THE GOOD NEWS MINISTRY AND MISSIONS OUTREACH PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS OF THE SOON RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST!
Revealing Apostasy:The Great Falling Away!
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" (2 Thess:2:3)
The subject of the last days inevitably raises the question of the signs which mark this climactic period of history-a period which includes the Rapture of the church to heaven, the Second Coming of Christ with His saints in power and glory to rescue Israel and to destroy Antichrist, followed by His thousand-year millennial reign from Jerusalem on the throne of His father David. One immediately recalls the "signs" given by Christ in His Olivet Discourse, which have been widely publicized in sermons, books, and videos: "...wars and rumours; of wars ... nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes ... these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6-8).
There is no denying that these specific "sorrows" have been both prominent and accelerating since Israel, in 1948, became a nation in possession of the land of her fathers again, in fulfillment of the specific promises God made to His ancient people through His prophets more than 2000 years ago. Since that remarkable "Budding of the fig Tree" the rebirth of the nation, Israel, the intensity and frequency of these signs has increased like the birthpangs of a woman approaching her time of delivery, exactly as Christ foretold. There has, however, been such emphasis upon these oft-mentioned signs of the nearness of Christ's return that the first words of Christ's response have been largely overlooked and His solemn warning neglected: "And Jesus answered and said ... Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many ...." (Matthew 24:4,5).
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many ...." (verse 11). "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (verse 24). [Emphasis added.]
It is essential to note that the very first sign (and thus the most important one) Jesus gave in response to His disciples' query was religious deception: "take heed that no man deceive you." It is significant, too, that His revelation of this primary sign was phrased as a warning: "take heed," or beware. He repeated this sign two more times for emphasis and explained the nature of the coming deception: it would involve false Christs, false prophets, and false signs and wonders. Moreover, His repetition of the word "many" four times indicates that this deception will not be hidden in a corner but will be a worldwide delusion deceiving multitudes.
A Solemn Warning for the Last Days
Paul uses similar language and issues a similar warning in refer ring to the last days: "Let no man deceive you by any means" A time of deception is coming, says Paul, so take care. But in echoing Christ's warning about apostasy, Paul provides an added insight. The Great lie reveals that the spiritual deception to which Christ referred, though it will of course involve rank unbelievers following false Christs and false prophets, will and has infected the professing church, it will involve a great "falling away," or apostasy: "for that day [of the Lord] shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin [Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
While a true and Faithful Christian cannot fall away, a false, counterfeit or pseudo Christian can. Fall away from what? From the faith in Christ which he or she has outwardly professed but without inward reality. These apostates, however, will not leave the church and announce themselves as atheists. They will not convert to Buddhism or Hinduism. While there are always some exceptions, it is important to understand that the apostasy doesn't always represent a massive defection to other religions from the true Christianity but a turning away from the truth within the professing church.
Christ warns us in Matthew 24 not to be deceived by false Christs and false prophets and lying signs and wonders. Paul repeats the warning, but with an added dimension: "to beware of being deceived into thinking that the apostasy won't come." It will. It must. Surely Paul would not speak in this manner unless in the last days the popular view would be to reject the idea of apostasy within the church. The grave danger will be that of following false prophets who, with their signs and wonders, will seem to back up their false teaching that revival, not apostasy, is the order of the day. Paul therefore says, "Don't let anyone deceive you with sweet talk about revival: the apostasy must come or the day of the Lord cannot begin."
A False "Signs and Wonders" Movement
That fact becomes clearer when we refer to other passages of Scripture. Christ's statement about false signs and wonders is clarified as we are given further insights into the nature of the apostasy. False signs and wonders will be an integral part of the apostasy. The departure from the truth will be spearheaded by apparent miracle workers and the delusion will be made possible by a prevailing emphasis upon emotional experience over doctrine. Paul says, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3).
And Christ declares: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:22, 23).
These apostates of whom Christ speaks did not lose their salvation, they were never "saved" to begin with ("I never knew you"). Yet they outwardly appeared to be high-profile Christian leaders apparently performing miraculous signs and wonders in the name of Christ. They didn't leave the church to become atheists or to join some non-Christian religion. They remained in the church. They even called Jesus Lord-but without really knowing Him. Tragically, they seemed to think that their ability to prophesy and to perform wonders proved that they belonged to Him. Clearly, doctrine is out and emotional experience is in; and the signs and wonders are so impressive that doctrine no longer matters.
Surely these of whom Christ speaks in Matthew 7 must be the same "false Christs and false prophets" to whom He refers in Matthew 24. It is certainly sobering that the signs and wonders these false professors are able to perform are apparently so impressive that even the very elect might be deceived by them were they not given discernment by the True Holy Spirit. We can only conclude that something more deceptive than mere trickery is involved. These wonderworkers are backed by the power of Satan, whom they unwittingly serve in the name of the Lord.
Paul indicates as much when he gives us further insight into this great sign of the last days. After a solemn warning that in the last days "perilous [extremely dangerous] times shall come," Paul makes this remarkable statement: "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these [apostates] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" (2 Timothy 3:8).
Jannes and Jambres weren't skeptics or atheists, they were the magicians in Pharaoh's court who, through the power of Satan, duplicated (up to a point) the miracles God did through Moses and Aaron. Paul is telling us clearly that the last days opposition to the truth will not come so much from atheists on the outside of the church (though they are always there) but from those within who are reprobate concerning the faith, depraved men who corrupt the truth. And they do so by performing apparent miracles in Christ's name which (when more than mere trickery) are actually by the power of Satan. In that way they deceive and lead many astray not out of the church, but into false doctrine and thus a false hope within the church. Satan has no more effective tactic to damn souls!
