The Current Scene
One of the most convincing evidences of the inerrancy of the Bible is mankind’s encounter with the primeval curse after the fall of our first parents. One major obstruction to society’s felicity is its ever present bout with sickness. The best brains and most money have been arraigned against microscopic germs, viruses and fungi which account for the greatest distress among mankind.
In this area some brilliant successes have been scored. First smallpox inoculation, sterilization in surgery, antibiotics and penicillin. Now, to the chagrin of the doctors, the different microbes build up a resistance to the new medicines. Says one researcher, “We are getting to the point where virtually every organism shows some kind of resistance. We have to be ready for the day when none of our drugs will work on some of these germs.” Solomon’s observation of the limitations imposed upon this world come to mind: “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again” (Eccles. 1:7). A philosopher recounts his conclusion when he says, “This world is a prison with four walls; you can beat your head against these walls, but you can’t get out.” While we applaud the amazing advances of medicine (look at the longevity most of us enjoy), still there is no eventual escaping that “all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
Another case of man’s inability to check or obliterate the inroads of the curse is his encounter with weeds and harmful insects. For a while insecticides worked wonders until the insects built up an immunity to the spraying procedures, calling for stronger applications or new approaches. Unfortunately, the beneficial bugs also were destroyed and birds that fed on them laid sterile eggs. The runoffs from the cultivated field have contributed to the pollution of streams and rivers. This is not to belittle the fact that America has been the principle bread basket for the world for the greater part of this century. In fact, our farmers have been too efficient for their own good. Many are advocating a return to more natural methods — organic farming. No doubt if this had been adhered to in the first place the small farms would have stayed in existence and kept plenty of labour from flocking into the big cities creating pockets of idleness and welfare. Man solves one of his problems only to create others.
In the 107th Psalm we see God authoring the trials of man being “hungry and thirsty” (v. 5) or brought into “the shadow of death” (v. 14). The sailor is reduced to his “wits end” (v. 27) in the stormy seas. All this happens to bring man to a sense of his need of something more than comforts. In dire straits men cry to the Lord for deliverance. Yea, to bring them to repentance, redemption, praise and thanksgiving. God is not allowing men to make a heaven for themselves down here, but rather to emulate Abraham, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
Twice this century America has come to the defense of a free Europe. After World War 2 most of Europe was financially and militarily exhausted. The Soviet Union stood ready to exploit this situation to its advantage. To counteract this threat the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — NATO — was formed. America’s nuclear advantage has so far assured the success of the treaty. In the 35 years of the treaty’s existence great changes have come about. Russia has developed, from reports, a nuclear superiority and a massive accumulation of conventional warfare weaponry far beyond her defensive needs. At the same time, Europe has made a spectacular recovery from the ravages of war. To match Russia’s nuclear threat on Europe, America purposes to deploy its latest nuclear missiles on European soil to bring about a balance of terror. This plan meets and will meet popular resistance, not wanting stubborn fanatics. In turn American patience with the alliance is running thin. Historical isolationism and America’s love to act unilaterally is never far away.
The American umbrella of defense over Europe has perhaps served its day. It contributes to Europe’s present weakness. What need is there for maximum effort when America is their rich ally? William Pfaff writes from Paris and concludes that Europe is well able to defend itself. He says, “Obviously the Europeans are a great deal weaker than the Soviet Union in military forces, but that is because they have chosen to rely upon the United States. It is quite within the economic and technological capacity of Western Europe to reverse that choice.”
All of this is interesting in the light of our understanding of prophecy. We see Daniel’s seventy weeks (Dan. 9) allows for a gap between the 69thand 70th week. In that gap the destruction of Jerusalem took place under Titus in 70 A.D. But Titus was not “the prince that shall come”; he was but a leader of the prince’s people.
This then identifies the “oncoming prince” as a Roman. His arrival will mark the beginning of the 70th week along with his covenant with the apostate Jews in Jerusalem — “the many.” This coming prince is to be identified with the “beast” out of the sea in Revelation 13. Along with other comparisons with Scripture, this led Bible teachers well over a hundred years ago to anticipate the revival of the old Roman Empire. In spite of Europe’s present impotency, compared with the threat on her eastern front, we believe she will further consolidate and finally go it alone insomuch that it will be said, “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4) . William Kelly, in his lectures on Joel, had this to say regarding the United States back in 1874:
“For it is a remarkable power, such as the American United States would naturally be, if it so long retained its cohesion. Is it conceivable that there should be such a power existing at that day without any mention of it? Can the omission be accounted for save by its dissolution? However, I particularly wish everyone to understand that this is merely drawn from the general principles of the Word of God.”
The present Pope of Rome has brought himself and his church into world attention. That the Roman Catholic Church was flagging before the onrush of Communism and liberalism was evident to those whose interests run along religious lines. In Latin America Protestant missionaries have been surprisingly successful at Rome’s expense. The Pope obviously aims to return to his church worldly respect and power.
The Pope’s return to his native Poland exhibited a boldness and understandable role to improve the lot of a beleaguered nation. The man himself from our observation is a noble character. But as we ask, “Is all of this necessarily Christian?” Rome, in one sense, has all its eggs in one basket. The mass is the distinguishing centre of the whole system. We quote from their Canon Law, “If anyone shall have denied that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist are continued truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently, a whole Christ; but shall have said that they only are in it as in a sign, or figure, or virtue, let him be anathema.” If this be so, then this writer is under a curse and excludes himself from Christian blessings here and hereafter.
The popularity of the mass is evidenced wherever the Pope has gone. In the light of the Epistle to the Hebrews the mass is but a return to the weak and beggarly elements of Judaism. We are categorically told, “by one offering Christ has perfected forever them that are sanctified,” and “where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin.” The teaching of Scripture is plain that Christ is personally localized in heaven in a glorified human body; else what does Easter mean? Rome would have His body on her altars, whereas His glorified present body is forever beyond another crucifixion.
Rome links the mass with John 6 and equates the bread and wine with eating His flesh and drinking His blood. This section of Scripture was uttered well before the last supper and would be true if there had never been an established breaking of bread. The eating here is appropriating Christ by faith. Those who do so have eternal life and are assured of being raised up at the last day. No Romanist is assured that he possesses the two guarantees, eternal life and the blessed resurrection. Christ says all three are indissolubly linked together. Scripture and God-given intelligence identify the mass as a delusion and fallacy.
In his collected writings, Vol. 31, J. N. Darby writes in his scholarly article on transubstantiation, “The notion of a sacramental putting to death a glorified Jesus is as horrible as it is contrary to all-truth.” He then adds his own conclusion, “It is a remembrance of what was His death, and His death is over forever.”
The assignment of the Church today is to walk by faith, not by sight. This largely amounts to the appreciation and appropriation (eat) of the invisible. Such only rests well with those who are born again and seek to be Biblically oriented. Otherwise showy ritualism or emotionalism sits well with those who appear to have made no personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Then too, Scripture prophesies of the complete apostasy of Christendom and in contrast to true believers designated as “the bride of Christ,” Christendom is the harlot, Babylon. We fear that the millions who have waited on the Pope are largely a “loaves and fishes” congregation motivated by nationalism, economics and an easy religious solution resolved by the magic of a sacrament.