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Harlot of Babylon According to Irvin Baxter; Trinity and Oneness, Part 12
by Karl Kemp
2/17/2016 / Bible Studies
We are in the middle of a verse-by-verse study of Revelation Chapters 4 and 5, but here we are discussing Revelation 1:4-8, which is an important cross-reference that we started to discuss at the end of Part 11.
There is widespread agreement that these words "Him who is and who was and who is to come" build on and are related to the name Yahweh, which is the name God chose for Himself in the Old Testament. It refers first and foremost to God the Father in the Old Testament (just like the word "God" is used first and foremost of God the Father in the New Testament), but it is very significant that the name Yahweh is used for God the Son on occasion in the Old Testament and the word "God" is used for God the Son in the New Testament. This in itself proves the deity of the Lord Jesus: It would be blasphemous to use these words for the Lord Jesus if He were not deity with the Father (and the Spirit). He is! (See the first two pages of my paper "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" on the name Yahweh. Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.)]], and from the seven spirits who are before the throne [which is a symbolic way to refer to the Holy Spirit (see Rev. 3:1; 4:5; 5:6; and Zech. 4:10], (5) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of [or, from] the dead [[It is clear, I believe, that the Trinity is spoken of here in verses 4-7: the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus Christ, the Son. The Lord Jesus was the first man (He was much more than just a man; He was the Son of God who became the God-man) to leave death behind and be born into the fullness of eternal life and glory. All true Christians will be born into the fullness of eternal life and glorified when He returns, and we will begin to reign with Him, but we will not become deity and we will not be worshipped.]], and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood [[We were released from our sins with the guilt and penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin) through the all-important atoning death of the Lamb of God. This is a whole lot more than being released from the guilt of our sins (being forgiven). The KJV has "washed" instead of "released." The evidence for the Greek reading used by the NASB is very strong.]] - (6) and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father - to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (7) BEHOLD HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. (8) 'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.' " The Alpha and the Omega refers to God the Father in 1:8 and 21:6, but it refers to God the Son in 22:13. This is one of several places in the book of Revelation where the full deity of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, is emphasized. We need to emphasize the full deity of the Lord Jesus, but we also need to understand that He has a subordinate role to God the Father in the Trinity.
Now we come to REVELATION CHAPTER 5. I'll quote REVELATION 5:1. "I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne [God the Father] a book [or, scroll] written inside and on the back [The NIV has, "with writing on both sides."], sealed up with seven seals." Apparently the seven seals were along the edge of the scroll in a way that prevented its being opened before all seven seals had been broken. As we continue we will see the sacrificed but now resurrected and ascended Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, come and take the scroll from God the Father. We see the two Persons of God the Father and God the Son here (and we see the Holy Spirit in this chapter too). The seven seals are broken by the Lord Jesus Christ one by one (see Rev. 6:1-12; 8:1). Apparently this same scroll, or part of this same scroll, is seen again at Rev. 10:2; there the scroll had been opened. Ezekiel 2:8-3:4, with its scroll "written on the front and on the back," is an important cross-reference.
REVELATION 5:2-4. "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book [scroll] and to break its seals?' (3) And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book [scroll] or to look into it. (4) Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book [scroll] or to look into it;" Apparently John was weeping greatly because he knew something of the awesome significance of this scroll, and the need to open it. For one thing, to be worthy to take this scroll, to break its seals, and to open it requires someone Worthy (and Able) to bring to pass the things written in the scroll. The Lord Jesus Christ was the only One found worthy. We can probably say that the scroll contains the contents of the book of Revelation, starting at Rev. 6:1; but as I mentioned, there isn't much in the way of new revelation until the seventh and last seal is broken at Rev. 8:1.
REVELATION 5:5. "and one of the elders [one of the twenty-four elders] said to me, 'Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book [scroll] and its seven seals.' " Using figurative language, Jesus is a 'Lion' in His authority and power. And Jesus was of the "tribe of Judah," so far as His physical descent was concerned. Jesus was "the Root of David" in that He was a descendant of King David. (See the BAGD Greek Lexicon on the word translated "root" here.) Although the Lord Jesus Christ was a descendant of King David in one sense, David calls Him Lord, and rightly so.
Regarding Jesus' overcoming, I'll read REVELATION 3:21, where Jesus said "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." God the Father was on the throne. Then the Lord Jesus sat down with Him on the throne after His atoning death, resurrection, and ascension. The Lord Jesus overcame by perfectly completing His assignment(s). Through His atoning death He earned the right to save us, and He defeated Satan and all who continue to follow him. The total overthrow of Satan and his kingdom has not been manifested yet, but the process has been set in motion and it will be manifested step by step, culminating with his being thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10, 14, 15).