An Inside Job!
Other Scriptures confirm those above. Jude, for instance, said that we must "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Contend against whom? Not primarily against godless enemies outside the church but against those within: "For there are certain men crept in unawares" (verse 4). Crept in where? Obviously, inside the church. That is where the problem lies in the last days.
Paul confirms Jude. Addressing the Ephesian elders, Paul said, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30). The spiritual deception of which Christ warned would be rampant within the church. Some of those very Ephesian elders whom Paul had hand-picked, trained, and ordained would turn out to be apostates and hear Christ's damning words, "Depart from me!"
In confirmation of all of the above, Christ warned His disciples that "the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2). This is a most remarkable prophecy. Obviously Christ is not referring to persecution by atheists. He did not have in mind the slaughter of the true and faithful Christians by the Caesars or by Mao or Stalin or Hitler, for they did not believe they were serving God thereby. Of course, when the Jews killed the early Christians, they thought they were serving God; and so did the Roman Catholics when they slaughtered millions of the true and faithful Christians before and after the Reformation-, and so did the Muslims when they killed Christians. But none of these killings was the complete fulfillment of Christ's prophecy.
That word "whosoever" is the key. Neither the pharisees nor the popes were alone in killing the True and Faithful Christians. Others were pursuing them to the death at the same time. But Christ is saying that a time is coming when whosoever, in other words, everyone who kills True and Faithful Christians will think he is serving God. That can only mean that a one world religion to which everyone must belong is coming, a religion that will seek to exterminate all the true and faithful Christians in the name of God.
John saw the same scene in the future: "And it was given unto him [Antichrist] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.... And I beheld another beast ... he exerciseth all the power of the first beast ... and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast.... And he had power to ... cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (Revelation 13:7-15).
Not Revival, But Apostasy
Even more solemn is an added dimension to Paul's declaration concerning the coming apostasy. Whereas Christ warned of deception, Paul said it is essential: "for that day [of the Lord] shall not come except there come a falling away [apostasy] first." This statement, as we have noted, is preceded by the strange warning, "Let no man deceive you ......"
Clearly Paul, by the leading of the True Holy Spirit, anticipated the very delusion we find in our day: the rejection of the biblical teaching concerning apostasy and the insistence that we are in the midst of or at least are building up to the "greatest revival in the history of the church." Such is the prevailing teaching today among charismatics and even noncharismatics. The promise of revival will be a deception, he warns, so beware. Instead of a great revival in the last days directly preceding the Rapture, there will be a great apostasy---a Great Falling Away from the True faith.
Christ refers again to this falling away more subtly when He raises the question, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find [the] faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) While the definite article is not included in most translations, it is obviously implied here and is found in other exhortations, such as in Jude.
Christ is not referring to just any "faith" but to "the faith which was once [for all] delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) and for which we are to "earnestly contend." This is the faith from which great numbers (seemingly a great multidude, the vast majority) will fall away.
One of the greatest contributors to the falling away we are seeing today is the false view of faith promoted by the so-called "faith teachers" of the "faith movement," also known as the "positive confession movement." They promote a "faith" largely devoid of moral and doctrinal content and which promises that whatever one truly believes and confesses with one's lips will come to pass. This self-centered heresy is deadly.
Today's False "Faith"
That we must earnestly contend for the faith against those who have crept into the church implies that the battle is not so much faith against no faith, but rather true faith against false faith. And that is precisely what we see today. Even the world is into "faith" and "spirituality." Articles in leading medical journals cite studies showing that those who have any "religious faith" are more likely to recover from illness. Christianity Today recently ran a major article naively promoting these studies as though they were supportive of the truth.'
Multitudes of professing Christians imagine that faith is believing that what they are praying for will occur, and that if they truly believe, they will have whatever they ask. Obviously, if things happen because one believes they will happen, then one does not need God. This is mind power, not "faith in God" as Christ taught. It is faith in faith, which Kenneth Hagin teaches, calling it "the law of faith."
This delusion comes from Eastern mysticism and is found not only in all the Mind Science cults (Science of Mind, Christian Science, Unity, et al.) but in the Positive Thinking of Norman Vincent Peale, the Possibility Thinking of Robert Schuller, and in the Positive Confession teaching of Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price, David Yonggi Cho, and others.
No one expressed it more clearly than Ernest Holmes, founder of the Church of Religious Science: "Man, by thinking, can bring into his experience whatsoever he desires... [i.e., as little gods we each create our own world]. We are co-partners with the Infinite ... a Universal Creative Mind which receives the impress of our thought and acts upon it."
Norman Vincent Peale borrowed the phrase "Positive Thinking" from Charles Fillmore (founder of Unity) and credited Ernest Holmes with making him into a positive thinker.' Said Peale, "Positive thinking is just another term for faith."' On the contrary, atheists can be positive thinkers. Peale claimed that man's empowerment could be realized by visualizing God as "energy" ("God is energy," said Peale) and inhaling this energy and visualizing it permeate one's being.'
