This week, with the Pope’s visit to Ireland we consider the Bible prophecy about a mysterious “Man of Sin” and how this connects to the institution of the Papacy. Hello, this is Matt Davies joining you for another Bible in the News.
The man of sin
In the Bible, in the second epistle of Thessalonians we come across a fascinating prophecy. The apostle Paul compelled by God’s spirit in this letter is caused to predict the future and warn true believers of the gospel about a coming evil.
Paul was caused to write this in or around the first century AD - and although the message was very relevant for the readers at that date the prophecy stretches far into the future - to our day and even beyond.
In verse 3 we read:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [The return of Jesus] 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, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Here is a remarkable thing. In the early stage of the spread of the gospel and the message of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God we have this warning. That there would be a falling away. An apostasy. That part of this apostasy would include a figurehead; A “man of sin,” a “son of destruction” or “perdition”. This man would be prominent and would position himself “above all that is called God”. He would put himself above that which is and should be worshipped. The prophecy says that this one would, as if he were God Himself, sit in the temple of God in the position of God.
Who is this person? Who in the world positions themselves in such an audacious way?
The prophecy goes on in verse 7:
“...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: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10
Clues to identifying the man of sin
From this then we obtain some clues as to who this “Man of Sin” is:
1. The Man of Sin system starts within the first century - The system to which he belongs was already “at work” in the first century. Something was blocking him being revealed though and when this blocking force was removed he would be clearly seen.
2. The Man of Sin deceives - We read that the man of sin appears to have power and uses “signs” and “lying wonders”. He deceives in unrighteousness. He leads people to perish because they believe in him and not the truth.
3. Jesus will destroy the Man of Sin - This happens when Jesus returns to the earth. This would also indicate that the “man of sin system” although beginning in the apostle Paul’s time in the first century continues somehow down through time right up until our day and beyond to the time when Jesus Christ returns to the earth.
The prophecy ends with this warning to followers of the true gospel:
"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2: 11-12
The clear message then is not to have pleasure in the unrighteous things the man of sin system teaches. To stick to the truth and stay away from His teachings for he is part of a delusion. An apostasy which leads to destruction.
But who or what is this man of sin? Which figurehead, who leads a religious system can be shown to have begun in the first century and has also continued down to our time? There is only one such system and it is that of the papacy. No other religion has such a figurehead system of successors which began back in the first century and has continued up to today.
The Catholic Church itself claims it has an “unbroken line” of papal succession. It traces this from the current Pope, Francis, right back to the first century.
This system was obscured in the first century because the dominant religion was paganism. However with the rise to power of the Roman emperor Constantine and the ascendancy of Christianity into the political arena the Pagan system was removed paving the way for the Bishop of Rome to place himself in a position of such authority the world had not seen before.
The Papacy has indeed claimed that it is God on earth. Consider these statements from Popes of the past:
"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (Rome: 1302).
"We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty…” Pope Leo XIII, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae—The Reunion of Christendom (Rome: 1894).
"But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself” Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae: On Christians as Citizens (January 10, 1890).
"if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which We have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.” Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII (1950)
In 1870 the First Vatican Council declared the dogma of Papal infallibility in the following words:
"We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema. “ — Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, Chapter iv, 1870
Does the Catholic system deceive? Has it deceived? Has it used its large following and power to speak truth or error? This question can only be answered if one understands the true gospel message declared in the scriptures of truth. When this is compared, we see the Papal system is very much at odds with the truth - not only of the faith which the gospel demands but also in matters of practice.
Note: For an excellent summary of the gospel revealed in the scriptures please see the Christadelphian statement of faith.
According to the Prophecy of Thessalonians when the Lord returns the system of error which has fallen away from the truth as revealed in the Bible will be destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ. A sobering thought.
Pope Francis is the current incumbent of the Man of Sin system. He is the 266th Pope. He is seen as a liberal pope and focuses on the subjects of forgiveness, unity, love and mercy.
He is an enigmatic Pope who has mysteriously broken with tradition and even dogmatic teachings of the Church. For example, on the 11th September 2013, the Independent ran a headline “Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven”. Later senior Vatican spokesmen of the Church sort to clarify this and state it only appeared that Pope Francis was speaking about non-believers but in fact, he was talking about believers.
Also back on April 15th of this year, he told a little boy that it was possible the boys' dead father, who was an atheist, may indeed have been granted a place in heaven.
The Pope was taking questions at the Cross parish outside Rome. A little boy whispered in his ear and the Pope then spoke to the crowd telling them the boy’s Father had died but was an atheist. The boy wanted to know if his father would be in heaven.
