part 1 of 2
|1John.2:18||Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.|
But it wasn't the last time, WAS IT? There were at least 1900 long years to go, during which, more than 40 generations of humanity would be born...live...grow old...and die. Those who like to find fault with the Bible will be quick to point out that HERE WE HAVE A CONSPICUOUS MISTAKE: since it is, by now, quite OBVIOUS that it was NOT then and already the last time when this was written, 19 long centuries ago. There are some, who in attempting to defend the Inspiration of the Bible, will say that the entire Church-Age is to be called the last time: They find it necessary to ignore the normal significance of the phrase; as if it were not meant to suggest that The End is VERY NEAR. And then there are some who will say that these words are meant to cause all men in every generation to think that the return of Jesus Christ was immediately at hand, EVEN WHEN IT WASN'T! Thus, they make God out to be the author of a "USEFUL LIE", and the issuer of a false warning; whose purpose is to scare the saints into living as if the world might end tomorrow! And yet, in this same chapter, within the same paragraph, and just 3 verses away, the same inspired Apostle says, "no lie is of the truth."
Oh! How I wish I could see you now, dear Reader, to find out if I have expressed this clearly! And WHAT will you begin to think after you discover that the word translated to "time" in this place is really the Greek word for HOUR! There is a big difference between it is the last time, and IT IS THE LAST HOUR! For 1900 years we Christians have been reading, IT IS THE LAST HOUR; and at least until now, it has not been the last hour, NOW HAS IT?
|Matt.24:24||For there shall arise FALSE CHRISTS, and false prophets, and they shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.|
When the disciples came to Jesus and asked, What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matt.24:3), Our Lord says that one of the signs of the end will be the prevalence of false christs; or, as it may also be translated: FAKE-PHONY-PRETEND CHRISTS. Now false christs is WHAT THEY ARE; and as we shall see, antichrists describes WHAT THEY DO. What is notable here, is that Jesus makes the appearance of these false christs into a sign of the end of the age, while the Apostle John seems to be saying that they were already around in the 1st century.
When I first discovered these "little problems" many years ago, they gave me quite a scare; for they appeared to be OBVIOUS ERRORS; and if they were INDEED real errors, then the Bible was wrong; and if the Bible was wrong, then I WAS WRONG......about everything: and therefore neither was I saved, for my hope and my faith NEEDED a true and reliable Bible. Does yours? So, I decided to just 'forget about it' for a while, and wait for wisdom. Then, I discovered a similar "problem" in the Book of James:
|James.5:3||Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. YE HAVE HEAPED TREASURE TOGETHER FOR THE LAST DAYS.|
But how could the rich men of James's day have heaped treasure together FOR THE LAST DAYS, if The End of The Age was at least 1900 years hence? And then I discovered that the word "for" in this place should be translated to "in": so NOW we have, Ye have heaped treasure together IN the last days! And there is more....
|Jude.17||But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;|
|18.||How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.|
But Jude speaks of these mockers as if they were ALREADY PRESENT, and as if he himself were already living in the last time; and furthermore, Jude is quoting a prophecy from the Book of 2 Peter, which says, Knowing this first, that there shall come IN THE LAST DAYS scoffers (same word as mockers in Jude), WALKING AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS! Peter says they shall come in the last days: Jude says THEY ARE ALREADY HERE; that Peter's prophecy has been fulfilled; and that the last time is HERE NOW. But there were yet at least 1900 years to go when Jude wrote this...
I consulted book after book; but there was nothing in them to help me. I sought out the learned: Elders, Pastors, and professional Bible scholars: they were all evasive; most of them were embarrassed, and some of them were outright dishonest. I was often afraid to even think about it. And then....I discovered that the answer to my questions was right there in the Bible all along: but only after many years of study, during which I found it necessary to CONCEAL "these little problems" from those I wished to preach to. AND NOW, within just a few minutes, and with a scant few lines, I shall solve the "problem"; unravel the mystery, and present an explanation that honest men can receive....and more than that: I will present you with fresh evidence that not only are the WORDS in the Bible the Very Words of God, but that even THE ORDER OF THE BOOKS in the New Testament was inspired and preserved for all generations by the Will and Purpose of that Same God.
