Seven Seals – Rise of the Antichrist (Revelation 6)

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Welcome back, and Happy New Year!  How’s everyone doing on their resolutions?
Today we are going to finally be back in the book of Revelation as we continue this long series about the end of the world as we know it.
I hope most of you were able to catch up on the messages you missed so far and for those of you that took the time to listen to all 14 of them again, you will not regret doing that because things are about to get really crazy.
If you didn’t or you are just joining us for the first time, I strongly encourage you to go back and listen to the previous messages because there is a lot of needed information in them that I will not be repeating in future weeks. As I’ve said multiple times now, the book of Revelation is just like the last chapter of a long and complex novel, and the author expects you to have read and understood the rest of the book. Revelation is exactly that, which is why we spent the last five weeks in mostly the Old Testament to get a lot of that background information. It won’t be the last time we do that.
Today, we are back in Revelation and about to open the first of the seven seals in Revelation chapter 6. But before we do that, let me give you the one minute recap of where we’ve been so far…
  • We started in Revelation 1 meeting the Real Jesus. He’s not the suffering servant anymore, and this book is about revealing who He really is.
  • Then we moved into Revelation 2 & 3, the seven letters that King Jesus wrote to his bride, the church – us, and we talked about how those seven letters could also be prophetically speaking of and to seven different phases of the church through the church age.
  • Next we spent one week talking all about the Rapture.
  • Next we spent a couple weeks in chapters 4 & 5 and the all important throne room scene where Jesus claims his birth right at the climax of creation.
  • After that we took a detour out of Revelation and visited the all-important covenants that God made with man and I showed you how the culmination of those covenants is why it all ends the way it does.
  • Then we took a look at the amazing prophecies in the book of Daniel and showed how a great deal of them have already come true in the history of Israel. We will be looking at Daniel a lot more as we move on.
  • Also in Daniel I showed you the all-important seventy sevens prophecy which is how we know the tribulation will be seven years long and it also gives us the event that is the official beginning of the end.
  • And finally, I spent two weeks showing you the things that must take place before all this happens and the signs that it is getting close.
  • I concluded that we can’t get around the fact that we simply will not see it coming and the only things that do show us it is getting closer is the rise in apostasy and the regathering of Israel which both could last forever as far as we know, which is why we should stop worrying about when the end is coming and start simply living a life of surrender to our Lord and King so we are ready when it does.
If you want more details than that, you’ll need to watch the videos, listen to the podcast, or just read my notes. Because right now we are going to finally get to the really juicy and futuristic stuff of Revelation.
But before we do, let’s pray…

One more thing I need to point out before we jump in is that we are now embarking on prophecy that is speaking of events that are totally future to us. None of what we are about to cover is in our past, though some of the writings and events of the past shed light on what we will be seeing. The reason why I am pointing that out is because the fact that everything is future to us means that everything is still a mystery to us.
In other words, when it really comes down to it, most of the details of how these things will actually play out in real life have to go in the “We really don’t know for sure” bucket. Yes, there are great clues and there are some things that are easier to be sure about than others, but when it comes down to it, there is more that we do not know than what we do know. Which is why there are so many different opinions about this part of the bible.
I’ve used this illustration before, but for those that haven’t heard it or forgot about it, I will repeat it.
It’s like the Super Bowl…
In a couple of weeks we will know what two teams are playing for this year’s Super Bowl. Then for two weeks, there will be endless analysis, talk, and debate about who is going to win (actually there already is) – and although you can make pretty good guesses that may end up being right, no matter what we can conjecture, we simply will not know until the game is played. And even if we could somehow know the final score to the game before it is played, that still would not tell us the details of each play from scrimmage.
When it comes to the future stuff of Revelation, it’s like having the final score to the Super Bowl ahead of time. It’s even like having the score at the end of each quarter. We know who the players are. We even know a good deal about the general flow of the game. And we know who wins. But exactly how each detail is going to play out, we can only speculate as best we can based on the information we are given both in book of Revelation and the rest of God’s overall revelation through His inspired Word.
Another aspect of everything being future and communicated with symbols is that there are as many opinions about how it’s going to play out as there are people in the world. A quick google search and you will see what I mean. It’s almost as varied as those brackets you can fill out during March Madness. And I’m pretty sure a lot of the theories out there are determined the same way some people fill out those brackets – pure guessing!
So, the obvious question is…since we really can’t know anything – why bother trying? Well, for one, it’s fun – just like the March Madness brackets. And two, if you get a big enough pool going you might win some good money!!
Seriously though, the book does say that those who read it will be blessed, and it wouldn’t be here for us to read and decipher if it wasn’t important. And besides, if fills up 8 months of a speaking schedule.
With that said, I don’t claim to have the only right opinion on all these things, but I have done a good deal of study and have come up with what I feel is my best guess, which is how I will teach it to you. I encourage you to do your own research as well to see if you agree. And I’m always happy to let you treat me to lunch if you want to discuss it further.
The way I am going to approach the remaining chapters is using the FUTURISTIC/LITERAL interpretation method. I spoke on this the very first week, but what that means is we see these things as future like I already said, and that we take the visions that John writes about as what he literally sees and hears. And that said visions are a means by which God is communicating to John and subsequently to us via pictures and symbolism in order to pack more information into a smaller package. So, while John is literally about to see four different colored horses – the horses and riders are symbolic of something else. There will not literally be four horsemen riding around on the earth bringing death and destruction.
And one more reminder about interpreting symbols. First we look in the same chapter and context. Then in the same book. Then in the rest of the bible. Basically, we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture rather than our fanciful imagination.

