“I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. (Revelation 7:1-3)
“And then shall that Wicked (man of sin) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (presence): whose coming (Christ’s presence) is after (accompanied by) the working (an energetic operation) of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” II Thes. 2:8-15
After reading the first letter to the Thessalonians, some of the brethren in that congregation got the idea that Christ was already present Paul wrote the second letter to them to correct that misunderstanding He explained that before the second presence of Christ there would come the rise, development and revealment of the “man of sin”. II Thes. 2:1-6
The mystery of iniquity was already at work in the apostle’s day, about A. D. 50 The spirit of the church became worldly. The things of the world were coveted Gradually the hope of the church became a false hope. a delusive snare by which Satan led from one evil and
error to another both of doctrine and of practice Insidiously.
Satan planted and watered the seeds of error and developed the greatest and most influential system the world has ever known This antichrist system took the place of the true Christ. The Apostle Paul calls “the man of sin” by several names: “that Wicked” one, “the mystery of iniquity”, and “the son of perdition” The “antichrist” is a name given to the system by the Apostle John Daniel calls it “the abomination that maketh desolate”. Our Lord calls it “the abomination of desolation” and a “beast”.
The book of Revelation is, in large part, a detailed symbolic prophecy concerning antichrist. “The man of sin” is a system and not a single individual. The history of Papacy fits the prophecies of the Bible The apostate church was not “the man of sin” until she united with her lord and head the pope – the claimed vicegerent of Christ. Then
the system became a religious empire, falsely styled Christendom.
At first Pagan Rome was in the way of the aspirations of Papal Rome. (II Thes. 2:7) Under Constantine’s reign all hindrance was removed and the organization of Papacy was speedily effected.
The popes came to be recognized as the Head of the Church, representing Christ, reigning in the church and over the nations. gradually, from about A.D. 300 to 494 ,Civil authority began to be exercised by the popes in A.D. 539. In A.D. 800 the pope crowned
Charlemagne as emperor. The pope recognized himself as King of Kings, “another God on earth”
Morally, the darkest hour of antichrist’s dark reign was just before the Reformation. It is estimated that Papacy has, directly or indirectly, caused the death of 50 millions(50, 000, 000) of people over a period of 1300 years. Those labeled heretics by the “man of sin” in the darker past were put to death by burning, racking, drowning, starving, shooting, by having molten lead poured into the ears, by having the eyes gouged out, by being hammered to pieces on anvils, etc., etc.
The “man of sin” began to be recognized by Luther and others of his day. This resulted in a great religious reformation. Papacy has lost power brought about by the awakening of the Reformation Papacy still possesses its will to persecute the saints, but the power to do so is curtailed by the increase of knowledge and liberty in which the Bible has been the principal factor.
Ignorance and superstition are bulwarks of Papacy. Schools and Bibles have ever been antichrist’s unendurable enemies. The invention of movable type made it possible for the Bible to be printed by A.D. 1456. It is interesting to note that this date marks the center of time from A.D. 38 to 2874. Five years were required for the printing of the Bible. Five years before A.D. 38 brings us to the time of Pentecost. Had an ambitious spirit already developed in the church by A.D. 38? For certain it had developed by Paul’s day. By the Bible, antichrist has gradually been rendered “powerless” to oppress and wear out the saints. Since the time of the end began (1799), “the man of sin” is being consumed by the spirit of the Lord’s mouth (the truth). After 1800 Bible societies sprang up; these
distributed Bibles to people in many parts of the world.
Antichrist’s policy has been somewhat softened and modified to seek to win back into sympathy and co-operation extremists of all Protestant denominations. Just recently Pope Paul VI canonized forty British martyrs of the Anglican reformation as saints and prayed that their blood might help heal the wounds of divided Christianity. The Pope extended a “respectful and affectionate greeting” to all Anglicans attending and said, “We indeed feel
very close to them.” Nevertheless the system is doomed to destruction. Soon the bright shining of Christ’s presence will utterly destroy this counterfeit system and wholly free the world from the chains of its delusive claims and errors.
In 1878 judgment began with the nominal church in condemning to destruction the nominal systems – not the people. Since that time particularly the light of truth is penetrating every subject. Two great parties in the world have formed. On the one side are socialists, freethinkers, infidels, discontents, and true liberty lovers. On the other side we find the rulers and aristocrats with the antichrist system in close sympathy. The faithful saints will remain
separate from both.
As an evidence of the signs of the time, we note the gradual destruction of the antichrist system by the brightness of our Lord’s second presence. Some of her own subjects feel that they no longer have to obey the commands of the pope. Many priests, nuns and
others have left the system. They no longer believe all the teachings set forth by Papacy. (See II Kings 9:32, 33.) Some of the revenues which have flowed into that system are also being withheld. As a further indication of the weakness of that system, we have recently
noted the words of the Pope who remarked that on past occasions he has offered his services as a mediator. He admitted, however, that no one wanted these services and that the most he could do was serve as a counselor.