If faith in faith or in some "higher power" is all one needs, as Alcoholics Anonymous and the various Twelve-Step Programs in churches teach (there are over 500 participants a week in Bill Hybel's Willow Creek Community Church') then there is no true faith. "God" is no more than a placebo that triggers some inner power to heal. Indeed, Peale declared that in prayer we commune not with the God who created us but with "the great factor within oneself, the deep subconscious mind."
The Major Sign is Here Today
Differing insights into last days apostasy are given throughout the Bible. A major factor accompanying the departure from the faith will be "giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1). Through the occult teaching that one can visualize Jesus and carry on a conversation with Him, a legion of seducing spirits has been loosed in the church. Richard Foster tells us that through visualization "Jesus Christ will actually come to you." " Calvin Miller, in an Inter Varsity book, teaches the same," as do the inner peace healers and many Christian psychologists. Of course, it is not Jesus they see and converse with, but a demon masquerading as "Jesus." Yet even when the deception ought to be obvious, leading Christians embrace and promote it.
In her eighteenth book, Lonely No More, best-selling Christian author and leader Karen Mains provides a clear example of a seducing spirit and its doctrines of devils. A popular speaker at women's conferences, Karen, at the time that book was published, was a "chairperson of the trustee board for Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship/USA." She tells how at Cenacle, a Catholic contemplative center, using hypnotic visualization for contact, her alleged "male-self" from her dreams turns into an "idiot-child sitting at a table." Fully awake, she sees its "totally bald" head "lolled to one side... drooling emaciated and malnourished a little skeleton of a ragamuffin..............[with] sad, huge eyes" Under the guidance of her "spiritual director" (a Jungian Catholic nun), Karen is convinced that this visualized "idiot child" which has now come alive to her is, in fact, the "Christ child" within, that part of herself "that is Christ" and has been attempting to woo her!
Paul presents yet another characteristic of the apostasy: "For men shall be lovers of their own selves" (2 Timothy 3:2). This false teaching is rampant in the church today through Christian psychology. It came from a godless psychologist named Erich Fromm who called "belief in God ... a childish illusion."" He claimed that when Christ said, "Love your neighbor as yourself," He meant that we must learn to love ourselves before we can love our neighbors or God. In fact, the church had always interpreted that verse to mean that we love ourselves too much and need to give some of that love to our neighbors, not that we don't love ourselves enough.
Robert Schuller promoted that false view in his book, Self-Love, the Dynamic Force of Success. From there the lie spread throughout the church. The exploding new men's cult movement, Promise Keepers, has been foremost in promoting this and other delusions of Christian psychology.
A newsletter stated: "Many Christian single men have fought the battle to build their own self- worth, self-esteem, and self-love. They have learned that it is impossible to have a healthy relationship with others while having an unhealthy relationship with one's self. Jesus recognized this when He challenged us to "love our neighbor as we would love ourself" (Mark 12:31).
Yes, some people say, "I hate myself!" How do we reconcile that statement, earnestly uttered, with the biblical declaration, "No man ever yet hated his own flesh" (Ephesians 5:29)? What that person actually hates may be his appearance, clothes, job, salary, the way people look down upon or mistreat him, etc. But he doesn't hate himself. If he did, he would be glad he was homely, had poor clothes, low income, and was abused by others. The fact that he complains about these things proves that he loves himself, exactly as the Bible says. He needs to give some of that love to his neighbor, not learn to love himself more.
It was surely not a "negative self-image" that was Lucifer's downfall but a very "positive" one. More than 200 years ago, William Law expressed what Christians had always understood: "Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking are the essence and the life of pride; and the Devil, the father of pride, is never absent from these passions, nor without an influence in them ......"
The last-days apostasy will also be characterized by a rejection of the church's Rapture to heaven: "There shall come in the last days scoffers ... saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Peter 3:3,4). The apostasy involves claiming that revival rather than the Rapture is imminent and denying that apostasy must come. Again, these days are upon us, and we need not quote the many Christian leaders who ridicule belief in the Rapture, calling it an escape theory. Their books and tapes are readily available.
How is such a departure from the faith possible, and how can it gather momentum in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ under the umbrella of revival and a great prayer and fasting movement? Simply because, at the heart of the apostasy is a rejection of the primacy of sound doctrine: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3). And here again this day is upon us with a vengeance, as we will now document.
A False "Church Growth/Signs and Wonders" Movement
Yes, the Bible definitely predicts a last-days signs and wonders movement. That is clear from the verses to which we have referred. However, Scripture tells us that this signs and wonders movement will not be of God but of Satan. It will be a delusion that will deceive many. The topic on everyone's lips and mind today is revival. It comes as a shock to many to learn that the word revival does not occur even once in the entire King James Bible. The hope of revival that excites so many today is not even a biblical concept. Unfortunately, lack of space prevents us from elaborating.
In his new book, Confronting the Powers, Fuller Theological Seminary professor C. Peter Wagner seeks to explain and biblically justify the false revival now being promoted. Wagner calls John Wimber "my mentor."" He introduces to readers terms that were unknown only a few years ago: territorial spirits, spiritual mapping, Spiritual Warfare Network, A.D. 2000 Movement, ground-level spiritual warfare, occult-level spiritual warfare, strategic-level spiritual warfare, cosmic-level spiritual warfare, praise marches, prayerwalking, prayer journeys, prayer expeditions, praying through windows, etc. Wagner says that these new concepts and practices (of which Jesus, Paul, and the early church knew nothing) hold the key to spiritual breakthrough and worldwide revival."
