Tag Archives: God

The Two Witnesses

5 Mar
By Doug Batchelor
An Amazing Fact
The brightest man-made light on earth emanates from the top of the Luxor hotel, a giant pyramid structure, in Las Vegas, Nevada. A total of 45 xenon lights, each one as big as a washing machine and with the brightest bulb available, shoots a powerful blast of radiant light straight up into the sky. The light beaming from the top of this artificial mountain is so bright, astronauts can see it as they fly overhead. Airline pilots are cautioned to avoid the area, as the beam of light can blind them temporarily if they fly through it. Sadly, this brightest man-made light on earth is totally wasted—it’s not illuminating anything as it blazes into empty space.

 

Did you know there is a story in the Bible that tells of a mountaintop blazing with heavenly light? Even though it is seldom addressed, this event, called the Mount of Transfiguration, or sometimes the Glorious Mount, is one of the most pivotal moments in the New Testament. This monumental experience found in the Gospels of Matthew 16, Mark 9, and Luke 9 is full of profound meaning for Christians, and it helps illuminate many other amazing Bible truths.
ASCENDING TO THE LIGHT
After a long day of teaching and ministering to the multitudes, Christ and His disciples separate from the clamoring crowds. Jesus then says something very unusual: “There are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1 NKJV). It probably seemed to His disciples that Jesus was predicting something really big. But what?
Then, six days after Jesus makes this cryptic announcement, they reach the foot of a “high mountain.” There He handpicks His own trusted “trinity” of apostles—Peter, James, and John—and with them in tow, He leaves the others in the valley and begins the long assent up the steep hill. As the sun is setting, they finally stumble wearily onto the summit. Jesus immediately kneels and begins to pray, and at first the disciples attempt to join him; yet exhausted, they soon drift into a deep sleep.
Then something extraordinary happens! Combining the testimony of Luke and Mark, we’re told, “As He prayed, He was transformed before them. The appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. Exceeding white, like snow such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (See the full account in Luke 9:29-31 and Mark 9:2-9 NKJV.)

THE REASON FOR THE REVELATION
Suddenly awakened by the cosmic event, the disciples see Christ shining with a heavenly light radiating from within. He is not just the humble son of Joseph and Mary, but with unveiled glory, He now appears as the majestic Creator of the universe.

In the classic book, The Desire of Ages, the author helps us better understand Jesus’ primary reason for this heavenly visitation. In His prayer, “He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony, with the knowledge that He is … the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.”

The loving Father grants them this brief glimpse of His Son’s glory, because He knows the disciples were soon to see their Master completely humiliated. Their teacher was about to be naked, beaten, and bleeding—appearing very helpless and very mortal. So in the same way a little tree stores sap during the warm, bright spring to sustain it during the cold, dark winter, Jesus knows His disciple’s faith needed a bright boost on the mountain to see them through the approaching dark day on Calvary.

The disciples also needed the reassurance of this event because they continued to confuse the purpose of the Messiah’s mission with the popular Jewish fables of earthly glory. Jesus knew it was going to be devastating for them to see their hopes for earthly glory punctured by Roman nails, so the Father granted this vision to remind them Christ’s kingdom was heavenly, not earthly.

WHY MOSES AND ELIJAH?
Along with the glorious light of heaven, the brightest ever seen on earth, two of the greatest celebrities of Scripture appeared at the side of Christ. “And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:4 NKJV).

Someone might ask, why these two individuals? God had also taken Enoch to heaven, why didn’t he come along for this special visit? Very simply, the two prominent individuals who did come were living symbols of the Word of God. Moses represents the law, and Elijah represents the prophets. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to [fulfill].” Moses is the great lawgiver, and Elijah is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.

Throughout the Bible, the Word of God is often portrayed with a dual image. The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone. The Word of God is also portrayed as a sword with two edges. Two lamps and two olive trees portray the two sacred divisions of the Bible. But the ultimate testimony of God’s Word is Jesus: “In the volume of the book it is written of me” (Hebrews 10:7). The volume of the Book, the Bible, all points to Jesus, who is the combination of two natures, the human and the divine. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14).

In Luke 16:31, Jesus concludes His parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Here Jesus places a very high priority on God’s Word, and we shouldn’t miss it. No matter what miracles you witness, even someone rising from the dead, you should still place the plain Word of God on higher ground.

THE ULTIMATE ENDORSEMENT
Around election time, politicians begin to campaign and jostle for the support of voters. One common way for them to achieve this is by getting endorsements from as many popular and credible leaders as possible. The Glorious Mount experience is the ultimate endorsement.
Ever since the time of Abraham, every Jew had been looking for the coming Messiah. Several counterfeit Christs had appeared on the landscape of Hebrew history. Now as a symbol of supreme support, Jesus stands glorified flanked on the right and left by the two greatest heroes of ancient Israel. Moses and Elijah surround Jesus to give us a very vivid picture that the Word of God points to and endorses Jesus as the Messiah.
This endorsement from Moses and Elijah represents the endorsement of the law and the prophets, God’s Word, that Jesus is the “coming one” (Matthew 11:3). No other individuals could have offered greater validation for Jesus’ ministry than these two giants of Scripture.
The transfiguration is also a direct fulfillment of prophecy. Malachi foretold, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” One reason the Word of God is so wonderful is because it is so precise. Both Moses and Elijah did appear in the New Testament prior to Jesus’ sacrifice to encourage and endorse Him.
TWO OR THREE WITNESSES
In Revelation 11:3-12, we find the great prophecy of God’s two witnesses. “These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth” (Revelation 11:4). We know that a lamp is a symbol for the Word of God, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). When Zechariah sees two olive trees in vision, he asks the angel what they represent. “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). It also takes the olive oil of the Spirit to illuminate the lamp of God’s Word.

Revelation warns what will happen to those who would harm God’s two witnesses, the Holy Bible. “If anyone wants to hurt them fire proceeds out of their mouths and devours their enemies.” This happened in the experiences of both Elijah and Moses. Fire came down from heaven on the Egyptians as they pursued God’s children and it consumed the sons of Aaron. It also consumed the soldiers when they challenged Elijah. In addition, “These have the power to shut up heaven so no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over water to turn them to blood.” Did Elijah pray and the rain stop? Did Moses pray and the water turn to blood? So again we see why God likens the two witnesses, His Word, to the ministry of Moses and Elijah.

Then, as if the endorsement of Moses and Elijah was not enough, a cloud overshadows the mountaintop and the voice of the Almighty is heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, Hear Him.” The Bible says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (1 Corinthians 13:1). On the Mount, two humans redeemed by Christ testify He is the Messiah, and of course, the third is the voice of God Himself! And what better confirmation of truth could God have offered—the lawgiver and the greatest prophet and His own audible testimony? In effect Moses says, “This is the One.” Elijah says, “This is the One.” Then God Almighty says, “This is the One.”

A DIVINE DISCUSSION
When I first read this passage, I wondered, “How did they know it was Moses and Elijah?” They had no journalistic photographs or archived video footage with which to compare these beings. Then I realized they probably overheard some of the conversation and heard Jesus address them by name.

Fortunately, the Gospel of Luke even gives us a little insight regarding what these great men discussed. It says, “Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30, 31 NKJV). Of course, “decease” refers to His sacrifice on Mount Calvary.

I cannot imagine any other two individuals who would be better qualified to encourage Jesus to go forward with His sacrifice. Both Moses and Elijah understood the sting of persecution, and rejection by their own people. Keep in mind, both Moses and Elijah had been in heaven for hundreds of years, not because of their good works, but because they were enjoying an advance payment on the sacrifice that Jesus was about to make. In other words, if Jesus did not go through with the plan to die for mankind, Moses and Elijah had no right to remain in heaven. They were obviously very motivated to encourage and inspire Jesus to go forward. Ultimately, their purpose was to be witnesses to Christ and to support Jesus in His coming trial and sacrifice.

THREE TABERNACLES
As the eyes of the disciples adjusted to the light and they collected their wits, I image the first thing they did was remove their shoes when they realized they were on holy ground. After a few terrified minutes of eavesdropping on this divine dialogue, Peter feels compelled to say something. “And Peter answered and said toJesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mark 9:5).

It is interesting that Bible history records three earthly temples: one in the wilderness during the time of Moses; Solomon’s temple standing during the time of Elijah; and the third temple built after the Babylonian captivity. This third one is the one Jesus cleansed. There are also three aspects or stages of salvation: justification, symbolized by Moses; sanctification, the ministry of Elijah; and the God-filled man or glorification represented by Jesus.

MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE
Many of the high points in the Bible are also mountaintop experiences. The Lord often arranged profound events on mountaintops because they make natural monuments. Whenever God’s people looked upon these prominent peaks, they would remember the important events of their sacred history.

Consider, for example, that after 40 years in the wilderness, God delivered His covenant to Moses on a mountaintop. Mount Sinai had the fire of God with smoke and thunder shaking the summit. After 40 days in the wilderness, God also spoke to Elijah on Mount Sinai with fire, wind, and an earthquake (1 Kings 19:11, 12). After 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus rebuked the devil on a high mountain (Matthew 4:8-10). God also makes His promises on mountains. It was in the mountains of Ararat that God made His covenant with Noah. He made His covenant with Abraham on Mount Moriah. The whole nation of Jews confirmed its Promise Land covenant from Mount Gerizim (Joshua 8:33). Of course, Elijah was on Mount Carmel when fire and rain came down, a symbol of God’s reviving Spirit raining on the church. Moses first glimpsed the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, and it is from a high mountain John first sees the holy city (Revelation 21:10). Most important, God’s loving covenant of salvation was sealed on Mount Calvary.

Like Jesus, Moses stood on a mountain with stretched-out hands, supported on the right and the left by Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:12). Of course, when Jesus died on Calvary, two thieves surrounded Him on the right and the left representing two kinds of sinners, the same way you have Moses and Elijah flanking Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. I think before we climb the Glorious Mount, we need to climb Mount Calvary. God wants to confirm a covenant with you and fill you with His Spirit, and it will happen when you humble yourself upon the mountain where Jesus was slain.

THE FINAL WORD
The Glorious Mount rings with divine authority. Mark 9:7 says, “And a cloud came and overshadowed them” (NKJV). This cloud is actually veiling the glory of the Father, who declares, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him.” God the Father comes to sanction His Son who receives His total approval.
This is so important for us to understand. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God the Father speaks personally at Christ’s baptism in the low Jordan valley, and identifies Jesus as His Son. He says, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” announcing that the Jewish nation no longer needs to look for anyone else as the Messiah (Matthew 3:17 NKJV). Anyone who came before Him was a fraud, and anyone else coming after is a counterfeit. Jesus is the one!
Then at the end of Jesus’ ministry, God the Father again identifies His divine Son on the mountain, commanding something very simple. “Hear Him.” That’s a complete sentence, easy to understand. But “hear” means more than just hearing the audible sounds. It really means “listening with undivided attention and doing.” Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church” (Revelation 2:17). God the Father, in person, is commanding you and me to listen to Jesus’ word and to do it.
There have been be a lot of counterfeits, frauds, imposters, and cult leaders trying to impersonate Christ. But God the Father says about Jesus in the Bible, “Hear Him.” He is the true Word! That’s something very powerful to contemplate.
SUDDENLY
As the last echoes of God’s thundering voice resonate from the mountain, the trembling disciples cower in fear. Mark 9:8 says, “Suddenly” it all ended. Just as quickly as the light flashed on, it went off. “When they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesusonly with themselves.” As the glory evaporates and their eyes become adjusted to the darkness, Moses and Elijah and the Father and the cloud are all gone; all they can see is Jesus. He promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

It’s easy to have our vision obscured by the kaleidoscope of images that we see in the Bible. And it’s easy to have our minds clouded with the collage of images we see in modern life. But after it all fades, and we’re at the base of the mountain again, what really matters? I think God is telling us to only hear Jesus, to only see Jesus. He was the only one left with them; everyone else might forsake you, but Jesus says, “I will be with you till the end” (Matthew 28:20). Always remember that Jesus is still there for you even after the glory disappears.

DON’T MENTION IT
Christ again says something else very unusual to the dazed disciples. You and I can barely imagine how these three apostles are feeling “as they came down the mountain” (Mark 9:9). That incredible event must have been life-changing, and they were probably in spiritual shock, even more than when Christ calmed the storm or walked on water. They might even have been glowing with the lingering residue of light still dissipating from their faces, like Moses was glowing after speaking with God. What doubts about Jesus could they possibly have now? They were probably ready to die for Jesus that very moment.
But then Jesus commands them not to tell anyone of the things they had seen. I imagine that might have been one of the most difficult mandates they ever received from their Lord. They have just witnessed a glimpse of heaven. They’ve seen Moses, and they’ve seen Elijah. Like ancient Israel, they’ve heard the commanding voice of God reverberating from a mountain, and now, they are told not to make any comments regarding this remarkable event. Don’t mention it. Keep in mind. He is asking three fishermen not to comment on the most exciting experience of their lives. I don’t know if I could have kept it quiet.
TIMING TO TELL
Fortunately, they were not asked to “never mention it.” More precisely, Jesus asked, “That they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man were risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9).

Why would Jesus make this request knowing their hearts had been so profoundly touched through this event? I believe He wanted them to store this experience in reserve for when they would really need it. Peter, James, and John were chosen to be the leaders of the early church, and when all seemed lost, and when things got hard, they could say, “Don’t be discouraged. We want to tell you about something we saw that night with Jesus on the mountain.” But sadly, it appears just when they needed it the most, they didn’t remember this experience—when their Lord went to the cross, they forgot who He was.

Has God given you a mountaintop experience? Maybe He has answered prayers and worked miracles that right when they’re happening, you say, “Wow, praise the Lord!” But then when the glory fades, you end up in a valley with the devil crowding you. And the memory of what’s happened on the mountain has all but evaporated.

It’s just like when God had told the children of Israel not to make idols, and they heard the voice of God, and they felt the ground shake, and they saw fire consume a mountain. They glibly promised the Lord they would obey. Yet a few days later, they’re worshiping a golden calf.

The devil is a master at inducing mountaintop amnesia. If you give him just five minutes of your attention, he can make you forget a whole lifetime of miracles. If you entertain his suggestions, if you embrace his discouragement and his doubts, all those mountaintop memories can dissipate just when you need them the most.

LAST-DAY SIGNIFICANCE
The experience on the Glorious Mount is especially important for the end-times; that’s why after His resurrection, Jesus returned to teach on this. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets [here are Moses and Elijah again!], he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

Revelation 12:17 says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The woman represents the church, and the dragon, the devil, wants to destroy her. The church in the last days has two outstanding characteristics: They “keep the commandments of God, and they have the testimony of Jesus.” What is the testimony of Jesus? Revelation 19:10 explains, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” So the members of the last-day church are identified as a people who will keep the law (the commandments) and have the prophets (the spirit of prophecy).

Isaiah 8:16 says, “Bind up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples.” Moses, before he died, exhorted the children of Israel to keep the law. He repeats the Ten Commandments to them in Deuteronomy 5 and says, “These words that I have spoken unto you this day shall be in your heart. You shall bind them upon your hand. They shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” So the law and the words of the prophets are sealed by the Holy Spirit in the mind and hearts of God’s people. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

We must saturate ourselves with the law and the prophets, with the Word of God, for a special purpose in these last days. Mark 9 says, “His clothing became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (NKJV). Mark is really struggling here for words to describe the bright aura of light the disciples saw around this heavenly assembly. The garments of Christ were radiant white, just like new snow, and glowing like the sun. Of course, the robe that Jesus wore is a symbol of His purity. It is what He is wearing in heaven. Wonderfully, you and I are offered this same clothing purified by His blood, if we stay true to His Word. “These … washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love” (1 Peter 1:22 NKJV).

