I’ve started several times to write something like this. But it’s never gotten very far. However, with things around the world deteriorating, maybe it’s time to try again? This time, it’s in the form of a question. Government christianity or Jesus’ Christianity. Which do you want? I know, some of you want to answer neither. But that’s not a choice. We’ll see why not in a moment.
In 2017, China passed a new set of religious regulations. Religions were refocused. On the government.
In 2022, China imposed a new security law for Hong Kong. Everything in Hong Kong got refocused. On the government.
In 2022, The United States Supreme court “passed” a bunch of new “laws”. They did this by refocusing existing laws. On religion.
Well, on the christian religion. Well, sort of. They aren’t looking at Jesus’ Christianity. Rather, they focused on government christianity.
Specifically, the extreme right-wing conservative republican version of christianity. Maybe you noticed something in what you just read? Only Jesus’ Christianity is capitalized. After all, it is the only real Christianity. And the U.S. government christianity is a whole lot closer to Chinese christianity than it is to Jesus’ teachings.
And that’s part of the reason you only have one choice in my question.
Government christianity or Jesus’ Christianity. Which do you want?
What’s the other reason there’s only one choice?
one religion, set by the government
First, if things keep going in the current direction, government christianity is going to be the official religion. And given the lack of concern for following laws, the courts will determine that every other “religion” is against the law.
one religion, for the entire world
Various books, theories, statements, etc. have been written about this next part. It’s about what the Bible foretells about the end of the world, as we know it. The End Times. Events in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation, and other books in the Bible.
Jewish Scripture includes what Christians know as the Old Testament, although it truly is Jewish Scripture. Christianity adds the New Testament to our Scripture. Islam, through the Qur’an, follows portions of both the Old and New Testaments. Having said that, they also disagree with various portions of both Jewish and Christian Scripture. However, all three religions have something of the End Times as part of their belief system.
So it seems the so-called one-world religion in the End Times won’t be either Judaism or Christianity.
The one-world religion from the Bible
I guess we should start by showing where the idea of a one-world religion comes from. It’s so hard to imagine that it could ever happen. At least, I used to feel that way. Now? I’m not so sure. And I’m shocked at the way things are going.
So, the one-world religion concept is derived from the passage below.
(Rev 13:1 …) And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”
Rev 13:5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
Check out two things from verse 8.
- All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast
- Everyone will worship the beast. The one-world religion will worship the beast.
- that is, with the qualifier below
- all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world
- The book of life refers to the names of those who truly follow Jesus. There are various places in the Gospels where Jesus makes a distinction between those who claim to follow Him, as opposed to those who don’t. And those who don’t will be condemned.
Rev 13:9 He who has an ear, let him hear.
Whenever this phrase is used, it represents those who have the Holy Spirit in them. Who’ve been baptized.
John’s vision then continues:
Rev 13:10 If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
In other words, those who have the Holy Spirit, and who understand, must be patient and must endure what’s to come.
So that’s where the one-world religion comes from. And the message contained in this passage also indicates something about true believers of Jesus. More on that in a moment, when we get to Islam.
The End Times world religion will not be Jesus’ Christianity
We’ve already kind of seen that Jesus’ Christianity cannot be the one-world religion in the End Times. The passage below makes that even more clear. It’s about the beginning of the end. When the End Times are ushered in. When Jesus is the One who opens the scroll that begins the final battle.
Rev 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Rev 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Rev 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
Rev 5:11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Rev 5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Jesus, of course, is the lamb who was slain. The One without sin, the sacrificial lamb who paid the price for the sins of all who honestly try to follow Him. Therefore, it makes no sense that Jesus would bring about the end of the “religion” He initiated. And so, Jesus’ Christianity cannot be the one-world religion foretold in the Bible.
BTW, I put religion in quotes because the word didn’t exist back then. Nor did all the negative connotations that come with the word today.
The End Times world religion will not be Judaism
There are various passages I could pull out here. But, let’s try to keep this at least somewhat “short”. The passage below, from Paul, shows that “all Israel” will be saved, based on the Old Testament Covenant with God’s chosen people, through the patriarchs.
Ro 11:25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
Ro 11:27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
Ro 11:28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Since this is Romans, and the logic tends to get a bit difficult, I included a write-up from John Stott at the end. (There’s a return button with it, so you can go read it now and get back directly here if you’d like to do so.)
Will Islam be the one-world religion in the End Times?