Similarly, and in agreement with Wagner and Wimber, Christian TV and radio and best-selling books persuasively argue that we are in the midst of the greatest revival of Christianity in the history of the world. This revival is claimed to be characterized by power: power to prophesy, to speak in tongues, to heal the sick, to confront evil spirits, and even to raise the dead.
Enthusiasts point to plenty of apparent evidence of the vaunted "revival" spreading rapidly throughout the world from such places as the former Toronto Vineyard, the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, Benny Hinn's charismatic church in Orlando, Florida, and his huge televised crusades, to mention a few centers of this delusion.
To justify the unbiblical physical manifestations of Delirium accompanying this movement (Delirium: - hysterical laughing, weird twitchings and contortions, animal noises and mannerisms, etc.) John Wimber says that God is greater than His Word. He waves the Bible and declares that when the Holy Spirit moves, He doesn't go by this book. There is a mad thirst for power and its supposed manifestations. One can view numerous videos from the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola where hundreds surge forward at an altar call--without the gospel having been preached. People come from all over the world to "get it," meaning the physical manifestations of supposed Holy Spirit power.
Nicky Gumbel, the curate of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) Anglican Church in England and author of The Alpha Course, tells how he was swept into this new "move of the Spirit." Gumbel testifies that he felt "something like 10,000 volts" of electricity going through his body when Wimber prayed for him. Prayed for what? For power. (The Brownsville revival began when evangelist Steve Hill, having just come from HTB, related his experiences there.) Said Gumbel approvingly on a teaching tape: "The American [Wimber] ... just said, 'More power....' It was the only thing he ever prayed. I can't remember him ever praying anything else ......"
But Isn't Apostasy Old News?
Someone will say that apostasy had already begun in Paul's day or at least shortly after his death. That is true. Jude testified that when he wrote his short epistle the apostates had already entered into the church. The Roman Catholic Church, certainly, has been in apostasy for 1500 years. There is, however, something new about the apostasy we are now seeing which points to the final fulfillment of biblical prophecies in our day.
It is generally believed that the Roman Catholic Church was the only representation of Christianity on earth prior to the Reformation. Even today's evangelical leaders echo the lie of Roman Catholic apologists that, since the Roman Catholic Church was the only state sponsored church prior to the sixteenth century, then if it was in apostasy, Christ's promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church failed. The truth, however, is that an evangelical church comprised of millions of true and faithful believers always existed and was always persecuted by Rome.
Martin Luther himself said: "We are not the first to declare the papacy to be the kingdom of Antichrist, since for many years before us so many and such great men (whose number is large and whose memory is eternal) have undertaken to express the same thing so clearly and plainly."
Who were these to whom Luther referred? We have a letter dated 1429 (100 years before the Reformation) from Pope Martin V commanding the King of Poland to exterminate the Hussites. Jan Hus had been martyred in 1415. But for 1000 years before that there were the Vaudois, Albigenses, Waldenses, and other similar groups of evangelical Christians. These simple believers were the object of repeated crusades (larger and more numerous than those fought for the "Holy Land") in which the popes offered "the remission of all sins to everyone who should slay a heretic.""
Tragically, the false accusations made by the inquisitors to justify their slaughter of the "heretics" are still found in encyclopedias to deceive the unwary today. For the truth, one must look to other sources, such as John Fox's Book of Martyrs, The Martyr's Mirror (published in 1631), Samuel Morland's The History of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont (published in 1648), or to other books written nearer to the time. Even the original Halley's Pocket Bible Handbook tells the truth.
And here we confront a disturbing example of the new ecumenical characteristic of the last days apostasy. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) acquired the printing rights to Halley's Pocket Bible Handbook and printed a special Billy Graham Crusade edition of it in 1962, 1964, and 1969. In so doing, they deleted dozens of pages of vital historical facts concerning the evil of some of the popes and of Rome's persecution and slaughter of true and faithful Christians. Truth was sacrificed on the altar of ecumenism in order not to offend Rome, and readers were robbed of indispensable information.
The following is a sample of facts carefully presented by Halley, which the Graham organization eliminated from its special edition: " [The Albigenses] preached against the immoralities of the [Catholic] priesthood, pilgrimages, worship of saints and images ... opposed the claims of the Church of Rome; made great use of the Scriptures .... By 1167 they embraced possibly a majority of the population of South France .... In 1208 a crusade was ordered by Pope Innocent lll; a bloody war of extermination followed, scarcely paralleled in history; town after town was put to the sword and the inhabitants murdered without distinction of age or sex ... within 100 years the Albigenses were utterly rooted out. [Two centuries later] between 1540 and 1570 no fewer than 900,000 Protestants were put to death in the Pope's war for the extermination of the Waldenses. Think of monks and priests directing, with heartless cruelty and inhuman brutality, the work of torturing and burning alive innocent men and women, and doing it in the name of Christ, by the direct order of the "Vicar of Christ"! ... on the night of August 24, 1572, 70,000 Huguenots, including most of their leaders, were massacred [St. Bartholemew's massacre]. Some 200,000 [more] perished as martyrs...in the land] 500,000 fled to Protestant countries ."
To carefully suppress such essential information not only robbed readers but dishonored the martyrs and the Lord for whom they died. The courage of the martyrs, who gave their lives for Christ rather than to deny His Word, puts to shame those who hid that truth from a generation which desperately needs to know it!
