Wednesday: A Call to Commitment
Revelation’s appeal is an urgent call to commitment, summarized in the symbolism of the two women in Revelation. Although at times it will appear that God’s people will be defeated in this cosmic controversy between truth and error, God promises that His church will triumph in the end.
Compare Matthew 16:18 and Revelation 17:14. What promise did Jesus give His disciples regarding His church?
Christ is the solid foundation His church is built upon. His church is based on the teachings of His Word and guided by His Spirit. On the contrary, Babylon, as we have seen, is rooted in human-made teachings and traditions. Any religious leader who substitutes human opinions or traditions in the place of, or above, the revealed will of God in the Scriptures is simply fostering Babylonian confusion.
In the days of ancient Babylon, church and state were one and the same thing. When King Nebuchadnezzar sat in his temple on his royal throne, he supposedly spoke for the gods. On one occasion, as an act of defiance of the true God, the Babylonian king passed a universal decree enforcing worship and commanded all his subjects to bow to his decree, a powerful symbol of what God’s faithful people, who refuse to worship the false image, will face in the last days. (See Daniel 3:1-30.)
In the last days of earth’s history, a church-state system will arise, spiritual Babylon, with a spiritual leader claiming to speak as God. His word will be declared to be the very word of God and his commands the commands of God. Throughout the centuries the Roman pontiffs have declared that they stand in the place of God on earth. In his encyclical letter of June 20, 1894, Pope Leo XIII stated, “We hold upon this earth the place of Almighty God.” The Ferraris Ecclesiastical Dictionary adds, “The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it were God and the vicar of God.” The apostle Paul adds these words exposing this power: “ … who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4, NKJV).
|Because we have already seen that God has faithful people in “Babylon,” why must we be careful in how we talk about it, and why must we be careful not to judge people as individuals, as opposed to the system itself?|
Every now and then I take the time to read through some of the Roman Catholic web pages. Typically they are diocese and archdiocese sites, much like the Review and Herald/Australasian Record/Signs of the Times in our Seventh-day Adventist world. They make interesting reading and I have a wry smile to myself when they talk about issues within the Catholic Church. If you take out the Catholic terminology and replace it with Adventist ones, many of the articles still make sense. They have very similar issues to us.
One thing that comes across very clearly is that the Roman Catholic church is hurting. One writer makes the point that they cannot really blame the exposure of institutional sexual abuse on the rapid shrinking of the church and its influence. It was happening before then.
A big concern in Australia (and I think that this is reflected in Europe and the USA) is that they are not graduating enough local priests. A young Catholic priest in Australia these days is likely to be born and educated in Africa or India. In Australia, one of the writers made the observation that we do not have a priest problem. If the attrition of church attendees continues at current rates it won't be long before we have one priest for each active member in the church.
The Roman Catholic faithful are hurting, badly. We used to promote the idea that the Papacy received the deadly wound in 1798, but if you want to see a church that is painfully wounded you only need to look at its current situation.
I could go on and describe the closing of convents, monasteries and seminaries and so on, but I will leave that detail in case you think I am gloating. I do however want to make a couple of observations.
Carmel often tells me that the best way to teach children is not to tell them they are wrong, but to show them the right way. My farming background tells me that you don't kick a sick dog to make it better.
Much of our Papacy/Babylon/ theology has been focused on the way the Papacy has acted in the past. We point out their greed for power, their persecution, their adoption of pagan rituals, and their change of the day of worship. Some of us have taken to shoving "The Great Controversy" in their letter boxes to teach them a lesson.
Can I suggest that there is a better way? Perhaps we Seventh-day Adventists need to show love to hurting disenfranchised Catholics as they struggle to come to terms with where their church is at the moment.
"By this shall all men know ..."
Maybe if we cannot fill in the dots, we are not in the Gospel business.
Brother Maurice I appreciated your post today. People need to know that we care about them and that every one is valuable to us. As Jesus' representatives we should never attack people's religion or their personal views. We need to find as much common ground as possible and then lead them into the truth.
