THE CHURCH OF ROME IN BIBLE PROPHECY
AND THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN S.D.A. THEOLOGIANS AND ROMAN CHURCH THEOLOGIANS
It is significant that the number of the beast, 666, is not only the numerical total of the letters in various names that have been applied to the papacy as well as the name that is claimed by the Pope (Vicarius Filii Dei,) but it also represents the ancient system of paganism involving worship of the sun. In Unfolding the Revelation (1953) Roy Allan Anderson describes the system and its transfer from Babylon to Pergamos, and ultimately to Rome. (Pp. 123-135.) It is worthy of note that the book was written as "Evangelistic Studies for Public Presentation." That was a time when the S.D.A. Church was still true to its mission!
Now about the mark of the beast: unquestionably the Church of Rome has changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Thus they fulfilled the prophecy that they would "think to change times and laws" (Dan. 7:25.) It is also beyond question that the Sabbath is in issue during the final conflict between truth and error. However, God's remnant people are facing a devious and deadly dangerous foe. Recently, the papacy has been downplaying the issue of Sunday worship. It has not changed, but it is hiding its fangs. Since Vatican II, the Church of Rome has been promoting the Eucharist, the ritual of the communion mass, as the test of fellowship. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D. states in an American Catholic Online article (May, 2000) titled "Eucharist: Sign and Source of Christian Unity:"
All who participate in this Eucharist are fed by the same life of Christ. At the same time the worldwide eucharistic celebration is a sign of unity it is also a source, or cause, of unity. We are nourished by the same body and blood of Christ, strengthened in unity. Yet there's a flip side of the coin. As remarkable a display of unity as eucharistic congresses are they also show us how far we are from unity among all Christians. A eucharistic congress makes us long for the day when all Christians can share in the one body of Christ: intercommunion. To what degree is intercommunion possible today? Are there ways we can hasten the day when all communions can participate in one Eucharist? . . .
Pope John Paul II explains the Roman Catholic position regarding intercommunion in his encyclical letter on ecumenism, That All May Be One. He says that Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism (#22-23) "pointing out that the post-Reformation Communities lack that 'fullness of unity with us which should flow from Baptism," observes that 'especially because of the lack of the Sacrament of Orders they have not preserved the genuine and total reality of the Eucharistic mystery,' even though 'when they commemorate the Lord's Death and Resurrection in the Holy Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and they await his coming in glory'" (#67). . .
In the encyclical On the Coming of the Third Millennium, Pope John Paul II stated: "Among the most fervent petitions which the Church makes to the Lord...is that unity among all Christians of the various confessions will increase until they reach full communion." Our efforts toward ecumenical agreements must show the world "that the disciples of Christ are fully resolved to reach full unity as soon as possible in the certainty that 'nothing is impossible with God.'" In this same context, as the pope calls for "cooperation in the many areas which unite us," he points out that these areas which unite us "are unquestionably more numerous than those which divide us" (#16).
Our task is to emphasize the positive, to realize how far we have come. Today in many places the Churches of a city or area are joining together to work for safe, drug-free streets; jointly sponsoring thrift stores and soup kitchens; pooling resources for emergency financial help to those in need; working together in projects such as Habitat for Humanity. And even though we cannot yet always share the Lord's life-giving Bread at one common table, how wonderful it is that so many of our Churches share a common table of the Lord's Word. It is a great blessing that we all experience the redeeming presence of Christ in the proclamation of the same Scripture passages in our churches. "To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in his Church, especially in its liturgical celebrations....He is present in his word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church." (Sacred Liturgy, 7).
When we speak of Church unity we do not, of course, mean Church uniformity. It is possible, and even preferable, to achieve Church unity while preserving a wide diversity of Church structures and liturgical expressions. "From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity of those who receive them" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 814).
The transcendent splendor of Orthodox liturgies; the reverence and ecumenical zeal of the Churches of the Anglican Communion; the gratitude for God's free grace and the Lutheran Church's contributions to liturgy through music; the missionary spirit of the Baptist Churches; the Disciples of Christ's dedication to Church unity; the call to social responsibility proclaimed by the United Methodist Church; the confidence in God's faithfulness as witnessed to by the Presbyterian and Reform Churches—these rich gifts which God has given to each of the Churches are to be preserved and developed until the day we weave them together in a wonderful tapestry to be placed on the table when "many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). (Emphasis supplied.)
In another American Catholic Online article (1989) titled "A Walk Through the Mass: A Step-by-Step Explanation" Richstatter describes the consecration of the host and the communion as follows:
The priest continues the prayer, giving praise and thanks, and calling upon the Holy Spirit to change our gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
As God fed our ancestors in the desert on their pilgrimage, so God gives us food for our journey. We approach the minister who gives us the eucharistic bread with the words "The Body of Christ," and we respond, "Amen." We then go to the minister with the cup who gives it to us with the words "The Blood of Christ," to which we again profess our "Amen." (Emphasis supplied.)
