commentary: Pope Francis Is Elected (Part Two)
Contrast Between the True Church and Catholic Church
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 23-Mar-13; Sermon #1148c; 12 minutes
This is part two of the commentary that I began last week. I do not know how long it is going to last, but I am continuing to lay a foundation as we go through this today, so I hope that you will bear with me because I think that these foundational points are important.
In my previous commentary, I said to you that I believe in conspiracies because I believe in God and the truthfulness of His Word. The Bible clearly shows that conspiring is in the nature of man. The Bible shows that several of Israel's kings and judges were conspired against and that their office was forcefully taken by another. Did not Absalom conspire against David and almost succeed? Jesus was clearly conspired against—successfully, I might add—by the religious leaders of His day and crucified. Finally, bringing conspiracies right into our time, Psalm 2 reveals that a major conspiracy involving entire nations will be aligned against the Father and Son, and this conspiracy will not be resolved until what is commonly called Armageddon occurs, and Christ is on earth.
But the driving influence—this is very important—of these constantly occurring governmental conspiracies is not the human personalities involved, but rather the invisible Satan, who is the ruler of this world and God's and man's enemy. Satan has deceived the entire world. It is he who incites men to plot these clandestine and often vicious activities, and then sustains them with interlocking intrigues through generations, even centuries, of time. What we see actively taking shape in our day has been in operation for a very long time, as we shall see.
Before we go any further regarding the conspiracy and operation at this time, we have to fairly solidly establish what the Catholic Church is and is not, in contrast to what the true church established by Jesus Christ is. The Catholic Church has existed a long time. It has not always been called by that name over that long period of time, but its roots reach all the way back to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar and beyond—to Nimrod and his prostitute wife, Semiramis, who were leaders in Babylon following the Noachian Flood. This is easily documented by means of volumes of books that are obtained at almost any library, one of which is, The Golden Bough. Then there is, The Two Babylons, and there are a number of others.
As contrasted with the true church established by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church is an institution of this world. The term "of" means "coming from [The Catholic Church comes from the world.]; originating from [the world]; or belonging to [the world]." From the time of Constantine the Great, (who is commonly called the first Christian emperor of Rome)—from the fourth century AD—the Catholic Church has been ever more deeply involved in the politics of this world. Anybody who has read even historical novels or watched any movies depicting life and wars in the Middle Ages should know what I mean. The Catholic Church influence was so great that the emperors of the Roman Empire were ordained, crowned as emperor, by the then-ruling Pope. That practice persistent until Napoleon snatched the crown from the Pope's hand and placed it on his own head.
The practice of the Pope established that the lesser—that is, the emperor—was in office at the discretion of the greater—the Pope, the Catholic Church. The church had to be consulted by the emperors for approval of the empire's plans, especially those things concerning international relations.
I said just a moment ago that the Catholic Church is an institution of this world. Christians are warned in I John 2:14-15 not to love the world, and John goes so far as to say that "all that is in the world is not of the Father," and then he adds that "the world is passing away." People sing a song, "This is my Father's world." Oh no, it is not. The Bible declares that Christians are in the world—in fact, Jesus sent the apostles into the world—but a Christian is not of the world. A Christian does not belong to the world, and the world is not part of God's world. Thus, there is a very clear disconnect between what is of God and what is of the world.
The Greek term underlying the English word world is cosmos. It literally means, "orderly arrangement; system." But believe it or not, it can also mean "decoration." For most of its existence, cosmos was used by the Greek-speaking people to mean "the universe." The Greeks, in their search for knowledge, could observe the universe is an orderly arrangement. Cosmos retained that meaning for a long, long time, in fact, until the Christians, because they changed it to mean, "that which might be decorative, attractive, and orderly, but is not of God."
This Greek term has far more applications in Scripture, but the one that I have given you applies to this subject very well. Jesus Himself used it exactly as I have given it to you, and His use of it produces a very clear understanding of the difference between His church and the Catholic Church.
In John 18:36, as Jesus was being interrogated by Pontius Pilate, Pilate asked Jesus whether he was a king, and Jesus' reply was so clear to Pilate that he immediately wanted the free Jesus because he could discern that the charge against Jesus was bogus:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world [cosmos]. If My kingdom were of this world [cosmos], My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Where was His kingdom from then? Pilate could see that nobody was fighting to free Jesus, and Jesus was not even fighting to free Himself. That's why it was so clear to him—that he wanted to free Him. Jesus' Kingdom is from heaven, the dwelling place of God. Philippians 3:20 says of all true Christians,
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship . . .
is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
Do you know what that word "citizenship" is founded on? It is the Greek word for "politics"—politeo.
Philippians 3:20 For our [politics] is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
A citizen of a foreign nation cannot participate in the political and military affairs of a nation that he is not a citizen of. True Christians are clearly called strangers, pilgrims, and aliens in the Bible. The Bible clearly pictures Christians as just passing through this present evil cosmos, not participating in it.
Thus, in contrast to the Catholic Church, the true church established by Jesus Christ is not of this world, and this fact makes a gigantic difference regarding the things members of each will involve themselves in. It makes a great deal of difference, especially in regard to the clergy and other church officers in the way that they will conduct themselves in regard to the business aspects of the church they are involved in.