VERSES TWENTY-ONE TO TWENTY-THREE
Verses 21-23:"And I gave her time that she might repent, and she is not willing to repent of her fornication. Behold, I cast her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her, into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works; and her children I will kill with death; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the inward parts and the hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your works."
This is the way the persecutors of God’s people receive their rightful judgment from the hands of God. When such judgment comes, the heavens will assent and rejoice, saying, "After these things I heard as it were a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah! The salvation and the glory and the power are of our God. For true and righteous are His judgments; for He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and He avenged the blood of His slaves at her hand. And a second time they said, Hallelujah! And her smoke goes up forever and ever" (Rev. 19:1-3). Those who do not have the true mercy would say that God’s judgment here is too severe. In addition, He is exhorting God’s children at present to "come out of her, My people, that you do not participate in her sins and that you do not receive her plagues" (18:4).
We know how the works of the Roman Catholic Church are judged. Yet often we do the same works that the Roman Catholic Church is doing! We have to remember that the Bible considers the Roman Catholic Church "THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Rev. 17:5). Although we may reject the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, we may adopt the principle of Roman Catholicism! We have to realize that within the shell of Protestantism there are many popish things. Some among them are now even trying to bring about a recovery back to Rome. Many denominations and proposals, though free of the pope, are filled with popish ideas. They consider their teachings as being infallible! Such haughtiness is indeed an echo of the voice of the woman who called herself the prophetess, though the name may not necessarily be called Jezebel!
Although many present organizations and individuals have not considered their teachings infallible like the Catholic Church does, and although they have not considered the church to be something that should assume high authority in the world, we can still detect the shadow of Roman Catholicism among them. Any group of Christians who considers that its teachings are the teaching of the church and are therefore authoritative, though such a group may not consider itself the unique catholic church on earth or the descendant of Rome, it is already sounding the voice of the woman! Although the name of that woman may not be Jezebel, and although many organizations have no conscious intention to add to God’s Word, but are instead willing to accept the leading of God’s Word, they consider what their group has or had decided and is now handed to them to be things that saints ought also to keep and honor. Such organizations may not have the name of Rome, yet in reality they are Romish. Concerning this point, almost all of Protestantism is standing on the same ground! Many even consider that without these human creeds and regulations the stability of their faith would become questionable. Of course, we know that there are many modernists who are doing their best to remove all human creeds. Those who do not believe in the Bible have such demands. So do those who do not believe in eternal judgment. Those who believe in Christianity without believing in Christ also have such demands. It is because some have opposed the creeds and the human traditions that the zealous apologists consider these creeds and traditions to be indispensable. We have no time to discuss these matters here, but we can say one thing: according to the Bible, the church should not have any teaching. Other than God’s inspired Word, no person or group can have any authoritative teaching. The real teaching is the Holy Spirit teaching from the Bible. Other than the truth, the Bible has nothing else. The false claim of Jezebel is that she has the authority to teach. If you believe in the principle of Jezebel, you cannot stop anyone from following the teaching of Jezebel. If a leader or a group has the authority apart from the Bible to teach, who can then guarantee that he can be inerrant? If he can err, then surely those who follow him can err as well. If the blind leads the blind, will not both fall into the pit?
However, some say that the present creeds can be proved to be the very teaching of the Bible by many scriptural proofs. Very well. If the Bible teaches what the creeds teach, and if the Bible is as authoritative as the creeds are, why then do we need the creeds in addition to the Bible? Some have conceded that the teachings of the Bible are specific and complete. If the teaching of the Bible is, indeed, so specific, why then is there the need to make it more specific with the creeds? If the Bible is indeed so authoritative, why then is there the need to prove its authority with the creeds? Can the authority of the creeds prove the authority of the Bible? To do this is to put the Bible to shame. It is not to honor the Bible! The Bible testifies of itself: "All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). For man to consider the creeds as authoritative is for him to annul the authority of the Bible! It causes man to take the creeds as the standard instead of taking the Bible as the standard! If unfortunately there are faults in the creeds, man must uphold these faults in the same way that he upholds all the truths, and if there are shortages in the creeds, the Bible will have no opportunity to make up these shortages. Simply put, this way annuls the high place given to the Bible and bars man’s conscience from being directly responsible to God. Hence, all God-fearing men should now rise up to oppose all ordinances used by man to replace God’s word. Jezebel may seem very wise. She thinks that she herself can teach others. As a result, she becomes dominating over others as well. Her problem lies in the fact that she is not willing to have her counterfeit teachings to be judged by the Word of God itself and to test if her teachings are indeed true or false. She knows that God’s inspiration is authoritative. That is why she counterfeits God’s inspiration. However, she forgets whether the way she thinks she is inspired is itself something that is warranted by the inspiration of God. She can entertain no questioning of her authority; one must accept it fully. The same is demanded by the Bible; it requires absolute acceptance. It is for this reason that during the past ages there have been numerous tests. The more man tested it, the more obviously the authority of the Bible manifested itself. All true things can withstand tests. Tests will only expose the false things! It is foolishness and superstition to believe in anything Romish. On the contrary, it is wise and very reasonable to believe in the Bible.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 05: The Christian (3), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)