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THE BEAST OF THE EARTH, PART 1

 

 

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Revelation 13:11Ė14

 

The great red dragonís first attempt at building a church ultimately failed. The beast of the sea is killed by the sword. Ephesians 6:17 informs us that the sword is ďthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ē The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and as Godís word was translated into national languages and ministers became convinced of the truth of gospel salvation, that sword of truth put to end the absolute reign of the beast of the sea over both the visible and spiritual aspects of the church.

The Catholic Church replaced Jesus with a man, the Pope, as the head of the church. The Protestant reformers cried out against Papalism and the pagan ritualism of the Roman Church. The great red dragon realized he had to move quickly to be able to hold his Christ-less influence in the name of Christian religion. He now organizes his second church, the fourth system of religion in our study. He comes up with Protestantism.

Having said that, we have to recognize that the Protestant Reformation was really the moving of God in the church world restoring the true teaching of gospel salvation. The reformers, men such a Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin in spite of their personal imperfections were men God used to break down the power of the beast of the sea over the spiritual lives of people. The Protestant Creeds developed by the churches that left Rome contained much true light on gospel salvation that had been lost to the church through the centuries of Catholic domination. But notice that the beast in verse 11 comes up out of the earth. Remember that the earth represents the unregenerate, so this foundation is not the rock upon which Christ built His church.

 

Two Horns

 

Also notice that this beast has two horns like a lamb. Some teachers refer to this beast as a lamb-like beast, but nowhere in the following verses is it ever called a lamb. This beast has two horns LIKE a lamb.

Christ is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world and the Protestant reformers gladly acknowledged that truth. They knew the church cannot take away sin, only Christ can do that. So the Reformation turned people away from the spiritual darkness of the Roman Church and pointed them to Christ as the only Savior from sin.

This beast has two horns like a lamb. The horns associated with this beast represent true salvation. In 2 Samuel 22:3 David praises God for deliverance from his enemies, ďThe God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.Ē The two horns of the beast of the earth represent the two great truths of salvation brought to light by the reformers.

 

The first horn is justification by faith.

 

Justification is an act of Godís free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.[1] There are two aspects in justification: pardon and imputed righteousness. First, pardon is possible through the atonement in Christ as He paid the spiritual debt of sin and satisfies divine justice and allows God to forgive repented sins. Second, as a penitent has no personal righteousness, through the new birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the righteousness of Christ is imparted to him.

There are eight elements involved in justification.

1.   It is an act and not a process. It is something that happens at a moment in time and is complete; it is not something that happens over a period of time.

2.   It is an act of Godís free grace; it is something God does for us that we do not deserve.

3.   It is a forensic act; it is a legal standing before God where He declares us to be righteous and no longer sinners.

4.   It is an objective act as it is based on the imputed righteousness of Christ.

5.   It is a once-and-for-all act. It does not have to be repeated and cannot be reversed.

6.   It is complete in all the lives of the justified. No one is more justified or less justified than any other believer. All saved people have the same basis for their acceptance with God, which is the righteousness of Christ.

7.   It leads to eternal life with God.

8.   It is received only by faith and not by any works.

 

The second horn is sanctification.

 

Some people have the impression that sanctification was not brought to light until the Wesleyan revival in the 18th century but that is not true. Sanctification was a key teaching in the Reformation. Sanctification is the work of Godís free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live in righteousness.[2]

There are six elements in sanctification as compared to justification.

1.  While justification is a relative change in a personís state, sanctification is a real change of the whole person.

2.  Justification comes before sanctification because imputed righteousness comes before imparted and inherent holiness.

3.  While justification is Christís righteousness imputed to the believer in sanctification the inherent righteousness of Christ is imparted.

4.  Justification is a legal act in which the sinner is declared righteous where sanctification is a moral act that changes the qualities of the spiritual heart.

5.  Justification is a complete work when experienced whereas sanctification is a progressive work of spiritual and moral growth.

6.  In justification we receive a title to heaven and in sanctification we are made fit for heaven and have the capacity for enjoying it.

 

It Speaks Like a Dragon

 

The beast of the earth has the essential teachings of salvation but it is not really the church built by Jesus. It spoke like a dragon: it is a Christ-less religion.

The beast of the sea, Roman Catholicism, replaced Jesus with the Pope as the head of the church. In removing Jesus from the leadership of the church, this church is a Christ-less religion even though they love to display Jesus hanging on the cross and they routinely eat Christ in the Mass.

How does the Reformation sound like the beast? The reformers all preached Christ and Christ did a mighty work through them.

The Protestant creeds all acknowledge Christ as the head of the church.

Early in the Reformation, there was a strong desire for the various Protestant movements to unite as one church but national prejudices defeated that attempt.

Instead, the Protestant churches established themselves as national churches, separate and apart from each other. There were councils and meetings among the various groups within Protestantism that discussed their differing views on certain doctrines and practices attempting to come to unity, but these meetings failed.

 

National Churches

 

And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. Verse 12

 

The great red dragon was successful in that through the beast of the earth he effectively divided Jesus. While sound doctrine of salvation was brought to light, the beast of the earth follows the red dragon by adopting much in the way of organization and rituals of the Roman Church. As national churches, citizens of a country were automatically considered members of the national church. They were catechized and confirmed into their churches whether or not they had actually experienced the new birth.

 

Great Fire

 

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Verses 13Ė14

 

This great fire is the proclamation of Biblical salvation under the light of the Reformation. Great signs were performed in that people could actually read the Bible and be taught the fundamental truths of salvation. Because of this multitudes were born again and enabled to live for God. These real conversions were used by the beast of the earth to deceive those who dwell on the earth. Remember that this beast comes up out of the earth, the unregenerate. Even with people actually being saved from sin, the fact that the Protestant churches were national churches effectively replicated the nature of the Catholic church in their ranks. Unregenerate people were natural members of the national churches and were made members without necessarily experiencing the new birth.

The deception of the beast of the earth is that while it had reclaimed gospel truth on salvation, it divided Jesus so that Christ was not allowed to be the head of the visible church. The deception was even worse in that in spite of the truth it taught, it confirmed unregenerate people into the church as members.

Over time the divided condition of Protestantism and its absorbing the unregenerate into its ranks lead to some deplorable and tragic events that were all done in the name of Christ.



[1] Shorter Catachism.

[2] Westminster Confession of Faith.