Today's news is full of articles about the ecumenical movement. One headline reads: "Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Leaders Renew Talks." Another headline states: "Episcopalian,
Lutheran Alliance Forged." More and more of the Protestant churches are trying to get together, and a number are preparing to come back to "mother"—the Roman Catholic Church. Speaking of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox talks, a July 9, 2000 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune reported:
"Eventually, the churches could resolve even their ancient dispute over the pope's jurisdiction, said the Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos, dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York and a veteran of ecumenical meetings.
'It could happen rather quickly in one respect, but when I say rather quickly, we're still talking against the background of a thousand years,' he said."
This recognition of the pope's authority could happen much more quickly than Robert Stephanopoulos imagines. Just as when the Eastern European nations began to break away from the Soviet Union, world events sometimes seem to occur almost overnight! So additional hundreds of millions of members may be added to the Roman Catholic Church over the next several years as her daughters return to the fold.
And the little Church of God—scattered here and there in little groups—will seem almost like a tiny speck in comparison. Truly, we will all need understanding, faith and courage to make it through the trying years ahead. For Jesus said: "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).
In the future, we will see increasing pressure brought to bear by the pope and others to make Jerusalem an "international city"—perhaps under the joint control of the Vatican and the United Nations or some other international agency. The relentless pressure of the ecumenical movement will also intensify. The Great Mother Church will be calling with increasing fervor for her daughters to come "home."
Within the next several years, the "second" Beast of Revelation 13 will appear on the scene. We read of this man in
Revelation 13:11-14: "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived."
This coming powerful religious leader will look like a "lamb." In Revelation 14 we see that Christ is described as the "Lamb." So this coming religious leader will appear to be like Christ! But, John writes, he "spoke like a dragon." And in Revelation 12:9, John was inspired to write: "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Satan the Devil is clearly identified as the "dragon" right here in the book of Revelation. This coming false prophet, therefore, will appear to billions of human beings to be a Christ-like figure. But his message will be that of Satan the Devil! Yet this charismatic leader will perform "great signs" and even make fire come down from heaven! He is also described in 2 Thessalonians 2 as the "man of sin" 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" (vv. 3-4). This coming religious leader, your Bible says, will be worshiped by his followers!
This man will appear a few years before the Second Coming of Christ, for Christ will "destroy" him "with the brightness of His coming" (v. 8). But this man is called "the lawless one." In verse 7, Paul writes: "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." In an age of donkeys and ox carts, Paul is not talking about traffic laws! He is talking about a man and an entire religious system he leads—the "mystery of lawlessness"—which is obviously teaching against and is regularly breaking the laws of God.
As in Revelation 13: "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
All of us need to realize that we are in a spiritual war. The forces of Satan are moving swiftly to accomplish their goals. Within the next several years, under Satan's influence, and with the limited powers God allows Satan to exert in this earth's atmosphere of which he is "prince" (Ephesians 2:2), the devil's forces will wield unprecedented power through a religio-political system under their control—and will do so in the name of "Christianity." Very few Protestant, Orthodox or other religious leaders will have the faith and courage to stand up against this onslaught. They will enforce the dreaded "mark of the beast" and bring about a horrifying persecution of the true Christians—the real saints of God.
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