With all of that said, let’s get to it.
If you have your bibles with you (which I encourage you to bring a printed bible) open them up to Revelation chapter 6.
If you remember from chapter 4 & 5, John is in the throne room of God which has the four living creatures (each having four different faces), the 24 elders, and myriads of angels. The Lamb (who is Jesus) has just taken the scroll with seven seals from the Father’s hand, which we learned was the title deed to creation, and He’s about to start breaking the seals.
I’m going to read all of chapter 6, but today we will really only be getting into the first seal. Next week we will unpack the rest, but I always like to give you more Scripture than what I’m covering so you have the all important context.
Revelation 6 (NASB)
Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
 
When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.
 
When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”
 
When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
 
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
 
12 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

If you think that sounds bad, don’t worry, it gets much, much worse.

What I believe John is witnessing here in symbolic visions is the general sequence of how about the first quarter of the tribulation is going to go, beginning with the rise of the infamous Antichrist to world power .

If you recall, we know from Daniel 9 that the tribulation will last for exactly seven years, and will be divided into two parts by a significant midpoint event. Let’s look at that again briefly.
Daniel 9
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
I’ve already established that the “He” is the Antichrist and the “many” is the nation of Israel. The seven year tribulation officially begins when the Antichrist makes a covenant with Israel to restart sacrifices and offerings. We know this because what he does in the middle of the seven years is put a stop to it. And since it’s not happening now – that must be what the covenant is about. He will also do some other nasty things at that point, but we will get to that much later.
So, we know the tribulation will be seven years and we know how it starts and what happens in the middle. But where does all that stuff in chapter 6 that we just read fit in?  Well, there are about as many opinions on that as there are on politics, but let me quickly give you what I believe is the overall timeline of the seven year tribulation. I cannot claim this is the absolutely correct version, but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me and will be what I’m basing my teaching on. Again you can do your own research and take me to discuss if you wish.

The points that we know for certain are the beginning, the middle, and the end. Everything in between is debatable.
It begins with the covenant and the rise of the one world government, which I’ll show you in a minute is the first seal.
What follows is three and a half years that will see a progression from world peace, into war, which will result in famine, and death – the other three horses.
Then the sixth seal will happen and the world will have no choice but to recognize that God is real and is judging them.
After that comes the seven trumpets, which bring devastation on a third of everything and some other rather nasty things that results in the world population being cut in half by the mid point.
At the mid point,
  • satan is thrown out of heaven,
  • the antichrist actually dies but is resurrected and indwelled by the beast from the abyss.
  • Most of Israel goes into protective custody.
  • The false prophet turns the beast/antichrist into a god and causes the world to worship him and take his mark.
Then it seems that for most of the second half, there will be no judgments from God but that the beast will be allowed to prevail over God’s people – it will be a great time to be on the antichrist’s side but a terrible time to be a believer or a jew – which makes sense when you remember this whole thing is for the jews.
Then at the very end the bowl judgments will be poured out, basically decimating the earth just before Christ comes back and defeats the armies of the antichrist in the battle of armageddon.
The antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire and the devil is bound up in the abyss, starting the 1,000 year Kingdom.

