TCE replies: 31st March 2004 Is the 'Pope' an antichrist?
Should Christians 'take action' against Roman Catholics?
You write: I havfe some questions for you please. Am I to understand that you belive that Roman Catholica are the anti-christ, or should I say that the pope is?
TCE: The pope is an antichrist. There is a difference between being 'an antichrist' and 'the Antichrist'. Anti is a Greek prefix which not only means 'opposed to' but 'in the place of.' Since the popes took the title 'Vicar of Christ' (vicar is simply a reduction of the word vicarious, meaning 'in the place of'), then all of the popes have been, and will be, antichrists.
In English, one who acts vicariously - in the place of another - is termed a 'vicar̓. The true vicar of Christ is the Spirit of the Most High God, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter (John 14:15-17; 16:7-11). He acts in the place of Jesus. When you put someone in the place of the Holy Spirit and say that he is the 'vicar of Christ̓, he becomes antichrist, a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. The papal title 'Vicar of Christ̓ is translated in Greek as antichristos. Every pope - and any other deceiver in religion - who puts on that title is declaring: 'I am antichrist'
That this difference in definitions exists is shown by Scripture (1 John 2:18):
1JN 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
1 John 2:22-23 (cf. 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7) describes 'the antichrist' as that which denies that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of the Father:
22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist - he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
Liberal Protestantism denies this and is thus a false Christianity and an antichrist religion. Islam denies this, for the Koran states: 'God has no Son' and it is therefore also an antichrist religion. Rabbinic Judaism also denies the Messiahship of Jesus and the Father/Son relationship, so we see that by the definition of the Word of God it is also an antichrist religion. [Jews for Jesus Founder, Moshe Rosen, in his 1991 address in Zeist, Holland, correctly denounced Rabbinic Judaism as a false religion.]
The Pontiff of Rome also has the same title as the imperial emperor of pagan Rome, who was also called the Pontiff (pontifex maximus, for the emperor worship of imperial Rome typifies and foreshadows the worship of the ultimate Antichrist). This is not to suggest that the Pope is the Antichrist, but by definition he is certainly 'an' antichrist and he typifies the Antichrist who is coming and who may already be alive and about to take power in the world.
The popes are not the only antichrist figures in the world, for there are many other such deceivers operating in, or on the fringe, of Christian circles today. Earl Paulk says it is the voice of 'older prophets' speaking to him with the words of God, and therefore it is God speaking to him. These false teachers and prophets say it is Antichrist who is coming against them. If you speak against the false teaching of men such as Oral Roberts, Earl Paulk, or Kenneth Copeland (the latter says he could have died on the cross instead of Jesus Christ - a sure sign of an antichrist!) they say that you are of the spirit of antichrist. But they say it is God speaking when they proclaim anything in their 'preaching' and 'teaching' situations, not them. Morris Cerullo says when you look at him, you are not looking at a man, you are looking at Jesus Christ - clearly antichrist!
We know that, when the Lord Jesus Christ appears, we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). Scripture tells us that 'Christ [is] in you, the hope of glory' (Colossians 1:27). But this does not ever make us 'Christs' and it is the spirit of antichrist that tries to make out that we are. It began in Catholicism, but today it is in hyper-pentecostalism and hyper-charismaticism. Thus there are many antichrists because anyone who puts himself (or herself) in the place of Christ is antichrist. There is only one true vicar of Christ, and that is the Holy Spirit and there is only one true basis of authority - God̓s Holy Word.
What these religious deceivers also try to do is to use this authority for themselves - defining doctrine so as to secure their social, financial and political power base, just as Roman Catholicism has always done.
