The Christian church must clearly refute the papal antichrist as well as other false teachers, and not follow their heresies or their example.
The Biblical teaching concerning the antichrist also belongs to doctrine of the Ministerial Office, namely the refutation of false teachers and refutation of those, who misuse the correct Pastoral Office. The devil is always striving by all means to make futile God's good intention to save mankind and therefore raises against sayers and false teachers to ruin the work which Christ by means of his pure Word is doing e.g. through the Pastoral Ministry. So is the battle between the right Gospel and false gospels continuous.
The antichrist rules in the church. He is not "man of God", but "man of lawlessness" and is an oponent of Christ, 2 Thess. 2:3-4. The main feature of opposition to Christ touches Christ's chief work, the work of redemption, and its significance. The basic tenet of the antichrist is to oppose the doctrine of justification based on Christ's once-and-for-all work of redemption, and to teach falsely concerning it. His basic identifying mark is his false doctrine of justification. Preaching the Law and keeping it in the forefront does not make the antichrist and his activity Christian. 2 Thess. chapter 2 lists the identifying marks of the antichrist: A falling away and lawlessness, exalts himself above the government or everything that is called God, "showing himself that he is God", for example by claiming to be above all criticism and the Biblical norm, prescribes works for the saints in heaven, invents new doctrines (for example the infallibility of the pope, the immaculate conception of Mary and her ascension into heaven), prescribes fasts, indulgences, counterfeit miracles, claims to be Christ's vicar on earth, etc. When we bear in mind that opposition to Christ manifests itself by opposing the truth that Christ atoned for the sins of the world once-and-for-all and finally, and that this completed justification is possessed solely by faith without the deeds of the Law, it is not difficult to understand that the pope with his systems is that man of lawlessness, the antichrist. Spanheim has correctly said: The Pope puts aside the prophetic office of Christ through his traditions, the kingly office through the power he has taken for himself, the pontifical office through those offerings he makes his priests do" (cited by Hoenecke IV,222).
Although the pope church is teaching Law strongly and without flattering people, it has many kind of false opinions also in understanding of Law and in its applications.
2 Thess. 2:8 says that the antichrist will be active for a long time, longer than a lifetime of one person. Christ is killing him first at his advent. The antichrist is therefore not just one person in the very end of this world, but a phenomenon in a long course of time. It is the papal church led by the pope. We may with our Confessions say that the marks of the antichrist fall entirely together with the papal church.
According to the Bible the coming of the antichrist "is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish" (2 Thess. 2:9,10). "The mystery of lawlessness" (2 Thess. 2:7) was there already during the apostolic time, but it could not come out as the power of the antichrist; first prevailing restraints had to be removed. The papal system was built on the ruins of the Roman Empire and was not possible before the Roman Empire had fallen. The secular powers (Obrigkeit) – in spite of the fact that there were so many unjust and immoral rulers and persecutors of Christian – were, however, the outward order (Ordnung) set by God, which prevented the antichrist from coming into power. During the time of Roman emperors Christians were persecuted from outside, when the antichrist is in power persecution comes from inside. The antichrist puts his own doctrine to replace Christ's doctrine and his own men into the Office, which should teach the pure Gospel.
The coming of the antichrist happens "for them that perish", "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved". (2 Thess. 2:10). The appearace of the antichrist is very harmful matter to souls.
According to the Bible there are also many other antichrists. "Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour... Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:18,22.) "And every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it cometh; and now it is in the world already" (1 Joh. 4:3). "For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist" (2 Joh. 7).
Antichristian spirit is not to be feared only as it appears in the papal church , but it is to be rejected in all its forms. The antichristian spirit is influencing everywhere there, where the Scripture is denied as the only source and norm of doctrine, where to those things which influence our salvation is added something done by ourselves, i.e. to the redemptive work of Christ and to the work of Holy Spirit through the means of Grace. We have to reject synergism, historico-critical method, enthusiasm, believes in tradition, etc. All those trends coming from man's heart prepare, in a way or another, sympathy to the papal church. They all have a joint denominator, a joint origin – man. Under that spirit one cannot see the destructive influence of wrong doctrine on justification.
All antichristian heresies and false practices must be unequivocally refuted, and we must beware that we do not follow the example of the antichrist and other false teachers.