As I said, there are many different opinions out there about this. Some put half the seals and all the trumpets in the second half. Some split it at the end of the seals and the beginning of the trumpets. Some even have them all happening at the same time. I encourage you to do your own research, but for the next few months I will be teaching based off of the timeline that I have come to believe is most plausible. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see how right or wrong we are, but I for one plan on watching this unfold from the owners box rather than the field.

The important thing to understand right now in connection with Revelation 6 is that since we know the starting point of the tribulation is the Antichrist rising to power and making a covenant with Israel, it makes him a prime candidate for the identity of the rider of the white horse that comes with the breaking of the first seal.
Revelation 6
And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
A white horse is symbolic of victory. Jesus himself will ride in on a white horse when He comes the second time at the end of all this. The rider is holding a bow, but many commentators point out there is no mention of arrows. Some say this is the threat of force without the power to back it up. Some say that it’s actually an appeal to peace by laying down arms in a way.  Either way, the rider’s purpose is to conquer, but apparently not by force.
Also note that this rider is given a crown. If you remember from previous teaching, there are two Greek words for crown. There is DIADEM, which is a crown by birthright, then there is STEPHANOS, which is an earned crown as a reward for performance. The crown this rider is given is a STEPHANOS – it’s something he has earned or is rewarded to him for something.
Now, as for the identity of the rider, I personally don’t believe the rider on the horse in the vision is actually THE Antichrist, but I do believe that the white horse and rider of the first seal are symbolic of the rise of said Antichrist to power on earth, which will include the covenant of Daniel 9, thus starting the tribulation.
How that comes about, I think, will be a direct result of the aftermath of the Rapture of the church. 

Some Numbers
The world population right now is about 7.5 billion people. Of those 7.5 billion, statistics say that about 30% claim Christianity as their religion. Based on what we know about the apostasy of the church, I would argue that maybe half of that are actual Christ Followers who have made Jesus their Lord and King and “do the will of the father” rather than just saying “Lord, Lord.” But I’ll say 20% are actual Christians to give them the benefit of the doubt – and to make my math easier. Either way we are looking at over a billion people who will disappear in an instant on a day when no one will expect it. 
I’ve argued before that the worldwide chaos and pandemonium that will ensue when that many people disappear overnight will be the perfect catalyst for a worldwide government overhaul and the rise of an apparent peacemaker that can even bring peace between the Jews and the Arabs. 
That and the removal of the Restrainer will make the world ripe for the rise of what Paul calls the Man of Lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 2
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Before I continue, what Paul just described there matches the Daniel 9 prophecy. This “man of lawlessness” is doomed to destruction, and he will go into God’s temple and proclaim to be God himself – that is the Abomination of Desolation the angel told Daniel about – which will happen at the midpoint of tribulation.
But before that…
Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. 
Oh to have lunch with Paul and talk about these things… He clearly knew more than he wrote in his letters.
Anyway, here he points out that there is apparently someone who is holding this man of lawlessness back from being fully revealed. Well, that someone is none other than the Holy Spirit – who will indeed be taken out of the way when the church is raptured away. 
If you recall from chapter 4 in the throne room, which I showed was immediately after the rapture, the Holy Spirit was there….
Revelation 4:5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
This makes sense, since the Holy Spirit was given to the church at Pentecost. If the church is taken to heaven in full, then it would make sense the Holy Spirit goes with us.
But then we learn in chapter 5 that He gets sent back out to the world
Revelation 5:6
The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
 
So, for a moment, the Holy Spirit is in heaven with us. Then the Lamb shows up and the Spirit is sent out again….presumably to bring more into the faith during the tribulation.
Based on what starts happening with the opening of the seven seals, it would seem that this was also the removal of the Restrainer that Paul is speaking of.

So, the Rapture could be argued to be the catalyst for the rise of the antichrist in two ways –
  • the “natural” political result of such a worldwide catastrophe,
  • and as the removal of the One holding him back.
And notice in Paul’s description that his rise matches what I’ve already mentioned, in that it will be through displays of power through signs and wonders to serve the lie – rather than through military force.

