by Pete Garcia & Randy Nettles
I do not think about the Antichrist often, nor do I want this to seem as if I am glorifying him in any way, shape, or form, but I have at times, wondered about a few things. How does Satan go about selecting the Antichrist? Is he alive today? Does he know he is the Antichrist? If he does know, when and how did he find out? What does he hope to achieve? Does he have a long-term plan, or is it more like playing out things as they unfold? Is he like Hitler with his unsustainable four-year economic plan? Or is he like Hitler with his thousand-year Reich plan? Does he know his fate? Does he even care?
The Scriptures have much to say about the antichrist. Not only is it a real person(s), or a human condition, but it can also be a zeitgeist (spirit of the age). Not only are there antichrist(s) (little ‘a’), but a final, literal, future Antichrist (big ‘A’) who assumes control over the entire earth. Here are the four passages (all New Testament-all from John) that use the actual term antichrist.
[Deceptions of the Last Hour] Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 4:3
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22
And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 1 John 4:3
[Beware of Antichrist Deceivers] For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 2 John 1:7
In a broader sense of the word (referencing both the Old and New Testament), an antichrist is one who opposes God, His agenda, or His people. Although there are only four New Testament passages using the term antichrist (antichristos, Greek-ἀντίχριστος), Scripture affords us an abundance of clues as to the nature of the coming future Antichrist. He is called the worthless shepherd, little horn, man of sin, the lawless one, son of perdition, the beast, the dragon, and the rider on the white horse. However, we are not told who he is.
Granted, every generation has had their favorite candidates, and up until now, they have all been wrong. The reason we know they were wrong, was, all of those Roman Emperors, Catholic Popes, and brutal tyrants have thankfully come and gone and yet we are still here.
Fortunately, as born-again believers, we will not be here to find out who he is when he is finally revealed. The Apostle Paul writes in his second epistle to the Thessalonians that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming (2nd Thess. 2:7-8). First, the Restrainer can be none other than God the Holy Spirit. Second, Christ must destroy the Antichrist at His coming; no other death will suffice.
Some Preliminary Discussions
Since the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is to my knowledge, the only eschatological view that identifies the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer, critics of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view scoff at the Holy Spirit/Restrainer interpretation.
The reason they scoff is that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead and as such, is both omnipresent (everywhere at once) and will remain in the salvation business even after the Rapture.
I (as do other Pre-Trib believers) whole-heartedly agree with them.
However, let us deconstruct this passage even further. What this phrase taken out of the way does not mean, is that God the Holy Spirit is physically (or spiritually) removed from the earth, because that would be impossible. What it does mean is that His role will change, specifically, because of the Rapture (or removal) of the Church from the earth will necessitate a change in function. For those who do not understand this idea of what changing roles means, just think back to Acts 2 Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit to those Jewish believers’ fifty-days after the Resurrection. Keeping that in mind, ask yourself-
1. Did God the Holy Spirit exist on the earth before Acts 2 Pentecost? Yes, He did.
2. Did His role change from Old Testament to New? Yes, it did.
3. Can the Holy Spirit exist on the earth after the Rapture? Yes, He Can.
4. Will His role on the earth be different from before the Rapture? Yes, it will.
So the main question becomes, what will the primary role of the Holy Spirit be after the Rapture?
Well, what was the primary role of the Holy Spirit before Christ came?
The Holy Spirit had many different roles over the history of the world. During Creation, He was the energizer or life-giver (Gen. 1:2, 2:7). From Adam to John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit’s role included empowering select persons to accomplish specific missions (for ex. Moses and David). He could infill someone from a young age (Samson) or even before birth (John the Baptist), but could also depart from people for whom He once indwelt (for ex. Samson and Saul).
He overshadowed Mary at the Incarnation (Luke 1:35), visually descended upon Jesus at His baptism, and at the incarnation of the Church at Pentecost (Matt. 3:16, Acts 2:1-4).
However, after He was given as The Helper at Pentecost, His role in this dispensation was to permanently seal those believers into the universal, singular, Body of Christ (ex. 1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 5:23) until the day of Redemption, which is the Rapture (or Harpazo). For those who have already died, will receive their glorified bodies just ahead of those of us who are alive at His coming for the Church. We shall be instantaneously translated from mortal to immortal and from corruptible to incorruptible. This is in part why we groan within ourselves for, awaiting our birth into glory (Romans 8:23). The groaning gets worse as the days get darker. What changes after the Rapture, is that the Holy Spirit will no longer restrain the dark forces from interacting here in the human domain.
After Christ’s body (the Church) is removed fully from the earth, they will have unfettered access to our physical realm. Therefore, in strictly mechanical terms, although Christ ascended to the Father forty-days after His resurrection, He still has His body (the Church) here on earth carrying out the Great Commission. This is why I said the incarnation (putting on of flesh) of the Church. Once the Holy Spirit infilled those believers, we were not born, but began to grow and gestate much as a baby does after it is conceived. Remember what Christ said,
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:18-19
First, Christ is building His Church- not the Pope, not Martin Luther, not the Southern Baptist Association, nor any other human organization. Second, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Clearly, when reading the summarized accounts of Daniel’s 70th Week in Revelation 13, we see that authority has been given to the Antichrist to overcome the tribulation saints, so this group cannot be the Church. For two-thousand years, Satan has been trying to stamp out the Church. Moreover, the more he crushes it, the more it grows. This is not the case inside the 70th Week. This is also, why God has to resort to using Angels to proclaim the gospel (Rev. 14:6), because there are so few remaining on the earth during this time.
Secondly, at present, what the Church binds on earth means that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). And since the Church has direct access to the throne of God (Heb. 4:16), the things we war against here on earth (Eph. 6:12), not only has heavenly authorization, but divine execution on our behalf. This is what restrains Satan and his demonic forces at present, from plunging the world headlong into darkness. Trust me, if Satan could have done this, he already would have.
Once the Church is physically removed from the earth, the path to salvation goes back to one similar to that of the Old Testament. Salvation by faith through grace, yet, the believers (tribulation saints) are not permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit as we are now. They must maintain their faith, and can lose it should they take the mark of the beast, or apostatize in some other way (Matt. 24:13, 2 Thess. 2:10-12, Rev. 12:17). In fact, the only ones we do see who are specifically mentioned as being sealed by the Holy Spirit, are the 144,000 Jewish male virgins, 12,000 from each tribe (Rev. 7:1-8).
It is for this reason, that the book of Revelation often paints strange and bizarre images of demonic beings waging war on mankind in a visually symbolic way. We often try to relegate these images to things we understand in order to make some sort of sense of it all. However, the reason we cannot understand it, is that for the past two-thousand years, the spiritual domain has not been open to us. Once we are removed, those “bizarre images” so many have relegated to pure symbolic mumbo-jumbo, will be mortified to see them fill their headlines and reality.
In summary, even though we cannot know the identity of this Antichrist on this side of the Rapture, the bible is not silent on the nature of this wicked man. My hope and prayer is that this article may serve as a warning to those left behind and perhaps persuade some, to avoid him and his mark of damnation. In the next Volume, we will look at the forerunners of The Antichrist.