Salvation by Grace Alone

The Gospel Messenger, June 1918.

THE LAST GREAT APOSTACY BEFORE THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

II. Thess. 2:1-10; I. Tim. 4:1-3; II. Tim. 3:1-13

    It is almost universally agreed that the four Gentile world-empires foretold in the second and seventh chapters of Daniel were the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greco-Macedonian, and the Roman, and that the last, or Roman, is to be destroyed and superseded by the universal and everlasting kingdom of Christ.

    Mr. A. R. Fausset, of England, in his Notes on Daniel, says: “We live under the fourth or Roman empire; our civilization, letters, language and laws are essentially connected with those of im­perial Rome. This fourth kingdom, though now professedly Christianized, is regarded in Scripture still in its essence to be ranked among the God-opposed beast-like world-powers, not only not better, but actually worse, than its three predecessors, in the ultimate intensity of its opposition to God and His Christ, and the full development of Antichrist, ‘the man of sin,’ ‘the son of perdition,’ that denieth both Father and Son (II. Thess. 2; I. John 2:18-22; 4:3).

    The New Testament views the present age of the world as essentially heathenish, which we cannot love without forsaking Christ (Rom. 12-2; I Cor. 1:20; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:2; I John 2: 15-17). The present outward Christianity is to give place for a time to an almost universal apostasy under the last Antichrist (II Thess. 2). As the first or Old Testa­ment Antichrist, Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria B. C. 176-164, whose career is circumstantially predicted by Daniel, in the eighth, eleventh, and twelfth chapters of his prophecy, was the product of the highest ancient Greek civilization, so the last New Testament Antichrist is to be the product of the highest modern [German] civilization, ignoring and despising God and vital religion, and substi­tuting a false liberalism in faith and practice, a growing laxity of morals, and a worship of money and of human science and art and invention, degenerating into avowed atheism and an unholy alliance with the Pope of Rome, for the extermina­tion of the church of Christ. Romanism and other forms of apostate Christianity, combined with [German] rationalism and the godless wisdom of the world, have most of the elements of Antichristianity which are preparing the way for the man of sin (II Thess. 2). Let us, then, with holy zeal, chastened with humility and love, ‘earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints’ (Jude 3). German theologians, by their so-called “Higher Criticism,” have, during the last hundred years, been the chief agents of Satan in seeking to destroy the faith of mankind in the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. And the Kaisers of Germany and Austria-Hungary claim to be the successors of the Caesars of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires.

    The leading marks of the great departure from the faith are the increasing idolatry of Rome, and the gravitation of nearly all Protestants back to the Romanism from which they originated; the doubt, suppression, or denial of most of the vital truths of Christianity; a diminished sense of sin, and a fainter conviction of the indispensability of the atoning blood of the Son of God, and of the renewing power of the Spirit of God; the pharisaic principle of transform­ing religion from a saving inward reality into a vain­glorious outward show; a general contempt and vilification of revealed religion; a disbelief in the full inspiration of the Scriptures, and in the universal providence of God; the increase of selfishness and worldliness, and the consuming love of money and pleasure; the indifference to spiritual and eternal realities; confidence in men and not in God; the hatred and persecution of those who really and heartily believe in God and in His Word; the sub­stitution of human reason for Divine Revelation; and the plunging of the human race, led by Germany, into the awful midnight storm of Atheistic Materialism, when, in the eloquent but terrible language of Mr. W. E. H. Lecky (in his “History of Rationalism, in Europe”), “every landmark is lost to sight, and every star is veiled, and the soul seems drifting helpless and rudderless before the destroying blast”—the satanic wind of infidelity. Even thirty years ago Prof. R. T. Ely, of Johns Hopkins University, in his “Modern Socialism,” said that circumstances “possibly foreshadow a tragedy of world-wide import, which shall make all the cruelty and terror of the French Revolution sink into utter insignifi­cance—possibly portend the destruction of old, antiquated institutions, and the birth of a new civilization in a night of darkness and horror, in which the roll of thunder shall shake the earth’s foundations, and the vivid glare of lightning shall reveal a carnival of bloodshed and slaughter.” These dreadful forebodings seem now about to be realized.

    As I said in my Church History: “The three downward steps in the progress of modern, ungodly, Advanced Thought (German Rationalism) since the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, seems to me to be as follows:


Arminianism (17th century), undeification of the Spirit;

Arianism (18th century), undeification of the Son ;

Atheism (19th and 20th centuries), undeification of the Father.”

Atheism (or Agnosticism), says Mr. W. E. Gladstone, of England, is “a deep judicial darkness, an astounding infatuation, far more degrading than the ancient heathen idolatry of nature.”

     From the bottomless abyss of atheism may the living and Almighty God deliver us. And may his Christ overwhelm his enemies, the military despots who delight in war, and bless humanity with univer­sal and abiding righteousness, gentleness, and peace. (Psalm 68:72; Isa. 11:1-9; Dan. 2:44, 45; 7:9-27; Micah 4; Zech. 14).

SYLVESTER HASSELL

Submitted by Elder David Montgomery

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