WHAT ELIJAH AND MOSES WON’T DO
Since we are talking about the end-times, it’s important to look at one crucial issue that’s causing much confusion. In Revelation 11, we read about two witnesses. “And I’ll give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” Please note this doesn’t say these two witnesses will only prophesy for 1,260 days, for witnesses for God witness all the time. This of course, refers to the Dark Ages from AD 538 to 1798, when the law and the prophets, the Bible, was obscured.

There are many good Christians out there who believe that in the last days, Moses and Elijah will literally come down to the earth again to preach, only to be killed and lay in the streets for three-and-a-half days. It’s a half-truth, because the two witnesses, the Word, is symbolized by Moses and Elijah. But these two men of God are in heaven with their glorified bodies, and the Bible doesn’t tell us that He wants two others to step down from heaven to be killed. Moses and Elijah will not be coming back to earth in this way.

A TYPE OF THE SECOND ADVENT
To make a full circle, let’s go back a brief moment to where we began. One of the most important lessons from the Mount of Transfiguration is that it represents a miniature picture of the second coming of Jesus.

Referring back to this experience, Peter identifies the event as a sample of Jesus’ coming. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:16, 17).

Remember that Jesus said some of His disciples would not experience death before they saw the kingdom of God coming with power. Of course, we know that these disciples died long ago, but they were given an advance peek of what it will be like when Christ returns.

A number of exciting insights can be gleaned from this story. Consider the parallels:

There will be two categories of saints when Jesus returns: the resurrected and the living. Moses, who died and was resurrected (Jude 1:9), is a symbol of the large class of people who will awake from their dusty graves when the Lord calls them -“The dead in Christ shall rise.” Elijah represents the other class of people who will be alive when Jesus returns. Like Elijah, who was caught up into heaven by a fiery chariot, and Enoch who walked with God until he walked right into heaven, they will be translated with new, glorious bodies without ever tasting death.

During the transfiguration, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are wearing white garments, the same kind that the redeemed will wear. Clouds of glory also accompany them; Jesus left in the clouds and said He would come back in the clouds. And even the voice of the Father in heaven was heard on the Glorious Mount, just as it will be when Christ returns on the right hand of the Father (Matthew 26:64).

SIX DAYS TO COME
There might even be some significance to the fact that this all happens six days after Jesus makes the promise. After Christ told the disciples they would see His kingdom come, He tarried six days before He took them up the mountain. I believe this yields some fascinating truths.

However, before we go on, both Matthew and Mark record this period as six days. But Luke mentions that the delay was eight days. Many antagonists like to point at this and say, “Contradiction!” But that’s just not so. Matthew and Mark, both Jews, recorded time differently than Luke, who was Greek. Luke includes the day Jesus spoke of the event to happen and the time it took for them to return home, and he also gives a rough estimation, “about eight days.” No, there is no fire or smoke here—these three accounts match up just fine.

But after six days, Jesus takes the disciples up. In 2 Peter 3, we’re told, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (NKJV). After the fall of Adam, God promises that Christ will come to defeat the devil—and when Christ came, He said He would come again. If we can approximate the date of creation to about 4004 BC, we know that for 2,000 years, God preached His message through the patriarchs, men like Adam, Methuselah, Enoch, and Noah. In 2004 BC, Abraham was born. For the next 2,000 years, God reached out with His gospel through the Jews, the Hebrews. And they faithfully waited for the Messiah to come through their descendants. Then roughly in 4 BC, Jesus Christ was born, and for the last 2,000 years, God has shared His good news through spiritual Israel, the church. If you add these three 2,000s together, you get 6,000. If we apply the theme Peter writes about, well, that should give you goose bumps! Psalm 90:4 reaffirms, “A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it has passed.”

I’d also like to add that the Lord says the righteous will live and reign with the Lord for 1,000 years—a Sabbath of rest. After this time in heaven, God creates a new heaven and a new earth, upon which New Jerusalem will come down. I could certainly be wrong, and date setting is prohibited in the Bible, but I believe that the plan of salvation is encompassed in seven thousand years. I believe it is going to happen this way.

If we’re in overtime right now, we should not be surprised. We should be thankful, because the Bible says the Lord is longsuffering and not willing that any person should perish. God is going to do as much as He can, but with all that is happening in the news today, we ought to be trembling that we are living during the sunset of the sixth day. The millennial Sabbath is soon to begin!

A BIBLE THEME
The story of the transfiguration is not the only story in the Bible in which a six-day period is invoked. For instance, in Job 5:19, “He will deliver you in six troubles, yes in seven no evil will touch you.” In addition, Athaliah reigned for six years before Josiah was coroneted. When Josiah came forth from the temple, Athaliah was slain and he was crowned—the trumpets even blew, and afterward the Sabbath began.

Hebrew servants were released after six years of servitude. They also sowed the fields for six years and left the land desolate on the seventh. Likewise, the earth will be desolate for a thousand years, a time when the gospel will not be sown. Jesus says, “I am the Sower. The Gospel is the seed.” When He comes in Revelation, it is with a sickle to harvest.

But most interesting is when Moses stayed at the base of Mount Sinai. We all know that he stayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, like the flood. But the time before that, Exodus 24 says, “For six days he stayed at the base of the mountain.” After that, God called him up to the top to receive the commandments. This is just like what happened on the Glorious Mount. After six days, Jesus went up the mountain, and Moses met Him there.

The Bible fits together perfectly! It’s like a puzzle. It’s significant that it says, “after six days.” That tells me that if this is a miniature picture of the second coming, we are very near the return of the Lord.

THE TRANQUILIZED CHURCH
It is prudent to keep in mind that the Glorious Mount happened very unexpectedly. The atmosphere surrounding the mountain was quiet and dark—the drowsy disciples were snoozing. Then, BANG! It happened. Christ will come as a thief in the night, when many of His followers are unprepared.

There is a sober warning for us in this experience. At the most pivotal moments of church history, Satan seems to sedate the saints. Just before this revelation of glory, the Scriptures declare the disciples “were heavy with sleep” (Luke 9:32). When Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane, the Bible tells us that He picked the same three disciples to pray with Him. And they again went to sleep. Likewise, in the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus warns us just prior to the second coming that “they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5). It seems at the most critical moments in Jesus’ ministry, the saints are snoring. This is why Jesus warns, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming; in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35, 36 NKJV).

When they should have been kneeling with Him in the garden, remembering the glory they witnessed, they fell asleep. And because Peter, James, and John were asleep on the Mount of Transfiguration, they lost the full potential of their experience. They forgot the Glorious Mount, so they were not ready to follow Christ to Mount Calvary. I wonder if that haunted them for the rest of their lives: that missed opportunity because they slept when they should have prayed?

A MORE SURE WORD
So how do we stay awake? To the powerful weapon of prayer, we can add the witness of Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets. God’s Word can prepare you for anything. In 2 Peter 1:17, Peter refers back to the Glorious Mount. It is the only time that any of the three disciples write about it. But before Peter’s death, he writes passionately, “For [Jesus] received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to Him from the Excellent Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ And this voice which came from Heaven we heard when we were with Him on the holy mount” (vs. 17, 18 NKJV).

Yet even after Peter reflects on that defining moment in his life, he adds, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto to ye do well that ye take heed” (v. 19). Can you imagine saying that after seeing Christ in all His glory sandwiched between the two greatest Old Testament characters, with the voice of God the Father seared forever into your memory? Yet Peter confesses that however great that experience was, he had something more important, more dependable. God’s Word is a light that “grows brighter and brighter until the day dawn.”

Peter saw Christ glorified; he received a glimpse of heaven. But you and I have something worth more. We have the Bible. Christ tells us through Peter that your Bible is more trustworthy than a vision. If you want a mountaintop experience, you have it within your reach if you reach for your Bible. Nothing is more important than the testimony of Moses and Elijah, the double-edged sword, the Law and the Prophets, the commandments of God, the testimony of Jesus—it is the most precious thing God has committed to mortals. It is Jesus, the Word who became flesh.

GLOWING FOR GOD
As a child, I was always fascinated by those pale green illuminating plastic toys you could hold up to a light and watch glow even after the light was turned off. I remember one of those toys was a glow-in-the-dark plastic sword. After exposing it to the light, I could find my way through the dark house just by the glow from my sword.

The Lord has given us a special warning message in the Mount of Transfiguration. There are some very troubling days ahead, and now we must spend time on the mountain gathering light from God’s Word to see us through the dark valleys. The message from the mountain tells us that Jesus is the One, and that we too can wear the same robes He, Elijah, and Moses wore that day. He’s telling us to listen to the testimony of Jesus, and to the laws and the prophets—which point to the fulfillment through Christ. It’s a picture of Jesus’ imminent second coming, and a warning not to become spiritually sleepy. The mountaintop experience helps to remind us that even when the glory fades, Jesus is always still with us and Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Seven individuals appeared on the mountain that day: Three from heaven—Moses, Elijah and God the Father; Three from earth—Peter, James, and John. And then there was Jesus—the bridge, the ladder, between heaven and earth

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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.

God with us

22 Jan

1. “God With Us”
“His name shall be called Immanuel, . . . God with us.” “The light of the knowledge of the glory of
God” is seen “in the face of Jesus Christ.” From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with
the Father; He was “the image of God,” the image of His greatness and majesty, “the outshining of His
glory.” It was to manifest this glory that He came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to
reveal the light of God’s love,–to be “God with us.” Therefore it was prophesied of Him, “His name
shall be called Immanuel.”
By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. He was the Word of
God,–God’s thought made audible. In His prayer for His disciples He says, “I have declared unto them
Thy name,”–“merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,”–“that the
love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” But not alone for His earthborn
children was this revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God’s wonderful
purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which “angels desire to look,” and it
will be their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed
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and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that
the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it
will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love
which “seeketh not her own” has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is
manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.
In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens,
and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the
flowers of the field. “His strength setteth fast the mountains.” “The sea is His, and He made it.” Ps.
65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in
earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father’s love.
Now sin has marred God’s perfect work, yet that handwriting remains. Even now all created things
declare the glory of His excellence. There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself.
No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life.
There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf
pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal,
in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their
beauty in blessing
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to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all
our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The mists ascending
from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud.
The angels of glory find their joy in giving,–giving love and tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen
and unholy. Heavenly beings woo the hearts of men; they bring to this dark world light from the courts
above; by gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human spirit, to bring the lost into a
fellowship with Christ which is even closer than they themselves can know.
But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is
the glory of our God to give. “I do nothing of Myself,” said Christ; “the living Father hath sent Me, and
I live by the Father.” “I seek not Mine own glory,” but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57;
8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All
things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all
created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father’s life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in
praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit
of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.
In heaven itself this law was broken. Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub,
desired to be first in heaven. He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from
their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God,
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attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation. With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest
the loving Creator. Thus he deceived angels. Thus he deceived men. He led them to doubt the word of
God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused
them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against
God, and the night of woe settled down upon the world.
The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened,
that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not
be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires
only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only
by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to
the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the
height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of
Righteousness must rise, “with healing in His wings.” Mal. 4:2.
The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a
revelation of “the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.” Rom. 16:25, R. V. It
was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne.
From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the
deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence,
and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He
covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Lucifer had said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; . . . I will be like the Most High.” Isa.
14:13, 14. But Christ, “being in the form of God, counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an
equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of
men.” Phil. 2:6, 7, R. V., margin.
This was a voluntary sacrifice. Jesus might have remained at the Father’s side. He might have retained
the glory of heaven, and the homage of the angels. But He chose to give back the scepter into
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the Father’s hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring light to the
benighted, and life to the perishing.
Nearly two thousand years ago, a voice of mysterious import was heard in heaven, from the throne of
God, “Lo, I come.” “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me. . . .
Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.” Heb. 10:5-7. In
these words is announced the fulfillment of the purpose that had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ
was about to visit our world, and to become incarnate. He says, “A body hast Thou prepared Me.” Had
He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the world was, we could not have
endured the light of His presence. That we might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of
His glory was shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity,–the invisible glory in the visible
human form.
This great purpose had been shadowed forth in types and symbols. The burning bush, in which Christ
appeared to Moses, revealed God. The symbol chosen for the representation of the Deity was a lowly
shrub, that seemingly had no attractions. This enshrined the Infinite. The all-merciful God shrouded
His glory in a most humble type, that Moses could look upon it and live. So in the pillar of cloud by
day and the pillar of fire by night, God communicated with Israel, revealing to men His will, and
imparting to them His grace. God’s glory was subdued, and His majesty veiled, that the weak vision of
finite men might behold it. So Christ was to come in “the body of our humiliation” (Phil. 3:21, R. V.),
“in the likeness of men.” In the eyes of the world He possessed no beauty that they should desire Him;
yet He was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth. His glory was veiled, His greatness and
majesty were hidden, that He might draw near to sorrowful, tempted men.
God commanded Moses for Israel, “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Ex.
25:8), and He abode in the sanctuary, in the midst of His people. Through all their weary wandering in
the desert, the symbol of His presence was with them. So Christ set up His tabernacle in the midst of
our human encampment. He pitched His tent by the side of the tents of men, that He might dwell
among us, and make us familiar with His divine character and life. “The Word became flesh, and
tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of
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the Only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.” John 1:14, R. V., margin.
Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials, and sympathizes
with our griefs. Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of
sinners. For in every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attraction
presented in the Saviour’s life on earth, we see “God with us.”
Satan represents God’s law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to
obey its precepts. The fall of our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges upon the
Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and suffering, and death. Jesus was to
unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of obedience. For this He took upon
Himself our nature, and passed through our experiences. “In all things it behooved Him to be made like
unto His brethren.” Heb. 2:17. If we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this
point Satan would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus was “in all points
tempted like as we are.” Heb. 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject. And He exercised
in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame
in the strength given Him from God. He says, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is
within My heart.” Ps. 40:8. As He went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan,
He made plain to men the character of God’s law and the nature of His service. His life testifies that it
is possible for us also to obey the law of God.
By His humanity, Christ touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays hold upon the throne of God. As
the Son of man, He gave us an example of obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey. It
was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, “I Am That I Am. . . . Thus
shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.” Ex. 3:14. This was the pledge
of Israel’s deliverance. So when He came “in the likeness of men,” He declared Himself the I Am. The
Child of Bethlehem, the meek and lowly Saviour, is God “manifest in the flesh.” 1 Tim. 3:16. And to us
He says: “I Am the Good Shepherd.” “I Am the living Bread.” “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
“All power is given
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unto Me in heaven and in earth.” John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matt. 28:18. I Am the assurance of every
promise. I Am; be not afraid. “God with us” is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of
our power to obey the law of heaven.
In stooping to take upon Himself humanity, Christ revealed a character the opposite of the character of
Satan. But He stepped still lower in the path of humiliation. “Being found in fashion as a man, He
humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:8. As the high
priest laid aside his gorgeous pontifical robes, and officiated in the white linen dress of the common
priest, so Christ took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim.
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our
peace was upon Him.” Isa. 53:5.
Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our
sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no
share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His
stripes we are healed.”
By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through
sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we
become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has
bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked
with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not
only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His
immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family,
forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “Unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” God has adopted human
nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the “Son of man”
who shares the throne of the universe. It is the “Son of man” whose name shall be called, “Wonderful,
Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isa. 9:6. The I Am is the
Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is “holy, harmless,
undefiled, separate from sinners,” is not ashamed to call us brethren. Heb. 7:26; 2:11. In Christ the
family of earth and the family of heaven are
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bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is
enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love.
Of His people God says, “They shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land.
For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty!” Zech. 9:16, 17. The exaltation of the
redeemed will be an eternal testimony to God’s mercy. “In the ages to come,” He will “show the
exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” “To the intent that . . .
unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known . . . the manifold
wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eph.
2:7; 3:10, 11, R. V.
Through Christ’s redeeming work the government of God stands justified. The Omnipotent One is
made known as the God of love. Satan’s charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. Rebellion can
never again arise. Sin can never again enter the universe. Through eternal ages all are secure from
apostasy. By love’s self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in
bonds of indissoluble union.
The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God’s grace much more
abounds. The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted.
Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above
all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, where the Son of God tabernacled in humanity; where the
King of glory lived and suffered and died,–here, when He shall make all things new, the tabernacle of
God shall be with men, “and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself
shall be with them, and be their God.” And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of
the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift,– Immanuel, “God with us

The Order of the Jesuits

17 Jan

Written by Charles Bedwell

The Catholic Church has been making stronger and more blatant moves at getting this world ready for that “Great Day of the Lord”.  But who exactly is their “Lord”? It is paramount for the Christian today to be able to clearly discern the many ways the Devil is using to prepare an unsuspecting world to accept the Mark of the Beast.  In order to have a full understanding of the Papacy’s modern movements and decisions, we MUST understand the role of The Jesuit Order and how the Papacy has been utilizing The Jesuit Order to covertly incorporate their schemes for many years.