The antichrist is in Christian church, but it does not mean the antichrist himself with his heresies would be Christian. There are today over one million people, and if we think of baptized small children, the majority of those, who are true Christians in this world must belong to it. It is complexio oppositorum, also with many correct things; otherwise the antichrist would not be in church. However, the primacy of the pope, his position as the leaser of the Christianity and as the successor of Peter cannot be questions in the papal church. Accepting the primacy of the pope means already in itself denying the true doctrine on justification.
Regardless of how the words in the tiara "Vicarius Filii Dei" are to be understood, the pope demanding to acknowledge his primacy is putting himself on the place of Christ. Regardless of the numerical value 666 of the letters in the tiara we have to conclude that the pope is not representing with his doctrine the divine perfectness, but is representing human imperfection, very detrimental for salvation of men. In the Scripture the number of divine perfectness is seven. The number of the beast 666 is the number of man.
The papal church teaches a threefold synergism in doctrines of redemption, conversion and revelation. In all these three areas the papal church takes something away from divine perfectness and adds human to divine. So the papal church remains in 666 and does not reach 777. I think that God through his providence has led the things so that the number of man can be read also in the tiara, that God's children could avoid its doctrine on salvation by human deeds.
Number 666 can be found in addition to tiara also in a Hebrew word (רומיית), which means 'exaltations' and in a Greek word λατεινος, to which already Irenaeus referred. According to the Bible the number can be counted by those who have understanding (Rev. 13:18).
God directs our earthly life by assigning to each of us our own tasks and our own station. Giving birth to children, caring for them and rearing them, is a noble task. God has given children a precious gift, in giving them a loving mother.
In order to accomplish important and demanding tasks we have to deny ourselves and be willing to make sacrifices. This may cause pain and sorrow, but it gives also plenty of satisfaction.
This is certainly true in the case of mothers. She forgets herself and thinks of her children; strives hard in their behalf. The Bible values a mother's love so highly that it uses it to illustrate Paul's courageous preaching and pastoral activity. "But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us" (1 Thess. 2:7,8).
Although a mother's calling is a highly esteemed earthly calling, it cannot save her. Salvation is by grace, through faith in Jesus. It is not of works. This does not contradict what Paul says of a wife: She "shall be saved through the bearing of children if (she) continues in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint" (1 Tim. 2:15). The Apostle does not state that giving birth to a child earns salvation, but rather describes a wife's station in life, in which she fights the good fight of faith. The same truth is stated in a more general way in Acts: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
A believing mother is a precious treasure to her children. She not only gives them her own love, but also teaches her children to know the love with which God has loved us in Christ Jesus. Timothy's mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois, are good examples of this (2 Tim. 1:5). They taught Timothy, already in his early childhood, to know the holy Scriptures. May God continue to give children mothers like this.
God entrusted the Office of the Ministry to Adam, not to Eve. God sent His Son into the world and permitted Him to be born as the new Adam (Rom. 5:14), not as the new Eve, to correct the first Adam’s offense and that which was remiss in his care of the Ministerial Office (Rom. 5:14; Adam’s “offense”: Rom. 5:15,17: “one man’s offense”: Rom. 5:19: “one man’s disobedience”: but in such a way that “Adam was not deceived” 1 Tim. 2:14). By correcting the first Adam’s disobedience, the new Adam, Christ, corrected both Adam’s failure to speak as well as the first Eve’s decision to become a teacher and her disobedience and the disobedience of all Adams and Eves. Christ called men to be apostles (all in all 14 men; Joseph Justus, who was nominated, was also a man), not a single woman. In addition, when speaking of those serving in the ministry he referred to them by using masculine pronouns and at the same time made a distinction between them and “others”, which “others” included both “menservants” and “maidens” (Luke 12:45).
The first congregation and its eleven apostles, according the word of the Bible, unanimously agreed that a man should be chosen to replace Judas. Acts 1:20-22: “For it is written in the book of Psalms (Ps. 109:8)…his bishopric let another (heb. אַחֵר, masculine) take. Wherefore of these men (ανδρών)… must one be ordained to be a witness with us of the resurrection.”
