segunda-feira, 25 de junho de 2012

Preoccupied with the Antichrist

By Gary DeMAr

Dr. Michael Yousseff is an Egyptian-born American and founding rector of The Church of The Apostles. His messages are broadcast 3,800 times a week into 200 countries through Leading the Way Ministries. He holds a PhD from Emory University in Social Anthropology. Church of the Apostles is a magnificent church that has an old-world cathedral look about it. It’s located just north of Atlanta, Georgia, on I-75. If you’re ever in the Atlanta area, you need to take some time and visit. You won’t be disappointed.
I was disappointed, however, when I read Dr. Youseff’s article “The Fall of Dictators and the Antichrist” that was published on the Christian Post website. Here’s part of what he wrote:
The Bible indicates that a world-dominating character will rise at some point. That person is often referred to as the Antichrist.
The Antichrist has certain characteristics that appear to fit many past despots, which led some to speculate about Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein, for example. But speculations are not very helpful. Because of contradictory elements within suspected people, it will be very difficult to predict the Antichrist until he actually appears on the scene and identifies himself publicly.
The Antichrist will show up at a time when there’s true global, political, social, and economic upheaval. And people will believe that he is the only one capable of solving those seemingly insurmountable problems.
He will be charismatic and affable, and he’ll mesmerize people everywhere. Even those normally at odds with each other will be united in liking and following him. He will win global approval by his sheer ability to identify with people of all religions and of no religion at all. Only after he is able to receive adoration from the masses will he reveal his true character and intentions.
The following is an extended comment that I posted on the Christian Post in response to Dr. Yousseff’s article. I’ve made a few corrections and additions for its publican on American Vision’s site:
Dr. Yousseff does not cite a single Bible passage. The only person who uses the word ‘antichrist’ is John in two of his epistles. The word isn’t even found in Revelation. First, the biblical definition of antichrist is someone who does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:22). Romans and Greeks would not care about the claim that Jesus was the messiah. Only a Jew would.
Second, the time of the antichrist: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 Jn 2:18). “Even NOW many antichrists HAVE arisen,” John writes. “It is the last hour,” he told his first readers. Antichrists (note the plural) were alive and well in John’s day. There is no indication by John that there will be a super-duper, end-time political, European-Union leading, antichrist.
Third, the antichrist is not a political figure; he (‘they,’ because there were ‘many antichrists’: 1 Jn 2:18) is most likely a religious figure. The Jews who rejected Jesus denied that He was the Christ (1 Jn 2:22), that God was His Father (Jn 8:31-59). John’s definition, number, and timing fit his era, not ours.
Of course, not all Jews rejected Jesus. The first Christians were Jews – “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:1–13). The first Church was made up of Jews (Acts 8:1). Gentiles were grafted into an already existing congregation (ekklēsia) of believers. Non-believing Jews rejected the notion that Jesus was the messiah, the Christ (Greek for “anointed one”). They were anti-Jesus-is-the-promised-Christ (messiah).
Fourth, too many Christians have created a composite religious-political antichrist, taking passages out of their historical context, ignoring the timing of those contexts, and then manufacturing a demon-controlled superman who supposedly will make a covenant with the Jews and then break it. Jesus is “the Prince” (Dan. 9:24–27) who makes a covenant with “the many” (Matt. 26:28) not the antichrist. Satan doesn’t make covenants; God does.
Yes, there have been bad people in the world, as Dr. Yousseff points out. Many prophecy writers have claimed that some of these very bad people were the biblical antichrist. Oswald J. Smith, for example, wrote a book on the antichrist in 1926 using the composite methodology and came up with Benito Mussolini. He was wrong.
The list of antichrist candidates is too long to duplicate. Not one of these antichrist candidates fits the biblical definition. Yes, there are people today who do not acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh, but the circumstances of that denial do not fit what was going on in John’s day about “the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9; 3:9).
The following is a portion of the message THE CORNERSTONE AT THE CROSSROADS that was presented by Romanian pastor Josef Tson at the Graduate School of Wheaton College in 1991 where he received an honorary doctorate. It was later published in the August/September 1991 edition of the Wheaton Alumni.
This is a historic time. It is in fact one of the great turning points in human history. I wonder if you here in peaceful America grasp the magnitude of the change we have experienced in Eastern Europe. Radical changes, however, are taking place not only in Eastern Europe, but also in the whole climate of the intellectual life of the world.
 It shouldn’t be necessary to speak about the importance of understanding the times, but let me remind you of that great insight that we find in 1 Chronicles 12:32 in the description of the 200 men of the tribe of Issachar “who understood the times” and because of that understanding of history, “were able to tell Israel what to do.”
 Let me illustrate the importance of understanding the times from my own experience. The communist disaster fell on my country [of Romania] when I was a teenager. For many years after that, my life was a battle for intellectual and spiritual survival under Marxist indoctrination and totalitarian and Christian terror. I struggled to understand the nature of that calamity, and the Lord gave me that understanding. In the forties, I wrote papers on the nature of the failure of communism. One of them, published under the title The Christian Manifesto landed me in six months of house arrest with harsh interrogations by the secret police. But for me the crucial moment came in 1977, when a friend of mine challenged me to set up an organization that would openly expose communism.
Here is what I told him: “Communism is an experiment that has failed. It wasn’t able to fulfill any of its many promises and nobody believes in it any more. Because of this, it will one day collapse on its own. Now, why should I fight something that is finished? I believe that our task is a different one. When communism collapses, somebody has to be there to rebuild society! I believe our job as Christian teachers is to train leaders so that they will be ready and capable to rebuild our society on a Christian basis.”
To my surprise, here is what my friend said to me: “Josef, you are wrong. Communism will triumph all over the world, because this is the movement of the Antichrist. And when the communists take over in the United States, they will have no restraining force left. They will then kill all the Christians. We have only one job to do: to alert the world and make ready to die.”
A few years later my friend was forced to leave Romania. He came to the U.S. and settled down. Then I was forced into exile, and I moved to the U.S. as well. Since then, my friend has not done anything for Romania. He simply waited for the final triumph of communism and the annihilation of Christianity.
On the other hand, when I came here in 1981, I started a training program for Christian leaders in Romania. We translated Christian textbooks and smuggled them into Romania. With our partners in the organization, The Biblical Education by Extension (BEE), we trained about 1200 people all over Romania. Today, those people who were trained in that underground operation are the leaders in churches, in evangelical denominations, and in key Christian ministries.
You see, the way you look to the future determines your planning and your actions. It is the way you understand the times that determines what you are going to do.

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