PSEUDO-APOSTLES OF THE PRESENT DAY
"And thou hast tried them that say they are Apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."—#Re 2:2.
For centuries past there has been a class of men in the world who have been claiming to be Apostles, but who are not Apostles, according to our text. The Bible shows us unmistakably that God never purposed more than twelve Apostles of the Lamb. Let us refresh our memories on this point: Our Lord Jesus said to the Twelve, "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the Throne of His glory, shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (#Mt 19:28.) There were to be only twelve Apostolic thrones, no more. Again, in #Re 12:1, the Church is shown as a woman clothed with the sun (the Gospel), having the moon (the Jewish Law) under her feet, and having on her head a crown of TWELVE STARS (her Divinely appointed, inspired teachers).
We see that there were only twelve of these stars authorized by God, St. Paul taking the place of Judas.
We remind you of another picture of this matter, given by our Lord Jesus to John the Revelator. In #Re 21:1-5,9-27, the glorified Church is pictured as coming down from Heaven to begin her great work of blessing the world. Now note particularly that this glorified Church is shown as having twelve foundations, and in them the names of the TWELVE APOSTLES of the Lamb.
So we see, dear friends, that it is through some very serious blunder that our Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Church of England friends have Bishops claiming to be Apostles. Such claims are unscriptural.
GOD’S WORD MUST BE SPOKEN FAITHFULLY
Jesus says that those who make claims of being Apostles when they are not, are lying. We are not to follow what the customs of the past centuries have taught us, but what the Lord Jesus Himself says. He is the authority.
We have a measure of sympathy for these gentlemen who have dropped into certain positions and have been taught for centuries that they were Apostles, like the original Twelve appointed by our Lord, having the same inspiration and speaking with the same authority.
We have sympathy for them in that they are sadly deluded, but we should remember what Jesus said and take the right viewpoint. "Thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." We are not speaking uncharitably, dear friends; for we are to speak the Lord’s Word. "He that hath a dream [an imagination], let him tell a dream; but he that hath MY WORD, let him speak My Word FAITHFULLY." (#Jer 23:28.) If we hold back for fear of man, we shall share in the sin of adding to the Scriptures.
The great claims once made have been discarded, or at least this class do not attempt to speak with the authority of former days; for mankind are becoming more enlightened and their claims would appear absurd. Yet they still claim that they are the only ones who have the right to authorize any to preach, that if they do not ordain a man, he has no right to speak in the name of the Lord at all. They claim this right because they are "Apostolic Bishops." They are, however, not pressing even this claim with the former vigor. Other church leaders inquire: "Why do you stand aloof from us?"
and they do not quite like to tell fully their reasons.
They hesitate to say, "We are the Church; we are the Apostles; and you have no right to preach unless we ordain you." Hence they are in a somewhat vacillating condition today.
About four years ago the Bishops of the Episcopal
Church held a meeting in Detroit, and there passed resolutions that they would be willing to fraternize with other denominations provided these others were orthodox, which meant, provided they were in harmony with the teachings of the Church of England Bishops. Anybody else would be unorthodox, would have no right to preach.
HOW PEOPLE BECAME DEPENDENT ON CLERGY
These claims of Apostolic Succession in the past got the Church into trouble and confusion from which we have not yet recovered. The great mass of Christian people are still bewildered. Beginning some time before the year 325 A.D., this doctrine of Apostolic Succession had been growing. The bishops were beginning to "lord it over God’s heritage." This lording came in very gradually, as such things generally do, and was associated later with the declaration that the people were the "laity," and that the Church was the "clergy." All had the general thought that the Bishops were Apostles and had their authority from the Lord.
We are to remember that until a few centuries ago copies of the Bible were so scarce that a Bible was really worth a fortune, because Bibles had to be printed out by pen, by scholars, of whom there were very few. They had to be printed upon fine vellum parchment, as printing-presses and paper were not then invented. Hence there were very few who had Bibles or who could read at that time. Under such conditions the people were dependent upon the Church Bishops. When these began to claim that they were Apostolic Bishops, they gave the people to understand that they alone had received authority from God to read and interpret the Scriptures.