Down through the centuries, though the major visible church with its headquarters in Rome was deep in apostasy, there were millions who gave no allegiance to Rome. They sought to follow the New Testament and remain pure. Then came the Reformation. As a result, most of these groups were gradually absorbed into and disappeared among the so-called Protestants. And now the Protestants are turning back to Rome, and the apostasy, for the first time in history, is becoming worldwide!
Trashing the Reformation
One of the most significant events in the history of Christianity in nearly 500 years took place March 29, 1994. Leading evangelicals and Catholics signed a joint declaration, Evangelicals & Catholics Together: "The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium (ECT)." The document says . " We [Evangelicals and Catholics] thank God for the discovery of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ."
That statement overturns and nullifies the Reformation!
The New Evangelicals have endorsed and joined Rome's longstanding apostasy! The March 30 New York Times news release said in part: "They toiled together in the movements against abortion and pornography, and now leading Catholics and evangelicals are asking their flocks for a remarkable leap of faith: to finally accept each other as Christians. In what's being called a historic declaration, evangelicals including Pat Robertson and Charles Colson joined with conservative Roman Catholic leaders today in ... urging Catholics and evangelicals ... to stop aggressive proselytization of each other's flocks."
John White, president of Geneva College and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said "the statement represents a "triumphalistic moment" in American religious life after centuries of distrust...."
Other New evangelical endorsers include the heads of the Home Mission Board and Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ ... Mark Noll of Wheaton University ... Os Guinness, Jesse Miranda (Assemblies of God), Richard Mouw (President, Fuller Seminary), J.1. Packer and Herbert Schlossberg.
Robert Simonds, Southern California chairman of the National Association of Evangelicals, "applauded the declaration" and said he hoped it would bring "increased cooperation between evangelicals and Catholics" Amazingly, the document claims that all Catholics hold the same faith and beliefs as evangelicals.
That idea would be a shock both to the martyrs and those who burned them at the stake for what were recognized at that time as such vast differences in belief that the faithful were willing to die for them!
Rome has neither changed its beliefs nor rescinded its more than 100 anathemas damning those who accept the biblical gospel. Nevertheless, Billy Graham has said, "I've found that my beliefs are essentially the same as those of orthodox Roman Catholics."" Upon receiving an honorary doctorate at Belmont Abbey (a Jesuit college), Graham said, "The gospel that built this school and the gospel that brings me here tonight is still the way of salvation"" an unthinkable statement in light of Rome's undeniably false gospel of works, ritual, purgatory, indulgences, prayers to the saints, and the perpetual sacrifice of Christ in the mass.
In justification of burning the martyrs, the highest Roman Catholic authority states: " If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [Roman Catholic rituals] are not necessary for salvation but ... that without them ... men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification ... let him be anathema. If anyone says that in the mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God ... let him be anathema. If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is ... a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one ... and not to be offered for ... the dead, for sins ... let him be anathema."
The last words of Hugh Latimer, martyred for rejecting the mass, ring in our consciences. Bound back-to-back to the stake with Nicholas Ridley, Latimer, England's most effective gospel preacher at that time, was heard to exclaim as the flames engulfed them: "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light such a candle in England as I pray shall never be put out." Today's apostasy is determined to extinguish that "candle," though the evangelical leaders doing so would not have known the gospel but for the faithfulness of such martyrs!
Such is the heritage of today's new evangelicals, which this document (ECT) now rejects. We are asked to believe that the Reformers were deluded, that like all active Catholics today they were saved but didn't know it. The tens of millions of Catholics who since then have received Christ by faith alone and left the Catholic Church have also been deceived. The whole evangelical church of today is equally deluded about what it means to be a Christian. Colson, Robertson, Bright etal., have revised both history and the gospel of our salvation!
The Return to Rome
Pope Paul VI said to Sri Chinmoy, a Hindu leader, "Your gospel and my gospel are the same." And now new evangelical leaders are saying to Rome, "Your gospel and our gospel are the same." Billy Graham has recommended a biography of Pope Paul VI which encouraged "devotion to Mary, the Saints, worship of the wafer at the Mass, and trust in the sacraments for salvation." He called the book "a classic in devotion."" Having visited Pope John Paul 11 several times, Graham calls him "the world's greatest evangelist"" and says that any differences in their theology "are not important as far as personal salvation is concerned." Tell that to the millions who died at the hands of Rome because of very real differences that Graham now denies!
On the Phil Donahue Show, Billy Graham praised the Pope as "a moral and spiritual leader" that the American people could look up to and said, "Thank God, I've got somebody to quote now with some real authority."
The move back to Rome has been underway for many years under the leadership of Billy Graham and his magazine, Christianity Today. Senior editor, Kenneth Kantzer, in a CT editorial, honored Pope John Paul 11 as "the successor of Saint Peter" whom "God has called ... to forge a united church... [whose] priority to the Christian message ... endear[s] him to the hearts of evangelicals."" Apparently the martyrs died for a semantic misunderstanding which has lately been clarified!
In his 1977 crusade on the campus of Notre Dame University, Graham's invitation certainly confused the gospel: "Many of you want to come tonight and reconfirm your confirmation. You want to reconfirm the decision that you made when you joined the Catholic church." He made a similar appeal for people to "reconfirm their confirmation" at his Milwaukee crusade in August 1978. In Milwaukee, 3500 names of those who went forward were turned over to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. At Billy Graham's Vancouver, British Columbia crusade in October 1984, David Cline, vice chairman of the organizing committee, had this to say: "If Catholics step forward there will be no attempt to convert them and their names will be given to the Catholic church nearest them." (Emphasis added.)