But I have to ask YOU now: Does any of this mean anything to you? Do you believe that the Christian Bible is the INSPIRED and PRESERVED record of the INFALLIBLE Word of God? DO YOU? And if I have just shown you a real "problem"; that except it be resolved, will PROVE that there is serious error in the Bible; DO YOU CARE if the "problem" is resolved? OR, is your professed allegiance to the Bible just a lazy lip-service; a cheap concession that you find it easy and convenient to make in the presence of other religious people? WHO ARE YOU? Have you ever been AFRAID that the Bible MIGHT BE WRONG about something? Or is it, as I truly suspect, that MOST professing Christians; and most of those who will read THIS, DON'T REALLY CARE: for in reality, and finally, YOU DO NOT BELIEVE that the words in the Bible describe AND CONTROL the course of human history and the eternal destiny of every man or woman that ever lived, INCLUDING YOU.
When it appears that the Apostle John, AND James, AND Jude, all thought that they were ALREADY living in The Last Days; WHEN THEY WERE NOT, does this concern you at all? WHO ARE YOU? What do you mean, when you SAY, "The Bible is inspired"? Do you prefer to see the Bible as an inscrutable mystery? or does it contain a "plain truth" that you are expected to understand and believe?
YES, I do know WHO and WHAT I am talking to: and YOU, who "throw the God a bone" once or twice a week and make meaningless concessions to the religious prejudice of your social circle SHALL ALL BE FOUND OUT for the shallow and trivial hypocrites you always were, and you shall be turned over the king of terrors in the END.
You may repent now.
And so, having smitten every insincere religious professor with a blow from which he cannot recover except he repent, I turn again to the Friends of Truth; those who fear God, believe in the Bible, and LOVE people like me. Let us consider now what the Bible has to say about it's own prophecies.
|2Peter.1:20||Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.|
|21.||For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.|
The prophecy came not by the will of man: What we have in the Bible is NOT what some Godly man wanted to say; but it is what God wanted to be said. This means that the authors of the Bible MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN the full and final significance of their own writings. What they ended up writing and what finally became known as the Christian Bible, was not their ideas and opinions, but God's. So EVEN IF John, James, and Jude mistakenly thought that they were already living in the last days, they still ended up writing EXACTLY what God wanted to be said. But WHY, you may honestly ask, would God INSPIRE these men to assert that they were already living in the last days when it has now become obvious that they were not?
IT IS BECAUSE the books of the New Testament, in the ORDER in which they now and presently occur, give us the history of Christianity. The subjects introduced, and the circumstances described, occur in such an order that they form a commentary on the significant doctrinal controversies and events of Church History. Now I concede to you, that this cannot be PROVED in just a few minutes; but I can show you THIS:
THE CLOSER TO THE END OF THE NEW TESTAMENT YOU GET, THE MORE FREQUENTLY THE END OF THIS AGE IS MENTIONED, and also, THE CLOSER TO THE END OF THE NEW TESTAMENT YOU GET, THE NEARER THE END OF THIS AGE IS SAID TO BE. Just look at this!
|Romans.13:11||. . . for now is our salvation NEARER than when we first believed.|
|Hebrews.10:37||>For yet A LITTLE WHILE and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry|
|James.5:2||. . . ye have heaped up treasure IN (not "for") the last days.|
|1Peter.4:7||The END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND . . .|
|1John.2:18||Little children, IT IS THE LAST HOUR (not "time")|
You can see, if you will but look, that all the books after Hebrews assert or imply that the last days have ALREADY BEGUN; and that no such assertion can be found before Hebrews. There would come a time in which men would actually be living in the last days, AND ONLY THEN would they be able to see how all the prophecies about the last days were being fulfilled. There would come a time, in which men would actually be living in the last hour; and it is to THEM that the Holy Spirit is speaking IN THE PRESENT TENSE. I do not say that James, Peter, John, and Jude, had nothing to say to the saints in all centuries; but that the peculiar subject matter of these books would only be clearly understood by men who were living in the times to which they are most specifically addressed. James contains the message of the Holy Spirit to those who would be living IN the last days, and 1 John is specifically addressed to US, for we are, my Friend, living IN THE LAST HOUR. Or are we?
