Church pews in Europe are all but empty on Sunday mornings. Even though European history is inextricably linked to Western Christianity, the link seems irrelevant in the postmodern world. The countries that comprised the Holy Roman Empire show little evidence of holiness. Save for the peals of their bells, the imposing church structures of Europe are but silent relics of the past. Europeans have little interest or time for religion in a society given to secular pursuits. Of the people in England who profess to be Christians, only ten percent attend church regularly. Even though the percentage is higher in the U.S., its social, political and educational institutions are secular to the core.
Yet, Bible prophecy reveals a time of religious deception so great that if it were possible "they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24 KJV). The thoroughly secularized peoples of the Western world view themselves as sophisticated and educated. Nothing is to be accepted as valid, reliable or relevant unless it can be scientifically proven. So how are the highly sophisticated, educated and scientifically oriented people of the Western world going to be deceived?
Satan's insatiable desire to be worshiped will eventually be realized. "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). The false prophet will unleash a barrage of deceptive miracles that will deceive everyone but the very elect (Revelation 13:13, 14).
The peoples of the world are being conditioned to accept these miracles. Movies portray various invasions from outer space. Various forms of alien life have become common place on our television and movie screens. From Star Trek, to the American television program "Touched by an Angel," moviemakers and television producers are increasingly portraying supernatural characters and supernatural phenomena in their productions. Several of the new movie releases portray apocalyptic events. Psychic hot lines abound. Even some in the scientific community tell us that in all probability life exists beyond our planet earth. More and more people regularly consult various spiritual mediums in their quest to cope with the postmodern world.
They seem to be saying we have tried education and science and found them lacking. As knowledge increases, and science discovers more and more, we know less and less about the big issues of life. "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:...always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:1, 7).
Many voices are crying out concerning the human condition. Many of them eloquently identify and articulate the root cause of the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that saps our creative energies. When the second leading cause of death for persons under thirty years old is suicide, it takes little discernment to realize the problem is spiritual.
We live in very paradoxical times. On the one hand, the world is enjoying one of the most peaceful periods in human history. One could easily ask why all the fuss? But on the other hand, there is great unrest and dissatisfaction with the human condition. The gap between the rich and poor continues to expand. Crime, disease, immorality, family decay, political corruption, aberrant behavior of all sorts, national and ethnic squabbles, war and rumors of war, apathy and loss of vision and lack of leadership plague people around the world.
The solutions to these problems cannot be solved through science or by politicians. These problems reside deep within the heart and mind of humankind. These problems are spiritual in nature. Solutions can come only from the true source of all spiritual knowledge-the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
World Ripe for Deception
The peoples of the world have been deceived into believing that there are many gods, or that the true God has manifested Himself in different ways to different cultures. All of the world's major religions are looking for a great spiritual leader to come on the scene at the beginning of the next millennium. Christians are looking for the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Jews are looking for a Messiah. Hindus are looking for Krishna. Moslems are looking for the Iman Mahdi. Buddhists are looking for the fifth Buddha. New Agers are looking for Maitraya. The world is ripe for great religious deception.
The great end-time deception will parade under the banner of Christianity. The False Prophet will deceive the world into believing that God's true witnesses are the Beast and the False Prophet. So the Beast makes war against God's servants and kills them (Revelation 11:7). "And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth" (Revelation 11:10). One will sit in the temple of God exalting himself above all that is called God while showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4, paraphrased).
Even though the two witnesses have power to perform miracles and call fire down from heaven, they will not seek to glorify themselves. Their mission will be to warn people of God's impending judgment upon all nations. Satan will deceive the earth into believing that the plagues the two witnesses inflict upon the peoples of the earth, in an effort to bring them to repentance, are not of God. Satan will cleverly reverse the roles. He will feign the return of Christ and set himself up as God.
Exactly how this deception will take place no one knows for sure, but Christ warns us: "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!''do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:24-27).
The current pope, John Paul II, believes that after a series of heavenly signs he will be given the authority to create a new universal religious system and rule over a church-state world government.
A former Jesuit Priest, Malachi Martin, in his book, The Keys to This Blood, writes of the current pope's devotion to the visions (apparitions) of Fatima. Martin's book reveals that the political and religious agenda of John Paul II is dramatically influenced by these visions.
