Origins and Destinies

  The Truth Which Sets Free - Destiner Press

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CHAPTERS

1. Church or Elect?

2. Wrong Place, Name & Body

3. The House of God?

4. Right Word, Right Place

5. Early Church Fathers

6. Early Christian Councils

7. Christians?

8. Clergy & Saints

9. Creeds, Confessions, Catechisms

10. Church Sacraments

11. Authority & Confirmation

12. Church Sabbath

13. Church Festivals

14. Sheep & Goats

15. Church Gospels

16. Christian Books, Music, Film

17. Church Rapture?

18. Church Planting or Assembly?

19. Church Assurance

20. Unity or Ecumenism?

21. Church Judgment

22. Separation & Destruction

ADDENDUM

God & Evil

An exposure of the false teaching of Christianity concerning the reason for evil and suffering. This is one of the most challenging and deepest areas in the Word of God.

The following four booklets are now also included in the Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free.

Raising the Dead

Spirit of the Living God

Amazing Grace

Harlot Babylon

Acknowledgements and Sources

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Now revised and included here in this Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free

Original booklet published by the Olive Press

Harlot Babylon

Harlot Babylon

Original Booklet Cover Art .

Harlot Babylon

Copyright by Peter Dunstan

1. BABYLON THE GREAT

2. MYSTERY BABYLON

3. THE ANTI OF CHRIST

4. THE DRAGON INCARNATE

5. THE MORTAL WOUND

6. YET ANOTHER BEAST

7. THE FUTURE HOAX

8. FIRE FROM HEAVEN

9. THE SOVEREIGN DRUG

 

"Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!

It has become a dwelling place of demons…

Come out of her my people,

lest you take part in her sins...

and she shall be burned with fire;

for mighty is the Lord God who judges her."

(Revelation 18:2,4,8)

 

Scripture quotations from the

King James Version (KJV) of the Bible

Revised Standard Version of the Bible

Copyright Div. of Education,

Nat. Council of Churches of Christ in U.S.A. 1946,1952,1971,1973.

Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Quotations from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition (1974)

used by permission, with grateful acknowledgement for help given.

 

1. BABYLON THE GREAT

Thousands of years before Christ, in the area known as Mesopotamia, the region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, there began the foundations of the city called Babylon (Babel). Today only massive ruins remain in the dry desert, but once this was a flourishing city in a land fertile with crops and cattle, the capital of a great empire. So great was this ancient civilization that the impact of its culture affected the furthest parts of the inhabited earth. Long before Babylon was built the Bible mentions that the beautiful garden of Eden was somewhere in this area, watered by the Tigris and Euphrates. (Genesis 2) From this paradise Adam was driven away for attempting to "be like God." In fact the evil designs of men multiplied so greatly that God caused a flood to destroy them, all except for the family of Noah with whom He made a covenant. (Genesis 6) Later, some of the descendants of Noah returned to Mesopotamia. Amongst them was Nimrod, a powerful political and religious leader. Nimrod founded important cities such as Babylon and Nineveh. (Genesis 10)

It was at the original site of Babylon that men who were then of "one language and few words" first desired to "make a name" for themselves by building a great city and a "tower with its top in the heavens" so that they might be an undivided people. But God disapproved of their plan and confused their language, scattering them across the face of the earth. Hence Babel (babble) came to mean confusion. (Genesis 11) What men had conceived at Babel was a primitive ecumenical movement, a visible effort of their own hands to reach spiritual unity in a single denomination. Instead, they found themselves speaking strange tongues and were divided, each group taking with it the traditions of Babylon. The essential elements of Babylonian religion spread immediately eastward to Persia and India and westward to Egypt and Canaan, providing the ancient foundations of Greek and Roman mythology.

Babylon itself was not completely abandoned after this upset for it was destined to become the center of a famous empire. It was out of this empire that God called Abraham, a descendant of Noah through Heber ("the Hebrew"), making His covenant with Abraham and leading him to the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12-15) The Hebrews were eventually divided into the twelve tribes of Israel who went down to Egypt seeking relief from a great famine. They became slaves to the idolatrous Egyptians and remained so for hundreds of years. Then, using Moses, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to take them back to Canaan. This time He made His covenant with them at Mount Sinai, commanding them to keep away from the religious traditions of man and serve the One Lord. (Exodus 20)

When the Israelites entered Canaan under the leadership of Joshua they were again faced with the impact of Babel, with powerful cults that worshipped Bel, the "Lord of the Air" (Baal), and the goddess queen Ishtar (Ashtoreth). The long struggle against the influence of this religion was marked by famous victories such as Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal. However, even in Elijah’s time, all except seven thousand Israelites were bowing down to kiss statues of Baal. (1 Kings 19:18) Even Solomon, for all his wisdom, was led astray into the cult of the goddess Ashtoreth. (1 Kings 11) Eventually the Jewish nation as a whole, from Jerusalem to Egypt, was making sacrificial wafer-cakes for the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 44:15-19, in Egypt this was the goddess Isis) and some were practicing the March-April "abomination" of weeping over the untimely death of the god Tammuz. (Ezekiel 8:14,15) Tammuz was the "Shepherd" of Babylon, the son and husband of the mother goddess, identified with Horus and Osiris in Egypt, and with Janus of Rome.

So, using the King Nebuchadnezzar II, God gave the Jews over to their own desires and to a rebuilt and resurrected Babylon they went - as prisoners for an exile of seventy years. (Jeremiah 25) Nebuchadnezzar’s city was the largest in the world at the time, surrounded by a massive brick wall that was 25 meters wide at the top. Part of this wall was the huge gate of the goddess Ishtar, decorated with sacred dragons, lions and bulls. Inside the wall stood the new Tower of Babel and the great temple of the "Lord of the Air." Sacred trees planted at various levels in the city formed the "Hanging Gardens", one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

It was here in this city that Daniel’s three friends were thrown into the brick furnace for refusing to submit to the accepted religious system. It was here in the king’s palace that Belshazzar ("Baal protect the king"), the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, held his famous feast in which Daniel explained the writing on the wall - it said that Babylon the Great was going to fall to the Persians and Medes. Indeed, within 24 hours Cyrus the Great (a Persian) captured the city and set up Darius (a Mede) as ruler. The great city known as "the glory of the kingdoms" and "the praise of the whole earth" had literally been taken overnight. (Isaiah 1:19, Jeremiah 51:41) Her kings were dead, her idols were broken and her priests had fled. What did the future hold in store? Nebuchadnezzar had once seen the shape of things to come. He had received a dream that Daniel interpreted as the appearance of four world kingdoms followed by a final and everlasting kingdom - a Rock. (Daniel 2) Daniel himself received a vision of these four kingdoms in the form of beasts.

"The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand upon two feet like a man; and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side; it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, ‘Arise, devour much flesh.’ After this I looked, and lo, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, terrible and dreadful and exceedingly strong; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." (Daniel 7:4-8)

The first beast was the proud and swift lion of Babylon, which was devoured by the second beast, the mauling bear of Persia. The bear was "raised up on one side" because Persia only expanded westwards, dividing its territory into three "ribs" - Babylonia, Lydia (Turkey) and Egypt. The third beast was the leopard of Greece which, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, captured the city of Babylon and expanded into a huge empire in just six years. The Greek Empire was divided into four "heads" - Macedonia (Greece), Asia Minor (Turkey), Egypt and Babylon-Syria. Finally, the fourth beast came: iron-fisted, invincible Rome and her troops whose worldly power was not equaled by the former empires.

