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Our theme this evening, and it will be in two sessions, is “True and False Church.” The most important thing for you to carry away from these sessions is the fact that there is a true church and there is a false church. And if you don’t understand that you are liable to be confused and deceived. I will try to give you out of scripture a portrait, first of the false church and, then of the true. But if you can’t carry away all of the details I trust that you’ll lay hold of this one fact, that there are, in a sense, two churches on earth today. There’s a true church and a false church. I hope that I’ll be able to give you sufficient information that from now on you’ll be on your guard, you’ll not be deceived by the false church and you’ll know where you are spiritually at any given time.
In 2 Corinthians 11:2–4, Paul explains to us how a false church has come into being. 2 Corinthians 11:2–4, writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says:
“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy; for I have betrothed you to one husband [that is the Lord Jesus], that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
If you consider the kind of people that the church of Corinth was made up from, that’s an amazing statement. Paul gives a list of the kind of people they were. Prostitutes, homosexuals, lesbians, drunkards, fornicators, extortioners and all the rest. And yet, through the power of the blood of Jesus and the sanctifying work of the word of God Paul can envisage a congregation made up of people like that being presented to the Lord Jesus Christ as a chaste virgin. And Paul, who was the one who founded that church, speaks about having betrothed those people to the Lord Jesus. We need to understand that in the culture of that day, the Biblical culture, there were two steps. First betrothal and then marriage. Betrothal was not just engagement as we understand it today because many times an engagement is broken off without any catastrophic consequences. But in that culture a betrothal was a very sacred, solemn commitment. It did not permit the marriage to be consummated but it was, in a sense, just as sacred a commitment as the actual marriage. And for a person to be unfaithful to the vows of betrothal was treated as adultery, as the actual breaking of marriage vows. So there were these two phases. First a woman was betrothed to a man. And in that culture it wasn’t very long before the marriage ceremony would actually take place. After that they were duly and legally husband and wife.
So, commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, in a sense, is a betrothal. And each and all of us who have made that commitment have been betrothed to Jesus. But, we are not yet married. The book of Revelation, chapter 19, verses 7 and 8 contains a beautiful picture of the actual celebration of the marriage. It says:
“The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife had made herself ready.”
And all heaven—in fact, the whole universe—is excited about the marriage of the Lamb. I had a personal revelation, a very simple one, just a few months ago. I was awakened in the middle of the night not by plan. And as I meditated I felt I just got a brief glimpse of the excitement that the Lord Jesus feels about two things. First, that He’s going to be reconciled to His brothers, the Jewish people, after 2,000 years of alienation. And second, that He’s going to take His bride home. What I felt was that when Jesus is excited, all heaven is excited. And just for a few seconds I think I felt a little of the excitement of the Lord and of the beings in heaven. But at the present time we are still only betrothed, the marriage supper hasn’t come.
Now this is where the true and the false church separate. The true church remains faithful to its betrothal vows, the false church is unfaithful and through being unfaithful to those vows is thereafter described a harlot or a prostitute or an immoral woman. And Paul goes on in the next two verses to explain how Christians can be corrupted from their original commitment to Jesus. So he goes on in verse 3:
“But I fear, lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity and purity that is in Christ.”
So the process that leads to unfaithfulness is the corrupting of the minds of believers. And Paul says I want to emphasize the simplicity and the purity of the gospel. The gospel, in its essence, is extremely simple. It consists of certain historical facts, and Paul states them in 1 Corinthians 15. That, Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised again on the third day, according to the scriptures. That is the gospel. I’m always grieved and unhappy when people make it complicated. The basic essential truths of the gospel are so simple that a child of six can easily comprehend them. And very often a child of six understands them better than a grown adult of 20 or 30 or 40 years old.
So, beware. Beware when people start to use a lot of psychological jargon and invoke the support of psychiatrists for the truth of the gospel. The gospel doesn’t need the support of psychiatrists. God bless psychiatrists, they’re doing their job—some better and some worse, but they’re doing it. The Bible stands without the endorsement of psychiatrists or philosophers or scientists or anybody. It’s based on certain simple, historical facts. It’s either true or it’s false but there’s nothing in between. It differs in that respect from all other world religions because no other world religion is tied that way into human history. All other religions—Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Islam—are all, in a sense, independent of history. Mohammed could have had his visions or whatever he had in any cave at any time anywhere. It wouldn’t have changed the revelation that he got. Likewise with Hinduism, Buddhism; they’re speculative. They came into history at a certain point in time and Buddhists believe that Buddha received his revelation under a bow tree—whatever a bow tree is. But it could have been any kind of tree. It’s not tied to human history. Christianity is the only religion that fits in to human history. And either the things that it claims happened did happen or they didn’t. It’s either true or it’s false. But it’s quite different in its content from any other world religion. And as I’ve said, it’s essentially simple.
