Eschatology Studies (Ten)

It is written:

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4  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. 5  Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6  And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9  The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10  and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12  that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)

We have learned how the Roman Catholic papacy fits the criteria for the “man of sin.”

To all of my Catholic friends, I say this in love: the Catholic Church was not built by Jesus. Will you not today consider leaving it and becoming a member of the church built by Jesus? As a believer in Jesus’ identity as the Christ and in His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), repent of your sins, confess Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized into Him today (Acts 2:37-47). If you are a child of God, having been baptized into Christ, but having turned away from Him-then please come back in repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22).

Please consider these words from Henson’s book, the Ivory Domino:

“During the past two months, the members of the church where Mr. Babbitt attended grew accustomed to seeing me at their 6 PM worship. Today was no different. After all, even though Mr. Babbitt’s lessons and Mr. Young’s sermons revealed far more Bible teachings in six and a half months than I heard in all my life, I wanted to know more. I discovered the instructions from God are not dry and restrictive; they are refreshing and life-enhancing. But this time, keeping my mind in worship proved challenging. Mr. Babbitt’s words proved too forceful a statement to suppress: “You have learned what you must do to be saved; now you have the decision to make.” During the past few months I knew I must follow the truth no matter where it led. The conviction of doing whatever it took to avoid hell and get to heaven still drove me. And now I knew where that truth led. I needed to be baptized as a believing adult in order to get my sins forgiven and get saved. But now that it came time to actually do what that six-month search discovered, several ropes lassoed me and held me back. But the Catholic Church is the oldest, I whimpered. But the oldest what? I shot back. It’s the oldest man-made church. It’s the great apostasy, remember? It is vain and Jesus is going to destroy it when He comes. You want to be a part of that?…Then the scare-word jumped out of the shadows. But I would be excommunicated! After my senses returned, I thought, So what? I’d just be excommunicated from the apostasy. Actually, I’m getting out of apostasy and into the church! I’m not getting kicked out of the true church Jesus built by the apostles, I’m getting put into it! I’m not losing, I’m gaining! I’m not being lost, I’m being saved!…So, I welcome the excommunication. I will be put out of the enormous multitude that fell away from the real church by its man-made doctrines and practices issued by its man-made councils of its man-made hierarchy—a hierarchy led for hundreds of years by popes steeped in immorality, inquisitions, and crusades! I want out of the ungodly apostasy that horribly misinterprets Matthew 16:18 to mean Peter is the rock, and then lies about a non-existent succession of popes from 600 AD back to Peter and covers it up with forgeries, and then invents the make-believe authority of Tradition to teach those practices that are not taught in the Bible. And then they have the nerve to tell the laity not to read the Bible, but rather just listen to what the clergy tells them. What a racket! If that doesn’t wave the red warning flags of error, deception, and cover-up, nothing does! Yeah, they can excommunicate me if they want; it doesn’t mean a thing! The quietness of the auditorium grabbed my attention. I raised my vision off of the back of the pew in front of me to see Mr. Young stepping up to the pulpit. From the very start, Roy’s sermon sounded like something Mr. Babbitt set him up to preach. But that was okay, I appreciated their efforts to help me. And what he said made a lot of sense. Well, it should, it came from the Bible. One of his points focused upon Matthew 28:19-20. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world. He explained the passage teaches, that after being baptized, the new Christian is then to begin to learn and do all Jesus commands in His Word, the New Testament. Roy emphasized the verse’s word “all” to mean just that—all, not some. The thought of learning and obeying everything in the New Testament overwhelmed me as an impossible task, but Roy relieved me with other verses which indicate the growth is expected to be a gradual development.1 Yet, a determined and continual development nonetheless. He also highlighted the important passage of Titus 2:11-14. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Roy pointed out that verse 12 instructs the Christian to stop doing ungodly and sinful things, and instead, live righteously and godly. Of course, the only way to know which is which is to learn the Bible. Then verse 14 tells the Christian he is to be active in good works. Roy mentioned several of the good works taught in the Bible. They fell under two categories; loving God, and loving others.2 He emphasized that, in loving God, the Christian will gladly obey Hebrews 10:25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  All of that makes sense. Anybody who truly repents in order to be saved is going to change his ways. I knew that a penitent person would no longer want to do what the Bible says do not do, and he would desire to do what is good and right. And, even if God did not command us to be in the worship assembly, this penitent person would still want to be in the assembly anyway to worship Him instead of being elsewhere worshipping himself—which is exactly what he would be doing if he skipped out to enjoy things of this world. It is not only about becoming saved, it is about becoming a Christian. It is a new mind and a new way of life. Roy’s last point, whether intentional or not, hit me right between my ears. Yes, specifically me—someone in a man-made church who is considering the baptism the Bible teaches. He explained, since only those who believe in Jesus, repent of sin, confess Jesus as Lord, and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins are those who are saved and added by God to His church as taught in Acts 2:38, 41, and 47, then everyone who has not done even one of those requirements is not saved nor are they in the church of Jesus. Even large groups of such people—the apostasy and denominations—are lost and outside the Lord’s church. So, when a person in a man-made church learns the truth and is baptized correctly, he or she is now a member of the true church and is to worship and work with them. However, if the new Christian goes back to his man-made church made up of non-saved people, his baptism would be for nothing, as Roy pointed out from the Scriptures. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?…Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,” saith the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11. So, I summarized in my mind, be baptized to get saved; be added by God to His church with whom I worship and work; continue to learn and obey the Bible; be active in good works; and look forward to eternity in heaven. What a great deal God gives us! However, spiraling up from the depth of my subconscious came the strongest lasso of all. But what about Mom? What about my grandfather and grandmother, and my aunts, uncles, and cousins? I would be betraying them and our ancient family religion! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the only way I would betray them is if I knew the truth but did not tell them! What if we were all in a house that was on fire? I could stay in there and be destroyed with them, or, having found a way out I could silently escape alone and betray them, or, I could escape and warn the others with what I discovered. The first two choices are unthinkable! In real life, everybody does the third one. How much more, then, ought I do so with their eternity at stake?! If one of them had learned what I have, I would certainly want him to tell me! They are just like me six and a half months ago, completely unaware of the early apostasy and that we are in it today. No! I will not betray them! I will do what the Bible says to do to be saved, and I will tell my family these truths and hope they respond as I am about to. Roy’s sermon was coming to a close. Soon he would offer the opportunity for baptism. Excitement rippled through my chest and shoulders. Thrill whirled up and down my arms and legs. Delightful thoughts flashed within my head. Salvation! I am about to be saved from my sins! Heaven will be mine, not hell! I am quitting the vain and dooming doctrines and practices of men. I am not joining a condemned man-made denomination; rather, God is adding me to the very church Jesus built! I am getting into Jesus’ church and out of the apostasy! I quickly recalled how often I viewed myself as a domino at the end of a long train of dominoes standing on end, one behind another with a slight space between. A slight push on the first topples the next, which topples the next, and the next, and the next, until all have imitated what the first one did. It grieved me that people are the same way in religion. But I cannot point my finger at anyone; the domino effect victimized me too. I simply took my turn at doing and believing what the ones before me did. I merely assumed we were right. I did not question anything. Understandably, I just trusted in what those I loved and respected told me, just as they had trusted in those they loved. The tragedy is, those who pushed the first domino of so much of our beliefs and practices were men, not God. Religious dominoes: the malicious, soul-enslaving trap of the devil. The song leader approached the pulpit to lead the church in singing a song during which anyone desiring baptism could let Roy know. I visualized myself as my brothers’ ivory domino at the end of their long train of black dominoes. In the distance I saw the dominoes toppling one after another. The point of impact rapidly advanced toward me. I mentally heard the clacking of the plastic pieces. Closer it came. Much closer. Three left. Two. One. But the ivory domino would not fall. I stood as the congregation rose to sing. I glanced back at Mr. Babbitt, but he looked straight ahead. It caused me to remember what he told me, “I am not going to pressure you. I have done all I can. You have learned what you must do to be saved. Now you have the decision to make.” Thank you for all you did for me, Mr. Babbitt. I have made my decision. And I stepped into the aisle…” (Gary Henson, The Ivory Domino, 7120-7227 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Charleston, AR; Cobb Publishing)

The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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