Archive | February, 2014

The Faithful Witness

28 Feb
Have you ever been perplexed by the great number of English Bible versions? Have you wondered which one you should choose as your primary study Bible?

In the span of just a few generations more than a hundred English Bible versions have become available. The King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), Today’s English Version (TEV), New English Bible (NEB), Jerusalem Bible (JB), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New International Version (NIV) are just a few of the most popular ones in use today.

Each version has strong points and weak points. No version is perfect. But this does not mean that our choice of a study Bible is not important. The Bible is God’s chosen medium of communicating with man, and we should use the best version we can find for studying the deep truths of His Word. But which version is most reliable and how can we identify it?

Many scholars evaluate Bible versions following a naturalistic method. We, however, will use a faith-oriented approach that also takes into consideration scholarly evidence. We will compare various versions to the biblical description of the inspired Word of God. The version that best fits this description will be our Bible of choice.

The Word of God is described in several places in the Scriptures. Romans 10:17 provides us with the first notable characteristic: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The inspired Word of God establishes and builds our faith. It is our firm foundation, and as we sincerely study it, our confidence in God and His Word will grow. “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is, however, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2); thus a characteristic of His Word is that it builds our faith.

A second characteristic can be found in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” From this, it is clear that the sacred Word gives a pure account of doctrine and instruction for one’s life. It is not adulterated by man’s opinions or teachings.

The last characteristic of the Word of God that we will review is found in 1 Peter 1:23: “The word of God … liveth and abideth for ever.” The Scriptures were given by inspiration of God and have been preserved for use by God’s people in every age. They have not been hidden away from mankind but have been a visible, convicting, living part of the Christian church. Not only have they abided in the hearts of men, but faithful copies of the Scriptures have been passed on from one generation to another. Time and again both Jesus and Paul affirmed the accuracy of the Scriptures by widely quoting from them. Never did they warn that the Word would be corrupted or lost. Instead Jesus declared, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Even during the Dark Ages, the Holy Scriptures were not lost. Revelation 11:3, 4 tell us that during the 1,260 years of papal supremacy, the two witnesses—the Old and New Testaments—still prophesied powerfully.

Psalm 12:6, 7 says, “The words of the Lord are pure words. … Thou shalt keep them, 0 Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” We can clearly see that the Scriptures have been divinely preserved right down to our generation.

In summary, the Bible describes the Word of God as having the following characteristics:

  1. It does not cause confusion or doubt, but builds our faith.
  2. It is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
  3. It has been divinely preserved and has had an active role within the church throughout every age.

Having set forth these characteristics from Scripture, let us compare the various Bible versions to them.

 

The Word of God Builds Faith

 

The first characteristic of the inspired Word of God is that it builds our faith. To one extent or another this is true of every Bible version. Through the aid of the Holy Spirit, points essential to salvation are brought home, and many people can relate their conversions to one Bible version or another. But there is still a broader aspect of this subject that should be examined.

What general effect has the proliferation of Bible versions had on people’s faith in the Word of God? Of course this is something that cannot be precisely measured, for there are many factors that influence society. However, we can generally observe the difference between people’s attitude toward the Bible today compared to their attitudes when there was only one accepted version.

When the KJV was the primary Bible used, ministers strongly preached from it and laity eagerly committed its words to memory. As a sacred book, it was highly respected. Faith in God and the authority of His Word were paramount.

Today, however, there is quite a different outlook. Faith in God and the Scriptures is at an all-time low. Many people have lost their respect for the Scriptures. Ministers no longer preach the Word, but instead deliver philosophical sermons on the general “message” of Scriptures. And rarely do laity commit Bible texts to memory. An epidemic of ignorance concerning the most basic Bible content is plaguing even churchgoing youth. 1

Have the modern versions contributed to this lamentable condition? Let’s consider several ways that modern versions may have encouraged such a situation.

First, there has been wide promotion in recent years of versions using “modern speech.” Although these versions are helpful to some people, they lack the dignity that fosters reverence and special regard for the Scriptures. The Bible is an ancient, divine volume, but when it is fashioned like a common book, it gets treated like one. A study of the Good News Bible (TEV) indicated that university students “first devoured it because as they said, it read just like a newspaper. But later they had little interest in going back to it—for the same reason!” 2

Second, modern versions have not lent themselves to memorization. When everyone was using the KJV, frequent repetition of the same wording was heard which helped fix it in the mind. Now, however, verses are read from versions which vary so much that they are scarcely recognized as the same passage. People just cannot seem to decide which version to memorize.

Third, when you start using a modern version, it may not be long before you notice differences between it and the more familiar KJV. In turning to Luke 4:8, you will find that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, His command “Get thee behind me, Satan” is not recorded. There is not even a footnote to mark its omission. Similarly, you may find yourself wondering whatever happened to Jesus’ call of sinners “to repentance” (Mark 2:17 and Matthew 9:13) or to the last line of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:13).

Another look at most modern versions uncovers additional perplexities. In the RSV, MV, and NEB, you will find a footnote to Luke 23:34 indicating that some ancient manuscripts omit Jesus’ saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Immediately it raises the question, “Did Jesus really say that?” It appears that scholars question it, so why shouldn’t you?

A comparison of the modern versions with the KJV reveals over two hundred cases in which a verse’s authenticity is seriously questioned either by complete omission or by footnote. The most pronounced of these are John 7:53-8:11 (John’s account of the woman caught in adultery) and Mark 16:9-20 (Mark’s account of the appearance and ascension of Jesus). Footnotes and marginal readings can be helpful, but is it possible that modern scholarship has overwhelmed the Bible student with a plethora of critical readings varying from version to version?

Later we will look at a major cause of omissions. But for now, it can be postulated that the proliferation of versions has weakened the faith people once had in the authority of the Scriptures.

Soon after the publication of the most popular 19th century Bible version, an article in the Catholic Dublin Review made this startling claim: “The ‘Bible-only’ principle is proved to be false. It is now at length too evident that Scripture is powerless without the [Catholic] Church as the witness to its inspiration, the safeguard of its integrity, and the exponent of its meaning. And it will now be clear to all men which is the true church, the real Mother to whom the Bible of right belongs.” 3

This is a sobering thought. Protestantism itself has no grounds for existence apart from a strong faith in the Word of God. If Protestants stop viewing the Bible as the sure Word of God, in a crisis, what “authority” will they look to?

To summarize our findings, we see that all versions can fit the biblical characteristic of building faith. However, a question arises regarding the effect the proliferation of modern versions has had on people’s confidence in the authority of Scripture.

 

God’s Word is Profitable for Doctrine

 

Our second characteristic of the Word of God is that it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. This important characteristic of the Word of God is conditional upon the reader allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth. The Spirit must not be hampered either by one’s own bias or by someone else’s.

Every Bible version contains bias from its translators; the degree depends on the methods used in translating. The freer the translation, the greater the possibility of bias, and the less reliable the version is for study purposes. A paraphrase, like the Living Bible, is not a good study Bible. A paraphrase is largely an interpretation of Scripture—which by definition must be influenced by the author’s personal beliefs.

Dynamic translations like the NEB, TEV, and Phillips are also not recommended as study Bibles. 4 These Bibles are translated by giving what is assumed to be the meaning of what the Bible writers wrote. Although they are very readable, you cannot be certain that you are reading any more than the translator’s own idea of the passage.

The best method of translation for a study Bible is formal translation. 5 The KJV, RSV and NASB are examples. 6 These translations try to convey the meaning of a passage, while at the same time preserving the words of the original. When there is a noun in the original, a formal translation will generally have a corresponding noun in the English, a verb will have a verb, et cetera. While this method may still leave the translation of a few passages obscure or ambiguous, the reader at least has before him a more literal translation of the words of the original. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, he will be able to discern the meaning for himself. The KJV and NASB give us further help by italicizing any words which the translators felt necessary to insert into a passage to make the meaning clear.

Versions translated formally are far less likely to have been influenced by the personal doctrinal bias of the translators and they more closely fit our second characteristic of the inspired Word.

When using various translations to teach doctrine, you will find that some doctrines are more easily taught from one version than another. But all doctrines common to the Christian faith can be found in every version. Generally, however, the KJV presents many doctrines more clearly than other versions. This is especially true of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. It should also be noted that it is much harder to prove the deity of Christ when using modern versions. A short time ago I attended a meeting held by a group of young people who seemed to be avid Bible students. I was amazed to find that they denied the deity of Christ and supported their positions by referring to textual renderings from various modern versions.

Between all the modern versions, you will find that nearly every verse proving the deity of Christ has been altered in one or the other versions. (See 1 Timothy 3:16, Ephesians 3:9, and Romans 14:10,12 in the RSV, NEB, NASB, TEV, NIV, and JB; and Acts 20:28 and Romans 9:5 in the RSV, NEB, and TEV.) It is apparent that there has been a fundamental change in translations since the KJV. With that in mind, we now turn to a discussion of our last characteristic of the inspired Word of God.

 

Providential Preservation of Scripture

 

Our final characteristic is the most revealing. It says that the Word of God has been divinely preserved and has had an active role within the church throughout every age. Before we delve into this discussion, it is necessary to gain a little background information.

When looking into the history of the biblical text, we must be aware that the original manuscripts were written in the common languages of their day. Basically, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. The first manuscripts of the Bible, written by the inspired authors, are no longer in existence. Only copies of copies remain as witnesses to their original words. When these copies are compared with one another, several hundred thousand differences can be noted. Most of the variants are misspellings or other obvious errors 7, but thousands of other variants must be closely evaluated.

To help evaluate variant readings, scholars have divided the manuscripts into text-types, i.e., groups of manuscripts containing similar readings. Throughout the years, scholars have examined the existing manuscripts, considered their various readings, and have constructed their own Greek or Hebrew text which they believe accurately represents the readings of the original manuscripts.

When a translation is to be produced, scholars either choose existing Greek and Hebrew texts from which to translate, or they formulate their own text.

The text of the Old Testament has been essentially settled 8 since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The New Testament text, however, has been the cause of much heated debate. For the past hundred years there has been a rivalry between two Greek texts—the Received Text 9 and the Critical Text. 10

The Received Text was derived primarily from the Byzantine text-type and includes texts published by Erasmus, Stephens, Beza, and Elzevir. The New Testament of the King James Version is a translation of this Greek text.

The Critical Text is derived primarily from the Alexandrian text-type and includes such published texts as the United Bible Society, Nestle-Aland, and Westcott-Hort. The New Testaments of most modern versions such as the RSV, TEV, NEB, and NASB are translated from these critical texts.

A Bible version is considered only as good as the text from which it is translated. 11 Therefore we must determine which Greek text is superior—the Received Text or the Critical Text. This may sound like an impossible task for someone without a background in textual criticism. But by following the biblical teaching of preservation, we will not find it difficult. The preferred Greek text must be one which has played an active role within the church throughout every age.

The Critical Text has received wide acclaim within the past hundred years, as evidenced by the large number of Bible versions translated from it. As stated above, its readings are largely influenced by the Alexandrian line of manuscripts (or text-type). Out of over 5,000 Greek manuscripts in existence, only a small handful (often less than ten) contain this text-type. 12 However, prominent among these few are two manuscripts which many scholars value more highly than most other manuscripts. They are called Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and they date a little over 200 years from the original writings. 13

Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 by Constantine Tischendorf while visiting St. Catherine, a monastery at the base of Mt. Sinai. He found 43 leaves of it in a basket just before it was to be burned. 14 Several years later he acquired the remainder of the leaves from the monastery, and by 1862 he had published the complete manuscript.

Vaticanus’ history is not as dramatic as Sinaiticus. Pope Nicholas V brought it to the Vatican in 1448. 15 For hundreds of years, the Roman Catholic Church guarded it so closely that no Protestant scholar of ability was allowed to study it for any length of time. 16 Those who were granted permission to look at the manuscript were searched to assure they didn’t have paper or ink. Then if they were caught looking too closely at any passage, two attendants would snatch the manuscript from them! 17 In 1866, however, the Vatican finally allowed Constantine Tischendorf, under supervision, to copy the manuscript. In 1867 he published it.

Realizing that these old manuscripts contained significantly different readings than those of the Received Text, Tischendorf was jubilant. He believed that his efforts had at last restored the inspired Word of God to mankind after having been lost for 1,500 years.

In Tischendorf’s time, the New Testament had been in existence for approximately 1,700 years. The Alexandrian Text had been out of circulation for 1,500 of these years. If the Alexandrian Text is the pure form of the New Testament text, then it would mean that the church was deprived of its benefits for 88 percent of the time since it was written! Such an idea is strangely out of step with the biblical description of the inspired Word of God. The Scriptures have been alive and abiding in God’s church throughout the ages. They have never been lost, only to be discovered in a wastepaper basket or lying on a forgotten shelf in the Vatican. In addition, the “benefits” of the Alexandrian Text to the church have been dubious indeed.

Not only does this text-type not meet our biblical standard of accurately representing the Word of God, but it has trouble meeting scholarly standards for accuracy of transcription. Minor differences within text-types are normal; however, the number of variants within the Alexandrian Text is enormous. Not including minor errors such as spelling, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus disagree with each other over 3,000 times in the space of the four Gospels alone. 18 This means that one or the other must be wrong 3,000 times. That averages to a disagreement on almost every verse of the Gospels! It is, in fact easier to find two consecutive verses in which these two manuscripts differ the one from the other, than two consecutive verses in which they entirely agree. 19

Undoubtedly these manuscripts suffer from scribal carelessness. Vaticanus exhibits numerous places where the scribe has written the same word or phrase twice in succession, 20 a clear indication that the writing was not checked. The scribe of Sinaiticus occasionally skipped lines in copying and made so many obvious errors that during the time Sinaiticus was used, ten different readers noted corrections. 21 However, instead of questioning the reliability of these manuscripts, scholars have accepted many of their peculiar readings. Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are the basis for most of the two hundred omissions from the modern New Testament versions mentioned earlier in this booklet.

For several years the Alexandrian Text was blindly considered to be a pure or “neutral” representation of the original text of the Bible writers. But recent scholarship has confirmed that what has been restored should not be considered the original text, but simply the text that had the highest authority in Alexandria, Egypt in the third century. 22 Alexandria, Egypt, an area to which none of the original manuscripts were addressed, 23 has little claim upon our confidence as possessing a pure text. A look into the history of Alexandria, especially during the time these manuscripts are believed to have been produced, is quite revealing.

Alexandria, a great center of commerce and Helenistic culture, was renowned for its schools of philosophy. Philosophical teachings permeated the community—including the Christian church. Christian “thinkers” regarded Greek philosophy as a tool for understanding and applying Scripture, and like the pagans around them, they started a school which became the main focus and stimulus of their intellectual and spiritual life. The leaders of the school were usually experts in Greek philosophy, and they greatly influenced the theology of the Christians in Alexandria.

One of the most notable leaders of this school was Origen. Origen studied deeply into Platonism and Stoicism, seeking to harmonize their philosophic principles with the Scriptures. To do so, he allegorized the Scriptures—a process that allowed him to interpret them any way he wished. Further, he questioned the authenticity of certain portions of Scripture that did not conform to his own idiosyncratic beliefs. His teachings not only promoted a critical attitude toward the Scriptures, but they helped breed numerous heresies in Alexandria, including the doctrine of Arianism. 24

The Arian controversy centered around the nature of Christ. The Arians taught that Christ was a created being, while the conservatives of the day taught that Christ was eternal, wholly uncreated, and equal with the Father. For over sixty years the controversy raged. Just when it looked as if one side had won, the other side would rise to dominance.

Constantine, the great mixer of paganism and Christianity, was emperor when the controversy began in A.D. 320. More interested in politics than pure religion, Constantine favored whichever side seemed to his advantage. At first, Constantine exiled the Arian leaders, but three years later (A.D. 328), he not only welcomed their return but made one of them his personal advisor. 25

It was during this upsurge of Arianism that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are believed to have been produced. 26 Several scholars believe that they may be identified with two of fifty Bibles that Constantine ordered to be prepared in A.D. 331. 27 Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were both written on parchments of vellum by talented calligraphers, a very expensive specification included in Constantine’s order. 28

Constantine called upon Eusebius of Caesarea to be in charge of the preparation of the Bibles. Eusebius is well known as an enthusiastic admirer of Origen, and was inclined to favor the Arians. If such a one was in charge of preparing these manuscripts, it is no wonder the Critical Text—and consequently nearly every modern version—lacks fervent support for the deity of Christ. If Eusebius used any of the critical skills of his mentor, he was likely to dissect the Scriptures, thinking he was correcting them. This may explain some of the omissions characteristic of the Alexandrian Text and likewise of most modern versions.

Other obviously careless omissions in these manuscripts may have been because Constantine’s order required extreme haste in accomplishing the work. Repeatedly, Constantine urged Eusebius to press the project with all speed. Corrections would not only be costly but time-consuming, and few were likely made. 29

Of course, without further documentation, no one can be certain of the exact history of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. But it seems likely that they were affected by the philosophical schools of Alexandria. Whether through Eusebius, other misguided critics, or one of the countless heretics that Alexandria bred, 30 it is apparent that the Alexandrians’ attempt to “correct” the Scriptures failed. Within 200 years this text-type fell into discredit and disuse. 31

It is interesting to realize that several of the omissions and peculiar readings of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were once found only in Roman Catholic Bibles. Dr. Benjamin G. Wilkinson, history professor and late president of Washington Missionary College, has proposed that Jerome, a great admirer of both Origen and Eusebius, transmitted many Eusebio-Origen errors into the Latin Vulgate. 32 The Latin Vulgate has been the recognized Bible of Catholics for centuries. The English Rheims-Douay version is translated from it. History is replete with episodes of violence wrought by the Catholic Church against all who did not receive the Latin Vulgate. To deny their Scriptures was to deny the Church’s self-appointed authority. When the modern versions began to appear with several readings previously propagated only in Catholic Bibles, Thomas S. Preston of St. Ann’s Church of New York was recorded in Dr. Warfields’ Collection of Opinions and Reviews as saying, “It is to us a gratification to find that in very many instances they have adopted the reading of the Catholic Version, and have thus by their scholarship confirmed the correctness of our [Catholic] Bible.” 33

In summary, we find that the Critical Text hardly fits the biblical description of the Sacred Text. It is based on a text-type that lay idle for 1,500 years except for some renderings retained within the Catholic Church. In addition, the text reflects the Arian views prominent in the fourth century in Alexandria, and it contains numerous omissions likely due to misguided editing and careless copying.

An examination of the Received Text, on the other hand, yields quite a different story. Unlike the small number of manuscripts supporting the Alexandrian Text, the Received Text is derived from the Byzantine text-type which is represented in 80 to 90 percent of all Greek manuscripts. 34 That amounts to approximately 4,000 witnesses! Dotted over hundreds of years, these witnesses come from many different places—Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Palestine, Syria, Alexandria, other parts of Africa, not to mention Sicily, southern Italy, Gaul, England, and Ireland. 35 This is quite a contrast to the limited locality and time-range of the Alexandrian Text.