Constitution of the Jesuits: “Let whoever desires to fight under the sacred banner of the Cross, and to serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity,- let him keep in mind that he is part of a society, instituted for the purpose of perfecting souls in life and in Christian doctrine, for the propagation of the faith …. Let all members know, and let it be not only at the beginning of their profession, but let them think over it daily as long as they live, that the society as a whole, and each of them, owes obedience to our most holy lord, the pope, and the other Roman pontiffs, his successors, and to fight with faithful obedience for God.”

Why was the Jesuit Order created?

The Jesuit Order, or The Society of Jesus, also called “Jesuits” today, was founded by a man named Ignatius of Loyola, born Ignatius of Loyolain 1491.  He maintained a military career as a Spanish knight until he was severely wounded at the Battle of Pamplona in 1521.  While he was in recovery, he supposedly went through some sort of “spiritual conversion”.  He then combined his military experience with his newfound religious conversion to decide that his religion needed “an army”.  Thus, he created The Society of Jesus under the banner of Roman Catholicism.  With several of his companions he formed the Jesuit Order in 1534 and it was officially commissioned and sanctioned by Pope Paul III in 1540.  Ignatius was also commissioned by the Pope to reorganize the “Bank of Rome” in 1540.  In its early stages, just after they were reorganizing the Bank of Rome, they began ruthlessly taking over Education.  Taking over the schools and the colleges would allow them access to change teachings.

The primary purpose of the newly-created Jesuit Order was to serve as the Pope’s deterant to the Protestant Reformation, which revealed the Roman Catholic Church as antichrist and the pope as that “man of sin” spoken of by the Apostle Paul. Their plan was to bring the entire world back to the Roman Catholic Church.

“I do declare from my heart, without mental reservation, that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar General and … He hath power to depose Heretical Kings, Princes, States … that they may safely be destroyed. Therefore, to the utmost of my power I will defend this doctrine … I do further declare the doctrine of the Church of England, of the Calvanists [sic], the Huguenots, and other Protestants to be damnable and those to be damned who will not forsake the same. I do further declare that I will help, assist, and advise all or any of His Holiness agents in any place wherever I shall be; and to do my utmost to extirpate [exterminate] the heretical Protestant doctrine, and to destroy all their pretended power.” (The Jesuit Oath, as taken from Political and Economic Handbook by Thomas Edward Watson in 1916, p. 437)

The Jesuit Order would become the Papacy’s Counter-Reformation.  The Reformation, started by reformed Catholics such as Martin Luther, began as a wave of truth in the 1500’s, calling out and exposing the abominable heresies of the Catholic Church.  It was mostly through the Papacy’s selling of “indulgences”, or certificates of pardon, that the Reformation was flamed to life.  Luther was outraged when members of the university were handing him these “requests for pardon of sin”.  He quickly told them that unless they actually repent of their sins, coming before the Throne of Grace for forgiveness, they would unfortunately perish in those sins.  He began teaching people that the grace of God cannot be purchased, that God’s grace is a FREE GIFT.  His opposition to Catholic doctrines began riling up the entire Catholic Order against him.

This should be a lesson to us as well:  When the Holy Spirit reveals great truth to us and calls us to spread the word to others, the enemy will stir up the powers of this world against us.  We must rely on God in these situations and not on our own wisdom.

The Jesuits’ Banking Scheme

The reorganized Bank of Rome began branching out and opening various offices in Europe.  Some of the banks they opened up: Venice (1587) The Wisselbank in Amsterdam (1609) Hamburg (1619) Nuremberg (1621) Rotterdam (1635) Bank of England (1694).

The Bank of England, having its model after the Bank of Rome and created by the Jesuits, actually became the world’s first Central Bank.  This central bank began the process of issuing “notes”, charging interest on the entire capital they loaned to the English Parliament.  This began a recurring debt for England, as there would be no way for them to fully repay their lenders, thus putting the power of the country of England into the hands of the Jesuits, who controlled the Central Bank.

Friends, it is for this very reason – the usury of the central bank in England – that the American Colonists sought freedom from England, and the reason for the Revolutionary War!

Ben Franklin“That is simple. In the Colonies, we issue our own paper money. It is called ‘Colonial Scrip.’ We issue it in proper proportion to make the goods and pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power and we have no interest to pay to no one.” (Ben Franklin speaking about the use of Colonial Scrip)

“The Colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament, which has caused in the Colonies hatred of England and the Revolutionary War.” (Ben Franklin speaking about the real cause of the Revolutionary War – banking control)

“The refusal of King George III to allow the colonies to operate an honest money system, which freed the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators was probably the prime cause of the revolution.” (Ben Franklin on the corruption of the Bank of England)

The central banking system that exists in our world today is merely the same central banking system modeled after the original Bank of Rome, and the Jesuits control it, as they always have.

The Jesuits’ Influence on Modern Christianity

So many Christians today do not know where many of the most commonly accepted beliefs even came from, or why they were developed.  Throughout the dark ages, the Papacy resorted to very open and obvious brutal and cruel tactics of attempting to fully wipe out all Bible-believing “heretics”.  The development of the Protestant Reformation proved to the Papacy that these tactics would not suffice any longer, but would only more strongly affirm what the Reformers were illustrating – that the Catholic Church system IS the harlot church, the true Antichrist.

Brutal extinguishment would not work.  More subtle tactics were needed.  The prophecies unveiled in the book of Daniel fully confirm the Papacy as the Biblical Antichrist.  The Papacy needed to divert attention AWAY from them, to cause a curious world to look in many different directions, just not on them!  This is where the Jesuits would come in handy.

A MAJOR problem for the Papacy was the 1260-year identification time period in scripture, the “time, times, and dividing of a time” which denotes the time of the Papacy’s iron grip on the world.  A new “interpretation” of this 1260-year time period would need to be invented, AND a new Antichrist figure would also need to go along with the story as well.

Futurism

This brings us to Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) – a Jesuit leader in the area of Theology, who began writing a long expose or commentary, a few years before he died, on the events in the book of Revelation.  His documentary, In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij, was published about a year before he died.  In his work, he explained that the first few chapters of Revelation actually referred to old Pagan Rome, and that the rest of Revelation described events circulating around a “literal” three and a half year period in the future where a charismatic Antichrist figure would be revealed who would:

– Persecute and kill the Christian saints during an oddly separated 70th week of Daniel’s 70-week prophecy

– Rebuild an actual third Temple in Jerusalem

– Deny the deity of Jesus Christ and claim to be the Messiah himself

– Place himself in this newly restored Jewish Temple, claiming to be God

– Kill an actual Two Witnesses of God in the city of Jerusalem

– Force the entire world to worship him

Ribera’s account of the events in Revelation successfully take the focus off of the Catholic Church, pointing toward the future, being a literal three and a half years at the very end.  How very convenient for the Papacy.  This interpretation would fully suspend ALL prophecies occurring in the middle ages.

There was also Manuel De Lacunza (1731-1801), a Jesuit priest who resided in Chile.  Around the year 1791, he put together a manuscript called La Venida del Mesias en Gloria y Magestad (“The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty”), where he took on the pen name of Juan Josafa (Rabbi) Ben-Ezra.  Using the typical Jesuit tactic of trickery and deceit, Lacunza used a Jewish name and title to completely hide the fact that he was a Catholic Jesuit priest, thus creating much more acceptance from Protestantism – who still slightly had a bad taste for the Papacy at the time.  In his work, Lacunza (Ben-Ezra) showed his advocacy for Futurism, proposing that the Antichrist was still to come in the future.

Edward Irving (1792-1834) was a Scottish Presbyterian who was very important in the movement of the propagation of Futurism.  This man was also the primary forerunner of both the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, two very prominent and popular movements in modern Christianity today.  Irving accepted the future one-man Antichrist theory and decided he would take the interpretation to NEW heights.  After a member, Margaret McDonald, of his very large congregation told him that she received “visions” of end time believers being “raptured” just before the time of the Antichrist, Irving began promoting the Futurist interpretation attached with a new twist of a “Secret Rapture”.  Whether or not Irving’s acceptance of the Rapture theory was directly due to McDonald’s supposed vision is up for some debate.  The fact is that shortly after McDonald sharing these visions with Irving, Irving began teaching a new Secret Rapture doctrine.

Through the work of Jesuits and Jesuit-influenced Protestants, Futurism has become the most commonly accepted theme of theory in relation to the Antichrist for modern Christianity.

Preterism

On top of Futurism, the Jesuits created an additional theory that would assist in taking the world’s eyes off of Satan’s entity, the Papacy.  Working in parallel was another interpretation, Preterism.  This theory was proposed by a Spanish Jesuit named Luis De Alcazar (1554-1613).  In his commentary titled Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse, he insisted that the ENTIRE book of Revelation pertained to pagan Rome and approximately the first six centuries of the Christian movement.  Here is a brief overview of Alcazar’s teachings in relation to the Antichrist:

– Rev chapters 1-11 relates to the rejection of the Jewish people and the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem.

– Roman paganism was supposedly “the harlot” and was overthrown in Rev chapters 12-19.  Also, the true church in these accounts is supposedly the Roman Catholic Church.

– Rev 20 would hold the account that Caesar Nero (54-68 AD) would be the Antichrist and that he was judged.

– Rev 21 and 22 shows the glory of the Roman Catholic Church, that God establishes them as His church on earth.

The Papacy really has to love the Preterist theory even more than they do the Futurist theory, as it gives them even more glory and takes even more focus off of them.

With these popular theories, the REAL Antichrist has dominated and overcome modern Christianity.  They are either looking to the past or to the future, when the Antichrist has been here all along!

What does scripture say in relation to a future or past Antichrist?

1 John 4:2,3 ..”By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

2 Thessalonians 2:5-7 ..”Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

Both John and Paul say that the Antichrist, the mystery of lawlessness, was ALREADY at work and beginning in their time.  What about the temple of God being supposedly rebuilt in the end?  Does that stand up to scripture?

2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 ..”Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Well, what is “the temple of God” today?

1 Corinthians 3:16,17 ..”Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

Additionally, what about a supposed “Secret” rapture of the saints?  Does scripture say that Jesus returns silently and secretly?

Matthew 24:30,31 ..”Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Matthew 24:23-26 ..”Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Revelation 19:11-16 ..”Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 ..”For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Characteristics of Jesus’ return in the Bible:

– Heaven opens up, and Jesus emerges on a cloud with great power and glory, riding a white horse!

– The angelic armies of Heaven follow Him, also dressed magnificently in white and riding a white horse.

– Jesus descends upon the earth with a great shout, having also the voice of the archangel, and with a trumpet!

– Jesus’ eyes are like a flame of fire and He wears many crowns upon His head.

– He separates the saved from the wicked and finishes judgment upon the wicked.

– The righteous dead are then raised from the dead.  The righteous living are transformed and meet with them in the air, to forever be with the Lord.

– He even says that if anyone tries to teach you that He is returning silently or secretly – DO NOT believe them!

Question:  Do ANY of these events sound like “a secret rapture” to you?  The Jesuits have shrouded the truth with myths and fables, my friends.

The NIV and RSV

Does it matter which translation of the Bible you read?  I mean, surely picking the “easiest to read” version is okay, right?  Again, in today’s world, we have to be VERY careful about what information we subject ourselves to.  All throughout the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages, the Papacy has continuously sought to destroy the pure undefiled Word of God.  They knew that if people kept reading the true unaltered scriptures, the people would eventually be led by the Holy Spirit to clearly identifying the Papal system as the Antichrist.

You will hear many scoffers today try to insist that the scriptures of today are all completely corrupt, that it doesn’t matter which translation you pick – “Just pick the easiest one to understand and you’ll be fine.”

Even though the Original Text writings are no longer preserved today, the early Christians shortly after Christ made sure that they preserved and copied the pure writings while avoiding errors.

Over the course of an additional century of time, two different perspectives began emerging:

The Western Stream coming out of Alexandria and Rome, which incorporated many intentional and careless errors.

The Eastern Stream coming out of Syria and Constantinople, which kept fully accurate with the original teachings and writings of the apostles.

In the 4th Century, Eusebius of Caesarea, who was a follower of Origen, was commissioned by Emperor Constantine in 331 AD to begin copying 50 copies of the New Testament, otherwise known as “The 50 Bibles of Constantine.”  Of course, Eusebius chose to ignore the accurate Eastern manuscripts and kept to the grossly corrupted Western manuscripts to create these 50 copies.

Most scholars say that 2 of Eusebius’ Western stream-influenced copies, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus, came about as 2 of his 50 copies for Constantine.

Remember:  The true early Christians trained by the apostles completely rejected these false imposter manuscripts, which forced them to be hidden in secret places, later to be dug up and introduced as “ancient” artifacts and manuscripts.  Does a manuscript being “ancient” automatically make it accurate?  We have to be very cautious when we hear of recent archeological discoveries uncovering “ancient Biblical” script, which we have seen cases of in the last few years.

Even though many scribes tried to correct the many mistakes of the Western manuscripts, they were not able to get them even close to the pristine accuracy of the Eastern manuscripts.  Jerome, a Roman Catholic priest, still used the faulty Western manuscripts to serve as the foundation for the Latin Vulgate, which became the official Scripture of the Roman Catholic Church.  Conveniently, the Catholic Church erroneously declared the Latin Vulgate to be completely “free of any type of error” in the 16th Century at the Council of Trent.

This Council of Trent was convened in 1545 by the Papacy for the very means of finding a great way to stop the progression of Protestantism.

The Catholic Church would have loved nothing more than to use brute force to openly destroy every single true Bible as they had been doing beforehand.  However, their iron grip of forceful influence had already started losing its steam by this time, so they were forced yet again – to use subtle methods of deceit, their speciality.

Who would they ask to create some additional deceit?  The Jesuits.

The Jesuits actually controlled the direction of the Council of Trent.  Through their spokesman, the Archbishop of Reggio, they sought to completely reinstate the authority of the Church above the Word of God.  Read this part of the Archbishop’s speech on January 18, 1562 to also see something very interesting he states:

[col. 529] Such is the condition of the heretics of this age that on nothing do they rely more than that, under the pretense of the word of God, they overthrow the authority of the church; as though the church, His body, could be opposed to the word of Christ, or the head to the body. On the contrary, the authority of the church, then, is illustrated most clearly by the Scriptures; for while on the one hand she recommends them, declares them to be divine, [col. 530] offers them to us to be read, in doubtful matters explains them faithfully, and condemns whatever is contrary to them; on the other hand, the legal precepts in the Scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virtue of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed into the Lord’s day. Circumcision, enjoined upon Abraham and his seed under such threatening that he who had not been circumcised would be destroyed from among his people, has been so abrogated that the apostle asserts: “If ye be circumcised, ye have fallen from grace, and Christ shall profit you nothing.” These and other similar matters have not ceased by virtue of Christ’s teaching (for He says He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it), but they have been changed by the authority of the church. Indeed, if she should be removed (since there must be heresies), who would set forth truth, and confound the obstinacy of heretics? All things will be confused, and soon heresies condemned by her authority will spring up again. [See No. 1444.]

