THE ECUMENICAL CHURCH OF THE END TIMES (Part 1 )
CHRIST’S WARNINGS OF APOSTASY IN THE PARABLES
The dream of a worldwide church was first presented in 1910 at the World Conference on Missionary Cooperation in Edinburgh, Scotland. The movement finally became recognized in 1944 with the formation of the World Council of Churches. In November 1961 when the WCC met in New Delhi there were Roman Catholic observers present for the very first time. The first Ecumenical Council was called by Pope John and later recalled by Pope Paul. There was an invitation to the Christian brethren and denominations which separated from the mother Roman Church. This was an invitation for unity, so that the separate Protestant brethren could return to the sole Catholic Church.
Let us just fast-forward to 2020 for a moment: On January 25, 2020 historical “Ecumenical Charter” was signed by Seventh-day Adventists, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Evangelicals, and Methodists. The signing ceremony took place in the San Paolo Maggiore Roman Catholic Church in Bologna, Italy. The document that was signed is a pledge of commitment to each other. Adventists pledged a commitment to Rome and Rome reciprocated that commitment. Make no mistake, the churches that signed this document promised to uphold the principles of the “Ecumenical Chapter” which includes affirming an allegiance to each other. The photo I used in this posting is the photo from the “Ecumenical Charter” signing by the Roman Catholics and the Seventh-day Adventists.
Clearly, the Bible teaches that following the rapture, this Ecumenical church will be the church of the Antichrist, the church of the end time tribulation and totally apostate. Everything today is pointing in this direction. The world will have its One World Government and its One World Religion, which we can see in the United Nations and the coming World Parliament of Religions. So-called Christian denominations and church groups will unite first. The sad part is that many good Christians cannot or will not see what is happening in the present day. There are spiritual forces at work within the Christian church that run counter to the revealed Word of God. Paul declares that conditions in Christendom, “Shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim.3:13).”
The seven churches of Revelation speak not only of the falling away of the seven local churches, but they also portray the historical development of the church right up to the time of the rapture. The Church of Laodicea, which is the rich and worldly church, is also the professing church before the rapture that finds Christ outside the door trying to get in.
The Scriptures clearly show that the professing church, or what is called Christendom, will steadily increase in departure from God and His Word by inward corruption and outward conformity to the world. But the apostasy cannot reach its height until after the rapture. The restraining power of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:7) still continues today, and the full apostasy of the Ecumenical Church and the manifestations of the Antichrist cannot take place until He, the Restrainer, has been taken out of the way at the rapture.
The next great future event of the church (Ecclesia) is when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Jesus returning for His bride called the “Ecclesia” and we are caught up to be with Him forever (1 Thess. 4:6, 17). By the rapture of the church, we mean the “catching away” of the church. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an Archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain (living believers) shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” The Latin meaning for the word “caught up” is the verb “raptos or rapture.” The rapture of the church is taught in more than one New Testament passage and without a proper understanding of the rapture of the church, the entire doctrine of the Bible on the church will not be understood by you.
Now, what is the program of the rapture? Well, first of all, the Scriptures reveal that it takes place before the time of great wrath upon the earth. It will be before the Great Tribulation (Jacob’s trouble), because the nature of the church’s hope is the coming of the Lord, not anything intervening. Because of the nature of Daniel’s 70th week, some folks don’t realize that the tribulation revolves around the Jewish people. It is a part of unfinished business that God has with His people, Israel. Look, the church wasn’t in Daniel’s 69 weeks back in the Old Testament before the cross. The church doesn’t belong in the Jewish age (Tribulation) at all, and she won’t be there, and you won’t find her there. The church appears in the book of Revelation in the first three chapters and then disappears and reappears in chapter 19. From the fourth chapter of the book of Revelation, until the 19th chapter the church is taken up to heaven. When you do find the church in the 19th chapter, she’s the Bride of the Lamb and not on earth at all. What could be clearer? It is going to happen, the church will be raptured before the tribulation, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52).” God’s children will be taken out of this world and will not be subject to the wrath of God that will prevail on earth: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake (those redeemed during the tribulation) those days will be shortened (Matt. 24:21-22).”