Although none of the Greek manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type date before A.D. 400, most scholars agree that in order for this text-type to be so widespread and predominant among the Greek manuscripts, it had to have a much earlier existence. 36 Indeed, distinctive Byzantine readings are found in all of the oldest versions, 37 in the papyri, 38 and in the Scriptural quotations of the early church fathers. 39 In numerous places the Byzantine text-type can be shown to be as early or earlier than any text-type. 40 It was the authoritative Scriptures of the Syrian church, the Waldensian church of northern Italy, and the Greek Orthodox Church. Wilkinson’s study also suggests the Byzantine text-type was the Scriptures of such early churches as the Celtic church in Scotland and Ireland, and the Gallic church in southern France. 41

During the Dark Ages, apostasy seemed almost to swallow up Christendom, but God still had a people with whom His Word would live and abide forever. As the true church fled into the wilderness (Revelation 12:6, 14), it resisted error and clung to the Scriptures. Prominent among these faithful believers were the Waldensians, who used a Latin translation of Byzantine manuscripts dating back to A.D.157. 42 Traveling about as merchants and peddlers, they quietly passed on their precious hand-copied portions of Scripture.

When Greek language and literature once again began to be studied, Europe awoke as from the dead after 1,000 years of darkness. A revival of learning ensued and God raised up a man to lay the foundation of the mightiest reformatory movement in history. Erasmus was endowed with such a giant intellect that he could do ten hours of work in one. He amazed Europe with his prodigious scholarship. Ten columns in the catalogue of the library of the British Museum are taken up with the works he translated, edited or annotated. 43 In addition, he was a prolific writer. A reformer at heart, Erasmus wrote several books that rocked Europe by exposing the ignorance of the monks, the superstitions of the priesthood, and the bigoted, coarse religion of the day. 44 Of all his publications, however, his crowning work was the New Testament in Greek. This was the first scholarly attention paid to the Greek text of the New Testament in over a thousand years. A later revision of this Greek text became known as the Textus Receptus or Received Text.

When Erasmus prepared his Greek New Testament, there were hundreds of manuscripts for him to examine, and his wide travels certainly permitted him to do so. But after much study, he chose to use but a few representative manuscripts. These manuscripts, like the vast bulk of all New Testament Greek manuscripts, were of the Byzantine text-type—the same text-type that had been preserved and used by the church in the wilderness. This was no coincidence. Through the publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament, God’s providence was preparing the way for the many subsequent translations that would guide His true Church as two-thirds of Europe broke away from the Catholic Church in the Great Protestant Reformation.

As the torch of truth was passed on to the Reformation, we find version after version translated from the Received Text. Luther, that great giant of the Reformation, used a Waldensian Bible and Erasmus Greek text (the Received Text) in producing his German translation of the New Testament. Similarly based were Olivetan’s French translation, Diodati’s Italian translation, and Tyndale’s English translation. 45

When the time was right, God’s providence directed for an English translation to be produced that would sum up the best of all ages. With Erasmus’ Greek text, several Waldensian-influenced Bibles, and the literary excellence of Tyndale, 46 forty-seven scholars produced the King James Version of 1611.

The translators of the KJV were men of spiritual integrity as well as outstanding scholars. The general chairman of the project was Lancelot Andrews, one of the greatest linguists of his day. Known to spend five hours a day in prayer, his personal piety was unquestioned. Even the usually arrogant King James had great respect for him. Although these men did not all agree doctrinally, they all had reverent regard for the divine inspiration of Scripture. In addition, the translating was engineered so that no one man would have undue influence upon any portion of Scripture. Every part of the work was reviewed critically at least fourteen times.

With the Old Testament based on the Masoretic text-type and the New Testament based on the Byzantine text-type, the work was accomplished just in time for it to be carried by our pilgrim fathers to America where for three hundred years it became the “authorized” Scriptures for millions of English-speaking people in the New World. In addition, it has been the Bible of every English-speaking country on the face the globe. It has been the guide of conduct to men and women in every class of life and of every rank in learning and education. So deeply has its language entered into our common tongue, that one probably could not take up a newspaper or read a single book in which some phrase was not borrowed, consciously or unconsciously, from the KJV. The wide and positive influence of the Authorized Version cannot be exaggerated. 47

The New Testament Scriptures of the early church, the wilderness church, the Reformation church, and the Scriptures of our founding fathers were all in essence the Received Text. The blood of martyrs has been shed over it, nations have been founded upon it, and divine providence has protected it. The Received Text is the Greek text that has played an active role in the church through-out the ages, and as such it best fits our third characteristic of the inspired Word of God.

 

A Dramatic change in Scholarship

 

The contrast between the Received Text and the Critical Text is overwhelming, yet the Critical Text has held an honored position in the scholarly world in recent years. The preface to the Revised Standard Version will tell you that since “we now possess many more ancient manuscripts” (i.e., primarily Vaticanus and Sinaiticus), we “are far better equipped to seek to recover the original wording of the Greek text.” It will also tell you that the Greek text of the King James Version “was marred by mistakes.” You may wonder how scholars came to such conclusions about the highly respected authorized version. To understand, we must go back in history about 100 years.

The last half of the 19th century brought many changes to the world. While great truths such as the Sabbath and the three angels’ messages were being proclaimed, grievous errors such as spiritualism, evolution, and Marxism were on the rise. Just as these false movements sought to dethrone God as the creator of the universe, critical scholars were trying to discredit the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Disregarding the providential care of the biblical text, men began to analyze it as they would any ancient piece of literature. Foremost among such men were Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort.

Westcott and Hort were both Cambridge professors well known in the field of textual criticism. These men shared several points of interest, including a fascination with the theory of evolution. But the one conviction that most closely united the two men was a prejudiced animosity for the Received Text. Dr. Hort was only twenty-three years old and had not yet even studied textual criticism when he described the Received Text as “villainous” and “vile.” 48 In spite of the unorthodoxy of these men, their scholarship has exerted a molding influence upon the distinctive readings of the modern versions.

In 1890 a major revision of the KJV was being considered. By this time, spelling and grammar had changed and many of the Old English words used in the KJV were considered obscure in meaning. Some critics believed that increased scholarship and the recent availability of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus necessitated a revision. Although there was much fear and distrust of revision in the public mind, it was sanctioned under the condition that no changes be made in the KJV except as were absolutely necessary. 49 Fifty-four men, including Westcott and Hort, were asked to be on the Revision Committee, and they began what should have been a short work.

A grueling ten years later, the committee introduced to an astonished public what amounted to a totally new translation based upon a Greek text different than the Received Text. The Revised Version of 1881 made 36,000 changes in the English of the KJV, and nearly 6,000 in the Greek text. 50 Shortly before the Bible was released to the public, Westcott and Hort published their own critical text of the New Testament. This Greek New Testament was drawn from Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and in essence was the Greek text that had been used by the Revision Committee for translating the Greek into English. 51 It then became evident that Westcott and Hort had exercised disproportionate influence over the Revision Committee.

Most people were unaware that Westcott and Hort had, under pledge of secrecy, circulated among the Revision Committee copies of their own edition of the Greek New Testament. 52 Eloquently expounding upon the methods they had used to compile their text, they overwhelmed the other members of the committee. Their methods gave preferential status to Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, 53 and have since shaped the thinking of all who approach textual criticism. 54

One of the most misleading of their rules declares that the oldest manuscripts contain the preferred reading. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are about 100 years older than any of the existing Greek manuscripts supporting the Received Text. However, age does not guarantee purity. In fact, some of the earliest manuscripts were very corrupt. History records that during the century following the completion of the New Testament, manuscripts suffered the greatest abuse. 55 It was during this time that a number of heretics are known to have made corrupted copies of the Scriptures. Even while Paul was alive, someone was passing around false manuscripts (see 2 Thessalonians 2:2). The age of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus is no criterion for considering their readings to be pure. In fact, it can be the basis of questioning their reliability. These manuscripts could have only survived because they were little used. The dry climate of Egypt and the sturdiness of vellum are not sufficient to explain their survival. Reliable manuscripts of the Scriptures ultimately disintegrated from continual use while these manuscripts were preserved by disuse. One must question why they were not used when copies of the Scriptures were so precious and few. 56

Like the theory of evolution, Westcott and Hort’s theory contained a missing link. They had to explain why the majority of manuscripts support the Byzantine readings of the Received Text and not the Alexandrian readings of the Critical Text. Realizing that it was absurd to insist that a variety of scribes, separated by time and space and working independently, would all “alter” their manuscripts so as to produce the uniform readings of the Byzantine text-type, Westcott and Hort devised a theory. They theorized that in the fourth century an official ecclesiastical command had been given to adopt a standardized form of the Greek text. They reasoned that the Greek text, thus propagated, contained many errors. This theory became known as the Syrian Recension.

Although scholars accepted the theory for a short time, its error was soon exposed and refuted. There is absolutely no historical evidence of such an official revision of the Greek text. Even if such a theory were true, it assumed that men who were only 200 years from the originals were so ignorant they couldn’t recognize the correct manuscripts to use as authority. Strangely enough, today, nearly 1,900 years from the originals, scholars feel better able to judge than they could. Sir Frederick Kenyon, a pioneer in the field of papyrology and for many years director of the British Museum, summed it up when he wrote, “Is not the whole theory artificial and illusory, the vain imagining of an ingenious mind, like so many of the products of modern criticism, which spins endless webs out of its own interior, to be swept away tomorrow by the ruthless broom of common sense?” 57

When the theory of the Syrian Recension crumbled, Westcott and Hort’s scholarly treatise was left without a foundation. Yet scholars still refused to recognize the providential hand of God in the spreading of the Received Text. With no suitable explanation of why the Byzantine text-type is found abundantly in Greek manuscripts from all over the world, 58 most scholars still cling to the framework of textual criticism set up by Westcott and Hort. Thus, the most popular editions of the Greek text today—Nestle-Aland and UBS—vary little from the Westcott-Hort text.

However, uncertainty prevails as more and more scholars recognize the weaknesses of the Alexandrian Text and of Westcott and Hort’s scholarship 59 that has so molded the science of textual criticism. In Westcott and Hort’s day, it was believed that the original text of the New Testament had been virtually reconstructed. But today many scholars have come to consider this a well nigh impossible task. 60

While others despair, we can have assurance that the same text the church used through the ages still most accurately reflects the original writings of the New Testament. And that text is today known as the Received Text.

 

Which Version?

 

Having faith that God has preserved His Word in the church throughout the ages leads to the acceptance of the Received Text as the most reliable Greek New Testament. But for those who cannot read Greek, a translation is necessary.

Looking over the English Bible versions available, you will find that the only versions using the Received Text as the basis for the New Testament are those of the King James tradition. 61 Foremost in this tradition is the KJV itself. As we have seen, for over 300 years the KJV has built the faith of its readers, it is a formal translation profitable for studying doctrine, and both its Old and New Testaments are based on text-types that have been providentially preserved through the ages by the priesthood of believers. Truly, it best fits our biblical description of the Word of God.

This does not mean, however, that the KJV is a perfect translation. One weakness is its readability. 62 Although this difficulty has often been exaggerated by detractors of the KJV, it is true that its English has not been updated since 1769. Thus it contains archaisms. This is not a problem for those who have grown up reading the KJV, but its language may discourage others. For those who struggle with the English of the KJV, the New King James Version 63 is to be recommended.

Compared to the deficiencies of the Greek text 64 followed by most modern versions, the weaknesses of the KJV 65 are very minor. The New Testament of most modern versions is based on an Egyptian text rejected by Christendom 1,500 years ago. 66 While we can acknowledge the good points of modern versions and appreciate their usefulness for reference and commentary, 67 there is no more reliable English study Bible than the KJV. The KJV translators not only provided an accurate English translation 68 of the best manuscript tradition, but they masterfully rendered the English in a literary style befitting the dignity of Sacred Writ. 69 Although publishers have hoped to multiply their profits by producing a version which would replace the KJV, it still remains the most trusted Bible for the majority of English-speaking Christians.

As we stand in these last days of earth’s history, our faith in the Word of God must be strong. We must confidently turn to the Scriptures for guidance and be able to present its saving truths to others clearly. While other versions often make the most relevant truths ambiguous, the King James Version resoundingly affirms them. No other version speaks so convincingly of last day issues. Certainly there was a divine purpose at work in the production and preservation of such an authoritative transcript of Holy Writ. As we study the Holy Scriptures, may each of us individually be assured that “the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). And may we accept its wondrous truths not only intellectually, but make them a dynamic, meaningful part of our everyday lives.

 

NOTES

 

1. “Bible Illiteracy Plagues Youth,” Group, (November/ December, 1984), P. 27 as quoted in Ted Letis, “An Open Letter to the International Bible Society and the Zondervan Corporation,” (April 29, 1985).

2. The New Testament Student and Bible Translation (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1978), p. 155 as quoted in Letis, “An Open Letter.”

3. “The Revision of the New Testament,” Dublin Review, VI (July-October, 1881), p. 144.

4. Don F. Neufeld, “Supernatural or Human Beings?” Review and Herald (February 10, 1977), p. 14.

5. Gerhard F. Hasel, Understanding the Living Word of God (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assoc., 1980), p. 104.

6. JB and NIV are also considered formal translations but are admittedly freer, less literal. (See Hasel, pp. 104-105.)

7. Wilber N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1980), p. 16. 8. The Masoretic Text has been recognized as the most carefully preserved and transmitted Hebrew text-type. (See Hasel, pp. 92-93.)

9. Also known as the Textus Receptus, Traditional Text, Greek Vulgate, Ecclesiastical Text, Syrian Text, Koine (Common) Text and often used synonymously with Majority Text.

10. I am using the term Critical Text to refer to the majority of Greek texts produced in recent years. These texts as a whole differ from the readings of the Received Text.

11. Sakae Kubo and Walter Specht, Which Version Today? (Washington, D.C.), p. 8.

12. Pickering, p. 16.

13. Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 47.

14. Metzger, pp. 42-43.

15. Ira Maurice Price, The Ancestry of Our English Bible, 12th ed. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1940), p. 150.

16. Ibid. 17. Frederick Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958), p. 202.

18. Herman C. Hoskier, Codex B and Its Allies (2 vols.; London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914), II, p. vi.

19. John Burgon, The Revision Revised (London: John Murray, 1883), p. 12.

20. F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, 4th ed. (2 vols.; London: George Bell and Sons), II, p. 120. Also Kenyon, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951), p. 308, states that Vaticanus is “disfigured by many blunders in transcription.”

21. F.C. Cook, The Revised Version of the First Three Gospels (London: John Murray, 1881), p. 172. Also Burgon, p. 13.

22. George Salmon, Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: John Murray, 1897), pp. 52, 155. Also Ernest C. Colwell, Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Vol. IX (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1969), p. 54 says “The Beta text-type (Hort’s ‘Neutral’) is a ‘made’ text, probably Alexandrian in origin, produced in part by the selection of relatively ‘good old mss.’ but more importantly by the philological editorial know-how of Alexandrians.”

23. Pickering, p. 111.

24. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), pp. 147-152.

25. Ibid., pp. 152-158.

26. Cook, p. 244.

27. T. C. Skeat of the British Museum has suggested that Vaticanus was a “reject” among the fifty copies. (See Metzger, pp. 47-48.)

28. Cook, p. 164.

29. Cook, pp. 161-162, 170.

30. Edward Hills, The King James Version Defended, 4th ed. (Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), p. 134 writes, “Egypt during the early Christian centuries was a land in which heresies were rampant. So much so that, as Bauer (1934) and Van Unnik (1958) have pointed out, later Egyptian Christians seem to have been ashamed of the heretical past of their country and to have drawn a veil of silence across it. This seems to be why so little is known of the history of the early Egyptian Christianity.” Hills also suggests that Gnostic and docetist influences explain many of the peculiar readings of the Alexandrian Text. (See pp. 136-138, 143.)

31. Hoskier, p. 9.

32. Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (Washington, D.C., 1930), pp. 19-22.

33. Dr. Warfields Collection of Opinions and Reviews, Vol. II, p. 21 as quoted in Wilkinson, p. 229.

34. Pickering, p. 116.

35. Pickering, p. 142.

36. Pickering, p. 119.

37. Hills, pp. 172-175, 186-188. (Predominating in the Syriac Peshitta and Gothic.)

38. Colwell, pp. 48-49. Also Gunther Zuntz, “The Byzantine Text in New Testament Criticism,” The Journal of Theological Studies, XLII (1942), p. 55.

39. John Burgon, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicated and Established, completed by Edward Miller (London: George Bell and Sons, 1896), pp. ix-x cites Miller’s investigation regarding the witness of the patristic quotations. (Also see Pickering, pp. 65-76 for discussion concerning this.)

40. H. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1984), pp. 53-131.

41. Wilkinson, pp. 24-40.

42. The Italic Version. (See Wilkinson, p. 35.)

43. Hills, p. 196.

44. Wilkinson, p. 53.

45. Wilkinson, p. 40.

46. Ibid.

47. Kenyon, Our Bible, p. 307.

48. “Hort organized his entire argument to depose the Textus Receptus. While still a student at Cambridge, twenty-three years old, Hort clearly indicated in a letter the identity of the villain: ‘I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek Testament, and dragged on with the villainous Textus Receptus. … Think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning on late Mss.; it is a blessing there are such early ones. …’ (December 29 and 30, 1851)” Colwell, p. 158 quotes Hort’s letter published in Arthur Fenton Hort, Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, I (London and New York, 1896), p. 211.

49. H.F.D. Sparks, On Translations of the Bible (London: the Athlone press, 1973), p.7.

50. Edmund Beckett, Should the Revised New Testament be Authorised? (London: John Murray, 1881), p. 37.

51. Metzger, p. 135.

52. Luther Weigle, The English New Testament (New York & Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949), p. 96. Also Burgon, The Revision Revised, p. 24.

53. Kenyon, Our Bible, p. 204.

54. Colwell, p. 106.

55. Metzger, p. 201.

56. Pickering, p. 129, Kirsopp Lake, R. P. Blake and Silva New, “The Caesarean Text of the Gospel of Mark,” Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 21(1928), pp. 347-349 suggests that scribes “usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books.”

57. Kenyon, Our Bible, p. 173. Colwell on p. 106 records, “Kirsopp Lake described Hort’s work as a failure, though a glorious one.”

58. Pickering, p. 97.

59. Pickering, pp. 31-97.

60. Including such scholars as Rendel Harris, Conybeare, Kirsopp Lake, G. Zuntz, H. Greeven, R. M. Grant, K. W. Clark, Frederick Kenyon, and K. Aland as quoted in Hills, pp. 66-67.

61. Includes KJV, NKJV, and KJVII. The latter, however, is no longer readily available.

62. This is not to suggest that translations should be written in colloquial language. Contrary to a commonly held view, the New Testament was not written in the uncultivated dialect of the market-place. (See Nigel Turner, Christian Words , p. xiii.) Neither was the original KJV written in the contemporary English of its day. (See Hills, pp. 218-219.)

63. The NKJV is an excellent compliment to the KJV.

64. The Greek text is of primary importance in choosing a Bible version. See Kubo and Specht, Which Version Today?, p. 8. Also Alex Roberts writes “It is of the utmost vital importance to be assured of the trustworthiness of the text…. Without this everything else must be comparatively worthless.” Alex Roberts, Companion to the Revised Version of the English New Testament (London and New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1881), p. 34.

65. Of lesser significance than readability are a few places where the KJV could have been more literal in a consistent translation of verb tenses and articles.