Beginning on May 13, 1917, Mary supposedly appeared to three peasant girls over a period of five months. During this time she gave them three secret messages. In brief, these messages elevate Mary to a position of worship, and demands that the world, especially Russia, be consecrated to Mary. The visions also contain various details concerning end time events that will afflict the world at the close of this millennium. For example, the third vision speaks of the great political, military and natural disasters that will come upon the world if the Vatican does not take the actions demanded by the messages. Pope John XXIII and Paul VI allegedly read the messages of Fatima but refused their authority. According to Malachi Martin, Pope John XXIII explained his refusal to his papal successors by stating that, "these [predictions] do not concern our times."
Pontiff Devoted to Fatima Messages
By contrast, John Paul II is totally devoted to carrying out the demands of the Fatima messages. His devotion to the messages was firmly set on the day that the Turkish assassin, Ali Agca, tried to kill him. On May 13, 1981, during a papal audience the Pope noticed a little girl wearing a picture of Mary at Fatima. As the Pope bent over to greet her, Ali Agca fired two shots at his head. The bullets missed their mark because at that instant the pope stooped to greet the child. But the next two shots hit his body. As the Pope recovered from his wounds, he seriously considered the visions of Fatima in relationship to his role in their fulfillment (Final Warning by Grant Jeffrey page 157).
On the first anniversary of the assassination attempt, John Paul held a special service at Fatima in which he affirmed his commitment to obeying the commands in the visions of Fatima. His personal motto is "Totus Tuus" (entirely yours). He publicly professes that his life is motivated and directed by Mary.
John Paul II firmly believes that he is destined to be the pope that fulfills the third vision of Fatima. According to Malachi Martin, the Pope is waiting for a great miraculous intervention from heaven that will stun the world with its display of supernatural power. The event will feature an appearance of Mary in conjunction with the sun.
Martin writes, "He is waiting, rather for an event that will fission human history, splitting the immediate past from the oncoming future. It will be an event on public view in the skies, in the oceans, and on the continental landmasses of this planet. It will particularly involve our human sun, which every day lights up and shines upon…this earth for our eyes. But on the day of this event, it will not appear merely as the master star of our so-called solar system. Rather, it will be seen as the circumambient glory of the Woman whom the apostle describes as 'clothed with the sun' and giving birth to a 'child who will rule the nations with a scepter of iron.' Fissioning it will be as an event, in John Paul's conviction of faith, for it will immediately nullify all the grand designs the nations are now forming and will introduce the Grand Design of man's Maker. John Paul's waiting and watching time will then be over. His ministry as the Servant of the Grand Design will then begin. His strength of will to hold on and continue, and then when the fissioning occurs, to assume that ministry, derives directly from the Petrine authority entrusted solely to him the day he became Pope, in October of 1978. That authority, that strength, is symbolized in the Keys of Peter; washed in the human blood of the God-Man Jesus Christ. John Paul is and will be the sole possessor of the Keys of this Blood on that day" (The Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin). Martin alleges the Pope believes that this phenomenon will give him the authority to create a new religious order and rule over a new church-state world government.
Marianism Increasingly Popular
Couple the fact of apparitions of Mary occurring all over the world and John Paul's commitment to ecumenism, and you have the formula for great religious deception. These supposed appearances of Mary basically coincide with the visions of Fatima. That is, Mary has been sent to warn the world that unless they repent and become consecrated to her, God will bring severe plagues on the earth.
Web sites dedicated to disseminating Mary's messages to the faithful abound in cyberspace. Of these sites, the Medjugorje site is perhaps the most notable. The site "is dedicated to providing information about one of the most incredible and important supernatural events of our time." Since 1981, Mary has been appearing and giving messages to the world in a small village named Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Her messages are communicated through "visionaries." (The "visionaries" Mirjana, Vicka, Jacov and Ivanka, reside in Medjugorje. There is one other visionary, Marija, who currently resides in Italy.) The visionaries receive the pilgrims daily (Medjugorje Web site).
Mary tells the "visionaries" that God has sent her to our world, and that the time she is spending with us is a time of grace granted by God. Millions of people from around the world have visited the site. Thousands of believers claim that they have been healed and converted as a result of visiting Medjugorje. Throughout the month of September in the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje, 114,000 "holy communions" were distributed and 2,732 priests from around the world concelebrated "Holy Mass."
