobody's been able to manifest that kind of power until now or until then when he comes.

But when Jesus comes, it will just be bang, bang, he's dead, he's gone, just like that. Christ will defeat him effortlessly. Somebody will say, well, if he can do that, why doesn't he do it now? Answer, because that's not his purpose, that's not his timetable.

He will do it at the appointed time. He has purposes for it now, for this to develop now, and then at the proper time, he's going to defeat the antichrist. So he is number two, the defeated one. He is number three, the satanic one, verse nine. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders. The coming of this one, same word that is used of the coming of Christ, or one of the words that's used for the coming of Christ, parousia, or parousia, the coming of the lawless one, verse nine, follows the coming of Christ, the brightness of his coming, verse eight. So Christ will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and the brightness of his coming, the coming of the lawless one.

There's a very close parallel here that we should understand. So the coming, this other places, he's depicted as being revealed the same way as Christ, is revealed from heaven in his second coming. So the antichrist is revealed upon earth at the time of his coming. But this one who is coming comes working in partnership with Satan. He comes as a satanic agent, we would have to say the ultimate satanic agent, using satanic tactics, counterfeits and deception.

Counterfeits and deception. He counterfeits what God does in such a way that people who don't know God will be deceived. Satan is preeminently a liar and the father of lies, Jesus said in John 844. And so this one who is a supreme agent is going to come after the working of Satan.

He will be the ultimate liar, the smoothest liar, the most believable liar. And he will be the counterfeiter and that brings us to number four, the miracle working one, because it tells us what some of his counterfeits going to be. Comes after the working of Satan with all and three words are used here, power, signs, lying wonders. Power, that's that well-known Greek word dunamis, like where we get dynamite, power. It speaks of innate supernatural power, power he has within himself and it's supernatural. He comes with power, he comes with signs, that's the word that John uses in his gospel for miracles, many signs Jesus did. And signs is a word that causes us to consider the purpose and the meaning of the miracles. John said look at these miracles as signs, look at what they point to, look at what they teach us, look at what they tell us about Jesus Christ, look at what they tell us about salvation. These are signs, they are pointing to something, they are informing us of something. Well this antichrist comes with miracles that are performed by great power and they are signs that point to the deception that he wants people to adopt and wonders. They produce amazement, they produce awe, they bowl people over. As I heard somebody say this week about the messages we heard, that knocked my socks off. Well that's the way a lot of people are going to feel when they see these incredible unbelievable miracles that are being performed by the antichrist.

Wow, I've never seen anything like that before. He's got power like nobody has and you see how they're being set up to accept the lie that he is in fact God because he's demonstrating such amazing power. The signs and wonders, same three words that are used of the miracles of Christ by Peter in his sermon in Acts chapter 2. Men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst.

As you yourselves also know, same three words, they're not translated exactly the same but they are the same. Or the miracles that were done by the apostles of Christ that are referred to by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 2. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his own will. There were two other times in 2 Corinthians 12 and also in the book of Romans when the miracles produced by Christ and his apostles are referred by these same terms that are now used of the antichrist and of the miracles which he does. Power, signs, wonders, just like Jesus, just like the apostles. He's the miracle working one and number five, he's the deceptive one. That's indicated in the verse nine by that word lying.

That's the difference. Jesus's miracles and signs and wonders were not lying. Lying power and signs and wonders, nor were those of the apostles, but of this one that word lying in the Greek syntax attaches to all three of these words. Lying power, lying signs, lying wonders, which doesn't mean that they're counterfeit in the sense that they're not real.

They are real miracles, real phenomena, but they are not pointing to the power of God. They're not pointing to truth. They're not affirming that this one is God.

That's what he's trying to get you to think these things prove. He's the deceptive one. Lying power, lying signs, lying wonders. In verse nine, an unrighteous deception, verse 10, these signs and lying wonders with all unrighteousness and deception among those who perish. So this is a description of the antichrist, lawless, defeated, satanic, miracle working, deceptive. But that brings us to the divine purpose. God has a purpose in all this. And that's the last part of verse 10 of verse 11 and 12. And the divine purpose is directed toward a specific category of people.

It is by means of a purposeful delusion that God sends and it results in an appropriate judgment. It is directed towards a specific category of people, verse 10, with all unrighteous deception among who? Who's going to be deceived? Here we're told, among those who perish.

Who are they? Well, they are those who did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. It's directed toward those who will not believe the truth of God, who will not believe the gospel, who will not believe the Bible. They are those who are perishing. They are those who do not love the truth.

They are those who are not saved. They will not be saved because they will not embrace the truth that alone can save them. The only way to be saved is to embrace fully the truth that God has given. You see, our ultimate destiny is determined by our relationship with truth. That's why it's so important for you to settle in your mind that God's word is truth. And you're going to believe it even when you don't fully understand it, because nobody does fully understand it. But you are not going to doubt it.

You're not going to question it, except with the right attitude to learn more about it. But you're not going to be skeptical and unbelieving, because, dear friend, dear friend, dear friend, the only way you can be saved is by a love of, that is, an enthusiastic, full embrace of the truth. And those who won't do that are those who perish, and they are the ones who are the objects of God's deluding power. And so this divine purpose directed toward a specific category of people is carried out by means of a purposeful delusion, verse 8.