Says Graham, "We're delighted that the Roman Catholic Church now cooperates with us wherever we go." That cooperation involved about 400 Catholic "counselors" in Graham's mid September, 1990, crusade at Nassau Coliseum, Long Island. The local Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office exulted that the crusade would "provide opportunities for Catholics who attend to be reconnected to their parishes via Catholic Bible study."
England's Cardinal Hume wrote a letter thanking Billy for sending him 2100 converts from his 1989 London crusade and for helping them renew their Roman Catholic faith . As long ago as his 1952 Pittsburgh crusade, Graham told newspaper reporter William McElwain: "Many of the people who have reached a decision for Christ at our meetings have joined the Catholic church and we have received commendations from Catholic publications for the revived interest in their church following one of our campaigns.""
We thank God that Billy Graham has preached the gospel and some souls have been saved. Unfortunately, however, he has also done much to undermine that gospel. Of course, Graham, the BGEA, and Christianity Today have not been alone in bringing evangelicals back to Rome. Paul and Jan Crouch and TBN are at the forefront of this move. Crouch believes in the apparitions of Mary and even that Mary has appeared to him and Jan. He recently said: "In the 1980s, David Duplessis, father of modern Pentecostalism, visited Medjugorie ... and concluded what he experienced was ... a revival, the likes of which he had given up seeing in his lifetime, and he spotted no 'bad fruit.' The heavenly apparitions, concluded the great Charismatic leader, were 'of God"' (emphasis in original)."
Also leading the march back to Rome are Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, Charisma magazine, Promise Keepers (which has a Roman Catholic on its board, uses a Catholic evangelist at its meetings, just revised its statement of faith to satisfy Catholics, and cooperates closely with Rome), and others. John Wimber, head of the Vineyard Movement, from which Promise Keepers came, has called the Pope "a born-again evangelical... [who] is preaching the gospel as clearly as anybody is preaching it in the world today."
Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ have worked closely with Catholics for years and have welcomed a number of them on staff. So have John Wimber and the Vineyard churches he founded. Former Vineyard pastor John Goodwin tells of being present when Wimber addressed about 5000 people. Says Goodwin: "John Wimber actively promotes the reunification of the Protestants and the Catholics. I was there at a seminar, a pastors' conference in Anaheim. The archbishop of the archdiocese was attending, sitting up in front with his robes on .... John asked him to stand up and said to him, "I want to apologize to you on behalf of all Protestants for leaving the Catholic Church and for the things we've said about you and the Church."
When Pope John Paul 11 designated the last decade of this century for "world evangelization," John Wimber, head of the Vineyard churches, exclaimed, "This is one of the greatest things that has ever happened in the history of the Church ... I am thrilled with the Pope and glad that he is calling the Church to this goal, to this work.""
An article titled "YWAM Builds Bridges to Catholics" makes it clear that YWAM (Youth With A Mission) works with Catholics as well as Christians here in the U.S. and overseas. It shows a picture of Billy Graham meeting with the Pope and states that "Beginning in 1978, YWAM workers in Austria began to cooperate with Catholics there .... In 1984, YWAM adopted a policy allowing staff to work with Catholics .... YWAM has installed a Catholic, Rob Clarke, as director of its discipleship training school in Dublin .... YWAM's missionaries are not aiming to lure Catholics out of their churches... [but] helping to establish Christ-centered evangelistic Catholic communities."
The Leaders of Apostasy
The Scriptures to which we have referred clearly indicate that the last-days apostasy will come from within the church and will be led by false Christs and false prophets who will compromise the gospel and God's Word and rely upon outward manifestations and apparent miracles. Again, this is precisely what we see today.
Examples of those who have preached a false gospel and crept into the church unawares in our day are legion. Space limits us to a few. At the top of the list one finds Norman Vincent Peale. His books have sold many millions of copies. The most shocking thing about Peale is his acceptance by the evangelical church. Millions of those who call themselves born-again Christians and attend evangelical churches read his books and find nothing wrong with them. He has been praised by Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders. Though he died recently, his books, magazines, and tapes continue to infect the church.
In 1984, on the Phil Donahue program, Peale said: "It's not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine ... I've been to Shinto shrines, and God is everywhere." Shocked, Phil Donahue responded, "But you're a Christian minister; you're supposed to tell me that Christ is the way and the truth and the life, aren't you?" Peale replied, "Christ is one of the ways. God is everywhere.""
Peale was the keynote speaker at Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball's 85th birthday celebration in 1980. He called the Mormon leaders "men of God [who] are doing God's work by their fruits ye shall know them Because Kimball was "so deeply spiritual," Peale asked him, "Will you bless me?""
Perhaps Peale, who was a 33' Mason (more than 1 million Southern Baptists and many of their clergy are Masons), favored Mormonism because it is so much like Masonry. Each state in the U.S. has a Supreme Grand Lodge of Freemasonry and most Grand Lodges publish a Monitor for the guidance of members in the official doctrines and practices. Consider the following from the Kentucky Monitor: "The three really great rituals of the human race are the Prajapati ritual of ancient Hinduism, the Mass of the [Roman Catholic] Church, and the Third Degree of Masonry. Together they testify to the profoundest insight of the human soul: that God becomes man that man may become God!"
