Welcome to The Berean Call podcast. I’m T. A. McMahon, and I am blessed to have been a good friend and co-worker of Dave Hunt for almost 40 years. For many years, we recorded a radio program, Search the Scriptures Daily, and covered a wide variety of topics addressing issues related to biblical discernment. One of the first of Dave’s books that we published was called Countdown to the Second Coming. That book led to a series of discussions on this topic, which we will begin airing today.
The way things are going in the world, many are thinking about the return of Christ and when that might be, which is a subject of critical importance today. For example, one interesting point that comes up during this discussion is, “Can we actually set a date for when the Antichrist will appear?”
This series was originally broadcast in 2003, but it is relevant to the world in which we live today. Among other topics, we will be discussing the Antichrist and how the church and many Christians even now are falling further into apostasy. Because it was broadcast in 2003, some of it may seem dated; nevertheless, the biblical content of our discussion is very much as important today as it was back then.
Too often, when the fulfillment of prophecy is explained and an attempt is made to fit it into contemporary times, it doesn’t work. Later events of history, such as advances in technology, political and social conditions, religious beliefs, and so forth, can render the explanations not viable. Although the discussions in this program took place 17 years ago, I believe we have avoided that problem. We hope you are edified by our discussion of the End Times. Let us know what you think.
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. If you’ve been listening to the program for the last couple of months, you know the syllabus for the content of our discussion in this first segment has been Dave Hunt’s book A Cup of Trembling: Jerusalem and Bible Prophecy. And we’re about halfway through, and we felt that this would be a good place to take a few weeks’ hiatus, Dave.
The plan is to come back after we’ve gone through Dave’s latest book, which just arrived at my desk. It’s a hardcover booklet, actually, titled Countdown to the Second Coming, and Dave, that sounds rather sensational. It’s not one of those publications like “The Lord’s at the door, so look for Him in April of 2004.”
Dave: By booklet, you mean…it’s a little more than a booklet. It’s 116 pages. So…
Tom: Right, and it is hardback, like I said. But again, you’re avoiding this: Is this a sensational book, Dave? Is this date-setting? Is this?
Dave: No. There is no point in being sensational. What do I have to be sensational about? Am I going to make it up? I would say the Bible is sensational enough. If you stick to the Bible, it’s pretty sensational that Christ is going to take His own out of this world, isn’t it? That maybe 50 million suddenly vanish? I’d say that’s the biggest sensationalism the world has ever seen, but it’s not an “ism” because it will happen.
Tom: Well, let me add one thing: you have some eyebrow-raising sentences in here. For example, you state in the opening sentence of the book: “Somewhere at this very moment on planet Earth, the Antichrist is almost certainly alive, biding his time, awaiting his cue.” Now that gets my attention.
Dave: But, Tom, simple logic tells you—if the Bible is true, then that must be true. If Antichrist yet has to be born and become a baby and then grow up and mature as a man, become a world leader…that puts the Rapture pretty far into the future, because the Rapture occurs before the Antichrist can be revealed. So if we believe that we are in the last of the last days, which we give you, I think, enough information in the book to at least make a good case for that. Now, it may not be. That’s why I don’t say for certain the Antichrist is alive, but most likely he is.
Tom: And it’s the signs of the times that Bible lays out that really seem to indicate that to you…to me as well.
Dave: Well, we get into those signs in the book.
Tom: Dave, you present some things that people who are sort of aware that the Bible talks about an Antichrist, and so on—I’m talking about Christians, now, not people who just know about things of the Bible, but people that have actually read it—but one point that you make is that when we think of Antichrist, all of a sudden, movies come to mind, you know: The Omen, and movies like…that show him to be some ogre and some evil person—personification. And then we have history kind of backing that up. We have throughout history people like Nero and Stalin, Hitler, some of the popes were regarded as Antichrists, and so on. But those are evil individuals. But that’s not what you’re saying here.