Not only was the Papacy able to elevate church tradition above the Scriptures, but he also convinced the council that “the Lord’s Day” (Sunday) should still be the official day of Christians!  Furthermore, the Jesuits pressed on, going to Douay and Rheims in France and had the Bible translated into the English language under the guise of the corrupt Latin Vulgate.  Corrupting God’s Word would allow them to corrupt the Christian faith.

With every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.  Through God’s merciful guidance, the Reformers’ inspiration led to the completion of the King James Version of the Bible, which was completed in 1611.

The Devil could not allow the KJV to remain as the primary Bible for Christians, especially for the end times.  Thus, the Archbishop of Canterbury also began a revision of the KJV in the 1870s.  Two important Jesuit-inspired figures were the writers of this revision – Doctors Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort.  These two men made sure than the translators of this new “revised” version completely avoided and ignored the correct Eastern manuscripts upon which the KJV was based, and they incorporated the ever-perverted Western ones, which had already been proven to remove the deity of Jesus Christ and supported the initiatives of the Papacy.

From this work, the Revised Version of 1881 was born!  At first, it merely attempted to rival the KJV.  However, by the mid-20th Century, the Revised Standard Version (RSV) became the most popular version in modern Christendom.  This effect saw the Jesuits’ hard work come to complete fruition!

Friends, for proper Bible study, avoid using any of these “newer” versions such as: – New International Version (NIV) – New English Bible  – New Life Version  – New Living Translation – The Message – New Century Version – Revised Standard Version (RSV) – Easy-To-Read Version

There are so many others to avoid, but these are just a few of the Jesuit creations.  If you truly want to keep closely to the REAL God-inspired text, PLEASE stick with the King James Version (KJV), I implore you.

Luke 8:11,12 …”Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” …  The truth in God’s Word is a sharp two-edged sword.  The Papacy knows that if people are given the undefiled Bread of Life, it will lead them to be saved.  Briefly, I will show you only some shocking differences between the true KJV and the inaccuracies and heresies contained within just the NIV and the RSV.

King James Version New International Version Revised Standard Version
Luke  4:4 ..”But Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”…

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John 1:10 ..”He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”

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Matthew 18:11 ..”For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”

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Mark 13:14 ..”So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not. (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Luke 4:4 ..”Jesus answered, It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.”Notice how “but by every word of God” is removed in NIV and RSV.

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John 1:10 ..”He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”

The world was made BY Jesus, but the NIV and RSV change it to being made through Him.

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NIV and RSV completely remove this verse in Matthew 18:11

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Mark 13:14 ..”When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong-let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

Of course the Jesuits don’t want you to study the book of Daniel, so they take that reference to Daniel out!

Luke 4:4 ..”And Jesus answered him, It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.”…

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John 1:10 ..”He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.”

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Mark 13:14 ..”But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

The list goes on and on, my friends.  These comparisons only barely scratch the surface as to how much the Jesuits have attempted to create corrupted, false versions of the Bible so that the world will remain in darkness.  Oddly enough, the very two things attacked the most in the false versions are: The Commandments of God and the deity/authority of our Lord Jesus.

Fact: These two versions above (NIV, RSV) remove and/or change 60,000 words from the true text!!  That would be equivalent to starting at Acts 1:1 and removing ALL of the scripture from that point through Revelation 22:21!

The Jesuits Pull the Strings of Politics

The Jesuits were created and commissioned nearly 500 years ago.  Since that time, not only have they corrupted the Christian faith and moved the world’s religions toward ecumenical unity, but they have also infiltrated the economic systems and political infrastructure of the countries of this world.  Through many of their agencies and societies spread worldwide, they have provided the Papacy with the convenience of directing and influencing this world’s major affairs.

Some of their agencies: – European Commission – Council on Foreign Relations – United Nations – Trilateral Commission – Bilderberg Group – The central banking systems – NATO  – the Freemasonry – Club of Rome

Since the Lateran Treaty was signed by Mussolini in 1929, the Vatican has actually been a fully sovereign state.  This of course began the “healing of the deadly wound”, spoken of by John in Revelation 13.

Especially since the Vatican’s noticeable increase in power, the Jesuits have been able to increase the frequency of their subtle tactics even in the realm of politics.

1. Through a Left vs. Right Hegelian dialectic philosophy, the Jesuits have been able to intuitively use a “create and control”/thesis and antithesis methodology.  They create a mirage for the people of the country by giving them Republican vs. Democrat/Conservative vs. Liberal  to choose from, when truly – they control BOTH parties.  Any person showing any true political opposition to the Jesuit-controlled duopoly is eventually extinguished by some of the Jesuits’ various outlets such as their mainstream media networks.

2. Through their various fascist-like internationalization projects, they’ve been able to gradually merge countries together in “unions”.  Some of their such unions which already exist are: Central American Union, European Union, African Union, South American Union, and Asian Union.  Other unions are still in the works, but are very close to being completed.  It is through disinformation and other forms of social engineering that the Jesuits coerce their hand.  If these methods do not work fully at first, then they implement more open attacks such as “war creation”.  If you notice, the United States still has a Constitution and the North American Union has not yet been completely realized.  What is the result?  The United States has been constantly at war for over 10 years.  This will continue until the United States is fully internationalized like Europe.

3. Through the Jesuits’ brother organization, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), they’ve been able to gain control of the entire money-making process, the Federal Reserve banking system.  Citibank, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs are just three examples of their pawn elite banks.  They also flex their dominion through their International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, and many other such international societies.  In a nutshell, the Jesuits have complete control of the direction of every monetary currency in the modern world.  All the events you see circulating around the economies of various countries growing weaker is no accident.

Ties to Satanism

The rabbit hole really does go deeper and deeper.  It would take me many weeks to fully illustrate just how interconnected the Devil’s societies are in this world.  This entire article has merely touched on many of the key points.  One quick and clear connection can be made with all of the secret societies of this world which give allegiance to the Papacy – they are shrouded in occultic Satanism.

The Goat of Mendez, or Pan, or Baphomet in other cultures, is a symbol of fertility worship – also associated with Baal, the false sun god mentioned in the Old Testament.  Baphomet has also become a symbol of Satanic worship today.

Baphomet                  

Many of the societies I mentioned above, such as the Freemasons, are highly grounded in fertility false god worship and affiliation.  Many of the presidents, political leaders, prime ministers, celebrities, big corporate CEO’s, and other famous people are tied into different varieties of the occult.

                 

                 

Why would all of these people and so many more people be making such a distinct motion with their hands?  Are we to believe that all of these people are Texas Longhorn fans??  Not a chance.  The hand sign you see these people (in high places of power) invoking are all different forms of the Sigil of Baphomet, denoted by the original picture of Baphomet on the right above.  The Freemasonry themselves have been used by the Vatican to unite the powers of this world for some time and they are very much Satanic.

Take a look at this picture of a very interesting poster of Baphomet, from the Order of Eastern Templars:

– Notice the title, “Do What Thou Wilt”.  That is EXACTLY what Satan said to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

– You’ll see the all-seeing eye at the very top.  This symbol is also a Freemason symbol – a reference of the Masons to Solomon, where Solomon says “The eyes of the Lord are in every place…”  The Freemasons believe they should “keep an eye” on every place.  The reference to Solomon comes from the Freemasons’ desire to rebuild Solomon’s Temple, one of the evil ones that Solomon built for Molech after Solomon turned away from the Lord.

– There are two obelisks as well.  An obelisk itself represents “male fertility”, or the male phallus, and the ability to supposedly harness demonic power within the structure – very Satanic and pagan.  Obelisks are all over the world, most notably at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica.

– Beside each obelisk, you’ll see the Baphomet Cross.  This cross can be seen all over Masonic Lodges and Temples, as well as on the attire of the 33rd Degree Masons.

– The six-pointed star, hexagram, can be seen at the bottom on the left – inside the 7-pointed object.  Many today believe that the “Star of David”, a six-pointed hexagram, came from David – but it did NOT.  That star used today by the Jews as a symbol of Israel has NOTHING to do with God or with David, but actually came from ancient forms of witchcraft, occultism, and sorcery.  Like other symbols in Freemasonry, the hexagram represents the fertility god – “the male triangle penetrating the female triangle”.  The hexagram was also used as a means of attempting to communicate with the dead in ancient Egypt.  However, if we read scripture we know that these sorcerers were not communicating with the dead, but with demons.  “The dead know nothing”. (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

We can see that the Catholic Church, through their manipulative Jesuit Order, has indeed acquired control of all the major facets of society – the world’s economics, politics, and religions.  There are still only a few cards left to be drawn, but in order for the Papacy to enforce the Mark of the Beast, it is necessary that she control the world under one unified system, and we are extremely close to this being fully implemented.

Does scripture indicate that the Harlot Church will control the world’s society in this way?

Revelation 18:2,3 …”And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

There is a lot of prophecy jam-packed into these 2 verses.  What does “wine” represent prophetically in scripture?  A covenant of accepting religious doctrine (Luke 5:37).

– “All nations have drunk of the wine (doctrine) of the wrath of her fornication” = The Whore of Babylon acquires religious control of the earth by getting everyone to accept the Church’s doctrine over the Law of God.

– “The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” = The Whore of Babylon acquires political control of the earth by having the political leaders of this world give full allegiance to her.

– “The merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury” = The Whore of Babylon acquires economic control of the earth by maintaining positive control of the currency of the world.

In the Three Angels’ Message, are we given additional insight into this?  Notice above that the angel says that “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen”.  Mystery Babylon will fully acquire all three facets of society, but what is the primary reason that God’s wrath is finally poured upon the world?

Revelation 14:6-12 …”Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

Mystery Babylon, the Mother Harlot, forces the earth to accept her doctrines.  Then we are warned that if any person receives the mark, based upon what was just stated – the “wine of her wrath” – then that person will receive God’s final judgments and will be forever separated from Him, being destroyed in the lake of fire.  Amazingly enough, the last part of this great message is that those who do NOT receive the mark of the beast will be those who: Keep the Commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus!

Clearly, the message is that God’s wrath is ultimately poured out upon the world because of the world legislating Papal doctrine into law, forcing the world to disobey God’s Law!

Friends, this is why the Jesuits have been working secretly so hard over the years – to prepare this unsuspecting, docile world to be fully controlled by the Papacy again!  Take a good look around this world: Countries are quickly losing their sovereignty, moving toward a global system, which is encouraged by some of the Jesuit-controlled agencies such as the United Nations.  The economic stature of the most powerful countries in the world is preparing to collapse, which will usher in a global monetary system.  All the world’s religions are being convinced to “come together” through the merging ecumenical movement, and most of the professing Christians themselves even believe that God is on their side guiding this religious transition.  Oh how Satan has this world so fooled!  After reading this, where is your walk currently with our Lord Jesus?  Are you fully prepared to stand on that troublesome day soon ahead?  It is critically important for your salvation that you completely understand the Mark of the Beast and what it entails.  Scripture warns us that these exact events would happen and it illustrates the truth so that we don’t have to guess or speculate about this topic.

Man’s Flicker or God’s Flame

15 Jan
By Joe Crews
Man’s Flicker or God’s Flame
One of the clearest, last-day signs revealed in the Bible is the build-up of spiritual and demonic forces for a final all-out struggle which will settle the destiny of every living soul. God and Satan will meet in the climactic war of Armageddon, and the age long controversy between good and evil will be resolved for all eternity.
The Bible indicates that Satan will work feverishly through all the artful devices that appeal to the human mind, seeking to deceive the whole planet into his camp. John says that he “is come down … having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12). In preparation for this encounter, which he has been planning for over 6000 years, the adversary will manipulate both political and religious forces. Centuries of groundwork have been laid in the development of counterfeit ideas and doctrines. The fiendish genius of Satan is aimed at developing a strategy which will keep people from being saved. The ultimate goal of the devil is to make people sin, because sin is the only thing that will keep anyone out of heaven.
The Bible defines sin as “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Paul further clarifies that it is the breaking of the Ten-Commandment law which constitutes sin (Romans 7:7). It is no wonder at all, then, that the focus of the final contest will be over obedience to God’s great moral law. Satan despises the government of heaven and its law. He broke the concord of angels long, long ago by charging God with requiring too much. He accused God of being unjust by demanding obedience to a law that could not be kept. Ever since that time he has tried to make his accusations come true by leading people to break that law. For non-Christians the devil had no problem whatsoever, but how could he unite all the great religious bodies in a program of disobedience?
His grandiose design for the final deception was to lead everyone to transgress against the authority of heaven, even the religious world. Obviously, some scheme would have to be devised which would make Christians comfortable in their transgression, which could be promulgated in the name of Christ, and which would operate across all the boundaries of denomination and creed. Somehow, the plan would have to destroy the traditional view of the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith, and establish some other authority which would still retain a respectable Christian image. In order to encompass all churches and faiths, the program would have to be outside of any doctrine, prophetic interpretation, or standards of living, since these would produce only division and disagreement.
To achieve success, then, in his fantastic goal of harnessing the Christian world in disobedience to God’s laws, Satan had to meet four elementary requirements:

  1. Make Christians feel secure in breaking the law.
  2. Lead them to distrust the Word of God as the acid test of truth.
  3. Establish another test besides the Word that would appear genuine and appealing.
  4. Leave out all doctrine, prophetic interpretations, and Christian standards that would prove divisive.

It is not hard to see that all these elements would have to be incorporated into any vast trickery to unite Christians in disobeying the Ten Commandments.