REVELATION 5:6. I'll read the first part of the verse, "And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain." As the margin of the New American Standard Bible shows, a more literal translation of the Greek would be "And I saw in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain." The Lamb of God was on the throne, inside of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. The Lamb of God, with God the Father, was the center of attention.
The Lord Jesus Christ is frequently called a/the Lamb because of His all-important atoning death. I'll read JOHN 1:29, for an example, "The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' " Revelation 5:9, 12 (along with many other verses) confirm that the Lord Jesus Christ had actually been slain. He had been slain, bearing our sins with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin), but now He was alive again, being the "first-born from the dead" (see Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). He was the first man (though He was a whole lot more than just a man; He was the God-man) to leave death behind and be born into the fullness of the eternal life of God's new creation. He had overcome, and now He had earned the right to take the scroll from the right hand of God the Father, to break the seven seals and open the scroll, and to bring to pass the things written in the scroll.
Now I'll read all of REVELATION 5:6, and we'll further discuss this verse. "And I saw in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." Sometimes "horns" (the horns of animals) serve as a symbol for reigning, power, and dominion (see, for example, 1 Sam. 2:10; Psalm 89:17, 24; Dan. 7:7, 8, 20, 24; Rev. 17:12). The number "seven" is used here (and often in the book of Revelation) as a symbolic number for perfection. For the resurrected Lamb to have "seven horns" is a symbolic way of saying that he has all authority, power, and dominion. After His resurrection Jesus said "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18; and I listed some other verses); but in the plan of God, this authority, power, and dominion won't be manifested in a full sense until the end of this age, when Jesus returns to save His people and judge the world. His unlimited authority, power, and dominion, which is symbolized by the seven horns, will be manifested as He brings to pass all the things prophesied in the book of Revelation.
What Is the Time Setting for the Scene Pictured in Revelation Chapters 4 and 5? The revelation that God the Father gave to the Lord Jesus Christ to show to His bond-servants (see Rev. 1:1; we see two Persons here and the often-mentioned preeminent role of God the Father) wasn't given to the apostle John until about AD 95, but the scene pictured here in chapter 5 fits best at a time shortly after the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we'll discuss the last words of this verse, "and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." For the Son of God, who is deity with God the Father (and God the Holy Spirit), to have seven eyes is a symbolic way of saying that He sees (accurately sees and fully sees) everything everywhere. And we are informed that He does this by "the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth," which is a symbolic way to say that He does this by the Holy Spirit (see Rev. 1:4).
REVELATION 5:7. "And He came and took the book [scroll] out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne." As we have discussed, the Lord Jesus Christ came and took the scroll out of the right hand of God the Father, who clearly has the preeminent role in the Trinity here, as His preeminent role is so often mentioned throughout the Bible. (On God the Father and God the Son, see "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son"; "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?"; and "More on the Trinity" on my internet site [karlkempteachingministries.com].)
REVELATION 5:8. "When He had taken the book [scroll], the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." It would be quite improper for anyone to fall down before the Lamb to worship if the Lamb were not deity with God the Father! He is deity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit! He has always existed with God the Father and the Holy Spirit! Most agree that it was only "the twenty-four elders" ("the four living creatures" were not included) who were holding the harps and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. The fact that our prayers are being kept in golden bowls and are presented before God the Father as incense is interesting and important information. Our prayers that haven't been answered yet, that have been prayed in the will of God and in faith, don't just vanish - they will be answered! Especially relevant in this context are prayers like "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). For God's will to be done, including His will being done in our lives, is all that really matters.
We must understand that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and our great high priest who intercedes for us (see Rom. 8:34, for example), is the One who makes our prayers acceptable before the Father, not the twenty-four elders. Also, we pray in His name. It's true, however, that God the Father (with the Son and the Spirit) does give significant authority and responsibility to others, both angelic beings and men. We're not talking about angelic beings or men competing with God or trying to take some of the glory due to Him. We're talking about the fact that God the Father (with the Son and the Spirit) chooses to give important assignments to those under Him, to angelic beings and to men, which they carry out by His grace and for His glory. He didn't create us to be unimportant and to do unimportant things. When we are doing what He wants us to do, IT IS important. On the relationship between prayer and incense, see Rev. 8:3, 4, and I listed some other verses.
REVELATION 5:9. "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book [scroll] and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." The fact that we have been purchased for God by the blood of the Lamb is a dominant theme of the New Testament. Every person who has a place in God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem will have that place through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death (see Rev. 21:27, for example).