66. Pickering, p. 136. Also Hoskier, p. 9.

67. There are places where modern versions more clearly and in a few cases, more accurately translate the same Greek found in the Received Text. (The NASB is particularly helpful due to its consistently literal renderings. See Kubo and Specht, So Many Versions? , p. 338.)

68. “Making the King James Version Even Better,” Adventist Review, July 5, 1979, p. 13 says of Dr. Arthur Farstad, New Testament editor of the NKJV, “He admitted that he had been biased by his studies at various seminaries in the direction of accepting the view that the KJV contained numerous inaccuracies in translation. He now has reversed this conviction, concluding instead that the initial KJV translators worked with extreme accuracy, selecting valid options in the Greek text.” [Emphasis supplied.] Also John Skilton wrote “[The A.V.] is a conscientiously close translation. While not a literal, word-for-word rendering which is insensitive to English idiom and style, it is faithful to its text and is remarkably successful in conveying the sense of that text into good English.” John H. Skilton, “The King James Version Today,” in John H. Skilton, ed., The Law and the Prophets (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1974) p. 104 as quoted in Letis, “Hugh Broughton Redivivus,” The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate.

There have not been significant advances in the understanding of biblical Greek since the KJV was translated. The discovery of secular papyri has not been as beneficial in Christian word study as once hoped. (See Turner, pp. xii-xiii.) Also Cadbury commented, “It would be a mistake to exaggerate the extent to which such revised judgments of the language can be actually recorded in translation. … Improved knowledge of the original is often mainly a matter of slight nuances … than such as to necessitate one English rendering instead of another.” Henry J. Cadbury, “The Vocabulary and Grammar of New Testament Greek,” in An introduction to the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament (The International Council of Religious Education, 1967), p. 105 as quoted in Letis, The Majority Text.

69. Skilton, p. 107 as quoted in Letis, The Majority Text says “The Authorized Version had a remarkable sense of appropriateness, felicity, and effectiveness of expression. It had the instinct and feeling of genius for music and rhythm. It could discover the ‘inevitable’ word or phrase for a given context. Its style admirably reflected the dignity, majesty, and sublimity of the original.”

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Teach Us to Pray

27 Feb
An Amazing Fact
During the Battle of Valley Forge, revolutionary troops were entrenched on the battlefield, freezing and starving. One day, a farmer who lived nearby brought much-needed provisions to the troops, and on his way back through the woods, he heard someone speaking. He tracked the voice until he came to a clearing, where he saw a man on his knees, praying in the snow. The farmer rushed home and excitedly told his wife, “The Americans will secure their independence!” His wife asked, “What makes you say that?” The farmer replied, “I heard George Washington pray out in the woods today, and the Lord will surely hear his prayer. He will! Thee may rest assured, He will.” The rest, of course, is history.
ON THE HEELS OF PRAYER
America was built on prayer—a strong foundation if there ever was one. Revisionists would have you believe that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were all pantheists, deists, or agnostics who didn’t have a lot of time for God. If that’s true, then agnostics back then sure prayed a lot more than Christians do today. For instance, both morning and evening, our first President knelt before an open Bible to pray for God’s leading. Perhaps one reason this nation is faltering morally is because God’s people don’t spend much time praying for her.

What I find especially fascinating, however, is that Jesus also needed prayer. Naturally, we assume that His faith was inherently strong, but the Bible tells us Jesus would arise early in the morning and go off by Himself to pray. Sometimes He would pray all night, like He did before choosing His apostles.

After reading that story, I realized that I don’t pray enough and I don’t pray very well. Yet prayer is so important. Indeed, every revival comes on the heels of prayer. For instance, God poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after His new church was on its knees together for 10 days. And later, “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:31 NKJV). We need to pray more as a church and in our own lives.

THE PRINCIPAL BUSINESS
Charles Spurgeon said, “All the Christian virtues are locked up in the word prayer.”

One of the main tasks of the Christian is prayer, to have direct communion with God.

William Kerry was a missionary to Burma, India, and the West Indies, but he was also a shoe cobbler. People sometimes criticized him for “neglecting” his trade because he spent so much time in prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. Kerry answered, “Cobbling shoes is a sideline; it helps me pay expenses. Prayer is my real business.” And God used him mightily to convert many. On this topic, Martin Luther commented, “As it is the business of tailors to make clothes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.”

But how do we pray? I am asked this question a lot, but the truth is, even I have to ask, “Lord, teach me to pray.” The disciples asked Christ this question when they saw Him coming from a session of prayer. His face was beaming with the light of heaven and energized by the Holy Spirit. No wonder they pleaded, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Still, these men had been going to church—the temple—all of their lives. They had recited hundreds of prayers and had heard the priests pray out loud. Yet when they saw Christ, they knew they were missing something. Somehow they, like most of us, failed in their principal business. Sadly, not very many know what it means to pray, and thus it is probably the most neglected opportunity and privilege we have. Yet every Christian needs the gift of prayer because it’s the breath of the soul. Jesus said, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2 NKJV). He wasn’t saying we never pray, but that we ask poorly. So how do we ask?

I think the best way to find out is to first look at the pattern our Lord gave us, which is commonly called the “Lord’s Prayer.” Of course, that’s really a misnomer, because it wasn’t actually Jesus’ prayer. Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye” (Matthew 6:9). It’s a pattern for us to pray, so technically it’s really a disciple’s prayer. Let’s look at this blueprint for prayer to learn how God wants us to come to Him.

THE MAKEUP OF PRAYER
The Lord’s Prayer is comprised of seven petitions, which are divided up very much like the Ten Commandments. The first three petitions are God-ward—vertical—and the last four petitions deal with the horizontal relationships we have with others. Likewise, the first great commandment is to love the Lord, and the second great commandment is to love your neighbor. God should come first in our prayers; His counsel and will should be the great priority in our lives. But we must also not neglect our relationships on earth, which is why Jesus’ model includes those around us.

Right now, we’ll concentrate on those first three petitions, and later, we’ll look at our prayers concerning our friends, family, and neighbors. Then we will find some biblical and practical answers to common questions about prayer.

First, let’s consider that these first three petitions to God have a unique relationship to the Godhead. The first petition deals with the Father, “Our Father … Hallowed be thy name.” The second petition deals with the “kingdom;” that’s the Son. Jesus spoke many parables about the Son going to receive a kingdom, and coming back as the King of kings. Without Him, we couldn’t even come to the Father. And concerning “your will,” who is it that leads us into the will of God? The Spirit, the one who impresses on us the will of God and the love for Christ. It is the Spirit who gives the power to do the will of God. And so you have the Father, the Son, and the Spirit represented in the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.

ADDRESSING OUR GOD AS A FAMILY
God as a father is a theme that runs through the entire Bible. He is the creator of all life, and the protector of His children. In the Old Testament, His list of names includes: “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). He is powerful and omnipotent, yet He is also the all-sufficient provider. Taken together, He surely is the God of the universe ruling from heaven, but we can still approach Him personally as our Father.

Even better, “Our Father” tells us that we are received as children of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). God is willing to adopt us into His family. What a beautiful truth! “Our Father” says we can share in the inheritance He gave through Christ—that we are a part of the heavenly family. The Bible says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father … give good things to them that ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)? We can go to our Father knowing that He has the very best gifts in store for us. The very phrase “Our Father” is clothed with love. He’s someone who we can safely approach with love, even when He disciplines us. Proverbs 3:12 records, “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights” (NKJV). Psalm 103:13 adds, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him” (NASV). This also means that we are a family of brothers and sisters, praying to “our Father.” He’s not just my Father; He’s your Father too.

This brings to mind another reason why this prayer is such a great pattern for us. Notice the word “I” doesn’t appear in the entire prayer! We all typically pray frequently using “I” or “me,” but in this prayer, it’s a collective. In our culture, we get the equation upside down; it’s you, then your friends, and then God. In the Bible, the priority is reversed. Love the Lord, then your neighbor, and then you. (If you need an easy way to remember, just think of J-O-Y. That’s Jesus, Others, and You!)

“WHICH ART IN HEAVEN”
Our pattern of prayer also tells us how near and how far our Lord really is from us. “Our Father” is a very intimate, up-close idea, but “in heaven” gives us a sense of His distance from us. We are separated from God, and we’re acknowledging that by saying, “There’s a problem: We’re here; You’re there.” What’s caused this separation? Isaiah says, “Your iniquities [sins] have separated you from your God” (59:2 NKJV).

In the garden, God asked Adam, “Where are you?” In our prayer, we’re confessing to God that we’re far away from Him—much in the same way that Adam ran from God. We’ve been separated from paradise. But we have hope. Did you know that the first three chapters in the Bible tell how sin came in through the serpent and that we’ve been separated from heaven and paradise; however, the last three chapters of the Bible tell how the serpent is destroyed, paradise is restored, and we’re once again together with God?

Another reason the Bible says, “which art in heaven,” is because we need to make a distinction between our earthly fathers and our heavenly Father. Our earthly fathers are frail, carnal, and sinners by nature of being human. The God in heaven is perfect. All of us have a natural, subconscious tendency to superimpose on God our relationship with our earthly father. For instance, those who have earthly fathers that are overly indulgent end up thinking that God the heavenly Father is also permissive. Those who have earthly fathers that are stern generally have a picture of the heavenly Father as an exacting judge.

That ought to make us think. We need to spend a lot of time in prayer asking God to overrule the mistakes we have made with our children. Yet when the Bible says, “Our Father which art in heaven,” it’s telling us we need to look past our flawed earthly relationships and know that He is our perfect model and that we can approach Him directly. You don’t have to see God through the broken glasses of your family experience.

“HALLOWED BE THY NAME”
So we have approached God because He’s our Father in heaven. And our first petition to our God is “Hallowed be thy name.” Now the name of God is a central issue in the great controversy between good and evil. The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is to defend the glory of God.

The devil has slandered God’s name. Do you know someone who has said, “If God is love, then why do innocent children die?” Insurance companies call earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters “Acts of God.” What kind of reputation does that give God? The devil is a master at smearing the character of our Father. He has God, the good, wonderful, loving, longsuffering, merciful One, portrayed as a cruel, indifferent tyrant arbitrarily punishing His creatures. God’s name has been defiled by the devil.

Thus the purpose of the Christian, by God’s grace, is to defend the name of God as much as we can, to reveal who He really is. Unfortunately, we need to pray “hallowed be thy name” because we’re not very good at it. Even in the Bible, we see God’s own people do more to dishonor His name than the full-fledged pagans. And times really haven’t changed much since antiquity.

Remember, we said the Lord’s Prayer somewhat mirrors the Ten Commandments. The third one commands, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Using God’s name in profanity is only one small part of breaking this commandment. But taking God’s name is like a wife taking her husband’s last name. When you’re a baptized Christian, you take the name of Christ, but if you live like the devil after you’ve taken Christ’s name, you’re taking His name in vain. Who does more harm to the Christian cause the pagans or professed Christians who live like the world?

Christians should be advertising for the goodness of God, but in many cases Christians do more harm. Instead, all around the world, we see professed Christians attacking and killing others, such as in Ireland, Africa, and Croatia. What does that do to God’s name? Jesus says, “Love your enemies … overcome evil with good” (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:21). Christ is slandered because of the bad behavior of those who take His name in vain. So “Hallowed be thy name” is asking God to help us, in word and deed, honor His precious name

“THY KINGDOM COME”
We are in the middle of a battle between two kingdoms. An enemy kidnapped the world when Adam and Eve surrendered the dominion that God had given them over the earth. Ever since, the priority of God’s children has been to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Of course, we must make two distinctions when we speak of God’s kingdom—the spiritual and the physical. We know that the spiritual kingdom of God is very much alive in the world today, because Luke 17:21 says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” When Jesus began preaching after His baptism, He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). This aspect of the kingdom is available now. If you have accepted Christ into your heart, then He reigns from His throne in your heart. Paul says, “Let not sin … reign in your mortal body,” but rather let Jesus be your King and rule over all that you do (Romans 6:12). That’s the first kingdom we should seek after: God’s spiritual kingdom within our hearts.

But someday the meek will inherit the earth and God’s literal kingdom is going to rule over this world with a very real and physical kingdom. Do you think we would need to pray, “Thy kingdom come,” if God’s kingdom was already established? When Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, as recorded in Acts 1, the disciples asked, “Will You at this time restore the kingdom?” Jesus answered, “It is not for you to know times or seasons” (Acts 1:6, 7 NKJV).

The central message in the book of Daniel is that the kingdoms and idols of the world, whether they are made of gold, silver, bronze, or clay will all disintegrate before the Rock of Ages—the kingdom of God. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44 NKJV).

For the time being, we are ambassadors of another empire, advertising for a kingdom that will someday fill the earth. Christ said, “I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon me” (Luke 22:29 NKJV). When the thief on the cross turned to Christ and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom,” he accepted Christ as his King (Luke 23:42 NKJV). That’s why he’ll be in the kingdom, because he had the spiritual kingdom that begins in your heart.

The phrase “the kingdom of God” is found 70 times in the New Testament. Why? Because there are two kings at war, Jesus and the devil, who says he’s the prince of this world. That’s why we still need to pray that His kingdom will come: first within us, then someday around us.

“THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN”
Contrary to popular belief, God’s will in this world is not always being done. I respectfully disagree with the notion that everything that happens is in accordance with the Creator’s will. When something bad happens, like a tornado, you inevitably hear someone say, “Well, it must have been the will of God.” I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches, and if that’s really true, why would God have us pray that His will be done?

Conversely, not everything that appears to be good is from God’s storehouse either. Sometimes the devil may even cast prosperity in someone’s path to stall or derail their longing for God. You and I have no idea what’s going on behind the spiritual veil, which is why we have to pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”

You and I naturally have our wills twisted and confused by our carnal desires. We need to pray that God’s grace and His Spirit will guide our wills into conformity with His. We also need to learn what His will is for us, and we find the best expression of that in the Word. For beginners, the simplest form of God’s will is called the Ten Commandments. “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8 NKJV). So when we pray “Thy will be done,” we’re really praying that His will be done in us through submission and obedience.

Of course, Jesus is the perfect example of doing God’s will here on the earth. In John 6:38, He proclaims, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (NKJV). In the garden of Gethsemane, facing separation from the father, Christ petitioned God three times with, “Not My will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 NKJV). Is it always easy to do God’s will? No. If it was a tremendous struggle for Jesus, we will also need to pray, “Thy will be done”.

A GREATER WILL
When God created most things, He merely spoke them into existence. But when He made Adam, he took dust from the ground, formed it with His hands, and breathed life into it. He made humanity from the earth. So when we pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” we’re also admitting we’re really just clay. “In earth” also means in us. We’re humbling ourselves before God, recognizing that in our rebellion, our wills are perverted. When we pray “Thy will be done,” we’re giving Him permission to use us according to His purpose.

The Lord will never force His will on you because of the precious gift of freedom. He’s not going to force you to pray, “Thy will be done.” You have to choose to do it, to surrender your will, to be His servant, and give Him permission to activate His power and plan in your life. When you understand that secret, you’ll unlock the storehouses of heaven’s power.

But be advised, it works the other way too. Many of us are harassed by the devil because we give the devil our will. You may choose who your master is. And when we, through constant surrender, comply with the temptations that the devil puts in our path, we start giving him increased power to activate his desires in our lives. And ironically, when we exercise our freedom to submit to the devil, we, inch by inch, lose our freedom! The devil possesses our natures, and we become his slaves.

Yet it is possible to be filled by God’s Spirit. Would you like that experience? Most of us are struggling somewhere between the willing spirit and weak flesh, but when you understand that by choosing and saying, “Lord, I want you to be my God. I want you to take control. I surrender my will. I’m giving myself to you. I am powerless on my own,” you are then giving Him the power to release His will in your life. He’s waiting, but He can’t force it on us. So remember that when you pray, don’t forget to ask, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”

THE LORD’S PRAYER AND US
In World War II, a British soldier was seen creeping back in from the front lines. He was captured by his own army and accused of conspiring with the enemy, as he had not been given permission to leave. He said, “I have been out in the woods praying.” His fellow soldiers mocked him and immediately ordered him to offer up some evidence. He simply told them he was by himself and that he just needed to pray. His captors threatened to charge him as a traitor, saying, “You’re going to be executed unless you pray right now and convince us that you were really praying.”

The private then fell on his knees and began to offer an eloquent, heartfelt prayer as one who was about to meet his maker. But by the end of the prayer, the commander in charge said he was free to go. “I believe your story,” he said. “If you had not spent so much time at drill, you would not have performed so well during review.” He then added, “I can tell from the way you prayed that you are on regular speaking terms with God.”

The times of our prayers should be frequent and regular, but even more important the content should be outward. I frequently catch myself beginning with “gimme” prayers: “Dear, Lord, give me this and give me that” and near the end, I add, “God, I praise your name.” According to the pattern Christ gave us, that’s backwards. I know I underscored this point already, but it’s worth repeating. God has convicted me that my prayers are too selfish, and I need to keep Him and others first in mind when I go to the Father in prayer.

Although we’re about to focus on prayer for ourselves, I feel that before we delve into these absolutely necessary facets of prayer, we need to make sure we have the right order of prayer in mind. Obviously, we should pray for our needs, but as Jesus indicated, when we pray, we want to acknowledge God’s holy name, His purposes, and His kingdom before all other things. And all of our needs must be viewed in the context of His will. With that careful reminder, we can continue our study and discover what happens when we ask the Lord, “Teach Us to Pray!”

“GIVE US THIS DAY …”
Bread represents many things in the Bible. First, “daily bread” means the provisions necessary for sustaining life from day to day. Of course, this is a pattern of prayer, so it doesn’t mean that you can’t also pray for water, clothing, and other needs. When we pray for our daily bread, we’re really asking God to supply the basic necessities of our everyday lives.

Should a wealthy person with their cupboards full still pray “Give us this day our daily bread”? Yes, absolutely. Never take the blessing of basics for granted. Remember Job’s full barns were all lost in one day.

God is telling us that we should feel confident to come before our Lord, asking Him to fulfill our needs. Of course, He is already well aware of these needs, but He wants us to know that it is He who provides all truly good things for His children. For instance, when the Jews went through the wilderness, they prayed for food, and God rained manna from heaven, showing His continual, loving provision. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask—He wants you to!

Remember, though, that when we pray, “Give us … our daily bread,” it doesn’t mean that God expects us not to go out and earn it. Some people think they can pray the Lord’s Prayer and then sit back and do nothing, expecting Him to answer. When the Lord rained down manna, the Jews went out to collect it. They didn’t lie back with their mouths open, waiting for it to fall directly into their mouths. Notice too that the manna fell outside the camp; it didn’t rain on their tents. Part of getting the bread is going out and harvesting it where we work. After that, the Jews had to knead the manna and bake it; only after working could they consume their daily bread. We must likewise invest ourselves in the process and not become lazy with the Lord’s blessings. Don’t forget that giving us our bread day by day also includes this understood caveat: “six days shalt thou labor.”

“… OUR DAILY BREAD”
Is food all that is entailed in “daily bread”? As with most lessons in the Bible, “our daily bread” has a very important spiritual application. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus teaches, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” using the word “bread” to describe all the temporal needs of humanity.