The scriptures indicate that in this final death-struggle of antichrist, notwithstanding he shall seem to gain increased power in the world by new stratagems, deceptions, and combinations, yet the true Lord of earth, the King of kings in the time of his presence will prevail. During the great time of trouble antichrist will be utterly annihilated and his power and deception will be destroyed forever.
By divine intervention the trouble will be stopped. (Matt. 24:22) The earthly phase of the kingdom will be established. Righteousness will begin to prevail. Gradually all evil and evil doers will be cut off. It will take the entire time of Christ’s second presence to completely do away with the evil resulting from the antichrist system as well as other sources. By the year 2874 (evening time of the millennial age) it shall be light. (Zech. 14:6, 7)
Rights and wrongs are being exposed such as never before. A great time of trouble is resulting. Through the antichrist system as well as other agencies, the devil is making a most desperate resistance to the new order of things.
During this dawning of the millennial age while the “man of sin” is beginning to be destroyed, the apostle indicates (II Thes. 2:9-12) that Christ’s second presence would be accompanied by an energetic operation of Satan with all power, signs, lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. The father of lies is particularly endeavoring to stop the completion of the promised seed. (Gen. 3:15) Those who are being deceived were not sufficiently in earnest in seeking out and using the truth
provided as “meat in due season.” Those misled received not the truth in the love of it but rather through custom, formality, or fear. Those not believing the truth but having pleasure in unrighteousness (untruth, deception, two-facedness) will be judged unworthy to share the millennial kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ. II Thes. 2:12
To the brethren called to become the bride of Christ, Paul exhorts: “Stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” II Thes 2:13-15
Jesus promised, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14) Does this promise mean that now is the only time of salvation for all people? The common words ALL and EVERY are two of the most important words in the Bible. In Luke 2:10 the angel who announced the birth of Jesus said, “Behold I rrbring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL people.” Verses 30 and 31 speak of salvation for “ALL people.” 1 Timothy 4:10 speaks of God as “the Saviour of ALL men.”
The simple logic of Jesus dying for ALL is found in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “As in Adam ALL die even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.” Similarly, Romans 5:18 shows that “by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation: even so by the righteousness of one [Christ] the free gift came upon ALL men.” Father Adam sinned with the unborn race yet in his loins.
Therefore, ALL were born in sin and shapen in iniquity (Psalm 51:5) and thus worthy of death. God knew that Adam, due to a lack of experience would disobey. Thus 1 Peter 1:19,20, speaks of the blood of Christ as being foreordained for our redemption even before Adam was created. Since ALL were lost in Adam, it was necessary
that Jesus “by the grace of God should taste death for EVERY man” (Hebrews 2:9).
John 1:7 speaks of Jesus as “the Light, that ALL men through him might believe.” Verse 9 says he is “the True Light, which lighteth EVERY man that cometh into the world.” How can this be? Countless millions died before the time of Jesus. They never saw the True Light! They never heard the name of Jesus. And since the death of Jesus, millions died never hearing of the only “name under
heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). If you are a Bible-believing Christian, you know that no one is saved through ignorance but only by believing in Jesus as his or her saviour. This is a seeming contradiction. The answer is found in 1 Timothy 2:5,6, “. . .Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time”-a plain statement that Jesus died for
“ALL.” If Jesus died for “ALL,” why is it that ALL do not have the opportunity to hear this good news? The key of harmony is found in the phrase “due time.” The Greek word translated “time” is plural; i.e., times (Thayer’s Lexicon of the New Testament). The knowledge that Jesus is a ransom for ALL will be testified “in due times.” The
due time for those God is calling to be of the Church is during the Christian Age. The due time for ALL other people to understand is during the 1,000-year reign of Christ.
Now is not the time for ALL to hear the name of Jesus. God is not trying to convert the world between the first and second advents. If He was, then He has obviously failed. For after nearly 2,000 years, less than one third of the world’s population even claims to be Christian. The fact is Jesus predicted only that the gospel would be a witness to the world, not that all would be converted before the end of the Age.
Mark 4:11,12, specifically states that God is not trying to convert the world now. Jesus said to his disciples, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without all these things are done in parables. That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” Ponder well this scripture.
