The International Critical Commentary states that in John’s first epistle, “he writes under a pressing sense of danger” (emphasis mine throughout). That is true of us in this last hour. We live in a time of the worst danger ever, and we are probably going to feel it more acutely than God’s people ever have!
A Type of Our Times
It takes character and hard work to proclaim the gospel around the world. In the New Testament eras, God’s people failed to do that work more than they succeeded.
After the first century, the gospel was not preached around the world again until the end time under Herbert W. Armstrong. After he died, 95 percent of God’s Church again stopped doing God’s Work.
There is little written in John’s epistles about God’s Work. The Church was imploding, losing its love for God’s Work. The Work was faltering badly.
Soon the lamp would be moved to the Smyrna era.
The Apostle John never lost his love and excitement for the Work. His epistles and Gospel message are some of the most profound and inspiring books in the Bible. His exemplary zeal led to his imprisonment on the isle of Patmos. There he wrote the greatest prophecy book in the Bible: Revelation.
John wrote, “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning [some of them knew Christ personally]. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome [conquered] the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father” (1 John 2:13). John knew of the war to be waged with the devil in the last hour. It is not a war against flesh and blood.
How had these people conquered Satan? By honoring the Father. If we are to conquer the devil, we must know the Father—far more deeply than we may realize. The most profound understanding in the Bible is about the Father and His Family.
This verse indicates the nature of the problem John struggled against. Notice—it is somewhat ominous. John addressed people who had known the Father but didn’t know Him anymore! He didn’t say, “You know the Father”—he said they had known Him. John was witnessing a great falling away. Perhaps only a small minority of the people still knew the Father, just like today. The overwhelming majority were being conquered by the devil!
Anointed by the Holy One
“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know” (1 John 2:20; rsv). Do you have God’s Holy Spirit? If you do, you’ve been anointed by the Holy One! And if you’ve remained loyal in this last hour, you must know what you are a part of.
The Anchor Bible explains the Old Testament counterpart to this anointing: “the description by Josephus of the mixing of oils and perfumes into a ‘sweet-smelling chrisma’ for the anointing of priests.” Spiritually, God uses His Holy Spirit to create a “sweet-smelling chrisma” in His converted people. They are very different from the people of this world.
The International Critical Commentary states, “Anointing was the characteristic ceremony of consecrating to an office, and of furnishing the candidate with the power necessary for its administration. It is used of priests …. Those who were so consecrated were regarded as thereby endued with the Holy Spirit, and with divine gifts.”
If you are one of God’s people, that is talking about you! God’s Philadelphians have been anointed to do God’s Work. This world is falling apart, and God needs a righteous government to take its place soon. That is why God anointed His Philadelphians—the firstfruits truly are going to rule this world!
The tragedy is that the Laodiceans were anointed too. But are they preparing to be kings and priests right now? They have rebelled against that anointing and are no longer Philadelphians.
In the King James, 1 John 2:20 reads, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” How do we know all things? Because God reveals these things to us as we need to know them! We can hardly keep up with the revelation we receive!
When we receive revelation, it comes from the Holy One! He lets His kings and priests know because they fight for Him! He is the Head of the army. Though the whole world is in the dark (Revelation 12:9), there is a very elect who know all things.
The Holy One lets us know that we must fight for His revelation given to Mr. Armstrong. The antichrist and antichrists fight against the Holy One. What could be more deadly? We must know who the antichrists are! We must know who God’s very elect are!
What is it worth to have the Holy One anoint you and then reveal all things to you?
“I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and know that no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:21-22; rsv).
John is talking about “the liar.” This is the same John who talks so much about love in these epistles! This liar is the son of perdition, or destruction—the antichrist—the man of sin who was revealed in the great falling away, or apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He is an antichrist who openly and blatantly destroys the truth—even if he has to fight in court to do it.
At the same time, he tries to make it appear that he is serving Christ!
2 Thessalonians 2:4 describes this man as one “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” He has the people looking to him as if he were God! This is the liar who leads the great falling away from God’s Church today.
Verses 8-9 show that this man does his work by the power of Satan. This is a war between Satan and God. Satan has his army; God has His. The liar is standing up and representing the devil in this last hour! (This man is more fully identified in Malachi’s Message.)
People are perishing because of the deception that comes from failing to love the truth (verse 10). How much do you love the truth? How much do you love Mystery of the Ages and Mr. Armstrong’s other books? You will have to fightthe liarand other antichrists to prove that to God!
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a [the] lie” (verse 11). It should read “the lie,” because it’s coming fromtheliar, Satan’s man. “The lie” is Satan foisting himself off as God. The Laodiceans are deceived by the devil because they don’t know him or God!
John also calls Satan a “deceiver” (2 John 7).
