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    December 26, 1895

    “The Beginning of the Papacy” The Present Truth 11, 52, pp. 821, 822.

    ATJ

    IN studying the errors of the Papacy the question naturally arises, How came such a falling away from the truths of the Gospel as taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and by His apostles, endued, as they were, by the Spirit of God? The answer is, It was by the self-exaltation of the creature above the Creator.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.1

    When Paul was at Thessalonica, he preached to the people about the second coming of the Lord. And after he went away he wrote them a letter, in which he referred to the same subject, in these words: “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.2

    The Thessalonians, forgetting the instruction they had received from the apostle personally on this subject, and being deceived by letters purporting to come from him, concluded that the Lord’s coming might be expected at any moment. This coming to the apostle’s knowledge, he wrote them a second letter, in which he exhorts them thus: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.3

    All this Paul had taught the Thessalonians when he was with them, as he reminds them in the fifth verse: “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” Then, having recalled to their minds the fact, he simply appeals to their knowledge, and says, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he [the son of perdition] might be revealed in his time.” This plainly sets forth the prophecy of a great falling away or apostasy from the truth of the Gospel. The purity of the Gospel of Christ would be corrupted, and its intent perverted.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.4

    The falling away of which Paul wrote to the Thessalonians is referred to in his counsel to the elders, or bishops, of the church at Ephesus, whom he called to meet him at Miletus. To them he said: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:29-31.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.5

    This warning was not alone to the people of Ephesus in the three years that he was there. It is seen through all his epistles. Because of this readiness of individuals to assert themselves, to get wrong views of the truth, and to speak perverse things, the churches had constantly to be checked, guided, trained, reproved, and rebuked. But it was not alone nor chiefly from these characters that the danger threatened. It was those who from among the disciples would arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.6

    Through error or judgment, a man might speak perverse things with no bad intention; but the ones here mentioned would perverse things purposely and with the intention of making disciples for themselves—to draw away disciples after them instead of to draw disciples to Christ. These would pervert the truth, and would have to pervert the truth, in order to accomplish their purpose.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.7

    He who always speaks the truth as it is in Jesus, will draw disciples to Jesus, and not to himself. To draw to Christ will be his only wish. But when one seeks to draw disciples to himself, and puts himself in the place of Christ, then he must pervert the truth, and accommodate it to the wishes of those whom he hopes to make his own disciples. This is wickedness; this is apostasys.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.8

    There was another consideration which made the danger the more imminent. These words were spoken to the bishops. It was a company of bishops, or elders, to whom the apostle was speaking when he said: “Of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” From that order of men who were chosen to guide and to care for the church of Christ, from those who were set to protect the church—from this order of men there would be those who would pervert their calling, their office, and the purpose of it, to build up themselves, and gather disciples to themselves in the place of Christ.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.9

    To watch this spirit, to check its influence, and to guard against its workings was the constant effort of the apostle; and for the reason as stated to the Thessalonians, that the mystery of iniquity was already working. There were at that time elements abroad which the apostle could plainly see would develop into all that the Scriptures had announced. And scarcely were the last of the apostles dead when the evil appeared in its practical workings; and to study the growth of this apostasy (as we shall in future numbers) is only to study the growth of the Papacy, for it was the Papacy in its earlier stages.PTUK December 26, 1895, page 821.10

    A. T. JONES.

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