Are Miracle-Workers of God?
Now let’s study the actual inspired description of how these conditions will prevail at the end of the age. Incredibly, the deceptive powers of the master counterfeiter will achieve all these objectives.
First, notice that Jesus confirmed how many would lightly disobey His law in the name of religion: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Try to understand the alarming significance of those words of our Lord. These people were making great claims of being Christians, even to exercising the extraordinary power of prophesying and casting out devils. They did these miracles in the name of Jesus. But Jesus said He did not even know them; so they were not exercising the apparent spiritual gifts through the power of Christ. Then who gave them the supernatural power to do such miracles? There are only two sources of such power—God and Satan. Since Jesus called them “workers of iniquity,” they had to be healing and prophesying in the power of Satan, the author of iniquity.
This establishes that there will be counterfeit manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit in the last days. Outwardly they will appear exactly like the genuine gifts, and will be performed in Jesus’ name in the atmosphere of religious fervor. Then how can one tell the difference between the true and the false? Jesus made it very clear. Although they cried, Lord, Lord, they were not doing the will of the Father in heaven. What is the will of God? David answers, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea,thy law is within my heart” (Psalms 40:8). The people who appealed to Jesus on the basis of their many wonderful miracles were rejected by Him as Satan’s workers because they were breaking God’s law. They really did not know Jesus, because to know Him is to obey His commandments.
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3, 4). They really did not love Jesus either, because to love Him is to keep His commandments, also.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
Only the Obedient are Spirit-Filled
This brings us to another tremendous truth concerning obedience: Only those can be filled with the Spirit who are obedient. This means that the spiritual gifts cannot be demonstrated in the life of one who is breaking God’s law. Jesus said, “If ye love me keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:15, 16).
The sequence is distinctly set forth in this text. Love leads to obedience, and obedience leads to the filling of the Spirit. No one should overlook the relationship between obedience and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The most basic fact about the Spirit is that He leads into all truth and convicts of sin.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
Again Jesus said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13).
What is included in “all truth” and “all things” which the Spirit will guide us into? The Sabbath would be there, along with all the other nine commandments. In fact, the very first work of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin. Christ described that ministry of the Spirit in John 16:8. “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
What is sin? “… sin is the transgression of the law …” (1 John 3:4). Obviously, one could not be filled with the Holy Spirit without being reproved of breaking the law. Lying, stealing, adultery and Sabbath-breaking will not abide in a Spirit-filled life. The deliberate practice of those sins will effectively frustrate the operation of the Holy Spirit. Willful sin and the gifts of the Spirit are just as alien to each other as God and Satan. In fact, Jesus taught the startling truth that offending the Holy Spirit leads to the unpardonable sin.
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven untomen: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31, 32).
The most serious mistake anyone can make is to reject the guiding, convicting influence of the Spirit as He seeks to lead into obedience to God’s law.
The principle was eternally settled by Luke when he wrote under inspiration, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).
How clearly we can now see why the miracle-workers were turned away by Jesus as “workers of iniquity.” Having rejected the will of the Father, His law, they lost access to the power of the Holy Spirit. At that point Satan stepped in to supply a continuation of power by producing the same apparent miracles as the Holy Spirit produced.
Lulled into a fatal blindness by grieving the Spirit which convicted them of disobedience, the professed Christians lost their sensitivity to the violation of God’s holy law. Under the exciting emotional stimulus of Satan’s spirit they continued to exercise a counterfeit religious power, based on feeling rather than the authority of the Word of God. Christ taught in Matthew 7:22 that the end time will produce a phenomenon of Christians claiming the Spirit’s power in miracle ministry, but who are actually manipulated by the devil.
Amazing Fulfillment Today
Are there such people in the world today, and do they meet the four basic requirements for drawing the religious world into a massive scheme of disobedience? To open up that question let me share a recent personal experience involving a group Bible study I had been asked to conduct. The class was made up of six people—three business men and theirwives. For many weeks we met every Thursday night to search out the great doctrines of the Bible.
The series was unusual in every respect. In the first place, the three couples appeared to be exceptionally committed Christians. Often during the studies they shared a most fervent testimony concerning their love experience in Christ. It was very obvious that they had emotional feelings about their personal relationship with Jesus.
The second unusual thing was the eager, open manner in which they accepted truth as it unfolded. As subjects like the Sabbath, state of the dead and unclean foods were explored, there was wholehearted acceptance. Over and over they exclaimed about the clarity of the issues, and wondered aloud why they had not seen those things before.
On the last night of the Bible studies I extended an invitation to the group to start keeping the Sabbath. To my utter amazement, not one of them had the slightest inclination to obey any of the truths they had so readily believed. My perplexity was compounded when they began to explain why they had no plans to keep the Sabbath. “We have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and He tells us everything we do,” they explained. “He has not told us to keep the Sabbath. If He does tell us, we will gladly do it. We know it is in the Bible, and we believe it, but the Holy Spirit will have to tell us to keep it before we do it.” In vain did I try to show them that the Holy Spirit had already spoken to them through the Word, and that He could not contradict Himself by telling them anything else.
The Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit,” says the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:17. That means the Bible is the cutting edge of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of conviction. No one can be guided in truth without reference to the Scriptures. Yet these people, in the name of the Lord Jesus Himself, were renouncing the authority of the Bible in favor of their emotional feelings. Indeed, they were setting another test of truth which seemed to them more valid than the Word of God. They were listening to another spirit which comforted them in their violation of God’s law, but they were doing it all in the name of Jesus. Professing great love for Christ, they defended their direct revelations as evidence of God’s special manifestation in their lives.
What could I say? They looked at me with sorrow and pity because I was not favored to receive the ecstatic peace and joy which characterized their experience. Suddenly I realized that this was an exact replay of what Jesus had described in Matthew 7:21-23. These people really believed that their power was coming from God. Yet they were saying, “Lord, Lord,” without doing the will of God. All the gifts of the Spirit which they claimed to possess were parallel to the gifts professed by those who came to Jesus—casting out devils, prophecy, healing, miracles, etc. Jesus said “many” would come at the end, saying those very words. Are there many who fall into this category today?
All across the land today millions are being attracted by a movement which transcends all barriers of denominationalism. Catholics and Protestants alike are caught up in the exciting phenomenon of being moved by a common spirit. They sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit is endowing them with a new language of the soul and that the power of God is using them to heal, cast out devils, and prophesy.
In the light of Christ’s warning, how are we to distinguish between the true gifts and the counterfeit? How can we be certain that miracles are not being worked in the power of Satan? The only way we can recognize the counterfeit is by its failure to obey all the commandments of God. Jesus warned that the great “signs and wonders” of the false prophets in the last days would be so delusive that “even the very elect” would be almost overwhelmed by them (Matthew 24:24). John saw “spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world” (Revelation 16:14).
Don’t fail to catch the spiritual implications of this demon activity. Miracles are operative only within the context of religion. These end-time evil spirits will work through the garb of churches, in the name of Christ, professing to be ministers of truth. Paul actually speaks of Satan’s “ministers … transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15). Writing to the Thessalonians, he further described the work of these false apostles as being “with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness …” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10).
The frightening conclusion is that the devil will so closely impersonate the true manifestations of spiritual power that most of the world, including the churches, will be manipulated by him. And according to the Scriptures, only those who obey all of God’s commandments out of love will be protected from the deception.
Unfortunately, we live in an age of the spectacular and the bizarre. Because of this climate, multitudes are drawn by the promise of healing, miraculous tongues or demon exorcism. Few pause to ask whether the power is God or Satan. Most are totally unaware of the inspired predictions concerning counterfeit miracles, and how to separate the true from the false. Impressed by the sincerity of those who preach and pray with such obvious power, in the name of Jesus, millions “feel” that it must be from God. Their emotional ecstasy is quickly exalted above the true test of the Scriptures.
In talking to my charismatic Bible study group, I discovered that they had fully conformed to the four essential conditions which Satan requires in order to sweep the religious world into his camp. They felt secure in disobeying the law. They had rejected the Word of God as the final test of truth. They had set up another test—their religious feelings—as the proof of their acceptance with God. They also appealed to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit as evidence of God’s approval. Finally, they brushed aside the tremendous doctrinal and prophetic truths we had studied together as being incidental and unimportant in comparison to their charismatic “experience.”
Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals and Episcopalians gladly set aside biblical convictions and denominational stances in order to keep the unity of “the Spirit.” But what spirit is it that works equally through those who worship Mary, break the Sabbath and try to contact the dead? Certainly not the Spirit of God! The Holy Ghost is given only “to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:32).
Now let’s take a look at the spiritual gift which has been claimed by more modern Christians than almost any other— speaking in tongues. Since Jesus warned about those in the last days who would prophesy and cast out devils in His name, through the power of Satan, we can be sure that the other spiritual gifts will be counterfeited also. If, indeed, the current epidemic of glossolalia is a perversion of truth, it would be difficult to think of a more perfect plan for Satan to use in getting control of the churches.
No Evidence Needed!
The best way to expose error is to reveal the truth, and the finest way to test the tongues phenomenon is to get the full biblical doctrine of tongues before us. Many believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. If a person doesn’t speak in tongues he is automatically classified as lacking in essential grace and power. This judgmental, mechanistic manner of measuring the Christian experience of other people has produced a large class of spiritual egotists—those who feel themselves to be living on a higher plane than their weaker, unanointed brethren.
Does the baptism of the Holy Spirit require some sign or evidence to confirm its operation? The Bible teaches that it is a gift, and must be received by faith. Paul’s doctrine is “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14). If it is by faith, then it is not by feeling. In claiming the promise of forgiveness, we do not demand a sign from God that He has fulfilled His word. We know it is done because He said it would be. In the same way, we should claim the promise of the Spirit by faith, not requiring some special evidence from God that He kept His promise. By demanding signs and evidence people are doubting the Word of God.
The fact is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is just as available to all Christians as is forgiveness of sins. This does not mean, though, that all Christians will receive all the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, Paul states that the gifts, including tongues, will be divided among the Christians. The Holy Spirit Himself decides how the gifts will be distributed, and to whom. “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom … to another faith by the same Spirit … to another prophecy … to another divers kinds of tongues … dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).
Then Paul proceeds to illustrate the different gifts as being parts or members of Christ’s body, which is the church. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Corinthians 12:18). Systematically he points out how impossible it would be for all to receive the same gift. “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” (Verse 17). Then he dramatizes that thought with these questions: “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? … do all speak with tongues?” (1 Corinthians 12:29, 20). And the answer, of course, is no. The gifts are divided to various members—never the same gift to all members.
Purpose of the Baptism
The most important truth about the baptism of the Holy Spirit is often overlooked, and it has to do with the purpose of the experience. Many have defined it in terms of personal ecstasy, joyful emotions, or inner spiritual happiness. None of these things even touches on the basic reason for the promised outpouring of the Spirit. Some of those things might be included in the subsequent fruits of the experience, but they cannot and should not be mistaken for the baptism itself. Just before His ascension Christ told His disciples to tarry at Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them “not many days hence” (Acts 1:5).
Then He spoke these words: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Christ emphasized in this promise that the Spirit would give power in their ministry to others. A witness is a person who tells to someone else something which he knows firsthand. The disciples definitely had something to tell, because they had been eyewitnesses of the Messiah. But they were completely unqualified to stand up and effectively communicate what they had seen and heard. The Holy Spirit would come to make them powerful witnesses, so that souls could be won by their preaching. There was no hint from Jesus that the baptism by the Spirit would give them any special feeling. It was not for their personal benefit, but that others through them might be instructed in the way of salvation.
The disciples obeyed the words of their Master and waited in Jerusalem for the promised power, and on the day of Pentecost it happened. While they were all together in a certain house the heavens seemed to open with a rushing sound, and tongues of fire flashed down to rest on each one of them. The promised blessing had arrived just as Jesus had foretold. The witnessing power had descended to fit them for their work of reaching souls; but howdid it qualify them and empower them? What did they need in order to witness to all the people in Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth? Acts 2:9-11 records sixteen different language groups who were present as the Spirit-filled disciples stepped outside the house to start witnessing.
Let the Scriptures tell us what happened next. “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
The astonished crowd could not believe their ears “because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed … saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:6-8).
Here is a simple description of the true gift of tongues. It is not the uttering of some ecstatic language of heaven. The tongues were real languages that people could understand, and every person of every race was edified and enlightened by hearing the gospel preached in his own mother tongue.
Did this gift of tongues continue to operate in the early church when it was necessary to reach unbelievers? Yes, on certain occasions it was needed in order to overcome the language barrier and also to confirm the Gentile converts into the largely Jewish-oriented church.
In Acts 10:44-47 we have the experience of Peter, opening up the gospel to the Gentiles for the first time. While Peter spoke to them the Holy Ghost fell upon them. The Jewish converts “were astonished … because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Peter urged that no one oppose their baptism, since they had “received the Holy Ghost as well as we.” Here Peter equates the tongues spoken on this occasion with the tongues he had spoken at Pentecost—an actual language. Later, when he gave a report of the experience to the Jerusalem brethren, Peter affirmed that “the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). The reference is unequivocally to the tongues experience on the day of Pentecost. The other Bible account of tongues in Acts 19:5-7 seemed to be for the purpose of confirming the gift of the Spirit upon the strugglinglittle church of twelve members at Ephesus, where paganism had threatened to swamp the early efforts of the apostles. There is no reason to doubt that this was also the same gift of languages as that demonstrated at Pentecost.
Subsequently, at Corinth, the gift began to be misused to such a degree that it was creating confusion in the church. Paul had to devote a full chapter of his first letter to the Corinthian church to correcting the problem. Among those spiritually-weak Christians, many problems had plagued the apostolic leaders. Corinth had been a hard place to win converts, and the corrupt pagan background had been difficult to erase from the minds of the new believers. Emotional and spiritual immaturity was often the subject of Paul’s appeals in his Corinthian letters.
Now let us take a close look at 1 Corinthians 14, in which the tongues problem is brought into focus. Over half of the verses in this chapter mention the words edify, understanding, learning, or teach. It is obvious that the Corinthian church was not using the gift as it was supposed to be used. Over and over Paul urged that tongues be used only to teach the barbarian, unbeliever or unlearned. Apparently some were creating great confusion by speaking any foreign language they knew, even while others were talking, and also when no one present could understand the language they spoke. The burden of the entire chapter is that no one use the gift of tongues except to edify someone who could not be reached otherwise. Interpreting of tongues was also to be utilized only for instructing those who could not understand without a translation. Almost every verse focuses on the original Pentecost idea of witnessing or communicating:
Verse 4, “edifieth the church.” Verse 5, “except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” Verse 6, “except I shall speak to you … by knowledge.” Verse 7, “except they give a distinction in the sounds …” Verse 8, “if the trumpet give an uncertain sound …” Verse 9, “except ye utter … words easy to be understood.” Verse 11, “if I know not the meaning of the voice …” Verse 12, “seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” Verse 13, “pray that he may interpret.” Verse 14, “my understanding is unfruitful.” Verse 15, “pray with the understanding …” Verse 16, “seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest.” Verse 17, “the other is not edified.” Verse 19, “that I might teach others.” Verse 20, “be not children in understanding.” Verse 22, “tongues are for a sign … to them that believe not.” Verse 23, “unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” Verse 26, “let all things be done unto edifying.” Verse 27, “and let one interpret.” Verse 28, “if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence.” Verse 30, “let the first hold his peace.” Verse 31, “that all may learn …” Verse 33, “For God is not the author of confusion.” Verse 34, “Let your women keep silence.” Verse 35, “if they will learn anything …” Verse 40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
Those who read this chapter for the purpose of finding ecstatic utterance can locate two or three verses which seem to give them support. But when those verses are studied in the context of all the rest of the chapter, and with an actual foreign language in mind, they all can be seen to harmonize. Paul’s discourse here is built around his contention that “tongues are a sign … to them that believe not” (Verse 22).
Now, a few questions: Were the Corinthians not creating disorder and confusion by talking loudly in tongues while others were talking? Were they not obviously speaking in languages which were not being understood, and which were not edifying anyone? Were they not priding themselves in being especially blessed and gifted in speaking their tongues, and using it to exalt self? The answers to all these questions must be Yes. Then could the Holy Spirit have been producing those tongues to the confusion of the church? No, because the Spirit does not operate to such ends.
What must we conclude, then, about the problem in Corinth? Those weak and immature church members had seen thetrue manifestation of Pentecostal tongues—actual languages. Forgetting that the tongues were bestowed miraculously for the purpose of instructing foreigners in the gospel, they began to think that any words in a foreign language had to be evidence of God’s special blessing. The result of such a false premise led to the problem Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14. Many were jumping up in church to speak loudly in whatever smattering of foreign language they might know. At the same time others were trying to drown them out by their “gift” of being able to use another tongue. It was a self-produced scene of indecent disorder. Apparently some of the women, were creating the greatest confusion. Paul wrote,
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches … Let all things be done decently and in order” (Verses 33-40).
Would Paul have commanded the women to keep silent if their gift had been the ecstatic outburst of the Holy Spirit’s power? If so, he would have been guilty of commanding the Holy Spirit to keep silent. The same would have been true of Paul’s command in verse 28. He said, “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church.” How could such an order be obeyed if the speaker were breaking forth in some heavenly language under the Spirit’s control? How could such a one know that there would be an interpreter to their “unknown” words? Paul speaks of the gift as one that could be controlled by the individual using the tongue. Unless they could ascertain that there was an interpreter to convey the translation clearly, so as to edify the listeners, Paul commanded that they not speak at all.
The modern problem of tongues is similar to the ancient situation, except more confusing. Instead of speaking in actual languages, the air is filled with sounds unrelated to any tongue on earth. Even when someone purports to “interpret” the sounds, no one is edified because the message is often inane or meaningless. And the big question is, Why would the Holy Spirit seek to enlighten or instruct someone in truth by going through all the process of a strange tongue and translation when the listener could understand plain English to begin with? If the gift of tongues is for edifying the unbeliever, how perverse it seems just to talk among believers in a garble of words whose meaning must depend on the absolute veracity of another believer, whose “interpretation” provides no objective test for accuracy.
Our conclusion must be that this last-day phenomenon of tongues does not meet the Bible criteria of truth on two major grounds. First, the baptism of the Holy spirit cannot be given to those who are not obeying all of God’s commandments. Second, the true purpose of the gift of tongues—to edify and instruct unbelievers in their own language—is not being served by the gibberish of the modern “tongues” movement. We have found, in fact, that the phenomenon meets all the basic requirements of a vast counterfeit by which Satan can lead millions to disobey God’s holy law. Untold numbers of sincere Christians are being led to believe that God’s Spirit and approval can rest upon those who transgress His law. Man’s flicker has been mistaken for God’s flame, and the world is being prepared to make the wrong choice when the Sabbath-obedience issue climaxes the controversy between good and evil. May we be spared from such an error by trusting the Word alone as our infallible guide.

