Three Angels Messages Part 42

Welcome once again, as we continue to study the Three Angels’ Messages. At this point, we’re studying 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.” We’re thinking particularly now about the “wine” of Babylon. What does that term mean?
It refers to the teachings that are opposed to Scriptural truth. The Holy Bible is the Book that God has miraculously preserved for our understanding about Him, His character, His plan and His requirements for us. The devil has done his best to withhold, remove or distort the teachings of this sacred Book. Through the agency of “Babylon,” the system that he has used, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, he has been very successful in uprooting and usurping the teachings of the Scriptures and replacing them with human traditions and theories derived from paganism.
It is the sacred Scripture which shapes and molds the teachings of the church. “I have hewn them by the prophets.” In an amazing illustration, the wise man presents the beauty of the church thus constructed. “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.” Proverbs 9:1. “Wisdom” in this section of Proverbs is a metaphor for Christ. See Proverbs 8:1, 12, 17, 22-36. Jesus is Wisdom personified. “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became for us wisdom from God.” I Corinthians 1:30.
            The “house” that Wisdom built is the church. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in Whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2:19-21.
            The “pillars” are those teachings, those doctrines of truth that uphold the structure and bind together the believers. Again, Paul spoke about the “house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” I Timothy 3:15. These “pillars” were “hewn” by the hand of God through the ministry of the prophets who revealed His truths.
            God wished that this lesson not be lost. That is why strict warnings were given against bringing into His sanctuary pagan “pillars,” which were really fertility symbols borrowed from the false religions of the Canaanites. Imagine how inappropriate and revolting this would be! “You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the LORD your God. You shall not set up a sacred pillar, which the LORD your God hates.” Deuteronomy 16:22.
Pagan pillars in God’s house? Say it couldn’t be! Yet, that is exactly what happened, literally, later in Israel’s history. The wicked Manasseh “even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God.” II Chronicles 33:7. Because these idols were made by the hands of man and represented man’s system of religion, they were totally out of place in the house dedicated to the worship of the Creator God. Question: is it any less disgusting to God to see “pillars” of false doctrine, borrowed from paganism that distort the truth of who He is, in His “house” today?
            The wine of Babylon represents her false teachings, which issue from her belief that Church Tradition is a more authoritative source of truth than the Holy Scriptures. Yes, she will tell you that the Bible plays a role, but there is no question that when push comes to shove, Tradition is at the helm. All one has to do is look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 as recorded in the Bible (even a Catholic Bible) and compare them with the Ten Commandments as taught in any Catholic catechism, and you will see which guides the papal ship of doctrinal belief. It is tradition.
            We give credit, in this sense, to Catholicism, for if one accepts the premise that the Church is above Scripture, then everything she says follows logically. If that be true, then she indeed is capable of interpreting or changing the Word of God. If that be true, then Sunday is the right day on which to worship, by edict of the papacy. If that be true, then let the world become converted to Catholicism.
            If, on the other hand, the principle of sola scriptura holds, then the doctrines taught by the papacy that are either not found in the Scriptures or are contrary to them, must be discarded. They are the “pillars” or “images” found in the “house of God” today which must be removed. On this battleground the Reformers fought valiantly. On this platform we encourage all to stand today. Certainly, as we have seen, the Savior cherished this concept. For Him, there was no question that Scripture trumped Tradition.
            The importance of this question cannot be overestimated. It is the “watershed” question facing the Christian community today. What is the ultimate source of authority? In geography, there is a feature known as the Great Divide, or the Great Continental Divide. This is an imaginary line stretching across the ridge of the Rockies upon which, if a theoretical drop of rain were to fall and split, one half of it would end up in the Atlantic Ocean, the other half in the Pacific. In theology, the question of authority is the Great Divide. If you accept the premise of Catholicism, that the Church is above Scripture, then you will travel in one direction. If you accept Scripture as the only source of authority, you will travel in the opposite direction. There can be no “middle ground.”
            And yet, there seems to be such a “compromise,” or at least an attempt at such,
existing among the churches of today. Most Protestants claim to be following in the footsteps of the Reformers who stood for sola Scriptura, but at the same time they continue to follow the traditions of the Church rather than the tenets of Scripture. Where is there in Scripture the authority for Sunday worship? It doesn’t exist. Where is there in Scripture the teaching that the dead go to their reward immediately upon death? It doesn’t exist. These are the teachings of Catholicism, to name just a few. And yet from how many “Protestant” pulpits are these doctrines being delivered? Herein there is a conflict: the Protestant Churches, avowing to accept the principle of sola Scriptura, nevertheless to a large degree still imbibe the false and unscriptural teachings of the mother church.
            When on the cross, undergoing excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) pain, Jesus was offered “sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He tasted it, He would not drink.” Matthew 27:34. The wine offered Jesus would have acted as an anesthetic; it would have made it easier and have been a “way out” of His suffering. But wanting His mind to remain clear, He refused. So Christ’s followers at the end, though put to the test, will not drink of the “wine” offered to them in the hour of their trial.
            The “Babylon” of the second angel is a modern day Jehoiakim, once a king of Judah. Jeremiah had been commissioned to deliver a message from the Lord. “Now the king (Jehoiakim) was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments.” Jeremiah 36:22-24. Imagine the audacity of King Jehoikim, ripping apart the message of God that came from Jeremiah! Yet, the Church has in effect done the very same thing, in daring to tamper with God’s holy Ten Commandments, written by God’s own finger. Like Jehoiakim, it has done so without shame, not being afraid, nor tearing her garments.
            In place of the teachings of Scripture, so vital for our understanding of God’s character of love, the Church has substituted its traditions, mixed with a generous dosage of paganism, superstition and mythology. Stirred together, this doctrinal cocktail is intoxicating and addictive. It results in confusion, one of the meanings of the term “Babylon.” “Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged.” Jeremiah 51:7.
            In place of the penetrating truths of Scripture that cut to the heart, Babylon offers soft and pleasing sentiments designed to make a sinner comfortable in a state of living to satisfy self, yet thinking that his or her life is acceptable to God. Pomp and ceremony, luxurious robes and gowns, impressive music and liturgy supplant simple piety, humility and heart-rending repentance. Once taken, the potion becomes habit forming and not easily discarded.
            Behind all this is the master deceiver, Satan, who has coveted the place of God from the beginning. Through the teachings which he has whispered into the ears of unsuspecting theologians, he seeks to occupy the place that belongs only to the Lord. By erroneous doctrines such as the teaching of the immortal soul, he seeks to mislead mankind into the path of deception and destruction. Through incorrect theology, such as the teaching of never-ending torment of the lost, he seeks to warp and distort the picture of God’s character of love. Through the supplanting of God’s holy Sabbath day, erecting in its place a false sabbath, Sunday, he seeks to sway the allegiance of mankind to himself instead of simple obedience to God, Who only deserves our loyalty.
            Covenant today that you will follow the teachings of God’s Holy Word, the Bible, and be willing to lay aside, no matter what sacrifice it might involve, those teachings and practices, that, while observed by many who wear the label of “Christian,” do not conform to the principles of Scripture. Holding fast to God’s Word is critical; just ask Adam!

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