If Jesus died for ALL, why has God arranged that many would not be able to understand the Bible and, therefore, not be converted and have their sins forgiven? The Bible is not written like a textbook system of logic. God purposely had the Bible written in parables and symbols, so that many would not be converted and have their sins forgiven. This is why there are over 250 Christian denominations with so many different interpretations of the Bible. God has not
attempted to convert the world, but is only calling a “little flock” at this time. If man’s eternal destiny was dependent upon understanding the Bible now, our God of love (1 John 4:8) would have surely made the Bible plain and simple for all to understand.
Acts 15:14-17 reveals that “God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name [not to convert all]. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, after this I will return [Second Advent] and build again the tabernacle of David [set up the kingdom of God]. . .that the residue [REMAINDER] of men might seek after the Lord and ALL the Gentiles. . . .” God’s work since
the death of Jesus has not been to convert all humankind, but merely to take out or to call out a “people for his name.” In the Kingdom, all the REMAINDER of men, who are not of these called out ones, will have their opportunity to seek the Lord.
Objection is often raised even by some sound in the faith-regarding the exposure of error as being entirely negative and of no real edification. Of late, the hue and cry has been against any and all negative teaching. But the brethren who assume this attitude forget that a large part of the New Testament, both of the teaching of our blessed Lord Himself and the writings of the apostles, is made up of this very character of ministry-namely, showing the Satanic origin and, therefore, the unsettling results of the propagation of erroneous systems which Peter, in his second epistle, so definitely refers to as “damnable heresies.” Our Lord prophesied, “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Within our own day, how many false prophets have risen; and oh, how many are the deceived! Paul predicted, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch.” My own observation is that these “grievous wolves,” alone and in packs, are not sparing even the most favored flocks. Elders in these “perilous times” will do well to note the apostle’s warning: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers.” It is as important in these days as in Paul’s-in fact, it is increasingly important-to expose the many types of false teaching that, on every hand, abound more and more. We are called upon to “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” while we hold the truth in love. The faith means the whole body of revealed truth, and to contend for all of God’s truth necessitates some negative teaching. The choice is not left with us. Jude said he preferred a different, a pleasanter theme-“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3, 4). Paul likewise admonishes us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). This does not imply harsh treatment of those entrapped by error-quite the opposite. If it be objected that exposure to error necessitates unkind reflection upon others who do not see as we do, our answer is: it has always been the duty of every loyal servant of Christ to warn against any teaching that would make Him less precious or cast reflection upon His finished redemptive work and the all-sufficiency of His present service as our great High Priest and Advocate. Every system of teaching can be judged by what it sets forth as to these fundamental truths of the faith. “What think ye of Christ?” is still the true test of every creed. The Christ of the Bible is certainly not the Christ of any false “-ism.” Each of the cults has its hideous caricature of our lovely Lord. Let us who have been redeemed at the cost of His precious blood be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” As the battle against the forces of evil waxes ever more hot, we have need for God-given valour. There is constant temptation to compromise. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” It is always right to stand firmly for what God has revealed concerning His blessed Son’s person and work. The “father of lies” deals in half-truths and specializes in most subtle fallacies concerning the Lord Jesus, our sole and sufficient Savior. Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died. Exposing error is most unpopular work. But from every true standpoint it is worthwhile work. To our Savior, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To ourselves, if we consider “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it ensures future reward, a thousand-fold. And to those “caught in the snare of the fowler”-how many of them God only knows-it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting.
“Beloved, I now write this second letter to you, in which I stir up your pure mind by reminder to remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of the Lord and Savior by us, the apostles. First, knowing this, that there will come in the last days scoffers walking according to their own lusts and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” – 2Pe 3:1-4
Many—and very plain and positive—are the warnings of God’s Word against the “evil communications” that “corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15: 33). The Apostle Paul’s counsel (Acts 20: 28-30) to all the elders of the church was, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And Jude said, “Beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves [from the Truth and its Spirit], sensual [minding earthly things, and gratifying the ambitions and tastes of the old nature], having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying with a holy spirit [a spirit of loyalty and devotion to God], keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 17-21).
Thus we are put on guard against the enemies of the Truth, and it is made obligatory upon all the faithful to be on the alert against them, and to be prompt in discerning and in dealing with them, so that the flock of Christ may be spared. The Apostle Paul grows very earnest in urging this matter, saying, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own desires; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple [those not on the alert against the encroachments of error]” (Rom. 16: 17, 18). Again, says the same Apostle (2 Tim. 2: 16), “Shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
HOW THE POLICY OF COMPROMISE SPEAKS
No, says the ungodly policy of this evil day of compromises and of disloyalty to “the faith once delivered to the saints,” “We cannot walk by this strict rule: we dare not recognize and admit the real character of a wolf in the sheepfold, if the wolf be attired in sheep’s clothing; we must accept his professions, notwithstanding his words and his actions to the contrary. We cannot believe that of our own selves—right in the midst of the company of the consecrated—any will arise to ‘pervert the truth’ and to ‘draw disciples after them’; and we dare not ‘mark’ any as such, and ‘avoid them,’ or ‘shun their profane and vain babblings,’ as the Apostle suggests, for that would be uncharitable, unloving and unkind.”