Most important, He would later say, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Christ was not speaking only of our physical needs, but instructing us to invite God into our hearts every day. The bread represents Jesus, our spiritual food, which is far greater and more fulfilling than any physical bread on earth.

How often do we need to be spiritually fed? All through its sacred pages, the Bible speaks of praying daily. “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray” (Psalm 55:17). Daily bread, daily communion with the Lord, should be our top priority. Why do we not say, “Lord, give me a month’s supply”? Most of us don’t fret from day to day that the refrigerator is going to be empty, so we don’t often appreciate the implications of praying for daily bread. Although those who lived through the Depression may understand such a concept, few Americans today, living in a society of such massive abundance, have ever really struggled from day to day searching for something to eat. In fact, some of us have months of food in the pantry.

But many of us don’t have even a few minutes of spiritual food stored up in our hearts and minds. Which bread is more important, the physical or the spiritual? How many of us have a month’s supply of spiritual bread? We need to collect some every day. You can’t live tomorrow solely on what you’ve collected today. Some have a few calories stored up, having memorized Scripture, and it’s going to come in handy, but if you want your Christian experience to be vital and full of life, you must have daily devotions. You’ve got to go out and gather that spiritual manna. One final thought: The Bible doesn’t say, “Give me this day my daily bread. Rather, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s our bread, friend. It’s not my bread. We ought to be as concerned about the needs of others as much as, or more than, our own.

Scripture teaches, “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). We should be doing that physically, assisting the weak by offering our resources and our strength to help them. We should also do it spiritually, by lifting each other up in prayer, offering one another’s petitions on our knees. And we must do this daily, persistently. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them” (Luke 18:7)?

“AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS”
Did you know Jesus makes only one direct commentary on the Lord’s Prayer? In Matthew, when He finishes teaching the prayer, He adds, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (6:14, 15). Christ reveals a connection between the vertical and the horizontal relationship—right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps we should listen!

Is this God saying, “I’ll make you a deal: You all forgive each other—no bitterness, no grudges, no more talking about the bad things you did to each other—and I’ll forgive you”? Is that what God says? Is that the gospel? No, that’s not what leads to our forgiveness. We’re not saved by the basis of our works. Instead, the gospel says that we are to come just as we are to God, and He will forgive us. However, God says, “Now that you’re forgiven, I expect you to forgive each other.”

However, although you’re not saved by your works, if you continue to live in defiance, you’ll be lost because it’s evidence that you’re not serious about following Jesus. The mercy and grace of God cannot be cultivated in a heart that’s embracing a bitter and unforgiving spirit. Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Has someone ever talked badly about you? We’ve all been hurt. And often, we become defensive and start viewing that person narrowly, and we may even wonder if we can dig up a little dirt to even the score. Is that the spirit of Jesus, “who when he was reviled he reviled not again”?

The Bible says that when we realize the high price Christ has paid for our forgiveness, it makes it easier for us to forgive one another. “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35). We need to be willing to forgive one another, and God points this out to us repeatedly in Scripture. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, 26 NKJV).

Can you mentally forgive a person even though you may not feel like it? Yes, just like you can accept forgiveness even though you might not feel forgiven. It’s done by faith. You can choose to forgive others who have harmed you. Even though you may never be able forget what happened, you can say, “Lord, by your grace I am going to forgive them.” You make that conscious choice, and then the grace of God follows.

When you accept the forgiveness of God, His grace naturally follows. You must first have faith that God is going to help you forgive. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). If we can’t forgive each other, Godcan’t forgive us, because our hearts are not open either to give or receive forgiveness. That’s serious, isn’t it? It’s going to require an act of grace—a miracle—for us to be able to do that.

“AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION”
This particular petition is the one that is most misunderstood. At a glance, it almost seems as though we’re begging God not to tempt us. “Please, Lord, we know you don’t want to tempt us. Yet if I don’t ask you not to tempt me, you’re going to tempt me.” That’s a really poor translation. In fact, James 1:13 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”

We’re not pleading, “Lord, please don’t tempt me.” So what is this really saying? Well, because we are naturally prone to walk toward temptation, we’re asking God to lead us away from it. Translated more precisely, the prayer would go more like this: “Lead us away from our natural bent to temptation.”

Do we need to pray that prayer? You bet! We are prone to playing too close to the edge. One minister says that when the Lord says to flee temptation, we often crawl away hoping it catches up with us. It’s like gravity inside our hearts, pulling us toward sin. So we have to plead with God to help us resist that force.

The devil likes it when we crawl, because it’s easier to catch us with those little compromises. The convicted spy Aldrich Ames said that he didn’t wake up one day and say, “I think I’m going to be a spy. I think I’m going to turn everything over to the Russians for money.” One day, very innocuously, he met a Russian who asked, “Could you give me a phone directory? I’ll give you a lot of money.” It was just a phone directory, but then little by little, he gave them more and more until one day he sold them nuclear secrets. This is how the devil works with temptation—little compromises. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered Uriah, and lied to his people. And it began with a small, lingering, lustful look. We should pray, “Lord, lead me away from even the little things, because that’s how the big things start.”

“BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL”
I really like the seventh petition, which says, “but deliver us from evil.” We live in a world drowning in the murky blackness of sin. The only thing that really gives Christians long-term hope is that God promises things aren’t always going to be this way. We’re looking for ultimate deliverance, and when we utter “deliver us,” we’re talking about Christ coming on the white steed—the King of kings and the Lord of lords establishing His kingdom and wiping out every last vestige of evil reigning in the world today.

“Deliver us” takes us away from evil and separates us from it eternally. Another way to phrase it is, “deliver us from the evil one.” And we ought to be praying not only that God keeps us from temptation, but that He also delivers our brothers, because the devil is powerful and cunning, far greater than we are by ourselves. That’s why we so desperately need God to lead us.

In speaking of the second coming, Christ said, “Pray always” (Luke 21:36). I’m not sure how often that really means, but look at your own prayer life and see if it measures up. The full text reads, “Pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and stand before the Son of man.” Are you praying always? Jesus also said that we ought to pray that our flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day (Matthew 24:20). Have you prayed that prayer? Every day, every hour, we should be praying to be delivered from evil so that we can escape what is about to happen in this world. Pray that we will be ultimately delivered and saved from evil within and around us. You can’t be saved from an evil world until you’re first saved from an evil heart.

“FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER”
This powerful culmination is found only in Matthew, and what it speaks about is riveting. We are in the midst of a great controversy. The devil says he is the rightful king and that he has the power. Yet Christ, before He ascended to heaven, established His preeminence: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). This prayer reinforces that we should never forget who is in charge of this universe. The prayer doesn’t say, “Thine will be the kingdom,” rather “Thine is the kingdom.” Indeed, all the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer are only possible because Christ is the power. He has control over all things now.

The devil lives for pride, to bring glory to himself. The Christian’s motive is to bring honor to God, to give Him the glory. That’s why Satan hungers to be a god. He wants the glory he doesn’t deserve. The end of this prayer sets the record straight in our own minds and hearts, confessing before God that we know His character and goodness will be soon vindicated.

“AMEN”
Jesus said, “In this manner pray.” It’s not so much His prayer, but our prayer. It’s the prayer of those who want to follow Him. That’s also why this prayer must be something that flows from a truly converted heart. It ought to be a definition of your spirit and attitude. One author put it this way:

“I cannot say ‘our’ if I live only for myself. I cannot say ‘Father’ if I do not endeavor each day to act like his child. I cannot say ‘who art in heaven’ if I’m laying up no treasures there. I cannot say ‘hallowed be thy name’ if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say ‘thy kingdom come’ if I’m not seeking to hasten the blessed hope. I cannot say ‘thy will be done’ if I am disobedient to his word. I cannot say ‘in earth as it is in heaven’ if I’ll not serve him here and now. I cannot say ‘give us this day our daily bread’ if I am selfishly hoarding for the fu-ture. I cannot say ‘forgive us our debts’ if I harbor a grudge against anyone. I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I do not long for holiness. I cannot say ‘thine is the kingdom’ if I do not give Jesus the throne of my heart. I cannot attribute to him ‘the power’ if I fear what men may do. I cannot ascribe to him ‘the glory’ if I’m seeking for my own honor. I cannot say ‘forever’ if I’m living only for temporary earthly rewards.”

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, it must be in a spirit of complete surrender. And if we’re going to be ready when Jesus comes, we need to learn to pray the way Jesus taught. The essence of prayer is bound up in loving God with all our hearts, for we cannot really love Him if we aren’t getting to know Him. If we’re not communicating our sorrows and our joys, even our most intimate secrets, how can we love Him?

I urge you to invest more time on your knees, but if you can’t be on your knees, I urge you to just pray. Recognize that it is essential to spend quality time with Christ in your personal and corporate prayers and devotions, so we can implement those changes in our lives that will glorify God. Take advantage of the “daily bread” of God’s Word, and communicate to God your desire to be transformed from selfish to selfless. Let’s pray for one another more than anything else. Let’s stand together and lift our voices to heaven so that we are more united in the brotherhood and sisterhood of Jesus.

One of my favorite studies in the Bible is reading the great prayers of the Old Testament. I hope you will read them too. Read Hannah’s prayer found in Samuel 2. Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9 is also very special. You can also find Solomon’s moving dedication prayer in Chronicles. You’ll find that many of these prayers have elements of the Lord’s Prayer in them. They are about God’s glory, God’s provision, and God’s deliverance, and they’re really about how all of us as Christians are in this together, praying for one another.

Like the British soldier whose prayer set him free, we’re soon going to be reviewed by our Commander in heaven. We need to spend time in drill practice, preparing for the main event. We need to say, “Lord, teach us to pray.” He’s given us the pattern in His Word, so let’s be sure to abide in it. My hope is that you will never see this prayer the same way again.

Pope Francis Proclaims FALSE Catholic Teaching of Salvation Through the Church, NOT CHRIST ALONE! (February 2014)

27 Feb

 

While God calls His people OUT of Babylon, Pope Francis is calling people IN to ‘Mother’ Babylon

“The Vatican City – It is ‘absurdity to love Christ without the [Roman] Church, to feel Christ but not the Church’, Pope Francis reiterated during mass … Because Jesus did not only come from Heaven … Whenever Christ calls a person, He brings that person to the Church. For this, said Pope Francis, it is good [that a child] come to be baptized in Church – Mother Churchsalvation [means] going home with Jesus in the Church. These are gestures of tenderness. One by one, the Lord is calling us as well, to His people, into His family, our mother, the Holy Church.”

More False Teaching: Pope Francis says THE MOTHER CHURCH Cleanses us from Sin!!

This is something that the Roman Catholic leaders believe and teach – that salvation can ONLY be found within or connected to the Roman Catholic Church. It is a false teaching that many of the previous popes taught, including John Paul II. And is one of the MANY false teachings that shows us the Roman Catholic Church to be an apostate church.

John 14:6 …’I AM the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.’

Ephesians 2:8 …’For by grace are ye saved through faith.’

Salvation comes from the grace of God, through faith in Christ Jesus ALONE. We do not need the [Roman] church to gain salvation. We can access that salvation DIRECT through Christ Jesus who is our ONLY MEDIATOR (1 Timothy 2:5).

Galatians 1:6-8 …’I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.’

The Roman Church is the ‘MOTHER’ of harlots that we find in Revelation 17 and 18. The harlots being the Protestant (now called evangelical) churches who are returning to her.

Please, dear children who are caught within the Roman Catholic and fallen Protestant churches. Study the truth yourself. God is calling you!

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The Pope Claims to be God on Earth

26 Feb

hroughout the centuries of Rome’s existence, the popes have regularly claimed to be divine. As the supposed successor of Peter, the Pope claims infallibility, the position of God on Earth, and ability to judge and excommunicate angels.

// Cardinal Sarto, who became Pope Pius X, said this:

The Pope represents Jesus Christ Himself…i

This belief has so assimilated into society’s thinking that it is believed by many beyond Catholic circles. According to TIME, Pope John Paul II’s assassination attempt prompted a young Jewish man to say, “shooting the Pope—It’s like shooting God.”ii

Further Quotes from Vatican Documents show the Papacy’s belief in Papal Infallibility:

This ancient Catholic document, Extravagantes Johannes, refers to the Pope as “Our Lord God… read more.

// In 1512 Christopher Marcellus said this to Pope Julius II:

Take care that we lose not that salvation, that life and breath which thou hast given us, for thou art our shepherd, thou art our physician, thou art our governor, thou art our husbandman, thou art finally another God on earth (emphasis added).iii

Just recently, in 2004, Bishop Patrick Dunn of Auckland said this:

“It seems that Pope John Paul II now presides over the universal Church from his place upon Christ’s cross.iv

The Gloss of Extravagantes of Pope John XXII says this:

But to believe that our Lord God the Pope the establisher of said decretal, and of this, could not decree, as he did decree, should be accounted heretical (emphasis added).v

Words from the Popes themselves:

In 1302 Pope Boniface said this in a letter to the Catholic Church:

Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.vi

Papal coin of Pius VI from the 1700s, with the title “Pius VI Pontifex Maximus.”

// A coin of the Vatican state says this about Pope Pius VI:

Pius Sextus Pontifex Maximus.vii

Pope Leo XIII said these things about the role of the Papacy and the Roman Church:

Our thoughts went out towards the immense multitude of those who are strangers to the gladness that filled all Catholic hearts: some because they lie in absolute ignorance of the Gospel; others because they dissent from the Catholic belief, though they bear the name of Christians.

This thought has been, and is, a source of deep concern to Us; for it is impossible to think of such a large portion of mankind deviating, as it were, from the right path, as they move away from Us, and not experience a sentiment of innermost grief. But since We hold upon this earth the place of God Almightyviii

Benedict hat Pope

// But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself.ix

And more recently, Pope John Paul II wrote that names like “Holy Father” are applicable to the Pope, even though calling him that is counter to the Gospel:

Have no fear when people call me the “Vicar of Christ,” when they say to me “Holy Father,” or “Your Holiness,” or use titles similar to these, which seem even inimical to the Gospel.x

In 1996 he also gave his ascent to calling the Pope “Lord” and “Christ on earth”:

we readily understand the devotion of Saint Francis of Assisi for “the Lord Pope“,the daughterly outspokenness of Saint Catherine of Siena towards the one whom she called “sweet Christ on earth“, the apostolic obedience and the sentire cum Ecclesia of Saint Ignatius Loyola,and the joyful profession of faith made by Saint Teresa of Avila: “I am a daughter of the Church” (emphases added).xi

Many Compare the Pope with Jesus

The Papacy is not the only source of papal infallibility doctrine. Many Catholics and others use the titles of Christ to describe the Pope, as seen in the video below. This video is featured in the lecture That All May Be One by Professor Walter Veith. Purchase the DVD from the Amazing Discoveries™ webstore or view the lecture on Amazing Discoveries™ TV.

 

 

 

The Doctrine of Papal Infallibility is UnBiblical

It is clear that “the Popes have never reproved or rejected this title”xii of blasphemy and flattery, but the Bible does not support the belief of papal infallibility. It declares that “all of sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Roman 3:23). This includes the Pope. These boasts of the Papal State fulfill the Bible’s prediction of what the Antichrist power would do:

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws…(Daniel 7:25).

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven (Revelation 13:5-6).

Read about the Catholic Church’s similar position on the power of their priests  


 

i. Cardinal Sarto, as quoted in Publications of the Catholic Truth Society Volume 29 (Catholic Truth Society: 1896): 11.

ii. George J. Church et. al, “Hands of Terrorism,” TIME (May 25, 1981).

 

iii. Christopher Marcellus addressing Pope Julius II during the Fifth Lateran Council which began in 1512, as quoted in Alexander Hislop, The light of prophecy let in on the dark places of the papacy (London: William Whyte and Co., 1846): 91 and Letters between a Catholic and a Protestant on the doctrines of the Church of Rome originally published in Borrow’s Worcester Journal (Worcester Journal, 1827): 29. Find the original Latin version here

iv. “Auckland Bishop Says Pope Presides From the Cross” (Zenit, September 20, 2004).

v. The Gloss of Extravagantes of Pope John XXII, Cum. Inter, title 14, chapter 4, “Ad Callem Sexti Decretalium”, Column 140 (Paris, 1685). In an Antwerp edition of the Extravagantes, the words, Dominum Deum Nostrum Papam (“Our Lord God the Pope”) can be found in column 153. View extracts here.

vi. Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (Rome: 1302).

vii. Vatican Coin of 1795.

viii. Pope Leo XIII, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae—The Reunion of Christendom (Rome: 1894).

ix. Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae: On Christians as Citizens (January 10, 1890).

x. Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (New York: Alfred A. Knoff. 1995): 6.

xi. Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata (March 25, 1996): vatican.va.

xii. António Pereira de Figueiredo, “Tentativa theologica: Episcopal rights and ultramontane usurpations” (J. Masters, 1847): 180.

The Beast, The Dragon and The Woman

26 Feb
I. THE BEAST AND HIS BACKGROUND – A Fearful Warning
The most fearful warning of punishment found anywhere in the Bible is contained in Revelation 14:9, 10: “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”

This description is so alarming and so very unlike all other verses which deal with God’s character that we almost recoil in horror. But it points clearly to a time when God’s mercy will be withheld from those who have persistently rejected the authority of Heaven. It will be an unparalleled performance on the part of God in His relationship to the human family. For almost 6,000 years, His punishing judgments upon the most wicked men have been tempered with mercy. But now the measure of rebellion reaches a point which makes it necessary for God to intervene and to expose the terrible extent of man’s treason against God’s government.

Right here we are curious to know more about the sin that provokes God’s strange act of fiery punishment. Notice that the final issue involves a false allegiance to the beast power, so often referred to in Bible prophecy. At last, the world shall stand divided into two great camps: those who worship the true God, and those who worship the beast of Revelation 13. But what issue leads to this massive division of the world’s people? After describing the fate of the false worshipers in Revelation 14:9-11, John has this to say in the very next verse: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” We see here a startling contrast between those who follow the beast and those who follow the Lamb.

Please note that the issue revolves around the keeping of God’s commandments. Those who do not have the mark of the beast are described as obedient to those commandments, and the rest suffer the wrath of God. This agrees perfectly with Paul’s statement in Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

The highest allegiance is accorded through the act of obedience. At last, the majority of earth’s inhabitants will accept the authority of an antichrist counterfeit power, in disobedience to God’s great ten commandment laws. Every individual will be on one side or the other. The Bible makes it very clear that life or death revolves around the final decision concerning the beast of Revelation 13.

Strangely enough, modern theologians have simply ignored the warning message of Revelation 14, relating to the mark of the beast. The interest of multitudes has been destroyed by the influence of pastors who would not take seriously the solemn words of John’s prophecy. Often it is dismissed as a confused, insignificant letter, applying only to a local problem in the early church. For some reason the book called Revelation is counted a sealed book, instead of the obviously revealed truth that its name implies. But please note the promise made to those who search out the truth of this wonderful book, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:3.

Before delving into John’s vivid account of that final clash between Christ and Satan, let us take time to examine the contestants in the conflict. When and how did it get started, and how will it end?

