Five hundred years ago the the Roman Catholic Church faced a serious split as one of its priests and theologians, Martin Luther, came to reject several teachings and practices of the Church. In this sermon we examine the historic and prophetic implications of this 500th anniversary, and see what warnings there are in it for the people of God. It involves the Beast, the False Prophet and modern Christianity. Don’t be fooled!
[Peter Eddington] Has a major split ever occurred in your church or your organization? Of course, I already know the answer to that question. But what you and I may have experienced in our church has been common among many organizations. It's a sad fact of life that church splits have been common throughout the 2,000 years since Jesus Christ first founded His Church.
Five hundred years ago the dominant Christian faith of the world, the Roman Catholic Church, faced a serious schism as one of its priests and theologians, Martin Luther, came to reject several teachings and practices of the Church. Among those disputes, Luther strongly took issue with the Catholic view of indulgences and that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be paid for with money. You could purchase indulgences to free you from sin. And it actually helped to make the Church get a little cash, shall we say.
Well, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther affixing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg in Germany, and that was on October 31, 1517. And that event launched what would become known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther then was later ex-communicated and his theses rejected by Pope Leo X in the year 1520.
With this year marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, serious questions remain about the effectiveness of Martin Luther's reforms and whether or not they will hold. And so our Beyond Today television crew visited Germany in July of this year and we recorded six Beyond Today programs. Some of them were on history and we also recorded some that were very prophetic on prophecy. But one of them was specifically about the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
While we're over there in Germany in July, the U.C.G Germany office manager gave me this little pin with the U.S. flag and the European Union flag. So if Jesmina is watching, I'm wearing the pin, you never know. But it was in July that we were over there and our T.V. program about Martin Luther is titled "Martin Luther: The Unfinished Reformation." It was presented by Gary Petty and recorded right there in Wittenberg at the Castle Church and it went nationwide here in the U.S. on October 15th, which is just two days before the actual 500th anniversary. So it'll be a very timely B.T. program.
And so after 500 years, we have to ask, is the Protestant Reformation finished? Is it done for? Could the split that has lasted for 500 years be reversed and Catholics and Protestants reunite? In the sermon today titled "Is the Protestant Reformation Finished?" we're going to look at the historic and prophetic implications of this anniversary and see what warning there is in it for the people of God. That's for you and me because I say don't be fooled. I guess I could have just as easily actually called this sermon instead of "Is the Protestant Reformation Finished?" I could have called it "The Beast, the false prophet, and Modern Christianity."
So I've divided the sermon up into 10 short easy to understand sections just to help bring some organization and clarity to the subject as we go along. As this huge anniversary is being commemorated, an underlying current is quietly sweeping through the Lutheran Church as the Catholic Church in Rome gathers increasing support that could eventually do away with Luther's dreams. But what does it all mean for you and me? So stay tuned, you'll see.
The first section I've titled "Lutherans and Catholics Receiving Communion Together." See, one time that was a no-no. "Lutherans and Catholics receiving Communion Together." As we study the modern relationship between Catholics and Lutherans we can't help but notice a softening of the barrier that drove these two faiths apart in 1517. The wedge that initially divided them is gradually being pulled out and so we ask, is the Reformation even losing its identity?
On July 5 of this year, just a few months ago, right there in Wittenburg, Germany, the same town where Martin Luther openly attacked the Church and set in motion the Protestant Reformation, The World Council of Reformed Churches, which represents about 80 million followers, The World Council of Reformed Churches agreed to the Joint Declaration of justification, which was also previously agreed to by Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists. The July 5, 2017, issue of Ecumenical News reported this, “'Together with great joy, today's formal act brings new challenges and responsibilities in our pursuit of fidelity to the Gospel and unity in truth,’ said Pope Francis in a written statement read out for him. He says, ‘May it mark a new stage of fellowship and cooperation in the service of justice and peace in our human family.’"