And then Paul goes on to explain the process of mental corruption in verse 4:
“For if he who comes...”
That is some other preacher than Paul, who followed Paul. And one of Paul’s great problems was that after he presented the simplicity of the gospel, other men came along and made it complicated and tried to get people involved in all sorts of legal restrictions and regulations which are not part of the gospel. He had this problem in Corinth, in Galatia and in other places. So he says this:
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.”
Notice there are three phases. First of all, another Jesus. Then a different spirit. And then a different gospel. So, it all centers in Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the truth.” When you change Jesus and cease to present the historical, Biblical picture of Christ, you’re going to get another spirit and it’s going to result in another gospel.
Remember the Corinthians. If anybody was Charismatic, they were. They were ultra-Charismatic. So don’t imagine that the fact you’re baptized in the Spirit and speak in tongues and all that—which is wonderful—guarantees that you will not be deceived. It doesn’t.
I’d like to offer you just three contemporary versions of another Jesus. The first one, number one is some kind of oriental guru. Now there’s a movement today which really so interprets Jesus. It puts Him on a level with Buddha and all sorts of other people. It’s called—who can tell me? The New Age Movement. That’s their version of Jesus. If you really want to deal with this problem, there’s one epistle above all others you should study which is Colossians. It presents Him as the great Creator by whom the whole universe was brought into being and who upholds the whole universe by the word of His power. He’s not just some Oriental teacher wandering around in a saffron robe with sandals. He’s God in person, the Creator and the Judge of all humanity. So, the New Age Movement, having presented another Jesus, is taken over by another spirit and presents another gospel. You understand? Once you change the character and person of Jesus you’re into error.
The second type is a Marxist revolutionary. There’s one continent where this is particularly presented which is South America, that’s right. And it is known as Liberation Theology which teaches that it’s the job of Christians to resolve the problems of the poor, demand social justice, eliminate the wealthy and set up a new political order. Well, Jesus never did that. He had great compassion on the poor but He never sought to institute another social order by force. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight.” And so, the process of trying to bring the kingdom of God in by armed force is a denial of the teaching of Jesus. What they do is substitute one kind of dictator for another.
One of the tactics that Satan uses to institute political revolution is to make people discontented with the present regime. He’s a master of getting people discontented. And really, if you work hard enough at it you can get discontented with almost any government in the world today. And the implication is if you get rid of this government the next one will treat you fairly. But it never has. And actually, today Marxism is largely discredited. It has produced more poverty and more distress than the unjust regimes which preceded it. So, that’s number two.
Number three is what I call a universal “Father Christmas.” They kind of picture Jesus walking around patting people on the head, saying, “There, there, never mind. It will all work out. Don’t worry.” That’s not a true picture of Jesus. The places which primarily purvey this doctrine are called liberal churches. And one thing they do not speak about is the judgment of God on sin. In fact, they don’t like to mention sin at all.
And in each case where Jesus is misrepresented, once you have another Jesus you’re going to have a different spirit which is not the Holy Spirit and you’re going to have a different gospel which is not the gospel of the New Testament. How many of you would agree that this land of ours is full of that. Is that right? This is not something that’s going to happen in the next century, it’s something that’s all around us. And, I would say, increasing rapidly in most places.
The scripture warns us that in the last days, the close of this age, we are going to be threatened with many forms of deception. If you turn for a moment to 1 Timothy 4:1:
“Now the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] expressly says [or explicitly says] that in latter times [or near the close of this age] some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
You cannot depart from the faith if you’ve never been in it. You cannot depart from St. Augustine’s Church if you’ve never been in it. So this is not talking about people who’ve never been believers, but it’s talking about people who have been believers and then are deceived by demons and led astray into false teaching.
