[Thought questions for The Antichrist September, 19, 2012]
1. Are we there yet? Living two thousand years ago with the recent memory of a Christ Jesus crucified and resurrected, what earthly reason did our Thessalonian brothers and sisters have for assuming Jesus would come that soon? What about us today? Why are we so sure that Jesus is coming within just a few more years? Are the wars and horrible displays of nature convincing us that it won’t be long yet? Are today’s problems worse than during the Dark Ages? Or the death and devastation resulting in the death more than 400 million from the bubonic plague of the 1400s? Or the Yellow River flood that claimed the lives of 4 million people in 1931? Yet the message rings true and clear: Jesus is coming soon!
2. False ideas. How could it be that false ideas were already creeping into the church such a short time after Jesus’ ascension to heaven? If you hear a respected member of your congregation say in a reverent tone of voice, “It is so marvelous and true that Jesus will bring salvation to everyone in the end,” are you tempted to accept that as a valid teaching? Right now the major controversy in our church at least in North America seems concerns the ordination of women. Regardless of your position on this issue, do you believe the topic can divide and draw some away from what the Bible teaches? To stop that from happening, should we ban all discussion? Or should we consider thoughts and ideas on the “other” side of the issue? Can prayer help us stop divisive ideas from bearing fruit among us? How?
3. The man of sin. How does that short title affect you? Does Satan qualify for the title, the man of sin? How? Have you ever met or known about a person who seems to be the substance of sin itself? Do you ever pray for the most reprobate of individuals facing their final destiny at the end of Death Row? Where does all that ruthless sin come from? How does it infect us? In Thessalonians 2:7, Paul talks about the restraining power of God against the man of sin. Have you seen that power in evidence? What would life be like without that power? Why does Paul refer to lawlessness or sin as a mystery? What is mysterious about breaking God’s law? Isn’t that just doing what comes naturally? What holds the final events back from being fulfilled? Why?
4. Antichrist revealed. Is the “man of sin” the same person as “the antichrist?” Is this individual a human being or is he a spirit of some kind? Is there only one or are there many? What is it about the Sabbath that helps protect us from paganism? Or from being totally absorbed in self? Or from ignoring whatever the Sabbath-keeping church you know best is doing today? How can a human being attempt, much less succeed, in changing God’s law? Was the law changed? Is the Seventh-day Adventist church the only one claiming that the antichrist is the papacy? Do you believe the Roman Catholic church is growing in influence today? If you do, how is this growth becoming visible? How can we show our love to our Catholic neighbors without embracing their theology? How can the world further show its defiance of God and His law of love?
5. Truth and Lies. “God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” Is that a hard nut for you to swallow? Does God hide the truth from us so that we will lie? Why would He do that? Is that fair? Why does God sometimes seem to step back and let sin move ahead? Does God sin? or cause sin? Why do we sometimes assume that God causes what He allows? What role does rejection of the gospel of Jesus have in falling into the trap of Satan’s lies? Are only defiant rebels guilty of believing Satan’s lies? How does the key teaching of the gospel story contradict our sin-bent lives? In the world today, who makes the most money or wins the most power: those who lie and take advantage of others? Or those who are unselfish and share?
6. Almost there. Will you be able to tell the difference between Satan’s “gentle, compassionate tones” and the words of Jesus? Do you think that a universal day of worship will one day make sense to the majority of people? Will that universal day be Sunday or Sabbath? Will total agreement on the divine day of worship come before or after the Second Coming? How should we be presenting the Sabbath to the public at this time? Or should we wait until controversy breaks out and Sabbath-keepers are derided and accused of terrible deeds? What Bible passages have you chosen as the most important ones to help keep you from straying?