"As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time." (Daniel 7:23-25)

According to Daniel’s vision this fourth beast was to be the last in history which would "devour the whole earth." During the reign of its leaders God would "set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." (Daniel 2:44) Christ introduced that kingdom during the reign of Augustus Caesar. But that was not the immediate end of the beast, for Rome was to remain until the return of Christ when "one like a son of man" would come "with the clouds of heaven" to receive his eternal kingdom visibly at the final judgement. (Daniel 7:13,14,21,22,26-28) The ten "horns" which arose out of this fourth beast were the famous ten kingdoms into which the Roman Empire became divided: Heruli, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Burgundians, Huns, Lombards, Franks and Anglo-Saxons. And out of these ten was to come the final "horn" whose kingship was mysteriously "different from the former ones," who would "speak words against the Most High" and "wear out the saints" - the one now known as the predicted Antichrist.

 

2. MYSTERY BABYLON

The word mystery comes from the Greek verb "myein" which means to close the eyes or the lips. In the Bible it refers to something which man is unable to completely understand or explain. The apostle Paul used this word in describing the incarnation of Christ. "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh..." (1 Timothy 3:16) In the same way Paul described the appearance of the Antichrist in the flesh. Paul was writing to prevent his readers from being deceived by any theory that stated that Christ would return for his people before the Antichrist reigned. The "son of perdition" was to come first and cause a great rebellion against the truth, persecuting the faithful who would not submit to his divine claims. But not until the Caesars were out of the way and the empire divided into ten kingdoms could this final "horn" rise up out of Rome. Early disciples knew this and even prayed for the preservation of the empire during their lifetimes lest the more dreaded era of the Antichrist fell upon them.

"Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God...For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who is restraining it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him with his appearance and his coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8)

The word "mystery" is often used in religious circles to describe something that is deliberately kept in secret by man, although this is more accurately described by the word occult. Occult groups or mystery religions have existed from as far back as the ancient Egyptians to modern day Freemasons. Their earliest written records are the Chaldean Oracles of Babylon which involved fire and water rituals and secret initiations. The mystery cults of the Roman world were identical and their priests would often speak in a foreign tongue to keep their people in the dark.

"MYSTERY RELIGIONS, secret cults of the Greco-Roman world that offered to the individual initiates a way to have religious experiences not provided by the official public religions. The constitutive features of the mystery societies, which reached their peak of popularity in the first three centuries of the Christian era, were common meals, dances, and ceremonies, especially initiation rites in which death and resurrection were symbolically represented." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Mystery religions, 1974, VII: 153)

Thus, by New Testament times, the mystery cults were an important part of Roman culture, and it was while Rome was collecting and blending the myths of the occult religions that John received his sensational vision of the continuing mystery of Babel. Babylon the Great, the city by the Euphrates River, was already lying in uninhabited ruins, but as far as the New Testament was concerned it was by no means finished.

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who is seated upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the dwellers on earth have become drunk. And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations." And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Revelation 17:1-6)

The seven-headed, ten-horned beast is a reminder of the Roman Empire pictured in Daniel 7. Seated upon the beast is a woman of mystery, a motherly prostitute holding a cup in her hand that drugged the rulers and nations of earth. Her identity is intimately connected with the Babylon of the Old Testament, the "golden cup" which made "all the earth drunken." (Jeremiah 51:7) The cup was an important symbol in the ancient religions. It was filled with an aphrodisiac drug that was used to initiate new members into the cults and stimulate spiritual experiences. This thirst for experience partly explains why the woman is a harlot. A harlot is a woman who has a sexual relationship with a man based simply on experience of him, a relationship outside the law. In the Bible God only makes his relationships with people through a legal contract, a covenant, like marriage. When the people were unfaithful or imagined they could approach God outside the contract conditions the prophets exposed them as harlots. In Babylon both physical and spiritual prostitution were mixed together in the quest for religious experiences - especially in the worship of the goddess Ishtar.

"ISHTAR, in Mesopotamian religion, great goddess...In name and attributes identical with the West Semitic goddess Astarte. (Hebrew ASHTORETH) ... Ishtar was also the goddess of love, delighting in bodily love, including prostitution." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ishtar, 1974, V: 446)

In fact Ishtar was connected in one way or another with all the goddesses of ancient mythology. She was the origin of all of them, for example as a mother figure (Isis), as a prostitute (Astarte, Aphrodite), as a sea-goddess (Isis, Asherah, Aphrodite), as dove goddess (Isis, Juno) and even as a sacred virgin (Artemis, Vesta, Juno). In their many forms her cults were always a problem to the people of God. Early disciples were confronted by the cult of Artemis (Diana) whose temple in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Acts 19) The apostle Paul wrote two strong letters to Corinth, the cult center of Aphrodite, where early disciples had been considerably, and very adversely, affected by the Greek emphasis on religious experiences. The vision which John saw of this world-influencing harlot stunned him into temporary amazement, just as Daniel’s visions had often left him confused and breathless. But, like Daniel, John was not left to attempt his own interpretation of what he had seen. The continuing vision ensured that he and others would understand the new location of this mysterious female.

"Why marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads that carries her...This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven hills on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings...the waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues...And the woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of earth." (Revelation 17:7,9,15,18)

For thousands of years Rome has been famous as the city built on seven hills, the city which has been the seat of seven forms of government. Within her walls the god Jupiter (Zeus, Baal) and the goddess Juno (the Savior of pagan Rome) were worshipped on the Capitol Hill. Juno was also closely associated with an important deity called Janus (Tammuz), the god of the Door, whose temple was located close to the Forum. A sacred sect of nuns kept the purgatory fires of the goddess Vesta burning continually. Mystery cults of the Persian god Mithra ("Sun of Righteousness") met together to eat sacred bread which they revered as Mithra’s physical body. Emperors usually upheld the god Sol ("the Sun") or a deity of their personal choice. Julius Caesar favored Venus. Others preferred the more popular cult of Mother Cybele. 

"VENUS, in Roman religion, a goddess of obscure origins and basic functions; later identified with the Greek Aphrodite. Venus had no myths of her own but took over those of Aphrodite…The most noteworthy result of this development was perhaps the acquisition by the planet Venus of that name. The planet was at first the star of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and thence Aphrodite." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Venus, 1974, X: 392)

"GREAT MOTHER of the Gods, ancient Oriental-Greek-Roman deity commonly known as Cybele...under the empire it became one of the most important cults in the Roman world. In all of her aspects, Roman, Greek, and Oriental, the Great Mother was characterized by essentially the same qualities. Most prominent among them was her universal motherhood. Her priests castrated themselves on entering her service." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Great Mother, 1974, IV: 700)

Thus Rome became the melting pot of world religion. The most significant development was that of Roman Catholicism, which fused together the popular myths with teachings borrowed from the Bible. From Cybele and Isis came the traditions of the worldwide motherhood of the Roman Church and the concept that her priests should shave their heads and remain unmarried. Ishtar (Easter) became the main Christian festival and the wailing processions of Tammuz were converted into Holy Week. The birthday festivals of Sol and Mithra, held on December 25, were disguised as the birth of Christ. The wafers offered to Isis and Mithra’s sacramental meal became the Sacrifice of the Mass. Juno, the dove and savior, became the Roman Madonna who performed the role of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by the dove) by applying the salvation of her Son to the faithful. The Madonna assumed the myth of the virgin Diana and was believed to have ascended into heaven from the city of Ephesus. The supreme title of the Queen of Heaven was given to her and under her Christian disguise she continued as the most worshipped idol the world has ever known.

