Now I've given my sermon. I think I'll sit down. Oh, did I hear someone say, "No! Don't sit down." No, I didn't hear anyone say that. But I think I will take a few minutes more to enlarge on the statement that I made. Now, I know that when you came to this service this morning you already believed that Christ's is soon. I hope that as a result of our time spent together this morning that you will be more convinced and perhaps more committed as a result of the time we spend here today.
One of the features of "end-time" is the book of Revelation. There is no book of the Bible that I understand that deals more fully with the "end-time" than the book of Revelation. It's a last-day book for last-day people to prepare the human family for final events. And one of those outstanding characteristics of Revelation is that frequently throughout the book it contrasts the True on one hand and the FALSE on the other hand. The TRUE and the COUNTERFEIT are often set opposite to one another throughout the book of Revelation. Time is not going to let us deal with them all. And this is understandable why it surfaces so frequently, because the book of Revelation is the final act of the great controversy, a controversy that began up in heaven when a sinless angel said, "I will make myself like the Most High God." And so the book of Revelations is revealing how in these last days this Lucifer, now turned devil, is endeavoring to fulfil his desires. One of the marked differences or maybe contrasts in this book of Revelation is the contrast between two women in Revelation.
Some things I need not prove. You understand that a woman in Revelation is a description in prophecy, it is a picture of a system of worship, a religion. (Jeremiah 6:2)
We have two women in Revelation. In Revelation 12 you have a woman that is simply and plainly clothed. She's giving birth to the male child who is caught up to God and then the arch- enemy turns the canons of his warfare against the followers of Christ, his church who are identified as those that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus, which is the voice of Jesus speaking through the prophets. In Revelation 17 we find another woman. She is ornately adorned, clothed in colorful garments and her appearance, as you look at her, appears to be like the genuine, true church of God because she has the colorful garments, she has precious ornaments, she has a head-band, a miter, like that which was worn by God's true priest in the Old Testament. You'll find it recorded in Exodus 28. However, instead of this woman being God's true people and God's true church, it is a counterfeit of Satan for the purpose of misleading mankind.
Now you say, "How do you know this is a false system?" Well, let's look at the description in Revelation 17. Verse 6 tells us that she is drunk with the blood of the saints. In verse 2 of Revelation 17 she's engaged in the act of immorality, fornication. Verse 3 of Revelation 17, her head and her life is full of blasphemous names. All of these are descriptions of something that is foreign and alien to God. It is in this woman of Revelation 17, and a study of this woman will help us to recognize that we're living near the end of time.
There are two features that we will concentrate on in Revelation 17, although there are many others that are worthy to be expounded.
One of those features that helps to indicate that we are living near the end is seen in verse 5. Revelation 17:5 (KJV) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. We notice that we have a family, and the family name is Babylon. And you notice, it begins with the name, Mystery. There ar two mysteries in the Bible: the mystery of godliness and the mystery of iniquity. Here we're dealing with the mystery of iniquity. The family, Babylon, a state of confusion. Now this is significant to you and me when we begin to understand that Revelation 17 is an enlargement, it is a development, an expansion of Revelation 13. In Revelation 13 we meet in the opening verses, in fact the first ten verses is talking about a sea-beast that we and others have identified (and we'll not give the proof) as the Papacy, The Roman Catholic System.
May I pause at this point because I don't want to be misunderstood. I do not have any animosity against Catholics. I'm not talking against people. You understand that. We're only tracing the finger of God in prophecy. We're talking about something bigger than individuals. I know that proportionately in the Catholic there may be more sincere and earnest Christians there than we can find in any other Christian faith. But we are only following what God in prophecy has indicated, and you'll understand as I expose these things from where I come.
You notice in the thirteenth chapter, verse 3, it tells us that one of the heads of this beast was wounded to death. Now, this is reminding us of what occurred in history February 10, 1798 when Berthiere, the French general of Napoleon went into Rome and defrocked the Pope from his position. He was taken into Velas, France, and he died the next year.
At that time the Papacy was dealt a death blow to end the Papacy and historians believed at the time that this was the end. But that is not what the text says. Prophecy says that the head would be healed. There would be a resurrection like Jesus who was dealt a death blow. He was raised, so this enemy, the anti-Christ was going to be raised. The head would be healed.