Jesus said to the Twelve Apostles that whatsoever they should bind on earth should be bound in Heaven, and that whatsoever they should lose on earth should be so considered in Heaven. Their writings were especially supervised by the Lord and their doctrinal utterances inspired. (#2Co 12:7; #Ga 1:11,12.) St. Paul assures
us that "the Word of God is sufficient, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." (#2Ti 3:16,17.) Hence we need no further doctrinal utterances, no more Apostles than the original Twelve—the Apostle Paul by the Lord’s choice taking Judas’ place. Since the advent of printing and since the close of the 1,260 symbolic days—1,260 years—of Papal persecution, Bibles have been printed and scattered far and wide by Bible societies, and education has become general. Today Bibles are everywhere and very cheap, so that all can read.
ORIGIN OF THE NICENE CREED
Let us go back to the year 325 A.D. By that time the bishops in the Church were claiming Apostolic authority.
They were the living Apostles, whose teachings were the voice of God. But those "Apostles" did not agree among themselves, as did the early Apostles, the real Apostles; for when we read the writings of the Apostles appointed by our Lord we find that they all agree. But in the year 325 A.D. a positive stand was taken as to belief. The Council of Nicea was called by Emperor Constantine. He was apparently a worldly-wise man, and thought be could make a good stroke of policy by joining in with the Christians, who were coming to the front all over the Empire.
The Emperor was not baptized until the day of his death. He merely professed Christianity for policy’s sake. While we cannot judge his heart, still the policy idea was there surely, as evidenced all through the matter.
In the year 325, he sent out a call throughout the Empire to the Bishops of the churches to come to the city of Nicea for a general convention, offering to pay all expenses. About 384 Bishops came together—far from the entire number. This conference was the first of what was called an Ecumenical Church Council, aside from one held at Jerusalem by the Apostles of Jesus themselves. This was claimed to be another meeting of
Apostles. The Emperor, noting that there was disagreement as to doctrine, and supposing that the Bishops were fully authorized, as they claimed, made the proposition to them that they agree among themselves as to what were the correct, orthodox doctrines, and that thereafter whatever was taught by any that was different from these doctrines should be heterodox—heresy. He proposed to join the Church, with the understanding that they were to mutually support each other. Then the pagan peoples would flock into the Church by hordes. The Emperor would back up their doctrines and punish all heretics.
Thus the Nicene Creed, the first of the great creeds, was formulated—by these self-appointed Apostolic Bishops.
So between the Bishops and the Emperor a heavy hand was laid upon the people, who were uneducated; the Church leaders had them largely at their mercy. That was the end of Bible study; there was no more use for the Bible. They were to follow the Nicene Creed. They had Apostles inspired by God right with them, who could teach them all they needed to know.
BIBLE RESTORED AFTER TWELVE HUNDRED YEARS
From that time on for twelve hundred years the Bible was an unknown Book to the masses. In the year 1526, Professor Tyndale, a scholarly Christian man, not satisfied with the teachings of the Church Bishops, translated the Greek New Testament into English, that the people might know what were the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles. He was compelled to go to Germany to get his translation printed (printing-presses then being in use), because of the adverse influence of the English Bishops. The Testaments were then imported to London.
The people were anxious to get them. It was proposed that Bible classes be started and educated men employed to read to the people.
What did the Bishops then do? They heard about the movement, and they bought up the entire edition and burned the books in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The
spot is marked to this day. And these were Protestant Bishops of the Church of England! They were worldly-wise men and knew what would be the effect if the people learned of the real teachings of the Bible. Their own power and influence would soon be gone. The people would soon be asking uncomfortable questions. Tyndale later suffered martyrdom.
