FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 19
Heathenism Adopted by the Church during Thyatira Stage
“IN THE SIXTH CENTURY the papacy had become firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast ‘his power, his seat, and great authority.’ Rev. 13: 2. (see Appendix). And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation (Dan. 7: 15; Rev. 13: 5-7). Christians were forced either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s axe. Now were fulfilled words of Jesus: ‘Ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren and kinsfolk and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake’ (Luke 21: 16, 17).
“Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the [then-known] world became a vast battle-field. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: ‘The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.’ (Rev. 12: 6, K.J.V.)
”The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened.Faith was transferred from Christ, the true Foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting to the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator, and that none could approach God except through him*; and further, that he stood in the place of God to them, and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. [*Jesus Christ, Creator, Redeemer, Savior of mankind, the only-begotten of the Father in heaven, declared in His incarnated humanity: “I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14: 6.
“A deviation to his [pope’s] requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to the fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions, was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God.
“Those were days of peril for the [true] church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not left without witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstition would wholly prevail, and true religion would be banished from the earth. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion were multiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions.
NOTE: This is the core and substance of the Pharisaical “righteousness by works.” But according to the gospel, these are divinely joined together: faith and works, justification and sanctification, imputed righteousness and imparted righteousness, pardon and cleansing—all through the merits of Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice and all-powerful mediation as our merciful High Priest, Advocate, Mediator, and Judge of all the earth.
“They were taught not only to look to the pope as their mediator, but to trust to works of their own to atone for sin. Long pilgrimages, acts of penance, the worship of relics, the erection of churches [buildings, that is], shrines, and altars, the payments of large sums to the church,—these and many similar acts were enjoined to appease the wrath of God or to secure His favor; as if God were like men, to be angered at trifles, or pacified by gifts or acts of penance!
Forged ancient writings, phantom councils & decrees. – “Notwithstanding that vice prevailed, even among the leaders of the Roman Church, her influence seemed steadily to increase. About the close of the eighth century, papists put for the forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed which they now assumed. To establish this claim, some means must be employed to give it a show of authority; and this was readily suggested by the father of lies [John 8: 44]. Ancient writings were forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of, were discovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope from the earliest times. And a church that had rejected the truth, greedily accepted these deceptions.
NOTE: On Forged Writings, see Appendix, pp. 680, 681.- “Among the documents that at the present time are generally admitted to be forgeries, the Donation of Constantine and the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals are of primary importance.”
“The few faithful builders upon the true foundation (1 Cor. 3: 10, 11), were perplexed and hindered, as the rubbish of false doctrine obstructed the work. Like the builders of the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, some were ready to say, ‘The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build.’ (Neh. 4: 10, 14). Wearied by the constant struggle against persecution, fraud, iniquity, and every other obstacle that Satan could devise to hinder their progress, some who had been faithful builders became disheartened; and for the sake of peace and security for their property and their lives, they turned away from the true foundation. Others, undaunted by the opposition of their enemies, fearlessly declared, ‘Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible;’ and they proceeded with the work, everyone with his sword girded by his side.’ (Neh. 4: 10, 14; Eph. 6: 17).
“The same spirit of hatred and opposition to the truth has inspired the enemies of God in every age, and the same vigilance and fidelity have been required in His servants. The words of Christ to the first disciples are applicable to His followers to the close of time: ‘What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.’ Mark 13: 37.
Image worship multiplies; superstitions, corruption and ignorance prevail. “The darkness seemed to grow more dense. Image worship became more general. Candles were burned before images, and prayers were offered to them. The most absurd and superstitious customs prevailed. The minds of men were so completely controlled by superstition that reason itself seemed to have lost its sway. While priests and bishops were themselves pleasure-loving, sensual, and corrupt, it could only be expected that the people who looked to them for guidance would be sunken in ignorance and vice.