"The Christian representations of the Madonna and child are clearly the continuation of the representations of Isis and her son suckling her breast." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Mystery religions, 1974, 12:785)

This marriage of world religion with the teachings of Christ was greatly accelerated by an event in 312 AD. The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, rejected the cult of Sol in favor of Christianity because he had used the sign X (sacred to both Christians and pagans) in a battle and had won. Pagans changed their gods for similar reasons. Christianity was then adopted as the official religion and it became a socially desirable and profitable thing to profess this faith. Church and State were soon hand in hand and Rome, the largest city of the Western World at the time, came to be regarded as the City of God on earth, the praise of the whole world. But in fact it was an accurate picture of ancient Babylon. In the Old Testament the people of Israel were warned, "You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are round about you...lest the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and he destroy you off the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 6:14) But they did hunger after the gods of Babel, so to Babylon they went - in chains. Isaiah described these idolatrous Jews as people who "swear by the name of the Lord and confess the God of Israel, but not in truth or right." (Isaiah 48:10) They used God’s name but were mixing it with the religions of the world, committing spiritual prostitution. Exactly the same thing happened in Rome from the New Testament period onwards. The city was to become the very image of those who "hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18), who worship the Lord Jesus Christ in vain while teaching the traditions of man. (Matthew 15:6-9) But, while Rome thus appears to be at the heart of the matter, the Bible in no way limits the scope of this mystery to one mere city or even one religious system. True, the seat of the harlot in Revelation may be the great city upon seven hills, but her authority is over the "multitudes and nations and tongues." And according to Daniel and John the particular beast she rides has a body that exercises its power across the "whole earth." Like Babylon the Great, Mystery Babylon is a worldwide phenomenon.

 

3. THE ANTI OF CHRIST

At the head of each of the four world empires represented in Daniel 7 there was a series of rulers who considered themselves to be the living representatives of God. The Babylonian zzars were known by the name "King of kings." The Persian overlords received divine worship from their citizens. The Grecian Alexander called himself no less than the "Son of God." Later, when the Greek Empire was divided into four kingdoms, Antiochus IV arose from Babylon-Syria. He was a type of the coming Antichrist. He entered the Jerusalem Temple proclaiming himself to be "Theos Epiphanes" (God Manifest). Then came the fourth empire of Rome led by the Caesars who held the supreme title of "Our Lord and God." The Roman Empire was eventually divided into the ten famous kingdoms, which Daniel had seen as ten horns. (Daniel 7:7,8) At last, in the midst of these horns, there arose the final little horn - the Papacy. As predicted, the Papacy subdued three of these ten kingdoms: the Heruli, Vandals and Ostrogoths. The Papal kingdom was to be very "different from the former ones" (Daniel 7:24) but, just as the horns in former beasts often represented a succession of rulers, so too the single throne of the Papacy was to seat a long line of individual Pontiffs.

The Papacy was to "speak words against the Most High," "change the times and the law" and "wear out the saints." (Daniel 7:25) God’s laws were indeed altered by Papal dispensations, and festivals borrowed from paganism were instituted. The Pope’s official word was to be regarded as infallible, unchangeable and unquestioned. As Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) put it, "We declare, say, define and proclaim, that to submit to the Roman Pontiff is for every human creature, an utter necessity of salvation." (Unam Sanctam) Without digging up the details of the horrifying past (any condensed account such as Ridpath’s History of the World will substantiate this) it should be sufficient to state that in the Dark Ages alone many millions of "dissenters" who would not conform to the Papal Church were put to death in acts of unspeakable brutality.

As Paul had foreseen, the "man of sin" would seat himself "in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Note carefully the New Testament Greek word for the Temple in Jerusalem is "hieron" but the word Paul uses here is "naos" indicating that it was to be another kind of house that the Antichrist would use for his blasphemy. From the earliest times the Popes took the title of "Our Lord and God" from the tradition of the Caesars and made astonishing claims. Here are some of their Doctrinal Statements.

"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." (Pope Boniface VIII, reigned 1294-1303)

"I, despite my unworthiness, am the successor of the apostles, the Vicar of Jesus Christ...I am the way, the truth and the life." (Pope Pius IX, 1846-78)

"We hold the place of Almighty God on earth." (Pope Leo XIII, declared 1894)

"You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on earth." (Pope Pius XI, from the Vatican in 1922)

"Into this fold of Jesus Christ no man may enter unless he be led by the Sovereign Pontiff, and only if they be united to him can men be saved." (Pope John XXIII, reigned 1958-63)

(For more supremely blasphemous utterances refer to The Apostolic Digest, Sacred Heart Press, Irving, Texas, 1987)

The "little horn" of the Greek Empire, Antiochus Epiphanes, entered the Temple of Jerusalem as a type of the coming Antichrist and committed a "transgression that makes desolate." From 168-165 BC he did away with the Old Testament sacrifices and even offered up a pig to Zeus in the sanctuary instead. (Daniel 8:9-14) In the same way the "little horn" of the Roman Empire set up a continual abomination in the midst of the new Temple by replacing the final sacrifice of Christ with the ongoing Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic Dictionary defines this ritual as, "the unbloody Sacrifice of Calvary; the Sacrifice of the Eucharist; the highest act of worship in the Catholic Church which is offered up by a priest in the place of Christ himself."

The apostle John warned early believers that "antichrist" was coming and had even come already. (1 John 2:18) The Greek word for "antichrist" used by John means "substitute-christ" and refers to anyone whose person or teaching is a replacement for the real Jesus. This is the exact title held by the Pope as Vicar of Christ. The word "vicar" comes from the Latin "vicarius" meaning, "substitute" or "stand-in." As Pope Pius X (1903-1914) put it, "The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ " but he is Jesus Christ himself hidden under the veil of flesh." It was through a careful study of the relevant Scriptures that Bible scholars like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Melancthon, Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer were all utterly convinced that the Papacy was the predicted Anti of Christ. It was not a case of throwing stones at someone they did not personally like. Luther, for instance, was at first very reluctant to share such a terrible discovery, but he could not hide the truth. Others paid for it with their lives.

"We are convinced that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist." (Luther, Werke, Weimar, vol.2, p.167)

"…the child of perdition, the wicked bishop of Rome." (Tyndale, English Bible translator, later killed by the church, his work being altered and reissued in the King James or Authorized version)

"Likewise in 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul clearly states that the man of sin will rule in the church exalting himself above the worship of God...popes do rule in the church and under the title of the church in defending idols...no heresy has arisen, nor indeed can be, with which these descriptions of Paul can more certainly accord...than this pontifical kingdom." (Melancthon, Opera, Vol.12, Col. 535)

"Antichrist of Rome...hath extolled himself above his fellow bishops, as God’s vicar, yea, rather as God himself...and sitteth in the temple of God...and causeth his decrees to be more regarded than God’s laws..." (Cranmer, Works, Vol. 1, p.6)

"The emperors passed on to the popes the title of chief priest, Pontifex Maximus." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Roman religion, 1974, 10:1063) This title of Sovereign Pontiff (the highest mediator between heaven and earth, from the Latin "pont" meaning "bridge") was originally held by the head of the priesthood of Janus and Cybele in pagan Rome. As the representative of Janus (the god of the Door, "Janitor" meaning "doorkeeper") the Pontiff was supported by a College of Cardinals (priests of the "Hinge", from the Latin "cardinis" meaning "hinge"). At the time of Christ the title of Sovereign Pontiff was given to Augustus Caesar, and the Roman emperors held it until Gratian was persuaded by Ambrose (the bishop of Milan) to abolish the pagan name in 382 AD. But even before Gratian died the title was cleverly revived and given to Damasus I (the bishop of Rome). Thus the Popes continued in an ancient priestly succession which gave them a claim to superiority over other bishops.