Some of you might be surprised to know that years ago in the great city of London I used to preach regularly on the streets three times every week, mainly at Speaker’s Corner, Marble Arch—which was a different place then from what it is now, believe me! It was a beer(?) garden. More than once I was physically assaulted by people who didn’t approve of what I was preaching. But we saw many people come to the Lord. I mention that because there was a young man who had a dramatic conversion. His first name was Paul. He was saved on Sunday night, baptized in the Spirit on Tuesday night and received the gift of prophecy on Thursday night. Well, in those days that was something of a record! But, after awhile he began to talk to me about ideas he was entertaining. The more I heard the less I liked it. And he said in effect, “Something tell me”, and then he would tell me these ideas. The more he spoke the more I realized that he was passing on to me the teaching of Christian Science. But when I investigated, he himself had never studied Christian Science. So that was just the demon instilling that teaching into him. And he did not remain faithful to the Lord. He was seduced into error.
So, I know that this happens. I mean, I’ve seen it happen not just in one life but alas, I’ve seen it happen in many lives. It’s a reality that we have to deal with.
And then again I’d like to turn to Matthew 24. Some of you may not know the prophecy that we had, or the interpretation that came earlier, was based on Matthew 24:14:
“This good news of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all the nations...”
But, if you look at the preceding verses you discover it’s not going to be that easy. If you look in Matthew 24, beginning at verse 9:
“Then they shall deliver you [you being us] up to tribulation, and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. Many will be offended and betray one another, and will hate one another.”
We’ve seen a little of that maybe in this nation, but in some nations—in the Soviet Union, China and elsewhere—these are daily realities. They are happening now on a large scale.
Then it says:
“Then many false prophets will rise up, and deceive many.”
And that, alas, is also happening. Almost every place where the New Testament speaks about the close of this age, the thing that it emphasizes the most is the need to be on your guard against being deceived. There is not one of us who is not in danger of being deceived. I’ve been a Christian now 48 years. I’ve never backslidden, I have served the Lord to the best of my ability. But by no means do I take it for granted that I could not be deceived. People who rely on their own experience or their own intelligence are prime candidates for deception. There’s only really one safeguard and that is to be very humble with the Lord. Pride is the level that opens the door to deception. Be on your guard against it.
Then in the same context Jesus goes on to say:
“Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many [many Christians] will grow cold...”
And then he says:
“...but he who has endured to the end will be saved.”
So there’s something to endure, you understand? It’s not idle talk. There’s persecution, there’s betrayal, there’s opposition, there’s deception, there’s lawlessness. And in the midst of all that Jesus says but if you’ve held out to the end you will be saved. That doesn’t mean you’re not saved now but it does mean to stay saved you’ve got to endure. Jesus said by your endurance purchase yourselves. That’s the price of your soul, is enduring.
And then the next verse is:
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end of the age will come.”
What’s the final mark that the age is coming to an end? The proclaiming of the good news of the kingdom in all the world to all nations. I say that because proclaiming the good news in all the world is not going to be an easy job. The pressures, the opposition and the dangers are increasing. But in the midst of all that God is going to raise up a breed of Christians that will set their faces like flint and go through with the task. That’s the way I believe it.
Now let’s consider the origin of false religion and the origin of true religion. It’s characteristically the origin of each goes back to the beginning of human history. And they started, both of them, with the two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel. There never has been any other kind of religion in human history but one or other of these two. So let’s look at them for a moment, we’ll read the description of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, beginning at verse 3. You’re aware, of course, that Cain and Abel were the first two sons of Adam and Eve. And they were both born after Adam and Eve were in rebellion and in trespass against God. Adam never had any sons before he became a rebel. And every descendant of Adam from that day onwards has the nature of a rebel somewhere in him. The Bible calls it the old man or the old Adam. So let me read this passage.
“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and their fat [the best]. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering...”
We don’t know exactly what happened but in some way the Lord bore testimony that He accepted Abel’s offering and He didn’t bear testimony to Cain’s offering. Most commentators suggest that some kind of fire came and consumed Abel’s offering on the altar. But nothing happened to Cain’s nice vegetable offering.
Well, that upset Cain.
“And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.”
He said in effect, “Here you are, God, I’ve brought you the best I can grow out of the ground, the very best. And, you’re not interested.” So he was angry. I think he was angry with God and angry with his brother.
“So the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And it’s desire is for you, but you should rule over it. Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose against Abel his brother, and killed him.”
Notice the first recorded sin after the original disobedience of Adam and Eve was not some trifling little peccadillo but it was murder of one brother by another. Sin doesn’t take a long while to mature. Once it’s released it’s there in all its ugliness right from the beginning.
