False Religion https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/ en Is Christmas Christian? https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/christmas-christian <span>Is Christmas Christian?</span> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-weight field--type-integer field--label-hidden field__item">29</div> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 20:24</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Is Christmas Christian?</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Living Church of God</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/Is%20Christmas%20Christian">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/Is%20Christmas%20Christian"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/xc2.0_main_image.jpg?itok=E4Wp6vJE" alt="Christmas tree" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#False Christianity</div> <div class="field__item">#origins of traditions</div> <div class="field__item">#paganism</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">We see the scene every year… decorated trees, evergreen wreaths and bright multi-colored lights. Sometimes there is a little crèche in the corner, depicting an infant child receiving lavish gifts. Yet most of the gift-giving these days is done by debt-laden adults, trying to outdo each other in gifting children, family members and friends with the latest style or fad.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>PREFACE<br /> THE REASON FOR THE SEASON?</h2> <p>Around the world, Christmas is by most measures the most popular single holiday, as well as the centerpiece of the world’s largest religious tradition.  Nine out of ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas (Pew Forum, December 2013). Nearly all who call themselves “Christians” celebrate the day, and in the United States even eight-of-ten non-Christians claim to observe a Christmas holiday of some sort (<em>ibid</em>.).</p> <p>But what are they celebrating?  Millions go into debt buying gifts to celebrate a Jesus who reminded us that we cannot serve both God and mammon.  The Savior who warned against covetousness is honored, they seem to think, by the annual consumer frenzy that culminates around the Christmas tree. Every December, millions of revelers overindulge in rich foods, drink a little too much and engage in wild behavior—in celebration of the Savior whose Sermon on the Mount praised meekness and humility.</p> <p>And what about church? Almost any pastor or priest can tell you about “twice-a-year Christians” who only show up in church on Christmas and Easter.</p> <p>Then again, Christmas is also a time when pious believers set up the “Christmas crèche” and reflect on the legends surrounding Christ’s birth. Instead of filling their minds with the latest consumer fad or bargain-basement sale, they prefer to think of the baby Jesus in His manger, visited by Magi bearing gifts. Would these well-meaning people be shocked to learn not only that this common Christmas scene is never found in the Bible, but that the Bible itself proves a very different story than the one they have learned?</p> <p>Christmas has become important to billions of people for a variety of reasons. It is fun. It is profitable. It is a way to reflect on cherished traditions. Yet there is a fundamental question that usually goes unanswered: Is Christmas Christian?</p> <p>Read on, and the information in this booklet will open your eyes, change your perspective—and maybe even spur you to an even deeper and more meaningful relationship with the true Jesus Christ, beyond all the Christmas legends and traditions!</p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 1<br /> WHY DECEMBER 25?</h2> <p>How did Christmas originate? <em>Long before Jesus was born</em>, the season around December 25 was a birthday celebration! Christmas has a pre-Christian origin!</p> <p>About that time each year an event that was very important to ancient agrarian societies occurred—called the <em>winter solstice</em>. That event occurs when the days cease becoming shorter and begin to grow longer. The sun’s arc begins to become higher in the sky each day, portending the return of springtime, which will lead to a rebirth of life to the wintry and seemingly dead earth. Cultural anthropologists note, “All over the world, for countless millennia, people have participated in a religious ritual at the winter solstice, when the sun’s downward course is arrested and it turns back, it seems, to earth. This change of state in the bleak mid-winter of the year was experienced as <em>the rebirth of the sun and commemorated as the birth day of the sun god, the luminous divine child</em>” (<em>The Myth of the Goddess, </em>Baring and Cashford, p. 561).</p> <p>When the sun declined in the sky and the days shortened, it marked the onset of winter and the loss of productivity in the land. The shortest day of the year is the lowest point of the sun’s arc in the sky. That day is called the <em>winter solstice</em>. But after that time, the sun’s arc across the sky begins to increase each day, foretelling the coming of spring and a rejuvenation of the earth. The midwinter festival of the winter solstice was an important event for all sun-worshiping cultures, and much mythology formed around it. Also, much celebration accompanied it.