And for this reason, what reason? They will not love the truth. They will not believe the truth. They will not receive the truth. For that reason, God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie. You refuse to embrace the truth, okay?

Judgment begins now. God will send you strong delusion. You will not obey the truth. You will not believe the truth. And so, at some point, you will not be able to believe the truth. You will not be able to understand the truth because of the delusion that comes upon you, sent by God Himself. Strong delusion. That's the first stage of divine judgment.

There's more to follow. And that judgment is simply for God to give them what they desire, God to give them what they demand. I don't want your word. I don't want your gospel. I don't want to embrace Jesus Christ. I reject all of this, okay?

Boom. Now you'll never understand it. Delusion has come upon you. This is what they desire. This is what they demanded.

This is what they got. Don't you see the justice of that? You fault God for that? This is what in the Bible is sometimes called judicial hardening. This happened to Pharaoh. Who hardened Pharaoh's heart? Read the, I don't know how many statements about the hardening of Pharaoh's hearts over several chapters in Exodus and list them all.

I did that years ago. When does it say Pharaoh hardened his own heart? When does it say God hardened Pharaoh's heart? When does it just say his heart was hardened, so we're not sure who is in view? Though if it was hardened, then apparently Pharaoh didn't harden it.

So it must have been hardened by an outside force. So that's probably referring to God also. Who hardened Pharaoh's heart? Pharaoh or God?

Yes. Pharaoh hardened his heart and God hardened his heart. Now I'm not going to try to tell you which came first, the chicken or the egg. You can figure that out for yourself. But we see this throughout the Bible. That hardness of heart is God's judicial judgment upon those who hardened their hearts.

And so their hearts are further hardened. God's sending confusion and delusion upon those who will not believe is appropriate judgment of God upon those who refuse to believe. And the result of this judicial hardening is that they should believe the lie.

The lie is the one in verse four. The antichrist who represents himself as if he's God, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. And the day is coming when vast numbers of people throughout the world are going to accept his claim. And they are going to come by reason of these counterfeit miracles that they can't explain any other way. They say the only explanation is this one is God. And they're going to believe the lie that the antichrist, this agent of Satan, is none other than God. What delusion. Because you see, rejecters of God's truth become believers of Satan's lie.

It comes to the gospel. I can't believe that. I won't believe that. Yeah, but you'll believe things that are preposterous. I've often said the trouble with evolution is I just don't have enough faith to believe it.

It's too preposterous. I know it takes faith to believe that in the beginning God created, but I find that in my perspective, I find that easier to believe than somewhere out in space when there was nothing, there was a big bang. What banged if there wasn't anything? Where did that original material come from that caused the first big bang?

Where did that come from? I mean, logically, it really becomes preposterous. And you can continue that way through virtually everything in the theory of evolution. It requires unbelievable faith.

Remember, Dr. McKnight talked about that in one of his messages, how that in everything we know, order is never produced out of disorder. You can't set off a stick of dynamite in a junkyard and say, lo and behold, a 2021 Cadillac running and ready to go. You say, that's ridiculous. Yeah, but give it a billion years. Maybe it could happen.

No, it's still ridiculous. A billion years and a million explosions aren't going to get you any closer to a Cadillac out of a junkyard. That takes more faith than I've got. But if you won't believe the truth that God has given you, you will become susceptible to believing lies. You'll become susceptible to believing folly.

You'll become susceptible to being certain that things that are not true and in most cases are preposterous, that they are in fact true. And you'll believe that because of the delusion that comes upon you as a divine judgment of God because of your rejection of truth. And in this day, such people will accept Antichrist as God. Let's put it this way. They won't accept Christ as their savior.

So what do they do? They accept Antichrist as their savior, not savior in the same sense. They're not talking about salvation from from hell.

They may not believe in that. But the one who's going to fix this world, the one who's going to take care of all the injustices, the one who's finally going to set everything right. I will believe in this one as my savior. Yeah, the ultimate delusion, the ultimate lie, the ultimate misplaced faith. Everybody believes in something, some things. I recommend that you make this the foundation of what you believe and test everything else by it.

But isn't it good to know in all of this, and I've got some lessons I'm not quite done yet, but isn't it good to know in all of this that God's in control? When is Antichrist going to be revealed? When God says so. When is Antichrist's career going to come to an end? Very quickly, according to this passage. It won't be very long, but when is he going to come to an end? When God says so.

When Christ shows up on the scene and says, gone, just that quickly, he's in control. But those who do not love the truth, this passage is teaching us, delight in unrighteousness. Verse 12, verse 11, for this reason God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned. It's the next step in their judgment.

The first step is their delusion and confusion. That they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Those who do not love the truth, delight in unrighteousness. Those who do not love the truth eventually make evil their good and make good their evil.