But this is not the only place we learn about this nefarious character.
Another place in Scripture that talks a lot about the Antichrist is the prophecies of Daniel, which we covered several weeks ago. In the previous talks I showed you how Daniel was given four different prophecies about the same thing – the Age of the Gentiles. Daniel was given four different prophecies that showed the progression of kingdoms that would dominate Jerusalem. I showed you that so far their predictions were correct regarding Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Now, we will look again at those visions to the parts where they jump from our past into our future.
There’s nothing specific about the Antichrist in the statue vision, so I’ll skip that one, but there is in the vision of the four beasts in Daniel 7. You can read the whole chapter on your own, but to sum it up Daniel sees four beasts come out of the sea, one like a lion, one like a bear, and one like a leopard – which we identified as the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.
Then there was a fourth beast that was so different he couldn’t compare it to any animal he knew. It also had some other interesting features, which Daniel repeats in his conversation with the angel showing him this. We’ll pick it up there.
 
Daniel 7
19 “Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws—the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. 20 I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. 21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
23 “He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.
That last line is why I believe the second half of the tribulation will be mostly the antichrist oppressing believers and appearing to be winning. But we’ll get to that later.
Anyway, I explained before that this fourth kingdom was the Roman empire that never actually died, but merely faded into the conglomeration of nations we see in Europe and the Middle East today – much like the feet made of iron and clay and the ten toes of the statue of chapter 2.
What this vision of the beast is showing is that the Antichrist will come from this kingdom (he won’t be an American president). But before he comes to power, there will be a ten-king government of the whole world. He will rise up from within and effectively take over. Then he will stand against God, just like Paul said.
One interesting thing that is unique to this vision is the mention that he will “try to change the set times and laws.” There’s no mention of this anywhere else, but many think this means he will try to change the basis of the calendar. Right now, even though the powers-that-be changed the abbreviations from “BC – Before Christ” and “AD – ANNO DOMINI” – Latin for “the year of our Lord” – to CE and BCE as in Common Era and Before Common Era – they are still centered on the birth of Christ – something I’m sure the Antichrist would want to change. In truth, we really don’t know what the “set times and laws” are referring to. But it’s fun to speculate.

Another Daniel prophecy that talks of the Antichrist is the next chapter. This is the vision of the giant ram and goat who represent Medo-Persia and Greece (which we know because the angel that interprets it for him names them). After the goat (Greece) conquers the ram (Medo-Persia) his single horn splits into four (which is exactly what happened after Alexander the Great died and left the kingdom to his four generals), then the vision jumps into our future:
Daniel 8
9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
Notice the similarity to the vision in chapter 7. A little later Daniel is told the interpretation of this vision.

Daniel 8

23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Even though this vision doesn’t exactly talk of the fourth kingdom, Rome – Rome is effectively a product of the Greek empire. And so, once again we have another little horn that grows and takes over. This vision lists some things we will cover later, but notice how he is described as a “master of intrigue” – again rising to power, but not by force. 

We already looked at chapter 9 and the seventy sevens and the covenant with the many. After that Daniel has his final vision in chapter 10, 11, and 12 – which we will be coming back to often.
Chapter 11 speaks of the famous king of the North and king of the South and is one of the most detailed prophecies in Scripture. For most of it, it is  describing the 130 years of fighting over Jerusalem between the Seleucid Dynasty of the North and the Ptolemy dynasty of the South (two of the four kingdoms that came from Greece after Alexander died).
Toward the end, it describes the infamous Antiochus Epiphanies who I described before as an Antichrist prototype. He actually did a form of what the real Antichrist will do when he set up a statue of Zeus in the jewish temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar. This was called the abomination that causes desolation. But as bad as that was, the Antichrist will do worse because instead of Zeus, he will set himself up as God in the temple, and cause the people of the world to worship him.
After talking about Antiochus Epiphanes, the angel who is telling him the story then seamlessly shifts from events in our past to events in our future and the real Antichrist.
Daniel 11
36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his ancestors he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts.
The notion that “the king will do as he pleases” is a way of saying he has absolute authority and power. Again we see him exalting himself above God, though it is made clear his success is only because God is using Him for his own purposes. But just like we all do, instead of giving God the credit he will assume it for himself. 
This guy will rise above all current world religions. He will effectively start a new one with himself as the object of worship, but we also see in this that he himself is honoring an unknown god – which we will see later is none other than Satan himself. 