The Anchor Bible states, “Thus it is perfectly possible that ‘the antichrist,’ ‘the liar,’ and ‘the iniquitous one’ [or the lawless one] were current titles for the anticipated opponent of the last times.” Even scholars in the world can see that this is discussing an evil person to come on the scene in “the last times.” Now that time has come, and he is fulfilling this prophecy.
God’s very elect must know who leads the antichrist work.
God gets painfully specific and detailed—pointing out an evil man. Do we believe God?
Is Christ too strong in His condemnation?
Consider this: In the first sermon Joseph Tkach gave after Mr. Armstrong died, he changed the commission of the Church. In this taped message, he said, “In the synoptic Gospels, our commission is clearly stated—which just means a general view of our responsibilities. Turn to Matthew 28. Here we are told in verse 19 to ‘go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Our commission here is directly from Christ. We are an extension of the early New Testament Church, who never did complete the commission.”
That is incorrect. They did complete their commission. Mr. Armstrong had always stated that the Church’s commission was Matthew 24:14—to preach the gospel in all the world. Is it not significant that a plotting Satan the devil, through this man, changed the commission of the Church immediately after the death of God’s apostle?
Christ’s Work was being overthrown. That is the work of antichrists!
Some of those wcg leaders had anagenda to destroy the Churcheven before Mr. Armstrong died! The fruits prove it.
The way Mr. Tkach used Matthew 28:19 has a selfish focus and emphasis on getting people into the Church. That became the number one priority of the Worldwide Church of God. But God disagrees with that priority!
Mr. Tkach lacked the faith to preach God’s message to the world for a witness—not to convert them. That means we must have God’s faith and vision to fulfill His commission. Most of the people hearing that message will not heed the warning before the Great Tribulation. But millions of people, “the great multitude,” will repent during the Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-17). And they will do so because of our warning message! That is when most of the fruits of our work today will be harvested.
There will be little or no support from the world for our message before the Tribulation. But that message is there as a witness against them. They can’t blame God when they experience the greatest suffering ever on this planet. They will see that God’s message was correct.
After suffering through the Tribulation and Day of the Lord, the people who are left alive will be humble and teachable. And we will be there ready to teach them. We are called now to prepare for that job!
Jesus Christ is about to return to this Earth, and we must be ready to help Him rule (Revelation 19:7).
“For a witness” also reveals a lot about our future glory!
Proclaiming God’s message for a witness makes no sense to the carnal mind. That is because it cannot comprehend God’s master plan as revealed in His holy days. (Request our free booklet Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which? to understand that plan.) It is a master plan that will inspire you as nothing else could.
If we fulfill God’s commission for a witness, then God will bring people into His Church to support that Work. If we lack God’s vision, we attempt to do His Work our own selfish way. Then God will not bless it and the work will fail.
The wcg leaders have demonstrated that truth extremely well. At the time Herbert W. Armstrong died, the wcg was receiving over $200 million income annually. Before long that had dropped to less than $20 million and it was still in a free fall!
When 1 John 2:22 speaks of people rejecting the Father, we see that it is also referring to the Laodiceans rejecting Mr. Armstrong as our spiritual father (that is, either directly or indirectly they came to God through him; Paul fulfilled the same role to the Corinthian church—1 Corinthians 4:15; read Chapter 6 of my book The God Family Vision). The Laodiceans fail to honor our Father, and the single greatest way they do that is by rejecting our spiritual father and physical head, Herbert W. Armstrong! He was the end-time type of Elijah, who restored all things. Most of the Laodiceans refuse to even recognize him as fulfilling that office. The gospel is the good news of the coming Kingdom or Family of God. God’s Family is going to rule Earth and the universe. That Family will be led by God the Father. That is the most wonderful news we could hear!
Mystery of the Ages contains more revelation from God than any book Mr. Armstrong ever wrote. He said he wanted to get it to “the largest audience possible” and added, “I’m sure you will agree.” But only the Philadelphia Church of God agrees.
The dispute in court over Mystery of the Ages was one war arena where people could clearly see who were the antichrists and who fought for Christ and His truth! And most Laodiceans did nothing to help us fight that battle. That may be their single most condemning failure in this end time. They remained neutral in Christ’s fight against the antichrists! That court battle revealed so much about God’s people.
It will be even more clear when the Tribulation comes, and everyone will be able to see those God chooses to protect and those He allows to suffer. Soon the carnal attitudes will be silenced. What a stern warning from Jesus Christ.
The Laodiceans and antichrists are condemned by Christ for not loving His truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
We are not fighting against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). We are in a spiritual war. It took the archangels Gabriel and Michael three whole weeks to get revelation from God to the Prophet Daniel (Daniel 10:1-14). They had to fight against Satan and his demons to get the message to God’s prophet.
Our whole work is about declaring God’s message to this world. Satan can delay our work by getting men to fight against it. And even those Laodiceans who only passively resist God’s message make Satan’s work a lot easier. But God’s very elect are destined to win.