REVELATION 5:10. "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." I'll also read the first part of Rev. 1:6, "And He [the Lord Jesus] has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father." These last words "priests to His [the Lord Jesus'] God and Father rather powerfully demonstrate the subordinate role of the Son of God in the Trinity. The wording here ("His God and Father") clearly was influenced by the fact that the Son of God became a man (the God man) and is united with men, but as we have discussed, and as we will further discuss in my next paper, His subordinate role (I didn't say He is inferior) is eternal. (I should point out that the Lord Jesus had been resurrected, ascended, and glorified long before the book of Revelation was written.) As we have also discussed, it is totally necessary to emphasize the full deity of the Son of God.
In a preliminary sense we Christians are in the kingdom now (see, for example, Luke 17:21; Rom. 14:17), and in one sense we are priests now (see Exod. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Many verses, however, show that the kingdom will not be here in its full sense until the King returns (when the Lord Jesus is sent by the Father) to establish His kingdom. As we have discussed, many verses show that we will begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns and we are glorified. Revelation 20:6, which speaks of the millennial kingdom, says we will be "priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." Revelation 22:5 shows that our reign will continue in the eternal state that follows the millennial kingdom. I assume our priesthood will also continue in the eternal state (see Rev. 22:3-5), but every person or being dwelling in God's eternal kingdom (which excludes those in the lake of fire) will be perfectly submitted to God in a love relationship.
I'll comment briefly on the translations of the King James Version and the New King James Version here in verse 10. They have "us" instead of "them" and "we shall reign" instead of "they will reign." Also, in verse 9 they have "redeemed us" instead of "purchased men." With the translation of the KJV and NKJV, the twenty-four elders would be singing this song about themselves. Those who accept that translation typically believe that the twenty-four elders are human representatives of the church; they don't believe that they are high level angelic beings. I'm confident that the translation of the NASB is correct here. Every other translation I have looked at is in agreement with the NASB here, including the NIV, the Amplified Bible, the New English Bible, the New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips, the New Living Translation, the Contemporary English Version, the RSV, the NRSV, the New American Bible, and the Jerusalem Bible. Also, the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (fourth revised edition) has the Greek text followed by the NASB, and they indicate that, from their point of view, that Greek text "is certain." There is widespread agreement that there are several places in the King James and New King James Versions of the book of Revelation where errors in the Greek texts behind those translations led to errors in the translations.
REVELATION 5:11. "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands," The NKJV has, "the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." The word "myriads" comes from the Greek "murias, muriados," which was sometimes used of a literal ten thousand, but also was used of a very large number, not limited to a literal ten thousand.
REVELATION 5:12. "saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches [or, wealth] and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.' " The BAGD Greek Lexicon and the NIV have "praise" here and in verse 13 instead of "blessing." Note that Rev. 4:11 says that God the Father is worthy to receive "glory and honor and power." Also see Rev. 5:13; 7:12. As I commented under Rev. 4:11, things like "glory, honor, and power" already belong to God by virtue of who He is and what He has done, and that certainly includes the "wisdom" mentioned in Rev. 5:12 and 7:12. It's rather obvious that people cannot give wisdom to God. He receives these things from His worshippers in the sense that they are ascribed to Him. The "blessing (or, praise)" of Rev. 5:12, 13; 7:12 and the "thanksgiving" of Rev. 7:12 are in a different category; such things can truly be given to God by people and angels in worship.
REVELATION 5:13. "And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, 'To Him who sits on the throne [God the Father], and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.' " The praise and worship of heaven pictured in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 expands here to include the entire universe. There is some uncertainty whether the devil and his followers are included here. Some say yes, and some say no. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm sure that whichever way this question is answered, it must not be allowed to obscure the fact that the emphasis of this verse is on genuine praise and worship of God the Father and God the Son.
The wording of this verse seems to include all creatures, including the enemies of God. On the other hand, the devil isn't going to worship God in the way His angelic beings and His people worship Him, but the devil will be forced to bow his knee before the Father and the Son and to admit their glory, honor, dominion, etc. I'll read PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11, "For this reason also, God [God the Father] highly exalted Him [the Lord Jesus Christ], and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name [[excluding, of course, the name of God the Father. We see the Persons of God the Father and God the Son here in verses 9-11, as we so often do in the Bible; we are not seeing the divine nature and the human nature of Jesus, which is a oneness point of view.]], (10) so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW [my emphasis], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
REVELATION 5:14. "And the four living creatures kept saying 'Amen.' And the elders fell down and worshiped." The twenty-four elders falling down to worship the Lord Jesus Christ with the Father would be totally inappropriate if He were not deity with the Father and the Spirit - He is! The book of Revelation strongly emphasizes the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also clearly shows the distinction of Persons between God the Father and the Son of God (and the Holy Spirit).
