Try to picture before your mind a monstrous beast that has the tawny, muscular body of a leopard, able with one tremendous leap to cast itself upon its prey, that has the powerful paws of a bear, which with one blow can tear a man in pieces, and that has a head from whose mouth issues forth a terrifying roar that paralyzes its victim.
In his vision on the isle of Patmos John saw the antichrist as such a beast. Through the ages as sin has developed the antichrist has been coming in the way of Cain. Through the ages also the weaker elements have been discarded and serious and persistent, uninterrupted effort has been put forth to strengthen and fortify that antichristian power. When he comes then in his final form in the last days, he will be a most terrifying force. No wonder John sees him as the combination of the most powerful aspects of those three tremendously powerful beasts, the leopard, the lion and the bear. And lest we overlook another most terrifying aspect, it is the dragon that gives him his power and authority. The dragon has always stood for tremendous brute force and deadly power. What other beasts would you mention that are more of a terror to unarmed man than these? What a tremendous power is being arranged to assault the Church of God!
One would expect that to prepare for warfare against this dreadful force, the Church would also seek to strengthen herself, discard the weaker elements and combine, supplement and consolidate. The Church since the day of Cain has been aware of an enemy that will stop at nothing short of death., The Church has been warned by God, from the day it was rescued from the first assault of this dragon in Paradise, that there would be through the ages unrelenting enmity between the seed of this dragon and the seed of the Church. The Church has known from before Cain’s murder that there is an enemy that is seeking to destroy it from off the face of this earth. One would therefore expect this Church to be on her guard, strengthen herself, cast out those that favor the enemy and that preach capitulation.
Not so, however, sad to say.
You do not find that today in the church world even though we are rapidly approaching that day when the anti-Christian forces will have attained to their goal of producing this leopard-bear-lion dragon-inspired monster to wipe the Church off the face of this earth. O, we see consolidation today. We see groups combining. We see more unity over the face of the earth in the church world. Ecumenicity is the word of the day! And if you are not in favor of it, you are accused of breaking down the church and of belonging to the camp of the dragon.
Indeed, we are of the opinion that the Church of Jesus Christ is one and that this Church is called to present a united front against the antichristian forces. We are ready to join and desire to see all schism healed. We are in favor of consolidation and union. But it must be one to the good and not to the harm of that Church. It must be a union on the basis of the truth or it is a weakening of that church rather than a strengthening.
What do we see today? The way of Cain. Through the years long past the churches had fought the enemy. They carefully defined the truth, drew up confessions to preserve it for the coming generations, condemned in no uncertain terms the heresies and philosophies of men. In no uncertain terms they condemned the way of Cain. We must listen to Scripture, they declared, and not fashion our own ways of worship and our own doctrines. Masterful pieces of doctrinal purity were adopted such as the Heidelberg Catechism, the Netherlands Confession and the Canons of Dordrecht. And today? Churches who still maintain that these are their doctrinal basis have discarded them from their hymn books. The youth of the congregation as well as the adult cannot lay his hands upon them. A copy is not available. The strength of the church is removed from the constituency of the church, and there is no way of checking the preaching and writing with the professed standards of the church.
Or else if they are still printed in the book of praises of the church they are seldom referred to and are the cleanest and least torn pages in the book. Silence is maintained in regard to some of these doctrines on the ground that they are mysteries and even perhaps contradictions. The strong points of the truth are watered down. Although there still is some speech about the “Five Points of Calvinism” the points have become so dulled that the unbeliever can sit upon them and feel quite comfortable. Total depravity is not total but leaves room for man to choose the good and raise himself from his spiritual death—which is not death because man is not totally depraved. Unconditional election becomes an election in time when man fulfills the condition of asking for salvation. Limited atonement becomes a well meant offer of salvation on God’s part to all who hear. There is no limit. Everyone who hears has a chance; and that no man can come unto Christ except the Father draw Him is one of those contradictions and mysteries about which we must not talk. Limited atonement becomes atonement which man limits by his refusal and not God in His sovereign and eternal decree; Irresistible grace therefore also becomes an intense desire of God; but because it is grace is resisted to the everlasting disappointment of God. You and I must not disappoint Him! The sky is the limit (there is no limited atonement). God waits in eager anticipation ready to save all and breathless as to what the outcome will be. By all means let us not disappoint HIM!! (You may be sure that we will. And you may be sure that many mere creatures of flesh who deny irresistible grace and limited atonement ARE going to be disappointed.) And we need say nothing about the perseverance of the saint except that we warn him that because there is no unconditional election, no limited atonement and irresistible grace, it depends upon him whether he will stand and continue as an elect or presently find himself totally depraved after all.