</p> <p>The fact that Christmas is of pagan origin is not particularly controversial—as popular encyclopedias attest. Note what the <em>Encyclopaedia Britannica </em>says about it. “Its observance as the birthday of the Saviour is attended with secular customs often drawn from pagan sources; indeed, Christmas and Epiphany, which falls 12 days later on January 6, are <em>transformed pagan celebrations of the winter solstice,</em> so closely linked that their origins cannot be discussed separately.</p> <p>“December 25 in Rome—This was the date of a pagan festival in Rome, chosen in 274ad by the Emperor Aurelian as the birthday of the unconquered sun (<em>natalis solis invicti</em>), which at the winter solstice begins again to show an increase of light. At some point before 336ad the church at Rome established the commemoration of the birthday of Christ, the sun of righteousness on the same date.</p> <p>“Traditional Customs—The traditional customs connected with Christmas have been derived from several sources as a result of the coincidence of the feast of the Nativity of Christ and the pagan agricultural and solar observances at midwinter. In the Roman world the Saturnalia (December 17–24) was a time of merry-making and exchange of presents… But though Christmas festivities were indirectly influenced by these customs, the fact that Christmas was celebrated on the birthday of the unconquered sun gave the season a solar background, connected with the calends of January (January 1)—the Roman New Year when houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and presents were given to children and the poor. To these solstitial observances were added Germano-Celtic yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into Gaul, Britain and Celtic Europe. Yuletide brought its own tradition of feasting and mortuary customs, to combine with Roman solstitial and transitional New Year rites… Evergreens, as symbols of survival, have a long association with Christmas festivities, probably dating to the eighth century when St. Boniface completed the Christianization of Germany and dedicated the fir tree to the Holy Child to replace the sacred oak of Odin” (“Christmas,” p. 704, Vol. 5, 1970 ed.).</p> <p>Another edition of <em>Britannica</em> adds, “The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the <em>dies solis invicti nati</em> (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer. Indeed, after December 25 had become widely accepted as the date of Jesus’ birth, Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son. One of the difficulties with this view is that it suggests a nonchalant willingness on the part of the Christian church to appropriate a pagan festival when the early church was so intent on distinguishing itself categorically from pagan beliefs and practices” (<em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em>, “Christmas”).</p> <p><em>Britannica</em> continues. “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church… Christmas customs are an evolution from the <em>times that long antedated the Christian period</em>—a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition” (1959, Vol. 5, “Christmas,” p. 642).</p> <p>“In the south of Europe, in Egypt and Persia, the sun gods were worshipped with elaborate ceremonies at the season of the winter solstice, as a fitting time to pay tribute to the benign god of plenty, while in Rome the Saturnalia reigned for a week. In northern lands mid-December was a critical time, for the days became shorter and shorter and the sun was weak and far away. Thus these ancient people held feasts at the same period that Christmas is now observed… Thus, the central idea of the winter solstice—the return of light—became the hope of the world in the birth of Christ, the light of the world… When the fathers of the church in 440ad decided upon a date to celebrate the event [of Christ’s birth], <em>they wisely chose the day of the winter solstice which was firmly fixed in the minds of the people and which was their most important festival. </em>Because of changes in man-made calendars, the time of the solstice and the date of Christmas vary by a few days” (<em>ibid</em>., p. 643).</p> <p>Did you notice that? In 440ad, the professing Christian authorities simply transferred an ancient pagan practice to the worship of Christ—thinking in effect that they would “Christianize” what the pagans had already been doing! <strong><em>But were they “Christianizing” pagan practices or “paganizing” Christianity?</em></strong></p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 2<br /> WHEN WAS JESUS BORN?</h2> <p>At what time of the year was Jesus actually born? It might surprise you to know that it <em>could not</em> have been in late December! <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%202.8">Luke 2:8</a> records that at the time Jesus was born, “there were in the same country shepherds <em>abiding in the field</em>, keeping watch over their flocks by night” (<em>KJV</em>). This scene could not have occurred in the winter, because in the early autumn the flocks were brought in from the countryside to winter in more sheltered areas. The winters in that region are cold, wet and sometimes snow covers the browned-off pastures. The shepherds and the sheep cannot endure the exposure to the elements all winter. Note the clear statements on this in the well-known <em>Adam Clarke’s Commentary</em>: “It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the Passover, and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the Passover occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, <em>our Lord was not born on the 25th of December</em>, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could he have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. <em>On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up</em>” (article: “<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%202.8">Luke 2:8</a>“).