So that was from Ecumenical News on July 5. It was written by Anli Serfontein. The piece was titled "Pope Francis hails declaration signed at Reformed churches gathering in Germany." So that message was read aloud to some 800 dignitaries representing some of the largest Christian churches in the world who had gathered in Wittenberg for the event. “Cardinal Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity told the assembled delegates that the agreement has opened ‘a new era of trust between the churches — a time for healing and reconciliation and rediscovering how much we share.’" It was also from Ecumenical News.
This is the latest in several such moves. On January 15th last year, a group of Finnish Lutherans from Finland were offered Holy Communion by Catholic priests at a mass held in St. Peter's Basilica. That was following a meeting with Pope Francis, between Pope Francis and the Lutherans. Lutheran bishop Samuel Salmi said, "I myself accepted it," saying, "I took the Holy Communion." He added that "This was not a coincidence." That was from LifeSite News, the article titled "Lutherans receive Communion at the Vatican after meeting with the Pope” on January 21, 2016.
In December 12 of 2015, in an interview with the National Catholic Register, Pastor Jens Cruz of Rome's Evangelical Lutheran Church said, "I think it's typical for Pope Francis to open doors, and that we, as churches have the duty to find ways to fill this open door with more of a life of ecumenism, of unity." That's also from LifeSite News, piece titled “‘Revolution': Rome Lutheran pastor says Pope Francis ‘opened door’ to intercommunion." It seems the Roman Catholic Church is quietly working to bring back its estranged children of 500 years ago with an aggressive push towards ecumenism, which would negate eventually 500 years of separation. So where are such developments heading?
The second section I've titled "Calling on Catholics and Lutherans Worldwide" is a calling going out to Catholics and Lutherans worldwide. In October 2016 Pope Francis and Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Foundation, the World Federation, so the Pope and Younan signed a Joint Declaration at the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund in Sweden, so it was October 2016, just a year ago right? The joint statement said in part and the statement was in anticipation of what's going to happen in October this year. "With this Joint Statement, we expressed joyful gratitude to God for this moment of common prayer in the Cathedral of Lund, as we begin the year commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. Fifty years of sustained and fruitful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans that helped us to overcome many differences, and have deepened our mutual understanding and trust."
Then later on down in their Joint Declaration, we read, “…we commit ourselves to further growth in communion rooted in Baptism, as we seek to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder us from attaining full unity… We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavors…” The Joint Statement concluded with this, "We call upon all Lutheran and Catholic parishes and communities to be bold and creative, joyful and hopeful in their commitment to continue the great journey ahead of us. Rather than conflicts of the past, God's gift of unity among us show guide, cooperation and deepen our solidarity."
So what's going on? What is transpiring here before our eyes? Is the Reformation about to be undone? Most importantly, is the Roman Catholic Church perhaps even on the verge of fulfilling a scenario warned about in the Bible more than 2,000 years ago?
The World Lutheran Foundation reported the following words about the historic meeting that resulted in the Joint Declaration, "The Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church jointly held an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on 31st of October, 2016 in Lund, Sweden. Locally co-hosted by the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm, the event highlighted the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gift received through dialogue, particularly in anticipation of the 500th Reformation Anniversary in 2017."
So as we can see, the October 31, 2017, commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is going to reverberate around the world, around the religious world in particular and with major religious implications. Ecumenism is alive and well and the Roman Church has a plan in mind, with an end goal. The question is will that end goal affect you and me?
As I lay the groundwork here for the topic, here's the third section, "Roman History Leads to Major Prophetic Implications." "Roman History Leads to Major Prophetic Implications." So what are the prophetic implications surrounding the ecumenism we see between Catholics and Protestants? And while unity and ecumenism look good on the surface, could this actually end up being something quite dangerous with unforeseen circumstances? Is it possible that at some point in the future only one official religion will be allowed and all others banned? I'm not talking about the Kingdom of God because when Christ returns it will only be one official religion allowed. But I'm talking about the time shortly before Jesus returns.