But the real Antichrist will oppose Christ in the most diabolically clever way possible: by pretending to be Christ. For the world to follow and worship him, a false antichrist 'Christianity' must become the world religion - a 'Christianity' that all religions can accept and which embraces all religions into 'one faith.' Hence the necessity for today's growing apostasy: to create an apostate church to be the Antichrist's earthly bride, just as the true church is Christ's heavenly bride. Such is the important role of Roman Catholic led ecumenism, the New Age movement, and the many accelerating delusions and seductions in these 'last days.' Through a false gospel, false prophets, occultic religious practices and lying 'signs and wonders,' today's churches are being filled with millions who call themselves Christians, but who are not. Left behind at the Rapture, and happy that the 'negative' influence of the vanished troublemakers (anyone who warns against these errors!) has been removed, they will worship and follow the Antichrist, thinking he is the true Christ and that they are living in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. An ecumenized 'Christianity,' in partnership with all religions, will carry on and prosper even more after the Rapture than before. An ecumenical union of all religions is seen to be essential, for there can be no political peace without religious peace as well. The ecumenical movement that will unite the entire world under the Antichrist has now gathered irresistible momentum. The unifying factor will almost certainly be concern for Mother Earth. Working for peace and ecological wholeness will replace truth as the basis of Christianity, as the World Council of Churches has already decreed. The Antichrist will be worshipped by the entire world. To make this possible, apostate 'Christianity' must enter into union with all of the world's religions - while at the same time there must be a recognition of the importance of 'spirituality' by the secularists. Far from being a cop-out invented by those who desire to escape persecution (which could become very severe worldwide before the Rapture), a pre-tribulation Rapture is essential - to remove the true Christians from earth. If they were present when Antichrist was revealed, they would oppose and expose him. Such opposition must be removed in order to give Satan and man, under Antichrist's leadership, full freedom to prove that this earth can be turned back into a garden paradise without God.
When Kingdom Now preachers say that there will be no Antichrist, faith-prosperity preachers make 'signs and wonders' the proof of truth, instead of the Word of God, and when triumphalists teach that Christ returns to the Church before He returns for it, we cannot say that the deception foretold in Revelation chapter 13 will only take place against the unsaved. In the light of the treachery and heresy of the prosperity preachers, thinly disguised as 'Christ-likeness', we must ask whether these deceptions will be directed against the elect?
The only question concerning the apparent 'signs' of men like Benny Hinn concerns their so-called miracles. Are these genuine gifts that are being misused, as with King Saul who, like the Pope and pagan emperors, also typifies the antichrist in certain aspects, or are they spiritual counterfeits executed by 'the prince of the power of the air' (Ephesians 2:2), in the spirit and character of Jannes and Jambres, as Paul warned us? 1 John, chapter 2, warns us about the Antichrist by first exhorting us not to love the world. If we love the world, we will be deceived and Prosperity preaching is nothing but a love of the world ruled over by 'the god of this world' (1 John 5:19). As the Spirit of God warns us through the writings of Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12):
'For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.'
Most Jews of Jesus' day rejected Him because He would not deliver on their 'Kingdom' expectations of prosperity, dominionism, and 'signs and wonders' exhibitionism. Instead, a generation later, they were to follow a false messiah called Simon Bar Cohba, falsely proclaimed as Messiah by Rabbi Akiva on the Second Jewish revolt circa 120 A.D. Rabbi Akiva and Bar Cohba typify the Antichrist and False Prophet. As Jesus said: 'If another comes in My Name, him you will believe.' (John 5:43). Bar Cohba led the Jews to a national holocaust, as will the antichrist in the Great Tribulation. Rejecting the true Christ, because most of the people wanted a Messiah with a different message, they found a false one and those with similar false expectations will do so again. Ultimately unsaved Jews, longing for a Messiah who will give them dominion and prosperity in this fallen world, will accept the Antichrist as they accepted Bar Cohba nearly two millennia ago. God's purpose for returning the Jews to Israel is not, and never has been, an end in itself, but is a gathering for their final salvation. The Jews are not being re-gathered to their ancient land to be blessed, but to face a terrible judgement known in Jeremiah 30 as the time of Jacob's trouble (the Great Tribulation) in which they will be deceived into thinking the Antichrist is their Messiah (John 5:43).