Is it Possible to Live Without Sinning?

11 Jan
By Joe Crews
Introduction
Recently I read the amazing account of a man who submitted to a scientific hypnosis experiment. While under the influence of a light hypnotic trance the subject was ordered to pick up a glass from the table. Although he was a strong, athletic type, the man could not budge the glass from its position. His most strenuous exertions could not lift the glass that was light enough for any child to remove.
Why could he not do it? Because the scientists, after placing him in the trance, had told him that it was impossible to pick up the glass. Because his mind was convinced that it could not be done, his body was unable to carry out the command to lift it. What a dramatic demonstration that no person can really obey commandments which he believes to be impossible of performance!
Is this the reason so many Christians are living weak, defeated lives? There is no question that the popular, modern theology has been teaching millions that no one can really live without sinning. The Ten Commandments have been portrayed as an idealistic code produced only for the purpose of making people conscious of their need.
Many modern Christians are turning more and more to a soft, lenient stance on the subject of law-keeping. They believe God’s love is incompatible with strict rules and penalties for violation.
That is a very comfortable doctrine but completely foreign to what the Bible teaches. Millions are being conditioned to break the great moral law of the universe—without feeling any guilt! The Word of God gives no one an excuse to feel relaxed about sin. It is the central problem of every person who has been born. Like a highly contagious disease, sin has infected every soul with the germs of death, and no earthly cure or deterrent has been found to halt the fatal progress of the sickness.
From the first appearance of sin in the Garden of Eden it has been totally disruptive of everything good. Never in one instance has it been able to coexist with righteousness and holiness. The requirements of God make it utterly impossible for sin or disobedience to be a part of the Christian lifestyle. The new tolerance for it is not biblical in any sense of the word. Jesus came to save people from it; He came to destroy it. It will never enter into heaven. Our attitude toward it must be uncompromising. There can be no question of making it more acceptable by diminishing the amount of it or changing its form. It must be destroyed. And the only means of eradicating it is by receiving the fullness of Jesus Christ and His grace into the life.
How strange it is that so many church members have now become apologetic for sin, as though it cannot be prevented from triumphing in the life of a Christian. How dare we misrepresent the power of God’s grace in the gospel! Jesus has already defeated the devil, and no Christian should be intimidated by an inferior, defeated foe. We have no business justifying the transgression of the Ten Commandments.
It is serious enough to engage willfully in an act of sin, but it is infinitely more deadly to defend it as something which cannot be prevented. To say that victory is impossible is to deny the adequacy of the gospel and to negate a large portion of the inspired Scriptures. In addition, it adds support to the original charge of Satan against God, and gives a paralyzing, false security to everyone who believes in it.
Often people are defensive of sin because they have not been able to stop doing it in their own strength. For example, when they can’t stop smoking, they must find a rationalization for its presence in their lives. Instead of making the humiliating confession that they can’t conquer it, they fabricate arguments that it really doesn’t hurt them or that no one can be perfect. Or the popular, convenient doctrine that no one can really live without sin anyway.
It is probably safe to say that the majority of Christians today are resigned to falling short of the moral law. In fact, they are quite satisfied that God doesn’t even expect them to fulfill that law completely, either in the flesh or in the spirit.
The effect of such a teaching is exactly what one would expect—multitudes of emotionally happy, but disobedient, church members who feel that any concern about keeping the commandments is nitpicking and legalistic.
What a delusive strategy of Satan! As the inventor of the doctrine, the evil one is simply supporting his ancient accusation that God was asking too much. He accused God of being unfair by requiring something that was impossible.
He was able to convince a third of the angels that God was unreasonable to expect obedience to His law, and he has been trying to make everybody else believe it since that time. Think about it for a moment, and the entire scheme begins to make a lot of diabolical sense. Satan knows that sin is the only thing that will keep anyone out of heaven. Since sin is the “transgression of the law,” he had to perfect a plan to make people look lightly upon breaking the law and also cause it to appear unobjectionable (1 John 3:4). To make the idea acceptable to Christians, Satan actually was able to disguise it as a doctrine and foist it upon a compromised Christianity.
In every evangelistic crusade, we meet it in one form or another, usually at the point of the law and the Sabbath. The inconvenient claims of obedience are shrugged off with a “Well, nobody can keep the Ten Commandments anyway.”
But the problem doesn’t end there. Even Christians who have accepted the claims of the moral law are not too concerned about how well they fulfill it either. In a subtle way they have been affected by the prevalent belief that too much concern about obedience is a form of salvation by works. Incredibly, some seem to be so fearful of keeping the law too closely that they actually make provision to break it. By doing so they perversely comfort themselves for not being legalistic.
How could people committed to commandment-keeping ever come to such a confused contradiction within themselves? Exposure to a false concept of righteousness by faith is only part of the answer. Much of the problem is based upon human failure and weakness of the flesh. Because they found themselves stumbling in their efforts to be perfect, they finally concluded that it was impossible not to sin. From that point it was easy to start interpreting Bible texts to support their weak experience. Satan exploited the psychological bent of the human mind to rationalize, and soon they had developed a comfortable doctrine that accommodated their occasional deviations from the law. Consequently, most Christians today are resigned to an alternating experience of victory-defeat, victory-defeat. To them it is the approved lifestyle of normal Christianity.
But something is fearfully wrong with this position. In the first place, doctrine should never be based on feeling or human experience. It must be rooted in the plain, unequivocal teaching of the Word of God. It is true that Bible texts can be assembled which seem to support the doctrine of spiritual imperfection. We are assured that all have sinned, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and that man’s righteousness is as filthy rags. But all the verses about failure, sin, and defeat are in reference to the unregenerate experience of a person. There are literally scores of other texts which describe an opposite experience of total victory and sinless living. In every case they are referring to the Spirit-filled life of a converted, committed child of God.
This distinction must always be recognized in the reading of the Scripture. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation. His grace is stronger than all the concentrated forces of evil. Jesus came to save His people from their sin. No one who reads the sixth chapter of Romans intelligently can believe that the Christian is free to practice sin. Paul utterly devastates the doctrine that a believer should keep on falling into sin.
It is true that provision is made for cleansing in case sin is committed, but God’s perfect plan made it possible for man to overcome every sin and to live a life of perfect obedience through Christ. In fact, the promises of the Bible are so clear and specific on this point that it is hard to get confused. No secret meaning or hidden reservation can be found in the myriad of texts which describe the victorious experience of the born-again child of God. And just because one may not have grown into that fullness of faith which brings constant victory, he should not, therefore, deny the power of God to give such deliverance. When Peter began sinking in the Sea of Galilee, it was not because God’s plan or power had failed. Peter could have rationalized, like so many modern Christians, and said, “God didn’t want me to walk on the water, and besides, it’s impossible for anybody to do such a thing anyway.” Like our first parents we still tend to place the ultimate blame on God when we fail to follow His plan of holy living.
Total Victory Promised
The Spirit of God seemed to anticipate the struggle many would pass through in accepting the biblical assurances of total victory. Consequently the inspired writers were moved to use almost fanatical language in describing the possibilities for overcoming sin. Superlative expressions are utilized which actually boggle the mind. Instead of saying we may be saved, the Bible says we can be “saved to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). Instead of saying we may conquer, it assures that we can be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). Instead of being told that we can just triumph, we are told that we may “always triumph” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Instead of promising whatever we might ask to help us in our spiritual battles, the Bible says He will give us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). And the verse just prior to that one clearly guarantees that we may “be filled with all the fullness of God” (verse 19).
Admittedly, many of these promises are too vast for our human minds to comprehend fully, but surely they are intended to impress us with the magnitude of God’s resources in our behalf. If the language sounds exaggerated it is only because we are too feeble in faith and too weak in the flesh to believe such purity and sanctification could ever be fulfilled in us. We tend to trust our feelings quicker than the Word of God.
Is it important to believe the promises exactly as they read? Yes, because it is only through those promises that deliverance can be accomplished. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
Notice that it is “by these” that we escape the corruption of sin. What are “these”? The promises of God. The sequence of victory is plainly marked out in this fantastic text. By faith in the promise we become a partaker of the divine nature, and through the power of that new nature in us we are able to escape the corruption of sin. In other words, everything depends on the surrender and commitment of one’s self to the indwelling Spirit of Christ. “Without me,” Jesus said, “ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Equally important is the inspired comment of Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). That little expression “all things” is the key to victory for every one of us. It includes power over drugs, immorality, appetite, pride, and every act of sin that would rob us of eternal life.
All Things Available
The big point here is that when you get the power of Christ in your life, you have everything else you could ever desire. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). There is that term again—“all things.” You will find it also in 2 Peter 1:3: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness …”
When you put those texts together, an incredible picture emerges. By claiming the presence of Christ in your life, you also receive everything that Christ possesses. Paul described it this way: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Here the “all things” are broken down into very particular, individualized experiences, and we begin to see that Peter was right in stating that God has given us all things that pertain to godliness. Those Christians who doubt the possibility of overcoming sin completely should read these verses carefully. What do those words “righteousness,” “redemption,” and “sanctification” include? All three of those words promise us more than deliverance from the guilt of our past sins. The word “redemption” is not limited to redemption from the guilt of sin, but from the power of sin also. “Sanctification” is a word that describes continuous, daily growth in overcoming sin. “Righteousness” literally means right-doing and applies to a dynamic fulfillment of God’s will. They are all big words, but they all have the connotation of being set free, both from the guilt and the practice of sin.
Every child of Adam needs two things desperately—forgiveness for the past, and power for the future. Redemption includes both of them; and the idea that full deliverance from the guilt of sin is included, but only partial deliverance from the power of sin, is a perversion of the gospel. Jesus did not come to save us from the consequences of sin only, but to save us from the sin itself. Salvation is not a negative thing; not just the absence of something. He did not come just to take away something—our guilt—but to give us something—victory over sin. For God to forgive us and leave us under the power of continued sin would make God an accomplice of sin. He not only counts us righteous through the imputation of His atoning death, but He makes us righteous through the impartation of His victorious life.
After thoughtfully reading the entire sixth chapter of Romans, if you need more assurance that victory can be yours, read the following:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:57—“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • 1 John 5:4—“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
  • Philippians 2:5—“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21—“… that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
  • 1 John 3:6—“Whatsoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.”

Let us return for a moment to the analogy of the hypnotized man. He could not physically lift a small glass from the table because his mind was so fully convinced that it couldn’t be done. Has Satan been able to immobilize the church through the power of his hypnotic, lying assertion that obedience is impossible? It certainly seems so.
No one is going to put forth any serious effort to do something that he believes to be impossible. Obviously then, those who believe they cannot live without sinning are not attempting to live without sin. No reasonable person will waste time and effort in a vain struggle to accomplish nothing.
That brings us to an interesting question: Can a person believe that there is no way to stop sinning, and yet make plans not to sin? Logically, it would seem highly unlikely, if not impossible. Yet the Bible commands us to “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof”?(Romans 13:14). Do we indeed make provision for sin by holding that it is impossible not to sin?