Let's turn to Matthew 24, just turn over there with me for a moment. Matthew 24, in His Olivet prophecy which is found in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 and Luke 21, the first major trend Jesus warned about when foretelling the signs that would precede His return, was a counterfeit Christianity. So in Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
American King James Version×, we read, "As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? When is all these going to happen?' And they asked Him, 'What will be the sign of Your coming, and what will be the sign of the end of the age? How do we know we are getting close?'" And verse 4, "Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, but will deceive many.'" So Jesus said at the end there will be people that will deceive you spiritually, many.
So almost from the start, this began to infiltrate the world, which Jesus said would lead to an end-time climax of false religion. But almost from the start deceivers began trying to influence and infiltrate the New Testament Church. Before long, right there in the first century, several new branches of Christianity took root.
One, staying faithful to the pure truth of the Bible and Christ teachings, but others blending the Bible with other beliefs and other philosophies. And this blending is called syncretism and many of the popular pagan Roman beliefs that were added to Christianity actually originated with the ancient Babylonian religious system.
Take a look at Galatians 1, if you would, verse 6 and 7. Let's turn over to Galatians 1:6 Galatians 1:6I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel:
American King James Version×because very soon within just a few decades of Jesus founding His Church, the trends He had warned about began to come to pass. By just the 50s A.D., the apostle Paul warned here that false teachers were already proclaiming another Jesus and a different gospel. Galatians 1:6 Galatians 1:6I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel:
American King James Version×, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,” he said “I can't believe this happened so fast.” Verse 7 he says, "which is not another;” you know, this is not really the gospel, "but there are some who would trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." And we could turn to other passages as well that talk about this very same thing.
New teachings being brought forward that were not in accordance with Christ's teachings. And late in the 1st Century, some had gone so far as to reject the apostle John and were putting true Christians out of the Church. So people within the Church were putting the good guys out for a while. If you want to later you can read about that in 3 John 1:9 3 John 1:9I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receives us not.
American King James Version×, it's in 3 John 1:9 3 John 1:9I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receives us not.
American King James Version×.
Let's look at the next section for a moment, which I've titled "A New Church Arises and Gains Power." "A New Church Arises and Gains Power." So what the apostle Paul and apostle John wrote about that was happening gathered quite a lot of steam and a new type of Christianity gained a lot of power. Before long, Christianity had undergone major and drastic changes. It became quite different from what was originally established by Jesus and His apostles.
For example, in the 4th Century, the Roman Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the official state religion. And he did this to further unify and strengthen his empire. But to do this he had to confirm teachings that everybody liked. And so who to confirm his power, he brought different factions together that taught a variety of concepts, many of them in opposition or foreign to Jesus teachings. The end result was official recognition by the state, by the government of various beliefs that were similar in many ways to the popular pagan Roman sun worship. So people could kind of just bring those beliefs along with them and that was kind of called Christianity and add Jesus to the mix.
While in Germany in July we actually did a whole program on how Christianity changed from what was originally intended and that will air probably in November or December. For example, by the 4th Century, the visible majority Church, they were now saw as the big Church of the day, had adopted as its weekly day of worship the first day of the week now, Sunday, and it was honored as the day of the unconquerable sun, S-U-N, in place of the biblical Sabbath. And also the Roman celebration of the birthday of the sun, which is when you know, kind of the Winter solstice ended was December 25th from Roman Paganism.
So the celebration of the birth of the sun was labeled or relabeled as the supposed birthday of the Son of God instead, kind of syncretism and blending these ideas together. And now that day has become one of the world's most popular religious holidays. Constantine's state-sponsored church further evolved and grew in power and became known as the Roman Catholic Church, that's what they called it. A Catholic is from the Latin word catholicus meaning universal. So it was the Roman universal church. It was the state church. And it was to be the universal religion of the whole Roman Empire.
