Vol. 6, No. 7
Since You Asked
~ Page 18 ~
Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.
The apostle John does not limit the designation "antichrist" to a single individual, but he applies it to several unnamed persons. He entertained the idea of antichrists in his day as well as acknowledged that there would be other antichrists in the future. "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). The New Unger's Bible Dictionary aptly and concisely defines what it means to be an antichrist.
An antichrist is one who opposes Christ, whether he opposes the doctrine of His deity or His humanity; or whether he sets himself against Him in respect to His priestly office, by substituting other methods of atoning for sin and finding acceptance with God; His kingly office, by claiming authority to exact laws in His church contrary to His laws or to dispense with His commandments; or His prophetical office, by claiming authority to add to, alter, or take away from the revelation that He has given in His holy Word. This is agreeable to the description of an antichrist (1 John 2:22; 4:3; 1:7). In a general sense an antichrist is a person who is opposed to the authority of Christ as head of the church and creation.
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary concurs on the basic meaning of the word antichrist.
The term is used only in the writings of John in the New Testament. It refers to one who stands in opposition to all that Jesus Christ represents (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7). John wrote that several antichrists existed already in his day-false teachers who denied the deity and the incarnation of Christ-but that the supreme Antichrist of history would appear at some future time.
There are other biblical references throughout both testaments that chronicle opponents of God, and which are identified with other terms. To that extent, there may be a correlation between other passages and the verses in which the word antichrist appears. However, to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6) is idle speculation and dangerous theology. We must content ourselves with what is revealed by God to us (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody Press, 1988.
Contextually, Hebrews 10:25 primarily pertains to abandonment of Christianity, and it referred to a return to Judaism by first century, Jewish Christians. The verse reads: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." However, absenting oneself from the assemblies frequently is only a matter of degrees rapidly traversing the road to complete abandonment. The Hebrews 10:25 context addresses purposeful or willful forsaking of the assemblies of the church (v. 26), for which God will severely punish such offenders (v. 27-31). Verse 31 concludes with the harsh statement: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Under Judaism, when a person was unable due to no fault of his own to observe the Passover on the appointed day, God excused him from observing the Passover on the appointed day (Numbers 9:6-12; 2 Chronicles 30:2-4). However, that person was not excused from observing the Passover, and in those instances, a make up day for observing the Passover was appointed. We may borrow a principle from those biblical citations and discern that God does not assign the guilt of sin when one is truly unable to attend a certain assembly. We, of course, have no authorization for rescheduling a make up worship assembly (complete with the Lord's Supper) for a day other than the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). However, being unable to attend a certain assembly does not excuse a person from attending all or most of the assemblies (e.g., work). God still requires us to worship him regularly.
A baker cannot be a successful baker if he seldom if ever bakes! A Christian cannot be a successful Christian if he seldom if ever practices Christianity, including worshipping God.
The question was posed, "How can we get people interested in attending services?" Christianity is a free will religion, (e.g., "Whosoever will" Revelation 22:17). Consequently, we cannot force anyone to take their Christian responsibility to assemble with the saints seriously (Hebrews 10:25).
There are some procedures through which it would be biblically wrong to increase worship attendance. Except for parents regarding dependent children (Ephesians 6:4), it would be wrong to compel people to attend church services; sometimes cultic practices have been used to manipulate every facet of one's waking moments and conduct, but God does not desire zombies to worship him ("Whosoever will"). It would be wrong to pay people or by their attendance to attend worship services; God expects those who name him as God to be saved by the Gospel (Romans 1:16), obeying that teaching from their hearts (Romans 6:17). It would be wrong to change the message from the Gospel to something more palatable to the hearers in an effort to increase attendance (2 Timothy 4:3-4), since only the Gospel saves (Romans 1:16). It would be wrong to entertain people as a means to solicit their attendance for worship, since worship should be primarily directed toward God rather than the worshipper (John 4:24).
There are some things one can do to encourage others to attend worship services and Bible classes more regularly. First, make sure that you attend every church service that you can attend; nothing undoes the good we hope our words will do than the poor example others see in us. Second, somehow, as opportunities in public classes or privately arise, we and others need to try and impress upon our fellows the spiritual significance of worshipping God in his own appointed way, as well as taking advantage of Bible classes, Gospel meetings, etc. Third, we need to cause our fellows to understand the relationship between worshipping God and studying the Bible versus salvation from sins now and the prospect of spending forever in heaven (1 Corinthians 9:24; Revelation 2:10). Fourth, develop a close relationship or fellowship brethren so that they will desire more to be with brethren (Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 2:17); after all, close fellowship among brethren is the basis by which withdrawal of fellowship (when necessary) is calculated to be effective (1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). Fifth, never underestimate the power of prayer to prompt the providence of God in the answer to those prayers (James 5:16).
Concern for the poor attendance of church services that is viewed in others is itself a significant step in the right direction. The mental anxiety one experiences over someone's forsaking of the assemblies, when transformed to action (e.g., prayer, encouraging attendance challenged persons), may go a long way to solving the problem. At any rate, it is all that we can do for those who refuse to take personal responsibility for worshipping God regularity.
One seeks comment respecting how little sins (i.e., a little sinfulness versus much sinfulness) committed by Christians hurts the Lord's church. Specifically, one asks about the church being hurt by a little gambling, a little drinking, a little partying and a little swearing.
The apostle Paul exhorted Christians to refrain from every category or type of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Paul adamantly denied the proposition that Christians might sin as though they are permitted to do so in view of the grace of God that saves us (Romans 6:1-2). Every sin has the capability of sending an impenitent soul to a devil's hell (Romans 6:23).
In addition to the affect of sin on the sinner, when Christians commit publicly known sins, the Lord's church is reproached (1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:1). Gambling is counter to the Christian work ethic and is akin to theft (Ephesians 4:28). Drunkenness (i.e., intoxication of any degree) is uniformly condemned throughout the Bible (Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Partying in such a way as to be sinful is cataloged with "works of the flesh" in Galatians 5:19-21. Any type of "corrupt communication" coming from one's mouth is sinful (Ephesians 4:29).