It is simply amazing to me, how quickly some people will change their opinions! The cry has been going forth in Christendom that we are in the last days since the turn of this century. I recently heard one of the most well known and respected preachers in America say that,
"WE ARE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE LAST DAYS OF THE LAST DAYS", and this is no paraphrase, but an exact quote. If you watch religious television, you will often hear it said that "Jesus is coming soon" or "We are at the end of the age". I have met many people who will casually admit that we are NOW in the last days, UNTIL I bring up this: That the Bible predicts, and historic Christianity has always known, that in the last days Christendom will be in A STATE OF APOSTASY. They all seem to know that THIS MUST MEAN THEM: they always suspect that I am accusing THEM of being the apostates; and suddenly they find it necessary to say, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man"; as if this suggests that the signs of the end (Matt.24:3) that we are told to look for cannot and will not be seen by anybody. What about you, my Friend? Were you ready to admit that we are NOW in the last days UNTIL you read THIS? And, if you are still willing to say that we are NOW living in the last days; would you please point out to me those FALSE CHRISTS and FALSE PROPHETS that Jesus said would be a sign of the end?
Now don't go looking for a whole herd of men that have long hair and wear Bible-times costumes to find those many antichrists; and neither should you waste your time trying to find a whole class of "Jesus impostors" that haven't already joined the "Napoleon impostors" in the insane asylum: comic-book characters like these have never even come close to being able to deceive the very elect. Furthermore, these many antichrists are able to shew great signs and wonders.
|2Cor.11:14||For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.|
|15.||Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.|
Satan's ministers, says the Apostle Paul, shall be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; AND he says, it is no great thing. In other words, you should not be surprised if some men who LOOKED LIKE the ministers of righteousness should turn out to be Satan's ministers in the end. AND YOU ARE NOT SURPRISED, for you have already made this judgement about those who teach some "version" of Christianity that profoundly disagrees with your own. You may even be ready to say that I am one of Satan's ministers before you finish reading this!
Some people believe that everyone who speaks with tongues (Rom.14:39) is either deranged or demon-possessed! The Lutheran and Reformed churches have asserted that the Pope is a TYPICAL ANTICHRIST for over 400 years; and that anyone who embraces Catholic Doctrine to the end is damned! There are some denominations that openly condemn to hell everyone who isn't water-baptized according their own special formula!
All of these denominations have agreed to denounce the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses! Every denomination teaches that there are some "versions" of the Christian Religion that damn rather than save; and how can a clergyman who teaches a false religion that damns it's adherents be anything other than one of Satan's ministers?
But then I suppose that I have been putting you off long enough; and lest you grow weary with me or begin to accuse me of leading you on, I may as well tell you that those many antichrists of Bible prophecy are A CLASS OF POPULAR CLERGYMEN: there are many of them, and they are all around you even now. And there is no point in looking over your shoulder to find that other guy, the one that preaches in that "other church": for the greatest likelihood is that one of your FAVORITE PREACHERS is really just a "little" antichrist; and if you have the courage to finish reading this, and the honesty to submit to the testimony of Scripture and Plain reason; I will show you plainly WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE, and WHAT THEY DO. YES, dear Reader, I have "FOUND THE DONKEYS", and I can "PIN THE POINTED TAIL" on them, too. The only problem you could have with any of this would be if you felt the tack in your own behind: for one need not be a RELIGIOUS BIG-SHOT in order to play the part of a "little" ANTICHRIST.
An antichrist is an ANTI-TYPE of Jesus Christ: and the word ANTI- does not mean OPPOSITE; as if in order to be an antichrist one must express open hostility to Jesus Christ. An ANTITYPE is "The person or thing represented or foreshadowed by an earlier type or symbol" [Webster's Dictionary]. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that the Greek word anti- christos means BOTH "against Christ" AND "instead of Christ" at the same time. An antichrist is one who SUPPLANTS, or REPLACES Jesus Christ. Jesus called them PSEUDO-CHRISTOS; false christs. PSEUDO means FAKE-PHONY-PRETEND. They are "imitation christs". What makes one an antichrist is NOT how conspicuously different they are from Christ; but is in how they play the role as "functional equivalent" to Christ. The word "CHRIST" is not a name, but a title. "CHRIST" means, "the anointed one", or rather (permit me to update this definition): "the SPECIAL ONE: THE ONE WHO MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE". An antichrist is one who claims OR INSINUATES that he is himself "a special one", and that he is able to impart to you the same saving benefits that you may receive from Jesus Christ. He does not have to claim that he is, himself, the historical Jesus, and if he denounced or denied Jesus openly he wouldn't be able to deceive the very elect, NOT EVEN FOR A MINUTE.