</p> <p>If Jesus could not have been born in December, then is there any indication when He <em>was</em> born? The exact date cannot be known from Scripture, but there are strong indications that it must have been in the early autumn, around September.</p> <p>Note that Jesus began His ministry around His thirtieth birthday. “Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%203.23">Luke 3:23</a>). And the gospel accounts show that He ended His ministry after three and a half years when He was crucified at Passover, which occurs in the spring of the year in late March or April. That puts the time of His birth a half-year after Passover, in the autumn around late September or early October.</p> <p>Also, the timing of the birth of John the Baptist provides another confirmation of an autumn birth for Jesus.</p> <p>Luke 1 tells of an important event leading up to the conception and birth of Jesus. There was a priest named Zacharias serving in the Temple, who attended according to his assigned course, the course of Abijah (v. 5). Elizabeth, his wife, was the first cousin of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Zacharias and Elizabeth were “well advanced in years” (v. 7) and had no children. When Zacharias was serving at his particular time in the temple, the angel, Gabriel, appeared to him and told him that his wife would become pregnant. We know that child later as John the Baptist (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%201.13%E2%80%9317">John 1:13–17</a>).</p> <p>Centuries earlier, King David had divided the priesthood serving the temple into a rotation of 24 courses (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Chron%2024.1%E2%80%9319">1 Chronicles 24:1–19</a>). Zecharias’ course was the eighth of the 24, and corresponded to a certain time of the year—around the end of May on our calendar. The Holy Day of Pentecost occurred the week after Zacharias’ course, and he was required to serve during that time as well, as all the priests were. He was apart from his wife during his service, and the earliest he could have returned home and begotten a child was around the second week of June.</p> <p>The same angel, Gabriel, was sent to Elizabeth’s first cousin, Mary, a virgin, six months later to tell her that she would become pregnant with the Messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit. “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%201.35%E2%80%9337">Luke 1:35–37</a>).</p> <p>If John the Baptist was conceived shortly after Zecharias returned home in mid-June, and Jesus was conceived six months later, that puts Jesus’ birth in mid-to-late September. At that time of the year, the flocks would still have been in the fields, as <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%202.8">Luke 2:8</a> states, “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” <em>Christ’s birth did not happen on the winter solstice in late December.</em></p> <p>Every December you hear it—”Let’s put Christ back in Christmas.” The reason that people feel the need to “put Christ in Christmas” is that He <em>never was </em>in Christmas—and is not now!</p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 3<br /> DREAMING OF A COMMERCIAL CHRISTMAS?</h2> <p>Many observers lament the “commercialization” of Christmas. Retailers even have a term—”Christmas creep”—to describe how the Christmas retailing season seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. Many of us can remember when holiday decorations in the stores appeared only in December. Then the selling season began encroaching into November, and the Christmas music in the stores began around the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Then it moved to the week before Thanksgiving. Now we commonly see decorations and hear seasonal music in the mall around Halloween in October.</p> <p>As far as the secular promotion of Christmas holiday goes, the “reason for the season” is clear—<em>Just “follow the money”!</em></p> <p>“Black Friday” is the name retailers give to the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. and the U.K.—or “<em>Vendredi Noir</em>” in France—all of which occur near the end of November. It refers to the time when retailers traditionally consider that their cash flow goes from a loss—”running red ink” during most of the year—to a profit when they say they are “in the black.” This means that most of their profits come from sales in the holiday season: <em>No Christmas, no profits</em>!</p> <p>The Christmas holidays are critical to the retailing economy. Naturally, they would want to extend the buying season as long as possible. There is great financial incentive to maximize retailing activity during that period.</p> <p>Christmas can be “make or break” for retailers. Each year they have to find ways to maintain or increase their sales volume during the holidays. Creative marketers find numerous ways to create a longer selling season, because it means that more of consumers’ hard-earned cash is available to buy their products. If customers have not saved throughout the year for Christmas purchases—which is the case for most people—they will likely have to finance their purchases either from their current wages or through credit card debt. So having a three or four month selling season brings in more sales than marketing in December only—hence, we see what retailers call “Christmas Creep.” The holiday marketing season “creeps” into November, October or earlier if merchants can get away with it.