Dave: Well, Tom, he will be evil. But the Bible says, “Satan transforms himself into an angel of light”; it’s no wonder that his ministers look like good guys, and Antichrist certainly will be evil. He will be empowered by Satan. But the evil won’t come out yet. The mask won’t slip for a while, and he will, in fact, be worshiped by the world, Scripture tells us, Revelation 13. The whole world will worship him, they will love him, they will follow him. So he will be a man of peace. He will pose as Christ, I believe…
Tom: A benevolent character…
Dave: “Anti” is a Greek prefix with two meaning. Most people only think of one. It means “opposed to, or against,” that’s true. But it also means “in the place of, or a substitute for.” He will pretend to be Christ, so Islam is not going to take over the world. Atheism isn’t going to take over the world. Christianity will take over the world! “They will come in my name,” Jesus said. That’s an amazing statement from Christ. Because if you think of that: here’s an itinerant preacher, ex-carpenter, hasn’t been out of his own country, and yet he says, in the last days, when men are looking for a leader, they won’t call him the Buddha, or Genghis Khan, or another Napoleon. They will call him “the Christ.” That was quite a statement for Jesus to make. But of course, we know that He is God. He knew what He was talking about.
And so, I believe that Antichrist will claim that he is the Christ. Maybe he’s the latest reincarnation. That’s a popular idea today. Many things that have prepared our world for this man—are preparing it.
Tom: So along with this, he’s going to have followers who are called Christians. There’s going to be a church, a Christian church, that’s going to be apostate. Or at least, seem to be still Christian but very different from biblical Christianity.
Dave: Tom, it’s staggering that we have a generation growing up here on this earth in America, around the world, and they are being prepared to embrace Antichrist as the Christ. Now that is some deception. And he will come with all power—lying signs and wonders—2 Thessalonians 2 says, “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, and those who receive not the love of the truth…” And you can see the so-called church in apostasy—you can see it being prepared. You can see the ecumenical movement. Just after September 11, you had memorial services on TV and on radio, and you…there was a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Sikh, who knows what? And then an evangelical—yes, evangelical pastor, all praying and saying they were…well, giving you the impression they were all praying to the same God.
And of course, the pope has been leading an ecumenical movement. He embraces everything. We have Evangelicals and Catholics Together. I mean, maybe I’m getting ahead of things in the book, but…
Dave: But the world and the church—of course, the—are being prepared. Of course, the world is being prepared for the sudden mass disappearance of millions of people. You know, we’ve talked to UFO-cult members who say, “Yes, when we take over”— they’ve gotten messages from the so-called space brothers. “When we take over, all those who are rebels in their hearts, they’re not willing to go along with the new world order, they will be instantly removed to a nonphysical dimension, where their karma will have to catch up with them.” This would be the New Agers would say that, and the UFO cultists say, “Yeah, they’ll be beamed aboard space ships, taken to a slave planet, where their minds will be reprogrammed before they’re allowed back on planet Earth.”
Just the whole scenario that we have, laid out by these space films, involving other planets, and other beings, and these space ships, and so forth, is setting the world up, in one way. And there are many ways that it is being set up.
Tom: Dave, I want to go back to the church. This apostate Christianity—and just a moment ago you mentioned an ecumenical movement, you have so-called denominations within Christianity coming together—you mentioned the Roman Catholic Church, and so on. What I want to talk about just for a moment: evangelical Christianity. Again, getting away from the idea that the Antichrist, who we know later is going to be the personification, in a sense, of Satan, doing his will and empowered by him. But prior to that, you have terms—adjectives—in here like, “He’s going to be benevolent; he’s going to be a man of integrity, of principle, and so on.” That’s part of the seduction.
Now within the church, we have—evangelical church—we have the church really being transformed before our eyes. We have a seeker-friendly, seeker-sensitive movement that is based on surveying the lost and seeing what they want. Now, I couldn’t think of a better formula for watering down and compromising what the church is supposed to be about.
Dave: Well, Tom, we have this in many ways. We have the whole entertainment movement within the church. The youth have to be entertained, and some of the things that they’re entertained with—some of the videos, the movies, that are shown at youth events—it’s not Jesus Christ. They’re not taught…
Tom: It’s not the Word of God.