Put simply, an ANTICHRIST is an IMPOSTOR-SAVIOR; one who puts himself in the place of Jesus Christ by claiming or by INSINUATING that loyalty to him will guarantee your salvation. Every antichrist plays the same "game", and it goes like this: You bow and scrape, hand over your money, go along with his program, and call him "the man of God": in exchange for these things, the antichrist tells you what "a fine Christian" you are, and assures you of your place in heaven. There are some things that an antichrist will NEVER do: he will never drive someone away just because they SAY they believe something that contradicts his favorite doctrines; for his chief concern is to have his pews filled and his offering-basket full. Paul said, An heretick after the first and second admonition REJECT (Titus 3:10); but an antichrist will never reject anybody unless he sees no way to use them for his own purposes. In the end, he DOES NOT really CARE what your doctrine is, or whether you are saved or not; and he will never denounce you unless you threaten his popularity or his money.
|Jer.23:17||They say still unto them that despise Me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.|
There has never been a moment in history, nor a spot on this planet, where you could find a society of men that was devoid of RELIGION: and wherever there is religion, there are CLERGYMEN of one sort or another. The witch-doctor is as much a clergyman to his own tribe as any pastor is to his congregation; and if he presents himself to be a MEDIATOR between those who are presumably righteous, and God, he is an antichrist.
|1Tim.2:5||For there is one God, and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.|
ONE MEDIATOR: Does this need any explanation? But when the people REFUSE to face up to the absolute necessity that they each answer for the existence of EVIL, PAIN, DEATH; and the apparent remoteness of God; for themselves, they appoint themselves a REPRESENTATIVE, a PRIEST: they pay him, they honor him, and their service to their priest becomes their OFFERING. They pacify their guilty consciences and alleviate their fear of the unknown by yielding to their PRIEST, whom they have appointed to MEDIATE between them and God. Their CLERGYMAN, they say, "has got it right"; and by making concession to him, they think that they have "got it right" as well. As I said before, IT'S a 'game'; an ARRANGEMENT. They agree to flatter and support the CLERGYMAN, and as long as they will do so, the CLERGYMAN tells them that they are doing JUST FINE. Jesus said:
|John.5:44||How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?|
They CANNOT believe, because they do not want to believe what you must believe to be a Christian. In order to be a Christian, YOU MUST BELIEVE JESUS. Jesus said, Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he CANNOT be my disciple: BUT THEY DON'T LIKE THE SOUND OF THIS, so they go running off to find themselves a CLERGYMAN who will "explain" it for them so that it no longer threatens their economic and social ambitions. Jesus anticipated and described this "watering down of the Gospel" routine in the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-9).
|Luke.16:5||...he called every one of his Lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou my Lord?|
|6.||And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he (the unjust steward) said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.|
|7.||And he (the unjust steward) said to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, an hundred measures of wheat. And the unjust steward said unto him, Take thy bill and write fourscore.|
The only everlasting habitations that await the unjust steward and those that will use him to CHEAT THEIR Lord are the infernal regions of hell, Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:48) But SOMEONE is sure, of course, to remind me that by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, Lest any man should boast (Eph.2:8-9); as if I didn't know this, and as if I am preaching some kind of "works salvation". For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil.2:13); and the work that God does in you, doesn't make a "religion" out of watering down and explaining away the teachings of Jesus Christ. He that saith, I know Him (Jesus), and keepeth not His commandments, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).
As I said earlier, one need not be a RELIGIOUS BIG-SHOT to play the part of a "little" antichrist; and I know this, BECAUSE I have done it. I HAVE REPENTED, by the way, and according to 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I do not mean by my admission to diminish the ugliness and wickedness of my error; but I would have you to know just how easy it is to end up playing the role of "little" antichrist.
