". . . the number is that of a man . . ."
It is a mistake to suppose that the papacy is confined to the Vatican at Rome, or to the Roman Catholic Church. It is a mistake to suppose that the papacy is confined to any organization, or to any territory. It is a mistake to suppose that it is confined to that which is papal in name. The papacy is represented in everything, of whatever name, that exalts itself against God. And as all sin is rebellion against God, it is plain that the spirit of sin and the spirit of the papacy are one and the same.
The papacy is co-extensive with the system of opposition to God, and is not confined to any church, but is represented in every church where man is exalted in the place of God. And sad to say, there is no church on the earth where this self-exaltation is not to be found.
Rebellion against God began in heaven, under a leader, who was Lucifer, the "covering cherub." This rebellion was transferred to the earth, but remained under its original leader, by whom it has been and is today carried forward. He is the invisible leader, and behind him is a world-wide "confederacy" of evil. This confed-eracy of evil is visibly led, in the final crisis and conflict, by the papacy-- the "Beast" in the Old World and the "Image to the Beast" in the New. And as there is one great leader of this confederacy, so also there is one spirit pervading it throughout, and this spirit is the spirit of its leader. And therefore it is written of that power-- the papacy-- that "all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8.
Whether we shall worship the "Beast" or not, is a question to be determined not by the church book, of whatever church, in which our names are inscribed here on the earth, but by their inscription in or absence from the life book in the courts of heaven.
There are true worshipers of God in the Roman Catholic Church; and there are followers of the papacy in the true Church of Christ.
We need particularly to understand and be on our guard against the exceeding subtlety of the papal spirit; and that not so much outside of ourselves as within our own hearts.
It is written of the papal power that "through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand." Dan. 8:25. Deceptive craftiness has ever been a leading characteristic of the policy of Rome. Pretending to be disinterested and benevolent, Rome has always in her dealings with the nations aimed steadily at her own advancement. What seemed to be the touch of velvet, was later revealed to be the grasp of a hand of iron. The papacy has made all nations drunken with "the wine of the wrath of her fornication," and like drunken men, they have been led by her whither she desired.
This deceptive spirit deceived him with whom it originated; hence it is no wonder that it has been able to deceive others. Lucifer, the exalted angel who stood by the throne of God, and who was "full of wisdom," did not understand the nature of the spirit which led him to exalt himself against God. He did not clearly perceive whither this spirit was taking him. It is not surprising therefore that under his influence and aided by his arts, it has prevailed over a multitude less wise than he, and is today leading fallen, finite men in its devious path.
THE SPIRIT OF THE PAPACY shows itself in a struggle for the supremacy. This is the characteristic way in which it is manifested. Wherever there is strife in the church, wherever there is a contest among brethren, there is the spirit of the papacy. Some one is being moved by the spirit of self-exaltation.
It was thus that this spirit showed itself among the apostles. And it is no slight evidence of its deceptive character that as they came up to the crisis in the earthly ministry of their divine Master, after they had so long been associated with Him and listened to His instruction, they were engrossed with schemes for their own selfish advancement. "There was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest." Luke 22:24. James and John, having enlisted their mother in their selfish cause, came to Jesus and desired that He would promise them the two places of greatest honor in His kingdom. And the remaining disciples, when they heard of it, "began to be much displeased with James and John." That was the spirit of the papacy, and that this is so was later conclusively shown by the fact that this same contest for supremacy broke out again not many years later in the Christian Church, and continued with growing fierceness until out of it came the fully developed papacy itself, through a decree issued by the Roman emperor making the bishop of Rome head over all the churches.
Jesus called the disciples unto Him and said to them: "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Matt. 20:25-27. This was to say that the spirit which was moving them each to seek the position of supre-macy and rulership over others was the spirit of the world, which was manifested among the Gentiles; but the spirit of Christianity was an opposite spirit; and wherever this spirit was shown, there would be seen a desire not to bring others into the service of self, but to bring self into the service of others.
The world is full of the contest for supremacy. The spirit of self-exaltation and lordship over others is the characteristic spirit of the world; but that spirit has no place in the Church of Christ. THE SPIRIT OF THE PAPACY has no proper place among true Christians, and of all Christians, Seventh-day Adventists. May the time soon come when it will have not only no place of right, but no place in fact, among those who profess to be doing the closing work of God in the earth.
DEATH AND LIFE WITH CHRIST
"Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." Rom. 6:8. The thought of living with Christ is a very precious one to every child of God. We read of Mary, who sat at his feet, and of John, who leaned upon his breast at supper, and we think such companionship must have been very sweet, and so it was. But the time will surely come when all those who have faithfully followed the Master here, will see him whom they have loved, and hear him pronounce the blessed words, "Well done." Then the prayer of Jesus will be answered, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me." John 17:24. Then they will see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. To live, even in this sin-cursed earth, is the all-absorbing desire of mankind; but to live with Jesus in the new earth will be life indeed. To live with him then, we must be dead with him now. To be dead with him, we must be dead to sin. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom 6:11. The way we may be dead with Christ is fully set forth in the following verse: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." Here we are not only told how we may be dead to the world, but a rule is given us, which, applying to ourselves, we may discover whether we are dead to sin and the world or not. Does sin or Christ reign in our mortal body? Do the desires, appetites, follies, and passions of sin control us, or are all our powers in sweet submission to God's will-- Christ the hope of glory, enthroned within, reigning in and ruling over us? Christ's authority in the heart must be complete. The heart is not so great but that Jesus can occupy the whole, nor so good but it may be made infinitely better by his presence. Those who want nothing so much as Christ, may have his presence, not as "one that turneth aside to tarry for a night," but as a constant and abiding guest. To those in the Laodicean state of the church, who have not fully received him, he offers this gracious invitation: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." Rev. 3:20. Shall we "bring him in a welcome guest," and fully allow his gentle sovereignty over us? If we do, sin will be removed; for Jesus and sin cannot dwell in the same heart. Sin and self must be dead in us to fit the heart for the heavenly guest. This is the death which fits us to live and reign with Jesus when he comes. Upon one thus fully dead, Satan's temptations have little effect. A dead man cannot be flattered and praised into pride, nor reproved and reprimanded into discouragement. So the true followers of Jesus, whose anchor has entered within the veil, are always enabled to say, "None of these things move me." "If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him,"-- live with him when sin is not only removed from our hearts, but from the whole world, yes, from the whole universe; when Satan and all his power shall be forever destroyed; when there will be nothing to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain, and the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. "The life we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God," but there hope will be changed to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
"O, what are all my sufferings here,
If, Lord, thou count me meet
With that enraptured host to appear
And worship at thy feet!
Give joy or grief, give ease of pain,
Take life or friends away;
But let me find them all again
In that eventful day."
CHRIST'S SECOND COMING
This event has been so much dwelt upon by God's people, ever since the days of Enoch (see Jude 14-16), that the unbelieving world have come to regard it as a myth and a fable. They shut their eyes to the fact that no prophecy of Scripture has failed. Cities, nations, and families, have continued or ceased to be, just as the prophets indicated; and history proves that the prophets wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; and shall not this prove also a matter of history by and by?
The apparent delay will prove to have been in mercy to a fallen world; it will be the grand opportunity for the wise to trim their lamps, and for the foolish to sleep. It gives value to probation, to know that it is nearly closed; and the wise thank God for every day of apparent delay, that it may be improved in work for God and his cause.
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