Commentary on "Walking in the Light:
Day 3: Monday, August 3, 2009
Today's lesson begins with some very good information regarding the term “antichrist” as one who will attempt to take the place of Christ. The writer correctly understands that while there will be only one Antichrist, there are many antichrists that are already in the world, as is told us by John. This lesson does not deal with the identity of who the Antichrist is, or will be. It does, however, deal with the identity of the antichrists. The way in which the lesson attempts to answer the question as to who are the antichrists where we begin to run into some serious problems of exegesis.
The second question on page 68 of the Teacher's Quarterly, asks, “Why would John call those people antichrists who have some problems with the correct understanding of the nature of Christ?” This is a very poorly worded question. John is not calling people with problems understanding the nature of Christ antichrists. He is calling those who are deliberately teaching false doctrines about Christ antichrists.
This question may lead someone who is learning of Christ, who in fact has an incorrect understanding of Jesus, to believe that they are themselves an antichrist. This can do serious damage to someone investigating Christianity, the Bible, Jesus or the teachings of the Christian church. Every single believer in the history of the church has grown in their understanding of who Jesus is, some of them coming from very serious errors to finally know and receive the Biblical Jesus. These people are not antichrists, they are seekers. Some of these seekers have been deceived themselves about Jesus in the past. But having been deceived does not make one an antichrist.
The information following the question actually makes matters worse. The Quarterly states that, “John may not deem as 'antichrists' those members of his church who were simply wrestling with a correct understanding of Jesus or who were momentarily wavering, ...” [Emphasis mine] The use of the word “may” implies that these individuals may be deemed as antichrists. Again, this is very damaging to the sincere seeker who is open to the truth of Christ but has not known that truth and currently has some wrong beliefs about Jesus. Not all non-Christians are antichrists, only those who, understanding the truth about Christ, but purposefully distort that truth, can be labeled as such.
On this issue, this letter of John is crystal clear. The antichrists are those who are teaching false doctrines about the person, nature and work of Christ. These persons may have positions in the local congregation, or they may be former members, who John makes clear were never really of us as is stated in 1 John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”
Often, these false brethren have ample opportunity to teach false doctrines long before they leave the church, causing great damage. Also, upon leaving the church, they may still affect teaching in the church due to their great personal charisma and connections with those who are still teaching.
Therefore, it behooves every believer to study God's word for him/herself. This is critical. With prayer and the promised guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Bible alone is sufficient to provide all teaching for the Christian in both doctrinal and lifestyle matters. Of course this does not mean that we should avoid all Christian teachers, but those we listen to must be teaching in accordance with what orthodox Christians have believed for nearly 2,000 years.
It is this very need of using the Bible, and the Bible alone that we will turn to in the next lesson as we look at testing the spirits.
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