In commenting on this description of the Mass, I want to note from the first Richstatter statement above that the Pope sees the post-Reformation Communities as lacking that "fullness of unity with us which should flow from Baptism," observing that "especially because of the lack of the Sacrament of Orders they have not preserved the genuine and total reality of the Eucharistic mystery" (emphasis supplied.) Thus in the ritual of the Mass there is "insistent and defiant rebellion" (S.D.A. Bible Commentary quoted above) combined with blasphemy of staggering proportions. The prophet Daniel had predicted of Messiah that He would "be cut off, but not for himself," (Dan 9:26 KJV) and "in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease," (Dan 9:27 KJV,) and so it came to pass.
Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. (Mat. 27:50,51 NRSV; emphasis supplied.)
The apostle Paul declared:
And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, "he sat down at the right hand of God," (Heb. 10:11,12 NRSV; emphasis supplied.)
The Bible declares that the daily ministration of earthly priests, the sacrifices and the oblations, ended for all time at Calvary. The Church of Rome defiantly claimed the authority to continue the priesthood, and instituted its own sacrificial system in the blasphemous ritual of the Mass. John A. Hardon, S.J., states in an article titled "The Priesthood and the Eucharist" in The Catholic Faith (September/October 2000, Vol. 6, No. 5):
A priest can be working in a chancery or a publishing house — no matter. The main reason he has been ordained is because of the Eucharist. So true is this that if we would specify the heart of the priesthood we would have to say it is the Eucharist: the Eucharist as Presence, and the Eucharist as Sacrifice.
Each of these levels of the Holy Eucharist is totally dependent on the priesthood — no priesthood, no Real Presence and no Eucharistic Sacrifice (and no Holy Communion, either). . .
A priest, therefore, makes the Real Presence possible, and no one, no king or prince or genius, nor the will of a thousand people or the combined efforts of a whole nation, can substitute for the power of a priest’s consecrated words: “This is my body. This is the chalice of my blood.”
And as the Fathers of the Church do not hesitate to say, there is no less a miraculous change taking place on the altar than took place in the womb of Mary at the moment of the Incarnation. Before she pronounced her words, there was no Christ on earth. The moment she did, He took dwelling in her body. The moment before the words of the priest are pronounced over the elements of bread and wine, there is just bread and wine. He pronounces them and then divine power — it has to be divine power — changes the substance of bread and wine into the very living Body and Blood of the living God. (Emphasis and italics supplied.)
The defiance of God is carried further. The Word of God says, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb 9:22 KJV; emphasis supplied.) For the Church of Rome, Hardon says, "On Christ’s side, therefore, the Mass, which the priest offers and as the Church further tells us, is unbloody, it is the same Sacrifice because it is the same priest, Jesus, and the same victim, Himself. (Ibid.; emphasis and italics supplied.)
Is it any wonder then that Daniel prophesied of this apostate power:
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered. (Dan. 8:11,12; emphasis supplied.)
This is not ancient prophetic history. The Church of Rome continues to challenge the ministry of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary and to pervert the Truth of God. It will do so to the end of time. Therefore God commissioned the Seventh-day Adventist Church to proclaim the Third Angel's Message and the Loud Cry. Instead, the S.D.A. theologians are now in dialogue with the very apostate power which they are called to denounce under the authority of Rev. 14:8,9 and Rev. 18. The seven last plagues reveal the just wrath of God against the apostate power, and those who have defied His condemnation of its blasphemous pretensions. It is incomprehensible that the S.D.A. leaders are ignoring the warnings:
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. (Rev. 14:9-11, 16:2.)
The ultimate end of the Church of Rome, "them that commit adultery with her," and "her children" is described in Revelation 19:
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. . . .
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh. (Rev. 19:1-3, 11-21; italics and emphasis supplied.)
Do the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church believe the Word of God. Have they kept in mind the teachings of God in the past history of the S.D.A. Church. Evidently not! But they will learn, too late, that you cannot expect to walk into the embrace of the Devil and not be destroyed!
The words of the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost echo down through the centuries to this time:
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. (Acts 2:40; emphasis and italics supplied.)
In closing, I am appropriating the last paragraph of the chapter on "The Beast From the Sea, and the Man With the Mystic Number 666," in Roy Allan Anderson's Unfolding the Revelation. 'The fact that the papal number is identical with the sacred number of the ancient pagan sun-god is significant. Against this system of deception, God has spoken in no uncertain language. He calls it "Babylon," or "confusion." And His message today is, "Come out of her, my people." Revelation 18:1-4. His true church will be victorious. They will stand on the sea of glass singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, the song of victory "over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name." Revelation 15:1-4. Through a greater Name (Jesus) they have conquered sin, for "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. God hath "given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." Philippians 2:9, 10. "All hail the power of Jesus' name!".' (P. 135.)