Dave: That’s right. They are not taught to “deny self, take up the cross, and follow Me,” but they’re taught to be like the world. In fact, the church is—I mean, some of these churches you go to, wow! It is so highly orchestrated; it is so professional. It is so appealing to the flesh, to the—the whole motivational movement, the success movement in the world, that it is like the world. And then, as you said, you don’t hear—well, you might hear about God… You go into…
Tom: Well, Dave, let me give you an example. I’m going to interrupt you here. One of our staff members over Thanksgiving visited a church and going in, he…you know, he was with relatives, I think he said. And he said this seems like one of these seeker-friendly, seeker-sensitive churches. He said everything, as you said, was orchestrated. Wonderful, professional this and professional that, and what not to like? Except that he noticed that they kept referring to Jesus not as Savior and Lord but as our Leader. You know, we’re changing terminology here to accommodate, supposedly, people who are going to be offended by Savior and Lord.
He said the low point was at the offertory—the hymn was a hymn that Louis Armstrong—I don’t know if you know who he is, the black…
Dave: I’ve heard of him—jazz…
Tom: Right, jazz singer and musician, and so on. And his song was “It’s a Wonderful World.” So here we have a song that was so worldly, and everybody thought, “Well, this is great. He’s kind of talking about the world, and how much we love the world,” and so on. Now, what does that do to somebody who maybe is brought into a church, but—shouldn’t we try and bring them to the Word of God?
Dave: Well, Tom, again, I’ve heard others tell me who have attended some of these churches—they’re huge! They’re growing. This is the new wave for the church—that you can stand in the parking lot—you can watch thousands of people go in, and nobody has a Bible! You might see one or two people out of a thousand holding a Bible. Why? Because the Bible is scarcely referred to; if it is, it’s put on the screen; it’s in maybe a modern translation, or a paraphrase, so what’s the point of bringing your King James, or whatever? You couldn’t follow it anyway.
And then, the preacher, the pastor may talk about God. He may talk about spiritual values, and…
Tom: …or morality…
Dave: Yes, spiritual awareness, or whatever, but the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, is never mentioned. The Cross—that Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross—is never mentioned. The terms that might “offend” a non-Christian are never mentioned. Well, then, how are you ever going bring them from being non-Christians to Christians? The Word of God is what feeds us. We are born again, Peter says, 1 Peter:1:22-25: “We are born again by the word of God that lives and abides forever.” Paul says, “We preach Christ crucified.” He says in Acts 20: “I went everywhere preaching repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in order to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have to explain exactly who He is, that He is God. He came to this earth through the virgin birth; became a Man; He didn’t cease to be God; He lived a perfect, sinless life. Yes, it says He left us an example that we should follow His steps, 1 Peter 2. But how can we follow His steps, because we are sinners? So the only way we can follow His steps is to be born again of the Spirit of God, and Christ comes to live within our hearts, and then we follow Him as His Word directs us. But they’re not getting that in these churches.
Tom: Dave, these are examples, then, of a preparation that is taking place. It undermines—you were talking about lost, the lost coming in—it doesn’t lead then to the Word of God. But for believers who are in churches like that, it’s weaning them off the Word of God. It’s not preparing them to be discerning with regard to…not only to changes that are taking place in the church, but to recognize the man of lawlessness who’s going to come on the scene, and his minions.
Dave: Tom, I was visiting—you talked about Thanksgiving—well, over Thanksgiving, Ruth and I visited with our children in Southern California. We attended a very large church. A good man, the pastor. He’s certainly not in the category of seeker-friendly. A man that knows the Lord, loves the Lord, preaches the Word of God. But in his talk, it was…there was nothing about the Rapture. I know he believes in the Rapture—at least the last I knew, I think he does. But it was all about the kingdom—the coming kingdom, and this should be the passion of our hearts. The coming kingdom—he’s talking about the Millennial reign of Christ. But he did not mention at all the most fantastic, wonderful event that the Christian is supposed to look forward to that must occur before the Second Coming, before the Millennial kingdom is set up, and that is the Rapture. The Bride is going to be caught up to be with the Bridegroom. There’s going to be, first of all, the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we will be judged for our deeds and our words, and so forth. We “will be clothed in fine linen, white and clean. He will wipe all tears from our eyes,” because I’m sure there will be tears as the Lord shows us. You remember the poem—I don’t think we’ve ever quoted it on this program—if we have, it would be years ago:
When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ,
And He shows me His plan for me,
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way,
And I see how I blocked Him here,
And I checked him there,
And I would not yield my will.
Will there be grief in my Savior’s eyes?
Grief, though He loves me still?