All you have to do to play the antichrist "game" is to allow someone to use your APPROVAL as THE PROOF that all is well between them and God, OR, to account THEIR APPROVAL OF YOU as THE PROOF that THEY are genuine and sincere. Having spent some years as a professional clergyman, and many years as an active witness for Christ, I have met quite a few along the way who were willing to "sit at my feet" and let me talk on and on about Jesus and the Bible. They were also willing to tell me how "learned and wise" I was.
Being desperate to "win souls for Christ", and also desperate to prove to myself AND OTHERS that I was "somebody special" in God's sight, I was quite willing to OVERLOOK the plain evidence that these 'admirers' were playing the antichrist "game" with me. Even when my wife and my brethren insisted that I was being taken in by flattery, I REFUSED TO SEE, and instead, I ACCUSED THEM of "having no love", or of being unwilling to bear any inconvenience for the kingdom of God. It's an intoxicating thing to be called "the man of God".
Time after time I embraced these 'admiring disciples', and got involved with their personal problems: I spent money on them, and even took some of them into my home. Most of them brought trouble and sorrow into my life. All but one of them lost their interest in being "religious" after they were done "using" me. In every case I was able to look back and remember that I had CLEAR EVIDENCE that they were not genuine, all along. As I said; it's an intoxicating thing to be called "the man of God".
That CLEAR EVIDENCE I refused to see was LACK OF PROGRESS and FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS. They would come to me in great perplexity and ask me to counsel them or explain something in the Bible. I would give them my best answer, and they would SAY that they believed me. A few days or weeks would pass, and they were back with exactly the same questions; as if I had never addressed these things at all! I would repeat my original answers and attempt to explain them further until they SAID they understood and agreed: but they were back again soon, WITH THE SAME QUESTIONS, AND THE SAME PROBLEMS: Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim.3:7).
The other CLEAR EVIDENCE that these 'admiring disciples' were not genuine was that they had FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS. There were some questions that I dared not ask, and there were personal matters that I was afraid to bring up: UNLESS, I was willing to put up with a temper tantrum or a flood of tears, during which I was likely to be accused of unrighteous judging or warned that further inquiry into these sensitive areas would be rewarded with rejection, slander, and hatred. These were people WHO CAME TO ME, and told me AND others what "a great man of God" I was. But in the end, when I was unable to solve their problems or make them happy, they decided that I was "just another" self-righteous and pompous fraud like all the rest: they would twist my words and slander me in public; and I ended up having to answer to their gossip! Now I understand WHY Solomon said, He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets; therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips (Proverbs 20:19).
IN CONTRAST with the antichrist "game": in which approval and favor are given to whoever will applaud or hand over the money; there is the example of the Prophets, the Apostles, and of Jesus Christ Himself. When Elisha pledged himself to follow the Prophet Elijah wherever he should go, Elijah tried to "dump" Elisha several times. Elisha pursued Elijah anyway, and so proved his sincerity (2 Kings 2:1-14). When a woman began to follow the Apostle Paul and his companions around, saying, These men are servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation: Paul didn't invite her to appear on his TV show, so that she could say this in front of a bigger crowd; but rather accused her of being demon possessed. For THIS little bit of integrity, Paul and his companions were flogged in public and thrown into jail (Acts 16:16-24). When a man came running up to Jesus and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none that is good, but one, that is, God (Mark 10:17-18).
Every time that large crowds began to flock around Jesus, He would utter one of those hard sayings that were so characteristic of Him, and so offend them, that most of them would go away. (John 6:2-66)
In contrast to these examples of Godly men, these many antichrists are quick to receive ANY praise, and to confer their approval on anyone who contributes money or services to their program. The antichrist will never say ANYTHING that will drive away ANYONE that he can make some use of, and he will never denounce anyone in his own "congregation" unless they actually threaten his money or his public image.