Now, with the Bride of Christ (true church) taken out of this world by the Groom (Jesus), “You, the salt of the earth” with its preserving quality shall be gone, and the world will soon go into unprecedented corruption. “You, the light of the world” will be gone from the world and great spiritual darkness will set in (Matt. 5:13-14). With the saints gone to be with their risen Lord, the apostate church, which still bears Christ’s name, will reach its climax under the rise and revelation of the Antichrist (end time world dictator).
The last picture that the Bible gives of Apostate Christianity is found in Revelation chapter 13 through 18. In these chapters we find a merger of religions under one great end time religious leader called the False Prophet, headquartered in Rome. The Ecumenical church is clearly shown in Revelation, chapter 17 as Religious Babylon. After the rapture of God’s saints from earth, the professing churches on earth (papal and other apostate churches) unite to form one large apostate body. This religious entity of the last days is called: “Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots, And The Abominations Of The Earth (Rev. 17:5).
It’s not surprising that the Bible uses the word “whore” or “harlot” to represent Apostate Christendom. A woman in Scripture generally typifies a church. A good woman typifies the true church (bride of Christ) and an evil woman (prostitute) typifies the false church. Throughout parts of the Old Testament God condemned Israel for spiritual harlotry. This end time prostitute church which calls itself Christian, courts alliances with the godless systems of the world and commits spiritual adultery. (See James 4:4).
Also, the word “whore” or “harlot” is a symbol of spiritual departure from the one true God or substituting a counterfeit religion. The words “Mystery, Babylon The Great,” refers to the mother and child religion “queen of heaven” with its special rites, rituals, and idols which are mentioned in the book of Jeremiah chapters 7 and 44. What will be revealed is that the woman is an amalgamation of the pagan Babylonian religion and apostate Christianity, under the guise of the Church of
In The Book of Revelation Christ Identifies This Apostate Church
(1). Headquarters in Rome – Revelation 17:9 and 18 says that “the woman sitteth on the city of seven hills.” This can only be the City of Rome. Rome has always been referred to as the “the seven hilled city.” The Bible here identifies the headquarters of the False Prophet, the false religious system, and end time church. The Vatican is in Rome. The power will be concentrated in Rome. Continuing further and connecting this all together, let’s see what else Christ reveals to us in chapter 17 concerning Rome.
(2). Revelation 17:15 – “the waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” Roman Catholicism is the only religious system that is worldwide in scope and influence. She indeed sitteth upon many waters.
(3). Revelation 17:2 – “the woman commits fornication with the kings of the earth.” Roman Catholicism is the only religious system that has done this on a worldwide basis. Her history of political intrigue and influence is without rival by any other religion. There are few governments of this world today who do not have an ambassador to the Vatican.
(4). Revelation 17:6 – “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Roman Catholicism qualifies as a religious system which has shed the blood of the true saints of God. Foxe’s “Book of martyr” is testimony enough of Rome’s persecution of the true saints of God during the middle ages. When Rome had both religious and political power in Europe she murdered and tortured those she labelled as heretics. During the European inquisitions millions were tortured and murdered. For disagreeing with Rome’s dogmas Christian groups such as the Albigenes, Waldenses, Huguenots, and many others in Europe suffered martyrdom in the millions. Why? Pope Innocent lll stated: “Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with the church dogma must be burned without pity.”
(5). Revelation 17:4 – “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet…” The Pope’s and Cardinal’s vestments and buildings of the Vatican are well-known for their red (scarlet) and purple colorings. These are the colors which often adorn the Vatican hierarchy.
(6). Revelation 17:4 – “… and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup….” No religious system in all of history comes even close to the incredible wealth in art treasures, gold, and silver as compared to the Roman Catholic Church. She has a gold cup in her hand which points to Rome’s holiest instrument, the Golden cup of the Eucharist.