Now let’s consider for a moment the difference between Abel’s religion and Cain’s. As I do this I want you to see that every religion humanity has ever known falls into one or other of these two categories. Everybody is either a follower of Abel or a follower of Cain—although they don’t realize it.
First of all, Abel received divine revelation. We know this because in Hebrews 11:4 it says:
“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain.”
And Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing the word of God. So, how he received a word from God we don’t know but he received a revelation from God that God required a living sacrifice which had to be killed and placed on the altar.
So, Abel acknowledged that but Cain rejected it. He did not accept the revelation of the kind of sacrifice that God required. By his sacrifice Abel acknowledged the need for a substitutionary sacrifice for his sin and the sin of the race. By his offering Cain denied the need for substitutionary sacrifice and no blood was shed. Abel’s offering indicated the need for a life laid down, Cain’s offering rejected that.
In Genesis 3:17, after Adam and Eve originally disobeyed God, God pronounced a curse on the earth. He said cursed be the earth because of you. Abel offered a propitiation for the curse on the earth, Cain offered the fruit of an earth which was under God’s curse. Nothing had been done to revoke the curse. So, Cain was offering God something that God had said was under a curse.
The fourth difference was, as we’ve already seen, Abel received supernatural attestation from God. God bore witness that He had accepted Abel’s offering. Cain did not receive supernatural attestation. He just went through a religious performance. How many churchgoers are like that today? A religious performance but no supernatural attestation.
Fifth difference, it’s practical. Abel’s religion produced a martyr. Cain’s religion produced a murderer. That’s a very wide difference. But in each case it was the result of their religion.
The sixth difference is Abel’s religion will bring forth a bride for Christ. Cain’s religion will produce a harlot. So there you have the two types of religion. I’ll go through it very simply without going into details.
Abel received divine revelation, Cain rejected it.
Abel acknowledged the need for a substitutionary sacrifice and a life laid down, Cain rejected that.
Abel offered a propitiation for the curse that God had pronounced on the earth, Cain simply offered God the product of a cursed earth.
Abel’s offering received supernatural attestation from God, Cain received no supernatural attestation. And that’s what made him angry. And we can, fallible though we Charismatics and Pentecostals and others like us may be, one of the main reasons people dislike us is because we’ve received a supernatural attestation and they haven’t. Human nature has not changed one bit.
Then the end product: Abel’s religion produced a martyr, a life laid down. Cain’s religion produced a murderer.
And finally, looking toward the future, Abel’s religion will bring forth the bride, Cain’s religion will bring forth the harlot. You see, there’s a complete line of demarcation between the two religions. And I suggest to you—this is far too vast a subject to go into in detail—that every religion subsequently practiced by humanity falls into one or other of these two categories. There is no new kind of religion, there are just a lot of different variations on the original religions.
Now I’d like to begin to sketch out the picture of the harlot, the product of Cain’s religion. And if you just pause for a moment and consider the servants of God through the Bible, who gave them the most trouble? Religious people or non religions people? Religious people. What religion did they have? The religion of Cain, that’s right. Who put the prophets to death or persecuted them? The followers of Cain. Who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? The followers of Cain. See? And it hasn’t changed through 2,000 years, it’s gone on the same way.
Taking a glimpse of the harlot, the false church, the first thing I want to say is it exploits political power. It uses political power to obtain its ends. That’s why I am always somewhat reserved when I heard Christians talking about taking over politics. Because, every time it’s happened in the past it’s been a disaster for the church. It happened in the 4th century when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine. And from that moment Christianity went into decline. It happened in the middle ages when the pope wielded the two swords, the sword of spiritual government and the sword of political government, and the church was in a state of almost total darkness. I don’t believe there’ll ever be a change in that. We are not called to run the political system. We are called to pray for our leaders and from time to time God raises up outstanding men who play a vital role in the political system. Men like Joseph and Daniel and Wilburforce and others. But never has the church been ordained by God to take over the political system.
Let’s look at the picture of the church and the political system in Revelation 13. We get a picture of a political federation which is described as a beast. Revelation 13:1, John says:
“I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns are ten crowns, and on his head a blasphemous name.”
