The Coming Apostasy

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways: (1) she was and remains built on ‘the foundation of the Apostles, the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;’ (2) with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the ‘good deposit,’ the salutary words she has heard from the apostles; (3) she continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office.

The Orthodox Church holds to the same apostolic succession but doesn’t acknowledge the Pope as the supreme (singular) pastor. The Church has not historically taught that there would be more apostles than the ones selected by Christ during His earthly ministry and, later, the apostle Paul. That is the position held by the Reformers and most evangelical churches today.

Why, then, are some Christians around the world identifying their leaders as “apostles” and “prophets”? Some are even self-appointed. Have the titles of apostle and prophet taken on a new meaning? Is the whole Church supposed to accept what these apostles and prophets say as authoritative in the same way we understand Scripture? Are they good people who just have the wrong title? Are some trying to enhance their status, or are they false apostles, prophets and teachers that Scripture warns us about? Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time” (Matthew 24:24,25). In the second century, Irenaeus wrote, “He will judge false prophets, who have not received the gift of prophecy from God. They are not possessed of the fear of God. Instead, either for the sake of vainglory, or with a view to some personal advantage (or acting in some other way under the influence of a wicked spirit), they pretend to utter prophecies, while at the same time they lie to God.”

Dr. Neil

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