Next on the list of leaders of today's apostasy comes Robert Schuller, to whom President Clinton, in his January 1997 Inaugural address, referred as "one of America's best-known pastors." Schuller calls Peale "the man who has impacted and influenced my thinking and my theology and my life more than any other living person...."" Schuller, through his Hour of Power, has the largest television audience of any Christian program, reportedly going into 20 million homes." As pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, Schuller has said, "It was Dr. [Norman Vincent] Peale who got me to go to Los Angeles ... and it was [Billy] Graham who first got me to go on TV.""
Schuller preaches what he unashamedly calls a "man-centered theology," though theology is the study of God. He perverts "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," to mean, "Believe in the God who believes in you! "-though the Bible warns, "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man" (Jeremiah 17:5). He says it's destructive of the gospel to call anyone a sinner, and declares: "That's what sets me apart from fundamentalists, who are trying to convert everybody to believe how they believe ...." We know the things the major faiths can agree on. We try to focus on those without offending those with different viewpoints, or without compromising the integrity of my own Christian commitment.
Of course, the major faiths don't even agree on God, and certainly not on the gospel that saves-so Schuller can have little to say of any substance. He has said, "When we built this church [the Crystal Cathedral], our aim was to construct such a building that it would stand for centuries." Obviously he does not entertain the hope of the imminent Rapture of the church as did the early Christians. Schuller went to Rome to get the Pope's approval of a drawing of the Crystal Cathedral, saying he wouldn't have dared to build it without first getting the "Holy Father's apostolic blessings."
John Wimber, of course, is another key figure in the apostasy. He gave us numerous false prophets in Kansas City and elsewhere and the "praise and worship" movement with its rock beat, shallow words, and hypnotic repetition. The Toronto laughing revival has spread mainly through the Vineyards.
Promise Keepers is also a Vineyard movement and was begun largely to fulfill Vineyard prophecies about stadiums being filled to overflowing with people excited about Jesus, and accompanying miracles.
The Toronto Vineyard church, which became the center of the laughing revival, has been removed by John Wimber from the Fellowship of Vineyard Churches. This action has been mistakenly taken as a sign that Wimber is maturing and rejecting some of the excesses that he once embraced.
In fact, Wimber wrote the foreword to the book on "holy Laughter" by Jon Arnott, head pastor of the now disfellowshipped Toronto Vineyard. Toronto was disfellowshipped not for "holy laughter," but for trying to find specific verses in the Bible to explain the animal noises or Glossolalia: "The unintelligible speech or sounds that are currently claiming to be a gift of the Holy Spirit. These speech patterns are commonly associated with a trance state or certain schizophrenic syndromes. Many primitive tribes and world religions practice glossolalia."
Many other Vineyard churches, such as the St. Louis Vineyard Christian Fellowship, continue their involvement in "holy laughter." Its pastor, Randy Clark, brought the laughing revival to Toronto. Clark "got it" from Rodney Howard-Browne at Kenneth Hagin Jr.'s Rhema Bible Church in Tulsa and continues to promote this movement worldwide. Moreover, Clark was attracted to Howard-Browne because of Delirium: "people shaking, falling down, frenzied excitement, verbal mumblings, writhings, laughing" reminded him of what he had seen "years earlier in the Vineyard revivals.""
Apostasy and "Progress in Religion"
One of the more notable leaders in the apostasy is John Marks Templeton, a wealthy Wall Street money manager. His beliefs are so contrary to biblical teaching that it is astonishing how he could have "crept in unawares." Templeton's beliefs are expressed clearly in his many writings. He is an evolutionist and a pantheist ("God is billions of stars in the Milky Way .... Time and space and energy are all part of God ... God is five billion people on Earth ... God is untold billions of beings on planets of millions of other stars"" He is a New Age universalist and occultist who rejects Christ as the only Savior, claims that heaven and hell are states of mind we create here on earth, that truth is relative, and that Christianity is no longer relevant.
Yet this man is highly acclaimed in evangelical circles. He was on the "Board of Princeton Theological Seminary" and for fifteen years was on the "Board of Managers of the American Bible Society," in spite of his rejection of the Bible as God's Word. Norman Vincent Peale called Templeton "the greatest layman of the Christian Church in our time,"" an amazing tribute to an anti-Christian!
Templeton's 1994 book, Discovering The Laws of Life, is pure occultism. Instead of warning against it, Christianity Today devoted the entire back cover of its April 24, 1994 issue to an ad promoting it. Headlined "WILL INSPIRE MILLIONS OF READERS," the ad contained the endorsements of Norman Vincent Peale (who also wrote the foreword), Robert Schuller, Billy Graham, and two prominent Catholic New Age leaders, Theodore M. Hesburgh (former president of Notre Dame University) and J. Peter Grace (head of the Knights of Malta, sworn to defend the pope).
Here are sample quotes from the book: " The basic principles for leading a "sublime life"... may be derived from any religious tradition-Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and others as well as Christian.... [A]stronauts travel[ed] into outer space... [and] did not bring back any evidence of heaven. And whereas drills had penetrated the earth, they'd found oil, not hell, in the depths ... spiritual theorists are inclined to conceive of [heaven and hell] as states of mind.... Through our choices and attitudes we create our own heaven or hell right here on earth ... the only place we can find heaven is in our own hearts .... Our innate goodness is an essential fact of our existence ... of God within us. Be honest. Be true. Love all parts of yourself ... the godhood within you ... is in a state of becoming perfect."