A FEW BRIEF EXCERPTS FROM IRVIN BAXTER'S "WHAT DO YOU MEAN BORN AGAIN?" Baxter encourages his readers, viewers, listeners to request this six page article.
"The importance of this subject is shown in what Jesus said, 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God' (John 3:3)" (page 1). "Thus, in plain language an individual must repent of his sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ by immersion, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (page 3). "When an individual is baptized, he should examine himself to be sure that he is leaving the world behind once for all" (page 4). It is certainly true that when we become Christians we should (must) examine ourselves to be sure that we are leaving the world behind once for all.
Baxter has a section on pages 5 and 6 titled, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." I'll quote a small part of what he says here: "When a sinner hears the true gospel and truly believes, he will obey the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ by repentance, baptism in Jesus name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking with other tongues (see our booklet "Tongues - Devilish or Divine?"). ...." Many Christians believe that speaking with tongues is an important charismatic gift, but there aren't many who agree with Baxter and the UPCI that speaking with tongues is required for salvation. The New Testament puts quite a bit of emphasis on being baptized in water, and it wasn't optional. However, in agreement with most Christians, I don't believe the New Testament teaches that baptism IN JESUS NAME is required for baptism to be valid. (Furthermore, although I believe those who don't baptize in water, like the Salvation Army, are making a mistake, I wouldn't say that they cannot be saved.) As we have discussed in this paper, Matt. 28:19 suffices to demonstrate that Jesus taught baptism in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, and even more important is the fact that the New Testament teaches the three Persons of the Trinity, which is rejected by Baxter and the UPCI. If they didn't wrongly reject the Trinity the issue of being baptized in Jesus' name would lose its significance for them. I'm praying that large numbers of oneness Christians will see the Trinity in the Bible. I believe this is very important! Most Christians need to humble themselves before God and seek Him for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches.
At the end of this six-page paper the reader is given the e-mail address to a person on staff at Baxter's EndTime Ministries "if you need to find a good Bible-believing church." It is clear that you will be directed to a UPCI church or another church that has the same doctrine. They certainly aren't going to direct you to a church that is (from their point of view) part of the whore of Babylon.
I'LL ALSO GIVE A FEW BRIEF EXCERPTS FROM IRVIN BAXTER'S "WHY SO MANY CHURCHES AND WHICH IS RIGHT?" This seven page pamphlet was sent to me when I requested their chronological chart. On the first five pages Baxter argues that the Roman Catholic Church is Babylon, the great whore of the book of Revelation. Then in the middle of page 5 he has a heading that continues to the end of the pamphlet: "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS." These words come from Rev. 17:5. (See my paper on Revelation 14:6-19:21 on my internet site.) I'll quote part of what he says here: "Notice, first of all, that Catholicism was called a harlot. Now God is saying that she is not only a harlot but is also the 'Mother of Harlots.' A harlot is a woman who bears children having no husband.
Throughout the New Testament God's true church has been called the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:1-3 and Rev. 21:2). In order to be in the bride, we must take the name of the bridegroom. The way we can take the name of Jesus is through baptism (Gal. 3:27). Except we be baptized in the name, we cannot be in the bride.
... Until 325 A.D. this formula [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] was never used or recognized as valid. Then in 325 A.D. the Nicean Council was called by what has become the Catholic Church. At this council the mode of Baptism was changed from 'In the name of Jesus Christ' to 'Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' Also at this council the doctrine of the trinity was formulated. [I have demonstrated in this paper that Baxter's "historical" account is far from what actually happened.] This was the founding of the great whore, the 'Mother of Harlots.' [As I demonstrated earlier in this paper, and as the next paragraph verifies, Baxter teaches that the children of the harlot are the Protestants who baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I pray that his eyes will be opened to see that that very serious charge is WRONG!] She became a woman with no husband. She bore no man's name.
... Judgment is coming to Catholicism! Judgment is coming to Protestantism, her daughters. ... Remember, the point on which the entire issue turns is the formula of baptism used. ... The Bible prophesied that there would be many false 'Christian' churches - the Mother harlot and all of her daughter harlots. Their relationship is cemented by their common baptism." Baxter goes on to warn the "many honest-hearted and sincere individuals in these false churches" to come out of these churches, with the understanding that their eternal destiny is at stake; they need to join a church that Baxter's ministry can recommend. I'm confident that Baxter is seriously concerned for the eternal welfare of all the deceived Christians who have not been baptized in Jesus' name and who believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but I'm even more confident that he is wrong. The history of the Christian church demonstrates that it is rather easy to miss the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches.
May God's will be fully accomplished through this paper and His people be edified.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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