Should Christians prepare for the Antichrist? If the answer is in the affirmative, what does that preparation look like? I’ve asked this question on numerous occasions.
Losing your soul to pretrib
One argument goes something like this: When the Antichrist arrives first, pretribbers will confuse his persecution with God’s wrath and subsequently believe they’ve been left behind after the rapture. They’ll become spiritually vulnerable to take the Mark of the Beast. Throwaway snippets like this remind me of superficial Memes I see on social media.
The position imagines people will think the rapture has occurred when there hasn’t been evidence of it. It presumes that poor pretribulationists will be so confused by persecution they’ll succumb to the Antichrist’s deception. Presumably, they are spiritually weak and are either prophetically obstinate, or ignorant of it,
So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. (Rev 13:4-6; see also Rev 13:16-17)
The irony is that I’ve seen so much discussion and hysteria in prophecy circles regarding the Mark of the Beast and vaccinations.
A stern warning against imminence…
“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign….”
Another posttribber warns that non-pretribs will dismiss posttrib signs of Christ’s return because they’re not looking for them and “This is a salvation issue!” Pretribbers can potentially lose their faith and, consequently, their salvation because they’re not “watching.”
Moreover, Jesus apparently warned against imminence in Matt 24:48-51. Why? – Because He commanded the disciples to watch and pray (Olivet Discourse etc). Therefore if we’re not looking for the prophetic signs, we won’t be prepared (like the servant in the parable). Hence, imminent thinking is dangerous.
This innovative approach is tantamount to circular reasoning. And it betrays a bias.
We can read our Bibles, understand the warnings and signs, and still keep an imminent mindset. If I’m still alive when the Antichrist comes, I’ll know pretribulationism was incorrect. It’s not that difficult.
How to prepare
Death is always imminent. It may well come before the rapture. Persecution and martyrdom have always been around in varying degrees. How did Christians historically prepare for them? Is our salvation so tenuous that it depends on our view of whether the Antichrist precedes Christ’s coming for His church?
Let me suggest that a posttrib mindset, on its own, is no preparation at all. It places emphasis on someone buttressing their own assurance by subscribing to a particular eschatological viewpoint. It is dangerously misleading and arrogantly judgmental of those who differ.
Preparation has nothing to do with keeping watch of future “signs of Christ’s coming” or “signs of the Antichrist.” It is about our present position in, and attitude to, our Lord Jesus Christ. Eschatology was given for our edification and hope, but our eyes ought to be constantly on Christ.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6; see Rom 8:38-39)
John Murray wrote,
If we prize our life (that is our natural life) more than Christ’s honor and will compromise his truth and glory rather than part with life, then we are not Christ’s. (O Death, Where is Thy Sting?, 181)
When Jesus told His listeners to take up their crosses, it meant only one thing. It meant willingly facing the possibility of death for His sake. (Hard to Believe, 135)
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:28)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil 1:21)
Further reading: God is Faithful to Preserve His Own