At times the bishop of Rome, also called the Pope, has had such great political as well as religious authority that he could enthrone and dethrone emperors. So the religious leaders had the power to change governments and dethrone emperors. The Church came to control the state. Of course here in this country, we have a separation in many ways between the church and the state, right. You can't establish a state religion here. But in Rome, they established a state religion. And because of this intimate relationship between church and state for several centuries, the Roman Empire was called the Holy Roman Empire because it was run by the Church.
And so what happened as the Church gained power and allied itself with the state? What happened was then the combined church-state persecution of other Christians, those that weren't following the rules of the universal church. Others were persecuted especially those who held closest to Jesus' teachings. For example, the Sabbath became quite a sore spot for the universal church. And those not part of the Roman church became intensely tyrannized during that time.
The Roman Catholic Church also adopted a governmental structure that was strikingly similar to that of the old Roman Empire and that's why historians have remarked on the Roman Catholic Church as being a mirror image of the Roman Empire. You can read about that in history books they’ll say, “Boy, the Church that's kind of patterned after the Empire, same organizational structure, and everything.” He said it's like a mirror image, we'll actually examine the mirror image more in a moment.
But as we mentioned at the beginning, 500 years ago from October of this year a major disruption occurred in the Catholic Church when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. And from this was born a major division, a giant church split that resulted in the Protestant Reformation and the World Lutheran Foundation of Churches. Will this division, this wound be healed? As the Joint Declaration at the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund in Sweden said, "We long for this wound in the body of Christ to be healed." I read that to you a moment ago. So we're going to go to the source here and see what Bible prophecy tells us here in just a moment.
The fifth section I've titled "To Understand the Future We Must Understand the Past." So this is a little bit more about the past before we get into the future. To understand the future, we must understand the past. Is a mandated one world religion on the horizon? Does Scripture give us the answer? Will all peoples one day have to show allegiance to a future church-state empire patterned after what Constantine began?
Since the fall of the Roman Empire more than 15 centuries ago, European leaders have made a number of attempts to resurrect it, try and get that system back. Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V, Napoleon, Hitler, and Mussolini, they all tried to unite Europe as a revived Roman Empire and even called it that. And they all succeeded to varying degrees at the time and for short periods of time. But there is going to be yet another attempt at this. History shows us that out of the Roman Empire came the ruling power of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman universal Church. The Empire itself is described in the book of Revelation and is described as an animal, as a beast and side by side with the beast, the church allied is described as the image of the beast, a mirror image or something that strongly resembles the original. History also shows that this church took over the former administrative governance structure and regions of the Empire.
Frank Viola and George Barna, you've all heard of George Barna, Viola and Barna wrote a book titled Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices. The book is a study of how our religion got to be where it is today in Christianity. And on page 119 of the book they write this, "By the forth century, the church followed the example of the Roman Empire. Emperor Constantine organized the Church into dioceses along the pattern of the Roman regional districts." And they say the word “dioceses” was a secular term, not a religious term originally, that referred to the larger administrative units of the Roman Empire.
So we have Catholic dioceses today that used to be a Roman government term for different regions, it was a dioceses. So the Church took on that name. Now later they say Pope Gregory shaped the ministry of the entire church after Roman law. So even the Church law was similar to the Roman law. So that's on page 119 of Barna and Viola's book.
And so what we see is the church became a mirror image of the original. The Roman Church copied the Roman Empire. And here's what noted historian Will Durant observed in his monumental work, "The Story of Civilization." It's volumes of material called The Story of Civilization by Will Durant. In volume 5 in the section titled "Caesar and Christ" on page 575 and Page 618, Durant says this, "Christianity grew by the absorption of pagan faith and ritual; it became a triumphant church by inheriting the organizing patterns and genius of Rome."
So regular historians, of course, all that knowledge that the Roman Church took on pagan beliefs to make it acceptable to everybody. And Durant continues, "The Roman gift was above all a vast framework of government, which as secular authority failed, became the structure of ecclesiastical rule. Soon the bishops, rather than the Roman prefects, would be the source of order and the seat of power in the cities; the metropolitans, or archbishops, would support, if not supplant the provincial governors; and the synod of bishops would succeed the provincial assembly." He says, "The Roman Church followed in the footsteps of the Roman state; it conquered the provinces, beautified the capital, and established discipline and unity from frontier to frontier. Rome died in giving birth to the Church; the Church matured by inheriting and accepting the responsibilities of Rome.” That's a little bit more about this kind of mirror image idea between the Empire and the church.