To this very day a Roman bishop appears in the garments and hat of Osiris or Tammuz the Shepherd watching over his flock. In Rome, Tammuz (Janus) became a double-faced god whose symbols were a key, a staff and a cockerel. Janus was a supreme deity, sometimes called the "God of gods" and associated with the goddess Juno, thereby confusing him with Jupiter. He was also closely associated with Mother Cybele who possessed the other sacred key in the mystery religions. By borrowing from the myth of Janus the Papacy devised a further claim to the supremacy of the Roman Church. In 431 AD these two keys were held up as being those which Christ had given to Peter, and Peter was claimed to be the head of an apostolic succession, the first bishop of Rome and the doorkeeper to heaven. Ever since then countless millions of pilgrims have flocked to Rome to kiss the feet of the Pope and the toes of an ancient bronze idol of Jupiter (Zeus, Baal) renamed Peter. Ironically, the only Biblical evidence that Peter had any contact with Rome was the greeting he passed on from "Babylon." (1 Peter 5:13) However, the two-faced claim of Rome helped to convince both pagans and the new sect of neo-pagans, Christians, that the Pope was the incarnate Shepherd and Door.

 

4. THE DRAGON INCARNATE

The Bible speaks of God being married to his people as to a Bride, the true Israel a type of the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of all believers. (Galatians 4:26; 6:16) In Revelation 12 John describes a vision of the true Israel in her role as mother about to bring forth the Messiah. A great dragon appears, attempting to destroy the child and John understands that this dragon is the Adversary of God, Satan himself.

"And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth…And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, he was thrown down to earth and his angels were thrown down with him." (Revelation 12:3,9)

After Satan is thus thrown down to earth John sees a beast rising up out of the sea which is the exact image of Satan appearing in the world of flesh. This beast is similar to the picture of Rome in Daniel 7, the empire that had absorbed Babylon, Greece and Persia.

"And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’ And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months." (Revelation 13:1-5)

In other words, the worshippers of this beast actually adore Satan, and it is the very same beast that the Babylonian harlot is riding in Revelation 17. The leaders of the Reformation concluded that she could be none other than the image of the Roman Church, and that the head of that organization must be the "son of perdition" described by Paul. This was a devastating accusation. The only other person to be called the "son of perdition" in Scripture is the false apostle Judas Iscariot who was a direct instrument of Satan. (John 13:27; 17:12)

"You must be armed with the Scripture so that you can not only call the pope the Anti-Christ but also know how to prove it so clearly that you could die with this conviction and stand against the devil in death." (Luther, quoted by Forrell, Faith active in Love, Augsburg, p.171)

"The head, under Satan, of all mischief is Antichrist and his brood; the same is he which is the Babylonian beast...the whore is that city saith John in plain words, which hath empire of the kings of the earth...Now what city is there in the whole world, that when John wrote, ruled over the kings of the earth; or what city can be read of in any time...but only the city of Rome...?" (Ridley, Works, p.53)

At the time it was outrageous for Ridley to compare Rome with Babylon (and the Church killed him for it) or for Luther to associate the Pope with Satan. Nevertheless John’s vision had connected the seven-hilled city with Babel, and Paul had warned that the son of perdition would appear "by the activity of Satan." (2 Thessalonians 2:9) Thus they knew that a likeness of Satan’s devices was to be seen in the world of flesh, associated with Rome, in the form of a man at the head of a human institution which resembled the Babylon of old. In fact the Bible symbolically associates the very fall of Satan from heaven with the ruler of Babylon. (Isaiah 14) Rome is certainly not the only city in Scripture to receive demonic connections. John’s vision described the city of Pergamon as the place "where Satan dwells." (Revelation 2:13) At that time Pergamon was famous for the Great Altar of Bel (Zeus, Jupiter), and the cult center of Cybele. But what later developed in Rome was a far more dangerous enemy because the religious traditions of Babel were gradually adopted behind a mask of truth during the invention of the Christian Church. "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light," warned Paul, "so it is not strange if his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." (2 Corinthians 11:14,15)

Paul repeatedly indicated that a falling away would occur in later times during which men of "counterfeit faith" would come, "holding a form of godliness but denying the power of it," pretenders, deceivers and imposters who would prosper while the faithful were persecuted. They would teach the "doctrines of demons," preventing people from marrying and teaching them to abstain from things which God gave freely. (1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3) Note: the word "religion (from the Latin religio) is not scriptural and is incorrectly inserted into 2 Timothy 3:5 in some Bibles which should read "godliness" as per the older Greek texts. All this fake teaching was to be fulfilled exactly in the Christian Church, even in the first century AD, people mixing in with the disciples only to deny the real Christ and to "pervert the grace of God." (Jude 4) This has been happening ever since. It is a sobering thought to remember that the most accurate picture of the Devil’s influence appears, not in obvious atheism, but in the world of devout religious worship, especially in a system that appears to represent Christ. "This is the scarlet woman," writes Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "this is the most horrible, foul deception of all because it uses his name." (Roman Catholicism, Evangelical Press, p.14) It is equally worthwhile remembering that God’s command, "Come out of her, my people," was not directed to believers in a "godless society" but rather to those ensnared in religion. (Jeremiah 51:45, Revelation 18:4)

 

5. THE MORTAL WOUND

In the visions of Daniel and John the beast identified with the Roman power is given dominion over the saints for "a time, two times, and half a time," and "allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months" so that the faithful must hide in a wilderness for these "1260 days." (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 12:6 and 13:5) Daniel’s prophecies sometimes used the commonly accepted Hebrew prophetic year (one prophetic day = one year, one prophetic week = 7 years, one prophetic time (year) = 365 years). If Daniel wanted it to be clear that a day was a literal 24-hour day then he used the term "morning and evening" day, similar to the Genesis account of Creation. But in these beastly predictions he used the prophetic times. Three and one half "times" or years are the same as 42 months or 1260 days (allowing for calendar correction and the Jewish year). Hence the early Protestant scholars thought that this period of time could well apply to the 1260 years of supreme Papal power which ended during the struggle of the Reformation, when the foundations of Rome shook like the Babylon of old.

It is quite certain that the Protestants caused a "mortal wound" (Revelation 13:3) to the Roman beast which caused it to stagger as if it would fall forever. Actually the wound was healed in a remarkably quick recovery, but the monopoly of the Roman Church was seriously damaged. There were millions of ordinary folk who had previously made a stand for Christ in the Dark Ages, and notable theologians such as Wycliffe and Huss. But it was not until the lifetime of Luther (1483-1546) and onwards that the sensational break was secured. The gospel that was once whispered carefully was then proclaimed openly from the rooftops. Luther translated the New Testament for the German public. Tyndale produced an English version.

But it was not just the distribution of Bibles that caused change. Priests had gazed with blind eyes at the Scriptures for centuries. The Protestant Reformers had discovered that man was saved purely and solely by the grace of Almighty God, and that the righteousness which saves man is not found in himself, but in Christ. On the face of it that would also appear to be the Roman concept of salvation "by grace" and "by Christ." But from the very beginning there has been "another gospel" and it always limited the grace of God to a mere offer of salvation which man could accept whenever he so pleased. In other words this salvation ultimately depended on something man did. The Encyclopaedia Britannica precisely defines the mark of Roman religion as "not truly God’s grace but man’s cooperation." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Roman religion, 1974, 15:1059)

As a monk, Luther had been trying to co-operate with God for a long time in vigils, chanting, penance, confessions and all kinds of human effort or surrender to gain and remain in the favor of God. Then God came to him. The light flashed around him and Luther saw that he was saved by grace from above and not by any of his own efforts or desires. From his study of the book of Romans Luther understood how God could continue to abide with him even though he continually fell short of the divine standard. It all hinged on the fact that Christ had come and completely finished the work of salvation as a Substitute for his people.