He would have me rich,
But I stand there, poor,
Robbed of all but His grace,
While my memory runs like a hunted thing
Down paths I cannot retrace.
Lord, of the time that is left to me,
I give it to Thy hand.
Take me, and break me, and mold me,
To the pattern Thou has planned.
But after the Judgment Seat of Christ is the wedding. We’re going to be married to Christ. He’s the Bridegroom. We are the Bride. This is what we’re looking forward to before the earthly kingdom. But that wasn’t mentioned. And I think it’s part of a preparation, Tom, as you’re talking about, for a man who is going to come and set up a kingdom.
And the seeker-friendly churches, there may be some people who are really coming to Christ. I think many of them are attracted by a false Christ. And that is preparing them for this Antichrist, who at first will be a man of peace, benevolent, loving, kind, compassionate. He will bring peace to the world. The world will love him. They will worship him. And then comes the horror of who he really is.
Tom: Dave, a part of this is going to be—and is, we see it around us—sound doctrine being despised.
Dave: Well, that’s what the Bible says: “They will not endure sound doctrine.” And doctrine is, you know, it’s boring stuff. I remember not too long ago, a friend of mine who was a pastor, was put out of his church. These teenagers were reading Harry Potter in the church service. They seemed to run the church. They thought he didn’t tell any jokes. He was too solemn. He just wants them to study the Bible. They didn’t want sound doctrine. The older ones as well: “We want something more modern. It’s got to be more fun.”
Dave: “Amusing, appealing to people, you know. And let’s come to church to have a good time.” It is a wave of the future—well, it’s already here. It is sweeping the church along, and very few people are standing up to say, “Wait a minute! Is this really the Christianity of Jesus Christ?” And I often say, Don’t call yourself a Christian unless you follow Jesus and His Word. You can’t make up your own Christianity. You can make up your own religion, but you can’t call it Christianity because that is already established. But we have a false Christianity now that is masquerading as Christianity; it’s attracting many, many people by the thousands, it seems. If you looked at it, and I haven’t read the article yet, but maybe you saw the latest US News and World Report, front cover is the New Evangelicals. They’re making a great impact across America. Well, indeed, they are. But is this the Christianity of Paul, of the apostles, of the early church, of Christ? Or is this something that will be popular and accepted?
How can we turn… You know, Jesus said it in John 15. He said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. The servant isn’t greater than his lord. If they hated me, they persecuted and killed me, what do you think they will do to you if you are true to me?”
And, Tom, we have traveled behind the Iron Curtain, my wife and I, our family, back in those communist days in Russia and Eastern Europe. And I can remember these people back there saying, “How is it you don’t get put in jail in America? You’re not persecuted! How is it that it’s so popular? And we, we’re persecuted over here! Do you have a different Christianity than we have?”
Well, it’s gone a long ways from then, Tom. It’s even worse than it was.
Tom: Well, that’s the other side of sound doctrine, Dave. You said that it’s boring for people. But I think the biggest problem is it divides! It separates those who would compromise, would water down from…or trying to be, we mentioned ecumenism, those who try to get along with everybody. Sound doctrine doesn’t work in that category.
Dave: Now, Tom, we’re not trying to be hated by the world. We don’t have to try. Jesus didn’t try to be hated by the world. In fact, He did only good. He fed the hungry, He healed the sick, and raised the dead. It says, “They hated me without a cause.” Why? Because if you are godly, you love the Lord…oh, Tom, the world has nothing to offer me. I have no interest whatsoever in this world! What does it offer? The Scripture says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. All that’s in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
And now, Tom, we live in a day when these very things, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, they are being brought into the church in order to attract people who aren’t even Christians. And maybe the pastors of the Christians in the church, maybe they’re well-intentioned and they’re hoping that they’re going to attract people and bring them to Christ, but you know the old saying: If you bring them in with entertainment, you will have to keep them with entertainment.
Tom: And you have to keep raising the bar.
Tom: That’s unbelievable. Dave, we’ve got a minute left. Next week we’re going to pick up on this. We’ll go to the very words that Jesus said. I’m thinking of Matthew:24:4: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.”
Again, this is preparation for, certainly, down the line, His Second Coming, but the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, will come upon the scene, which is what we’ve been talking about in this segment. And that’s where we’ll pick up next week.