So now section six I've titled "A Coming Church-State Combined Power." "A Coming Church-State Combined Power." So let's turn to Revelation 13 and see what all this means. Bible prophecy shows that we will see yet another end-time attempts at a great church-state solution to humankind's problems, but one which will be relatively short-lived.
The apostle John, here in Revelation in a divinely revealed vision, described what he saw symbolizing an end-time combined church-state power right here in Revelation 13. Look at verse 1, Revelation 13:1 Revelation 13:1And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy.
American King James Version×, John says, "Then I stood on the sand of the sea.” So he was standing on the beach I guess, right? Standing on a beach, "And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name."
Of course Revelation 1 there is a whole Bible study in itself as to the seven heads and the 10 horns and what they all mean. And you can study our booklet about Revelation if you want at some point. But those seven heads are representing various times that this beast rose throughout history. When you do the counting you see this probably been six so far and there's a seventh one, one to come yet. And the 10 horns is also very significant. But then verse 2, "Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority."
So what do we see right away from these first two verses? Number one, the beast is blasphemous, it says, not of God. Number two, this beast acts like a wild animal, not with human kindness. Like instead like a leopard or a bear or a lion, like an animal. Thirdly, this beast receives its power from the devil and as we'll see in verse 4 in a moment the devil is even worshiped.
And then notice an interesting phrase in verse 3. "And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed." This is talking about the Roman Empire being revived and fixed. "And all the world marveled and followed the beast." But just like the Joint Declaration between the Lutherans and Catholics last year, just like their wish for the wound between them to be healed, we will see a much greater healing that leads toward a global church-state empire, the resurrection of this end-time beast. And John writes that the whole world will follow this beastly empire. So here we start to see a coming church-state power.
Section seven I've titled "Who is Like the Beast?" Which is wording right out of Revelation here, "Who is Like the Beast?" We know that this future empire is a governmental system of major proportions and that it is supported by a powerful military. Notice verse 4, "So they worshiped the dragon," worshiped the devil, "who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?'" “We're part of the, you know, greatest empire ever on this earth. No one can defeat us.” How long will this beast rule in all of its final power? Verse 5 says, "And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months."
So for three and a half years, this beast will be the dominant power over much of our planet. I say much of our planet because there may be a few pockets where the influence is not as strong, maybe in Asia. Because later on, we'll read about giant armies coming from the east, right, things like that. But it is the dominant superpower of the world. And then some very disturbing prophetic words are written for us to contemplate. Notice verse 7, "It was granted to him” it was granted to the beast “to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation."
So it's a global power block here. But what we see in verse 7 are the true people of God, those who believe differently from the established religion being persecuted for their biblical beliefs. It will become the law to obey this dragon appointed beast. In fact, Revelation points out that everyone will worship the beast except those who have the Book of Life of Jesus Christ, except the saints. And that's in verse 8 here, Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
American King James Version×, "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, that is, the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world." So everyone's going to follow this superpower.
So what do we see in summary from these six verses? Number one, the dragon or the devil will be worshiped. Number two, this beast will have the world's most powerful military forces. Number three, this beast is given power and authority to rule for three and a half years. Number four, this beast savagely persecutes the true saints of God. Number five, this beast forces everyone to submit and obey with force.
And now point eight, I've titled "The Religious Partner With the Beast", “The Religious Partner With the Beast.” Because now here in Revelation 13, the apostle John gives us a window into the religious power, the great Church behind the governmental beast. Revelation 13:11 Revelation 13:11And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.
American King James Version×, John says, "And I saw another beast” a second beast, “coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb…” so he looks good, looked like a lamb, “but spoke like a dragon.” Spoke like the devil. Verse 12, "And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."