Don't we see that in the world today? God's word tells us many things that are sins. God's people who believe the truth know that they are sins and they are things that we cannot promote, we cannot accept, we cannot delight in. But those who reject God's truth just seem to plunge further and further into delusion until pretty soon. They are openly applauding and promoting the very things that God says are evil and insisting that you do too. That's the next crunch that's coming. If you don't applaud with us, then you are going to be canceled and worse. Are we surprised?

Really? Okay, some quick lessons. First, regarding the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, we keep coming back to that because that's a big one. Can you make that fit into this chapter?

Yes, it takes a little wiggling, maybe a lot of wiggling in my opinion, but yeah, you can make it fit. But to do so requires several presuppositions and I'll just point out two or three. It requires, for example, making a distinction in verses one and two in these various terms that refer to the coming of Christ. Brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, that's one. And our gathering together to Him, that's two, clearly the rapture of the saints. Not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us as though the day of Christ had come.

There's a third one. Now, if you can separate those and make one or two of them apply to the coming of Christ to rapture the saints and another one to apply to His coming at the end of the tribulation, you can maybe start to fit that into this. But it doesn't seem to follow the primary plain meaning and flow of the passage.

You can make it fit, but you're going to have to work pretty hard at it. And identifying the restrainer as the Holy Spirit, which is likely. I've already said I think that's probably correct, but it's not stated. And then going a step further to say that His removal is the rapture of the saints.

Now, what have you done there? You've added a second presupposition upon a first presupposition, neither of which are stated in the passage. The passage does not state that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit. That is, in my opinion, the best conclusion out of all the possibilities I can come up with, but I can't say that with certainty because the Scripture doesn't say it.

But then to go beyond that and say, not only do we know that this is the Holy Spirit, but we even know how He's going to be taken out of the way. The passage doesn't tell us, but we know, we know, it's the rapture of the church. Well, don't you see how this fits into eisegesis better than exegesis? Eisegesis is putting things into the passage that aren't there in order to make them fit the way you want to interpret them, rather than exegesis, drawing out of the passage what is there. Those things aren't in the passage. And then, positing that the removal of the Holy Spirit is the rapture of the church, the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way in that sense, then it is assumed that what's said after that doesn't apply to believers there with the Lord in heaven, but the flow and language of the passage seems to be addressing the saints of Thessalonica, or those like them, who are alive and well and present until the coming of the Antichrist, until the coming of Christ.

That's the flow of the passage. That's the most obvious way the passage reads. Can you interpret it differently?

Yes, you can. But is that the best way to interpret it? I'll leave that for you to decide. And all I'm trying to say is this. I've said this several times.

I think we need to be very respectful and cautious about how we hold our position and how we view those who hold other positions. But those who hold to the pre-tribulation rapture often characterize people who hold other views as rejecting clear teaching because they prefer some tradition that's not based upon scripture. I believed that for many years. But the more I studied it, it seems to me like it's more or less the other way around, that people who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture are taking a tradition, a fairly more recent tradition, the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church tradition, and are changing the more clear passages of scripture to fit their tradition. Now, be that as it may, you may not be convinced by that, and I'm not troubled if you aren't. But I do implore you once again to understand that those who may not come to your position of the pre-tribulation rapture are not doing so because they're rejecting clear teaching of scripture, at least in most cases. They're doing so because they, like yourself, are attempting to properly understand what the scripture does actually teach. And they are having trouble finding a clarity of the pre-tribulation rapture position in the scripture.

It's not just here, but it's nearly everywhere that this is taught. It's all based upon presuppositions. If we presuppose this and we presuppose that, then it fits.

And you can multiply the things that seem to fit until you've got pages and pages of them. But if they're all based upon presuppositions, then you can't consider this to be the clear teaching of scripture. You can convince yourself that that's what the scripture teaches. I won't disown you. I won't dislike you.

I won't object to your thinking that. I'll just say, come, let us reason together. Let's continue to study. Let's look at scripture. And we each must stand before the Lord to give an account for what we have learned from His word, the best we can study it and understand it.

But I'm going to skip my next application and come to the last one. And that's this idea of miraculous claims, miracle workers. We see that in the end time, there's going to be the greatest miracle worker of all that's going to be a great deceiver. Why should we think, therefore, that anybody who claims to work miracles today is genuine? If the antichrist is going to be that successful, don't you think the antichrist, plural, are going to be similar?

Maybe not quite as successful as he is because they're not going to have quite that much power. In other words, when it comes to the claims of miraculous healings and so forth in our day today, you need to realize that many of them are false claims, but some of them probably are genuine. But that doesn't prove that they're from God. Satan can do this genuinely to a more limited degree than God, but he can clearly do it.

Agents of Satan can be empowered to perform real miracles. So how can we tell which are from God and which are not? Test them by God's word.

That's always what we have to do. Test them by the word of God. The written word of God is superior to any miracles or claims to miracles. Don't be swept away. Don't be deluded.

Don't be deceived. Study the word of God and you'll have a firm foundation and an anchor for your soul and for what you believe. Shall we pray? Father, teach us thy ways. Show us thy paths. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-12 13:28:25 / 2023-08-12 13:45:23 / 17

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