The Catholic Herald reported on what happened next:
“Does God abandon his children?” the Pope asked. “Does God abandon his children when they are good?” The children shouted, “No.” “There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the Pope told the boy. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptise your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.” Pope Francis encouraged Emanuele to “talk to your dad; pray to your dad.”
Putting aside the fact that this is completely non-Biblical it is also not in accordance with past Catholic teaching on this subject! The Bible teaching on death is that you are unconscious and that there is no such thing as an immortal soul - see Ezekiel 18:4, Psalm 146:3-4, Isaiah 38:18-19, James 5:20, Psalm 22:29. The past Catholic teaching is that unbelievers will go to hell and there is only salvation and a route to heaven for your immortal soul through the Church, its priests and its Papacy.
This is what a previous Pope said about this:
"Neither the true Faith nor eternal salvation is to be found outside the Holy Catholic Church. It is a sin to believe that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church.” Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem, March 17, 1856
A visit to Ireland
This week between Saturday, August 25th and Sunday, August 26th 2018, the Pope visited Ireland. It was the first papal visit to Ireland for 39 years.
During his visit, he was met with by various Irish dignitaries, including Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar
Evidence of the “lying wonders”, “signs” and "deceivableness of unrighteousness” were highlighted by his visit. On Sunday he visited the "Knock Shrine" in western Ireland, where villagers claim to have witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879. This area is now visited in a superstitious way and the Virgin Mary is worshipped there. This is typical of the tactics used by the Catholic church to spread its influence in an underhand way through shrines, mysterious visitations and superstition. Something which is not in accordance with the Bible.
When the Pope visited he gave a speech. The Irish Times on 29th August reported the Pope's words:
“In the Apparition Chapel, I lifted up to Our Lady’s loving intercession all the families of the world, and, in a special way, your families, the families of Ireland. Mary our Mother knows the joys and struggles felt in each home. Holding them in her Immaculate Heart, she brings them with love to the throne of her son.”
He finished his speech with the words:
"let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the prayer of the Angelus."
The Bible, as we have shown teaches us that the dead are unconscious - Mary being one of those who has died. The Bible also teaches that there is only one mediator and intercessor - and that is Jesus. For information on this read 1Timothy 2:5.
Catholic abuse leads to power waining in Ireland
Despite over 78% of people in Ireland identifying as Catholic in a 2016 census the Catholic influence in Ireland has wained in recent years. This is mainly due to the high number or reports of abuse which was allowed to go unchecked in the Catholic Church. Specifically paedophile priests, sexual abuse in Catholic-run orphanages, and the exploitation of women in mother-and-baby homes. Indeed as the Bible taught this system would allow people to have "pleasure in unrighteousness."
The BBC reported:
"The clerical sex-abuse scandals, the mother-and-baby homes, and the history of a Church covering its tracks has lessened the institution's influence over its Irish flock. Protesting outside Dublin Castle as the Pope made a quick-stop tour of the city's streets, Savia, a group of survivors and victims of institutional abuse, laid out children's shoes tied in black ribbon in memory of those who had been robbed of their childhood by priests.” Papal visit: How Ireland received Pope Francis By Leanna Byrne 26/8/18
This was also reflected in the relatively low turnout by the Irish to the Popes Phoenix Park mass which he conducted on Sunday. It was reported that between 130,000 and 300,000 people attended. 500,000 were expected. Even this shows the decline in power of the Papacy for in 1979 Pope John Paul II visited the same venue, 1.25 million people attended.
One writer said this:
“It seems we've finally accepted our Catholicism for the absurd joke that it has always been. It's never been a funny joke, mind. It has always been sad. No less so now than before. But we are at least finally entering a phase of comparative freedom. Measures are being taken to wrest control of our institutions, such as hospitals and schools, away from domination by the church. It's not being done fast enough, but it's happening... the distinct lack of interest in the Papal visit is perhaps the clearest indicator yet of an Ireland transformed..” Papalvisit shows that 'Catholic Ireland' is a thing of the past, JOE, Carl Kinsella
Despite this apparent waning in power in Ireland, it must be appreciated the power of the Church is still at high levels across the world, especially in Europe where many state institutions are interwoven with the church.
As we have seen the Papal system is set up to continue until Jesus Christ returns. The warning that was given all those years ago still stands, to seek truth and not be taken in with the false teachings of an apostate system.
In the previous chapter in the book of Thessalonians we read of this warning mixed with comfort:
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed ) in that day.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10
This has been Matt Davies joining you for another Bible in the news. Join us again next week God willing.