</p> <p>One of the most important marketing tactics is to generate “Christmas spirit” in the stores and shopping districts. Initially, holiday decorations remind shoppers of the season and add to a festive feeling of involvement in it. Soon there is seasonal music—usually of a secular sort to avoid offending the non-religious—and it is a very important element in convincing shoppers to buy more and more. Crooners, some of whom are long gone, sing sentimental renditions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” After the selling season is over in January, most people are very relieved to escape the constant musical marketing.</p> <p>Many employers give bonuses at year-end, and the retailers want to capture as much of that bonus money as possible. So, many merchants have big year-end sales to clear out remaining merchandise and to get hold of that cash for themselves!</p> <p><em>Guilt sells!</em> Parents are made to feel that they are not good parents if their kids fail to have “a big Christmas.” How often have you been asked, “Did you have a big Christmas this year?” A lot of sentimentality is attached to the presence, each Christmas morning, of a huge pile of presents that the givers sacrificed financially to purchase—such that the main beneficiary of that sentiment may be the merchant who sold the gifts, rather than the recipients!</p> <p>Over-extending financially on Christmas for emotional reasons is a common problem—as credit repair agencies know.</p> <h3>CREDIT CARD DEBT—”THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST”</h3> <p>“What’s in the cards?” Christmas debts! Credit card debt spikes during the holidays—and then must be paid off during the rest of the year at very high interest rates. Personal finance experts call this accumulation of expensive debt the “Holiday Debt Hangover.” Credit repair firms love it! “Consumer counseling agencies see a 25 percent increase in the number of people seeking help in January and February, and most of that traffic is propelled to their doors by holiday bills that haunt consumers like the ghost of Christmas past… ‘A lot of people get by, paying the minimums on their credit cards,’ said Durant Abernethy, president of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. ‘Add on the holiday bills and all of a sudden, those minimums are more than they can afford'” (Eileen Alt Powell, “Lingering Christmas Bills Can Lead to Debt Woes,” <em>ABCNews.go.com</em>. March 7, 2014).</p> <p>Credit card companies love the holiday season and the “Holiday Debt Hangover” it produces. It is extremely lucrative for them and extremely expensive for unwise holiday shoppers. There is plenty of sane advice on dealing with the problems that the holiday season creates. Deborah Fowles advises on <em>about.com</em>, “How to Avoid the Financial Holiday Hangover: Does this scenario sound familiar? You use credit cards to do your holiday shopping, promising yourself you’ll pay the debt off within two or three months. Six or eight months later (or more), you’re still paying, and those items that seemed like such bargains end up costing you 10 to 20 percent more than you thought, due to credit card interest. For many Americans, this debt pattern is repeated year after year. Personal finance experts call this the ‘holiday hangover.’ There are times when incurring credit card debt makes sense, but holiday gift-buying is not one of them. Using credit cards often leads to impulse spending, overspending, and increased debt” (“Avoid Credit Card Debt During the Holidays”).</p> <p>If the gift-buying of the holiday season is an economic boon to retailers and credit card companies, the months after the holidays are a veritable gold mine for <em>credit repair firms</em>. Credit repair firms do much of their business as a result of holiday credit card purchases.</p> <p>Merchants’ “Christmas Creep” may make people feel that the holiday selling starts earlier and earlier each year, but the holiday season actually started far earlier than most people think. <strong><em>As a matter of history, the observance of December 25 began as the birthday of the sun-god, not the Son of God!</em></strong></p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 4<br /> SANTA CLAUS OR “HO, HO, HOAX”?</h2> <p>How many children have asked their parents, “What does Santa Claus have to do with the birth of Jesus?” Or, “My friends say there is no Santa Claus. Is Santa Claus real?” Did they get an honest answer?</p> <p>Kids are encouraged to believe in the Santa Claus myth, but at some point they always find out that the whole story was never true. They learn that there is no immortal, bearded, stout man in a red suit, no reindeer and no workshop at the North Pole with busy elves making toys. What they take away from that inevitable discovery is the idea that there are myths associated with their religious beliefs. Christmas, after all, is supposedly a religious festival. The Santa Claus myth is presented to an impressionable young mind as being factually true—and then the child finds out it was never factually true. Parents may even leave faked evidence of the Santa visit, such as an empty milk glass or a half-consumed soft drink. Once a child learns the truth, this introduces the idea that stories involving the supernatural are likely faked. And children do invariably learn that the Santa Claus story is a fabrication—a lie or even a complicated series of lies. And most learn this at a very early age.