Lately we hear a great deal in favor of a broad-minded charity which gives loose rein to the enemies of the doctrines of Christ—a charity which would affiliate with every form of belief and unbelief; that makes no claims or superiority for one religion over another, be it heathen or Christian or anti-Christian; and that freely fellowships all and bids all Godspeed, utterly heedless of the Word of the Lord, which says, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God,” and “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11) .
The warning here is not against those who never knew the Truth, but against those who have known it and have been blessed by it, and who afterward turned away from it; of whom the Apostle Peter speaks, saying, “If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning [they are worse off than those who have always been of the world]. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. 2: 20-22). Why do they do so? Because the dog nature and/or the sow nature and disposition are still there, and only wait for opportunities and circumstances to prove it. So also says the Apostle John: They that go out from us—who desert the Truth and its interests—do so because they are not of us (1 John 2: 19), because the old fleshly mind and disposition are still there and are allowed to come again into control.
In some cases the desertion may be only on one or a few items of Bible Truth, in other cases it may be many. Also, in some cases one who is fighting the Truth may never have been enlightened or is insufficiently enlightened on the pertinent truth or truths he is opposing. These things, and also the relative importance of the truth or truths that are being deserted and opposed would all have to be taken into consideration in determining how much friendship and fellowship we could give such. Certainly we should not fellowship with them in their errors of doctrine and practice, but are rather to reprove them (Eph. 5: 11).
Again, many who once were “established in the present truth” (2 Pet. 1: 12) regarding the Bible chronology, the Second Advent and the beginning of the binding of Satan and Christ’s Thousand-year Reign (Rev. 20: 1-4) as having set in with the beginning of the seventh thousand-year day after Adam’s fall, the beginning of Earth’s Great jubilee, in 1874 (B 173-200), now reject these Bible-based truths, some denying that Jesus has come again in His Second Advent, others denying that the binding of Satan has even started yet, and some even casting aside the Bible chronology and substituting a false chronology in an effort to prove that Christ’s Thousand-year Reign has not begun yet.
The love which goes out toward the enemies of the cross of Christ–those who have been once enlightened by the truth and have turned away from it–is not the right kind of love. We are commanded to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” and told that “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15); and, again, “This is love, that we walk after his commandments.” —2 John 6.
“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”–Gal. 6:16.
Even our blessed Lord Jesus, though perfect, had to pass through an experience to test and prove his complete submission to the Father’s will. Looking at our Lord’s testing, we cannot doubt that his strong character was measurably unmoved by the sarcastic, bitter words and threats of the Scribes and Pharisees, and that likewise he speedily and firmly settled Satan’s temptations negatively. And none of these things which would have been the greatest temptations to others seemed to move or even to greatly annoy him. He answered coolly and often sarcastically and ironically the attacks of open enemies.
It was when those who “dipped in the dish with him, lifted up the heel against him” and left him, that his heart was troubled; – wounded by professed friends. The only discouraged expression recorded, relative to his work, was toward the close of his ministry when the test became more and more severe and “many went back and walked no more in his company,” saying of his doctrines, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” His unreproachful but sorrowful words, then expressed to the twelve specially staunch, were full of pathos and disappointed grief: “Will ye also go away?” The prompt response of Peter – “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of lasting life” – must certainly have come as a comforting balm to that noble, loving heart whose only impulse was to do good and bless others.
And yet, as it came to the close of his ministry, the time came that he must still further suffer wounds from those he most loved. And catching a clear view of how his sacrifice was to be completed, how all his bosom disciples would forsake and disown him, and how one of them would betray him with a kiss, no wonder that was one of his most sorrowful trials and disappointments. He was sorrowful, troubled in spirit, and testified, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” And when Peter courageously said, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” – and so said they all – Jesus saw that all would be scattered, forsaking him in his most trying hour, and that courageous Peter would be so terribly sifted of Satan and prove so weak that he would even swear that he had never known him. Truly these trials from “brethren,” some of whom were only weak, and some false at heart, must have been among the sorest of our Lord’s experiences, during his period of trial. Yet none of these things moved him or for a moment influenced him to choose another course. He cheerfully followed the narrow path and left it for God, in his own time, to bring forth his righteousness as the light of noonday. He was obedient to God, and faithful to the truth, and it was thus that he suffered not only at the hands of evil men but also from the misunderstandings of his closest friends, who did not clearly understand the situation, nor see how needful it was that he should first be Redeemer before he could become Restorer and King.
