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The Last Years

The Last Days

The Last Hour

The Kingdom of Christ

By Ed Corley

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pureI John 3:2,3

 

An unusual outline to the first Epistle of I John came to my attention in The Companion Bible. While I don’t recommend this version of the Scriptures for one’s everyday study Bible, I do find this outline from it profitable. It draws our attention to three valuable points relating to the days that are now upon us as it speaks of Christ, anti-Christ and Love. The Scriptures that unfold from I John lead us toward the end, whether it be the end of the age in which we all live, or the end of one’s personal life.  

Since I am in the fourth quarter of my own first century of living, I am a little more inclined toward giving attention to the closing of my own life than ever before. With respect to this, the Epistle from John has taken my attention more than ever. It speaks to the matter of our being made ready to have boldness in the day of judgment (I John 4:17). Paul has told us that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ—Rom 14:10.

Here again are the three things that will take our final attention in I John: One—our own purity for Christ’s Kingdom, two—how well we have loved with the Love of Christ, three—how we have withstood the anti-Christ.

Even for those of us who have placed our trust in the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is calling on us to confess matters that must be gone before we can stand with Christ in His Kingdom. John said, Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pureI Jn 3:2,3.

The above is a strong call to bring our lives into line with the Kingdom of Christ so we can stand with Him through the ages to come. The mysteries of His Kingdom, and the mystery of Christ, are drawing my attention like never before. Because of this, I find myself giving more attention to things like full repentance and searching God’s Word to see what it is saying for the closing years and days that lead to the closing hour.

In a particular way, the Lord is calling us now to repent over ways of thinking, ways of acting and ways of responding that will not fit in His Kingdom. The call for cleansing is so intense that it makes me believe the Day of the Lord is near.

When something comes to my attention, even the smallest matter that grieves His Spirit, I have learned that if I bring it before Him in repentance, immediately the propitiation obtained for us by Christ’s death on Calvary brings a new measure of release in my spirit. Because of this, a new awareness of His Kingdom’s power and holiness is coming over me.

We must learn to stay open to His Spirit’s leading at all times, no matter where we may be or what we may be doing. When we appear before the Lord, we want nothing left that will disqualify us for His Kingdom’s service.

Not a single one of us knows for sure when the end of our own age may come. Therefore, it is very wise to get rid of every offensive thing the Lord brings to our attention and be ready to stand before Him as His Day draws nearer in upon us.

The U.S. Coast Guard has a motto—Semper Paratas, “always prepared.” How much more should we who belong to Christ Jesus be always prepared to withstand the anti-Christ with his clever manipulations to wear us down, and be always ready to meet the Lord at His appearing with His Kingdom.

 

Paul, in Ephesians, laid out the principles of the full salvation that is ours in Christ and then dealt with specific sins. In Romans Truth he presents us with such aspects of salvation as redemption, justification, propitiation, remission of sins and atonement. Then, in Ephesians Truth he lets us know who we are and where we are in Christ. After that, beginning in Chapter 4, he deals with the things that will make us ready for our inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ (Eph 5:5). It is notable that after salvation is begun there is yet much more to be done in us that will prepare us God’s Kingdom.

To state this again simply, it is after we are saved that we get ourselves ready to share in the Kingdom with Christ. He made it clear in the opening verses of John 3 that it is after a person is born again (literally, “born from above”) that he can see, and enter, the Kingdom of God. The new birth makes seeing, and entering, the Kingdom possible, but it does not automatically bring us there. It brings us to the door of possibility of entering God’s Kingdom. Paul’s writings, and the Epistles of John, Peter and Jude lead us on in Kingdom preparation. Our present attention is toward I John.

 

As we are about to dive into the powerful revelation of I John, we will see it is filled with prophetic insight. Its Word can help prepare us for the closing of this age as well for our standing before the Lord free from any shame or mark that would disqualify us from sharing with Christ in His Kingdom on earth.

Before we begin searching all the verses of the Epistle, let me draw attention to what I believe is a key verse in it. This is I John 2:18in which are two points that demand a close look and must hold our attention as we proceed. 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.