The good news is, the appearance of all these antichrists, especially at the conclusion of our court case, is a sign from God that we are in the last hour!
Antichrist is a terrifying word. But it is also most inspiring, because the appearance of these end-time antichrists is a sign that Christ is about to return!
Denying the Father and the Son
When 1 John 2:22 says that this liar denies the Father and the Son, it means he rejects the God Family vision—the gospel. He has rejected the Father and is fighting Christ! We must fight back, on Christ’s behalf, against Satan and his liar! God will reward His anointed ones for doing that.
The word denies carries a much weightier meaning in Greek than in English. It means that most of God’s people in this Laodicean era have deserted Christ’s cause, as Thayer’s defines it. It also refers to “those who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality are adjudged to have apostatized from God.” To deny means to renounce a thing, to forsake it.
These people have forsaken God—the God who taught them about Mystery of the Ages and all the other writings of Mr. Armstrong. You can’t forsake God if you never knew Him.
Who in the end time taught us about “the Father and the Son”? Who taught us about the Family of God? These people don’t want to be a part of the Family of God. They don’t want the Father to rule them.
The Father is mentioned first. He is the Head of the Family. God’s people were given incredibly profound understanding of God the Father and His family plan. “The Father and the Son” is the fullest expression of the Godhead.
We musthammerthis point home. This is where the Laodiceans have failed. They don’t honor their Father as the Son does! (Malachi 1:6). Christ came to this Earth to declare the Father! (John 1:18).
The world has never understood these precious truths about “the Father and the Son”—only God’s people have. Everything revolves around this awe-inspiring truth.
This is at the heart of where Satan always attacks! Any physical father can relate to what a deep wound a son’s betrayal would be.
Thankfully, God does not forsake His people. He will never turn His back on us if there is any hope. He will keep nudging us, warning us, trying to wake us up. He will always leave the door open for us. We are the ones who do the forsaking.
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come [coming, it should read] in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 7). Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh—meaning He lives in His anointed ones today. If we have Christ living in us, then we will avoid this kind of deception and fight for Christ.
1 John 4:3 states, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is [coming] in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
Of course, the spirit of antichrist is in the world, because Satan deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). But John is warning of the spirit of antichrist inside God’s Church!
Though John was off with the timing of the last hour, he was right about every other detail. He did not speculate about these truths. He received them straight from Jesus Christ.
Born of Him
How did John propose to solve all these problems?
“Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2:24). When we hear something, we had better apply it because we are held accountable. That is what John means by “from the beginning.” God’s people cannot erase their history and the truth they have heard.
John emphasizes this point over and over: Hang on to what you heard in the beginning. Don’t forget what Mr. Armstrong taught. Don’t forget the new revelation God has given us in the Philadelphia Church.
The subject in this passage is eternal life (verse 25). What good is physical life if it doesn’t lead anywhere? Life is terribly short and doesn’t have any real meaning of itself. John’s message leads to eternal life. Yet what is happening among so many of God’s people? They are being seduced by the devil (verse 26)—seduced from eternal life! The Holy Spirit is God’s eternal life in you. A part of God lives in us! Yet many have been seduced away from that eternal glory!
“But the anointing [the Holy Spirit] which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (verse 27). The Spirit teaches us all things. What a gift! We don’t need a man to teach us—Christ teaches us, using the Holy Spirit, through a man.Do you recognize the difference between a message from Christ and a message from a mere man? Your eternal life depends on knowing when the Holy Spirit is speaking!
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence [boldness], and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (verse 28). If we don’t thunder God’s magnificent message to this dying world, we are going to be ashamed!Christ will be here at the end of this hour. We should not be fearful about Christ’s return—we should be bold! In the last hour, we must be bold.
What will happen when Christ returns? “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness isbornof him” (verse 29). There is about to be a birth! This is more real than a human birth. John is talking about the birth of God’s people into God’s Family—becoming great, luminous spirit beings at the end of this hour! We have been given a birthright—a right to be born!
If we lose the God Family vision, being born as a spirit being has no real meaning. Satan knows that and wants to rob you of your birthright. We must not lose this battle.
This is the focal point of the entire Bible! It is the deepest subject in the Bible. And 95 percent of God’s people have lost this vision. That massive tragedy is the greatest warning of all!
The alarm of the last hour is thatso manyhave lost this vision about being born into God’s Family.
Here is where John had his focus. The last hour is dramatic, but the conclusion of 1 John 2 is what we were born to achieve! We were born to be born! This is why we struggle in this warfare.
Most of humanity is about to die physically in this last hour. But the good news is that God is going to save many of those people for His eternal Family.
At the end of the hour, we will be married to Jesus Christ! Are we acutely anticipating this glorious event? This is where everything is leading! It is all about family. Is this as real to us as it was to John? We must never lose this Family vision. What a beautiful conclusion to 1 John 2—and our physical lives!