For forty years the people complained, wondering why the Bible had been taken from them. Finally the Bishops concluded that policy demanded that they let them have the Bible. So they got out a special edition, which they called "The Bishops’ Bible." This they gave to the people, warning them of the danger of giving it any other interpretation than that given by the Bishops, assuring them that eternal torment awaited them otherwise.
The Catholic Bishops were then practically forced to do likewise, and they issued the Douay Version for Catholics, giving their people the same warnings. Thus the influence of the Bible was largely nullified.
But the Bible could not be fully put down. Later, the entire Scriptures were translated into the various tongues of the people. After the beginning of the Nineteenth Century education began to be much more general, and Bible Societies sprang up. People began to read for themselves as never before. Since then superstition has been gradually breaking down, and people dare to think.
Some are still fettered by superstition, but the number is lessening. These creeds are so absurd that no intelligent minister, we believe, would think of defending the creed of his own denomination.
BIBLE FORETOLD THE GREAT FALLING AWAY
It is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that all of their own people are to go to Purgatory at death.
No Catholic expects to go to Heaven. They must first have certain experiences in Purgatorial tortures to fit them for Heaven. To be a heretic, from the Catholic standpoint, is to commit the worst of crimes. Heretics
are bound, not for Purgatory, but for eternal torment.
So a devout Catholic has great fears of being a heretic. Thus we find but comparatively few Catholics even today who dare to read the Bible.
How much trouble all this nonsense has caused! The Bible foretold it all. The Apostle Paul declared that "many would depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." (#1Ti 4:1-3; #Ac 20:29,30.) It is upon these seducing spirits that we lay the blame—Satan and his fallen angels. We are not claiming that our Catholic and Episcopalian friends have intended to perpetrate a fraud, nor any of the others.
But with the Apostle Paul we claim that they were deceived by the great Adversary. We are beginning to see that a God of Love would never have such a Plan for His creatures as is taught by the creeds. We are living in a day when more light than ever before is due upon God’s Word. We are living at the dawning of the glorious New Dispensation. We are nearing the time when, according to the Bible, "all the blind eyes shall be opened and the deaf ears unstopped." Thank God!
ARMAGEDDON NEAR—GOD’S KINGDOM TO FOLLOW
The present great war in Europe is the beginning of the Armageddon of the Scriptures. (#Re 16:16-20.) It will eventuate in the complete overthrow of all the systems of error which have so long oppressed the people of God and deluded the world. All iniquity of every kind will go down. The glorious Kingdom of Messiah is about to be set up in the earth, for the deliverance of the world and the establishment of permanent righteousness.
We believe the present war cannot last much longer until revolution shall break out. The nations are rapidly impoverishing themselves.
Great Britain has already expended thirteen billions of dollars in the war, and her minister of finance says that another year of war will require nine billions more. That will make twenty-two billions. At five per cent interest,
this would mean that one billion, two hundred millions would have to be raised each year by the British people just to keep the interest paid, to say nothing of the principal.
Do you think they can afford to pay such an amount? Not at all! We believe that all those bonds will be repudiated. The same is true of France and Russia.
Germany is impoverishing herself. All these governments are madly attempting to embargo future generations. All are saying, "We must conquer!"
Well, we shall see how it will all end! We stake our opinion on the Bible. All these nations will soon pass away. There will not be a kingdom left in all Europe.
Then Anarchy will follow.
None of these nations is Christian, as their course unmistakably shows. Every one has violated international law. They are willing to barter away millions of lives of their people for the paltry gain of a little more territory and commercial benefit. Selfishness is rampant.
If violation of law is anarchy, then we already have anarchy amongst the nations. They are all under the domination of "the prince of this world"—Satan. The Bible declares what is soon to come—"every man’s hand against his neighbor."
How thankful we are that while this awful trouble must come, because of man’s sin and selfishness, yet the Word of God points out that upon the ruins of the present order shall come the Kingdom of God’s dear Son! Man’s extremity will be God’s opportunity. The voice of Messiah shall be heard. He will command, "Peace, be still!"