“Another step in papal assumption was taken, when, in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII, proclaimed the perfection of the Roman Church. Among the propositions which he put forth, was one declaring that the church had never erred, nor would it ever err, according to the Scriptures. But the Scripture proofs did not accompany the assertion. The proud pontiff also claimed the power to depose emperors, and declared that no sentence which he pronounced could be reversed by any one, but that it was his prerogative to reverse the decision of all others. (See Appendix).
“A striking illustration of the tyrannical character of this advocate of infallibility was given in his treatment of the German emperor, Henry IV. For presuming to disregard the pope’s authority, this monarch was declared to be excommunicated and dethroned. Terrified by the desertion and threats of his own princes, who were encouraged in rebellion against him by the papal mandate, Henry felt the necessity of making his peace with Rome. [How?] In company with his wife and a faithful servant, he crossed the Alps in midwinter, that he might humble himself before the pope. Upon reaching the castle whither Gregory had withdrawn, he was conducted, without his guards, into an outer court, and there, in the severe cold of winter, with uncovered head and naked feet, and in a miserable dress, he awaited the pope’s permission to come into his presence. Not until he had continued three days fasting and making confession, did the pontiff condescend to grant him pardon. Even then it was only upon condition that the emperor should await the sanction of the pope before resuming the insignia or exercising the power of royalty. And Gregory, elated with his triumph, boasted that it was his duty to pull down the pride of kings.
“How striking the contrast between the overbearing pride of this haughty pontiff and the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who represents Himself as pleading at the door of the heart for admittance [Rev. 3: 20], that He may come in to bring pardon and peace, and who taught His disciples, ‘Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ Matt. 20: 25-28..
Serious errors of heathenism adopted by the church during Thyatira stage
Natural immortality. – “The advancing centuries witnessed a constant increase of error in the doctrines put forth from Rome. Even before the establishment of the papacy [in 538 A.D.], the teachings of heathen philosophers and received attention and exerted an influence in the church.Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief of man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and the adoration of the Virgin Mary. From this sprung also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith.
Purgatory. “Then the way was prepared for the introduction of still another invention of paganism, which Rome named Purgatory, and employed to terrify the credulous and superstitious multitudes. By this heresy is affirmed the existence of a place or torment, in which the souls of such as have not merited eternal damnation are to suffer punishment for their sins, and from which, when freed from impurity, they are admitted to heaven. (See Appendix).
Doctrine of Indulgences. “Still another fabrication was needed to enable Rome to profit from the fears and vices of her adherents. This was supplied by the doctrine of indulgences. Full remission of sins, past, present and future, and release from all the pains and penalties incurred, were promised to all who would enlist in the pontiff’s wars [called “the Holy Crusades”!] to extend his temporal dominion. To punish his enemies, or to exterminate those who dared deny his spiritual supremacy. The people were also taught that by the payment of money to the church they might free themselves from sin, and also release the souls their deceased friends who were confined in the tormenting flames [of “Purgatory.”] By such means did Rome fill her coffers, and sustain the magnificence, luxury, and vice of the pretended representatives of Him [Jesus Christ] who had not where to lay His head! (Matt. 8: 18-20; Luke 9: 57, 58. (See Appendix).
Idolatrous Mass Supplants the Lord’s Supper. “The scriptural ordinance of the Lord’s Supper has been supplanted by the idolatrous sacrifice of the mass. Papal priests pretended, by their senseless mummery, to convert the simple bread and wine into the actual ‘body and blood of Christ.’ With blasphemous presumption, they openly claimed the power of creating God, the Creator of all things! Christians were required, on pain of death, to avow their faith on this horrible, Heaven-insulting heresy. Multitudes who refused were given to the flames. (See Appendix).
The Office of the Inquisition. “In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy, — the Inquisition. The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils, Satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees, and writing the history of deeds too horrible to appear before human eyes.”– Great Controversy 1911 ed. pp. 54-59. NOTE: The Office of the Inquisition is not dead—only renamed several times, presently called Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. See Wikipedia, etc.
(To be continued next week)