</p> <p>David Kyle Johnson, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at King’s College, Pennsylvania, writes on the <em>Psychology Toda</em>y Web site that every child who believes in a real-life Santa Claus has a “big moment” when he or she realizes that it simply is not true. He reports that there are “some horrific stories about the ‘big moment’—stories that show discovering the truth about Santa is often not without consequences—everything from the erosion of parental authority and trust to turning a child into an atheist. For example, [one boy] defended Santa’s existence in front of his whole class on the mere basis that his ‘mother wouldn’t lie’ to him, only to read the encyclopedia entry on Santa in front of the whole class and simultaneously discover that she indeed would. When [one little girl] realized that the reason she didn’t always get what she asked Santa for was that he didn’t exist, she figured that God’s non-existence was the best explanation for why her prayers also went unanswered. I’m not saying that this happens to all kids; I am saying it’s a possibility. If you are religious, I doubt it’s a possibility you would willingly invite. Of course, if you are an atheist, you might like that the Santa lie does this” (“Say Goodbye to the Santa Claus Lie,” December 2012).</p> <p>Of course, not all children react badly to the “big moment,” and many, if not most kids are resilient. But doubts and skepticism learned as a child can stay on into adulthood.</p> <h3>NO, VIRGINIA…</h3> <p>On September 21, 1897, a well-known bit of Christmas lore occurred. An eight-year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon wrote the New York Sun newspaper and said…</p> <p>“<em>Dear Editor— I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”</em></p> <p>She received the famous reply that read in part, “Virginia, your little friends are wrong… <em>Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus</em>… Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!… Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies.”</p> <p><em>Fairies?</em></p> <p>But Virginia had undoubtedly been taught by her parents <em>to tell the truth</em>, and she had asked the editor, <em>“Please tell me the truth…”</em> She was asking whether there is <em>actually</em> a Santa Claus. Do you think that the answer she received was the truth? <em>No, Virginia, it was not the truth!</em> But one day, Virginia undoubtedly discovered the truth about Santa Claus… and fairies as well.</p> <p>A child wonders… If a magical Santa Claus is a mythical part of the Christmas festivities, then what about the miraculous birth of Jesus? Did angels <em>really</em> announce it? Did the Magi <em>actually</em> come? Was there <em>actually</em> a star over Bethlehem? Is Jesus <em>really</em> a king? Will the child wonder whether all the miraculous things in the Bible are myths? When they discover the truth about Santa Claus, children are being taught the idea that religious miracles can be myths. A very regrettable feature of the Santa Claus myth is that children are told to believe it “<em>on faith</em>.” When that faith is lost, as invariably happens, this may create skepticism about faith in religious matters in the future.</p> <p>In truth, Santa Claus is not coming to town, and it is best that children’s religious faith be established in things that are the truth. Jesus said, “Thy word is truth” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2017.17">John 17:17</a>, <em>KJV</em>).</p> <h3>OLD MYTHS</h3> <p>Where did the modern Santa Claus myth come from? According to historians, it developed from a variety of sources over many centuries. In the fourth century ad, there actually was a Greek bishop in Myra (now modern Turkey) named Nicholas who was declared to be a saint by the Roman church. The day set aside in his honor as “St. Nicholas’ Day,” December 6, gradually became blended with the customs associated with “Christ’s Mass” (Christmas) later in the month.</p> <p>For many generations before they entered the Roman Catholic church, the Germanic peoples had observed a midwinter festival called <em>Yule</em>, and as a result, many <em>Yuletide</em> traditions were absorbed into Christmas. Rome found it useful to “Christianize” many of the pagans’ former customs in order to make the pagans more amenable to Catholic evangelization. The meaning of the day might be superficially changed, but the actual practice and the time on the solar calendar remained the same.</p> <p>Some of the imagery of Santa Claus that we have today likely originated with the Germanic god, <em>Odin</em>, who was said to have a white beard, bring gifts and ride through the sky. “The appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is December 25, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir, visiting his people with gifts.… Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild became a leading player on the Christmas stage” (Margaret Baker,<em> Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore: A Guide to Seasonal Rites Throughout the World</em>, p. 62). Over the centuries, a variety of sources have influenced the many variations of the Santa Claus mythology.