Catherine's Curiosity Corner

Buy the truth and sell it not. Prov. 23:23
The Great Apostacy
The Catholic writers try to teach that the church could never go into error and is preserved from error. There are many passages in the New Testament which reveal that the opposite is true. Please carefully examine the following passages:

Paul, speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus:
Acts 20:29-31 (NKJV)
29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 

And Peter said:
2 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NKJV)
From the passages above and right we see that there was to come a great falling away from the truth. In Acts chapter twenty we learn that perverse things would come from the bishops (elders) of the church. Peter said (2 Pet. 2) that false teachers would arise among you (working from within) and there would be many who would follow them.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 (NKJV)
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 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. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NKJV)
4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV)
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Paul tells us (2 Thess. 2 above) that the apostasy was already underway, "for the mystery of iniquity is already at work..." (Verse 7). It started in Paul's day and was to continue until the second coming of Christ. He added, "...Whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of his mouth and will destroy with the brightness of his coming." (Verse 8).

We cannot harmonize that which the inspired apostles said (there shall arise false teachers among you) with that which the Catholic writers say (shall be preserved from error). Furthermore, we call your attention to the fact that the characteristics of the departing group are identical with those of the Catholic Church. Everyone knows that the Catholic Church has forbidden its people to eat meat on Friday and at present it forbids some from marriage. Also, the only way for the wicked one to last from Paul's day to the second coming of Christ is to have a continual succession. It could not be some wicked person of the past because he will not be here for the Lord to slay when He comes. Furthermore, it could not be ones in the future because their iniquity would not have started in Paul's day. It must, therefore, be a continual succession from the beginning until now. The Catholic Church is the only group which perfectly fits the apostles' description of the great apostasy.

The gospel "is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes" (Rom. 1:16), and its power is nowhere limited to an unbroken succession of God's faithful on earth. "The seed" (of the kingdom) "is the word of God" (Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:11). "For you have been reborn, not from corruptible seed but from incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Pet. 1:23). The life-giving germ remains in the gospel and when believed and obeyed, it produces Christians or the Lord's church. Even if there was a lapse of a thousand years since true Christians lived on earth, the gospel would still be the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. When the gospel is believed and obeyed at any time by anyone, no matter what nationality or sex, the Lord adds them to His church (Acts 2:41,47). The association of any number of such believers constitutes the church of God, or the church of Christ, or simply "the church" as it is frequently called in the New Testament.

Even if the great falling away, the mystery of lawlessness which had already begun its work in Paul's day, grew to such proportions that it embraced all the professed Christians on earth, it does not mean that the church was permanently destroyed or annihilated. The kingdom of Christ is an eternal one (Dan. 2:44; Heb. 12:28) because it is perpetuated by an eternal seed (1 Pet. 1:23-25). There is no reason for Scripture to support the claim that a continuous, unbroken succession of Christians is necessary to acceptable obedience to the gospel or to have the true church. If one wanted to grow Florida watermelons in Tennessee, he would not need to stretch a vine from Florida to Tennessee, but would simply need to bring the seeds to Tennessee and plant them. Similarly, we don't need a broken succession back to the first church to have the true church today. We simply need to plant the seed (the Word of God) in the hearts of individuals, and when they believe and obey it, they become "the church" in any given locality.

When an apple seed is planted, it always produces only an apple tree; an acorn grows only an oak. There are no exceptions to this because God ordained all plants to yield after their kind (Gen. 1:11). Likewise, when the seed of the kingdom is planted in the hearts of men, it always produces only Christians and the New Testament church. It produces only after its kind--that which is identical to the primitive church. If a person is practicing something religiously about which nothing is said in the New Testament, some doctrine has been planted besides the pure and simple Word of God. Taking some of the New Testament, mixing it with human teaching and planting it in the hearts of men produces a human religion and not the church or kingdom of Christ.

Matthew 15:13-14 (NKJV)
13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

The only reason a church would want to claim infallibility is to deceive the people into thinking that no matter what it teaches, it is always acceptable to God. Through the doctrine of infallibility, it changes God's laws and its people ignorantly and blindly accept them.

In our world of religious division and confusion, many ask, "How can I know which church is right and which is wrong?" We ask, "How would you know whether a tree is an apple tree or an oak? If a tree has apples on it, you would know that it is an apple tree. Likewise, when a church is identical in name, faith, and practice, etc., to the early church, it is the church of Christ. It is not a matter of finding something similar to the New Testament church, but building and maintaining that same institution. To be the New Testament church, it must be identical in every detail to the church of the New Testament. 
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