According to the Medjugorje Web site: "Medjugorje is the continuation of Fatima.... Through her presence in Medjugorje-in this year dedicated to her Son, Savior of the world, she-the mother of God, continues to encourage us to follow the pope, the vicar of Christ, wherever he goes. Medjugorje has become like Fatima, an international center of prayer and of spiritual sustenance for the universal church and, in a particular way, for the ministry of Pope John Paul II. One reason why the Queen of Peace came to the village of Medjugorje was to confirm the 'Totus Tuus' of the Holy Father by helping him carry to the end the immense work the Lord has entrusted to him. This work entrusted by the Lord to the Holy Father, as he himself often recall, is the task of bringing the church in the third millennium."
The Marian Web sites are totally committed to helping John Paul II fulfill the visions of Fatima and Medjugorje. These visions call upon the Vatican and the Pope to usher in a new world order. The pope delivers from time to time "The Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass." The Marian Web site, Yellowstone, greets its visitors by stating: "Welcome to one of the busiest sites on the Internet covering the nefarious new world order from a Christian perspective." Yellowstone offers a book titled "Rebuking the New World Order." In their view, the creation of a new order is reserved for John Paul II. They reason that John Paul's "new order" will derive its authority directly from God. So any other "new order" is of the Devil.
John Paul is working feverishly to unite the people of the world under the banner of religion. In his Papal Encyclical titled, "Ut Unum Sint" (That They May Be One) he writes: "I myself intend to promote every suitable initiative aimed at making the witness of the entire Catholic community understood in its full purity and consistency, especially considering the engagement which awaits the church at the threshold of the new millennium. That will be an exceptional occasion, in view of which she asks the Lord to increase the unity of all Christians until they reach full communion…This is the specific duty of the Bishop of Rome as the successor of the Apostle Peter. I carry out this duty with the profound conviction that I am obeying the Lord, and with a clear sense of my own human frailty…Together with all Christ's disciples, the Catholic Church bases upon God's plan her ecumenical commitment to gather all Christians into unity."
Pope Sees One Spirit in All
The Pope's tactical strategy for bringing the nations of the world together through religious unity centers around the presence and action of the "spirit" in other religions and in the world. In an article titled, "Presence and Action of the Holy Spirit in The World and In Other Religions," Giovanni Cereti writes, "Sincere and full recognition of the Spirits's action in the world and among non-Christians, fully constant with biblical facts, has come about in the Catholic Church above all thanks to the courageous declarations made by John Paul II. In his message addressed from Manila to the people of Asia in 1981, the Pope says he has come as a witness of the Spirit, who [sic] acts in the history of peoples and nations, and whose action thus seems not to be limited to calling non-Christians to the Church.... In his address to the Roman Curia after the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Pope John Paul II stressed once more the universal presence of the Holy Spirit, stating that every authentic prayer is called forth the Holy Spirit, who [sic] is mysteriously present in the heart of every person, Christian or otherwise."
In his Apostolic Letter for the Preparation of the Jubilee of the Year 2000, John Paul explains how he hopes all Christians and peoples of other religions will join hands in a simultaneous celebration of the Jubilee in Rome and in local churches throughout the world. The Pope hopes to create a religious ground swell that will rally the peoples of the earth to help him fulfill the visions of Fatima.
Can you be deceived? The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica urging them to love the truth so they would not be deceived. "And for this reason [not loving the truth] God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the [not a] lie) lie" (2 Thessalonians 2:11). What was the great lie that Paul was addressing at Thessalonica? He was warning them not to believe the lie that "the day of Christ had come" (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Paul then gave them specific signs to watch for. Then the scene shifts to the end times in which some are deceived because they loved not the truth and were deceived.
In view of the deceptive times in which we live, we must put on the whole armor of God. Now is the time to fill our lamps with oil. This is the time to love the truth. This is the time to search the Scriptures. Now is the time to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. Before Christ's return, Satan will establish a new order that forces the world to worship him. So even though the churches of Europe are empty today, they may be filled tomorrow. This is indeed a time to watch and pray as never before. WNP