Two Powerful Contenders
Even though the climax in the great struggle takes place in the very end of human history when all the world is arraigned in two opposing camps, the controversy between Christ and Satan has been going on for almost 6,000 years. It started in heaven with the rebellion of Lucifer against God’s rule of the universe. The story of that beautiful angel who coveted the position of God Himself is revealed through a number of Old Testament prophetic writings. Isaiah says in reference to this glorious being: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14.

The seeds of that selfish revolt of one leading angel spread rapidly to affect the loyalty of other angels. Soon one third of the heavenly host had joined the disaffection of Lucifer, and the great controversy was under way—a controversy that was to rage for over 6,000 years, and which would finally demand the decision of every living creature in heaven and on earth.

The immediate result of the discord was war in heaven that climaxed in the complete expulsion of Lucifer from the presence of God and the loyal angels. John describes it this way: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9.

No more was the fallen angel to be known as Lucifer, signifying “star of the morning,” but Satan which means “adversary.” The conflict had now been transferred from heaven down to this earth. Here it will continue until it reaches a desperate climax in the division of earth’s multitudes for or against the commandments of God. Just as the rebellion began by disloyalty to the authority of God, so it will end by a defiance of His authority as vested in the law of His government.

Satan has been here with his evil angels from the time he was banished from the regions of light. With devilish cunning, he has experimented with successive forms of warfare against God and His plan for this world. Through various insidious approaches, he has continued his efforts to overthrow the authority of God. The purpose of this booklet is to expose the massive assaults that have been made, and are being made, by Satan against the foundations of truth.

Every generation has witnessed a new manifestation of that evil power in its untiring warfare with Heaven’s program to save the world. The final form of the enemy opposition will be that of the beast of Revelation 13. That counterfeit power will be set up in deadly conflict with the commandments of God. The whole world will be called to take sides. The confederation of evil will consolidate for a desperate last-ditch struggle to engage the loyalty of earth’s inhabitants. The issues will be clearly revealed, and no one can remain neutral. Obedience to God or to Satan, as manifested through the beast power, will be the only alternatives open to man.

A Life or Death Issue
Now, with this little background of the contenders, let us look closer at the biblical setting for the last decisive engagement in the great controversy. Please note that the beast of Revelation 13 symbolizes a gigantic antichrist power that attempts to displace God entirely. Here is the description of that power in the language of Revelation 13:1-7: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon that 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? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”

We cannot fail to see here an unprecedented scale of opposition to God and those who follow Him. Later in this same chapter, we read that this beast power will exercise so much influence over the earth, that it causes men to receive a mark in their foreheads or hands (Revelation 13:16). Finally, those who have the mark will suffer the terrible wrath of God as described in Revelation 14:9, 10. The wrath of God is further defined in Revelation 15:1 in these words, “Seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.”

The awful nature of those plagues and the extreme sufferings they visit upon those who receive the mark of the beast are fully revealed in the sixteenth chapter of Revelation. We will not dwell on them at this point in detail, but let us remind ourselves again that this issue will involve eternal life or death for all. How earnestly should we seek to understand who the beast represents and how we might avoid that mark! There must be no guesswork or speculation on this vital subject. We must know exactly where the danger lies and how to avoid it.

The average Christian has scarcely even heard about the urgency of this subject. He has not the faintest idea about the beast or his mark, even though his destiny hinges upon the issue. Multitudes of preachers comfort the people in their ignorance of this point. They say, “Don’t worry about the beast. It is too complicated to understand. As long as you love the Lord, you will be all right. You can’t really know who the beast is.” Listen, will God warn us about the fearful danger of this beast—a danger so deadly that it will mean life or death—and then tell us it is impossible to know what it is? Would He say to us, “You will be cast into the fire if you have the mark, but I’m not going to tell you what it is—it’s just too bad if you have it”? No, that is not like God. He warns us of a danger that can be avoided. We can know that we are safe from the beast only if we know who the beast is. We can know we are free from the mark only if we know what the mark is.

A Symbolic Animal
Is it possible to understand the mark of the beast? Without fail, we can know and must know. But first we must understand the identity of the prophetic beast itself. Let us establish that this strange, composite animal is not to be taken literally. No one ever saw a creature with the body of a leopard, the mouth of a lion, and the feet of a bear. The prophetic books of the Bible usually deal in types and symbols. This beast represents something. But what does it symbolize? There must be no guessing here. The Bible does not leave any room for doubt. It serves as its own divine commentary and provides the key for understanding the prophecies.

Everything in the Bible description of the beast is symbolic. Consider the water, for example, out of which the animal arises. What does it represent? Read the answer in Revelation 17:15, “And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” There can be no quibbling over this point. God clearly explained the meaning of water in prophecy. Once the symbol is interpreted in any prophecy, the rule will apply in every other prophecy. Water will always symbolize people in biblical prophetic imagery.

Now, what about the other parts of the strange, apocalyptic beast? What do they represent? In order to understand the beast we must go back to the Old Testament book of Daniel and compare Scripture with Scripture. The books of Daniel and Revelation explain each other. They fit together like a hand and glove. Please notice that Daniel had a vision very similar to that of John. It is described in Daniel 7:2, 3: “Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” He saw the prophetic water just as John did, but Daniel saw four beasts arising instead of only one.

We have already found out that water symbolizes peoples or multitudes, but what do the animals represent? The answer is found in verse 17, “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” There it is. So plainly worded that no one can question or doubt! God says that animals in prophecy represent nations. Just as we have the American eagle and the Russian bear in our modem political vocabulary, God used animals long, long ago to represent countries also. Then, to be more explicit, God added this in verse 23, “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth.” If the fourth animal represented the fourth empire of history, then the first three would have to represent the first three empires.

This explanation becomes more simple and clear when we remember that there have only been four world empires in the earth since the days of Daniel. These kingdoms are referred to often in Bible prophecy and are called by name in some related prophecies of Daniel. Refer to Daniel 8:20, 21 and Daniel 11:2 for examples of this. In the second chapter of Daniel the same four world kingdoms are symbolized by four metals in the great statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Those four empires are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

Four Empires of History
Will you take a closer look at these animals, one by one, as they arose in the prophet’s vision? The first was “like a lion and had eagle’s wings.” Daniel 7:4. Here we have represented that grand empire of Babylon, so well symbolized by the king of beasts. It was one of the wealthiest, strongest nations ever to exist on the earth. Notice that this animal has wings. Wings are used in prophetic terminology to symbolize speed. And sure enough, Babylon arose very quickly to take its place as a ruler of the entire world.

From 606 B.C. until 538 B.C. Babylon continued to exercise her extensive authority. But a change was to take place. Daniel saw the second beast, “like unto a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it.” Daniel 7:5. After Babylon came the kingdom of Medo-Persia in 538 B.C., the second world empire.

The bear is raised up on one side to represent the fact that Persia was stronger than the Medes. Those two powers were allied together in their domination of the earth. The three ribs probably symbolize the three provinces of that kingdom—Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt.

Then in 331 B.C. Medo-Persia went down, and the third world empire arose. According to the prophecy, “dominion was given to it.” Verse 6. It was “like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads.” Verse 6. Any schoolboy who has studied his lessons carefully in ancient history will know that Greece arose as the next world ruler. Alexander the Great came marching from the west, laying the world at his feet in a very short time. The four wings of the leopard denote the exceeding speed with which Alexander subdued the nations. Within eight years, he had completely subjugated the world and sat down to weep because there were no more worlds to conquer. But he could not conquer himself; he died as a young man of thirty-three at the height of his power. At his death the kingdom was divided among his four leading generals: Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. The four heads of the beast represent those divisions of his empire. This brings us to the year 168 B.C. and the downfall of the Grecian empire in that very year. So far, every detail of the prophecy has been fulfilled exactly.

The Terrible Fourth Beast
Now let us notice the rise of the fourth beast, which is “the fourth kingdom upon earth.” Verse 23. Although Daniel had seen living wild beasts like those portrayed in the first three prophetic symbols, he had never seen anything resembling the fourth terrible beast. This is the way the Bible describes it: “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it … and it had ten horns.” Verse 7.

As we have already learned, this symbolizes the fourth world empire, which was the iron monarchy of Rome. The extension of its cruel domination of the earth has been well documented in the pages of ancient history. But this powerful nation was also to be divided, as verse twenty-four indicates, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.” Please notice that this is God’s interpretation of the ten horns on this animal. Rome would be divided into ten distinct areas.

By following the course of history we discover that the exact fulfillment did come in the year 476 A.D. Fierce tribes came sweeping down from the north country, and overwhelmed the territory of Western Europe, dividing it finally into ten parts. Those parts, of course, correspond to the ten toes of the great image of Daniel 2.

All students of history are well acquainted with the names of those tribal conquerors of Western Europe in 476 A.D. They were the Anglo-Saxons, Alemanni, Heruli, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Lombards, Burgundians and Franks. Seven of those tribes are still in existence to this very day, having grown into modem nations. They survive on the map of Europe as significant twentieth century powers. Three of them disappeared from the stage of history, as we shall learn in just a moment.

The Little Horn
Now we are prepared to read the next verse of the prophecy and find out the meaning of the little horn in the vision of Daniel. “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Verse 8. Here we must be very, very careful, indeed. We must not make the mistake of falsely identifying the little horn power, because it will prove to be the great antichrist power of history.

In order to avoid all mistakes of identity, it would be well first to consider the nine characteristic marks described in the prophecy itself. These marks of identity will enable us to be absolutely sure of the interpretation. We dare not guess or speculate concerning the historical identity of this “little horn” of prophecy.

First of all, the little horn came up among the ten. This places it geographically in Western Europe. Second, it came up after the ten arose, because it came up “among them.” Since the ten arose in 476 A.D., the little horn would have to begin its reign some time after that date. Third, it would uproot three of the ten tribes as it came to power. The eighth verse says that before the little horn, “there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.”

Fourth, the little horn would have “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Verse 8. This indicates that a human being would be at the head of the power represented by the little horn. Fifth, “he shall be diverse from the first (horns).” Verse 24. This means that the little horn would be a different kind of power from those purely political kingdoms that preceded it. The sixth characteristic is revealed in the first part of verse twenty-five, “And he shall speak great words against the most High.” Another verse says, “speaking great things and blasphemies.” Revelation 13:5.

At this point, let’s define from the Bible the meaning of blasphemy. In John 10:3033, Jesus was about to be stoned for claiming to be one with the Father. The Jews who were going to kill Him said, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” According to this text, it is blasphemy for a man to be accorded the place of God.

Now let us read another definition of blasphemy. Jesus had forgiven a man his sins, and the scribes said, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” Mark 2:7. Clearly, Jesus was not a blasphemer, because He was God and He was able to forgive sin. But for a man to make such claims would constitute blasphemy, according to the Bible’s own definition.

Now we come to the seventh point of identity, found also in verse twenty-five, “and shall wear out the saints of the most High.” This tells us that the little horn is a persecuting power. It will make war with God’s people and cause them to be put to death. The eighth mark is also given in verse twenty-five, “and think to change times and laws.” Apparently, in its bitter opposition to the God of Heaven, in speaking great words against Him, this power also seeks to change the great law of God. This move of the little horn could only be an attempt to make a change. Obviously, man can never alter the moral law of God.

A Rule of 1,260 Years
The ninth, and final identifying mark, in verse twenty-five, tells us exactly how long this little horn would exercise authority in the earth, “and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Here we are faced with a strange expression. It is actually a prophetic term that the Bible itself explains. In Revelation 12:14, we read these words concerning the same time period, “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” Now read verse six, which describes the same event. Instead of saying, “a time, times, and half a time,” it says, “a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Thus we see that the two periods of time are exactly the same. By comparing these Scriptures, we understand that a time is a year in Bible prophecy, times is two years, and half a time is half a year. This gives us a total of 3 1/2 times, or 3 1/2 years, because 3 1/2 years is exactly equal to 1,260 days. We are using, of course, the Bible year of 360 days.

We are now ready to apply another great principle in the interpretation of prophecy. Please notice that always in measuring prophetic time, God uses a day to represent a year. In Ezekiel 4:6 we read the actual rule, “I have appointed thee each day for a year.” Further support of this is found in Numbers 14:34. This method of reckoning time must always be applied in the study of Bible prophecy. This means, then, that the little horn power would rule for 1,260 years, instead of merely 1,260 days.

An Exact Fulfillment
We have before us now a list of nine specific characteristics, which have been lifted out of the seventh chapter of Daniel in description of the little-horn power. There is only one power in all history that meets the description given here. In other words, God closes every other option, and forces us to the only possible conclusion: the Catholic Church alone fulfills all the points of identity established in Daniel 7.

Let us take a quick look and notice how clearly this is done. First of all, the papacy did arise in western Europe, at the very heart of the territory of the pagan Roman Empire—in Rome itself. Second, it did come up after 476 A.D. It was in the year 538 A.D. that a decree of Emperor Justinian went into effect that assigned absolute preeminence to the Church of Rome. These are facts of history that can be verified by any authoritative historical source.

Third, when the papacy arose, it was opposed by three of the tribes that had taken over at the collapse of the Roman Empire. The Vandals, Ostrogoths and Heruli were Arian powers that strongly opposed the rise of the Catholic Church. The armies of Rome marched in to uproot and completely destroy these three tribes. The last of the three was destroyed in the very year 538 A.D., when Justinian’s decree went into effect.

Fourth, the Catholic Church did have a man at the head of its system. Fifth, the papacy was a diverse kind of power from the other political kingdoms before it. It was a religio-political system quite unlike anything that had been seen in the world before that time.

Now we take a look at the sixth characteristic—the speaking of great words and blasphemy against the Most High. Does the papacy meet this description? We need only to be reminded that the Catholic Church has ever attributed to itself the power to forgive sins. As to the great words, let me quote from an article by F. Lucii Ferraris, contained in the book Prompta Bibliotheca Canonica Juridica Moralis Theologica. This book was printed at Rome and is sanctioned by the Catholic encyclopedia. Listen to these claims: “The Pope is of so great dignity, and so exalted, that he is not a mere man, but as it were God and the Vicar of God. The Pope is, as it were, God on earth, chief king of kings, having plenitude of power.” Volume VI, pp. 2529. These are only a few of the words that the Bible defines as blasphemy. Thus, the papacy meets the marks of identity as the little horn power.

Coming now to the seventh point of identity, we find that history supports the prophecy concerning papal persecution. Everyone who has any knowledge of the Middle Ages is acquainted with the fact that millions of people were tortured and killed by the Catholic inquisitions. From a book written by a Catholic cardinal, which also bears the sanction of the Church, we read, “The Catholic Church … has a horror of blood. Nevertheless when confronted by heresy … she has recourse to force, to corporal punishment, to torture. She creates tribunals like the Inquisition. She calls the laws of the state to her aid. … Especially did she act thus in the 16th Century with regard to Protestants. … In France, under Francis I and Henry II, in England under Mary Tudor, she tortured the heretics.” The Catholic Church, The Renaissance and Protestantism, pp. 182-184.

We could multiply statements like this from historians, both Catholic and Protestant, that describe the horrible tortures of the papal authorities upon Protestants. Thus we can see the complete fulfillment of this description of the little horn.

The eighth mark, as given in verse twenty-five, concerns the attempt to change God’s laws. Does this apply to the papacy? Please note this: the Catholic Church has removed the second commandment from her doctrinal books and catechism, because it condemns the worship of images. The tenth commandment is then divided so that they still have ten commandments. But two are against coveting, and there is none against idolatry. In this way, the papacy has thought to change the law, but unsuccessfully. God’s law cannot be changed.

Finally, we come to the ninth identifying mark, which tells us exactly how long this papal power would exercise its authority in the earth. We discovered that it would be for a period of 1,260 years. Is this according to the record of history? Remember, that we have noted how the papacy began its reign, by order of Justinian, in 538 A.D. By counting down 1,260 years from this date we are brought to the year 1798. In that very year the French general, Berthier, marched his armies into Rome and pulled the Pope off his throne. He was carried away into exile, and all the properties of the Church were confiscated.

The French Directory government decreed that there would never be another Bishop of Rome. As far as the world was concerned, and by all outward appearance, the Catholic Church was dead. After exactly 1,260 years, in fulfillment of the prophecy, she lost her control of the world. Thus, the final point is clearly fulfilled in the papacy, and in it only.

The Beast and Little Horn Identical
You may be wondering what all of this has to do with the beast of Revelation 13. We are now ready to identify that strange, composite animal described in the book of Revelation. Let us read the description of that beast once more, which has the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.” Verse 5. Notice, please, that this beast is doing exactly the same thing as the little horn of Daniel. Verse five continues, “And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” How long is forty-two months? Exactly 1,260 prophetic days or years—the same as the 3 1/2 times of Daniel’s prophecy.

Concerning the beast, we read further, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” Verse 7. This beast is also a persecut- ing power. In other words, the beast of Revelation 13 is the very same power as the little horn. Both are symbolic of the papacy. This is God’s graphic illustration of the papal power, as it came up to exercise arbitrary authority over the earth for 1,260 years.

Further similarity is found by reading Revelation 13:3, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” As we have already established, the deadly wound was given in the year 1798 A.D., when the French armies carried the Pope away into exile. But that wound was to be healed, and finally the whole world would give its allegiance to the papacy again. That prophecy has been fulfilled very, very vividly before our eyes.

It was in the year 1929 that Mussolini executed the Concordat of 1929 with the Pope, restoring the properties that had been taken away from the Church. At that time, the Pope was actually made king once more, and the Vatican City was set up as a political sovereign power. From that day to this, the strength of the papacy has been advancing with tremendous strides.

At this present time most of the countries of the world have political representatives at Vatican City. The incredible influence of the papacy in world affairs is attested to by the headlines in today’s newspaper. Almost every utterance of the pope is published to the ends of the earth, and millions and millions of people look to the papal power as the greatest influence in politics today. Yes, the wound has certainly been healed, and the world continues to follow after the beast.

II. THE DRAGON AND THE WOMAN
At this point, we are prepared to ask another question concerning this appropriation of power on the part of the beast. Where did she receive the authority to rule over the world for 1,260 years and to persecute so many millions of people for their faith? The answer is found in Revelation 13:2, “And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Notice that the power comes from the dragon. But who is the dragon? Revelation 12:7-9: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

The dragon, of course, is Satan himself. But when did Satan deceive the whole world? When he was cast out of heaven, there were only two people on the earth, and they represented the entire world. By deceiving Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan led all the world astray and came into temporary possession of the earth. The great controversy between good and evil, which had started in heaven, was now transferred to this planet.

A Prediction of Enmity
After the fall of man, God pronounced a curse upon each participant in that original transgression. In Genesis 3:15, we read of the curse that was placed upon the devil or the dragon. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Here is a prophecy of the age long struggle that would exist between the dragon and the woman, and between the seed of the dragon and the seed of the woman.

But whom is the woman referred to in this prophecy? A woman, in Bible prophecy, always represents the church. In Jeremiah 6:2 we read, “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” Who is Zion? Isaiah 51:16, “And say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” So the great controversy has been going on ever since Eden. There have been two sides from then until now. The dragon and his followers are arraigned against God and His followers. Truth versus error, and Satan versus the church.