First, we note it is the last time. The word time is from the Greek hora, which means “hour.” This statement means “it is an hour of the extreme end.” This, I believe, helps stamp the Epistle with its importance for the closing of this age. Second is John’s reference to antichrist. From this point, we shall refer to him as the anti-Christ. Take note that we place the Definite Article (“the”) with this term. John, in two of his Epistles, is the only writer in the Bible to speak of the antichrist, using this designation. Other writers, like Moses, David, Daniel, the Lord Jesus, Paul and Peter do tell of him, but they make use of other terms. Not one of them can be denied as being the very one we recognize as “the anti-Christ.”

Let me explain why we make reference to him as the anti-Christ. “Anti” is a prefix meaning “opposed to.” We spell Christ with a capital letter because the One he opposes is Christ Jesus, our Lord. Through a number of powerful Scriptures in both the Old and New Testament, we see the wicked one’s determination to withstand Christ and take His place. He has no hope of reaching Christ Jesus, however, therefore his eye is on us to bring us down. But now, let us see the outline of I John.

Christ – 1:1 – 2:17
Anti-Christ – 2:18-29
Love – 3:1-24
Anti-Christ – 4:1-6
Love – 4:7-21
Christ – 5:1-21

 Observing the above, we can see how the Epistle flows. Seeing the parts as they relate to the time of the end is helpful. As we proceed, we shall place each verse as it appears in the King James Version, then follow each one with our own interpretation from the Greek. In this article we only cover the first part, which is about Christ (1:1–2:17). 

I John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
NIRV The One Who was from beginning, Whom we have heard, Whom we have seen, upon Whom our eyes have gazed and our hands have reached for, handled and heldconcerning the Word of  Life;EC

There is no doubt but that this Epistle is about Jesus Christ. This first verse gives us John’s credentials for telling about Him. It reveals the intimacy he held with Jesus. It also reveals the intensity of his devotion to Him. As we become willing to enter with John into knowing this powerful opening statement, we too can become a partaker of the same bond the two of them held. It was so close that Jesus became the very heart, breath and motivation for the whole of John’s living. His mind, emotions, will and self-awareness were all enveloped in Jesus. Can we enter this kind of bonding with the Lord? The answer can be affirmative. It may be a lifelong process, but it can begin immediately.

:2 (For the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal Life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
NIRV And the Life was set forth in a clear light for us to see. And we have seen and bear witness as we bring back to you tidings of exactly what the eyes of our heart and mind have perceived. It is that Life of the ages which was with the Father, and was set forth in a clear light for us to see and know in this age.

The word translated was manifested, efanerwqh (ephanero’thee), evolved from the Greek phaino whose most primitive meaning is to appear as the bright shining of a light. What brighter light could have arisen upon the earth than the Light that Jesus was? John saw that Light, as did Paul. Paul saw it after Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead. Acts 9:3 tells of the occasion with him. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. Are we ruled out from the possibility of seeing that same life-changing Light? I think not. We live in the same era in which Paul lived.

:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
NIRV What we have seen and heard left a strong impression on us. Therefore we bring back tidings to you of all we have seen and heard of the Son of God. We are trusting that you also will come to know Him as we have. This is that you might participate in the same communion we have with Him. It is a kind of fellowship that goes beyond doctrine and organization to become settled simply in knowing Him. That communion of which we tell is with both the Father and His Son.

This is more than a ceremonial communion observed in a fellowship of believers. It is a living fellowship that continues unbroken. What we interpret the above verse to be saying does not mean we are never to observe “The Lord’s Supper.” That is a very meaningful observance that carries with it a strong testimony of our communion together with Christ in a local Body of believers. It is a communion that testifies of our being joined one with another in the Body of Christ, which was broken for us in death (I Cor 11:12). In a proper communion service, one unleavened loaf is broken, then a part of it is eaten by each member of the body present. Part of the same loaf goes into each one and gives testimony of what makes us one in Him. But, it is by our receiving the actual “breaking” of Christ’s body on the cross as the propitiation for our sins that does, indeed, bring us together as one in Him. No other thing carries the power of making us one. Eating the broken bread does not have that power; it is but a testimony of our common confession of faith in His redeeming sacrifice on Calvary where His body was broken.