Christ had done what no other man could do by living a life of perfect obedience to the laws of God, and this alone satisfied the requirements for eternal life. As well as that, Jesus paid the inescapable penalty for the sins of his people, which throughout the Bible, is death. His life and sacrifice were entirely sufficient for them and satisfied God completely. Thus a great exchange takes place between Christ and those who believe, because God made Christ "to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Just as Christ was counted as a sinner and received the real death penalty for sin, so those who believe in him are freed from the penalty and actually counted as perfect. In God’s estimation they are as righteous as Christ himself.

With this information the Reformers pulled the carpet out from under Rome’s feet. Although her theologians readily admitted that nothing short of absolute righteousness could make a person fit for God, they insisted that this righteousness had to be injected (infused) into the believer. (This was the main reason for eating the Queen of Heaven’s cakes or Mithra’s sacraments.) Those escaping from the Church realized that their saving righteousness was not in themselves, that they simply could not be righteous enough in themselves to merit acceptance with God, but that in Christ they became the righteousness of God; in him they were counted or reckoned (imputed) with a perfect standing before God.

"This one article, by little and little, as it began, had overthrown the whole papacy, with all her brotherhoods, pardons, religious orders, relics, ceremonies, invocation of saints, purgatory, Masses, watchings, vows and infinite other like abominations...We moreover did teach and urge nothing but this article of justification which alone at that time did threaten the authority of the Pope and lay waste his kingdom." (Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, Middleton Edition, p.218)

In fact this one doctrine of being saved entirely by the work of Another will always set apart the elect from members of any world religion, be they devotees of the East searching in themselves for light, Christians attempting to be saved by their own "religious cooperation," or anyone else seeking to approach God through personal effort or experience. Nothing short of a life of perfect obedience to God’s will from birth to death can merit eternal life, and this Christ alone has performed and supplied on behalf of his elect. However, those rescued from Rome did not despise cooperation with God since they gladly acknowledged that man was saved to cooperate. What they despised was any system that taught that man could be saved by such cooperation rather than by the finished work of Christ alone.

Luther understood that the faith which puts man right with God is a living, working faith and that in this sense good works were absolutely essential in the regenerate man. (James 2) He also realized that man could only be fully justified by a life of perfect works, not his own, but Christ’s works imputed to his account. Thus he grasped the critical truth, that while man is not saved without works he is not saved by his own works in any way at all, otherwise "grace would no longer be grace," (Romans 11:5,6) Like Paul, Luther insisted that man was justified solely by faith in the work which God did for him (in Christ). Roman theologians, who met to discuss this at the Council of Trent (1545-63), could not accept it. They held on to the humanistic emphasis that man was justified by what God did in him. Rome pronounced a curse on anyone holding Luther’s view.

"After months of intense debate, the council ruled against Luther’s doctrine of Justification by faith alone: man, the council said, was inwardly justified by cooperating with divine grace that God bestows gratuitously." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Council of Trent, 1974, X: 110)

"If anyone says that men are justified by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ...or also that the grace of God by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be accursed. (Council of Trent, Canon II)

That is the position Rome holds to this day. Since the Council of Trent the Roman Church has put on disguises in many less important areas, but she has never withdrawn her curse on this fundamental truth of the gospel. Yet most Protestant groups are moving ever closer towards a unity with Rome on the basis that she appears to be making significant changes on the surface. But these are merely "changes of skin" compared to the heart of justification by grace and faith alone. Since it was this truth in the Word of God that mortally wounded a dragon it is worth studying in more detail.

God warned Adam that he would die "in the day" he disobeyed his Lord. (Genesis 2:17) Adam died to God, all men inherit this death and all men are declared guilty and "made sinners" by this one man’s sin. (Romans 5:12,18,19) Hence man is "dead in sin" even from his conception. (Ephesians 2:1,5; Psalm 51:5) In this natural state man "does not receive the gifts of the Spirit," "cannot please God," is a "slave to sin," "is darkness" and does not truly seek for God but prefers darkness to light. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 3:11; 6:20; 8:8; Ephesians 5:8; John 3:19) This is the awful situation of the natural man.

Out of pure grace God provided a salvation for his undeserving people by sending His Son to do what they could not. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the unbending law of God and died to pay the necessary penalty for the sins of his people; he rose again to put his people right with God and he continually pleads for them at the right hand of God. (Matthew 1:21; Romans 8:3,4; 8:31-33) This is the message, the Word which brings forth God’s people. (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3,23)

In order to be saved man must trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ as the divine Substitute who has lived and died on his behalf. (John 3:14; Acts 16:31) However no man can repent or believe unless he receives divine permission. (Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:25) As a complete act of grace the Spirit "blows where it will" and the Father and Son "give life to whom they will." (John 3:8; 5:21) So those who receive Christ are "born, not of blood (not inherited) nor of the will of the flesh (not self-effort) nor of the will of man (not by human persuasion), but of God," so that salvation "depends not upon man’s will or exertion but upon God’s mercy." (John 1:12,13; Romans 9:16) This is grace.

When the Holy Spirit creates a heart of faith in a man and that man puts his faith in the Person and work of Christ then God declares him to be absolutely righteous in His sight, not because he has become righteous in himself but because he has become "the righteousness of God" in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21) His new life will necessarily cause him to change towards Biblical obedience but he is never saved by being injected with purity, let alone perfection, his righteousness is always held for him in Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:30) Although inward cooperation is vitally important the elect disciple is never to become obsessed with the work God is doing in him as though his own obedience made him acceptable to God. He is "made righteous" only by "one man’s obedience." (Romans 5:19) Even the greatest disciple is put right with God only because he holds the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 4:23-25) Thus man is "justified by his grace" (gift of Father) in Christ Jesus" (gift of Son) "to be received by faith" (gift of Spirit). (Romans 3:24,25) This is justification.

 

6. YET ANOTHER BEAST

In Revelation 13 there is a second beast that appears on the world scene. Its relationship to the beast with the mortal wound is very close. It wields the authority of the first beast, exists in the presence of the first beast, and causes the world to bow to the first beast. Disguised as a lamb it is inwardly like a dragon.

"Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain." (Revelation 13:11-15)

During the Reformation period another power was born which was destined to influence the world in the name of Christ, creating a secondary church beast that would be distinct from Rome but ultimately lead the world back to Rome. In 1534, in Paris, a Spaniard named Ignatius of Loyola, who claimed that the Madonna herself had appeared to him with her blessing, formed the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in which he was later elected the first General. Loyola was, like his namesake, the early church father Ignatius of Antioch (died c.110 AD), utterly in love with church hierarchy and the absolute primacy of the bishop. Amongst the Society’s first members was the spiritual father of their missionaries to the world, Francis Xavier. In 1540 the Jesuits put themselves at the disposal of Pope Paul III, one of their "spiritual exercises" being absolute obedience to the Church whatever the command. "We must see black as white if the Church says so," taught Ignatius. Indeed, they did not stop short of torture or murder. The Jesuit oath of initiation, still taken today, is nothing short of an abomination. In 1546 the Pope chose two delegates from the original Society, Lainez and Salmeron, to represent him at the Council of Trent.

Two basic doctrines of the Jesuits helped re-establish the "image" of the Roman Church. Firstly, except where Mariolatry is to be veiled because of the ecumenical strategy of wooing others, the Society strongly supports the mystical adoration of the Madonna. (It was only in 1854 that Pope Pius IX officially proclaimed the Virgin’s sinless perfection, and as recently as 1950 that Pius XII endorsed the belief that she had been bodily assumed into heaven like Christ.) Secondly, more than any other Catholic order, the Jesuits support the very "breath" of Rome, the infallible voice of the Papacy. In return the Society is granted the priestly powers of hearing confessions, changing vows, forgiving sins and performing the Mass, and more importantly it receives enormous political authority. Within 30 years of the Society’s formation nearly one million Christians who would not submit to Rome were put to death. (Scott’s Commentary on the Bible, Revelation 13)

The Society is indispensable to the Pope and it is often impossible to distinguish it from the Papal authority. Absolutely committed to the task of bringing all nations and faiths under the authority of Rome, they describe themselves as "faithful soldiers under the most sacred Lord the Pope." The Jesuits were to become the largest order, the strongest political and teaching force of the Roman Church. They initiated the healing of the mortal wound of the Reformation and their worldwide influence is significant in the ecumenical plans of the Vatican today.