Some say yes. Others say no. And while some Muslims claim that the Bible refers to them, I believe it’s a reference to Gentiles, non-Jews, that they mistakenly claim for their own. It’s in line with other beliefs in Islam, such as the fact that the Qur’an says Jesus is not the Son of God. It claims God has no son. However, without Jesus, the Son of God, dying on the cross for our sins, then there’s also no salvation for any of us. Plus, it’s so completely opposite of what Jesus said and taught.
Having said that, Jews do acknowledge the existence of Jesus. As a prophet. Actually, the second most important prophet, since they put Muhammad first. In so many ways, they aren’t all that different than so many other Gentiles with incorrect/mistaken beliefs about God/Jesus. There’s no reason to think that Muslims are different in that they, like everyone else, need to come to know Jesus for who He is. The Son of God who died for us.
So, will Islam be the End Times one-world religion? Only God knows.
What will be the End Times one-world religion?
As I said, only God knows what that religion is going to be. It may be a religion that’s here on earth today. Or it may be some combination of a bunch of different ones. There seems to be increasing agreement that all paths lead to God, even though there’s no such statement made in any of the scriptures of the three main religions on the earth right now.
However, for purposes of today’s article, for this series, it feels like the greatest threat to us today, here in the U.S. and in other countries, is a governmental form of christianity. One that’s far from what Christ Himself taught. Very much the opposite of the way Jesus lived His life.
Government christianity or Jesus’ Christianity. Which do you want?
Revelation is far from a transparently obvious book. However, one of the things it does make clear is that what will be will be. Actually, what must be will be.
Earlier, we look at the scroll and the lamb. Before that, to start the book of Revelation, there are seven letters, all dictated by Jesus. All seven were delivered to seven churches. Each got to read what was written to all the others as well as their own. The letter told them something about what was to come. As well as how to avoid being condemned.
And then there’s the passage below.
Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Rev 4:9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
Rev 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
Conclusion – Government christianity or Jesus’ Christianity. Which do you want?
Think again about what Jesus said.
“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
As I said, it’s all very figurative. We just don’t know exactly what it all means. How it will all happen. Or even when it will happen. And yet, we are told about it. And we’re told
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
That’s patient endurance for those of us who are Christians. And we’re told that everyone else will worship the beast. And so, don’t you think those of us who are Christians, in the manner that Jesus taught and exampled for us, should be watching. Discerning what might happen?
Not to go overboard. Or to go off the deep end. Nor to panic. But to be aware. And to not lose sight of the path we should be on?
And for those of you who aren’t Christian, and maybe don’t think you’ll ever want to be one, I have just one more thing for you. Something to point out what we Christians should be like. Something totally opposite of what government christians, and others who don’t truly follow Jesus’ teachings are like.
10:2-4 pp — Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Ac 1:13
10:9-15 pp — Mk 6:8-11; Lk 9:3-5; 10:4-12
10:19-22 pp — Mk 13:11-13; Lk 21:12-17
10:26-33 pp — Lk 12:2-9
10:34, 35 pp — Lk 12:51-53
Mt 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Mt 10:2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Mt 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
Mt 10:11 “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15 I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
Yeah – we hopefully will talk to you. Just like I’m writing to you. But if you don’t like what you hear, don’t want to listen, we’re supposed to just walk away. Your issue isn’t/shouldn’t be with us. It’s between you and God.
I know, some aren’t like that. And I’m seeing that government christianity certainly isn’t like that.
So, which one would you rather have? One that’ll put you in jail if you disagree? Or one that’ll be waiting for you, ready to welcome you, if/when you change your mind about what Jesus is really about?
This is the first of a series that’ll look at things happening in China, Hong Kong, and here in the U.S. (maybe other places?) where government christianity forces its way into our lives. Including the lives of us who are actually trying to live with God’s love, and not the hatred coming from other so-called Christians.
c. The divine mystery (25–32)
Having completed his allegory of the olive tree, Paul again addresses his readers directly, his ‘brothers’, probably including both Gentile and Jewish church members, since he is now going to refer to the future of both. I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited (25a). He has already warned them against boasting (18) and arrogance (20), and now against conceit. ‘Not ignorant so that not conceited’ is the essence of what he writes, for he knows that ignorance is the cause of conceit. It is when we have false or fantasy images of ourselves that we grow proud. Conversely, knowledge is conducive to humility, for humility is honesty, not hypocrisy. The complete antidote to pride is truth. If only the Jewish and Gentile members of the church in Rome can grasp their position vis-à-vis one another in the purpose of God, they will have nothing to boast about.