Now, a wound can be dealt suddenly, you understand. But healing is not sudden. It's a process of time. You understand that, too. And so the death-blow was given, the wound began to be healed immediately as most wound, in fact all wound begin to heal immediately. In eighteen hundred, another Pope was elected, despite the fact that Napoleon had said one should not be. In 1929, the Vatican was given back to the Pope. A process of healing, but may I remind you that the healing is not complete. Revelation 17 is giving us a picture of what we can expect to happen when the wound is fully healed. It is not fully healed, yet. Revelation 17 tells us that when it is fully healed, although it was wounded as one religious power, one head that was wounded, it will surface and be healed as a family with other religious powers and churches.
If the mother was a church, the daughters, likewise, are a church. And they are immoral. Now a child and a church is not born immoral. It become that way by its own choice. And so, the choices have made these families of churches co-lace themselves together in support of the mother church.
Revelation 16:13 (KJV) describes the composition of this family when Babylon's wound is fully healed. We read: And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, (That's the Devil working through Pagan Rome) out of the mouth of the beast, (The Devil working through Catholic Rome) and out of the mouth of the false prophet (And that is the land beast of Revelation 13 that we know as Protestant America). Protestant America was founded on the separation of church and state, preserving the liberties of the individual, but when she dissolves that separation she will be false to her profession. And she appeared as an innocent lamb but later speaks as a dragon. She is a dragon in lamb's clothing, and when this happens, she's a false prophet. A kind of false teacher.
Now, is there anything in our religious world that seems to suggest that we may be nearing that? There was a time when it seemed unlikely that a day would come when Catholics and Protestants would actually develop a cordial relationship between them. But Romanism today is not now regarded as it once was by Protestants. We thought that they were barbaric at one time in their behavior. And they were. But in these civilized times and trough Vatican II, things have changed for the better. Don't be fooled. And we thought it would be impossible for heathen religions to have any kind of sympathetic agreement with some form of Christianity. Our trouble, perhaps, was that we were putting too much confidence in the differences that were held rather than focussing on the commonalities, the things that they held in common.
You know, there has been a movement of ecumenism, meaning one world church at least in the fifties. I remember reading about it. Efforts were made in the sixties. 1968. You're acquainted with the fact that Methodism and United Brethren joined to form the United Methodist Church. And there have been others.
More recently, October 6, 1997 the Evangelical Lutheran, the United Church of Christ, and the Presbyterians USA and the Reformed Church in America joined together. Four churches merged together into one church, which meant there had to be a meltdown of some of the specific beliefs that were being held in the past by these churches.
The next day, on October 7, 1997, the Evangelicals (Evangelical is another term for conservative Christians) and Roman Catholics met together in New York City to discuss their theological beliefs. You'll find it posted in Christianity Today, Dec. 8, 1997, also in Christianity Today, Aug. 10, 1998. Already the Catholics and the Evangelicals have joined together in what is known as the Christian Mission for the Third Millenium. They are agreed, both Catholics and Evangelicals, to become partners in the coming mission of preaching the gospel to all the world. On page 23 of the final draft we read these words:
"It is neither theologically legitimate, nor prudent use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among adherents of another Christian community."
Some of the leading evangelists are now conducting their crusades in partnership with Catholics, one of whom is Billy Graham. He said that there is to be absolutely no proselytizing of those whose beliefs in the Christian church theologically different from us.
At the same time the Protestants are moving toward Catholics, the Catholics are courting the Protestants. When the Catholic Pope, Pope John II, went into office on October 16, 1978, he became an evangel, traveling the world, promoting his wares. He has been a public relations and a marketing specialist for the Catholic church. On December 11, 1983, the Pope for the first time, since the break in 1531, the Protestant's Reformation, entered a Lutheran church, not just as a viewer, but as a participant in the service.
In 1054, the eastern church split from the western church (Western church being the Roman church, the eastern church over in the east Constantinople area) and they called themselves "Orthodox." Today the Orthodox take the name of whatever country they're in. Rumanian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, whatever country they're in. They take that name. Over three hundred million of them. The Catholic church invited Patriarch Dimitrics I of the orthodox church to come and visit St. Peter's Basilica in 1987. The Pope called him a "brother in Christ" and said, "The Catholic church and the Orthodox church have been given the grace to recognize one another as sister churches and to walk toward full communion." He is reaching out his hands to all groups endeavoring them to pull them together.
