God’s People in Babylon?

Our Concept

Among the many thought-provoking mysteries contained in the Book of Revelation, the subject of “Mystery Babylon The Great, the Mother of Harlots” has been one of the most popular and intriguing.

As a fellowship it is our firm conviction that the adulterous woman of Revelation 17 and the seven-headed beast she rides represent an amalgamation of civil government, commerce and false religion. Careful notice should be taken that our reference to false religion includes all forms of religion, including the numerous denominations of apostate Christianity. It is our belief that “Mystery Babylon” is symbolized by the woman and beast of Revelation 17.

In contradistinction to this perverted system stands God’s true church — the Body of Christ. This wonderful body of believers is also symbolically represented by a woman. (Rev. 12:1). She is clothed with the sun, stands on the moon, and has a crown of twelve stars.

It is also accepted among us that our fellowship of churches, together with a few other select groups, is this Body of Christ in the Earth today. As such, everything else is a part of Babylon.

Of course, similar to our assertion, there are also many other independent groups each claiming absolute rights to this divine approval. The question to consider is: would God send a variety of churches, all with contradictory beliefs, into one city and yet they all still represent Him? Judging from the Biblical history of the church, the answer would be a positive No!

The fact is that the Body of Christ was not mystical in its original form, but rather was comprised of an identifiable group of believers who believed alike. Their unity was not just a veneer used for public impression, but was genuine down to the core. The Corinthians were admonished to speak the same thing, have no divisions, be of the same mind, and make the same judgment. (1 Cor. 1:10). They believed alike and considered doctrine to be important. Truth should always hold priority to fellowship and must be the foundation upon which all spiritual structures are built.

Babylon, on the other hand, originates from the word ‘Babel,’ which denotes confusion and diversity. It is a system that appears to bring unity on the surface, yet ironically will itself be destroyed for its lack of genuine unity. This spirit of hypocrisy should not be taken for granted but scrupulously analyzed and avoided.

To sum it up, the concept of “Mystery Babylon” as well as the church — the Body of Christ — are both scriptural. However, similar to every other mystery of recorded scripture, proper interpretation is of extreme importance. It would be tragic if we have unknowingly become captives of the very things we condemn.

Overconfidence

In my years of studying the Bible, I was always amazed and sometimes aggravated at the overconfidence demonstrated by some of us in our interpretation of prophetic scriptures, as well as the exalted assessment we made of our spiritual standing.

In reference to this conceited attitude, someone I know sarcastically commented that it appears that almost every preacher knows when the Lord will return except Jesus Himself. (Mt. 24:36, 25:13).

Paul’s letter to the Romans dealt with Israel’s attitude of overconfidence and spiritual superiority. He highlighted the fact that they gloried in their heritage and yet, while condemning the Gentiles for transgressing God’s ordinances, they themselves were actually doing the same things.

He wrote, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will…and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness…which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth…Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” (Rom. 2:17-21).

Although the calling of God was on Israel and He had spoken to their forefathers, this in no way obstructed His judgment on the nation’s rebellion. Again the Apostle Paul warned the Gentiles in Rome not to be high-minded but fear, “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.” (Rom. 11:20-21).

One of the greatest follies among religious groups who may have had great and genuine beginnings is to dwell in the past and ignore the crisis at hand. An overconfidence resulting from what was accomplished by our founding fathers may blind our vision to the obnoxiousness of the present. This will not only provide a false sense of security and infallibility but will positively open a door to apostasy.

Our Lord’s heated dialogue with the scribes and Pharisees, as recorded in John 8, is a clear example of the arrogance and rebellion resulting from spiritual overconfidence. These self-righteous Jews relied strongly on their heritage and were proud to be the descendants of Abraham. But Jesus thought otherwise and saw their greatest teachers as “blind” and children of the Devil. (Jn. 8:33-44, Mt. 15:14).

It is good for God’s people to always hunger and thirst after righteousness. Truth is progressive and the sincere yearning for more of God will be rewarded.

Self-examination and an honest sense of reality will enable each of us to clearly recognize our need for more of God and allow us to respond to God’s word appropriately.

Misappropriation of Scripture

In addition to my list of spiritual concerns there is the question of misappropriation of scripture. I am referring to scripture being presumptuously taken out of context in order to justify one’s point of view.