So, those are all the major prophecies concerning the rise of the Antichrist.
  • He is a man of intrigue.
  • He rises to power without force.
  • He starts the tribulation off with a major act of peace by allowing Israel to rebuild the temple and start sacrifices again.
  • His power is not his own – hence the stephanos crown rather than the diadem.
  • He changes times and laws and effectively abolishes all religions.
  • And he is extremely successful, hence the white horse.
  • But his goal from the beginning is to conquer not only the world, but to rise above God himself.
  • And you can be sure that all of this will happen just as it is written by the proof of already fulfilled prophecy in our past.

Now, one thing you may have noticed in all that I’ve covered so far is that the name “Antichrist” was not used except by me. So, where does it come from?
It actually comes from one of John’s earlier writings – as in John, the author of Revelation. He also wrote the Gospel of John and the three letters that bear his name.
In his first letter, he coins the term “antichrist.”
1 John 2
18 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. 19 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.
 
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
He also speaks of the antichrist two chapters later.
1 John 4
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
The term “antichrist” in the Greek is literally that, but with Greek words: Anti-Christ.
Now, remember, that Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Christ, or CHRISTOS, is the Greek word for Messiah, or Anointed One. It is his title, not his name.
Jesus is the Anointed One that Gabriel told Daniel about. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the fully human but fully divine Son of the Living God.
And John is saying that to deny any of that – is to be anti-christ.
Specifically he says “whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ” and whoever does not “acknowledge/confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh” is acting in accord with the spirit of the antichrist, which John says “you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
What this is saying is that, while there is a specific person who will be THE Antichrist during the end times, John is saying that his spirit, or the AntiChrist Spirit is already in the world and is effectively the driving force behind the world’s increasingly anti-christ tendencies. 
Paul said the same thing: That the secret power of lawlessness is already at work, but that the MAN of lawlessness is restrained for the time being.
It is this antichrist/lawlessness spirit that is at work bringing about the great apostasy of the church that must precede the end and which we are currently living in.
Basically, before antichrist the man is revealed, the spirit of the antichrist is already setting the world up to follow him blindly, and he’s doing a very good job of it.
Even in the church.
If you’ve dozed off a bit, you really need to start paying attention now because I’m about to bring this home. I’m about to keep it real and you might not like it.
It’s possible you might have been wondering why I started the talk today with a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” – and what that has to do with the seven seals and the rise of the AntiChrist.  Well…
It’s because John Lennon may have penned it, but it was the spirit of the antichrist that authored it – through a human vessel influential enough to make the concept that “a world without God would be better off” popular and lasting enough to become the mantra of world peace organizations like UNICEF, and apparently is now the new theme song for New Year’s Eve just before the ball drops.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a catchy tune, and even a noble goal…a world at peace…but unfortunately it’s preaching the wrong way to get there.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
No heaven. No hell. That clearly eliminates the need for a savior.
Imagine all the people living for today…
As apposed to a future eternity that will last much longer than this temporary life.
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Like perhaps a one world government?
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
So, according to John Lennon, and apparently he’s not the only one, the ingredients for a world at peace is
  • no heaven,
  • no hell,
  • no future,
  • no countries,
  • no possessions,
  • and no religion.
And it must be true because all of the celebrities agree with him.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the theme song of the Antichrist as he rises to power. Because that is what he will promise – peace, everybody getting along. Let’s all of us come together as one. Now that all those hateful, bigoted, and judgmental Christians are gone we can finally and truly COEXIST.
Just pay attention to the trending stories on Facebook and you will see this mentality already taking root.
Coexist, if you are unfamiliar with it, is this notion that all of the religions should stop their bickering and just get along.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the alternative is that we keep fighting and killing each other. You see, that’s what the antichrist spirit wants us to think is the only alternative.
The assumption this mantra forces is that the only options are that we either put aside our differences or we have to fight it out. It’s a common debate tactic called a false dichotomy that presents two options as the only options thus forcing you to agree with one or the other. In this case it forces us to agree with the COEXIST notion because killing each other over religion is clearly wrong. 
But what most don’t realize, is that forcing you into that conclusion also forces you to start believing the lie that is at the heart of this concept. It’s the lie that John Lennon was singing about and exactly what the Antichrist will preach. You see, the goal is not for the many religions to get along, but for all of them to just go away.
And it will be easy to sell to the world because what the spirit of the antichrist has already got a majority of the world believing is that the reason why all these religions could easily be gone tomorrow is that none of them are true anyway.
That they are as fictional as gender. 
Chew on that for a minute. Makes you feel like you’re taking crazy pills doesn’t it? Yet it’s all around us.
It’s all basically the same lie. 
Jesus said that He alone is the only way, the only truth, and the only life, and that no one can come to God the Father except through him.
But all the other major world religions try to do it a different way, with a different truth, and a different life. It doesn’t work. They cannot all be true. And suggesting that they could be is like suggesting that all the points of a compass point in the same direction. Or that male and female are just figments of our imagination. Not that anyone would ever suggest that…
It’s madness.
It’s lawlessness… as in the laws of logic.
Perhaps that’s what the “times and laws” prophecy was referring to.
And so many people just eat it up.
Why? Because we want it to be true. In our humanity, we want a world where there is no higher authority and we can just live our lives as we want with no care of a future beyond the grave. We’d rather just make our own rules regardless of how contradictory or nonsensical they are. Deep down that’s what we all want, and if a leader ever came along that could convince us that we could actually have it – he would win the heart of the world.
Especially once all those “ONE WAY HATERS” are taken out of the picture…