"JESUITS, in full SOCIETY OF JESUS (S.J.), a Roman Catholic order of religious men, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola...once regarded by many as the principal agent of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and later - especially during and after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) - a leading force in modernizing the church. The Jesuits have always been a controversial group regarded by some as a society to be feared and condemned and by others as the most laudable and esteemed religious order...The society grew rapidly and it quickly assumed a prominent role in the Counter-Reformation defense and revival of Catholicism...The pre-eminent position of the Jesuits among the religious orders and their championship of the pope has exposed them to hostility...the order has grown to be the largest order of male religious. Work in education on all levels continued to involve more Jesuits than any other activity. They were also involved in a broad complex of activities including work in the field of communications, in social work, in ecumenical groups, and even in politics." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Jesuits, 1974, V: 549-550)

At the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI launched a full-scale ecumenical program aimed at bringing the people of the world back to Mother Rome. A special Secretariat for Non-Christians was created to which the Pope himself said, "We hope we will soon see the day when all religions will unite their efforts concretely in the service of man, his freedom and his dignity." (Osservatore Romano, 19 Oct. 1972) Under Pope Paul VI the Vatican openly complimented Buddhists for their "spirituality," Hindus for their "profound meditation" and Moslems for "our common faith in God." Meanwhile Jesuit scholars have been working on the essential doctrines and traditional practices that such religions already hold in common with Rome.

Rome is especially zealous to make an alliance with the Protestant denominations and various Christian cults. It is true that there has been a stream of Protestant people moving back towards the teachings of Rome ever since the Reformation, but recent developments have been turning this into a sweeping flood. The time is indeed ripe for a universal politico-religious organization of the type that once ruled the Western World in the Dark Ages. And, once again, everyone belonging to this human system will spiritually receive the "mark of the beast," just as people belonging to the mystery cults were physically branded on their foreheads and hands with a stamp of permanent membership. (Revelation 13:16-18) Yes, the body and face of the second beast also has a strikingly Protestant likeness.

 

7. THE FUTURE HOAX

The Reformers had seen that the Anti of Christ was very much alive in their own generation, and they let the public know it. They knew that any spirit which distorted the fact that man was fully and finally saved only by the righteousness of God in Christ was the spirit of antichrist. Obviously this threw Rome into great confusion. Something had to be done to divert men’s eyes from the Papal throne. This was a considerable problem because the Bible was being distributed to the public and people were able to read it for themselves. Another interpretation of the Scriptures was required to replace the "historicist" view of the Reformers.

Luis de Alcazar (1554-1613), a Spanish Jesuit, produced the "preterist" view, claiming that the prophecies of Revelation were completely fulfilled in the Roman empire of the past and that Emperor Nero was the predicted Antichrist. This interpretation never became very popular, although a few liberal Protestants did accept it. Another Spanish Jesuit, Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) devised the "futurist" view. He taught that the greater part of Revelation referred only to a period in the future, just before the return of Christ. He described the Antichrist as a single man who would sit in the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple and blaspheme God for a literal three and one half years, and that the conflict would center in the Middle East.

Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621), a well-known Italian Jesuit, popularized and published Ribera’s system as a part of Catholic doctrine. "All Catholics think thus that Antichrist will be one certain man; but all heretics teach...that Antichrist is expressly declared to be not a single person but an individual throne." (Disputatione, Bellarmine, Book 3, Chapter 2, p.185) Note this comment from a former Roman priest, "The Jesuits...were the first ones to introduce a new theory to divert men’s minds from perceiving the fulfillment of the prophecies of the antichrist in the papal church...Protestants who advocate the futuristic system are pleasing the Pope and are playing into the hands of Rome." (For a detailed exposure of such tactics see Secrets of Romanism, Joseph Zacchello, Neptune, NJ, Loiseaux Bros. 1988)

Among the first notable English Protestants to accept the futuristic system were Samuel Maitland (1792-1866, librarian to the Archbishop of Canterbury) and John Newman (1801-1890, an Anglican who returned to Rome and became a cardinal). Meanwhile, amongst the charismatic groups of Henry Irving (1792-1834) a woman named Margaret Macdonald received a message during a "prophetic trance" that had never been heard of before - the notion of a two-stage return of Christ, secretly for his people first and then openly at the last day. Up until this time the rapture (saints meeting the coming Bridegroom in the air) and the descent of Christ (returning with the saints) were considered a simultaneous event by every major prophetic scholar since the apostles.

J.N. Darby (1800-1882), of the Plymouth Brethren, adopted and reproduced both the futurist system of the Jesuits and the secret rapture theory of the Irvingites. Notable Bible scholars, including Charles Spurgeon, quickly saw it as unscriptural. Nevertheless the teaching, sometimes known as "dispensationalism", spread very rapidly. In America, Cyrus Schofield (1843-1921) strongly supported the teachings of Darby and incorporated them as notes in the Schofield Reference Bible. Today the futurist interpretation is considered orthodox "evangelical" doctrine and has been developed so thoroughly that most Protestants have never heard that it is quite a recent development, nor do they know where it came from.

When the scholar and reformer Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) first read the futurist view of the Jesuits he exclaimed, "Once they would not suffer any man to scarce touch a Bible, now they produce a commentary to explain it, to point men away from the Papal Antichrist." Indeed, and today the futurist system promises believers that they will not even be here when the Antichrist’s time of trouble comes because the "rapture" is supposed to occur before this persecution begins. This concept would have been nonsense to every generation of believers in past persecutions. "In the world you have tribulation," promised Jesus, "If they (the religious authorities) persecute me they will persecute you." His prayer to the Father was, "not that You should take them out of the world but that You should keep them from the evil one." (John 15:20; 16:33; 17:15)

Perhaps the part of prophetic Scripture to be most distorted by dispensationalism is Daniel’s great vision of the work of the Messiah concerning the Jewish nation. (Daniel 9:24-27) According to this prediction there would be an unbroken period of 70 prophetic weeks of years (490 years) from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until Christ came and made atonement for sin and introduced everlasting righteousness. After the first 69 weeks, in the midst of the 70th week (last 7 years) Messiah would be "cut off." He would confirm a strong covenant with many Jews during this period. Jesus himself did this for the first three and a half years, up to his final sacrifice, then for the last three and a half years through his apostles, after which the New Covenant was taken from the Jews to the Gentiles. After this Jerusalem was to be laid desolate, leaving not one stone upon another, which was fulfilled by the brutal siege and destruction of the city by Emperor Titus. Futurist scholars reject the fulfillment of this prophecy by Christ, teaching instead that the last 7 years are yet to come (now nearly 2000 years late) and that it is the Antichrist who will make this covenant with Israel! And what is more incredible is that Protestant "theologians" are lapping it up, even making themselves rich with bestsellers and films based on this material.

The most critical effect of the futurist system is that it diverts men’s eyes from the finished work of Christ, the completeness of the New Covenant. The New Testament states that Christ made the Jewish sacrifices and the Temple obsolete, and that those who live by faith in him are the authentic Temple, the true Israel of God. (1 Corinthians 3:16; Galatians 6:16) The futurist system, however, causes people to focus on the carnal Israel and look for a future Antichrist who will sit in a rebuilt Jerusalem Temple. Thus they cannot see that the mystery of sin is already well seated in the midst of them. The Antichrist is now. Harlot Babylon is now.