In our effort to understand God’s word, let us consider the following.
First of all, the Bible is made up of sixty-six separate documents even though they are bound into one book. In spite of the overall harmony of scripture we cannot overlook the fact that each document (book) addressed specific needs in its original form. For example, it would have been chaotic if John’s letter to Smyrna was accidentally sent to Laodecia, or Corinth’s letter to Rome, or Timothy’s letter to Titus.

In our effort to understand scripture it is necessary to see scripture in its original context. Then, by God’s help, endeavour to utilize only that which may be applicable to our needs.

Secondly, attention should be given to the possibility that we need much more from God than what is recorded in the Bible. Let us consider for a moment the reality that the New Testament Church was not actually built on the written word of the New Testament. It was at least some thirty years after Pentecost that the first New Testament document emerged. Therefore, it may be safely stated that the New Testament was actually the result of the New Testament Church.

The majority of epistles were written to salvage churches that were already in existence. It is sad that we today are endeavouring to build New Testament churches on the limited information contained in a few corrective letters. To build churches capable of combating the ever-increasing forces of darkness we need a whole lot more from God.

One of the main reasons for misappropriation of recorded scripture is due to the lack of relevant admonitions for our day. As a result, many sincere men of God resort to misappropriation in order to convey their spiritual concerns to God’s people.

The Need

As it was necessary for God to raise up men of God in every age to minister to the specific spiritual needs of His people at specific times, even so it is needful to have ministers raised up for our day. These men simply cannot be the by-product of man-made religious institutions brimming with traditional dogma and methodology, but must be genuinely called servants of God with an identity to their message.

In addressing the issue of spiritual contamination among ‘last day’ preachers, our Lord Jesus pronounces judgment against those who choose to “eat and drink with the drunken…” (Mt. 24:45-57). Drunkenness in this particular scripture seems to relate to the drunkenness of Revelation 17:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7. It describes the intoxicating influences of Babylon’s teachings and practices.

For a minister to offer deliverance to God’s people from the spirit of the age, which in reality is the spirit of Babylon, he first must be liberated. On a more positive note, Jesus declared a blessing on God-called men who are faithfully presenting to His people “meat in due season” —a message that offers deliverance from the evils of their time.

The sanctification prayed for by our Lord in John 17 will never be attained if there are no set perimeters drawn between the church and the world. To be more specific, between the Body of Christ and Babylon. Of course, there will be no set boundaries if there are no God-called men to set them.

Similar to the ministry of every God-called Old Testament prophet or New Testament apostle, true ministers are needed to expose the evils of today’s society and offer God’s people a way of escape.

The question to ask at this time are: Who are God’s people and what are they to escape from?

Separating God’s People

For years we have described ourselves as ‘God’s chosen people’ and I am convinced that indeed we are.

However, when it comes to Revelation 18:4, which reads, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues…” we conveniently bestow the “my people” title on everyone else except ourselves.

Personally, I believe that there are many on the outside of the Body of Christ who will become a part of God’s work, but careful scrutiny of Revelation 18:4 seems to relate to God’s people within the church. It would be spiritually fatal if this is so and we fail to recognize it.

Babylon is not a literal building that we can just walk out of. It is a system and a spirit that functions contrary to God’s word and includes everything outside of the Body of Christ. In simple language, there seems to be little difference between the spirit of Babylon and the spirit of the world.As we study the entire volume of Holy Scripture there is a continuous demand for the sanctification of God’s people. Whether it was the literal nation of Israel and its relationship with its ungodly neighbours, or Israel as a type of the church, sanctification was an absolute requirement. God wanted His people to come out from under the influence of both literal and spiritual idolatry.

The purpose of the commandments was to initiate a process of cleansing and separation. Failing to comply resulted in God’s judgment with sicknesses and plagues. (Deut. 28:15, 27).

For the New Testament Church, the principle of separation is no different. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthian saints to, “come out from among them, and be ye separate…” (2 Cor. 6:17).

The prayer of our Lord for the sanctification of His disciples is, in reality, the ultimate purpose of the church. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it” and present it to Himself holy and without blemish. (Eph. 5:26-27).

It is my conviction that there is still much of the spirit of Babylon in our midst and this may be the reason for so many natural and spiritual sicknesses among us.

It may be more profitable for us as a fellowship to examine and cleanse ourselves, rather than pronouncing condemnation on the ungodly and apostate movements of our day.

Let us seek to “come out” from under Babylon’s influence and spare ourselves the judgments ascribed to this ungodly system.