Two Sides
Satan and God have been contending for the control of every living human being. Even in the children of Adam the two sides were represented. Cain was on the dragon’s side and wanted to substitute his own way instead of the way God had commanded him. Abel belonged to God’s side and was so righteous that Cain finally killed him. Do you remember how God told each one of them to bring a lamb, but Cain substituted fruit or vegetables for that which God had commanded as a sacrifice? This, you will discover, will always be the mark of the dragon. He tries to substitute, or make a counterfeit, for the exact truth of God.

Through the descendants of Cain the earth was so corrupted that God finally had to destroy it with the flood. But after the deluge the two sides appeared once again. The dragon’s followers concentrated in Babel and tried to defy God by building a great tower that was to reach up to heaven. The plan failed, of course, and that site of the tower of Babel later became Babylon, which in 606 B.C. began to rule as the first world empire.

During those early years of confusion, God called Abraham out of Babylon and sent him over into Canaan. Abraham had grown up right there in Mesopotamia, near the place where the great tower of Babel was attempted, and where the empire of Babylon developed. God’s plan has always involved a call of separation from the confusion of falsehood.

The Dragon and Sun Worship
Briefly, let us study the history of the dragon’s side. The city of Babylon was the first capital of the dragon on this earth. A pagan system of religion developed there in the form of sun worship. It was a blasphemous idolatry, filled with immoralities, licentious ceremonies and degrading rites. But soon the dragon’s followers quarreled among themselves, and Medo-Persia came into power. But it was still the dragon’s headquarters. Baal worship continued to predominate as it did in the previous kingdom. Then Greece took over, and she also subscribed to the same pagan sun worship. Finally, Rome began to rule the world. But there was no change in the religion. Mithraism, or sun worship, was the universal religion of the pagan Roman Empire. From Babylon to Rome, the dragon held control through heathen sun worship.

But during the Roman rule, a great thing happened! It was time for the seed of the woman to appear. Remember, the prophecy spoke of enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the dragon. The seed of the woman appeared in the days of the Roman Empire. Let’s read about it in Revelation 12:1, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” Do not forget that a woman in prophecy represents a church. A pure woman stands for the true church, but a fallen woman symbolizes a false religious system.

The Seed of the Woman
This woman in white, described in Revelation twelve, represents the true church, the apostolic church, with its pure doctrines. The twelve stars on her head are the twelve apostles. “And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns … and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” Revelation 12:25. Now, who was this man-child? There has been only one man-child who was destined to rule all nations and who was finally caught up to God’s throne. It is none other than Jesus Christ. But who tried to kill Jesus as soon as He was born? You answer, “Herod, the Roman king.” And so it was. Herod tried to put all the boy babies to death in Judea in an attempt to destroy Christ.

The Roman Empire, then, is symbolized in Bible prophecy by the same red dragon as is the devil himself. Because Satan worked so closely through that nation to destroy Jesus, pagan Rome is represented by the same symbol in prophecy as the devil. But Herod did not succeed in his attempt to destroy the man-child. Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt and escaped the terrible decree. The masterstroke of Satan to destroy Jesus on the cross was foiled on that Sunday morning when the Crucified One broke the bonds of death in the resurrection. Forty days later, He was caught up to heaven in perfect fulfillment of the words of the prophecy.

When the dragon saw that he was not able to destroy Christ, he turned his wrath against the early church. According to Revelation 12:13, “When the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” At this time, there was only a small number of Christians in all the world, and Satan felt that he could completely obliterate them by persecution. Thousands and thousands of Christians were martyred under the terrible persecutions of the cruel Roman emperors. But the gospel continued to grow and spread. The blood of the martyrs seemed to become the seed of the church. When one died a hundred more sprang up to take his place. Paul preached his gospel right up to the very gates of Rome. The old dragon became worried. It was now time for the seed of the dragon to appear.

The Seed of the Dragon
For centuries, Satan had tried to destroy God’s people through the violent opposition of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Through violence and persecution, he had failed to stamp out the truth. So what he could not do through force, the dragon would now attempt by strategy and deception. He would organize his own counterfeit religious system. He would bring in pagan doctrines and philosophy from the old empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome and combine them with Christian teaching. Thus, he attempted to destroy millions through deception.

In what form did the seed of the dragon appear? It was brought forth as the beast of Revelation 13. It is very significant that the beast is actually made up of parts of the lion, the leopard, the bear and the nondescript animal of Daniel 7. God’s illustrative depiction of the papacy reveals that she was made up of parts from all those old pagan kingdoms. In particular did she draw her strength from the pagan Roman nation. According to Revelation 13:2, the dragon gave the beast his power and seat and great authority. We have learned that the dragon actually symbolizes the pagan Roman Empire, as well as the devil himself.

Did the pagan Roman Empire actually bestow any authority upon the papacy? The fact is that in 330 A.D., Constantine, the Roman emperor, turned the whole city of Rome over to the Pope as the seat of his authority. History uses almost the words of the prophecy in describing it. I shall quote from one Catholic source and one history book on this point: “When the Roman Empire became Christian, and the peace of the Church was guaranteed, the Emperor left Rome to the Pope, to be the seat of the authority of the Vicar of Christ, who should reign there independent of all human authori ty, to the consummation of ages, to the end of time.” Papal Rights and Privileges, pp. 13, 14.

“The removal of the capital of the empire from Rome to Constantinople in 330 A.D., left the western church practically free from imperial power, to develop its own form of organization. The Bishop of Rome, in the seat of the Caesars, was now the greatest man in the west, and was soon forced to become the political as well as the spiritual head.” The Rise of the Medieval Church, p. 168. How clearly these statements show that the papacy received her seat and power from pagan Rome! But where did Rome get it? From Greece. And where did Greece get her power? From Medo-Persia. And where did Medo-Persia get hers? From Babylon. And where did Babylon get it? From the dragon. So we begin to understand why God has given such fearful warnings against the beast power. The dragon is actually behind it all.

Counterfeits In Pagan Dress
Let us consider for a moment how pagan doctrines were able to find a place in this counterfeit religious system that Satan introduced. Because a mark of the dragon power is to counterfeit and substitute, we will be able to see in this religio-political system t he operation of Satan at his infernal best. Just as was the case with Cain, substitutes were fashioned to meet the commandments of God. Many relics of sun worship actually came to be accorded Christian status. A whole set of counterfeit doctrines was added so that the papacy could gain prestige with the pagan peoples of that age. Pagan idols were left at the door, but idols of Peter, Mary and the saints took their place.

As an example of the way in which pagan concepts came into the church, consider the example of Christmas. Do you know where the observance of Christmas originated? Christmas, as a festival, existed long before Jesus was born into this world. December 25 was actually celebrated hundreds of years before Christ was born. The pagans worshiped the sun, and they noticed that in December, the days were becoming shorter and shorter and the sun was getting farther away from them. Fearing that the sun would leave them altogether, they prayed and offered sacrifices. Then on December 25, for the first time, they could tell that the sun was coming back closer; the days were beginning to lengthen out again. So these people said, “The sun is reborn to us.” They called December 25 the birthday of the sun or sun god. It became a great religious festival with them.

Only the pagans celebrated the day until the counterfeit papal system was taking form. At that time, the day was adopted by the papacy and called the birth of the SON, instead of the birthday of the SUN. Dr. Gilbert Murray, M.A., D. Litt., LL.D., F.B.A., professor of Greek at Oxford University, has written this: “Mithraism had so much acceptance, that it was able to impose on the Christian world its own Sunday in place of the Sabbath; its Sun’s birthday, 25th of December, as the birthday of Jesus.” History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge, Chapter III; cited in Religion and Philosophy, pp. 73, 74. New York: 1929.

Actually, we do not know the date of Christ’s birth. As you can readily see, the adoption of December 25 was based purely upon the heathen observance of the festival of sun worship. Please take note how easily a pagan institution can slip into Christian churches and can even be passed along in Protestantism.

And what about Easter? It is a well-known Christian observance in our modem churches. Yet, it was also celebrated by pagans long before the resurrection of Christ. All Christian groups recognize that Easter Sunday is often as much as five weeks apart from one year to the next. Few know that it is all governed by the heavenly bodies. Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox.

The pagans of long ago noticed that everything seemed to take on new life in the early spring, as soon as the sun crossed the equinox. So they designated a day in the spring to honor the goddess of reproduction. That day was dedicated to Ishtar, the goddess of reproduction, because of the new life and growth in nature. The very word Easter has been transliterated from the name of the goddess Ishtar, whose worship was memorialized by the adoption of Easter.

Many times Christian laymen have asked just what the bunny rabbit and Easter egg have to do with the resurrection of Christ. Of course, they have nothing to do with it. Those pagans chose the rabbit as a symbol of Ishtar’s day because it was the most prolific reproducer. The egg was also chosen because it was a symbol of fertility. Among the heathen, the day was associated with the most licentious practices.

During the time the papacy was developing, Ishtar’s day was adopted by the Church and called Easter. Even the symbols, the bunny rabbits and eggs, are retained as reminders of its pagan origin. These examples have been presented merely to show how easily the devil was able to impose pagan ideas upon that church. As the papacy developed, it was open to the reception of unbiblical customs that marked it clearly as the real counterfeit power described by God in Revelation 13.

The question comes to our minds at this point: Are we really following the Bible in all our doctrines? If tradition and heathen custom have crept so easily into the church, what about other doctrines? The things mentioned so far have not been opposed to the direct commandments of God. We do not have any commandments concerning the observing of Christ’s resurrection or His birth. We can think of His resurrection and birth at any time and on any day of the year. In the next chapter we shall discover, though, that other pagan doctrines were introduced which strike at the very heart of true Bible religion. We are not so concerned, except for those things which contravene a plain command of God.

The growing power of the papacy continued its program by counterfeiting some of the most vital truths contained in God’s Word. May our eyes be opened to recognize these counterfeits and to remain loyal to the exact truth in its original form.

III. THE NUMBER AND MARK OF THE BEAST
Two of the most important aspects of the beast’s power are brought to light in Revelation 13: “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:16-18. So far in our study, we have described nine identifying marks of the beast power and its application to the papacy. Right here we will add the tenth point to our list by explaining the number of his name.

According to Revelation 13:17, the number of his name will also be the number of a man. Undoubtedly this refers to the man who heads the beast power. The ancient method of deriving the number of a name is to take the numerical value of all letters and add them up to get the sum. If we want to apply this test to the papacy, we must find the official name of the pope, who is the head of his church. If this is the number of a man, it would naturally be the man who is the head of the organization.

It is interesting to note that there is an official Latin title for the pope, a title which has been granted by the Church itself. This title is found repeatedly in the publications of Rome. But in the weekly Catholic newspaper, Our Sunday Visitor, of April 1915, we have the interesting statement that the letters of the official title are inscribed in the pope’s miter. Here is the actual quotation: “The letters inscribed in the pope’s miter are these; Vicarius Filii Dei, which is the Latin for ‘Vicar of the Son of God.’ Catholics hold that the Church, which is a visible society, must have a visible head; Christ, before His ascension into heaven appointed St. Peter to act as His representative. Hence, to the Bishop of Rome as head of the church, was given the title, ‘Vicar of Christ.’” At present, the pope’s miter does not contain the Latin title, but the words are incorporated into the coronation ceremonies of each newly crowned pope.

So with this official name of the pope in hand we can proceed to apply the test of the Scripture. How do we derive the number of his name? By getting the numerical value of the Roman numerals of the title Vicarius Filii Dei, we actually come to a definite number 666. Notice how it is worked out below as each letter is given its numerical value:

V
I
C
A
R
I
U OR V
S







5
1
100
0
0
1
5
0
___
112

+

F
I
L
I
I




=

0
1
50
1
1

___
53

666

+

D
E
I


500
0
1

___
501

 

Someone might object that this could be a coincidental occurrence. We grant that it is possible for such a thing to be a mere happenstance if we had only this one mark of identity to lean upon. But the fact is that this is the tenth of a long list of characteristic marks that the Bible uses to identify the beast power. It only adds weight and strength to that which has already been said in making the application to the papal power. It is the capstone proof in conjunction with all the other marks laid down so clearly in the Scripture.

The Mark—A Master Counterfeit
We are now prepared to consider the climax of counterfeits as far as the beast power is concerned. We have already learned that this power was to counterfeit many of the great truths of God. It was a combination of pagan ideas with Christian doctrine which formed a conglomeration of confusion, well designated as “Babylon” in the Scripture.

A few of the counterfeits might be listed as follows: instead of the word of God, tradition; instead of the Holy Spirit, the pope; instead of baptism, sprinkling; instead of communion, transubstantiation; instead of the eternal law of God, the changed law; instead of tithe, taxes and indulgences; instead of death, purgatory; instead of the seal of God, the mark of the beast.

Here we are especially concerned about the mark of the beast. In Revelation 14:9, 10, we read, “If any man worship the beast … and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.” This is a matter of life or death. We must know exactly what this mark is and how we can avoid it.

We first of all notice in the Bible that the mark is always opposed to the seal of God. In Revelation 7:2, 3, we learn that the seal of God is placed in the forehead, just as the mark of the beast is set in the forehead. The two things seem to be in direct contradistinction to each other. Both are received in the forehead. Now we ask, “What is the seal?” If we can establish this point, it will help us to identify the mark.

The Seal of God
A seal is something that has to do with legal affairs. Official documents are always stamped with the seal of the governing body. Every government has a seal that is placed upon its legal documents. Its purpose is to show that there is authority behind the doc- ument. This is especially true of the laws of the country. Every new law has a seal to show that there is power and authority to back up the law.

Notice that each seal has three things in it. It must contain the name of the authority, the office or title of the authority, and the territory over which he has power. The seal of America’s president contains the following words: Bill Clinton, President, United States of America. When that seal is placed upon a law or an official document, it shows that the president’s authority is supporting that declaration.

Does God’s seal have to do with His law also? If so, how and where is it impressed? Let’s read Isaiah 8:16, “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” This proves that the seal is connected with the law. In fact, His law is sealed among the disciples of God. But where is the law actually placed upon those who are faithful? The answer is found in Hebrews 10:16, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.”

This, then, is how the Lord’s seal is placed on the disciples. It is written on their minds or, symbolically, on their foreheads. Proverbs 7:2, 3 makes it even plainer: “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” The law, you see, is observed both by the hand and in the mind; thus, it is spoken of as being applied to the hand and forehead.

The Sign of God’s Authority
We want to search in God’s law to see which part actually does constitute the seal. But first, let’s find out what constitutes God’s power and authority. The President exercises authority by virtue of his office as President. God claims power based on His office as Creator of the universe. Notice the words found in Jeremiah 10:10-12: “But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: … Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power.” Again, Psalm 96:5, “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.” Put with these texts one more found in Isaiah 40:25, 26: “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things.”

We are impressed that the great thing that distinguishes the true God is His creative power. He bases His claims of authority as the true and only God upon His power to create. But what is the sign or memorial of His creation? Genesis 2:2, 3 gives the answer: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” The Sabbath is a memorial of the creative power that distinguishes Him from the false gods.

The Seal in the Law
We are now prepared to search God’s law to determine what His seal of authority really is. Remember that a seal must contain the name, office, and territory of the authority. One by one, we study through the ten commandments of the Decalogue. Gradually all are eliminated except one. The three requisites of a seal will be found only in the one that includes name, title and territory of God.

Right in the heart of the law is the memorial of His creative power, and behold, in that fourth commandment we find also the three components of the seal. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God (name): … For in six days the Lord made (office—Creator) heaven and earth (territory), the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.” Exodus 20:8-11. In other words, the Sabbath is the seal of God—the mark of the only one who can create and who is authorized to rule the earth. And to make His law authoritative, He has placed the seal in it, showing that He stands behind every single commandment in that law.

You may ask, “Is the Sabbath really the seal of God?” Let’s look at Ezekiel 20:12, “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Here the Sabbath is called the “sign” of God. Is that the same as a seal? Romans 4:11 reveals that “seal” and “sign” are the very same thing, being used interchangeably in the Scripture. “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised.”

Seal and Mark in Competition
Let us see what the relation is between the seal of God and the mark of the beast. The two things are in competition with each other. In Revelation 14:9, 10, the third angel’s message portrays those who have the mark: “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”

In verse twelve we have another group identified by these words, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” In other words, those who keep the commandments of God do not have the mark of the beast and those who have the mark of the beast do _not obey the commandments of God. The Ten Commandments, containing the seal of God, are set up in competition with the mark of the beast. The seal is the Sabbath; therefore, the Sabbath is opposed to the mark. Then what is the mark?

An Attempted Change
To answer this question we are pointed back again to Daniel 7:25, where the papacy is described as a power who would “think to change times and laws.” We have learned already how the second commandment was removed and the tenth commandment divided in the catechisms of the papacy. But what about the “times” mentioned in the text? Where only is time mentioned in the law? It is in the fourth commandment. Did the papacy think to change the Sabbath, the only time designated by the law? Yes, it did, and it happened in a most interesting way.

The pagans had a system of religion based on sun worship. Their sacred day was the first day of the week, which they named Sun-Day in honor of the sun god. Sunday was observed by the pagans in contrast to the Sabbath observance of Christians. But in the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine, a significant thing happened. Constantine professed conversion to Christianity and opened the doors of the church to all his heathen followers.

In order to gain power, prestige, and greater numbers to the church, he accepted many of the customs of sun worship from the pagans. Many of these compromises, such as Christmas and Easter, have already been described. Another of those customs was the observance of Sunday. It appeared more convenient to let the pagans keep their own day of worship on Sunday and ask the Christians to join them in it. So Constantine actually made the first law about keeping Sunday instead of the Sabbath. Papal church councils strengthened that law until it became firmly entrenched in Christianity and the world.

The Testimony of History
Turning now to the witness of secular historians, you may read the facts for yourself. Every statement is clearly defined in the historical records. From the Encyclopedia Britannica under the article “Sunday” we read: “It was Constantine who first made a law for the proper observance of Sunday, and who … appointed that it should be regularly celebrated throughout the Roman Empire.” Here are the words of Dr. Gilbert Murray, M.A., D. Litt., L.L.D., F.B.A., professor of Greek at Oxford University: “Now since Mithras was ‘The Sun, the Unconquered,’ and the Sun was the ‘Royal Star,’ the religion looked for a King whom it could serve as the representative of Mithras upon earth. … The Roman Emperor seemed to be clearly indicated as the true King. In sharp contrast to Christianity, Mithraism recognized Caesar e as the bearer of the divine Grace, and its votaries filled the legions and the civil service. … It had so much acceptance that it was able to impose on the Christian world its own Sun-Day in place of the Sabbath, its Sun’s birthday, twenty-fifth of December, as the birthday of Jesus.” History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge.

Dr. William Frederick states the same historical truth: “The Gentiles were an idolatrous people who worshipped the sun, and Sunday was their most sacred day. Now, in order to reach the people in this new field, it seems but natural, as well as necessary, to make Sunday the rest day of the Church. At this time, it was necessary for the Church to either adopt the Gentiles’ day or else have the Gentiles change their day. To change the Gentiles’ day would have been an offense and stumbling block to them. The Church could naturally reach them better by keeping their day.” Sunday and Christian Sabbath, pp. 169, 170.