To Him That Overcometh
The entire book of Revelation is addressed to the seven churches of Asia. In each of the churches certain ones received high commendation and glorious promises of heavenly reward. Without exception the blessing was extended “to him that overcometh.” Those seven churches symbolize every period of the Christian church from the apostles to the end of time. If victory over sin is not possible, no soul will be saved from those centuries of time.
To deny the possibility of total victory over sin is to rob God of the glory of His mission. He came, the Bible says, to destroy the works of the devil. Those works are the works of sin. If no one claimed His power to overcome sin completely, the devil’s accusation would be confirmed. The requirements of God would be exposed as too difficult to obey.
Jesus stated that He had come “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Here He indicated that more than just people needed to be restored. “That which was lost” included a sinless character. His mission was to counteract and neutralize the entire program of sin-defilement introduced by Satan. Restoring the image of God in man is a very important part of the everlasting gospel. That work of the gospel must be done before Jesus comes and not as some magical afterthought of our returning Lord.
The book of Revelation identifies the crowning characteristic of the redeemed as obedience. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). “And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). “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).
How significant it is that man’s condition for remaining in Eden is also the condition for being restored to Eden. Anyone who believes obedience is unimportant should read again the dramatic story of Adam and Eve. A tiny, physical act of sin led to all the stark tragedy of the past 6,000 years. Those who are restored to that lost paradise will have demonstrated that they can be trusted with eternal life. Through faithful obedience in the face of death, they will have proven Satan’s charges to be utterly false. Their steadfast loyalty will be an eternal guarantee of the security of God’s restored dominion.
What can we say, then, concerning those who look so lightly upon the good works of obedience? They are subjects of grave deception and are playing into Satan’s deadly sin-trap. The most glorious experience of the truly converted is to break the pattern of self-indulgence and sin. Under the rule of the Spirit of God, fleshly habits may be conquered and expelled from the life. Through faith in the promises unbelievable power may be released into the life of one who is willing to give up the enjoyment of sin.
The heart of God longs for us to take Him at His word and to claim the power He has promised. It is the only road to real victory. But no one can experience victory who does not believe victory is possible. Read again the assurances of the Bible. Do not try to twist them to match the weaknesses and failures of your human experience. They mean what they say. Deliverance is yours for the believing and the asking.
Right here we need to pause and consider an objection which is always brought against those who believe in total victory. It goes something like this: If you believe it is possible to live without sinning, are you able to say that your own life is free from sin?
Although the question deserves an answer, it should be pointed out that the objection is not relevant to the issue. If the Bible establishes a truth, it should be received on the grounds of its inspired authority and not on the basis of the messenger’s experience. If victory over all sin is possible through Christ, it is true, whether the preacher has claimed it or not claimed it. Further, the work of sanctification is a progressive, lifelong experience and can never be considered as finished in point of time. Even if one could be unconscious of any known sin, he could never boast of being sinless. In fact, the person who is closest to perfection would surely be the least likely to recognize it. Because the nearer he gets to Jesus the more imperfect he will appear in his own eyes.
The claim might also be made that the doctrine of victory over sin is highly idealistic and too theologically complicated to be practical. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Even a child can understand the simple faith-transaction of appropriating the promises of the Bible. There is not a habit or sin known to man that cannot be conquered through faith.
In the next few minutes you will be able to appreciate the beauty of this divine victory plan. You will learn how to stop smoking, cursing, overeating, gossiping, or committing any other sin. Let nothing distract you as you proceed to the next paragraph. It could be the turning point of your life and mean more than all the money in the world. Since so many are struggling with cigarettes, I will use that indulgence as an illustration of the victory we are describing. Put your own problem into the text, and then take the four steps to glorious victory.
The Secret of Victory
Have you heard about the evolutionary way of getting the victory over tobacco, or any other sin? It is sometimes called the “tapering” method, but generally it just doesn’t work. Oh, it partially works, of course, because old age takes care of some temptations and sins, and time settles the rest when death comes. But do you know why “trying” does not work in overcoming the devil?
Why can’t we fight the devil for a few months and finally drive him away? Because the devil is stronger than we are. We could fight him for a year, but he would still be stronger than we are at the end of the year. Trying will never break the power of sin in a single instance, because we’re facing an enemy who will always be stronger than we are. What, then, is the answer to our weakness and defeat? This question leads us to the sweetest and most sublime secret in the Word of God. Let us study it thoughtfully and with much prayer.
First of all, one must understand that all of heaven’s gifts are available to us through the promises of the Bible, and we receive them by faith. Peter describes the “exceeding great and precious promises” and assures us that “by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Mighty power is stored within the promise to fulfill itself to all who claim it in faith. So few are willing to believe that the promised blessing becomes theirs the very moment they believe it. Why is it so hard to believe implicitly that God will do what He promises?
Now let us come down to the very heart of victory and consider the four simple scriptural steps that any believer may take in claiming God’s power. Four texts will illuminate the amazing transaction. First: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Allow your mind to savor the fantastic message of these words. Victory is a gift! We do not earn it by our efforts, or deserve it because of any supposed goodness. The only thing we need do is ask for it, and the victory will be given to us freely by Christ. He is the only one who has ever gained the victory over Satan, and if we ever possess the victory, it will have to come as a gift from Him.
Let me ask you something. Do you need victory in your life over some binding, miserable habit of sin? Some are slaves to appetite, to alcohol, or tobacco. Others are struggling helplessly against impurity, anger, or worldliness. The Bible says you may have the victory as a gift through Jesus Christ. Do you believe He will give you that power if you ask Him? How certain can you be that God will answer your prayer for victory immediately? Here is how sure you can be—just as sure as Christ’s words are true! Our second text is Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
Is it a good thing when you ask for victory over tobacco, or any other fleshly or moral evil? Of course it is! And you don’t even have to ask if it is God’s will! He has already told us in the Bible that it is His will to destroy the works of sin and the devil. If we pray for more money or a better job we should always ask according to His will, but the victory over sin is promised to every one who asks in faith.
Will God give the victory when we ask Him? Jesus said He was more willing to give this good thing than we are to feed our children when they are hungry. He is waiting to honor your faith and to “supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). These assurances are so open-ended and unlimited that our minds are staggered by it. Why have we been so reluctant to apply for the provisions of grace? Why is it so hard to believe that God means exactly what He says? He will keep every promise.
Faith Makes It So
Here is the next question. How do we know we have the victory after we ask Him? Simply because He said we would have it. We know God did not lie. We can believe His promise. The very moment we ask, we should accept the fact of fulfillment, thank Him for the gift, and get up and act like it has been done. No kind of proof-feeling or sign should be demanded or expected. The self-fulfilling power in the promise is released in response to our faith alone.
This brings us to the third text, found in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word “reckon” means to believe, or to consider it done. Every particle of faith should be focused on that one request for victory and then it should be accounted as done. Do you remember how Peter walked on the water? He asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat onto the raging sea, and Jesus told Peter to come. But how long did Peter do the impossible by walking on the water? The Bible says, “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30).
What was Peter afraid of? He was afraid of sinking and drowning. In spite of Christ’s assurance that he could safely walk on the water, Peter began to doubt the word of the Master. That is when he began to sink. As long as he believed the promise of Jesus and acted in faith, he was safe. When he doubted, he sank.
Now, what is the impossible thing as far as you are concerned? It is not walking on water. It is overcoming that tobacco habit. And Christ says, “Come to me. I will give you the victory.” As long as you believe that you have been delivered, you will have the victory. It is as simple as that. The very moment you ask for victory it will be placed in your life as a reservoir of power. You won’t feel it, but it is there. It will remain there as long as you accept it in faith.
For some people the deliverance is so dramatic that they lose even the appetite for the sin. Tobacco addicts have sometimes been delivered from the craving, but this is not the usual way God does it. Usually, the desire remains, but in the moment of temptation, the power to walk past the temptation springs forth from within. Faith accepts the fact of deliverance and constantly claims the victory which is in the secure possession of the believer.
The final step to victory is described in our fourth text, Romans 13:14. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” So strong is the confidence in the appropriated power of God that no consideration is given to falling under the power of that sin again. Under the old “trying” plan, provision was made to fail in most cases. Cigarettes were placed on a shelf, and the smoker said to himself, “I’m going to try never to smoke again, but if I don’t make it I know where they are.” But under the “trusting” plan, we have no reason to fear failure on the grounds of human weakness. Victory does not depend on our strength but on God’s power. We might fail, but He cannot fail. Cigarettes are thrown away. All plans that might involve any degree of compromise are abandoned.
Little Jimmy was in trouble because he had gone swimming against his mother’s orders. When asked why he had disobeyed her, Jimmy answered, “Because I got tempted.” Mother then said, “I noticed that you took your bathing suit with you this morning. Why did you do that?” Jimmy answered, “Because I expected to get tempted.” How typical of those who do not quite trust their own strength to win the victory. They make provision to fail. They take their bathing suit along. With God there need be no provision to fail.
Someone might raise the objection that this could be discouraging. Suppose the person does fail? Even Peter began to sink. Would it not shake confidence in God if the victory was not maintained? No. Peter’s sinking had nothing to do with the failure of divine power. It did not change Christ’s will for him to walk on the water. It only pointed out Peter’s need of stronger faith to enable him to obey Christ’s command. Our faith could weaken. We might need to be reminded of our total dependence upon His strength. But this does not diminish the beautiful plan of God to impart power and victory through “exceeding great and precious promises” of the Bible. Without faith by the receiver not even God’s promises can be appropriated. The limits are clearly defined in the words of Jesus, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29).
There it is, friend, in all of its simplicity. And it works! If you are willing to be delivered, it works. Nothing will help the one who is not willing to give up the cigarettes. But if you want it, it is there. Victory, power, deliverance—just reach out in faith and it is yours. Believe it and claim it this very moment. God wants you to be free.

Is It Easier to Be Saved or Lost?