So this is that wound being healed is a type of the Roman Empire being restored, fixed, and healed and back for one more end-time, you know, event. The message proclaimed by the second beast, which we'll see in a moment in verse 15, is a mirror image of the first beast, is once again from the dragon, the devil himself, and all of humanity is required to worship him too. And this is the great revival of the universal Church partnering with the first beast into a global church-state empire. Revelation 19 also calls the leader of this second beast, the false prophet. Later in Revelation you’ll see it's called the false prophet. But note that this is a very convincing religious system. Humanity will be deceived and so we have to ask ourselves, will you be led astray? Will I be led astray?
This second beast or false prophet performs amazing compelling miracles that are sure to bring you on board. Revelation 13:13 Revelation 13:13And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
American King James Version×now, "He performs great signs,” the false prophet performs great signs, “so it either makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” Everybody sees it. “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs…” by those miracles. Everybody says “This must be the truth. Look at the power behind this Church!” “…which was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who is wounded by the sword and lived.”
So the first beast uses its military power and governmental authority to enforce the second beast's worldwide religion upon humanity including making images. And then verse 15, "He was granted power to give breath…” So the first beast was “…granted power to give breath to the image of the beast,” to the second beast, to the Church, “that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” So it's a matter of life or death.
And then the apostle John talks about the infamous mark of the beast verses 16-18. Verse 16, "He causes all both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark with the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Verse 18, "Here is wisdom. That him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number of a man: His number is 666.” And of course, you know, there's all kinds of books and studies and whatnot on 6-6-6 and the image of the beast, the number of the beast.
So what do we see in these last eight verses? It's rather sobering really. First number one, we see that the first beast is joined by a second religious beast, also called the false prophet in other scriptures. Number two, the second beast also speaks like the devil. Number three, the second beast is a mirror image of the first, you know, patterned after the same kind of system and forces everyone to worship the first beast. And number four, the second beast performs convincing miracles that will deceive all of humanity except the true saints of God.
Number five, the first and second beasts unite in a church-state power that will enforce a worldwide religion in areas under its control. And number six, the penalty for those who do not submit to this religion will be death or being forced. So yes, at the end time a one world religion will be enforced. Other faiths and beliefs will be outlawed including the true Church of God that Jesus founded and it's biblically held beliefs. Because remember those holding true biblical beliefs in the past were systematically persecuted and exterminated, have been for the last 2,000 years by emperors such as Constantine and others that followed him, true Christians were persecuted. And that happened in the early centuries after Jesus' resurrection as well as later when church and state were again combined.
Number nine I've called "Definitely an End Time Scenario." “Definitely an End Time Scenario”. Because many students of Bible prophecy will claim that these events have already transpired or they're just allegories. Read many Bible commentaries about this, it'll say this is what happened to the Church in the Middle Ages or this is what happened you know, in the 3rd or 4th century. No. That's not a correct explanation.
Revelation 17 if you'll turn there, shows that these events are to happen just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, just prior to Christ's return. And of course, He's going to return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus will return to save humanity from imminent total destruction as He said He would have to do in Mathew 24. Remember he said, "Except the elect's sake if I didn't return you'd all destroy yourselves." Revelation 17:12 Revelation 17:12And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
American King James Version×, "The ten horns…” remember those 10 horns that were on the head of the beast? “…which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but will receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast."
There is going to be a future time when these kings will receive authority with the beast. Verse 13, "These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast." That's talking about 10 nations or 10 groups of nations that will give their allegiance to the beast but when will this be? Verse 14, "These will make war with the Lamb,” Jesus Christ, “and the Lamb will overcome them for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him” the true saints, “are called, chosen, and faithful." So it's talking about this all happening upon Christ's return. In fact, the beast will fight Christ and the saints as the resurrected saints return with Christ. The words clearly show that this joining together of 10 kings or leaders of nations or groups of nations who give their sovereignty to a single individual also called the beast is yet future, it's a part of the world changing geopolitical events that take place just prior to Jesus Christ's return.