The North British Review gives the following reasons for the Christians adopting the heathen Sunday: “That very day was the Sunday of their heathen neighbors and respective countrymen, and patriotism glad- ly united with expediency in making it at once their Lord’s day and their Sabbath. … That primitive church, in fact, was shut up to the adoption of the Sunday, —until it became established and supreme, when it was too late to make another alteration.” Volume XVIII, p. 409.

Catholic Agreement
Since the prophecy of Daniel predicted that the papacy would “think to change times and laws,” let us ask her if she had anything to do with this change of the Sabbath. We want to be fair to everyone, and get authentic testimony from all. The next several quotations are taken from well-known Catholic authorities that express clearly the claims of the papacy on the attempted change. From the Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV, p. 153: “The Church … after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the third commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s day.”

Salvation History and the Commandments, p. 294, 1963 edition, by Rev. Leo. J. Trese and John J. Castlelot, S.S. describes it in these words: “Nothing is said in the Bible about the change of the Lord’s day from Saturday to Sunday. We know of the change only from the tradition of the Church—a fact handed down to us from earliest times by the living voice of the Church. That is why we find so illogical the attitude of many non-Catholic, who say that they will believe nothing unless they can find it in the Bible and yet will continue to keep Sunday as the Lord’s day on the say so of the Catholic Church.”

Another well-known Catholic writer gave this explanation of the change: “The Catholic Church transferred the observance from the seventh to the first day of the week. … The Catholic Church deemed it more fitting to appoint this day, rather than Saturday, the festival day of Christians.” This Is Catholicism, 1959 edition, John Walsh, S. J., p. 325.

A 1958 catechism by Killgallen and Weber entitled Life in Christ—Instructions in the Catholic Faith explained it thus: “Why did the Church change the Lord’s day from the Sabbath to Sunday? The Church, using the power of binding and loosing which Christ gave to the Pope, changed the Lord’s day to Sunday.” Page 243.

Rev. Stephen Keenan’s A Doctrinal Catechism has this to say: “Question—Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer—Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her; she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.” Please note the word “substituted,” a term we have used over and over to describe the activities of this power.

Cardinal Gibbons, in his book The Question Box, p. 179, makes this startling admission: “If the Bible is the only guide for the Christian, then the Seventh-day Adventist is right in observing the Saturday with the Jew. … Is it not strange that those who make the Bible their only teacher, should inconsistently follow in this matter the tradition of the Catholic Church?”

Rev. John A. O’Brien in the book Understanding the Catholic Faith, p. 13, 1955 edition, states: “The Bible does not contain all the teachings of the Catholic religion, nor does it formulate all the duties of its members. Take, for instance, the matter of Sunday observance, attendance at divine service, and abstention from unnecessary servile work on that day. This is a matter upon which our Protestant neighbors have for many years laid great emphasis; yet nowhere in the Bible is the Sunday designated as the Lord’s Day; the day mentioned is the Sabbath, the last day of the week. The early Church, conscious of her authority to teach in the name of Christ, deliberately changed the day to Sunday.”

One of the greatest challenges ever cast into the face of Protestantism is contained in a statement by Father Enright, President of Redemptorist College in America: “It was the Holy Catholic Church that changed the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday, the first day of the week. And it not only compelled all to keep Sunday, but also urged all persons to labor on the seventh day under pain of anathema. Protestants … profess great reverence for the Bible, and yet by their solemn act of keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the power of the Catholic Church. The Bible says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ But the Catholic Church says, ‘NO: Keep the first day of the week’ and lo, the entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.”

You must answer that challenge! Whom are you going to obey? Listen to these words by C. F. Thomas, Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons, in answer to a letter regarding the change of the Sabbath: “Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change was her act. And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters.” Thus, the issues become plain—God says that He is the true God: He has given the Sabbath as a seal of His authority as the Creator of all. By keeping the Sabbath, we recognize His authority as the true God. But the Catholic Church appears and says in effect, “No, don’t keep the Sabbath; keep the first day of the week. We changed it, and that change is a mark of our power to overrule God’s law and authority.”

The mark of the beast, then, is the counterfeit Sunday by which the beast power is trying to be recognized as an authority greater than the Creator Himself. The sign, or seal, of God’s authority (Sabbath) is displaced by the papal institution of a substitute mark (Sunday) that she claims as her authority. Oh, that the world would see clearly the tremendous issue before us today! To whom will we yield our obedience—to God or to the beast? When we understand the issues we must make a tremendous decision either to keep the true Sabbath and recognize God’s authority, or to take the false Sabbath and recognize the Catholic Church’s claims. We must finally receive the seal of God or the mark of the beast. There are only two sides—God and the dragon, truth and error, Bible and tradition.

A book published in 1956 entitled The Faith of Millions and currently available from the Catholic Book Store as a textbook on the Catholic religion has this interesting statement on page 473: “But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholic who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistent; but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time, the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom, even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text in the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away—like a boy running away from home, but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock of her hair.”

Long ago Cardinal Gibbons summarized the issue facing every individual on the Sabbath question: “Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.” Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893.

Protestants Concur
Perhaps you are wondering what the Protestant bodies think of these things we have been considering. They will speak for themselves. Here are some candid admissions of those churches upon the Sabbath question. All statements are taken from the most authoritative spokesmen. Here is a quotation from Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, the author of the Baptist Manual: “There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week. … Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament—absolutely not. … Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers, and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” (From a paper read before a New York ministers’ conference held November 13, 1893.) This great Baptist leader condenses into a few sentences all that has been said in the pages of this booklet.

The Presbyterian Christian at Work said this: “Some have tried to build the observance of Sunday upon apostolic command, whereas the apostles gave no command on the matter at all. … The truth is, as soon as we appeal to the litera scripta (the literal writing) of the Bible, the Sabbatarians have the best of the arguments.” Ed. April 19, 1883. The Methodist Theological Compendium states: “It is true that there is no positive command for infant baptism … nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week.”

Dr. W. R. Dale (Congregational) in The Ten Commandments, pp. 106, 107, says: “It is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath was founded on a specific, divine command. We can plead no such command for the observance of Sunday. … There is not a single line in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.”

The Lutheran position, as revealed in the Augsburg Confession of Faith, states: “The observance of the Lord’s day (Sunday) is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the church.” Episcopalian spokesman Neander writes in the History of the Christian Religion and Church, p. 186: “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a divine command in this respect, far from them and from the early apostolic church to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday.”

In Ten Rules For Living, by Clovis G. Chappell we read: “We ought to remember that the Sabbath is God’s gift to man. We realize, of course, that our Sabbath is not the same as that observed by the Jews. Theirs was the seventh day of week, while ours is the first. The reason we observe the first day instead of the seventh is based on no positive command. One will search the Scriptures in vain for authority for changing from the seventh day to the first. The early Christians began to worship on the first day of the week because Jesus rose from the dead on that day. By and by, this day of worship was made also a day of rest, a legal holiday. This took place in the year 321. Our Christian Sabbath, therefore, is not a matter of positive command.” Page 61.

Mark Enforced
We could give statements from dozens of other denominational sources, but space does not permit. What is your answer to these things? Clearly, we have seen that God predicted the rise of a power who would try to change the Sabbath; history records that the power attempted the change; the power herself admits that she tried to change it; and Protestants confess the change was made. How many will take their stand on the side of Bible truth?

The world is rapidly approaching the time when God’s Sabbath becomes a great test of obedience. Its claims will be placed before all earth’s inhabitants. At that time, when the issues stand clearly revealed, individuals will accept the seal of God or the mark of the beast. The book of Revelation describes a final edict of this earth’s governments that will actually seek to enforce the mark upon all the world. “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.” Revelation 13:16.

It is evident that no one has the mark until it is pressed upon all through this legislative act of human government. Then, the true Sabbath and the counterfeit (Sunday) will be so revealed that no one can escape a decision—a decision to keep the true Sabbath with mind and hand, or to submit to the counterfeit Sabbath of the papacy. In the next chapter you will learn the identity of the nation which will influence the world to accept the counterfeit Sabbath, and which will seek to enforce that mark of loyalty to the papacy.

IV. THE UNITED STATES IN PROPHECY
Any person should be proud to be an American. Certainly there is no spot on earth where freedom is so fully enjoyed as in our own United States. Have you ever wondered why this is true? There is a reason for the rise of democracy in this hemisphere. It is not just a happenstance that America is the freedom capital of the world. Actually, the beast power of Revelation 13 had a lot to do with the rise of America.

You may be asking, “How could the papal power be responsible for the United States of America?” It was because of the persecutions of the beast power in Europe that the United States came into existence. The Pilgrim Fathers, to escape the religious persecutions of the papacy, fled to the New World of America where they could follow their conscience in worship.

Let’s get the picture now from the pages of prophecy in God’s Word. The first ten verses of Revelation 13 describe the papacy in its rise to power. We have already studied this prophecy in detail. Verse 10 closes with the description of the Pope’s capture in 1798: “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Then immediately John saw a second beast in vision that he describes in the next verse. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” Revelation 13:11. Let us be very careful in identifying this second beast. There are several points that will reveal the identity of this power.

First of all, it is seen “coming up” as the first beast received his deadly wound. Since the first beast (papacy) received its wound in 1798 when General Berthier took the Pope captive, we should look for the second beast to be coming up at that time. This means that around 1798 this power would be rising in the world. Secondly, this second beast would come up “out of the earth.” This is in contrast to the first that rose out of the water. We found in Revelation 17:15 that water symbolizes peoples and nations. The second beast, coming out of the earth, would depict a nation rising in some area of the world where there were no previous civilizations and multitudes. The absence of water denotes a dearth of people.

Thirdly, this nation had two horns like a lamb, and they had no crowns on them, as did the first beast. It came up peacefully, like a lamb, and the absence of crowns reveals that there were no kings at the head. It was not a monarchy, or dictatorship. Everything about this beast indicates a peaceful democracy.

Second Beast Identified
We are now ready to identify this second beast. There can be no doubt as to its identity. There is only one nation in history that meets the description. The United States of America was the only nation “coming up” to power in 1798, as the first beast received its deadly wound. The Constitution had been voted in 1787, and the Bill of Rights adopted in 1791. Also, it was in 1798 that America was first recognized by a world power. Historians record that there was something wonderful and providential about the rise of this country.

In exact fulfillment of the prophecy this nation arose in the New World, where no former civilizations had existed. It came up peacefully, democratically, and established itself upon the two great principles of Protestantism and republicanism. Church and state were to be kept separate. Our forefathers had seen enough of the evils of a church/state government.

Let us read a statement by John Wesley, a marvelous student of the Bible, and the architect of the Methodist Church. Writing in 1754 in his New Testament with Explanatory Notes after applying the first beast of Revelation 13 to the papacy, he said, “Another … beast … But he is not yet come, though he can not be far off; for he is to appear at the end of the forty-two months of the first beast.” Page 427. Please note that Wesley was looking for a nation to be rising within a very short time that would meet the description of the prophecy. Only the United States could have fulfilled his expectation.

It would be good if we could stop right here in our study, but we would not be true to the Scripture if we did not read the rest of the prophecy. Verses 11 and 12 continue: “He had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” In other words, the time would come when the United States would change its peaceful, democratic tone. Under some influence, it would begin to compel worship, “saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:14-17.

A nation speaks through its laws. It may seem incredible to us as we read these things today that the United States would ever be persuaded to enact religious laws, and try to force people to worship a certain way, but prophecy has never failed. She will make an image to the papacy, or develop a system that resembles that power. Church and state will be united enough to enforce religious laws and will thus closely resemble the papal system.

According to the prophecy, America will finally enforce the mark of the beast. What does this mean? What is the mark? Based on God’s Word we have shown it to be the counterfeit Sabbath set up by the beast power. The keeping of Sunday instead of the Bible Sabbath is claimed as a mark of allegiance to the Catholic Church by her own priests and leaders. Will the United States, then, seek to enforce the keeping of Sunday? That is exactly what is predicted, and it is also exactly what is shaping up right now in American politics.

No matter how much we might prefer to believe otherwise, our own beloved country will begin to use its influence to compel the keeping of Sunday. Already the groundwork has been laid. Right now, most of the states have such Sunday laws on the books. In some places these religious laws have created economic hardships on Sabbathkeepers. A few large cities have been urged to boycott those who refuse to keep Sunday. The prophecy in Revelation 13:17 indicates that economic sanctions will be applied, “and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark.”

National Sunday Law Near
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that Sunday laws are not unconstitutional or discriminatory. This opens the way for all the present confused, contradictory local state laws to be replaced by a national law that will standardize the enforcement of Sunday all over America. With the incredible strides being taken toward federal control of individual freedoms, this step to regulate the day of worship will not seem so drastic when it actually does take place.

Mark this well: These developments are already on the horizon. Those who refuse to accept the false day of worship will face fines, boycott, prison and finally, the threat of death. When the Sabbath question is thus made a national issue, people will be forced to accept one side or the other. Every single person will have to make a decision. The mark of the beast will then be placed upon all who choose to disobey the commandment of God to keep the Sabbath day holy. By accepting the mark of allegiance to the papacy (Sunday), they reject the mark that God claims as His sign of authority—the seventh-day Sabbath.

Decision
One might well raise the question, “What does all this have to do with me?” That is an important question, and the answer is even more important. Your eternal salvation hinges upon your decision now. You cannot shrug off the implications of this revelation concerning obedience to the Sabbath commandment. There is no question of convenience or inconvenience. We are dealing with the Ten-Commandment law that was written by God Himself. To break one of those commandments is to commit sin, and no willful sinner will be saved. The keeping of the seventh day Sabbath has been made the test of loyalty and love to God. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17.

Rapidly, the world is confederating under the two banners. Time is running out. The great controversy is entering its final stages. While ecumenism draws one block of denominations into a liberal camp, based largely upon disobedience to the Sabbath of God’s holy law, another group is distinguished as those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. As the test becomes more severe, every individual must choose to obey God or man, to follow the commandments of God or tradition, to keep the true Sabbath or the counterfeit, to receive the seal of God, or the mark of the beast. Now is the time to settle the issue. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

Urgent!!!!!!!

26 Feb
 
Today’s top story is an unusual and unofficial video of Pope Francis discussing Christian unity revealed during a conference of leading Pentecostals in Texas. The Minister’s Conference was led by Kenneth Copeland Ministries, leader of the Word of Faith movement. The video was apparently recorded on an iPhone by Anthony Palmer, bishop and international ecumenical officer for the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, in a meeting he had on January 14, 2014 with his long-time friend. Palmer shared the video at the Pentecostal gathering, held mid-February, after Palmer’s opening remarks in which he made some eye-opening comments. Palmer announced to the crowd that Luther’s protest was over and reminded them of the agreement signed in 1999 by both Catholics and Lutherans.  Catholics have for centuries believed in salvation by works, while Lutherans believed in salvation by grace. In this document they combine these two together, to become salvation by grace alone leading to good works.  Palmer announces cheekily that Protestants no longer exist because of this declaration since they have nothing further to protest. He urged that it’s time to return to the Catholic church.

In the video, Pope Francis speaks of his yearning for the separation between Catholics and Protestants to be over. He invites the lost “brethren” to come to Joseph for food, referring to himself, and to find their long-lost brother waiting to embrace them.

The most shocking of all was the response of the Evangelicals present. Pope Francis received a standing ovation for his speech, and Kenneth Copeland responded with a video message after he and the entire congregation prayed in tongues for the Pope. Palmer then invites Copeland to come to the Vatican, and Copeland responds “I will. I’m available.”

 
Today’s top story is an unusual and unofficial video of Pope Francis discussing Christian unity revealed during a conference of leading Pentecostals in Texas. The Minister’s Conference was led by Kenneth Copeland Ministries, leader of the Word of Faith movement. The video was apparently recorded on an iPhone by Anthony Palmer, bishop and international ecumenical officer for the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, in a meeting he had on January 14, 2014 with his long-time friend. Palmer shared the video at the Pentecostal gathering, held mid-February, after Palmer’s opening remarks in which he made some eye-opening comments. Palmer announced to the crowd that Luther’s protest was over and reminded them of the agreement signed in 1999 by both Catholics and Lutherans.  Catholics have for centuries believed in salvation by works, while Lutherans believed in salvation by grace. In this document they combine these two together, to become salvation by grace alone leading to good works.  Palmer announces cheekily that Protestants no longer exist because of this declaration since they have nothing further to protest. He urged that it’s time to return to the Catholic church.

In the video, Pope Francis speaks of his yearning for the separation between Catholics and Protestants to be over. He invites the lost “brethren” to come to Joseph for food, referring to himself, and to find their long-lost brother waiting to embrace them.

The most shocking of all was the response of the Evangelicals present. Pope Francis received a standing ovation for his speech, and Kenneth Copeland responded with a video message after he and the entire congregation prayed in tongues for the Pope. Palmer then invites Copeland to come to the Vatican, and Copeland responds “I will. I’m available.” The following youtube segment gives the full picture:

Is Luther’s protest really over? There were 94 other theses of contention that Luther nailed to the Wittenberg door taht day on October 31, 1517. What changed has taken place in the Catholic Church on Luther’s other points? If Luther’s protest is really over, then we should be seeing the Catholic Church eliminating penance, purgatory and the Virgin Mary. But we are not likely to see those changes anytime soon.  

Ellen White reminds us that: When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. ,—Testimonies for the Church 5:451 (1885)

Movements to join the hands of Protestantism and Catholicism have been progressing for a number of years, but this video provides a blatant progression in final endtime events. As Kenneth Copeland himself says “47 years ago, this was impossible.” But the thinking of society and Protestantism has changed dramatically. As we have been warned, Catholicism has been silently growing into power and today the Roman power is succeeding in gaining the ascendancy and bringing the apostate daughters back under its fold. Those that should be aware of the evils of ecumenism are sealing their ears shut. Are we also? We are rushing towards a one-world religion under Roman Catholicism’s leadership and the ramifications are staggering. We see that we are at the threshold of final events. 

Please see also additional sources:

Read more (www.patheos.com) 

Read more (standupforthetruth.com) 

Read more (www.buzzfeed.com) 

The Surrender of Self

25 Feb
Introduction

 

Would you look into your heart right now and respond to a very personal and important question? Do you judge yourself to be stronger in the things of God than you have ever been before? I hope so; that is exactly the way it is supposed to be. Every day with Jesus should be sweeter than the day before. Each moment should find us moving up in our experience with a deeper, sweeter faith than we had the moment before.

Yet I hope no one is satisfied that God has finished His work of growth and sanctification in their life. This very moment He wants to lead us out deeper into the waters of surrender and consecration. There are still victories to be won, there are sins to be put away, and there is a drawing together that needs to be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. And it needs to be done right now. Let me ask you a question. Does God really mean what He says in the fantastic promises of Romans chapter six? No other chapter of the Bible is so lavishly excessive in giving assurance to a struggling Christian. Consider these extravagant phrases for example:

“Shall we continue in sin? … God forbid” (verses 1 and 2).
“We that are dead to sin” (verse 2).
“Henceforth we should not serve sin” (verse 6).
“Freed from sin” (verse 7).
“Dead indeed to sin” (verse 11).
“Let not sin therefore reign” (verse 12).
“Being made free from sin” (verse 18).

There is certainly nothing ambiguous about any of those texts. But is there some secret meaning or perhaps some hidden reservation that might not apply literally to us in these promises? We are tempted to believe so because of the almost fanatical element of certainty in every verse and line.