 

8. FIRE FROM HEAVEN

Just as the appearance of Christ was accompanied by extraordinary events and miraculous signs so also the coming of the Antichrist was to be marked by all kinds of "pretended signs and wonders." (2 Thessalonians 2:9) Indeed, with the rise of the Papacy the Roman Church entered a period of history unequalled in stories of visions, miraculous healing, prophetic utterances and countless religious experiences. Just as the New Testament apostles received the Holy Spirit under the visible symbol of fire from above, so also the second beast in Revelation 13 was to baptize its members, "making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men." (Revelation 13:13) Since the role of this second beast is to cause people to worship the first beast, it follows that the religious experience of its baptism will lead men towards Rome.

At Pentecost 1975 some 10.000 Catholic charismatics of the third International Conference of the Charismatic Renewal were attending Mass at the high altar in Rome. "The church and the world need what you have," said Pope Paul VI, "now go and give it to them." For the very first time, women prophesied from the Pope’s altar and strange tongues were heard in St. Peter’s Church. According to Catholic theologians the charismatic movement has renewed interest in the sacrifice of the Mass and devotion to Mary. The emphasis on personal religious experiences is in complete harmony with the spirituality of Roman religion, and Rome’s tremendous influence in the world press, radio and television will ensure that the charismatic movement receives constant publicity.

It is true that the Bible does promise deep experiences of the living God, but never are these experiences given the prime place that they hold in the charismatic movement. When God saves a sinner through pure grace He does it by putting the righteousness of Christ to his credit, and this gift, which is kept for him in heaven, is to be held by faith. This is the only righteousness that makes the believer acceptable to God from start to finish. This infinite righteousness cannot be fully injected into man’s finite person, but a little of it, a first fruit or "down payment," is brought into the elect believer by the Spirit of God. (Ephesians 1:13,14) This experience, which is a necessary part of salvation, changes a believer’s life, but it is not the basis of salvation. Only the infinite righteousness held for him in Christ can possibly save him either now or at the throne of God.

The root error of the charismatic movement, or Pentecostalism, is that it does not fully recognize the sufficiency of Christ’s work. After "merely" receiving the gift of Christ, the disciple is urged to go on to something higher and better, a further experience of the Holy Spirit. This implies that the infinite righteousness of Christ is not enough to bring the Spirit of God to man. As far as the apostle Paul was concerned being justified by faith in Christ and receiving the Spirit go hand in hand. (Romans 5:1-5; 8:1-10; Galatians 3:1-14) But charismatics are obsessed with a still greater gift than that of Jesus Christ, the "second blessing" or "another baptism." While it is true that there are cases in the book of Acts where there appeared a significant delay between the gift of faith and the gift of the Spirit, each one of these occurred in very special extra-ordinary circumstances at the beginning of a new era for the Word of God, which have never applied since. There is no mention of such a division in any of the doctrinal letters of the New Testament. Quite the opposite is stressed. There is only "one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Ephesians 4:4,5)

The righteousness of Christ is the sole and sufficient ground for the indwelling Spirit to be given abundantly. (Titus 3:5-8) If this is rejected then other ways must be sought to earn the Spirit. Thus the Spirit is no longer seen as a gift of grace and this saving experience must be obtained through man’s effort or surrender. While the New Testament emphasizes faith in the person and work of Christ as the only thing which brings the Spirit to God’s people (Galatians 3:2) the modern charismatic seeks to gain this blessing through his own surrender or dying to self. This is exactly what monks in the Middle Ages were doing, and it is represented by the continual sacrifice of the Mass. The exaltation of God’s work in man’s self rather than God’s work in man’s Savior and Substitute, as the basis of salvation, was the very foundation of the mystery cults, the cornerstone of Roman religion. For this reason Paul wrote two strong letters to the straying Corinthians, drawing them away from their selfish emphasis and pointing to Christ as their "righteousness, sanctification and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30) In the sixteenth century Luther risked his life by coming out of protection to oppose the charismatics who were already perverting the progress of the Word. In the eighteenth century the great preacher George Whitefield took the same stand even though, like Paul or Luther, he was a man of deep experiences, inner zeal, emotion and enthusiasm. In one of his visits to America Whitefield made these comments on the experience-centered teachings of the Quakers which aptly apply to the problem today:

"He...represented Christ within and not Christ without as the foundation of our faith; whereas the outward righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us, I believe, is the sole fountain and cause of all the inward communications which we receive from the Spirit of God. Oh, that all of that persuasion were convinced of this; till they are, they cannot preach the truth as it is in Jesus." "But I heartily wish they would talk of an outward as well as an inward Christ; for otherwise we make our own holiness, and not the righteousness of Jesus Christ the cause of our being accepted by God. From such doctrine may I always turn away. (Whitefield’s Journal, Banner of Truth, 1960, p.335, 341)

It must be emphasized that personal morality is vitally important and the New Testament urges disciples to strive for that "holiness without which no one shall see the Lord", to "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect", for "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 5:2-0,48) However, at the end of the day every true disciple will admit that he has "fallen short" and is an "unworthy servant" whose works are like a "dirty rag." (Romans 3:23; Luke 17:10; Isaiah 64:6) His acceptable holiness, his absolute perfection, his saving righteousness is still found in Christ alone and not in his own Spirit-filled life which is feeble in comparison. Until a disciple understands this he has not grasped why Christ had to die in his place.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and the most famous religious revivalist of the eighteenth century, is also remembered as the one who developed a doctrine of "sinless perfection" which he believed could be obtained as a second blessing or "higher salvation." He readily confessed that he never reached it himself, but this concept opened the gates to a stampede that followed, notably in the American "holiness movement." In the nineteenth century the "father of American revivalism," Charles Finney, captured the attention of millions with an experience-centered message that led people to seek an emotional, inward change as their basis for salvation. Finney taught the classic Roman notion of grace (salvation by cooperation, a shared work between God and man), and absolutely hated the most fundamental truth of the Word, that a believer is saved by the righteousness of Christ imputed to his account.

"The doctrine of an imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was counted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption; that Christ owed no obedience to the law in his own person, and that therefore his obedience...might be made a substitute for our own obedience...it can never be imputed to us...It was naturally impossible, then, for him to obey on our behalf." (Systematic Theology, Charles Finney, Bethany Fellowship 1976, p.321)

Finney likewise rejected the sovereignty of the Lord, teaching that if enough Christians believed and behaved in a holy way they could usher in an earthly millenium, as though the Almighty would dance to his tune and timetable. His God was no better than Baal, a deity made to his own taste. His theology is still an essential and popular part of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement now sweeping across major Protestant denominations, helping to develop a unity of worship with Roman Catholicism and even non-Christian cults. Today’s gospels are encouraging man to trust in his own "born again" experience (which is found in most religions) as the foundation which puts him right with God rather than faith in Jesus Christ’s regeneration from the dead. (Romans 10:9; 1 Peter 1:3) In fact, the prime meeting point of all those religions that originally spread from Babel is the realm of man’s own selfish religious experiences. On this common ground Rome is able to join hands with any Christian or Non-Christian group.

The Scripture emphatically warns that "he who trusts in his own mind (or heart) is a fool," and that those who base their salvation on a personal experience, be it fire from heaven or casting out demons, may well be deceiving themselves. (Proverbs 28:26; Matthew 7:22,23) The heart of man is too corrupt to be trusted. (Jeremiah 17:9) Spiritual experiences may be very uplifting and convincing, but it is the experience of another Man that saves, namely the sacrifice of Christ for sin, and it is his perfect life that alone earns the right to heaven. These things are put to the account of those, and those only, who by God’s grace have put their faith in His Son. To put it in the last words of the reformer John Lambert, as the church burned him for choosing the Lamb of God over the Sacrifice of the Mass in 1538, "None but Christ, none but Christ." 

