APOSTLES OF THE PRESENT DAY
"And thou hast tried them that say they are Apostles, and
are not, and hast found them liars." (Rev 2:2)
For centuries past there has been a class of men in the world
who have been claiming to be Apostles, but who are not Apostles,
according to our text. The Bible shows us unmistakably that
God never purposed more than twelve Apostles of the Lamb. Let
us refresh our memories on this point: Our Lord Jesus said to
the Twelve, "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have
followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit
in the Throne of His glory, shall also sit upon twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:28.)
There were to be only twelve Apostolic thrones, no more. Again,
in Revelation 12:1, the Church is shown as a woman clothed with
the sun (the Gospel), having the moon (the Jewish Law) under
her feet, and having on her head a crown of TWELVE STARS (her
Divinely appointed, inspired teachers).
We see that there were only twelve of these stars authorized
by God, St. Paul taking the place of Judas.
We remind you of another picture of this matter, given by our
Lord Jesus to John the Revelator. In Revelation 21:1-5,9-27,
the glorified Church is pictured as coming down from Heaven
to begin her great work of blessing the world. Now note particularly
that this glorified Church is shown as having twelve foundations,
and in them the names of the TWELVE APOSTLES of the Lamb.
So we see that it is through some very serious blunder that
our Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Church of England friends
have Bishops claiming to be Apostles. Such claims are unscriptural.
GOD’S WORD MUST BE SPOKEN FAITHFULLY
Jesus says that those who make claims of being Apostles when
they are not, are lying. We are not to follow what the customs
of the past centuries have taught us, but what the Lord Jesus
Himself says. He is the authority.
We have a measure of sympathy for these gentlemen who have dropped
into certain positions and have been taught for centuries that
they were Apostles, like the original Twelve appointed by our
Lord, having the same inspiration and speaking with the same
We have sympathy for them in that they are sadly deluded, but
we should remember what Jesus said and take the right viewpoint.
"Thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and
are not, and hast found them liars." We are not speaking
uncharitably; for we are to speak the Lord’s Word. "He
that hath a dream [an imagination], let him tell a dream; but
he that hath MY WORD, let him speak My Word FAITHFULLY."
(Jeremiah 23:28.) If we hold back for fear of man, we shall
share in the sin of adding to the Scriptures.
The great claims once made have been discarded, or at least
this class do not attempt to speak with the authority of former
days; for people are becoming more enlightened and their claims
would appear absurd. Yet they still claim that they are the
only ones who have the right to authorize any to preach, that
if they do not ordain a man, he has no right to speak in the
name of the Lord at all. They claim this right because they
are "Apostolic Bishops." They are, however, not pressing
even this claim with the former vigor.
They hesitate to say, "We are the Church; we are the Apostles;
and you have no right to preach unless we ordain you."
Hence they are in a somewhat vacillating condition today.
HOW PEOPLE BECAME DEPENDENT ON CLERGY
These claims of Apostolic Succession in the past got the Church
into trouble and confusion from which we have not yet recovered.
The great mass of Christian people are still bewildered. Beginning
some time before the year 325 A.D., this doctrine of Apostolic
Succession had been growing. The bishops were beginning to "lord
it over God’s heritage." This lording came in very
gradually, as such things generally do, and was associated later
with the declaration that the people were the "laity,"
and that the Church was the "clergy." All had the
general thought that the Bishops were Apostles and had their
authority from the Lord.
We are to remember that until a few centuries ago copies of
the Bible were so scarce that a Bible was really worth a fortune,
because Bibles had to be printed out by pen, by scholars, of
whom there were very few. They had to be printed upon fine vellum
parchment, as printing presses and paper were not then invented.
Hence there were very few who had Bibles or who could read at
that time. Under such conditions the people were dependent upon
the Church Bishops. When these began to claim that they were
Apostolic Bishops, they gave the people to understand that they
alone had received authority from God to read and interpret
Jesus said to the Twelve Apostles that whatsoever they should
bind on earth should be bound in Heaven, and that whatsoever
they should lose on earth should be so considered in Heaven.
Their writings were especially supervised by the Lord and their
doctrinal utterances inspired. (2 Corinthias 12:7; Galatians
1:11,12.) St. Paul assures us that "the Word of God is
sufficient, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished
unto every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16,17.) Hence we need
no further doctrinal utterances, no more Apostles than the original
Twelve—the Apostle Paul by the Lord’s choice taking
Judas’ place. Since the advent of printing and since the
close of the 1,260 symbolic days—1,260 years—of
Papal persecution, Bibles have been printed and scattered far
and wide by Bible societies, and education has become general.
Today Bibles are everywhere and very cheap, so that all can
ORIGIN OF THE NICENE CREED
Let us go back to the year 325 A.D. By that time the bishops
in the Church were claiming Apostolic authority.
They claimed to be the living Apostles, whose teachings were
the voice of God. But those "Apostles" did not agree
among themselves, as did the early Apostles, the real Apostles;
for when we read the writings of the Apostles appointed by our
Lord we find that they all agree. But in the year 325 A.D. a
positive stand was taken as to belief. The Council of Nicea
was called by Emperor Constantine. He was apparently a worldly-wise
man, and thought be could make a good stroke of policy by joining
in with the Christians, who were coming to the front all over
The Emperor was not baptized until the day of his death. He
merely professed Christianity for policy’s sake. While
we cannot judge his heart, still the policy idea was there surely,
as evidenced all through the matter.