When the apostle Paul as Christ’s messenger in clear words (1 Cor. 14:33-40 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15) denies women the right to preach in the congregation and to serve in the ministry, he does not teach something new, but rather the same which Christ Himself had taught and which the apostles and the entire church had both taught and practiced. The apostle bases his stand on the order of creation, on that which “saith the Law” (1 Cor. 14:34), and which is unchangeable. God’s order is: “He shall rule over thee”, Gen. 3:16, and “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection”, 1 Tim. 2:11. The basis for this is also the fact that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”, 1 Tim. 2:14, or in other words the difference in nature between men and women, of which Moses Gen. 3:6 already gives a telling description: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”
The women at Jesus’ empty tomb received a one-time command to go and bring the news of Christ’s resurrection to the disciples. They were not, however, given an office or a life-long call as the apostles were, nor were they told to leave everything and follow Jesus.
God’s clear revealed will is that the Office of the Ministry is an office for qualified men, qualified in the school of the Holy Spirit.
That women are currently preaching in many churches in their capacity as pastors and lectors and speaking at functions of the different revivalistic groups is contrary to God’s will.
Lutheran Christians observe All Saints Day for the purpose of remembering those saints who have departed from this life and joined the Church triumphant. Heaven and earth, strife and victory, are in our thoughts as we sing:
"For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confest,
Thy name, o Jesus, be forever blest.
O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!" L.H. 463:1,4
Who are these saints? Are they a rare class of people, extraordinarily blameless, whose good works the world applauds? They may be a rare group, for there is little faith to be found. Among them may be exemplary people, who with God?given strength aspired to do good. But the world very rarely thanks such people. Many benevolent people, who have been highly esteemed by the world, have been self?righteous and have denied God's Son.
What then is it, that makes a person a saint?
Paul addresses the recipients of his epistle to the Corinthians as "the church of God which is at Corinth, those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling" (1 Cor. 1:2). In the eyes of men they were often despised. Many of them were slaves. There weren't many people of noble birth in the congregations at that time. Their past life was of such a nature that it caused them shame after they came to faith. Even as believers their nature had its flaws, and there was much about them that had to be tolerated and forgiven, even though they no longer were of the world.
Yet despite all this, they were saints. As baptized believers in Jesus Christ they possessed His holiness. The blood of Jesus, God's Son cleansed them from all sin.
So we too, although corrupt by nature, are holy in God's sight and acceptable to Him through faith being baptized into Christ.
Faith in Jesus produces good works that are acceptable to God. These good works are not extraordinary works such as pilgrimages, or contributions given to some charity to appease the conscience. Faith in Jesus results in a life continually lived in conformity to our faith, during the week as well as on Sunday, at work or when relaxing, as husband and wife, child and parent, as long as each one sanctifies all this with faith and prayer.
The Apostle Paul beautifully describes a mother's calling: "Women shall be saved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint" (1 Tim. 2:15).
Giving birth to a child does not merit eternal salvation. It is a mother's role in life, like a path she has to walk through. A Christian mother accepts it as her calling from God. She joins the Psalmist in saying: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Ps. 127:3). Despite a mother's joy, her calling is not an easy one. She must give up her own comfort, freedom, and sometimes even her health. Many a mother has given her life in bringing a new life into the world.
In fulfilling her life's calling a mother can talk to God and say: "You have given me this role in life. Thus, I have a good conscience serving as a wife and mother. Grant me strength to remain patient also in difficult times."
Many of us have had a Christian mother or grandmother. We remember how conscientiously and diligently they took care of their earthly responsibilities, without forgetting the spiritual. Present day mothers may also trust in God's grace. The Apostle Paul refers to this when he says that a believing wife will be saved. This life lasts only a short while; so too its tribulation. On the Last Day Christ will save His own from wrath and grant them eternal joy. Mothers will also be saved because of Christ. Salvation is by grace, not by works. It cannot be earned by works, but it can be lost by works of unbelief and impenitence. For this reason the Apostle says: She "shall be saved... if she continues in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint".
A mother's faith and the fruits of this faith - love and a chaste way of life - win the respect of her husband and the love of her children. These virtues have been instrumental in leading many husbands to repentance and faith. Mothers have been excellent instructors of future, teachers, theologians, professors, missionaries and pastors.
If a woman desires to accomplish great things in the Kingdom of God by His power and wisdom, let her pray: "Lord, make me a good wife and loving mother entrusted with the knowledge of Christ, with your wisdom, grace and love."
A mother gives much to the home. On Mother's Day it would be well also to remind us husbands of our responsibilities. The Bible says: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25). Genuine love is willing to make sacrifices; it is not selfish.
