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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 75 - 1 John 2:18 - The Last Time Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Last Time.


     "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."-1 John 2:18.



     These words, and those that precede them, are very solemn. They are like two trumpet-blasts or thunder-peals. They are a warning against worldliness, and a testimony against this present evil world. They sound like Noah's voice, 'condemning the world' of his day (Hebrews 2:7), and come well from the lips of him whose name was Boanerges, a son of thunder. They sound like a trumpet at midnight, startling men from their sleep. 'Love not the world.' Why? For two special reasons: (1) It is not of the Father; (2) It passeth away; and he only is imperishable who is linked with God and His will: 'He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.'

     Then, as if with yet a louder note of warning, the trumpet sounds again. It utters the voice of warning in words not to be mistaken: 'Little children, it is the last time.' But why such a loud note of warning? Because the danger is great. What danger? The danger from antichrist and the danger from many antichrists. We are to take heed lest we be led away with the error of the wicked one, and the delusions of antichrist in any form.

     I.  It is the last time.-'It is the last hour' is the more exact rendering. This is not man's conjecture, dictated by terror or despair, or vain calculations; it is the declaration of the Spirit of God. All along the ages has this voice been sounding in the world's ears, 'It is the last time.' It sounds more loudly in our days. Once and again in past centuries the Church took it up, and, alarmed at the wickedness of their times, and at the judgments of God, proclaimed that Christ was coming. He did not come in their day. They died, and were not caught up alive to meet their Lord in the air. But does that silence or deaden the solemn voice? Does that falsify the words of our text? Shall we say, 'My Lord delayeth His coming?' or, 'Where is the promise of His coming?' Shall we conclude, 'Ah, He is not coining in our day; perhaps not for centuries; perhaps not at all?' No; but let us watch. These voices in the Church have risen and died down again and again. They have risen in our day; they will sooner or later be found true. Shall this be in our day? The signs are multiplying,-signs of good, signs of evil; ever-spreading infidelity, yet the gospel preached to all nations. Shall we not take up the apostolic watchword, 'Little children, it is the last time?' How near Christ may be, we know not. Let us be ready! Men say, Oh, these days of ours are the beginning, not the end of days; science is widening itself; civilization is spreading; superstitions are falling to pieces; war is impossible; the world is improving; a few years more, and we shall be all right. Is it so? In one sense this is the beginning of days, as the night is the begin ring of the morning; but that is all. For it is night,-the night of sin; the night of unbelief; the night of human pride and self-will; the night of apostasy. Yes, it is night, whatever may be man's boast of progress. It is neither dawn nor day. The apostle meant what he said when writing these solemn words, 'It is the last time;' so did Peter when he said, 'The end of all things is at hand.'

     II. Antichrist shall come.-The Jews had gathered from their Scriptures much concerning antichrist; so that the Lord and His apostles could appeal to an idea already rooted in the Jewish mind. They spoke much of antichrist. They warned the Church against his delusions. Antichrist means two things: (1) One who opposes Christ; (2) One who puts himself in the room of Christ. In both of these senses the Church was taught to expect 'antichrist.' This adversary and rival of Christ is to embody in himself, directly or indirectly, all human errors and delusions, everything that attracts the natural man, and leads him away from 'the Christ.' He is to present himself as the substitute for 'the Christ,' claiming the confidence and homage of the race. All evil is to be concentrated in him; yet evil so adorned and beautified that men will be won by it, and drawn to him in whom it is exhibited. Through him they will learn to call evil good, and good evil. He will be Satan's representative; the idol or god of the natural man; the fullness of all natural wisdom, natural goodness, natural excellence,-it may be, natural religion, set up by Satan to steal away men's hearts from the Christ of God. Oh, solemn truth! Antichrist shall come! And when he comes, the world will receive him in preference to the Son of God, even as when they cried, 'Not this man, but Barabbas.'

     III. Even now are there many antichrists.-Antichristian delusion had begun in the apostle's days. Men were arising to deny Christ; to set up another Christ of their own,-a Christ of the intellect, a Christ of the sense, a Christ of the imagination. Long ere the first century closed there were many antichrists,-pretended Christs,-substitutes for the Son of God. Every age has produced its antichrists, all of them earnests of, and preparations for, the greater antichrist of the very last days, when perilous times shall come. In and by all these antichrists Satan is working, not only to exalt himself, but to dishonour Christ,-working even by means of men who laugh at the existence of an evil spirit. He is working by means of error,-pure error; also by error in connection with truth, and truth in connection with error; exalting the natural at the expense of the supernatural; raising science above Scripture; denying human evil, upholding human goodness; setting creature-hood in opposition to Godhead, intellect against revelation, self-improvement against regeneration by the Holy Ghost, worldly refinement against the example of Christ. Everything in the shape of human 'progress' is welcomed, without considering what it is or whence it comes. But the progress of the natural man is, after all, an illusion. So long as humanity remains unregenerate, there can be no progress which God can recognize. The one true progress is that begun and consummated by the Holy Ghost,-a progress quite distinct from all that man calls by that name.