We never hear from him a complaint about the way the world rejected his message and spoke evil of him and maltreated him as the leading exponent of the unpopular doctrine of the cross of Christ, which was opposed both by the stumbling, blinded Jews and by the worldly-wise philosophies of the Gentiles. Indeed, instead of being downcast or discouraged at his past experiences and in the future prospect that bonds and imprisonments awaited him, he boldly and cheerfully declared, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself.” – Acts 20:19-24.
But, like the Lord Jesus, Paul had his severest trials from “false brethren;” who, instead of being faithful yoke-fellows and co-workers with Paul as good soldiers of the cross, became puffed up, heady, anxious to be leaders. These, being unwilling or unable to see the truth as fully and clearly as did Paul, because of their wrong condition of heart, and being envious of his success, and the results of his zeal and labor, followed after him in the various cities where he had labored, and by misrepresentation of his character as well as of his teachings sought to lower him in the esteem of the household of faith, and to thus open the way for various sophistical theories which would reflect honor upon them as teachers of what they claimed were advanced truths, though actually subverting the real truth in the minds of many.
The only annoyance ever manifested by the Apostle Paul, in any of his letters, was upon this subject of his misrepresentation by false brethren. Referring to these false apostles by name, that they might be known and recognized as such (See 1 Tim. 1:19,20; 2 Tim. 4:10,14-17; 2 Cor. 11:2-23), he clearly exposed their unholy motives, of pride, ambition and envy, which scrupled not to make havoc of the church and of the truth. Especially did he point out that in their attempt to be leaders, they had manufactured a different gospel …
Paul was zealous for the truth’s sake, lest these false apostles should, by smooth words and by misrepresentations of his character and the truth, use that as a lever to turn men aside from the true gospel.
He warns them against those teachers, not to keep himself uppermost in their hearts, but to put them on their guard, lest receiving the new teachers they should be injured by the false teachings they presented, and lest in rejecting him and losing confidence in him as an honest and true man and teacher they should discard his teachings which were the truth. Hence his reference to himself was not a self-defence and self-laudation but a defence of the truth and an endeavor to have them see that his character and career as a true teacher comported well with the true message he bore to them.
And he fearlessly pointed out that men might claim to present the same Jesus, the same spirit and the same gospel, and yet be false teachers and deceitful workers transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And he says, marvel not at such a thing as that men should be great workers in the name of Christ from ambitious motives: “No marvel, for Satan himself fashioneth himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness.”
* * *
Do not be deceived by the agents he often makes use of. In this he will be as cunning as in his presentation of the deceptive misrepresentations of truth, making unwitting use of many a weaker brother, and to some extent of every stumbling and deceived one, to spread the infection of false doctrine farther. And while every child of God should take earnest heed, that he prove not an occasion of stumbling to any, we cannot doubt that every one will, through some instrumentality, be assailed by it.
Aptly indeed did the prophet liken it to a pestilence. (Psa. 91:6.) A pestilence spreads because people are in a physical condition which renders them susceptible to disease. Physicians will tell you that those whose systems are in good, healthy order are in little danger of any disease. So it is with a spiritual pestilence: it will flourish not only because all will be exposed to it who have not a clear intellectual appreciation of the doctrines of Christ, but from another cause also. Out of the heart are the issues of life, and most needful of all to be in right condition is the heart. How is your heart, dear Brother, dear Sister? Is it proud, boastful, independent, self-conscious and self-willed? If so, take care; you will be very liable to this epidemic, no matter how far from it you may seem to be. Make haste to labor and pray for
“A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
The dear Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.”
With such a heart you are safe.
A delusion is an error which, when viewed from certain standpoints of observation, has the appearance of truth. A delusion is more or less dangerous according to the importance of the truth which it misrepresents, beclouds or falsifies; and, if followed, it leads accordingly to more or less disastrous consequences. If a merchant be deluded and misled by an apparent boom in his line of industry, the result to him may be financial disaster. If a man or woman be deluded by false ideas of life or by false appearances of character when choosing a partner for life, the result may be long years of domestic misery. And, likewise, eternal interests may be, and are, continually affected by the delusions of error on religious subjects.
When a man is deluded he verily thinks he is right. He claims to be honest in his convictions, and he is so. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof [where the subject of delusion is of vital interest] are the ways of death.” (Prov. 16:25.) The world to-day is full of delusions, and of deluded people who verily think they are right, and who expect in due time to realize their delusive hopes. There are political delusions, financial delusions and religious delusions of every shade and hue; and thousands and millions of people are following them, and devoting all their time and energy to them, only to realize in the end a whirlwind of confusion, disaster and the utter wreck of all their hopes.