Now we know that breaking a mirror, or walking under a ladder, or seeing a black cat cross your path ARE NOT prophetic omens of inevitable trouble; but yet you may have some regard for these things BECAUSE there are so many who will refer to them with feigned seriousness. Furthermore, there are always some people who will report that these superstitions were vindicated in their own lives. This is because we humans want to believe that there is more to our life in the world than the dead, cold, and immutable laws of matter. This 'hopeful reflection'; that there must be more to life than the laws of matter and the discoveries of science, is the ground and fountain of all superstition, and is also the root and the reason for the world's religions. The level of influence that any superstitious notion has among the people is the simple sum of how many people believe in it or defer to it. If you broke a mirror, and everyone around you fled from you to avoid being affected by your "7 years of bad luck", you might feel at least a moment of insecurity, even if you were sure that it was just "superstitious nonsense". Furthermore, if everyone around you began to denounce you and to regard you suspiciously for refusing to acknowledge their belief, their mistreatment of you would amount to a fulfillment of "the curse": under the weight of slander and rejection, you may very well be driven to such a state of gloom and distraction, that your behavior becomes erratic and self destructive. THUS, your accusers get to stand off at a safe distance and say, "SEE, it works every time!", and, "I knew this would happen to him!"
Superstitious notions are always attached to objects and actions that are of a local, and cultural origin. There is no reason to believe that dropping a spoon is less likely to portend an unexpected visitor than dropping a fork. In other countries, where the "fork omen" is not known, people drop forks all the time without a second thought. There are some firmly entrenched superstitions in other countries which are absolutely meaningless here! We don't even know about them: yet those people live in regard to these things as if they had some power to change reality or control the future. Were you to visit one of these countries, and "step on the dead mouse" (or whatever), and then show contempt for their belief; you would find yourself the object of suspicion and ridicule whether you had regard for their superstition or not. Someone may even be willing to PUNISH YOU for your arrogance; for when you show contempt for the popular belief of the people, you show contempt for the people that believe it. Thus again, the curse becomes self-fulfilling, and those who believe in it will see your case as THE PROOF that they were right.
In many countries where spiritism and voodoo are the native religions, the local CLERGYMAN is called the Shaman. He is the PRIEST OF THE PEOPLES in his own "parish". He is at once THE PRODUCT OF, an EXAMPLE OF, and A LEADER IN his own society and culture: he is the official public repository of spiritual superiority and Divine Truth. The Shaman's TITLE, his SOCIAL POSITION, and his PUBLIC FUNCTIONS occupy a permanent place within the society that produced and supports him. Should the Shaman die or quit; the "job" is still there, and he will be replaced soon enough, with someone who will perform exactly the same functions.
His public authority is fundamentally democratic; for the society that produced him requires that he be shown due respect. He wears special clothes that mark him out as one of the elders and leaders of his own society. He possesses and handles "sacred objects" which are loaded with significance derived from generations of superstitious regard. He is the "public repository" of Divine Truth: only HE is "allowed" to KNOW IT BEST; and woe be unto the "unordained" man that PRESUMES to have equal or superior knowledge and authority to the Shaman! The people simply will not have it that EVERYONE HAS EQUAL ACCESS TO DIVINE TRUTH: for equal access to God implies equal obligation to find God, and equal access to Divine Truth accuses all who do not have it of willful ignorance.
|Rom.1:19||Because that which may be known of God is manifest to them; for God hath shewed it unto them.|
|20.||For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.|
|21.||Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened:|
|22.||Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,|
|23.||And changed the glory of the uncorrupted God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.|
And even if the Gospel of Jesus and the Bible were never presented to the Shaman's "congregation", THEY ARE STILL GUILTY: for they always had the option to REJECT THE FALSE RELIGION that they were being taught; just like you have the option to reject the FALSE RELIGION that popularly passes for "Christianity" in these last days. But NO, you must have your "priest", an image made like unto corruptible man to make concessions to; taking your security from the fact that everyone else in your "tribe" does the same.
|Ephesians.4:11||And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;|
Most Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are delighted to remind their Catholic, Episcopal, and Orthodox brethren that there is no job for a PRIEST within the Biblically authorized spiritual offices of the New Testament: NAY, but rather, ALL BELIEVERS (if indeed they are true believers), are accounted as priests to the rest of the world.
|1Peter.2:9||But ye are a chosen generation a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.|
|Rev.1:6||And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.|
Jesus Himself has established that all True Believers are indeed, 'priests' to the unbelievers, in that no one can accept The Christ of The Church without accepting The Church of the Christ.
|Matt.10:40||He that receiveth you, receiveth Me; and he receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me.|
|Luke.10:16||He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.|
These words are NOT spoken only to the twelve Apostles, but to all of His disciples. By no means will I suggest that one may become a Christian and despise the fellowship of other Christians: HOWEVER, we are both permitted and obliged to determine just who the REAL Christians are. God knows who they are, and every one that loveth Him (God) that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him (1 John 5:1).