In Christianity Today entitled "What Separates Evangelicals and Catholics?" there is an article that reads, "As we (these two groups) discussed the meaning of the gospel... it became evident that we shared a common faith... (How can that ever be? Share the "common faith"?) The Catholics and Evangelicals share the promise of the Father that they have been accepted by Him... So his children had better accept each other."
In Moody Magazine, November, 1993, Dan Duggins wrote an article and let me give you just a portion of it. "'Today, for good or bad, the lines that separate evangelicals and Roman Catholics are fading.' More and more people from both sides are working together on common social causes, and many of them are describing their lives in similar language. Some evangelical leaders welcome the changing landscape, saying, 'it is high time that all of us who are Christians come together regardless of the difference of our confessions and our traditions and make common cause to bring Christian values to bear in our society.'"
Now, I grant that they need to be dealt with. And there's some Biblical basis for the needs of dealing with these, but not on the compromise of our faith.
In 1986 the Pope gathered at Assi, Italy, together with 130 leaders of 12 major religions to pray for peace. He told them , we are all praying to the same God. He allowed his friend, Dali Lama, who considers himself God and the fourteenth reincarnation of the original Dali Lama, to remove the cross from the altar and to replace it with Buddha. The Buddhist monks perform their worship at the alter.
It is evident that Rome is becoming the bridge to together bring all faiths. We see the Evangelical Christians stepping on the bridge at one end and Hindu, Buddhists, and all other pagan religions stepping onto the bridge at the other end, and we know what will happen when they meet.
I wish I had time to comment on these, but I don't. Let's go to our second feature before we wrap up our talk this morning in Revelation 17. This has to do with the coming together of the support of the civil governments. For the first time in the book of Revelation a distinction is made between the church and religious powers. It is made by the use of two different symbols, (1) a woman which represent the religious powers, and (2) a beast which describes the political (civil) kingdoms. Notice in Revelation 17:3, the woman is pictured as riding astride the beast. This indicate that she is in a control posture. The beast is subservient to the whims and wishes of the woman, the church. If you should notice the twelfth verse, it tells us that the ten horns which you saw were kings who have received no kingdom as yet. But they receive authority for one hour with the kings. The eighteenth verse says, The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. The woman is ultimately to reign over the nations of the world is what we are told. And the only way this can happen is for some compromises to be made in our separation clauses. For Revelation 13 tells us that Protestant America will be the one that will lead the forces in getting the nations of the world to take the mark of the beast.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: "Substantial revision of our establishment (of religion) clause doctrine may be in order. (Separation of Church and State, October 15, p. 1)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: "Religious liberty is a luxury that we can no longer afford." (Liberty, Sept./Oct., 1990)
I want to tell you that this is strong language we're listening to this morning. And it's happening all about us, and we're being shuttled, if you please, moved rapidly forward. You remember the statement of one wise writer, Ellen White. She said, "Yet under one head--the Papal power-- the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witness. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, p.. 182) We are being moved rapidly in that direction.
And so we have found from our study this morning that prophecy indicates that before Christ returns, there is to be a uniting, a pulling together of religions on principles in which they hold in common. And that civil powers will lend their support to the carrying out of the whims and the desires of the church. Therefore on the basis of what we have found here, it seems that we can safely say we are living near the end of time.
Now, what does it mean to you? What does it mean to me? It means that we can't go on living life carelessly, nonchalantly, casually, life-as-usual. We can't go on living that way. It means that we are on the verge, the very verge of coming events which will effect everyone of us here, physically, emotionally, financially, yes-spiritually. We're on the verge of seeing what Ellen White said. "When the leading churches of the United States unite on such points of doctrine as is held in common, and shall influence the state to enforce their decrees, we will have formed and image to the beast." And so it means that we should ask ourselves the question: "Am I ready for these events?"
This message is a call for a new commitment to Christ. A call to renew a commitment to His church, to His word, and to the mission of carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth. And if anybody has been waiting, and I'm sure you haven't, on some startling events to occur before we wake up, then this is God's wake-up call to you, to me. The hour has come for us to wake up from slumbering, because our salvation is nearer than we first believed. The night is nearly over. The day is almost here. Jesus is coming. Are we ready?
In times like these, we need an anchor. We're going to sing about that in our closing hymn. And may God help you and me to be committed, making Christ Lord as well as Savior of our lives.
Openning Hymn: #202, Hail Him the King of Glory Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:34-40 Closing Hymn: #593, In Times Like These Transcribed from the audio tape, "The Woman Beast Rider"
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last updated 9/25/98 by Bob Beckett.