Three Angels Messages Part 41

Thanks again for joining us as we continue to study the Three Angels’ Messages. Right now, we’re looking at the message of the second angel, recorded in Revelation 14:8. It says, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
What we have discovered so far is that there are three “editions” of a physical Babylon, those being the original Tower of Babel, the Babylonia of Hammurabi, and the colossal Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, and four that are spiritual, those being the Babylon of pagan Rome, the Babylon of the papacy reigning during the Middle Ages, the Babylon of the resurgent papacy, which now exists, and the Babylon that will represent the as-yet future conglomeration of the “dragon” (in this case referring to spiritualism, but including all pagan religions and atheism), the “beast” (the system of the papacy), and the “false prophet,” representing fallen Protestantism.
We then looked at the next part of the message of the second angel. “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” What is meant by her “fall”? And why is it mentioned twice? We saw that the term “fall” relates to a change from a glorious beginning to a state of ruin. Thus Lucifer “fell” from his lofty position as covering cherub. Adam and Eve “fell” through transgression. The Church of the Old Testament “fell” through disobedience. And the Church begun by Jesus Christ “fell” by straying from the truths of Scripture and incorporating teachings and practices of paganism.
It’s time now to turn our attention to the term “wine.” What is the “wine of Babylon”? The “wine” is her false teachings. With these she intoxicates and confuses her subjects. She creates dependency, which is what alcohol does. Consider this parallel: in a similar way, when Christ was here He referred to the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees as being “leaven.” “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’” Matthew 16:6. It was sometime later that the disciples caught on to what Jesus was saying. “Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:12. Leaven, or yeast, is the agent which causes fermentation in bread, as it does in a similar way in the process of wine’s fermentation. Jesus wanted to warn His disciples against the insidious principles of falsehood that, as an alcoholic drink, were passed around by the teachers of His day.
            At the root of Babylon’s doctrine is the teaching that the Church and its traditions wield the highest authority, higher than the Word of God. The Church of Rome has made it plain that she feels superior to the Scriptures and placed herself in the position of having authority to interpret, tamper, change or delete those things in the Bible with which she disagrees, even the Ten Commandments written by God's own finger in stone. Her argument is, “The Church has been responsible for the formulation and protection of the Scriptures, therefore she is above them and has the authority, the sole authority, to declare what they mean or to change them at her will.” Which is it? Who has higher authority? The Bible or the Church? The Scripture or Tradition? This is a huge question, a “watershed question,” and it must be settled!
            While it is true that the Church was to occupy the role of being the custodian of the Scriptures, it is absolutely not true that this honored role has put the Church in a superior position to the Holy Bible. How do we know that? Actually, there’s an easy way to find that out. Examine carefully the life and teachings of Jesus. His example would be a safe one to follow, wouldn’t it? What you see recorded in the Gospels is a continuous conflict between Jesus and the religious teachers of His day, the “Church;” a church that, one could argue, was the custodian of the Old Testament Scriptures. Yet there was controversy between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees. Only a blinded eye could miss this unfortunate circumstance. Just read the Gospels. The substance of much of the conflict had to do with the concept of authority. To what did Jesus point as the final authority? Was it the tradition of the fathers, the “Church,” or was it the Sacred Scriptures?
            The evidence is clear and overwhelming. Jesus consistently upheld the authority of Scripture over the teachings and traditions of the Church. It is true, as Paul says, that to them (the Jewish people, the Church) “were committed the oracles of God,” and this was a great “advantage.” It was to “profit” them. Romans 3:1, 2. The Church was the custodian of Scripture, but this in no way placed her above the authority of the Bible.
            Notice carefully the dynamics of this issue as recorded by Mathew. Jesus said to the Church of His day, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated to the temple,” is released from honoring his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” Matthew 15:3-6.
            In other words, if a person was in a position to help his aged parents, in keeping with the principle of the 5th Commandment, but instead chose to make a charitable contribution to the church, he was excused from obeying the Commandment of God. The Pharisees had elevated tradition above Scripture, even the Commandments of God. Jesus then quoted from Isaiah saying, “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9.
            There can be no question as to which had higher authority in Jesus’ view. It was the Scripture above tradition. It was the Bible above the teachings of the Church. To the chief priests and elders who challenged His authority, Christ appealed to the Bible. “Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone which builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”’”? Matthew 21:42. To the Sadducees, who carved a clever question to pose to Him concerning the teaching of the resurrection, a teaching which they rejected, He said, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29. When Jesus asked the lawyer who quizzed him about eternal life, “How readest thou?” to what did He point him? Talmudic tradition or the Holy Scriptures? Luke 10:26, KJV. Obviously, the later.
            In His teachings Christ constantly referred to the Bible as the source of truth. He began His ministry by quoting the prophecy of Isaiah 61, saying “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21. He closed His ministry by sharing truth from the Scriptures with the Emmaus travelers and His other disciples after His resurrection. “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law, of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 23:27, 44, 45. No, there can be no question but that Jesus upheld Scripture over the teachings of the Church based on tradition. His approach should be the example followed by His children.
            The Lord said, “Therefore I have hewn them (His people) by the prophets.” Hosea 6:5. It is the teachings of God, given through the prophets which have “carved” and “chiseled” the church. What is it that Paul says is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”? II Timothy 3:15, 16. Was he speaking of tradition? Of church authority? No! He was referring to “the Holy Scriptures,” which he said were “given by inspiration of God,” or “God-breathed.” That term, “given by inspiration of God” is actually one word in Greek; theopneustos. Nor did Paul pick and choose which “scriptures” he favored above another. “All Scripture,” he said was “God-breathed.”
            With these words our minds are directed back to the creation of man in Eden’s garden, when God took the dust of the ground and breathed His breath into Adam’s nostrils, and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7. So likewise, the Scriptures, though composed of paper and ink, the “dust of the ground,” are unlike any other volume on earth. They have been “God-breathed.” “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:21. Thus invested with God’s “breath” or Spirit, like Adam, the Word became “alive.” The Bible is a living Book. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.
            Please join us in the next session as we continue to study and explore the fascinating messages of the Three Angels. Settle it in your mind that you will be guided by His Spirit, as instructed in His Holy Word, the Bible. Let His Word be the authoritative “Thus saith the Lord,” forming the foundation of belief and practice. You’ll always be safe if you “build on the rock,” the testimony of the prophets contained in the Sacred Scriptures.

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