Christ’s Warnings of This Apostasy is Found in His Parables
Christ knew what would happen after the disciples were gone. Jesus knew that Satan would infiltrate this young Christian church. He knew all of that and what would happen to God’s Word (apostasy), but still the gospel had to go out to the Gentiles and to the four corners of the earth. Jesus knew that Satan would counterfeit the gospel and set up a counterfeit religious system (papal church) to deceive the masses. Yet, despite Satan’s efforts, millions upon millions have come to know the Lord by reading His Word. During the church age of the last 2000 years God has been calling out believers to His true church. Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the false teachers and false doctrines, God reaches out and touches people’s hearts by His Word, bringing them into His Kingdom during this, the church age.
Because I’m almost running out of space, I’ll only be able to share with you one parable in which Jesus warns us about this counterfeit apostate Christendom. I’ll finish off the rest of this posting in part two next week. So let us look at this first parable:
(1). The Wheat and the Tares – (Matthew 13:24-30; please follow along with your Bible)
Jesus gives us His interpretation of the parable beginning in verse 37. Jesus identified Himself as a Sower and in verse 38, the field is the World. It is important to emphasize that the field is the world and not the church. The good seeds are the believers, and the tares are the sons of the wicked one – professing believers who are in reality unbelievers.
Satan has a counterfeit for every divine reality. Satan sows the world with a counterfeit company of professing believers who look and act like Christians and who associate with believers and even learn to speak the jargon of believers, but they are pretenders and not genuine followers of our Lord and Savior. They are not true possessors of Christ (born again) but merely professors and that’s the difference.
In verse 39 we find that the enemy that sowed the bad seed, the tares, is Satan. The harvest mentioned is at the end of the church age when Christ comes back with His angels and saints. The reapers are the angels. In verse 40 we find that the tares, or unbelievers, are gathered up by the angels and burned in the fire (Great White Throne Judgement) and so it shall be at the end of this age (church age). Verse 41 basically confirms what has been said. Jesus shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom (separate the wheat from the tares) all things that offend, and all those who practice lawlessness.
Let’s take a closer look at this. In reality, the tares are bearded darnel which is a poisonous grass resembling wheat. In fact, you really can’t tell the difference between wheat and the tares until it matures just before harvest time. That is when you can see the little kernels of the darnel which are black and unlike the wheat whose kernels are white. So, the darnel (tares) is indistinguishable from wheat when it is growing into blade until they come into ear, when they can be separated without difficulty.
So, what we have here in this parable is a picture of professing Christendom (apostasy). Wherever true believers are found Satan will also have his counterfeits. Just because a person goes to church it doesn’t make them a true Christian; just like if I go to a garage, it doesn’t make me a mechanic. These people can sit right next to you in church, and you would not be able to tell the difference from their outward appearance – only God knows the heart. Only Jesus knows His sheep. In most cases their identity will not become known until Jesus comes back at the end of the age with His angels to separate the possessing Christians from the professing Christians – to separate the wheat from the tares.
During the present phase of the kingdom, no forcible separation is made of the wheat and the darnel. They are allowed to grow together. But at the Second Advent of Christ, the angels will round up all causes of sin and all evildoers and throw them into the furnace of fire, where they will weep and gnash their teeth (v.42). Then in verse 43 we read that the righteous subjects of the kingdom who are on earth during the Tribulation will enter the kingdom of their Father to enjoy the Millennial Reign of Christ for 1000 years. There they will shine forth as the sun; that is, they will be resplendent in glory.
In closing, once again, this is a picture of professing Christendom. This parable simply teaches that in its mystery form, the kingdom of heaven (the church in its interim form) will include the real and the imitation, the genuine and the counterfeit, and that this condition will continue until the end of the age. Then after the battle of Armageddon at Jesus’ Second Coming, God’s angels will separate the wheat from the darnel, the believers from the unbelievers; the false who will be taken away in judgement, from the true, who will enjoy the glorious reign of Christ and who will be with the Lord forever.
To be continued … Part 2 … Next week.
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