The questions then arise, Who can escape these delusions so common among men? or how may we know that we are not ourselves among the number of the deluded ones? The fact is that no member of the fallen race is, of himself, proof against them. We are all, in consequence of the fall, both physically and mentally impaired; our experience is brief and varied, and our knowledge is necessarily very limited.
Though we see that financial delusions are continually misleading men and blighting their hopes of temporal advantage; and though we see that political delusions are forming various factions among men and leading them to strive for the realization of numerous delusive hopes, which, in the end, will bring only anarchy and a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation; yet those which chiefly concern the children of God are the religious delusions, or those capable of affecting their eternal interests. The saints have little to fear from financial delusions or disasters, since they are generally the poor of this world who have little to lose, but whose bread and water are sure (Isa. 33:16), and whose treasures are not laid up here, but in heaven. Nor are they specially concerned with the political delusions which we are told shall ere long lead to the great political disaster, which is even now imminent. These are important to the world, whose only concern is their temporal interests. But the questions with us are, How shall we escape the religious delusions so prevalent everywhere? and what proof have we that we are not now under such hallucinations?
These are important questions which no child of God can afford lightly to set aside. But note the words of the Apostle above quoted, which seem to imply that God is desirous that some should be snared, and to the very intent that they might be condemned – “God will send [permit to come upon] them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned.”
Who are these whom God thus desires to be snared and condemned? Paul answers, They are those who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. They are not those who never heard the truth, but those who, having once heard and understood it, turned from it, rejected it and had pleasure in unrighteousness – not necessarily in gross unrighteousness, such as crime, but in some measure of unrighteousness; often a desire for a little more liberty of self-will instead of close conformity to the divine will, and consequently a preference for the error which would grant such liberty and silence the promptings of conscience and the voice of truth. Such prefer the error to the truth. Those who receive not the truth in the love of it are not worthy of it, and they, therefore, must go away from it into the outer darkness that envelops the world. To these error comes in its most deceitful forms, and they quickly fall a prey to the delusion.
With the Psalmist, therefore, we may well inquire, “Who,” then, “shall be able to stand? – who shall ascend into the hill [kingdom] of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?” Now mark the answer: “He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psa. 24:3-5.) Here is the class among whom the delusions of error can make no headway. These have a standpoint of observation from which every error appears in its true colors, and every truth in its proper light.
Mark the particular features of this class: They have “clean hands:” Their work for the Lord may be very imperfect; they may tell the story of his love and grace in a very halting, awkward manner; they may minister to the temporal or the spiritual necessities of the saints, or others, from a very frugal and plain store of their own; but their work will be clean; their story will be free from self-emulation and human glorying, and their works will be free from both ostentation and parade. What they do will be done with simplicity and meekness, as unto the Lord, and not for the praise of men.
They have “pure hearts:” Under divine inspection, their motives are seen to be pure. Their whole purpose and endeavor is to glorify God and to bless their fellow-men, especially the household of faith. They “have not lifted up their soul unto vanity:” They have no vain worldly ambitions, either secretly or openly cherished and ministered to behind the outward profession of entire consecration to God – no ambition to be great, or good, or wise in the eyes of men, nor to grasp the fleeting earthly treasures once consecrated to God. Nor have they “sworn deceitfully:” They have not made a covenant with God of entire consecration to his service, with a secret determination to keep back part of the price; nor have they since making the covenant repudiated its obligations.
The whole course of this class is one of sincerity and truth. Their character is that of meekness and faith; they love righteousness and desire to be molded and fashioned after the principles of righteousness; and they correspondingly hate wickedness and every evil way. With a realization of their own short-comings from the standard of perfection, they put no confidence in the flesh, but humbly and implicitly submit their will and judgment to the will and plan of God. So they have no schemes or plans of their own, but are fully devoted to the accomplishment of God’s plan, in God’s own way and time, having full faith in his sure word of prophecy and promise.
Those who have such a spirit come reverently to the Word of God to learn God’s will and way, and with a desire to walk accordingly; and here they receive the divinely-provided armor of God, which will protect all who carefully put it on from all the fiery darts of the enemy. Without this complete armor, no child of God is safe in this evil day. “Wherefore,” says the Apostle, “take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Eph. 6:13.
The evil day here referred to is this Day of the Lord, in which we are now living, wherein every man’s work shall be tried, so as by fire. These are the “perilous times” of which the Apostle forewarned the church – times peculiarly perilous to Christian faith, because of the many subtle and delusive forms of error now springing up to intercept the progress of the truth. But God’s provision for his saints is equal to the emergency of the perilous hour. Never before this “evil day” was it possible for the saints to put on the whole armor of God; and never before was it needed. For some years past the Lord has been handing us this armor, piece by piece, and has been telling us to put it on and wear it that we might become accustomed to it and feel at ease and at home in it, because the time was shortly coming when it would be impossible to stand without it.
