If we were to ask ourselves “which is most dangerous to the church?”—with the choice of either (1) a future worldwide Antichrist, who kills and marginalizes God’s people or (2) a corruption of the Good News that Christ alone can save by taking our sins and giving us his righteousness—what would we believe to be the most perilous?
We can certainly understand the effects of the first choice: life will visibly and categorically change for Christians when Antichrist takes power. He will wear out the saints (Dan 7:25). But do we see the destructive nature all around us—even rampant in our churches—where a works-righteousness pervades the teachings in many a pulpit and perverts the understanding of how one may be made right with God for many a professed Christian?
I would argue that the latter choice is the more dangerous; it is also more pervasive. We have grown lethargic in our understanding of how we might approach God. I wonder at the answers you would get if you asked your professing Christian friends on what basis they hope to enter heaven someday? Is it because they’ve lived a pretty good life, kept the golden rule, went to church, or any number of answers other than the only reason we can hope to be justified before God: on the basis of the finished work of Christ, who died for sins, of which we have repented and believed that Christ is our Messiah.
We live out the spirit of antichrist and have done Antichrist’s work when we fail to proclaim that it is by grace that we have been saved through faith. This is not our doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9). May it be that we would endure Antichrist, rather than a false gospel.