What Paul specially wants them to know is this mystery. By a ‘mystery’ he means not a secret which is known only by the initiated, but a secret which has now been openly revealed and has therefore become public truth.
Essentially this is Christ himself, ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’. But in particular it is the good news that in Christ Gentiles are now equal beneficiaries with the Jews of the promises of God and equal members of his family (16:25f.). In this passage in Romans, however, the mystery seems to be what he is about to tell them. It consists of three consecutive truths. The first is that Israel has experienced a hardening in part (25b).
This fact is not new, since Paul has already stated it in verse 7. As we have already seen, it is God who ‘hardens’ (9:18), although this is a judicial process by which he hands people over to their own stubbornness. The ‘hardening’ takes the form of spiritual insensitivity. In the case of Israel it is the same as the ‘veil’ which Paul elsewhere says lies over their hearts and minds.
But now the apostle stresses that it is only partial (in part), since not all Israelites have experienced it (i.e. not the believing remnant), and only temporary (until …), since it will last only until the second stage of God’s unfolding plan. This Paul now states: until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (25c). While Israel remains hardened, and continues to reject Christ, the gospel will be preached throughout the world, and more and more Gentiles will hear and respond to it. And this process will continue until the full number or full complement (plērōma, the same word having been used of Israel in verse 12) of the Gentiles has been made up.
This will bring about the third stage: And so all Israel will be saved (26a). The three main words in this statement, namely ‘all’, ‘Israel’ and ‘saved’, need some investigation.
First, what is the identity of Israel which is to be saved? Calvin believed it was a reference to the church. ‘I extend the word Israel’, he wrote, ‘to include all the people of God’, so that, when the Gentiles have come in and the Jews have returned, ‘the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be drawn from both, will thus be completed.…’ It is of course true that Paul referred to the church as ‘the Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16, but throughout Romans ‘Israel’ means ethnic or national Israel, in contrast to the Gentile nations. This is plainly so in verse 25 of this context; so the word could hardly take on a different meaning in the very next verse (26). The natural interpretation of the ‘mystery’ is that Israel as a people is hardened until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, and then at that point (it is implied) Israel’s hardening will be over and ‘all Israel will be saved’. I do not think John Murray was putting it too strongly when he wrote: ‘It is exegetically impossible to give to “Israel” in this verse any other denotation than that which belongs to the term throughout this chapter.’
Secondly, there is the word all. Whom does Paul intend to include in ‘all Israel’? At present Israel is hardened except for a believing remnant, and will remain so until the Gentiles have come in. Then ‘all Israel’ must mean the great mass of the Jewish people, comprising both the previously hardened majority and the believing minority. It need not mean literally every single Israelite. This is in keeping with contemporary usage. ‘ “All Israel” is a recurring expression in Jewish literature,’ writes F. F. Bruce, ‘where it need not mean “every Jew without a single exception”, but “Israel as a whole”.’
The third word is saved. What kind of salvation is in view? The scriptural foundation, which Paul now supplies, will help us to answer this question. It is a potpourri of three texts about the salvation of God’s people.
26b‘The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins’.
These verses together make three affirmations. First, the deliverer will come from Zion. This was, in Isaiah’s original, a reference to Christ’s first coming. Secondly, what he would do when he came was described in moral terms: he would ‘turn godlessness away from Jacob’. This seems to be an allusion to Isaiah 27:9, where Jacob’s guilt would be atoned for and removed. Thirdly, the deliverer would establish God’s covenant, which promised the forgiveness of sins. Putting these truths together, the deliverer would come to bring his people to repentance and so to forgiveness, according to God’s covenant promise. It is clear from this that the ‘salvation’ of Israel for which Paul has prayed (10:1), to which he will lead his own people by arousing their envy (11:14), which has also come to the Gentiles (11:11; cf. 1:16), and which one day ‘all Israel’ will experience (11:26), is salvation from sin through faith in Christ. It is not a national salvation, for nothing is said about either a political entity or a return to the land. Nor is there any hint of a special way of salvation for the Jews which dispenses with faith in Christ. Stott, J. R. W. (2001). The message of Romans: God’s good news for the world (pp. 302–304). InterVarsity Press.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
|Stott, J. R. W. (2001). The message of Romans: God’s good news for the world (pp. 302–304). InterVarsity Press.