Some – a few – have been heeding the counsel. Carefully they have buckled on every part of the armor as fast as they received it, and in consequence, to-day they stand completely clothed with the truth. Their loins are girt about with it; their feet are shod with it; and it covers their head [their intellectual faculties] as a helmet of salvation [salvation from the snares and delusions of error]. Then they have on the breastplate of righteousness – a righteous character, which the truth has developed in them; and in their hands they bear the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, which they are now able to handle with ease and vigor in defense of the doctrines of Christ; while their ample shield of faith is an able defense against all the fiery darts of the enemy, so that the flying arrows do not even jar the armor or for a moment stun the inner man.
Praise God for such an armor! Brother, have you put it on? Do not rest satisfied with the idea that you can get along as well as your fathers did with only a part of it. The time is coming, yea, and now is, when you must have it complete, or you will surely fall. The portions of the armor presented to the saints of the past were sufficient for their day and trial; but a greater trial of faith in this “evil day” necessitates a more complete defense.
Do not say to the Lord, “Well, I have the breastplate and the shield; no, thank you, I think I shall not need the helmet;” or, “I think I can get along without the sword.” I tell you, you will need them all; make haste and put them on without delay. Some of you should have had them on long ago, and should be able to help others don them now. Many are already falling, and sadly many are feeling their lack of the helmet. Some with mere curiosity-interest have spent much valuable time in looking at the various parts of the armor as presented to them for the past few years, instead of earnestly buckling them on and proving them: and they have become so used to merely looking at the beautiful pieces of the armor that they expect the process of bringing forward new pieces to continue forever. Let such wake up to the fact that the armor is already complete and that no more can be added to it. That is to say, the plan of God is now rounded out to completeness and no more can be added to it, because anything more would be a superfluity. The Lord has graciously shown us its entire outline, as well as the manner in which the various parts of it work together. Look at your hand: it has four fingers and a thumb. You do not say, Well, perhaps another thumb or finger will appear by and by. You know there will be no such thing. That hand is complete and another member added to it would be superfluous. (Beware of NEW LIGHT)
Just so those who have come to view the full completeness of God’s plan, as now unfolded to us, know that nothing more could be added to it. It is gloriously complete and worthy indeed of its great Author. But, while the outlining, the general harmony and the working together of the various parts are all clear to us now, we yet have room for profound thought and study of it, and probably will still have even after we are glorified. Some make a great mistake in continually putting on and taking off various proffered armors. There is but one armor that will be of any use or protection to us, and that is that which is stamped with the scarlet stamp of the precious blood of Christ. Every piece of this divine armor is so stamped, and it all fits together. If you think to change your helmet of salvation for some other helmet, you will very soon want another breastplate to match it. And you will want another sword; for this sword will not match with any other helmet. And this shield of faith will not match with any other armor. Do not allow your head to grow too big for the helmet which the Lord has provided, and then go around hunting a new helmet to fit your swelled and wrong ideas. If the helmet supplied in God’s Word will not fit you, do not fancy that the increase is real wisdom, and try to stretch the old one or to get a new helmet; but freely apply the liniment of humility and reduce it till the helmet does fit.
Put on the whole armor of God. And make sure that you accept no spurious brand. Every piece of the genuine is stamped with a cross and the words – To be worn only by the redeemed. Put on piece by piece, quickly; buckle it on securely; and having done all, STAND. The position thus suggested implies an attack: the attack will surely come, and indeed has already come to many. Are you ready now to do good service as a valiant soldier of the cross of Christ? Stand! do not run away; stand your ground and battle for the truth.
As we have already observed, it is as truly a part of God’s purpose to let some fall in this evil day, as it is to enable others to stand. He therefore permits the strong delusion to take possession of all who have pleasure in unrighteousness, and who therefore do not believe the truth. Such are unworthy of the truth, and sooner or later every such an one must fall. All such are condemned as unworthy of membership in Christ, the vine; and as the time for the exaltation of the Church draws nearer and nearer, the testing may be expected to increase until all the unworthy ones are weeded out. He will gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend [those who put off the wedding garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness, etc.], and all that do iniquity [those who practice sin]. And then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
If, then, we would escape the delusions of this evil day, let us see to it that we are in deed and in truth lovers of righteousness; let us receive the truth in meekness, hold it with humility and thankfulness, and serve it with energy and zeal.
EVIDENTLY these words of the Apostle were a prophesy concerning the present harvest time. Doubtless they apply primarily to the Church and will later apply also to Babylon and the unregenerate world. “Judgment must begin at the house of God.”