That’s the political system, the federation. I think the last end time political system. But in Revelation 17:3, and Revelation 17 is the picture of the harlot, it says:
“The angel carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness; and I saw a woman [that’s the false church] sitting on a scarlet beast, which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”
So there is the woman, the harlot, the false church, sitting on the political system and riding to power on it. It’s not the true church.
Now, there is a very clear sort of anticipation of this in Israel’s history in the time of King Ahab. Ahab was king of the northern kingdom, Israel. The northern kingdom was already backslidden, they were already involved in the worship of the golden calves and other evil things. But they went much further into rebellion under Ahab because Ahab married a woman called Jezebel. And Jezebel was the daughter of a pagan king and was a follower and a promoter of the worship of Baal. And Baal, in a certain sense, was the ultimate evil alternative to the worship of the true God. And by her marriage to the king Jezebel introduced the worship of Baal into Israel and in many ways she’s a very vivid picture of the false church. One of the things that’s always been clear to me for years is that Elijah had no illusions as to what Jezebel would do to him if she could get hold of him. And I have to say I think it’s the same with the false church.
Let’s just look at a few passages in 1 Kings 16. Verses 30 and following.
“Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.”
And the Bible makes it clear the reason is he was incited to it by his wife Jezebel.
“And it came to pass as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat [who had introduced the worship of the golden calves], that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image...”
The Hebrew word is Asherah, which was a wooden idol of a female—probably extremely sexual—which was habitually worshiped by the Canaanites. So he introduced the worship of Baal and the worship of Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. And what was the root cause? His wife Jezebel.
And then in 1 Kings 21:8 we read how Jezebel manipulated Ahab. Ahab wanted to get hold of the vineyard of Naboth and Naboth wouldn’t sell it to him. So Ahab, who was really a grown up baby, just sulked. He turned his face to the wall, he wouldn’t eat, and he lay there. Jezebel came in and said what’s the matter? He said Naboth won’t sell me his vineyard. She said don’t worry about that, I’ll handle that. And, this is what she did. Verse 8:
“So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth.”
The result of which was Naboth was falsely accused of blasphemy and stoned to death. But notice Ahab wouldn’t have done it. He would have stopped there but it was Jezebel who took over, took his seal which was the evidence of his kingly authority, wrote a letter in his name and got the job done. What would you call that? I call that manipulation.
And let me tell you just as a matter of information. God never manipulates. And any time you encounter manipulation you are not dealing with the true God.
So, the next mark of Jezebel was her terrible attitude towards the Lord’s prophets. Going back to 1 Kings 18:13, Obadiah who was a worshiper of the true God, although he served in Ahab’s court, said to Elijah:
“Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord’s prophets, fifty in a cave, and fed then with bread and water?”
And in the same chapter, verse 19, this is Elijah speaking:
“Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the 450 prophets of Baal, and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
In other words, who are maintained by Jezebel. So she killed the true prophets and supported the false prophets.
And then in 2 Kings 9 we get another glimpse of Jezebel when Jehu rode into Samaria. Jezebel knew that her number was up, that he’d come there to kill her. So, her reaction was typical, she made herself up, put mascara on her eyes, and looked out of the window and trusted that her sex appeal would change Jehu’s attitude. But Jehu was not the kind of person to yield to that. So, Jehu responded. This is to Joram, king of Israel, but Joram said to Jehu as he rode into Samaria:
“Is it peace, Jehu? So he answered, What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many.”
So the two things that she was responsible for were harlotry—prostitution, immorality—and witchcraft. Witchcraft is nearly always referred to spiritual harlotry but generally speaking, it produces actual physical immorality.
So, you get a picture of Jezebel. She murdered the true prophets, supported the false prophets, practiced immorality and witchcraft. I personally believe that almost anywhere you find witchcraft, sooner or later you’ll find immorality. Spiritual adultery leads to the physical adultery.
And so, in 1 Kings 17:1 and 18:1, in each of these we find the Lord sending Elijah into the situation to deal with it. And the lesson that I want to bring out is this, that Elijah was God’s answer to Jezebel. And this, I think, is very significant because of what’s prophesied in Malachi, the 4th chapter. You see, again we’re dealing with the close of the age and in Malachi 4:5 the Lord says:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
Now, when Elijah comes on the scene you know what the problem is. It’s witchcraft. Elijah is God’s, shall I say, secret weapon against witchcraft.