</p> <p><em>The Encyclopedia Americana </em>notes, “On the eve of his festival day… St. Nicholas makes his tour, visiting palace and cottage… When he is gone, the children place receptacles for the gifts which St. Nicholas is expected to let fall down the chimney…” (“Saint Nicholas’ Day,” Volume 20). The Dutch version of the name was <em>Sinterklaas</em>, which was anglicized in America to <em>Santa Claus</em>. The English version is <em>Father Christmas</em>, which is a common version of the name in many languages, such as <em>Papá Noel</em> in Spanish and <em>Le Père Noël</em> in French. Even the Muslim Turks have their own version of Father Christmas, <em>Noel Baba</em> (“Father Noel”). But since they are mostly Muslim, he supposedly brings gifts on New Year’s. For Turks who profess Christianity, he is said to come on Christmas. The Santa Claus character appears in many cultures with his name translated into many languages.</p> <h3>NEW SANTA</h3> <p>The general origin of the name Santa Claus is well understood, but the <em>popular images</em> of today’s Santa Claus are quite different from those of the Germanic god, Odin, or the fourth century ad St. Nicholas. From where does the modern image of a portly, laughing elf in a red suit come from? Mainly from three sources.</p> <p>“Twas the Night Before Christmas” (originally called, “A Visit From St. Nicholas”) was a poem written by Clement Clark Moore, which was first published December 23, 1823 in the New York Sentinel newspaper. It established the imagery of a jolly, bearded elf delivering toys to tots from a sleigh pulled through the sky by reindeer. This imagery is somewhat similar to the Germanic god, Odin, who gave gifts to children around the time of the winter solstice and sometimes rode on a fanciful eight-footed steed across the sky. This poem became very popular and gave rise to a specific image of St. Nicholas.</p> <p>Later, the words of the poem were given graphic form when the cartoonist, Thomas Nast, drew a depiction of St. Nicholas in 1881. The famous cartoon showed a smiling, portly, white-bearded man carrying toys for kids, and it caught the public imagination.</p> <p>The image was further evolved by the marketing efforts of the Coca-Cola Company, which posted ubiquitous images of a jolly, white-bearded man in a Coca-Cola-red suit happily holding up the company’s product. That commercialized image—or variations of it—is used throughout the Christmas marketing season by retailers and Christmas-card makers. And it is the most common image of Santa Claus in the public mind today.</p> <p>Is Santa Claus coming to your town? One could argue that in some mythical sense, he may come as the patron god of retailers. But for the child that asks “<em>Please tell the truth…”</em> as Virginia O’Hanlon did, the answer is “<em>No, he won’t come, in fact—and never did</em>.”</p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 5<br /> EVERGREENS AND OTHER CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS</h2> <p>The use of evergreens at or around the winter solstice is found in many ancient pagan cultures, including the Egyptians, the Romans, the Druids and the Vikings. They are usually associated with the worship of a sun god—particularly around the time of the winter festival, which occurs in many cultures at the winter solstice, the point when the sun is at its lowest in the winter sky.</p> <p>Did you know that the decoration of trees with silver and gold—in connection with a celestial event—is mentioned in the Bible? However, the reference is not a favorable one.</p> <p>The prophet Jeremiah lived for many years under Babylonian rule, and saw for himself the customs of that nation. Does the practice he describes sound familiar to you? Perhaps, over the years, you and your family have done almost the exact same thing in your home for Christmas as Jeremiah describes: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at <em>the signs of heaven, </em>for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2010.1%E2%80%935">Jeremiah 10:1–5</a>).</p> <p>In the Western world, the tradition of evergreen decorations around Christmas—especially the adornment of fir trees—was maintained by the Germans, who brought their custom into the English-speaking world. Indeed, any reputable historian of the period will confirm that the use of evergreen trees and holly in connection with winter solstice festivals was a tradition in place <strong>long before the birth of Jesus Christ.</strong></p> <p>For millennia, evergreen trees have been a symbol of returning life during the cold, winter months when it seems that all plant life dies or goes dormant.  Unlike many plants, the evergreen fir tree and bushes such as holly remain green during the winter. So, it is perhaps no surprise that these hardy plants have long been used to celebrate the winter solstice and its related festivals, as they served well to symbolize the life that remains in nature even in the depths of winter. While all the foliage around them seemed to die, the evergreen plants were seen to represent the promise that life would return in the spring.</p> <p>This connection is well-known and not of recent discovery.  <em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em> reports, “In the Roman world the Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24) was a time of merry-making and exchange of presents… Fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, have always been associated with the winter festival, <em>both pagan and Christian</em>… Evergreens, as symbols of survival, have a long association with Christmas festivities” (article: “Christmas” p.. 704, Vol. 5, 1970 ed.).