St. Paul does not specify what lies will be believed and which truths will be unappreciated. We might particularize to some extent, but we believe that a disloyal condition of heart may be meant which would apply to every form of truth and correspondingly apply to various lies.
Is it not a fact, that a mind may become generally indifferent to principles of honesty in respect to thoughts and reasonings? And would not such a mind be very open to erroneous conclusions? Would not this apply to all the affairs of life, so that unkind, uncharitable thoughts would be entertained without an honest endeavor to sift them and to give the one accused the benefit of every doubt? Is not this generally the case amongst men and women to-day?
We believe that such injustice lies at the bottom of nearly all the troubles of the Church and the world. Few but the saintly are just – not to say merciful and generous in their interpretations of the words and deeds of others.
And now according to this prophesy we are come to the time when God will test all – or allow Satan to test the whole world with a “frenzy of delusion”! What may we not expect in the way of hasty and irrational conduct inspired by these delusions! Some may be so exercised in respect to the Truth – new and old; others may be influenced thus in respect to their personal, social and political affairs.
It is this frenzy that is precipitating trouble, religious, financial and social, and leading on to the anarchy which is shortly, according to the Bible, to envelop and swallow our civilization in the indescribable time of trouble which will precede the reign of righteousness.
The saints, the consecrated, will not escape from this testing. Who will be able to stand? Some seem to be under the strain already. Let us pity them and do all in our power to succor them. But our chief concern should be ourself – that we may each maintain and increase our “spirit of a sound mind.”
We should not only square our every act and word with strictest justice, but beyond this we should scrutinize our every thought and “bring every thought into subjection to the will of God” as expressed in Christ. Love, do you say? Yes! in its proper order, “Love is the principal thing.” But Justice must come first to be in line with the Divine precepts. “Just before generous” is an old and a very true adage. After learning to think justly of the words and acts of others we are prepared with a proper mental foundation to think generously – lovingly.
The Scriptures say not in vain that “A false balance is an abomination unto the Lord.” (Prov. 11:1.) And this balancing applies as truly to mental as to physical dealings with others. Whoever does not love righteousness; yea, whoever does not hate inequity, is surely in danger of being frenzied by delusions in this evil day. Surely Satan and the fallen angels under him are being granted extraordinary power to tempt God’s people and later on the world, to cut loose from all moderation in a frenzy of error on one subject or another with one person or another. Let us be forewarned and “watch and pray lest we enter into temptation.”
This text could hardly be referring to a steadily increasing light of truth all through the Gospel Age.
In Jesus’ day it was already shining brightly: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” – John 8:12
Soon after the apostles fell asleep, the truth became mixed with error in the great falling away. History shows that during the “Dark Ages” error held sway. Certainly the truth was not shining more brightly than in Jesus’ day.
“Let 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.” – 2 Thess. 2:3
This text refers not to a continual changing of what constitutes the truth but to an increasing appreciation of the truth in our own individual lives as we study it and live by it.
The text may also have reference to a clearer understanding of Bible prophecies as they are being fulfilled more completely before us.
Restoration of Truth.
Meat in due season was provided by means of a faithful and wise servant.
“And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season.” – Luke 12:42
The truth was restored at the Lord’s second presence.
“Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” – Luke 12:43
Brother Charles Taze Russell was the servant, or as pictured in Revelation, the special messenger to the seventh period of the church, just as other individuals such as Luther were used in former periods of the church’s history.
“The seven stars are the angels (Greek AGGELOS, “messengers”) of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” –
The servant received all the basic doctrines of truth from the Lord, while former messengers received only certain phases of truth. Thus he would need no successors.
“He will make him ruler over all that he hath.” – Luke 12:44
Both the faithful and wise servant and the evil servant are individuals, not organizations, since their work is in connection with fellow-servants, who also are individuals.
“If that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants.” – Matt. 24:46,49
The “meat in due season” consisted of:
A restoration of the doctrines taught by Jesus and the apostles which had been contaminated as the church fell away. Jude 3 – Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
An understanding of certain time features of God’s plan which were not to be revealed until then.
“Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end … None of he wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” – Dan. 12:9, 10
Doctrines are not to be continually changing.
What was truth in 1916 is still truth; or else we would have to say that the “truth movement” was an “error movement” at one time. Once doctrine has been proved by the Word of God, it is truth and is not to be cast off a few years later.
1 Thess. 5:21 – Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.
Eph. 4:14 – That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.
Rom. 16:17 – Brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned.
Heb. 13:9 – Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.
Col. 1:21-23 – And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled … to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.
Mal. 3:6 – For I am the Lord, I change not.
So-called “new light” has not clarified the truth.
It has merely resulted in going back to the old error of restricting the love and mercy of God