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Chapter 19

Future Expectations

 

WHAT can the faithful student of prophecy expect to take place between now and the return of Jesus? What role will the Papacy play in these events? Revelation and Daniel both depict the Papacy as a persecuting power.

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. (Daniel 7:21)

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High. (Daniel 7:25)

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Revelation 13:15)

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:17)

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Revelation 17:6)

This persecution is directed toward the true followers of God. In recent years, the religious and the political climates have not been as conducive as in past ages to persecution. But religious groups, step by step, will give their allegiance to the Papacy. As nation after nation recognizes the Papacy as the great cohesive force in the world, the religious and the political climates are being altered. Persecution of Godís faithful people will follow. This persecution will be accepted as an appropriate weapon against those who will have nothing to do with a religious ecumenism established upon apostasy. Let us not forget that the Roman Catholic Church has never officially repented of the grave evils that it perpetrated against Godís saints during the Middle Ages.

Once again, the state will execute the dictates of the church. As history repeats itself, we can expect this union of church and state to exercise persecution and terror upon faithful Christians. The forces presently advocating church/state unity are already strong in the United States. Sadly, its own statements make it clear that, when the circumstances are right, the Roman Catholic Church will again resort to ruthless persecution. In the nineteenth century, the archbishop of St. Louis shared his conviction and purpose concerning his clerical duties:

Heresy and unbelief are crimes: and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is a central part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.

Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop of the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in the following words: "Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord [the pope], or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose." (Nineteenth-century archbishop)

Godís authentic people will increasingly depend upon Christ alone for their strength and courage. The Word of God will provide the sole foundation for their faith and practice. They will cling to the Lord for strength to gain victory over every deceptive art of the evil one. They will be sanctified by the truth. With all other faithful people, they will receive the divine power of the latter rain, which will enable them to take the gospel of the soon-coming Saviour to every person upon the earth.

Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

At the time of Pentecost, the apostles received the former rain.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

This power enabled the early Christians to take the gospel to all parts of the world. Writing about a.d. 64, Paul was able to report that the gospel had, in just three decades, spread worldwide.

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister . . . (Colossians 1:23, emphasis added)

The latter rain will give power to Godís faithful remnant to take the message of Christís soon coming to every part of the planet. The gospel that will be preached worldwide will be the everlasting gospel.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (Revelation 14:6, 7)

This gospel (see chapter 22, entitled "Come Out of Her My People") will be especially directed toward the faithful who are presently in the Roman Catholic Church and those Protestant churches which have surrendered their allegiance to the Papacy. But it will also spread to every non-Christian land.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:4, 5)

At that time, all the world will be emphasizing unity (political, economic, social, and religious), and the Papacy is seen as the great peacemaker and leader in social justice. The efforts of Godís faithful people to call His people out of Babylon will be viewed as divisive, disruptive, and counterproductive to worldwide peace initiatives. This small, scattered group of faithful will increasingly become the object of examination by the enemies of truth. After all efforts to "convert" them to papal allegiance fail, state-administered persecution will be directed against them. This is the witness of prophecy. No doubt, such action will be defended by claiming that the saints alone are responsible for the failure to achieve total peace and unity upon the earth. They will be represented as traitors. The efforts of the faithful to convince the masses that biblical truth alone is the foundation of true Christianity and genuine peace, will prove futile.

All except the most sincere will reject the pleas of the faithful and will turn their wrath against them, because most are biblically illiterate and drunk with the false beliefs of the Papacy. The masses will not have the least thought that they are rejecting the final invitation of a loving, longsuffering Saviour. By their actions, they will reject Godís law. In so doing, they reject the One of whose character the law is the very transcript.

It is self-evident that the day of worship will provide the central issue in this final test of loyalty to God. The Scriptures foretell that this false church will attempt to change the times that God had established. The only time of worship that God has perpetually established is the Sabbath.

And he [the little-horn power] 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. (Daniel 7:25, emphasis added)

It is certain that no human authority can change Godís law or His ordained time for worship. The Papacy has succeeded in convincing most of the Christian church that it has that authority; thus it is not surprising that the Roman Catholic Church has long boasted that its claim to church authority is superior to biblical authority. Her claim is that her power is vested in the change of Sabbath worship from Saturday to Sunday observance. Here are a few examples:

Question: Which is the Sabbath day?

Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. (Peter Geiermann, The Convertís Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1977 edition, p. 50)

Question: Have you any other way of proving that the church has power of instituting festivals or precepts?

Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her. She could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority. (Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, 1876, p. 174)

The Roman Catholic Church has always claimed the homage of the Protestant churches because of their observance of Sunday as their day of worship.

It was the Catholic Church which, by the body of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of our Lord; thus, the observance of Sunday by Protestants is a homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] church. (Louis Gaston de Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, 1868, p. 225)

The Catholic Church for over 1,000 years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. . . .

But, the Protestant says, "How can I receive the teachings of an apostate church?" How, we ask, have you managed to receive your teaching all your life, in direct opposition to your recognized teacher, the Bible, on the Sabbath question? ("The Christian Sabbath," from The Catholic Mirror, 1893, pp. 29Ė31)

It is true that the Roman Catholic Church has instituted many other non-biblical practices; for example, the rosary, penance, purgatory, limbo, and infant baptism are Roman Catholic innovations not founded upon the Word of God. But none of these have assumed the symbolic importance to papal authority that the change of the Sabbath has achieved. The Sabbath has become the basis upon which the papal church has established its authority above the authority of the inspired Word of Scripture. This fact should not be surprising, for the Sabbath was established as Godís special sign of authority. It establishes the fact that Christ is our Creator. By worshiping on His Sabbath, we accept His sovereignty in our lives. By rejecting the Sabbath, the Roman Catholic Church has rejected the Lord of the Sabbath. (Mark 2:28)

All sorts of spurious arguments have been used in a vain effort to sustain Sunday sacredness. Some have attributed the "solemnity" of Sunday to the fact that Christ rose from the dead on that day. But Jesus instituted only two ordinances of the church to commemorate His resurrectionóbaptism (Romans 6:3Ė8) and the communion service (1 Corinthians 11:23Ė26). Christ never implied that Sunday should be observed in place of the Sabbath. The pagan origin of Sunday observance is clearly recognized by the fact that the first day of the week, Sunday, is observed from midnight to midnight, a practice instituted by the pagans (instead of observing the divine time schedule from sundown to sundown). We could properly ask the Christian world why it did not instead choose Friday as its day of worship, as our Lord died on that day. In 1985, the London Daily Telegraph reported that thirty-one of the forty-two Anglican bishops surveyed did not believe in Christís resurrection. It would be most difficult for these bishops to argue Sunday sacredness as the basis of a resurrection in which they did not believe.

The Bible emphasizes that the Sabbath seal is central to Godís seal of loyalty to be placed in the foreheads of Godís final faithful people.

Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. (Revelation 7:3)

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Fatherís name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

Scripture specifies that the Sabbath is the sign of sanctification.

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. (Exodus 31:13)

Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. (Ezekiel 20:12)

In the Bible, the sign of God is synonymous with the seal of God.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. (Romans 4:11, emphasis added)

Those who will be Godís loyal people at the end time will be Sabbathkeepers. The Word of God is clear that these end-time saints will be keepers of the law, irrespective of persecution, deprivation, and death threats.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17, emphasis added)

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12, emphasis added)

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14, emphasis added)

Godís true saints who are faithful unto death will keep all Godís commandments in the divine strength provided by Christ. These saints will live eternally with Him.

 


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