Partaking of the cup is a testimony of the Covenant into which we have entered with the Father through the blood of Jesus shed for the remission of our sins.

:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
NIRV And we are writing these things to you that your joy might come to be, and remain, in the state of a continuing fullness.

There will be nothing so strengthening as the joy of the Lord for the time of conflict that may soon encroach upon us from the camp of the anti-Christ. Here is a precept about joy that came from David, And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD—Ps 27:6. As for those—perhaps we are among them—who will face unsettling attacks from the camp of the anti-Christ in the closing days, these words encourage us to know that we can enter into and come through conflicts in a joy the world cannot know.

:5 This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
NIRV
And this is the precept, the teaching, the doctrine which we have heard from Him, even from Jesus Himself, that God is Light in its supreme form, and there is absolutely no measure of darkness in Him.

Before the Day of the Lord there will be a time of trouble. Darkness shall cover the earth. Gross darkness shall cover the people. But in that most intense darkness, which can be compared only to the darkness of death, a Light will shine upon the people of the Lord. It will be the light of resurrection bringing Life and hope where there was no hope, except for those who maintained their trust in the Lord when there appeared to be no reason left for faith. Daniel saw both the apostasy and the abiding trust that remained in the people who refused to turn from the Light of the Lord. Thus, he could say, And such as do wickedly against the Covenant shall he (that man of sin) corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God (intimately) shall be strong (will be strengthened), and do exploits (and will continue functioning even when there is no light in the path before them)—Dan 11:32.

:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 
NIRV If we make the statement that we are having fellowship, that is, communion, with God and continue walking in the darkness of sin, we are making a practice of lying and we are not executing the truth.

The word eipwmen (ei’pomen), we say in verse 6, is spelled in such a way as to convey the idea that the word spoken is conclusive to the one speaking it. He is convinced that he can have communion with the Lord and still make it his practice to walk in the darkness of sin. Thus, if one says, “I have fellowship with the Lord” and continues walking in darkness, he is living a lie. This is a serious matter for it throws this one into the camp of the anti-Christ.

:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
NIRV But if we are continually walking in the Light as He is in the Light, we are experiencing a never ceasing communion one with the other, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son continues cleansing us from all sin.

Three Verbs are in this verse—•we are walking, •we are experiencing and the blood continues cleansing. They are all Present Active forms in the Greek, indicating they are actions that go on without stopping. But, take note that the first one is preceded by the word if. There is a condition to be met. Read these again. Give close consideration to what they mean.

To know the continuing communion and the continuing cleansing, there must be the continual walking in the Light.

:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
NIRV If we speak conclusively that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the Truth is not in us.

The words ean eipwmen (ean ei’pomen), if we say, is a Greek form indicating that the words spoken are conclusive to the one speaking them. It is settled in his own mind that he has no sin. The word planwmen, (plan’omen) we deceive, is a Greek form indicating that this one is living in a constant state of deception. What a sad state of being for a person to go about with a settled confession that sin is gone, all the while blinded to the fact that it is not gone. This makes it a matter that will have to be settled before the Throne of God’s judgment, while it could be settled now through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Read on.

:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
NIRV If we concede to the guilt of our sins, His faithfulness and justice will cause Him to release us from the guilt of that sin and set us free from its defilement that would have left us too weak to withstand the wicked one whose purpose it would have been to defile the earth with the rule of  his unholy government.

If, from a deep sense of our guilt, impurity, and helplessness, we humble ourselves before God, and acknowledge our sin in the face of His holiness; if in our own helplessness we plead for mercy in the Name of Him Who died for us, then He is faithful to forgive us and make us clean. He will make us pure enough to reign with Him in Heaven’s eternal Kingdom which He is bringing into the earth. He will qualify us to be partakers of His righteousness, of His justice and of His Kingdom as it reaches the uttermost parts of the earth.

:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.
NIRV If we continue saying that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word (logos, the seed of His Kingdom) is not in us.

We start our “prayer starters” with I John 1:10, making them joined with this article, and follow on with successive verses till we complete chapter 2.

It is our purpose to put the entire five chapters of I John together in one small prayer book. We will take some of the material from this article, enlarge upon it, and go on with you through the entire Epistle, praying as we go.

           

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