So will much of the Church, for precisely the same reasons. Many so-called evangelical, born-again Christians are caught up in Dominionism, 'Prosperity theology' and 'signs and wonders' theology. They are rejecting the true Christ and are already following false ones who claim to be anointed. In Greek the definition of a false christ is someone with a false anointing. The ultimate Beast, as described in the Book of Revelation (Ch. 11 ff.), will be the epitome of false anointing. Only the faithful remnant of Christians will be ready for the true Jesus' return. Those following such deceivers as Benny Hinn, Morris Cerullo, Frederick Price, Rick Godwin, Paul Crouch, Jerry Saville, Larry Lee, Ed Cole, Marilyn Hickey, Ray Macauley, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, John Avanzini, Kenneth Copeland etc., will certainly not be ready. Those Christians following triumphalism, putting 'gifts' and 'manifestations' above the Giver, and believing Word-Faith Prosperity heresies, are riding for a fall. If they seek serious shows of 'power' they are much more likely to fall for the 'lying signs and wonders' of the Antichrist.
It is sad to see so many evangelical Christians becoming increasingly entangled in this world, joining with Catholics, Mormons and other cultists and occultists to pursue its political and social agendas - and in the process losing their hope of heaven. It was a characteristic of the early church that they knew they were the ekklesia, the called-out ones who were no longer of this world (John 17:6,14,16) but were eagerly waiting (1 Thessalonians 1:10) and watching for Christ to return to take them to heaven (Hebrews 9:28; John 14:2-3). Instead, many who claim to be Christians are now looking forward to meeting a 'Christ' with their feet planted firmly on planet earth - a 'Christ' who has not arrived to take them to heaven but to reign over the kingdom they have established for him. This delusion is the reason these so-called 'Christians' will accept the Antichrist. Such people are not working for the true Christ, but for the counterfeit, the Antichrist. They have not been 'lay[ing] up...treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:20), but have been building an earthly kingdom. The apostate church is growing in all denominations and is the enemy of souls. Do not seek to please anyone except our Lord himself. And do not be afraid of the cost, for 'The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe' (Proverbs 29:25).
This procession of events is in God's hands. While we cannot know the day or hour of our Lord's return, the Bible does give us many clues as to the general timing of this great occurrence. There is a precise time for Christ's second coming just as there was for the first: 'But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son...' (Galatians 4:4). The same is true of the Antichrist. Though almost certainly already present in the world now, and waiting in the wings, this 'man of sin' known as 'that Wicked [one]' (2 Thessalonians 2:3,8) can only take power when it is God's time: 'And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time' (2:6)
You write: Also are you saying we are supposed to act out against Roman Catholics?
If by 'act out' you mean take action, then the only action we should take is clear from Scripture. First, the preaching of the gospel - we do not attack any of the enemies of God except by the power of the Word of God, by the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18):
EPH 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Second, prayer and fasting and intercession by God̓s people, especially for those in government. God ordained human government to hold back evil, and if it is not being influenced by our prayers it will certainly become an instrument for evil itself. The early Christians even prayed for the Roman emperors, so that the gospel could prosper under their rule. When will the Antichrist be openly manifested? When the lordship of history is given into the hand of Satan for a fixed period of three and one half years. Satan is only restrained now by the Holy Spirit, but in his time he will be revealed, for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12).
The spirit of Antichrist is already here. But He who restrains (the Holy Spirit) will do so until He is taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit will not always function in the way He does now, for grace will come to an end. We need to be careful about taking Dispensationalism too far, but the age of grace will come to an end. In the Book of Revelation, God goes back to dealing with man the way he did in the Old Testament; judgment, wrath, grace comes to an end. The power of the Holy Spirit to convict the unsaved and to empower the church to preach the gospel will come to an end. The great tribulation, with the Holy Spirit being withdrawn from the world and the church being raptured, are not synonymous, but are separate, yet related, events. But once the Holy Spirit is grieved by sin in the church, once the light becomes dim and the salt loses its taste, we are going to have resurgence of wickedness. It is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that makes the church age possible. Once He is grieved and withdraws, the utterly innate evil of the world system will quickly re-emerge. Jesus said (John 14:15-17):
If you love Me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever - that is the Spirit of truth...
May our Bridegroom re-awaken our love for Him, and may our hearts long to see Him and be with Him!
In His Name