9 Jan
By Joe Crews
Introduction
It seems very appropriate that the word DYNAMITE is a transliteration of the Greek word DUNAMIS, which means power. The word is not a stranger to those who are students of the Scriptures. It is one of the colorful adjectives used in the Bible to describe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power (DUNAMIS) of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16.
How few Christians have a true understanding of the explosive power of the gospel they so lightly profess! If Paul’s words are true, then everyone who possesses the gospel should also be filled with tremendous power. But is that the case? Unfortunately, the lives of countless church members are flaccid, bland, and miserably compromised. Instead of vibrant power there seems to be discouragement and defeat. What is wrong? Do these people really believe the gospel or not? And why is the dynamite so obviously missing in their lives?
The answer must be that many do not truly believe what they profess. Or else, they have been taught a counterfeit gospel. Some of the greatest spiritual problems of today are rooted in a misunderstanding of the gospel. The sad fact is that millions have no true comprehension of what is afforded through the gospel, and what it is supposed to do for them. Unaware of its full provisions, they stumble along, claiming only what their weak faith is able to encompass. Instead of feasting at the banquet table of the Lord, these people gather crumbs from under the table which barely provides enough strength to survive.
They are very much like the “missing heirs” we have heard so much about. All across America millions of dollars are stacked up in banks waiting for the true owners to take possession of the money. In most cases, the heirs are unaware of the wealth which rightfully belongs to them and which only awaits their demand and reception. But these millions are nothing compared to the spiritual riches which still lie untapped by those Christians who fail to recognize their own unlimited affluence. For no reason, except their own abysmal failure to claim their true possessions, most professed Christians are living in wretched poverty and weakness.
Satan Has No Power Over God’s Children
Do you know why these millionaires are living like paupers? Because they have allowed the devil to intimidate them. He has lied to them about one of their most basic privileges. We need to unmask the evil one and expose the false claims he makes concerning his authority. Satan would like for us to believe that he has unlimited control over this world and all its people. That is not true. He is not the master of God’s children and has no power at all over the saints. Where Christ lives and reigns, Satan trembles and flees for his life. GOD IS STRONGER THAN SATAN. This glorious truth must fill our minds with constant assurance.
Don’t misunderstand me. Satan is powerful. We have all seen the incredible, enslaving influence that he exercises in the life of a sinner. But when Christ banishes the devil from that sinner and controls his life, the power for good is far greater than the evil. If there is more power in Christ than there is in Satan, then there is more power in grace than there is in sin. Jesus is not just as strong as the devil, else the warfare between them might end in a draw or a standoff. But, thank God, Christ has already won the battle and Satan is a defeated foe right now.
This leads us to the joyful conclusion that the Christian has somebody stronger helping him to follow Jesus than the sinner has helping him to follow Satan. This glorious fact should give tremendous comfort to every child of God. It also raises a very interesting question. If we have such a powerful defender on our side, who desires our salvation, is it correct to also conclude that it’s easier to be saved than to be lost? Before any glib response is made to that question, we need to consider the two major aspects of salvation. It is very important to understand whether the question relates to BECOMING a Christian or REMAINING a Christian.
We would like to believe that because Christ is stronger than Satan, He would facilitate the entire process of salvation for His children. Yet, we have experienced first hand the painful struggle with self in making the decision to follow Jesus. There was a titanic battle between the flesh and the Spirit, and Satan exploited every human frailty in seeking to hold us in the bondage of sin. It is doubtful that even one soul would concede that it is easier to surrender fully to Christ than to continue living after the flesh. Satan seems to have hundreds of enticing allurements to make it difficult to break away from the ways of the world.
Furthermore, the devil has one advantage over God in that he can lie, and make things appear exactly opposite of what they really are. He can make sin appear unobjectionable and beautiful. The fallen nature of man, with it’s powerful propensity to sin, has a natural bent toward things which are evil. And even after conversion, that lower nature can be appealed to by the delusions and deceptions of Satan. This means that the Christian must be constantly on the alert for subtle or oblique attacks from a very clever enemy.
The Way of the Transgressor is Hard; Not the Way of the Obedient
Does this mean that it will be discouraging to follow the Christian lifestyle? Will the harrassments of temptation make it miserable to live for Christ? On the contrary we can rest in the settled assurance that we are on the winning side of the great controversy. He that is for us is greater than he that is against us. Isn’t that exciting good news? The conversion experience transforms the mind and will into a veritable spiritual fortress. From that control center the Holy Spirit exercises a subduing influence over the lower fleshly nature. As long as the faculties are yielded to God the Christian finds relief from the burden and guilt of sin.
Is this not what the Master meant when He spoke these words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me. … and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”? Matthew 11:28-30. Certainly Jesus was not saying that hardships and conflicts would disappear from the lives of His followers. Rather He was describing the joy and peace of mind that would mark the path of the obedient. When Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus He said, “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” The meaning of these words is obvious. He was telling Saul that it was hard to resist the Holy Spirit. The misery and struggle lay in the path of disobedience. The way of the transgressor is hard; not the way of the obedient.
We must stop allowing Satan to brainwash us with the exaggerated claims of his authority. It is true that under the reign of sin it is easier to do wrong than it is to do right, but it is also true that under the reign of grace it is easier to do right than it is to do wrong. Why should we not assert the prerogatives that belong to us as the children of God? The Bible writers did not hesitate to challenge the limited authority of Satan, and neither should we. Paul wrote: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20, 21.
Note the expression, “as sin hath reigned.” How did sin reign? As a controlling power, did it not? Driving back every spiritual impulse, the carnal nature overpowered all the efforts of grace to enter the heart. But notice that grace abounds “much more” than sin, and “as sin hath reigned…even so might grace reign”! Obviously, grace will also be a controlling power which can overpower all the efforts of sin to enter the life. Isn’t that a fantastic assurance? The devil has no dynamite that compares with the shattering dynamite of the gospel in a surrendered life.
So we are brought back to the question again: Is it harder to serve Jesus or Satan? It is undeniable that we have access to more good power than bad. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Someone might answer, “Satan.” And I say, “So what? He flees at the very name of Jesus.” Of course, he wants you to be lost, but God wants you to be saved. You can win every time by being on the side of the stronger. Jesus referred to His mastery of devils in these words: “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him,…he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” Luke 11:21, 22.
The strong man referred to is Satan, of course. He is stronger than the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon), and the strongest man who ever lived (Samson), and the most perfect man who ever lived (Adam). But he is not stronger than Jesus. Christ is that stronger One who “overcame him” and delivers the captives out of his hands. What an exciting reality!
All Will Be Saved Who do Not Resist
Not only does God have the power to save us, but He has the desire to do it. It is His will that all should come to repentance and be saved. What produces repentance in the life? Paul assures us that “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4. How many does He lead toward repentance? Everyone, of course, since it is His will to save all. Christ said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32. His love does not appeal to a select few only, but to ALL men. His goodness LEADS every soul to repent, and His love DRAWS all men to the cross. If this is true, why are not all men saved? Because they resist the sweet drawing influence of the Holy Spirit. There is absolutely no doubt that God actively seeks the salvation of every soul on planet earth, and He will continue to convict those who have not hardened themselves in unbelief.
What a thought! The difficult thing to do is to fight against salvation. Unless we resist, God will persist in drawing us to Himself. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11. To how many men? ALL men! Hebrews 2:9 says that Jesus tasted death “for every man.” Again, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. The only reason all the world is not saved is simply because the great majority resists God’s provision of saving, sanctifying grace.
So the really hard thing about the way of transgression is the binding hold that sin has fastened on the mind and body. This is why it is easier for the unconverted to continue their course than to turn from death to life. There is nothing within them capable of challenging the will of the flesh. But we affirm just as confidently that the born-again Christian will quickly grow to abhor sin, and will find it an absolutely miserable act to compromise the conscience by willful disobedience.
So what is the answer to the question, Is it easier to be saved or to be lost? We must truthfully say that it is difficult to make the initial turn from the self-life, but after the heart is surrendered, the path of the Christian, in every way, is happier and easier to maintain. Let’s consider the theology behind this glorious fact.
The Bible speaks of “being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26.
Please notice that only those who “believe in Jesus” will be personally justified, even though the cross provides it for everyone. The text says there must be “faith in his blood.” The utility company provides abundant power and light to my home, but I receive no benefit whatever unless I push the switches in my home. All of God’s saving, cleansing, justifying power is of no benefit to me in salvation unless I accept it in a personal way.
Our text also speaks of “remission of sins that are past” as a part of this justification experience. What really happens in this act of remission or forgiveness of sins? Many believe that this is something which happens outside the life of the believer. They consider that forgiveness changes God’s attitude toward the transgressor because of some celestial accounting carried out billions of light years away. Is it true that forgiveness affects God so that He no longer holds something against me? This is decidedly not the case. Forgiveness does not change God toward us; it changes us toward Him. God didn’t need to change. He was never wrong. Man was the sinner who needed to change. He stood condemned before a broken law that could offer no grace or forgiveness. There was absolutely no righteousness to be drawn from the law. It could not provide any strength for right-doing. The sinner was powerless, condemned and helpless under the scourging of that law.
Paul’s terminology makes condemnation to be the opposite of justification. In Romans 8:1-4 he describes what justification subjectively accomplishes for the individual. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Immediately, we can see that the problem lay in the flesh which was too weak to obey the law. Something had to be done in man to bring him back into harmony with God. The Greek word for RIGHTEOUSNESS in this verse is DIKAIMA, which means JUST REQUIREMENT. How could the weak-flesh problem be remedied so that man could fulfill the requirements of the law?
God provided the full solution when He sent Jesus in the flesh to obey the law perfectly. It was only because Christ lived a perfect life of obedience that He is able to impute justification to each one of us. If that plan of sending Jesus had not taken care of my weakness in the flesh, then the plan would have failed. When Christ moves into the life, the condemnation is removed, the sins are forgiven, and we are empowered to fulfill the requirements of the law through Christ in us. This is the change which forgiveness makes in the life.
Forgiveness does not change God, but us. He justifies the ungodly by taking away the ungodliness. He justifies the rebellious sinner by taking away the rebellion. When He declares us righteous, His self-filling word makes us righteous. He does not declare something which is not true. The One who conquered Satan now moves into the human heart to provide victory over the power of sin. The miracle of the new life is described in the Bible by utterly fantastic expressions. We can have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19), and be made free from sin (Romans 6:18). All this is possible as grace begins to rule the life, and under this power, Satan doesn’t have a ghost of a chance.
Christians Need Not Cringe or Cower
All who do not resist the goodness of God will be led to repentance and salvation, and they should not be intimidated by the pretended authority of a defeated foe. We must recognize our position as the sons of God. We should also be unafraid to acknowledge our authority in Christ over Satan. It is time for God’s children to stop trembling before the threats of a conquered enemy. Too often in evangelism we watch in dismay as the devil arranges his competing attractions to take people away from the Word of God. We say, “Oh my, what are we going to do? The circus is coming to town during our crusade.” The truth is that Satan should be worried instead of us. He ought to tremble and say, “What am I going to do? The evangelistic meetings are coming to town.”
God’s Spirit-filled children must learn to be more confident, more aggressive and bold in their assertion of truth in the name of the mighty, conquering Creator God. We are not operating in the strength of the flesh but in the power of the Holy Spirit. He that is for us is greater than he which is against us. Praise be to God for such assurance!
Now let us consider the question, WHY IS IT NOT HARD TO SERVE CHRIST WHEN YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN? Please don’t mistake the language of this question. We are talking about a born-again Christian following Jesus. There is no contention that anyone else will find it easy to live the Christian life. In fact, there is probably no more difficult task in the world than trying to live for Christ in the strength of the flesh. It is quite possible that many of the degenerative diseases and weaknesses of the body have been produced by generations of struggle to please God by human effort. People are wearied and worn out by such futile activity.
I am not saying that there will be no effort or struggle, but for the committed Christian the way of obedience is a joy and delight AND VICTORY IS ASSURED! “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3. The great disciple of love declares that it is not hard to obey God’s law when it is the fruitage of a love relationship. The Psalmist wrote, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8. There are two strong reasons why it is not grievous for the true Christian to serve the Lord. First, he is absolutely confident that God loves him and will do only what is good for him. Second, he loves Christ supremely and chooses to run no risk of displeasing Him.
Restrictions Can be a Delight
Someone may raise a question about the demands laid down in the Bible and the penalties attached for transgression. None can deny that they are there. Do these requirements and threatened penalties make obedience a hardship? Let me answer that question with two imaginary interviews. Suppose I have just submitted to a complete medical examination and the doctor is giving me a report of his findings. He says, “Joe, I have bad, bad news for you. Your tests indicate that you are going to die unless you follow my orders exactly. To save your life, you must obey what I’m going to tell you, and you must continue to follow my orders every day for the rest of your life. I’ve found that you will be required to eat two or three times a day in order to save your life. And you must force yourself to do it day after day as long as you live.”
Think about it for a moment. Those are strict rules with heavy penalties attached. I can lose my life by violating the law laid down by the doctor. But will it be difficult for me to follow those orders? Of course not! Why? Simply because there is a higher law leading me to eat every day anyway. The physical laws of my being demand that I eat regularly, and I enjoy doing it. It is for my own good to eat, and I do not have to force myself to comply with the doctor’s rigid requirements.
In the same way there is a law of love operating in every Christian life which is the natural extension of a personal relation with Jesus. The commandments and penalties of the Bible are no threat whatsoever, because the Christian recognizes the higher law leading him to do these same things that are for his best good. He does not obey for fear of the penalty, but because he is happiest obeying the One he loves.
Let’s imagine another conversation that will never actually take place. I am preparing to leave home for a month of evangelism. My wife tells me goodbye and then solemnly holds a paper before my face. “Joe,” she says, “you will be gone for a month, and your check will be mailed out before you return. I just want you to read this paper very carefully. It is a copy of Maryland Statute No. 392, and it states that you will be put in jail if you don’t send me money to operate the home. It’s not very pleasant in that county jail, so I’ll be expecting you to send that money as soon as you get your check.”
What she says is true, but do I need the threat of that law to make me support my family? No, there is a higher law of love which makes me want to take care of my loved ones. Love turns duty into a joyful privilege. I remember walking ten miles in the pouring rain to keep a date with the girl I loved. I had no regrets. My love for her overruled the hardship. We can make anything a burden by the attitude we have toward it and by the way we relate to it. It is a burden to serve Jesus only if the relationship is wrong.
Is the Narrow Road Hard and Unhappy?
I have heard people say, “But Christianity is so restrictive.” True. But marriage is even more restrictive than religion. Does that make it miserable? Do brides and grooms complain about the narrow promises they make to each other? I have performed many marriages and have never seen newlyweds unhappy about their commitments. They are always radiant, even though they have just promised their lives away.
Imagine someone approaching the new bride with these discouraging words: “Oh, my! You really are in a bad situation now. Just think, you’ve got to cook for this guy every day of your life. You’ll be required to clean the house, mend his clothes, and put up with his untidy habits. This marriage thing is bad news.” Do you know how that new young wife would respond? She would say, “Wonderful! I love it!”
Suppose someone should try to discourage a newly baptized Christian, who has just been “married” to Jesus, with these words: “Oh, you’ve got yourself into a miserable mess. Just think, you can’t go to the bars and dances anymore. You can’t go to the ball games on Sabbath, and you won’t be able to eat pork and shrimp anymore.” Without question that beaming newborn Christian would answer, “Wonderful! I love every moment of it!”
The explanation for this response is made in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” Love propels and compels people to do anything and everything to please the One who died for them. No burdensome yoke binds such disciples to the path of service and obedience. “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. That word blessed really means happy. The commandments may be restrictive, but it is a joy to be restricted by love.
To the unconverted these thoughts are alien and contradictory. People who are not in love cannot appreciate the selfless involvement of those who are happily married. Some married couples have destroyed their love for each other, and they look upon marriage as a galling bondage. The fault is not with the marriage, but with the attitude. When Christians fall away and lose their relationship with Jesus, they also begin to complain about the burden of religion. The fault lies not in the religion but in the loveless hearts of the complainers.
Does all of this stand in opposition to the teaching of Christ concerning self-denial? Jesus did say, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23. Did He mean that the way of obedience would be hard and unhappy? No. He was simply picturing the reality of competing attractions in the life of a Christian. There will always be allurements of the flesh and of the world appealing to self and trying to draw me away from Christ. Without the compelling influence of a higher affection, the emotional appeal of those things might be overpowering. Here is where the lines of love’s authority are revealed. The powerful love of Christ constrains me to cling to Him and say “No” to the incessant invitation of the flesh, the devil, and the world. Those foolish challenges to my relationship with Christ will always be present, but I will always be able to choose to stay with Him for two reasons: I love Him more than anything or anybody else in the world, and I know He will do only what is best for me.
Satan will utilize feeling as one of his most effective weapons against the saints, but a true Christian will recognize that the flesh and feelings cannot be trusted. We must serve God because of right and truth and not because we feel in the mood. Moods have led millions to deny the Lord and live for the flesh. Most of those who serve the devil today are doing so because they have been deceived and blinded by feeling. It is a constant marvel to watch people follow the shallow artificialities of sin in pursuit of happiness. Obviously, they do not derive any true pleasure out of smoking, drinking, and otherwise destroying themselves by indulgent behavior; yet, robot-like, they go through the motions dictated by their carnal desires.
Walter Winchell summed it up when he wrote in his newspaper column: “The saddest people in the world are those sitting in joints making believe they are having a good time. This Broadway Street is full of amusement places trying to make people happy, yet its people are drenched in unhappiness.”
The problem is that those millions have no power of a higher law of spiritual love operating in their lives. With no competing force to oppose it, the flesh holds a controlling influence over the mind and body. Self responds to the emotional appeal of external stimuli and has no choice but to be captured by the flesh. It reminds me of a story I heard about a concentration camp. A man stood looking through the barbed wires of an overcrowded death camp. Inside, the prisoners stood with emaciated bodies, hollow cheeks, and sunken eyes. As the man on the outside gazed at the spectacle of those starving inmates, one of the prisoners called to him and said, “Ha! You can’t come in here, can you?” Immediately, the self-nature reacted to the challenge. “Who says I can’t? I’ll show you.” And the man crawled through the wire to join the other sad-faced internees.
That is probably as close as we can come to explaining the senseless carnival of death that leads millions every year into presumptuous violation of the laws of their being. Incredible as it may seem, self is willing to make itself miserable in order to have its own way, and those in the flesh have no power to resist its dictates. It is much easier for them to do wrong than it is to do right. But let us repeat and reaffirm the glorious truth that for those who are deeply in love with Christ, it is easier to do right than it is to do wrong.
Here is the good news of the full gospel of Jesus Christ, and I hold it out to every reader of these words right now. Jesus came to provide the dynamite power by which we can be both justified and sanctified. We may have deliverance from the guilt of sin and also from the power of sin. By accepting the simple, free provisions of the gospel, salvation is assured in all three tenses of our Christian experience – past, present, and future. May God help us not to be satisfied with a partial understanding or application of His grace. Let us lay hold of the incredible riches and power (DUNAMIS) which have been given to us as the sons and daughters of God.
How to Claim Victory Over Sin
Have you heard about the evolutionary way of getting the victory over bad habits and sins? It is sometimes called the TAPERING method or the TRYING method, but generally, it just doesn’t work. Oh, it partially works, of course, because old age takes care of some temptations and sins, and time settles the rest when death comes. But do you know why TRYING does not work in overcoming the devil?
Why can’t we fight the devil for a few months and finally drive him away? Because the devil is stronger than we are. We could fight him for a year, but he would still be stronger than we are at the end of that year. Trying will never break the power of sin in a single instance because we are facing an enemy who will always be stronger than we are. What, then, is the answer to our weakness and defeat? This question leads us to the sweetest and most sublime secret in the Word of God.
First of all, one must understand that all of Heaven’s gifts are available to us through the promises of the Bible, and we receive them by faith. Peter describes the “exceeding great and precious promises” and assures us that “by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4. Mighty power is stored within the promise to fulfill itself to all who claim it in faith. So few are willing to believe that the promised blessing becomes theirs the very moment they believe it. Why is it so hard to believe implicitly that God will do what He promises?
Now, let us come down to the very heart of victory and consider the four simple scriptural steps that any believer may take in claiming God’s power. Four texts will illuminate the amazing transaction. FIRST: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57. Allow your mind to savor the fantastic message of these words. VICTORY IS A GIFT! We do not earn it by our efforts or deserve it because of any supposed goodness. The only thing we need do is ask for it, and the victory will be given to us freely by Christ. He is the only One who has ever gained the victory over Satan, and if we ever possess the victory, it will have to come as a gift from Him.
Let me ask you something. Do you need victory in your life over some binding, miserable habit of sin? Some are slaves to appetite, to alcohol, or tobacco. Others are struggling helplessly against impurity, anger, or worldliness. The Bible says you may have the victory as a gift through Jesus Christ. Do you believe He will give you that power if you ask Him? How certain can you be that God will answer your prayer for victory immediately? Here is how sure you can be – just as sure as Christ’s words are true!
Our SECOND text is Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Is it a good thing when you ask for victory over tobacco or any other fleshly or moral evil? Of course it is! And you don’t even have to ask if it is God’s will! He has already told us in the Bible that it is His will to destroy the works of sin and the devil. If we pray for more money or a better job, we should always ask according to His will, but the victory over sin is promised to everyone who asks in faith.
Will God give the victory when we ask Him? Jesus said He is more willing to give this good thing than we are to feed our children when they are hungry. He is waiting to honor your faith and to “supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. These assurances are so open-ended and unlimited that our minds are staggered by it. Why have we been so reluctant to apply for the provisions of grace? Why is it so hard to believe that God means exactly what He says?
Here is the next question. How do we know we have the victory after we ask Him? Simply because He said we would have it. We know God does not lie. We can believe His promise. The very moment we ask, we should accept the fact of fulfillment, thank Him for the gift, get up and act as if it has been done. No kind of proof-feeling or sign should be demanded or expected. The self-fulfilling power in the promise is released in response to our faith alone.
This brings us to the THIRD text found in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word RECKON means to believe, or to consider it done. Every practice of faith should be focused on that one request for victory, and then, it should be accounted as done. Do you remember how Peter walked on the water? He asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat onto the raging sea, and Jesus told Peter to come. But how long did Peter do the impossible by walking on the water? The Bible says, “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” Matthew 14:30.
What was Peter afraid of? He was afraid of sinking and drowning. In spite of Christ’s assurance that he could safely walk on the water, Peter began to doubt the word of the Master. That is when he began to sink. As long as he believed the promise of Jesus and acted in faith, he was safe. When he doubted, he sank.
Now, what is the impossible thing as far as you are concerned? It is not walking on water. It is overcoming that tobacco habit or other besetting sin. And Christ says, “Come to me. I will give you victory.” As long as you believe that you have been delivered, you will have the victory. It is as simple as that. The very moment you ask for victory it will be placed in your life as a reservoir of power. You won’t feel it, but it is there. It will remain there as long as you accept it in faith.
For some people the deliverance is so dramatic that they lose even the appetite for the sin. Tobacco addicts have sometimes been delivered from the craving. BUT THIS IS NOT THE USUAL WAY GOD DOES IT. Usually, the desire remains, but in the moment of temptation, the power to walk past the temptation springs forth from within. Faith accepts the fact of deliverance and constantly claims the victory which is in the secure possession of the believer.
The final step to victory is described in our FOURTH text, Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” So strong is the confidence in the appropriated power of God that no consideration is given to falling under the power of that sin again. Under the old TRYING plan, provision was made to fail in most cases. Cigarettes were placed on a shelf, and the smoker said to himself, “I’m going to try never to smoke again, but if I don’t make it, I know where they are.” But under the TRUSTING plan, we have no reason to fear failure on the grounds of human weakness. Victory does not depend on our strength but on God’s power. We might fail, but He cannot fail. Cigarettes are thrown away. All plans that might involve any degree of compromise are abandoned.
Little Jimmy was in trouble because he had gone swimming against his mother’s orders. When asked why he had disobeyed her, Jimmy answered, “Because I got tempted.” Mother then said, “I noticed that you took your bathing suit with you this morning. Why did you do that?” Jimmy answered, “Because I expected to get tempted.” How typical of those who do not quite trust their own strength to win the victory. They make provision to fail.
Someone might raise the objection that this could be discouraging. Suppose the person does fail? Even Peter began to sink. Would it not shake confidence in God if the victory was not maintained? No. Peter’s sinking had nothing to do with the failure of divine power. It did not change Christ’s will for him to walk on the water. It only pointed up Peter’s need of stronger faith to enable him to obey Christ’s command. Our faith could weaken. We might need to be reminded of our total dependence upon His strength. But this does not diminish from the beautiful plan of God to impart power and victory through “the exceeding great and precious promises” of the Bible. Without faith by the receiver, not even God’s promises can be appropriated. The limits are clearly defined in the words of Jesus, “According to your faith be it unto you.” Matthew 9:29.
There it is, friend, in all of its simplicity. AND IT WORKS! If you are willing to be delivered, it works. Nothing will help the one who is not willing to give up the sin. But if you want it, it is there. VICTORY, POWER, DELIVERANCE – just reach out in faith and it is yours. Believe it and claim it this very moment. God wants you to be free.
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