Being the head of the family does not mean reigning as a tyrant. The Bible gives this advice to married couples: "You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7).
An understanding husband takes into account the fact that a wife is called upon to bear the results of wedded life in an altogether different way than the husband. The home is meant to be an oasis in the midst of life's desert. It cannot be such an oasis through the efforts of the wife alone. The husband must be aware of his responsibility. He must understand that husband and wife are not alike, but different. This understanding results in an attitude of gentleness and respect for his spouse. This is easier when husband and wife have a common faith. Having such a common faith, they can strengthen one another as co-heirs of eternal life.
We live in an age of rapid development in the fields of industry and technology. The term "old-fashioned" is often applied where it doesn't belong: to the order of creation, to Christian doctrine and to morality. It is easily forgotten that we are building on the work of hundreds of generations, without which the development taking place today would not be possible. We are also responsible for the way in which we use this heritage, and for the condition in which we leave it to future generations. We are responsible for this in the sight of that Creator from whom we have received our cultural task (Gen. 2:15).
"1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy" (2 Tim. 3:1,2). This prediction of the Apostle has come true in the present restlessness of our age. The Fourth Commandment gives parents the authority and responsibility to demand obedience from their children. If someone has been granted some authority, it is a sin not to fulfill the responsibilities it entails or to let it slip into hands that cannot be controlled. If children do not learn at home to respect commands and prohibitions, arrangements and agreements as well as their parents, it is difficult for them to learn to adjust when they are away from home.
There are certain goals associated with the restlessness of our day that are by nature idealistic, such as promoting the cause of the needy and demanding equality and tolerance for everyone. But the same people who speak of these matters have a desire to rise up against all divine basic values. According to the Bible the devil puts on the armor of light so that his activity will seem to be morally acceptable. Behind such armor it is easier to bring about the destruction of the basic values, the foundation of human life. Behind this mask of idealism it is easier to reach youth in particular, for youth seeks ideals, if not noble ones, then at least distorted ones.
When youth lacks experience and discernment, it can easily be led astry by half-truths.
Certain radicals have adopted pacifism as part of their program. They oppose military service, thinking that by doing so, they can oppose war. According to the Bible God has given the sword to the civil government and at the same time has given it the authority to command its citizens to use it. The Christian faith does not include the idea that arms and military service are in themselves evil. Christian indeed want to live in peace with all people. But that is another matter. God has given the civil government the sword to use in this evil world so that with its help He can prevent the coarse outbreak of evil. God wants the sword held by the civil government to be directed against evildoers for the benefit of the citizens. Defending one's country is also using the sword of the civil government. An anarchy would soon arise if a State had no army, police, laws or punishments. Man's corruption is the reason for all this. Wars are not caused by armies and arms but by people. According to the Bible there will never be a kingdom made up only of believers on this earth. On the contrary the great majority will be unbelievers. Experience also indicates that we cannot always even rely on the peaceful aspirations of Christians because every Christian still is corrupt by nature. Peter used the sword by his own authority against the civil government. Jesus told him: "Put your sword back into its place" (Matt. 26:52). The question has often been left unasked: By whose sword would have the rebellious Peter perished? By the sword of the government, of course. Thus Jesus placed His Apostle as a human being and member of society under the authority of the civil government, even under the sword of the government! (Compare this to the Catholic Church's demand for power). Jesus did not take away the sword from the civil government, but rather
In our day the Christian Church is viewed as a sector of society and even as a group for pressuring society. This can be explained by the fact that the methods of operation used by the unbelieving world are being brought into the churches. The Apostles knew how to separate the spiritual from the earthly. The Apostolic Church was not a pressure group or a sector of society. This is apparent, for instance, from the Apostles' attitude toward slavery. Paul writes: "Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that" (1 Cor.7:21). According to the Bible the task of the Christian Church is not correcting the faults of society. The Church merely exhorts its members to act properly and expects this of them.
The above-mentioned exhortation of Paul to slaves provides much room for thought because the lines of demarcation between the spiritual and earthly spheres are jumbled in the minds of people today. The members of the early Church obeyed the civil authorities. Without pressuring the masters of slaves or urging the slaves to rebel against their masters, the Christian Church, as is generally known, was in time instrumental in abolishing slavery, even though the abolition of slavery was not a part of its program. One wonders just how great a blessing would ensue, if in Christendom today the spiritual and earthly matters were kept separate from each other.