It is when a man presumes to play 'priest-mediator' between professing Christians and God that he becomes an antichrist. There is only ONE True Priest to Whom Christians may appeal, and that priest is Our Lord Jesus Christ.
|Hebrews.4:14||Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.|
|Hebrews.9:24||For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God FOR us.|
|1Tim.2:5||For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.|
If then, anyone should use any man OTHER than Jesus alone as a priest or mediator between himself and God, he has therefore declared that he is still OUTSIDE the Body of Christ; and THAT is the same as being 'UNSAVED'. Make no doubt of it: only an unsaved person has any need of an earthly mediator.
|1Cor.12:27||Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.|
And though that Real Christian may have visible faults and be temporarily deceived by false doctrines, it is just not possible for another Real Christian to not acknowledge and receive him: Jesus prayed that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me (John 17:21). I think it safe to presume that this prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ will be answered.
|1John.3:14||We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.|
And certainly, whosoever abideth in death is NOT a Child of God. But, just in case someone needs to ask, "Who is my brother?", Jesus has given us a description of our brother, sister, and mother.
|Matt.12:48||. . .Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?|
|49.||And he stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren!|
|50.||For whosoever shall DO the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.|
So it is not just 'anyone' that CLAIMS to be a Christian that Jesus describes as brother, sister, and mother; but ONLY those who do the will of God: and it is PRESUMED in all references to 'your brother' that you CAN, WILL, and DO know who your brother is. Let us suppose then that someone wishes to protest: they say they are a Real Christian, but they still can't tell who their Real Brothers are: well, if you are indeed a Real Christian, then you have not lived up to the light that shines around you.
|1John.1:6||If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:|
|7.||But IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.|
And in this fellowship of the Body of Christ there is a practical equality of interdependence:
|1Cor.12:23||And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.|
You can live without a hand, which is comely, but you cannot live without your liver or your kidneys. The less conspicuous members of the body of Christ perform services which are more critical for the life and strength of the body than the more public and visible parts. This reveals in part, the import of these words of Jesus: But many that are first shall be last, and the last first (Matt. 19:30). The very fact that you see little or no evidence of this Truth displayed in the social structure of the "churches" reveals how far they have departed from the Bible and the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). The only part of the human body which is at once both conspicuous and absolutely necessary for life is the head (Col. 1:18), but the head is Christ, Himself. Anyone who 'functionally' plays out the role of the head has supplanted Jesus Christ, and therefore is an antichrist.
|24.||For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that which lacked.|
|25.||That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.|
Again here, we see that the among the True Believers, there is as much concern for the less conspicuous members as there is for those who stand out. This is NOT a description of 'how it should be': But rather, describes HOW IT IS among the Real members of that ONE body. Any group of people that is not like this, IS NOT The Church that Paul is describing.
|26.||And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.|
|27.||Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.|
|Col.1:18||And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.|
Now if your foot is wounded and needs mending, it does not ask the hand to ask the head to direct the hand to assist the foot; but rather, the foot sends it's cry for help to the head, which then commands the hand to assist the foot. If both the hand and the foot are part of the same body, neither one EVER refuses the ministrations of the other, for the Head is in control of them both. Only an insane man uses his own hand to attack, poison, or destroy the other parts of his own body: and Jesus Christ is not insane. Is Christ divided? (1 Corinthians 1:13) Our Lord may draw men unto Himself from every race, culture, and religion: but once they are members of that ONE body (1 Cor. 12:12), There shall be ONE fold, and ONE shepherd (John 10:16).
By these illustrations alone, it may be seen that that Great Conglomerate of competitive and socially exclusive Denominations that make up Christendom is not the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23).
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