 
So, what does this mean for you?
Well, you should hopefully be asking yourself whether the spirit you are listening to most is the spirit of Christ or the spirit of the Antichrist? 
Because even though THE Antichrist isn’t in power yet, the spirit of the antichrist is working overtime to ensure as many as possible will have to stick around to endure his reign. And I’m sure he gets a special amount of glee when he is able to trick those who actually claim Christ as their Savior.
And he does it by tricking us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
Lies like the two I just covered.
So, how do you know if you are believing the lies rather than the truth?
I’ll give you a quick test to let you know how you’re doing, and you might get mad at me for this, but it’s my job to ensure you are not deceived. It’s right there in my job description:
Ephesians 4
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
 
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
And sometimes to do my job I have to hurt your feelings. So, here goes…
I’m going to ask you two questions. I don’t need a raise of hands or anything. Your heart will give you the answers instantaneously even before your brain has a chance to correct it with the proper church answer.
Here’s the first one:
John Lennon’s song, Imagine. Does it make you feel nostalgic or nauseous?
Test 2
Does the COEXIST mantra make you feel hopeful or horrified?
I probably don’t need to explain what the answers mean after what I’ve already said today, but I will anyway.
If John Lennon’s song makes you feel nostalgic and COEXIST makes you feel hopeful, then you have been deceived by the spirit of the antichrist.
Both that song and that mantra are completely incompatible with the message that Jesus is the Christ and came in the flesh and will judge the living and the dead for our actions in this life.
And this one is not a false dichotomy. You cannot hold to the clear biblical belief that Jesus is the Christ and the one and only way to be saved from an eternity in hell and agree with John Lennon’s song or the COEXIST concept.
They are diametrically opposed to each other.
That song should nauseate you and that coexist picture should horrify you. Because both preach a message of peace – that is sending people to hell on a daily basis.
But don’t feel bad if you failed this test.
The beauty of the brain that God gave us and the Holy Spirit living inside of us is that we actually can change if we are willing to recognize our error and repent – which means to change your mind. My hope is that if you came here today on the wrong side of these tests, that you leave here on the right side. God’s side. Or at least determined to get there.
My friends, the spirit of the antichrist is indeed already working. And he is very good at his job. He wraps a lie in a package labeled truth and the masses and many believers fall for it. But there is a cure for that and a way to even prevent it from happening.

Paul spells it out for us in

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Now, if you would like help in doing what Paul just said. If you found yourself on the wrong side of those tests, or if you are just tired of what seems like a stalemate in your spiritual growth. If you are looking to truly become a new you in the new year – and I don’t mean a few pounds lighter, but more mature in the Lord and able to withstand the lies of the Enemy – then I’m offering a chance to get some personal hands on training from me to that effect.
But I’m not going to tell you the details right now other than, if you are interested, then meet me at the church office on Wednesday, January 25th, 7pm and I’ll tell you all about it. That’s next week, the 25th, 7pm at the office – the address is in your bulletin.
As for now, I’m done for today. I hope you will join us next week as I cover the rest of the seals of chapter 6 and also get into chapter 7. I encourage you to read ahead.
Let’s pray.