Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. [1John 2:22]
RIDDLE ME THIS
It is said that there are three major monotheistic religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Two of these deny that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah. A faction of one of these has formed an alliance with one of the deniers. This same faction hates the other denier. What is this faction?
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. 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. [1John 2:18-19]
This is one of those passages that is subjected to a strange anomaly inherent within the minds of some believers, that of the past being projected onto the future. It is something many Christians and prophecy teachers are prone to, in that they read such passages as if they refer to present times. They don’t. This passage was written almost two thousand years ago and must only be seen in those terms.
The author of this epistle explicitly states that it is the last hour. He says it twice. These are the only times in Scripture this three word phrase appears. Some versions say the final hour or the last time. That is, way back then, in the mid-first century, it was the last hour. In the mid-first century many antichrists had already appeared and the coming of another was imminent. His arrival was just about to happen and was almost upon them. At the same time, way back then, many former believers had already left the fold.
ONLY 120? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE THOUSANDS?
As I have written here many times, it remains amazing to me that the Lord Jesus was only able to gather a mere 120 people for the original Pentecost. I highly recommend the following article: Bizarro Christianity—It’s Much Worse Than You Think (Part 1). It contains the following statement:
“Perhaps this is why the Lord only managed to gather a mere 120 people for the original Upper Room Experience. Keep in mind, the Lord Jesus was not some podunk rambling rabbi but GOD. He had preached to tens of thousands at a time, but many of these were not sincere. He did every major miracle you can imagine, preached powerfully, taught a perfect and pure message, and then, amazingly, offered Himself up as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf, ROSE FROM THE DEAD, and still only managed to convince a mere 120 people to go to the upper room for ten days and await Pentecost! That’s astonishing, especially in light of today’s easy-believism.”
This fact reveals that there are only very few who are in it for the long haul and really interested in the truth, and will remain with the Lord through thick and thin and much persecution. Most will leave Him and betray Him, just as those did whom John refers to. The same phenomenon has happened throughout Christian history. The majority always falls away into untruth and unbelief, creates counterfeits, and embraces those who hate the Lord.
“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” [John 6:64-69]
It happened throughout the first century. Just as followers of the Lord left Him and walked away on several occasions during His ministry, the same thing happened afterwards. The apostle Paul predicted it would happen in the Ephesus area when he addressed the Ephesian elders in Miletus. That original generation of real believers knew they would have to work overtime and make as big an impact as possible in the very beginning because the enemy would strike back, and that, of course, happened just as Paul said it would:
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” [Acts 20:28-31]
These are serious charges that Paul made in advance, exactly as the Lord did, especially when He prophesied the fate of Judea and Jerusalem. No one during His time could ever have imagined that the temple would be destroyed as would be Jerusalem, and that what was left of the nation of Israel would be no more forever. But it happened. And the same thing happened to His Community, in that savage wolves came in among them and men arose speaking perverse things. The Lord’s Community itself stayed intact and pure but many left. Many disciples were drawn away. Many made alliances with unbelievers and Lord Jesus deniers. The ones who left could no longer handle being real followers. They showed the lack of love of the Lord by embracing substitutes and counterfeits or running off into oblivion.
Beloved, 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. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. [1John 4:1-3]
THE FATHER AND SON ARE INDIVISIBLE
Judaism does not confess that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah. Islam does not confess that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah. Whoever denies the Son also denies the Father. This means whatever god these people are serving, it is not the God of the New Covenant Scriptures.
Yet, many Christians are confused on this point. They have been taught and apparently believe that it is possible to somehow serve God and be in relationship with Him while also denying the Son. The Scriptures obviously refute this. The Father and Son are indivisible. Whoever trashes the Son is trashing God. Whoever denies the Son is of the spirit of the antichrist.
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. [2John 1:7-11] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
What is the true essence of historical, first-century Christianity? What did our Lord Jesus actually teach His disciples? Is it anything close to what developed in later centuries?
It is not. It is not close at all. Picture a small band of real men roaming the countryside like homeless artisans working on a new craft, but a craft so new and so unprecedented that its practitioners did not understand what it was or what they were actually attempting to put together.
They are obscure. They blend in according to appearance and dialect, words and movement, and appear as just another group out of touch with the reality of the times.
Judaism did not really exist as a unified religion. The land was inhabited by a splintered collection of various sects and beliefs based on the teachings of any number of prophets and rabbis, both present and ancient, and carried a tone of defeatist lethargy and a longing for what once was.
Only what was had not been in many centuries. The glorious kingdom of Solomon was but a very distant memory that recalled not merely a tarnished legacy but the loss of something precious and unique. It was Solomon’s father David who had carved out and created a kingdom through ongoing wars, but personally lacked the opportunity to see it reach the heights of what this world sees as glory.
Many Jews of the first century gloried in the great exploits of Joshua and King David, and longed for a return to those times when Hebrew men threw off the yokes of oppressors and ran off squatters and pretenders to the their holy land. Could this not happen yet again? Where were all the great warriors?
The priests longed for another Moses. Many wished the powerful prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah could return once again and right the nation’s course.
But they knew in their hearts it was too late. There was hardly any kingdom left. Multiple generations of Hebrews had repeatedly and collectively sinned against God with impunity and those of the Lord’s time knew they deserved little. But they continued to yearn anyway. They pined away dreaming of the past as the hated Romans desecrated their lands and liberty.
Could God ever give them another chance?
This was the setting as the little-known Rabbi from Nazareth led His band of men from town to town and throughout the countryside of Galilee. The people wanted real life again and He was fulfilling the early stages of a plan to give them just that, though a very powerful enemy sat squarely on the land like a heavy, dark cloud of oppression.
It was not the Romans. It was religion—dogmatic, heavy-handed, dead, insipid, joy-killing religion. The land had become infused with it over time ever since the last prophetic word was heard over four hundred years before. The priests had achieved their dream of taking over, and created a hybrid strain based on the Mosaic code that had more in common with Communism than the true teachings of the Torah. They had created a strange hard-nosed casuistic conduct code spelling out everything imaginable that a person might be involved with in life. There was an answer for everything and great force to make their congregants toe the mark and fulfill their duty.
And it was sorry to the core. Their approach was entirely lifeless and void, and demanded regimented obedience and heavy fines for non-compliance. It caused great fear among the descendents of those great Israelites who had won their freedom from foreign dominance and slavery. Imagine those mighty ones who had fought for liberty now under the heavy boot of religion, and imagine that it all grew from within the nation by blood descendants. Imagine kings becoming paupers and those on top of the world becoming moles beneath it.
This was Israel in 30 A.D. These were the times when the Messiah arrived on the scene.
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.