Some people are frightened by the book of Romans simply because it describes the perfect work God wants to do in sanctifying us from our sins. Many people are also afraid of that word “perfect.” They are fearful that God will ask them to do something that they are not willing to do.

Before proceeding further, let’s settle this question once and for all. God will never do anything in our spiritual lives that we are not willing for Him to do. He never coerces the will or pressures us into any actions to which we have not given consent. So we can totally disabuse our minds of being forced into any life choices that are not free and sovereign.

But now we come face to face with the basic root weakness that has led millions into discouragement and defeat. They simply have not been reconciled to giving up the enjoyment of their sins. There is a certain shallow, short-lived pleasure in sin that dances over the emotions and seeks to capture the mind through the sensory pathway of the flesh. In every case there must be a decision of the will to forfeit those temporary physical “pleasures of sin for a season.” Until that choice is made and acted upon, there can be no real victory over sin in the life.

Let me ask you right now whether you are resigned to the stripping away of all your darling indulgences. Are you prepared to accept all the results of a complete surrender to Christ? The mortifying of every fleshly evil? I am convinced that there are only two possible reasons for a person holding back and failing to gain the victory over sin. Either he is not willing to give up the enjoyment of the sin or else he does not believe that God will give him deliverance from it. Being willing, of course, is our problem, but seeing it done is God’s part alone. We must be willing, but we can never be able. Let us now look at these two great mental blocks that have stolen the victory from so many of God’s people.

 

Self: The Greatest Enemy

 

I think it has probably already been revealed to most of us that self is the greatest enemy we face. Once we have settled the score with that old man of the flesh who seeks to rule over us (Romans 6:6), all the other victories will come in their course.

God has given every one of us a powerful personal weapon to use in combating the self-nature. The will is our only natural reserve weapon, and absolutely everything depends on the right action of this resource. The ultimate sin in the eyes of God, the final factor that will cause a soul to be lost, is to deliberately say no to the will of God. We become whatever we choose to be. We are not what we feel, or what we might do or say in a single impulsive moment of our life. We are what we will to be. We cannot always control our emotions, but we can control our will.

Feelings have nothing to do with the truth of God. It is not your feelings, your emotions, that make you a child of God, but the doing of God’s will. Perhaps you had a headache or arthritis pain when you woke up this morning, but does that change the fact that God loves you? Does it alter the truth that the seventh day is the Sabbath? Whether you feel good or bad, the truth remains exactly the same.

Some people can feel wonderful during an evangelistic crusade or a special revival weekend, but when the meetings are finished, their faith plummets to rock bottom. It is a yo-yo effect with everything tied to emotions generated by circumstances.

We must recognize the fact that our will and God’s will, at some point, must come into violent collision. Either we let Him have His way or we choose our own course. And when it happens, most people are not willing to admit the true cause behind the raging conflict. They do not see the battle as primarily linked to the self-nature.

In evangelism I have listened to hundreds of “reasons” for not going all the way with Christ. They tell me it is because of Sabbath work, or doubts about the Bible, or opposition of relatives. But none of those things are the true reasons. It goes much deeper than the words they are uttering. There is a basic nature problem behind their lack of commitment. They talk about twigs and leaves when the real problem is the roots. The truth is that God wants something that self is not willing to give up. They love something more than they love God.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus made that strange statement in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”? Why didn’t the Master finish the sentence by spelling out the thing to be denied? “Let him deny himself” what? Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, Sabbath-breaking? No. Just deny himself, period. Jesus knew that self was behind every angry battle against the truth. Once that victory is gained, all other victories will be won also.

Multitudes are outside the will of God and outside the church because they are not willing to give up something that they love more than they love God. Thousands are in the church and are perfectly miserable because something in their life has been fighting the will of God for years. What I am trying to say is this: To be a true Christian requires surrender above everything else.

Do you recall the time that your desire and God’s will met in fearful conflict? There was a titanic struggle. The old self-nature hardened itself and resisted every impulse to turn away from rebellion and sin. Under deep conviction you wrestled and agonized against the powers of the flesh, but to no avail. Then, finally, you surrendered your stubborn will and the battle was over. Peace flooded into your heart, and glorious victory was immediately realized.

What happened to change the picture? Did you finally manage to drive back the devil? Definitely not. Your battle was with self, and when you became willing, God gave you the victory over that carnal enemy. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

It may sound foolish, but it is still true: Before you can have, you must give away; before you can be full, you must be empty; before you can live, you must die; and before you have the victory, you must surrender.

I don’t believe anyone ever felt so defeated, depressed, and cheated as eleven men did on a Friday night almost two thousand years ago. Jesus had promised them the world. They were going to sit on thrones and rule kingdoms. Life would be marvelous for them. They were important. Then, suddenly, Jesus was arrested, tortured, and crucified. The world had come to an end for them. Nothing will bring us as low as the cross brought them. Not even crippling disease, financial failure, desertion of friends, death of dear ones, or injustices of life. But was it defeat? On the contrary, it was the most glorious moment of victory this world has ever known.

 

Is Trying the Answer?

 

Now let’s come back to the question of your sin and mine. We have to admit that we fight an enemy who is stronger than we are. In the weakness of the flesh we find ourselves bound in mind and body by the superior strength of our spiritual enemy. We resolutely struggle to extricate ourselves from the bondage, but the harder we try the deeper we sink into the mire. At last, when we are totally exhausted from the effort, a well-meaning friend comes by and says, “I know what the problem is. You need to try harder.”

Listen; if that is the only answer we have to the sin problem, we should stop sending missionaries to India. I’ve never seen anyone try harder to be saved than the Hindus. I’ve watched the wretched penitents prostrating in the hot dust, painfully measuring their length, mile after mile, as they inch toward some sacred river rendezvous. There they will dip under the filthy water, look up at the blazing sun, and pray—then repeat the process again, and again, and again.

Millionaire businessmen will give away all their wealth, take a beggar’s bowl, and spend the rest of their life feeding on scraps of shared food—all in an effort to earn salvation. Never have I seen a Christian try as hard to be saved as a Hindu does. Yet, I have never met a single Hindu seeker who has found any assurance or peace of mind—not even among the Brahmin brotherhood of the highest caste.

Do you know why “trying” will not break the chain of sin? Because sinful propensities are deeply embedded in the very nature of every baby born into the world. We are brought into this life with inherent weaknesses that predispose us toward disobedience. Furthermore, we have all yielded to those propensities. Jesus, born with the same fallen nature, is the only One who never gave way to those weaknesses. He lived a totally sanctified life of obedience.

We do not need instruction in theology to acquaint us with the facts about our fallen nature. All of us have struggled with memories of failure and compromise. We have desperately tried to blot out scenes of unfaithfulness from our minds, but every such effort has ended in utter defeat.

I heard of a holy man in India who traveled from village to village, laying claim to special creative power. As a result of his Himalayan pilgrimage, this sadhu professed to hold the secret for making gold. He would fill a large caldron with water and then stir the contents vigorously while uttering his sacred incantations. But in the process of stirring he also slyly slipped some gold nuggets into the water without being detected.

The headman of one village wanted to buy the secret for making gold, and the holy man agreed to sell it for 500 rupees. After explaining the stirring and the prayers to be repeated, the priest took his 500 rupees and started to leave. Then he turned back and gave a final word of warning. “When you are stirring the water and uttering the prayers you must never once think of the red-faced monkey, or the gold will not come!”

As you can imagine, the headman never could make the formula work, because every single time he stirred the water, there was the red-faced monkey sitting at the edge of his mind, grinning at him.

We have absolutely no natural ability to keep the thoughts and imagination under control for the simple reason that they are rooted in our sinful natures. Only when the mind has been regenerated through the process of conversion can the individual subjugate the lower, physical powers and bring them under the effective control of the Holy Spirit. Only in this way may the very intents of the heart be sanctified and brought into harmony with Christ. Without the transforming grace of the new birth, “the carnal mind … is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).

For three years I studied the language in India under the tutelage of a Hindu priest who came to my house daily on his bicycle. This gave me the opportunity to ask questions about various aspects of Hindu worship. Only after many months of classroom camaraderie did I feel clear in asking my teacher about one puzzling feature of his ancestral religion. “Why,” I asked, “did most all the temples have obscene carvings all over the front of the buildings?”

My pundit seemed genuinely shocked by the question and vociferously denied that any such carvings existed. Whereupon I invited him to walk down the street a block or two where a new temple was being constructed. I had watched the builders placing the obscenities by the front entrance door, so the teacher could not deny they were there. But once again he professed surprise and stated categorically that he had never seen anything like it before. He would find out the reason for it and tell me the next day.

On the following afternoon as he was mounting his bicycle to leave, I asked him about the carvings again. “Oh, yes,” he said, “I found out why they put them on the front of temples. You see, when the people go in to worship the gods they are not supposed to think of those evil things, so we place the carvings to remind them not to think of those things while worshipping inside.”

I chuckled at his novel explanation, realizing that none of us need reminding about the intrusion of such thoughts. Without the restraining power of God, they are ever with us. What we need is the panacea of divine grace to subdue and conquer them. The renewed mind holds the answer to both the inside and outside factors that lead to transgression.

 

Controlling the Inner Spirit

 

Have you noticed, though, that it is always easier to deal with external actions than with internal dispositions? Well-disciplined people can force themselves to act correctly on the outside, even when the inward desires are at war with the outward conduct. The Bible teaches that this conflict must cease between how we think and how we act. A true Christian will be the same in both mind and body.

All of us have seen drivers dutifully slow down to fifteen miles per hour through the school zones. They appear so submissive and law-abiding as they creep along in front of the uniformed traffic patrol lady. Yet those drivers are usually seething with internal anger and rebellion because of missing an appointment. Self is behind that angry battle, and the stubborn will has simply not yielded to the idea of obedience. Here is where the desperate need lies for those who claim to be in the family of God. Almost anyone with minimum acting skills can force conformity to the rules (especially if they think someone is watching) but almost no one can force himself to be sweet about it. We can try till our dying breath, and we will never be able to alter the unconverted disposition by dint of determination. Such a major shift requires the creation of new attitudes and thought patterns.

Many are convinced that they are Christians just because they act in a certain way and conform to certain biblical rules and principles. In other words, their lifestyle and behavior identifies them as not of this world. Or does it? Can we always recognize a true child of God by his conduct? Perhaps we can over a period of time, but pretenders are able to deceive most of us for a good while. Eventually the nature behind the good works begins to appear, and the charade is seen for what it really is.

Isaiah wrote, “If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). Some people are obedient without being willing, and their fruit is soon exposed as artificial. What does this teach us? It teaches us that two mistakes can be made concerning those who keep God’s law carefully. We might wrongly assume they are legalists because they look so seriously upon the slightest disobedience, or we might wrongly assume they are true Christians just because they show zeal for conforming to the law.

 

Judging the Outward Actions

 

No one can read the motives of another. Therefore, it is a dangerous, judgmental attitude to deprecate the apparent caring concern that a fellow Christian has for keeping the commandments. If his works indeed are based upon principles of self-effort and do-it-yourself salvation, the truth will be exposed soon enough. But if he has a genuine love relationship with Christ that constrains him to be meticulous in obedience, then he deserves commendation instead of criticism.

So we must conclude that it is a fatal delusion to depend upon trying harder and struggling longer to get the victory over sin. The secret is trusting instead of trying, and time will only make a young sinner into an old sinner. Finally, we must admit that we are not as strong as our adversary, and as we surrender our dependence upon human strength and effort, God provides the glorious gift of victory.

Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). That is a tremendous truth, but we must go far beyond the negativism of this statement and experience the positive reality of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The difference between “all things” and “no thing” is Christ.

This does not imply that we sit back in relaxed idleness while God assumes all the responsibility for our deliverance. There is a balance between the possibility and responsibility of overcoming sin. One belongs to God and the other to us. The possibility rests with God, and the responsibility rests with us. And as we begin to act against the sin in our life, God provides the power to actually break with the sin.

How far may we go in utilizing that faith method of claiming the victory? John declares, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). By submitting to that higher power which reaches down from above, the soul is able to bring every thought into captivity to Christ.
Perhaps it can be clarified with an illustration. Suppose the farmer walks along his garden path and looks down at the

soil beneath his feet. Aloud he wonders whether the minerals in that dirt could ever be transformed into vegetables. The human answer immediately fills his head. “Of course not. There are only three categories: vegetable, mineral, and animal; they always remain distinct and recognizable.”

Soon afterward the farmer laid out neat rows by the garden path and carefully planted the cabbage seed according to the instructions on the package. Then the gentle rains slowly moistened the ground, and the warming rays of the sun began to exercise their particular magic on the tiny seeds. They began to germinate and grow, and under those favorable influences from above, the root system began to draw the actual mineral elements into the leaves of the cabbage. By some mysterious process still not fully comprehended by science, the iron, phosphorus, and magnesium were incorporated into the plant and transformed into the vegetable form of the cabbage. The mineral had become a vegetable.

Later, as the farmer stood in the path and admired the rows of well-formed heads, the question came to him: Could these vegetables ever become animal? And the answer from his human reasoning was clearly, “No. Vegetable is vegetable, and animal is animal, and they are two distinct and separate categories.”

But a few days later the farmer carelessly leaves the bars down on the nearby pasture, and the cows wander into the garden. As they consume the succulent young cabbage a truly remarkable thing happens within their bodies. The vegetable leaves are assimilated into the organs of digestion, and in very short order the vegetable has literally been turned into animal. What a miracle! And it did not happen because of any effort put forth by the cabbage. It merely yielded to the higher power that reached down from above, and the miraculous change was effected.

 

How Far Can We Go In Victory?

 

Now we take the illustration one step further and ask the question: Is it possible for the animal, or the physical, to ever become spiritual? Again the obvious answer would be: “No. That is another sphere and could never happen in this world.” But I submit to you that this kind of transformation is not only possible, but it has actually happened to everyone who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

By yielding our will to the higher powers from above, we can be delivered from the bondage of the flesh. The entire being is made captive to the Spirit of God, and we are able to think His thoughts after Him. Paul declares that we partake of the divine nature and have the mind of Christ. Again and again, the process is described as a surrendering of the will and a giving up of our own way. “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13).

Paul further described the surrender process as a literal crucifixion of the self-nature. He said, “I am crucified with Christ” and “I die daily.” This constant subjection of the will is not achieved by any decision or effort that we can manufacture from within ourselves. Self will never make the choice to put itself to death. Only the Holy Spirit can create the desire to escape from the domination of a sin-loving nature. Only He can bring us to the point of being willing to give up every indulgence of that corrupt, fallen nature.

As the mind and will cooperates with the Holy Spirit, a faith reckoning renders the deathblow to the old man of sin. The life opens up to the sweet, triumphant infilling of a new spiritual power. Little idols disappear as they are dethroned from the heart. There are no more secrets from God, no longer anything to hide or to be ashamed of, no more defeatism as a way of life. Joyfully we put aside the ornaments of self and the world to allow more capacity for the loving character of Christ to be revealed.

Although there are brief superficial pleasures in a life of sin, those indulgences cannot be compared with the delight of following Jesus. Self makes the Christian path seem dark and fearsome, but when self is surrendered and crucified the narrow road is filled with joy unspeakable.

 

The Enigma of Miserable Christians

 

Every time you see an unhappy Christian you are looking at someone who has not surrendered self to the cross of Christ. That inward life of the flesh, that self-nature, has been allowed to survive. There can be no peace in a divided loyalty. Those who have not submitted to be crucified with Christ still carry their religion like a heavy burden. They remind me of the Hindu processions I observed, again and again, on the crowded streets of India. The priests and devotees staggered along, bearing a heavy idol on their shoulders. Occasionally they stopped to rest, and it was an obvious relief to put down their god momentarily to relieve themselves of the burden.

Isaiah described the same thing in his day, as he must have watched similar scenes. He wrote, “They lavish gold out of the bag … and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble” (Isaiah 46:6, 7).

How accurately this describes what I observed in India. Their god was so helpless that they had to carry it from place to place. They wearied themselves with the effort to move it to another location. It was a burden that they were relieved to be rid of when they stopped to rest.

What kind of religion is it that must be painfully endured and borne like some miserable weight? I’ve seen professed Christians with that same kind of experience. They have a religion that seems to do nothing for them but to make them weary and disgruntled. They are like the man with a headache. He didn’t want to cut off his head, but it hurt him to keep it. These people don’t want to give up their religion, but it is painful to keep it.

There is only one explanation for this kind of bizarre situation. It is abnormal in the extreme. Christians should be the happiest people in the world. If they are not, it is because self has not been surrendered and crucified.

Come back now to the text in Isaiah where the prophet described the idol processions of his day. In truth it is not Isaiah speaking but the Lord God Himself. In verse 7 He said, concerning the idol god, “they carry him.” Now read verse 4 where God declared to Israel, “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

Which god do you serve today? What kind of religion do you profess? You can only serve God or self. When you unreservedly surrender that spoiled, greedy, indulgent self to be put to death, you may reckon yourself dead to the sins which self promotes. Trying to live a Christian life without dying to self is just as miserable as struggling to carry a pagan god. In fact, when self has not been given up to the death of the cross, it comes between you and the Savior, becoming a real god. The constant strain of trying to subdue that self-god by human effort can wear out the most determined saint.

What happens then when faith claims the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil? We are relieved of the strain, because God promises to carry us. “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). “And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). “I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4).

It is not hard to imagine that Satan’s strongest efforts are aimed at the exaltation of self. He can only control the individuals who continue to feed the carnal nature. I have often imagined that our great enemy has a computer list of self-related indulgences that he constantly holds out to the fallen human race. Each category has been honed and adapted to exploit the particular weakness of the self-nature that Satan recognizes so easily in every member of Adam’s family. Perhaps some of the most appealing subtitles in his list would include self-righteousness, self-dependence, self-seeking, self-pleasing, self-will, self-defense, and self-glory.

Because he is the temporary prince of this world, the devil has inspired an avalanche of material that focuses on developing the love of self. Counselors of every stripe and hue urge us to improve our self-worth and our self-esteem. Even ministers preach sermons around their interpretation of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. Are these perversions of the biblical admonitions to “crucify self” and “deny self”? How can we seek to esteem and exalt that which we are told to subdue and put to death?

There is a sense, of course, in which we need to recognize our value in the sight of God. He counted every one of us as more precious than His own life. But that objective recognition is entirely distinct from the basic self-centeredness of the fallen human race. God can love us in spite of our genetic weaknesses and indulged carnal appetites, but the closer we come to Jesus, the less charmed we should be by our own perverse ways. In fact, as we enter into the converted life through the Holy Spirit, the confidence we placed in the flesh will be wholly shifted to the Savior. In describing the new-birth experience, Paul compared it to spiritual circumcision. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).

As we have noted already, the great apostle equated this conversion experience to the crucifixion of self. The truth is that the egocentric nature of every baby, child, and adult causes each to want their own way. This nature must be crucified, and under the mastery of the new spiritual nature, the affections are set upon Jesus. Self is no longer important. The flesh has no strength to control the life or fulfill its own will. The song of the soul now is, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way. Thou art the potter; I am the clay.” God grant us this experience

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