These five points of Calvinism have always been the strength of the Reformed churches. These always have been the evidence that the churches of Reformed persuasion were not walking in the way of Cain but very definitely with Abel listening to what God says of Himself in His Word. These are the sharp points which have always made it so uncomfortable for the Cains and their descendants to live in the sphere of the Church. Try that once! Let the Church publish the strength of its pure doctrine and see whether there is any group that wishes to join.
All the ecumenical movements of today arrive at unity by burying their confessions and ignoring fundamentals. A common ground on which to stand can always be found. We can all go back to the so-called Apostles’ Creed. Hardly a group that calls itself Christian will reject that creed. There is not a word in it that the Roman Catholic Church cannot receive as a point of its confession. The modernist who denies the personality of the Holy Spirit, the divinity of Christ, the atonement of the cross and the virgin birth of Christ will in his own way subscribe to these twelve articles. Here is then a common ground on which all the congregations, denominations, sects and groups of “Christians” can stand. But what have we done? We have walked the way of Cain. Remember that he did not deny God. He was a religious man and brought his sacrifice.
Let no man deceive you into thinking that you can have no creed but Christ. There is no such thing as undenominational. Take your infant child to such a church that claims to be undenominational and has no creed but Christ. Request infant baptism for this child, and you will find that there is a very definite creed and that such a church says very definitely what it believes about this Christ Who is claimed to be its whole creed. Such a church will refuse to dull the points of its doctrine for your sake. And shall we then file away the sharp and distinct points of the five points of Calvinism to accommodate those who will not meet on our ground? Try once to see how many groups will unite with you on the common ground of sovereign and eternal election which denies that new names are written down in glory in time. O, you can walk the way of Cain. You can disregard these and shelve them for the sake of unity. But it is not then the unity of strength and is not a step of consolidation in order to fight the antichristian forces but is rather a step in the direction of joining the antichristian forces.
The lion will continue, to roar as inspired by the dragon, and with his tawny, muscular body will leap upon you to crush you in his mighty paw. A drop of ink in the glass of water does not improve the ink. It spoils the water. A drop of poison in a glass of water may dilute that poison but it surely does not improve the water. Letting the distinctive part of doctrine go in order to meet those who hate these distinctive parts is not in the service of the Church but in favor of those who hate the truth.
The next step and even the accompanying step is that of receiving with open arms those who oppose the truth and walk in open sins. Today the kingdom of heaven is presented as a realm that has a wide open door. The way is broad and the gate is wide. The doors stand wide open for Cain and his relatives. Why Jesus ever spoke of keys to that kingdom, why He spoke of loosing and of binding remains a puzzle to many today. Yea, worse than that, many a church today dares to contradict Him and denies that there is any key power. To them the God Who drove Adam and Eve out of Paradise has mellowed considerably by the time Cain slew Abel and therefore sought to bring him back into the kingdom in love. And today we must emulate that love and try to get everyone in for His sake. With Cain they say, God ought to love us for this new form of religion and worship.
But Jesus gave thanks to His Father for hiding the things of His kingdom from the wise and prudent. Jesus gave to His Church the keys of the kingdom. He spoke through the Apostle Paul and said that a man ought to examine himself carefully before he ate of the table of the Lord. Are we not correct when we say that where there is no key power, where there is no Christian discipline, where in the preaching salvation is presented as a free-for-all commodity, there you have no church anymore? And in the measure that a congregation or denomination throws away the keys, in that measure it ceases to be the Church of Christ! One cannot live like Cain and still be considered the Church of Christ.
Let the Church strengthen herself in these evil days of apostasy. Let her keep sharp the points of the truth in order that she may with this sword of the Spirit drive out those that would deceive and mislead the Church of Jesus Christ. As the sons of Cain strengthen themselves and build their defenses, let us unite on the basis of the truth. Let us seek to convince others of the truth and not of our willingness to rid ourselves of the truth. Let us stand with our loins girt about with the truth.
Then we will walk in His fear. And then we will know that we love God. It is quite impossible to love God and defend His enemies. It is quite impossible to condone the violation of His holy law and still love God. For the essence of that law is love to God. If we allow into our churches and wink at evil practices, corrupt organizations and membership therein, delight in the fellowship of those who insult our God with their heretical teachings and are willing to expose our covenant seed to the influence of such, we must not say that we love God. John says that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us. I John 2:15.
The strong point of the Church is the truth once delivered to the saints. Hold on to it. Let no rust dull those points of truth. Let no Cains bend them with their sledgehammers. Stand as Abel did worshipping God as He dictates in His Word. The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom and is the way of life. Cain’s way is the way of death.