Templeton and his neo-pagan views were first introduced to the church in 1986 by Robert Schuller. Schuller's Possibilities magazine put Templeton's picture on its front cover, and its major article was an interview with Templeton. In it he expressed his Unity/Religious Science/New Age beliefs: "Your spiritual principles attract prosperity to you ... material success ... comes ... from being in tune with the infinite .... The Christ spirit dwells in every human being whether the person knows it or not ... nothing exists except God. These heresies were enthusiastically promoted by Schuller to his vast audience of readers.
Templeton's writings are readily available in any bookstore, thus any Christian leader can know his beliefs. Nevertheless, this man is accepted in the church and is embraced and praised by Billy Graham, Charles Colson, and Bill Bright, among others. Each of them has been the recipient of the annual Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. It is larger than the Nobel Prize. What Templeton means by "progress in religion" and what he intended by establishing the prize should prevent any evangelical from accepting it.
The "progress in religion" he envisions is clearly toward Antichrist's one world religion: "The doctrinal formulations of Christianity have changed and will change from age to age .... Christians think God appeared in Jesus of Nazareth two thousand years ago for our salvation and education. But we should not take it to mean that ... progress stopped ... that Jesus was the end of change .... To say that God cannot reveal Himself again in a decisive way [through other Messiahs] ... seems sacrilegious ...... As the religious forms of traditional Judaism and Christianity are losing their powers to inform the contemporary mind, the West desperately needs religious geniuses who can create new imaginal forms.... "Theologians ... must begin to explore the vast unseen dimensions of our evolving universe I am hoping we can develop a body of knowledge about God that doesn't rely on ancient revelations or scripture [such as the Bible!] ... that is scientific ... and is not disputed because of divisions between religions or churches or ancient scripture or liturgy....
The next stage of human divine progress on the evolutionary scale needs ... geniuses of the spirit, blazing trails for the rest of us to follow. To encourage progress of this kind, we have established the Templeton Foundation Prizes for Progress in Religion."
In keeping with his idea of "progress" in religion, Templeton suggests, "Maybe one of the attributes of God is change." That is indeed true of his "god," but the God of the Bible declares, "for I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).
The very idea of "progress in religion" denies the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a religion, nor is it subject to progressive development. Nor does Christianity maintain a friendly, ecumenical relationship with the world's religions, but opposes all of them as devices of Satan. Every true Christian, by the very tenets of his faith, must be uncompromisingly opposed to Templeton's neo-pagan beliefs and the prize he offers. It would be clearly dishonest for anyone to accept the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion who was not in complete sympathy with its purpose and the beliefs behind it. The very reception of the prize by any individual constitutes an endorsement of all that the prize represents in the mind of its founder. Try to imagine Elijah accepting an ecumenical prize from the prophets of Baal, or Paul from the pagan leaders of his day!
Yet Billy Graham, Charles Colson, and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright not only accepted the prize but praised the prize and the man behind it. Upon accepting it at the first news conference, Colson said, "I salute Sir John for establishing this award and doing it in such a generous way" His acceptance speech was made at the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago. The meeting was opened with a Muslim prayer and closed with a Buddhist prayer.
Tragically, Colson never gave the gospel to the robed religious leaders on the platform behind him and their followers filling the large auditorium. Bill Bright was even more effusive in his acceptance speech at a Catholic Church in Rome: "The prestigious Templeton Prize, to me, because of the nature of its objective, is greater than any other prize that could be given for any purpose. So I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to be the recipient of this 1996 magnificent Templeton Prize. I would like to thank and commend Sir John Templeton for establishing this prize...."
More examples could be given to prove that the prophecies of Christ, of Paul, of Peter, and of Jude concerning the last days apostasy are coming to pass in our day. We have not named names in order to denigrate anyone, but to show the extent of the delusion. It would hardly do to say in general terms that ecumenism and apostasy are being promoted by so-called Christian leaders without concrete evidence identifying them.
Furthermore, we have avoided naming the leaders of the more obvious heresies within the charismatic movement such as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price (who say we are little gods and create reality with our minds), Morris Cerullo (who says that when you look at Morris Cerullo you look at God), Yonggi Cho (who says we must visualize to have faith), and so many others. Several authors have pointed out their errors and the fact that they are playing a large part in the apostasy and false revival.
We have taken our examples from among those who are more highly regarded in New evangelicalism and Charismatic circles in general and whose influence is the greatest among mainstream evangelicals. That will be the last bastion of true faith to fall. We have not had space to show from the Scriptures why the apostasy must come, but it should be clear that its coming is essential in preparing the world for the Antichrist, the False Prophet and the One World Church.
Neither do we desire to engender discouragement. Our Lord's desire is that we should not be ignorant of Satan's devices and should arm ourselves well against them. Then we can face the end times, of which we are assuredly a part, with confidence and with hope.
Let Us Pray Together--
PRAY: "God be merciful to me a sinner. Receive me now for Christ's sake. Cleanse me from my sin by your precious blood, shed on the cross for me; lead me to be Baptized and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Teach me to pray each day; to read Your will for my life from your word, the Bible; and help me to worship and serve You in the fellowship of your church. I thank you Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!