And then notice the problem, and this is the last verse of the Old Testament:
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
So not only does this indicate that the end time threat to society and to God’s people is a false church, is witchcraft, but it gives the basic primary problem which is the break up of family life. There’s a situation were fathers are alienated from their children and children from their parents. God says if this isn’t changed it will bring a curse on the whole earth.
So, we learn a lot from that because we learn the source of the break up of family life, which is witchcraft. Wherever witchcraft prevails, family life is going to be destroyed. Family relationships are going to be broken up. And in many cases the authority of the male, the father, the head of the family, will be superseded by female authority. And all that is just a part of the activity of Jezebel. So there is a kind of little glimpse out of history of the activity of the false church.
Now we’re going back to the theme of the way that Jezebel comes to power. You remember we said it was a political federation, she was riding this scarlet animal, this scarlet beast. Going back now to Revelation 17 we find that antichrist also exploited the same political federation. Revelation 17:12–13. And again we’re talking about the animal, the beast with the ten horns and the seven heads. It says in verse 12:
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”
So, the scarlet woman rides on the beast which has the seven heads and the ten horns. But the final version of the animal which is the horns and not the head give themselves into the hand of the antichrist and are manipulated and controlled by the antichrist. That’s the final version of the political scene in scripture as far as I can see in this age.
Now, in a certain sense, just as the true church is the bride of Jesus, the false church is the bride of the antichrist. But, Jesus treats His bride very differently from the way that the antichrist treats his bride. Here is a lesson. I tell people if you let the devil have his way with you he’ll treat you like a lemon. He’ll squeeze you until he’s got all the juice out of you and then he’ll throw you away.
I’m reminded of something that happened in Jerusalem many years ago before World War II. There was a Satan worshiper in the old city and a certain missionary went to him. And the next time he emerged he was a believer in Jesus Christ, the former Satan worshiper. So, the other missionaries said what did you say to him? This missionary said I just gave him a full history of Satan from beginning to end.
You see, I tell people many times, listen, if you’re on Satan’s side you’re a loser because he’s a loser. He’s not going to win, he’s losing. He’s going to be defeated. You’d better change sides while you have time. And he’s not going to treat you fairly. You can do everything you like for him but in the end he’ll treat you like that lemon. When he’s got all he wants out of you he’ll throw you away. And that’s how he deals with his bride. You see? If you look here in the same 17th chapter, verse 16:
“The ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill his purpose, to be of one mind and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”
So the ten horns are just subject to the beast, the antichrist. And the ultimate end of the harlot is to be destroyed by the ten horns. They will make her desolate, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. So the ultimate end in history of the false church is to be destroyed by the same political power that they manipulated to gain their place.
I’m impressed when I think that nobody ever fools God. Sooner or later you’ll find out. It’s better if you’re not on the right side to change sides quickly because the devil doesn’t treat his servants right. The Lord is going to lavish His love and His blessing and His provision on His bride. She’s going to share the throne with Him throughout eternity. But the false church is going to be torn to pieces, cast aside and left as a relic of history.
So, where do you want to be? Where are you going to belong? You see, this isn’t just an empty question. Remember what is the deciding and divisive line between? What is it that marks out the true church from the false church? The true church has remained loyal to Jesus Christ. The false church has been disloyal.
See, it’s not a question of whether you speak in tongues or not—although I’m all in favor of speaking in tongues in the right setup. It’s not even the question of what particular mode of baptism you received—although I have my ideas about that. The question is what is your personal relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He truly Lord of your life? Are you totally committed to Him?
You see, the false church dishonors Jesus. In their extreme forms they deny He was born of a virgin. If He was not born of a virgin He was illegitimate. That’s to dishonor Him. The issue is do we love and honor and serve the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we faithful to Him even when others are unfaithful? Do we take our stand for Him even when it means opposition and persecution? That’s the deciding issue with all of us. It’s not a question of denominational labels, it’s not a question of forms of worship. I believe there can be many legitimate different ways of worshiping the true God. The question is are you going to be faithful or unfaithful to Jesus?
I hope I’ve made that issue clear. It’s not a complicated theological issue. You don’t have to know all the mysteries of divine election. You don’t even have to be able to quote 500 verses of scripture. But you do have to be totally committed to Jesus. That’s the decision that we have to make. Don’t let a lot of secondary issues obscure that for you. When you leave this place after these sessions I trust you’ll leave committed to Jesus. If you came committed I trust you’ll be more committed when you leave. That’s the issue, commitment. Commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.