"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
THE BEAST FROM THE EARTH
By Given O. Blakely
Perhaps an explanation of how I am using “institutionalized” is in order. An “institution,” as I am using the term, is a confederation of men without the animating Spirit of God. It is a religious organization that has, at best, only the shell, or form, of the truth. It denies the power of the truth, choosing rather to trust in human wisdom.
his is what the Spirit referred to when He spoke of perilous times. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The reaction of the saints to such powerless religion is mandated from heaven. “And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim 3:1-5). That word is to be taken seriously!
Let me be clear about this. The peril of which Paul wrote is not political peril, or the prophecy of the rise of a political despot or kingdom. He is speaking of a religious phenomenon – a “Christian” religious phenomenon, or perceived occurrence, that has “a form [or appearance] of godliness,” but rejects its power. That equals powerless religion!
The Amplified Bible reads, “For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it.” Weymouth’s New Testament reads, “and will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet live in defiance of its power.” This is the parading of an impotent form of godliness that cannot alter the character of the people because God is not at work in it.
THE WEAKNESS OF INSTITUTIONALISM
An institutionalized church has a lot of trouble with sin – sin in all forms. That is because humanly-devised plans and disciplines have no Divine power. At the very best, they can only get at the shell of the truth, but never at its power. The very existence of powerless religion is evidence of the working of Satan. This is the second beast, which is the subject of this series of devotions. It comes with horns like a meek and lowly lamb, but a mouth that belches out Satanic delusions. A religious organization of this order is a professed “church” that has to hire worldly- wise men to attempt to subdue the outbreak of sin.
They often choose to call them “counselors.” They also borrow from the world’s cesspools of knowledge such as psychiatry and motivation, treating them with the same respect they profess to give to the Scriptures. They do this because what they represent as being from God is really powerless to do what they themselves sense must be done. Thus they attempt to teach people how to manage sin, rather than declaring the Divine provision for mortifying “the deeds of the body,” and “your members that are upon the earth” (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5). The thought of crucifying the flesh (Gal 5:24) is strange to them, because, quite frankly, they are not “alive unto God” (Rom 6:11).
Throughout church history, there have been signs and lying wonders wrought before dwellers on the earth. Time would fail us to mention but a sampling of them. Romish traditions are recorded in the Breviar. Of this book, Grollier’s Encyclopedia says, In Roman Catholic worship, the breviary – from the Latin breviarium (summary, compendium) – is a book or books containing the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours, a collection of prayers, psalms, and biblical readings recited at different hours of the day.
It dates from the Middle Ages, when it formed the basis of the Book of Hours. The breviary has been revised several times in recent years.
The following accounts are recorded in this official volume.
“St. Francis turned enough salt water into fresh water to save the lives of 500 travelers who were perishing of thirst. The surplus was sent over the world and performed miraculous cures.”
“St. Raymond laid his cloak upon the sea and sailed upon it, as a boat, 150 miles in six hours.”
“The dying Juliana could not swallow when the priest came to offer her the consecrated wafer. He laid it on her stomach, and it immediately disappeared from view.”
(Taken from , A Vision of the Ages, p150, B.W. Johnson)
A brief exposure to the televised religious of our time will confirm that Catholicism is not the only organization that keeps their professed chronicles of miracles.
Let none suppose that this constitutes a denial of the miraculous order. The signs and lying wonders wrought by the second beast are not for the glory of God, but for the honor of the beast. They lure men from the truth, and obscure the Gospel to their hearts. In such signs, the institution is the point, and not the souls of men.%%detect_both%%
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).