Who will the next pope be? The present pope may not live very much longer. Will his successor be the last pope - the one who will be ruling over the great pagan church when Jesus Christ returns? If so, will he realize that the Bible calls him "the Antichrist"? Satan will deceive him into believing that he, himself, is the Savior. We, in God's Church, are warned that a man, who sincerely thinks he is the answer to the world's ills, will actually declare himself to be God, and make war against Jesus Christ at His return.
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God... And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." (2Thessalonians 2:4,8)
The Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches that its own ecclesiastical authority is sovereign over all earthly governments, and even the Bible itself! That is how they justify their doctrines of the primacy of the Church of Rome, the infallibility of the pope, the immaculate conception of the "ever virgin" Mary, the mediation of Mary between God and man, and their change to Sunday worship.
As the present ailing pope's health continues to decline, speculation about who the next pope will be has become rampant. Pope John Paul II has been in office since 1978 and has influenced the Catholic Church to avoid yielding to liberal trends and values. Many Church leaders have argued in favor of relaxing strict Catholic teachings and encouraging a more democratic form of Church leadership, but John Paul II has successfully opposed them. A future pope will be Satan inspired and Satan empowered:
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2Thessalonians 2:9-12)
Look at where the trends are headed: In a recent poll, most European Catholics said they prefer to choose their own values and beliefs especially when it comes to the issues of contraception and homosexuality. Reflecting this, the new European Constitution contains no references to the Christian religion in its principles. This trend is diametrically opposed to that direction in which the pope is driving the Catholic Church.
Brethren, watch the inevitable clash between this trend of moral relativism, with no absolute values, and the papacy's traditional conservative agenda. The pope has taken a much different position in contrast to the European Constitution . In his opinion, countries should impose moral values on their citizenry, and that a Catholic's duty in public life is to bring civil law into conformity with Catholic values.
For example, the pope has stated his extreme disappointment over the direction that Poland took after it became free of Communist rule. Totally contrary to the Vatican's stance, the Polish Parliament ratified an abortion bill in 1990 and adopted American-style secular government. The pope blames capitalism, democracy and secularism for worldwide trends toward materialism.
To continue his crusade of making the Catholic Church ever more conservative even after his death, the pope has done his best to ensure that the next pope will share his conservative views. He has appointed all but five of the 134 voting cardinals who will select the next pope. And he has "stacked the deck" by appointing cardinals who share his conservative views.
The True Church of God has always speculated that the false prophet or the man of sin may be a pope. And if so, will he be the next pope? It will be interesting to see who emerges as the new head of the Catholic Church. Will he be conservative and attempt to pull Europe and the world toward the Catholic brand of morality? Will he have charisma? Will he be more successful than John Paul II in getting Europe to enforce laws regulating Sunday-keeping? Will the next pope become an extremely politically powerful ruler?
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Revelation 13:4)
Are we about to see, in the immediate future, a great turnover of power and rule? How will it come about? Will we see the rise of Rome to world dominance? "The woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17:18)
How will the true Church of God be impacted by the pope and the end-time Catholic Church? The answer is that God's people who are not in the place of safety will be tortured and killed.
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns." (Revelation 17:5-7)
We all want the end-time picture to become clearer. Maybe we will get a glimpse of the future when the next pope is elevated to office. God will cause events to happen in just the right way to conform to His timeframe and His end-time prophecies. May God protect His people and speed the time of Christ's return!
Sermon: "Practice Mercy"