As I learn the truth, I must continue to recognize that God loves everyone (not only those who think like me!). The truth is God is love, and He can reveal the future. The advantage I need to grasp with this is a persistent consciousness of whom or what I worship based on the revelations I've been open. Open our minds and hearts, Lord!
Currently, Islam is poised to be the world's largest religion, if it isn't at that place already. However, SDA writings are almost silent on this issue. We are very focused on the Papacy and Eurocentric/North American interpretations of bibical prophecy. There seems to be a need to be a little more open minded on our discussion of these issues. Are the people who are leaving our church going to the Catholic church?
Certainly the words and deeds that come out of our mouth depict whether or not we have been with Jesus, as we interact with those of another faith. Be doers of the word.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.
James 1:26. NLT.
To me, Revelation 17:14 goes along with Revelation 19:14 and is talking about Jesus as King of Kings, lord of Lords, and those who are with Him are His unfallen sinless angels and not any humans at all.
In a similar vein to Brother Ashton's focus on Christ's commandment to unconditionally love others, it is written:"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".. 'and reconciled us to himself'(Roman's 5:8-10). I reason, everyone is reconciled to God inasmuch as everyone is a sinner. Therefore we are all God's people whether or not we should receive Him. Thus I read "Come out of her my people!" as a clarion call to all. Our merit with God is found only in Christ, and the invitation is to all who will receive Him.
Hi, Jamie. I can only reason that, if your analysis were correct, then 2 Corinthians 5:20 would not say, "We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God."
While God has already reconciled us to Himself, apparently we have the ability to ignore that fact, and to go right on being unreconciled to Him. We'd have to be crazy, I know.
I find it important to point out that the system of 'babylon' is also a worldly system of values and standards that enforces allegiance by using an organized religious system to coerce man to obey their 'king'.
I believe that the call to “come out of 'babylon'” refers to abandoning the way one’s lifestyle has compromised God’s Truth. Too many Christians are caught in the web of ‘shades of gray’ – uncertainty: the fact of 'it' not being clear in a situation what is right and wrong - situation ethics.
People love their luxuries, their ease, their connections with powers, enjoying their privileges of their educational status. One could not identify who is a Christian when compared to the one who is not a Christian. I am sure Maurice would probably be able to speak to that.
So what is the core concern Christ has for His church when He calls us to "come out of her"? I believe this to be the lifestyle causing lukewarmness of one's faith because of all the entanglements as one enjoys the ‘silver and gold’ of this world, causing the believer's love of Jesus Christ to grow cold.
I see a worldwide system arise which endeavors to govern all mankind with one voice, promising 'peace, peace' – Rev.17:12-14. It will allow only one form of worship, the form which worships the beast. – Rev.13:8
The question then becomes – “How do we recognize this system and avoid falling prey to its cunning deceptions?” The less our lives become entangled with the cares of this world, the less difficult it becomes to – come out of ‘her’.
I consider it a ‘good thing’ to remain meek, unattached to symbols of worldly status and power, focusing instead on increasing one’s faith-commitment - engaging in doing ‘all that is of good report, ”For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.” - Eph.2:10
Brigitte's discourse is on point. The problem with the church, especially in developed countries, is that of materialism. As we become more affluent, God tends to become less relevant. The call to come out of Babylon can also be considered as a call to turn from materialistic ways of thinking. This can happen to people who remain regular church members.
Comment on “Come out of Babylon.”
In the context of the 21st century, we are to completely renounce the world and lovingly serve God and mankind John 17: 16.
In terms of the final question, if we look at scripture, we see that the head of Babylon was finally saved. The system itself was as corrupt as could be (there are no promises of restoration for Babylon unlike many other enemies of God's people), but God reached Nebuchadnezzar. So there is no place to judge individuals in other churches. Who knows, maybe there will even be some popes in Heaven. (Yes, I know that sounds crazy but Nebuchadnezzar being in Heaven would have sounded equally crazy).
The word of God is truth and Jesus said that He is truth, way to eternity .What is supposed to be done is to allow him to give us words to speak to audience not our words .The end is coming very soon .We are special people for special task let we ask God to lead us because it is God`s word.Speaking truth isn`t judging call a spade a spade not small a spoon