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Exploring Revelation
“Revelation 17:1 Pt.2”
by Art Sadlier   
May 2nd, 2010

The Progression of Unbelief and Apostasy

All through the church age unbelief and apostasy has plagued the church. The progression has always been downward and away from the truth and obedience to God's Word. Even in Paul's day he warned the Ephesians that after his departure false teachers would come in corrupt the church.

Scripture records the progression of unbelief and apostasy. Paul said in 1 Tim. 4:1 "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" Though apostasy would characterize the whole church age, there would be a great depature or apostasy in the last days.

This theme was repeated by Paul in 11 Tim. 3:1, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."  As we look out today at what is happening in the professing church, the Evangelical church, we see this prophecy being fulfilled.

Peter also adds his word to this prophecy, 11 Peter 2:1-2, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."

I do not personally know of a single premillenial Bible teacher who does not believe that the Church of Laodicea typifies the Evangelical church of the present hour.

In Revelation 2-3, the history of the church is laid out in advance. Each of the seven churches represent an era of church history. One after another the churches enter into decline and apostasy. The only church that does not apostasize, aside from the church of Smyrna, is the last days church of Philadelphia, it is commended and promised that it will be caught up in the rapture. The final church of the church age is the church of Laodicea, the Evangelical Church.

Look at Laodicea, Revelation 3:15, "I know thy works, that thou art neither  cold nor hot; I would that thou wert cold or hot." What a description of the Evangelical Church today. They read God's Word, they talk about God's Word, they preach God's Word, but they hold it lightly and act as if obedience to God's Word was optional, as if it has no authority or power in their lives. Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:..."  This same Jesus said, "He that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple."

Our Lord is not talking about believers in this text, in Revelation 3:16 we see that clearly. "So then because thou art lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." We know that our Lord could not and would not spew His own out of His mouth, therefore Laodicea is an unsaved church! I heard a well known conference speaker say some 25 years ago, that a number of pastors of large churches had told him that they fear that well over half of their congregations are not saved.

Verse 17, evidently is speaking of the Evangelical church of our day. "Because thou sayest, I am increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind, and naked."Increased with goods," that could speakof no other church than the church of our own day, the Evangelical Church.

"Poor, and blind, and naked," that is spiritual poverty, spiritual blindness, spiritual nakedness. All of this is the result of failure to be in God's word!

Paul describes this in terms we recognize today in the much of the church. 11 Tim. 4:2-4, "Preach the word; be instant in season; reprove rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." Believers today cannot wait to jump on the bandwagon of the next false teacher who comes down the highway.

I suspect, that when the church is raptured, many evangelicals will be left behind to join with the false church. This world wide church will claim to be the bride of Christ! But she is the unfaithful, counterfeit, harlot church of Revelation 17.

Is the Roman Catholic Church the Harlot? It is certainly part of it, but it goes beyond Romanism.  Verse 5, "And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."  Notice, "the mother of harlots", what is the mother of this great religious system? Where did it begin? We have to go back to an early period in the history of the human race.

In Genesis 10, we find a man named Nimrod, of the fourth generation from Noah. That is where Babylon began! Harry Ironsides said that, "Nimrod was the great apostate of the Patriarchal age." The spirit of Babylon was a man made way of salvation as opposed to God's way of grace! They sought to build a tower to heaven with their own works, by the works of their own hands. That describes the Babylonian system, that is the program of all false religion!

Genesis 11:3 says, "And they said one to another, Go to let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar."  "Let us make brick"  Verse 4, "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth."  We will get to heaven, in our own way, by the works of our own hands. That is Babylonianism!

The counterfeit Bride of Christ, false Christedom has the soteriology of Babylonianism. Notice in verse 3, "They had brick for stone and slime for mortar." Their building materials were counterfeit, not the real thing. The real thing is found in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast." The spirit of Babylon is a man way of salvation by works instead of "By grace through faith."

Nimrod's dream was of one world-wide superstate with one man-made religion! That dream is still with us today!

Nimrod tried and failed, Nebuchednezzar tried and failed, the Ceasars tried and failed and Constantine tried and failed. But there remains yet one more massive attempt to establish Babylon!

Today the Roman Catholic Church is working all-out to bring a union of all the religions of the world. The Babylon of Revelation is an apostate religious system clearly identifiable with all of Christendom in union with papal Rome taking the lead in its formation.

(Next week we will see   1 - The System Exposed.  2 - The System Explained   3 - The System Extinguished)

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