The Last Hour.

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. – 1 John 2;18 ESV

What a foreboding statement. At this point in his letter, John seems to take on a tone of seriousness and soberness. He addresses his audience as children, exposing his pastor’s heart and his feelings of compassion and responsibility for them. He wanted them to know the reality of their circumstances and understand the seriousness of what they saw happening around them. What they were experiencing was NOT to be unexpected or surprising, because of the times in which they were living. It was the last hour. How does John know that? Because “many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18 ESV). As the gospel advanced, the opposition increased and it continues to this day. And it is not just an opposition to Christians. It is an anti-Christ sentiment. It isn’t even an opposition to God. There are many who, like the individual referred to in chapter one, claim to have fellowship with God. They claim to know Him. But they deny Jesus as Christ. They are anti-Christ, and therefore opposed to the good news as preached by Jesus Himself and carried on by His disciples. Like the original recipients of John’s letter, we are living in the last hour, the last days. This was a common designation for the days that followed Jesus incarnation and resurrection. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:2 ESV). Paul warned Timothy, “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Timothy 3:1 ESV). Peter tells us, “that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:3 ESV). But Peter also knew that the last days would also be accompanied by a great movement of God. He had seen it and experienced it. On the day of Pentecost, he had been part of the small band of disciples who had been dramatically and miraculously transformed by the coming of the Holy Spirit. And he knew that their experience had been promised by God many years earlier through the prophet Joel. “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17 ESV). Peter worked this Old Testament prophesy into the message that he gave to the crowd of people who had gathered as a result of the disciples speaking in languages they didn’t know. It was the last days. God was at work. He had sent His Son. He had died, was raised again and now His disciples were spreading the good news regarding the salvation made available through Him. But there was going to be opposition. There was going to be an anti-Christ sentiment rise up and spread. The world would oppose their message. Satan would stand against the gospel and its offer of a restored relationship with God. We are living in a war zone. Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the eyes of the lost. He wants to keep them in the dark regarding the hope available to them through Jesus Christ. So he offers them alternatives and seemingly viable options. But they are all anti-Christ, other than Christ. They provide options that leave out Christ.

But like the believers to whom John was writing, we have hope and we have help. We have the Holy Spirit. John wrote, “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ” (1 John 2:27 NLT). What we have to realize is that virtually everything around us is anti-Christ. The world and the things it offers us provide a constant temptation to turn from Christ to something else. Satan wants us to find our hope in the things of this world. He wants us to find our satisfaction from the things of this world. He wants us to seek our joy from the things of this world. He wants us to find our significance from the things of this world. But these things are all lies and illusions. They are poor imitations of the real thing. John reminds us, “And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25 ESV). That should be our focus. Everything here is temporal, not eternal. It is fading away. But our hope is sure. Our salvation is secure. Our eternal future assured. And we know that the last days will have a last day. There is an ending to this story. There is a final chapter to God’s story of redemption. Jesus Himself told us, “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” (Matthew 24:30-31 NLT). These are difficult days, but we serve a great God. We have His Spirit within us and His promise of eternal life to motivate us. We can not only survive, we can thrive. We have already overcome the evil one because of what Christ has done for us.

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