I might point out that the beast is a governmental system but the beast is also a person and then you have the false prophet with the beast. Prophecy shows us that for a short time a single global religion will be enforced on humanity in the time of the end by the beast. This beast will be a combined church-state system that has its roots in the old Holy Roman Empire. But that system is resurrected one more time, has its power for a short time, about three and a half years. And it's not a coincidence that the Roman Catholic Church is working on bringing back its departed children with an aggressive push towards ecumenism designed to negate 500 years of estrangement that began with Martin Luther. Yes, the Protestant Reformation that split the world's Christianity will eventually end in some kind of reunification. We read about it right here in Revelation 13 and 17.
As we conclude the sermon today, what is the warning for you and me? What should we take note of? Point number 10, the last one, is simply "Love the Truth." “Love the Truth.” We're going to turn to the 2 Thessalonians 2. There's a great warning for you and me in these prophecies. The Bible warns in many other places of this great apostasy of the end time. There is coming a huge end-time appeal to deceive the vast majority of humanity. And as you read about it in Revelation 13, it's all the devil, it's not the truth.
And the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians here speaking about the return of Jesus Christ to the earth and he put in here a warning to those that would read and listen. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 2 Thessalonians 2:3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
American King James Version×, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless…” of course, “that Day” is the language used referring to the end time, referring to the Day of the Lord when Christ returns, “…for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition."
And so then Paul proceeds to explain this falling away in greater detail. This end-time man of sin is going to style himself as greater than God, pretending or even claiming to be God and people will believe him. Why? The answer is in verses 9-11. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 2 Thessalonians 2:9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
American King James Version×, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan…” we read about that in Revelation, right? “…with all power, signs, and lying wonders,” so this lawless one is going to perform amazing miracles that will deceive. Once again from Revelation 13. Verse 10, "and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
So if you don't receive the love of the truth, you'll be deceived. If you're not keeping the Commandments, the Sabbaths, the Holy Days, God's Laws, if you don't love the truth and live the truth, you'll be deceived. "And for this reason," verse 11, "God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie."
So I mean, everybody reads Revelation 13 and says, "Oh no. Look out there's going to be end-time beast." Lots of churches teach that. There are churches who say this is not some historical thing, it's in the future, there's going to be an end-time beast. But if you don't love the truth, if you're not keeping the Commandments and the Laws of God, you'll be deluded. God will send a strong delusion and you'll believe the lie.
If you want to make a note of it in your notes, Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
American King James Version×describes this powerful religious leader as the false prophet. If you wanted to have a reference for that, Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
American King James Version×. And this false prophet working with the political leader also called the beast.
Daniel 7 even says the beast "persecutes the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law." That’s in Daniel 7:25 Daniel 7:25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
American King James Version×. So Daniel says, "This end-time superpower will persecute the saints and change times and law." Well, that's exactly what Roman Emperor Constantine did. No longer Saturday, now it's Sunday. No longer the Holy Days, now it's Christmas. On and on and on, right? And that's what church leaders have done ever since Constantine, changing times and laws and persecuting the saints.
The end-time deception will be powerful and great knowing that his rule over earth is nearing its end, Satan the Devil will mount an end-time appeal to deceive the people, knowing that the time of his binding in chains is about to happen. Of course, Day of Atonement pictures that, doesn't it? Satan being bound for 1,000 years. So he mounts a last effort, an end-time appeal to deceive everyone. Even the people of God if they don't live by and love the truth.
So you and I are warned. Keep the Commandments, love the truth, live the truth, you cannot compromise. You and I must stay pure in a society that mixes truth and error, that encourages religious syncretism, you know, blending old Pagan beliefs with modern Christianity, and on and on it goes. We can't do that. How easy it is to be sucked in at different levels by persuasive arguments and soon even persuasive miracles that will be so appealing to everyone's human nature and bring people on board. And so I say don't believe the lie, love the truth.