 

9. THE SOVEREIGN DRUG

Just as Babylon the Great was described as a cup which made "all the earth drunken" so too the woman of Rome is portrayed with a cup which intoxicated the peoples of the world. (Jeremiah 51:7; Revelation 17:4; 18:3) It was this "wine" which either kept men in a religious stupor or spiritual frenzy during the Middle Ages. But the spell was broken with the trumpet blast of the Word and whole nations at a time became awakened to the scriptures. However, Rome recovered with amazing speed, and, despite the tremendous influence of the early Protestant lights, it was less than a generation before the second beast began to take on a solid form in the Protestant world itself.

A Dutch professor of theology named Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) strongly rejected the rediscovered understanding of grace and justification and returned to the classical view held by Rome. The teaching of Arminius quietly undermined the biblical doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty, making the plan of salvation depend ultimately on man’s cooperation rather than on God’s grace alone, and it also distorted the truth of imputed righteousness, implying that man was somehow justified by his own effort (the act of faith) rather than solely by the work of Christ on man’s behalf (the object of faith). Protestant voices in Britain reacted quickly and indignantly to this new development calling it names like "the spawn of Popery," "the last and greatest monster of the man of sin," and "the elixir of Anti-Christ." Roman theologians were delighted at this "elixir" which had appeared from within the Protestant camp and gave it their full support. A famous letter, written by a Jesuit in 1627 and even endorsed by William Laud (the ruthless Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the first daughter of Rome, the Anglican Church) reveals the clear opinion of Rome that Arminianism was in harmony with Catholic doctrine.

"Now we have planted the sovereign drug Arminianism which we hope will purge the Protestants of their heresy; and it flourisheth and beareth fruit in due season...But to return to the main fabric: our foundation is Arminianism." (Arminianism, Another Gospel, Ergatees, Westminster Standard Publication, N.Z. 1965, p.5)

The gospel of Arminius spread quickly and grew in popularity with Protestant preachers and teachers during the rest of the seventeenth century. A notable exception in the eighteenth century was George Whitefield (1714-1770). Between 1736 and 1770 he preached over 18,000 sermons to crowds of 2,000 to 20,000 people at a time, and taught between 40 and 60 hours each week. Described as the trumpet that awakened the English speaking world, he crossed the Atlantic 13 times during his ministry. In his efforts to voice the Word of God Whitefield was unequalled until perhaps Charles Spurgeon, and after that Britain was consigned to darkness. Whitefield took a firm stand against Arminianism. During one of his ocean crossings he wrote:

"This afternoon, I was greatly strengthened by perusing some paragraphs out of a book called The Preacher, written by Dr. Edwards, of Cambridge, and extracted by Mr. Jonathan Warn, in his books entitled...Arminianism the Backdoor to Popery. These are such notable testimonies given before that University, of justification by faith only, the imputed righteousness of Christ, our having no free-will etc., that they deserve to be written in letters of gold." (Whitefield’s Journal, Banner of Truth, 1960, p.335)

Yet Arminianism was well represented in the eighteenth century by the revivalist John Wesley (1703-1791). Wesley taught an inward justification which was almost identical to that of Rome and emphasized the Catholic concept of grace. Whitefield kept quiet at first, for the sake of outward unity, but finally wrote to Wesley, begging him to give up his "carnal reasoning" on sinless perfection and man’s free will. (Whitefield’s Journal, Appendix II, pp.563-588) His letters to Wesley were very firm.

"I dread your coming over to America, because the work of God is carried on here, and in a most glorious manner, by doctrines quite opposite to those you hold...There are many worthy experienced ministers who would oppose your principles to the utmost." (The Life and Times of John Wesley, Tyerman, Vol.1, p.314)

Wesley’s teaching significantly corroded any witness against Rome, and Whitefield’s fears for America were justified. Wesley so loathed sovereign grace that he even went so far as to secretly alter and reissue the book, Absolute Predestination by Jerome Zanchius, causing Augustus Toplady to label Wesley "the son of Rome." Soon, with the impact of Charles Finney (1792-1875), the gospel of Arminius became the foundation of American revivalism. This development continued under the enthusiastic influence of Dwight Moody (1837-1899). Charles Spurgeon and John Kennedy, both notable British evangelists of the time, expressed concern at what was happening. Kennedy noted that Moody’s efforts appeared "to make a manageable business out of conversion work, intolerant of any recognition of the sovereignty of God," a description which fits most "revivals" from the Catholic Crusades to modern "evangelical" campaigns. Moody’s emphasis on the act of faith (the work of man) was accompanied by all kinds of persuasion techniques (inquiry rooms, soft organ music) to encourage a visible response. Instead of trusting solely in the power of God’s Word and Spirit to bring the gift of divine faith all kinds of approaches were devised to produce faith out of man’s heart. Indeed, this do-it-yourself faith has been created in Christians for centuries.

"It will be a sad day," lamented Kennedy, "if the men who luxuriate in the excitement of man-made revivals, shall with...their superficial experience, become the leaders of religious thought, and the conductors of religious movements." (Arminianism Another Gospel, p.13) Unfortunately that day came with a vengeance in the delusion of the twentieth century "crusades." Whereas the most important point of the New Testament gospel was the saving action of God in Christ, the main emphasis of the popular Arminian gospel became the saving action of God in man. This is in fact the cornerstone of Christianity. Man’s personal commitment, rather than the work of Christ on his behalf, becomes the prime cause of salvation. Vast numbers are persuaded to "go forward" or "come to Christ" in some carnal manner and then told that they have been saved by something they have said or done.

Jesus emphatically told his disciples that the flesh counted for nothing, that no one could come to him unless the Father granted them, that only the Spirit gave life and this came solely through an act of God’s grace. This was not a popular message and many of his disciples deserted him because of this teaching. (John 6:39,44,63-66) This is also the turning point where most Christians withdraw today and seek refuge in another gospel. Instead of being enraptured with the Sovereign Lord they become intoxicated with the Sovereign Drug. This is the main reason why it is quite safe for Rome to distribute the Bible today, rather than killing dissenters and smashing their printing presses, and for the priests of the Mother Church to no longer hide the scriptures from their laity by speaking Latin. The Vatican has nothing to fear from the average modern evangelical, even if he has a Bible in his hands, because he shares the same drugged cup, with eyes too misty to focus on the vital doctrines which once scarred the beast of Rome. Consider this final quote, particularly significant because the writer forgot to keep putting on the whole armor of God, which is necessary to "withstand the wiles of the devil," wearing only a part of it at the end of his life. (Ephesians 6:11) Previously a noted preacher in an unusual revival movement that some called Calvinistic Methodism he initially appeared to have a good grasp of grace but in the end fell prey to Pentecostalism’s "gospel of the second-blessing." He did not return to Rome, but he was certainly starting down that road.

"A Christianity that just preaches ‘Come to Christ’ or ‘Come to Jesus’ cannot stand before Rome for a second. Probably what that will do ultimately will be to add to the numbers belonging to Rome...There is only one teaching, one power, that can stand against this horrible counterfeit...a Biblical, doctrinal, theological presentation of New Testament truth. That was how it was done in the sixteenth century. Luther was not just a superficial evangelist, he was a mighty theologian…It was that great system of truth, worked out in all its details and presented to the people, that undermined and even shook the Church of Rome. Nothing less than that is adequate to meet the present situation...You must know the truth, you must understand it, you must be able to counter false teaching." (Roman Catholicism, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Evangelical Press, p.16)

Acknowledgements and Sources

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