In the year 325, he sent out a call throughout the Empire to
the Bishops of the churches to come to the city of Nicea for
a general convention, offering to pay all expenses. About 384
Bishops came together—far from the entire number. This
conference was the first of what was called an Ecumenical Church
Council, aside from one held at Jerusalem by the Apostles of
Jesus themselves. This was claimed to be another meeting of
Apostles. The Emperor, noting that there was disagreement as
to doctrine, and supposing that the Bishops were fully authorized,
as they claimed, made the proposition to them that they agree
among themselves as to what were the correct, orthodox doctrines,
and that thereafter whatever was taught by any that was different
from these doctrines should be heterodox—heresy. He proposed
to join the Church, with the understanding that they were to
mutually support each other. Then the pagan peoples would flock
into the Church by hordes. The Emperor would back up their doctrines
and punish all heretics.
Thus the Nicene Creed, the first of the great creeds, was formulated—by
these self-appointed Apostolic Bishops.
So between the Bishops and the Emperor a heavy hand was laid
upon the people, who were uneducated; the Church leaders had
them largely at their mercy. That was the end of Bible study;
there was no more use for the Bible. They were to follow the
Nicene Creed. They had Apostles inspired by God right with them,
who could teach them all they needed to know.
BIBLE RESTORED AFTER TWELVE HUNDRED YEARS
From that time on for twelve hundred years the Bible was an
unknown Book to the masses. In the year 1526, Professor Tyndale,
a scholarly Christian man, not satisfied with the teachings
of the Church Bishops, translated the Greek New Testament into
English, that the people might know what were the teachings
of Jesus and His Apostles. He was compelled to go to Germany
to get his translation printed (printing presses then being
in use), because of the adverse influence of the English Bishops.
The Testaments were then imported to London.
The people were anxious to get them. It was proposed that Bible
classes be started and educated men employed to read to the
What did the Bishops then do? They heard about the movement,
and they bought up the entire edition and burned the books in
front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The spot is marked to this
day. And these were Protestant Bishops of the Church of England!
They were worldly-wise men and knew what would be the effect
if the people learned of the real teachings of the Bible. Their
own power and influence would soon be gone. The people would
soon be asking uncomfortable questions. Tyndale later suffered
For forty years the people complained, wondering why the Bible
had been taken from them. Finally the Bishops concluded that
policy demanded that they let them have the Bible. So they got
out a special edition, which they called "The Bishops’
Bible." This they gave to the people, warning them of the
danger of giving it any other interpretation than that given
by the Bishops, assuring them that eternal torment awaited them
The Catholic Bishops were then practically forced to do likewise,
and they issued the Douay Version for Catholics, giving their
people the same warnings. Thus the influence of the Bible was
But the Bible could not be fully put down. Later, the entire
Scriptures were translated into the various tongues of the people.
After the beginning of the Nineteenth Century education began
to be much more general, and Bible Societies sprang up. People
began to read for themselves as never before. Since then superstition
has been gradually breaking down, and people dare to think.
Some are still fettered by superstition, but the number is lessening.
These creeds are so absurd that no intelligent minister, we
believe, would think of defending the creed of his own denomination.
BIBLE FORETOLD THE GREAT FALLING AWAY
It is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that all of
their own people are to go to Purgatory at death.
No Catholic expects to go to Heaven. They must first have certain
experiences in Purgatorial tortures to fit them for Heaven.
To be a heretic, from the Catholic standpoint, is to commit
the worst of crimes. Heretics are bound, not for Purgatory,
but for eternal torment.
So a devout Catholic has great fears of being a heretic. Thus
we find but comparatively few Catholics even today who dare
to read the Bible.
How much trouble all this nonsense has caused! The Bible foretold
it all. The Apostle Paul declared that "many would depart
from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines
of devils." (1 Timothy 4:1-3; Acts 20:29, 30.) It is upon
these seducing spirits that we lay the blame—Satan and
his fallen angels. We are not claiming that our Catholic and
Episcopalian friends have intended to perpetrate a fraud, nor
any of the others.
But with the Apostle Paul we claim that they were deceived by
the great Adversary. We are beginning to see that a God of Love
would never have such a Plan for His creatures as is taught
by the creeds. We are living in a day when more light than ever
before is due upon God’s Word. We are living at the dawning
of the glorious New Dispensation. We are nearing the time when,
according to the Bible, "all the blind eyes shall be opened
and the deaf ears unstopped." Thank God!
ARMAGEDDON NEAR—GOD’S KINGDOM TO FOLLOW
How thankful we are that while the awful trouble of our day
must come, because of man’s sin and selfishness, yet the
Word of God points out that upon the ruins of the present order
shall come the Kingdom of God’s dear Son! Man’s
extremity will be God’s opportunity. The voice of Messiah
shall be heard. He will command, "Peace, be still!"
and the raging billows of human passion will be calmed, and
all tumult will cease. He will bring order out of chaos. When
men have reached the point of despair, deliverance will come;
for then they will begin to cry to the Lord. And He will be
entreated of them and will help them. God’s Kingdom will
assume full control of the affairs of the world, and will prove
to be "the desire of all nations."