</p> <h3>WHY GIFT-GIVING?</h3> <p>The custom of gift-giving during the winter festival goes back to Roman times and earlier. As a popular encyclopedia describes: “The celebrations of Saturnalia included the making and giving of small presents (Latin: <em>saturnalia et sigillaricia</em>). This holiday was observed over a series of days beginning on December 17 (the birthday of Saturn), and ending on December 25 (the birthday of Sol Invictus, the “Unconquered Sun”). The combined festivals resulted in an extended winter holiday season… The feast of Sol Invictus on December 25 was a sacred day in the religion of Mithraism, which was widespread in the Roman Empire. Its god, Mithras, was a solar deity of Persian origin, identified with the Sun. It displayed its unconquerability as ‘Sol Invictus’ when it began to rise higher in the sky following the Winter Solstice—hence December 25 was celebrated as the Sun’s birthday. In 274ce, Emperor Aurelian officially designated December 25 as the festival of Sol Invictus” (article: “Christmas,” <em>New World Encyclopedia</em>).</p> <h3>WHY DO WE CALL IT “CHRISTMAS?”</h3> <p>The English word “Christmas” comes from the Catholic term, “the Mass of Christ” or “Christ’s Mass.” According to <em>The Catholic Encyclopedia</em>, “The word for Christmas in late Old English is <em>Cristes Maesse,</em> the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and <em>Cristes-messe</em>, in 1131… Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church” (article: “Christmas”).</p> <p>The history of the observance of December 25 goes back long before the birth of Jesus and entered Christendom as a “baptized” pagan festival. The early Catholic fathers wanted to ease their pagan converts into the Catholic faith and often found it useful to attach “Christian” meanings to the existing pagan practices. Historically, those pagan practices included gift-giving, parties, decorating evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe and celebrating the birth or re-birth of a god.</p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 6<br /> CAN CHRISTMAS “SANCTIFY THE PAGAN”?</h2> <p>Historians know that Christmas had its origin in pagan antiquity, but theologians have long reasoned that it is possible to “sanctify the pagan.” In this view, a culture may keep its pre-Christian forms, but the pagan symbols and myths can become Christian in meaning and purpose.</p> <p>The influential Roman Catholic prelate Cardinal John Henry Newman wrote, “We are told in various ways by Eusebius [an early church historian], that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own…. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints… holidays and seasons… turning to the East, images at a later date… are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption in the Church” (<em>An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine</em>, chapter 8:6).</p> <p>Theologian Christopher Dawson went even further when he wrote, “The complete sanctification of the pagan is the end result of the Christianization of the world” (<em>The Leavening Process in Christian Culture</em>, August 7, 1955). So, in this view, the conversion of the world to Christianity necessarily involves accepting its pagan practices.</p> <p>But which would adopt which? Would paganism be adopting Christianity or would Christianity be adopting paganism? It is clear that the fact is well-known among secular and religious historians that many of the symbols of Christmas and the time of its observance came from pagan practices. What is questionable is the doctrine of “sanctifying the pagan” that is used to justify many practices in Christendom.</p> <p>While this rationale can be attractive for theologians and traditionalists, it is contradicted by the Bible. So, then, what does God think about “sanctifying the pagan”? What has He said? The truth may surprise millions who just assume they can blend their cherished pagan traditions with the worship of the true God, who told His people: “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Deut%2012.29%E2%80%9332">Deuteronomy 12:29–32</a>).</p> <p>How dare anyone defy this clear instruction from the inspired word of God! If you considered a pagan practice to be “nice” and not “abominable,” would it then be acceptable to observe it in God’s worship? Some who want to observe the modern counterparts of the pagan holidays argue that in this scripture, God was only forbidding Israel from observing the worst “abominations” of the pagans, like child sacrifice. So, they reason, the rest might be acceptable. Yet that is <strong>not</strong> what God said. He was forbidding <strong>all</strong> of the pagan practices and affirming His own. Even if you think it is “nice”—He said do not do it. God said, <em>“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”</em></p> <p>Some may argue theologically that God can cleanse and sanctify whatever He wants to—but the point is that He said in no uncertain terms that <em>He does not want to</em>. We are commanded to observe what He commands and not add to or take away from it!</p> <p>Did Jesus observe a pagan practice? Some point out that Jesus observed the Feast of Dedication (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2010.22">John 10:22</a>), which occurred on the 25th of Kislev of the Hebrew calendar—which is usually around mid-December on our modern calendar. That traditional feast was instituted by a great hero of Judaism, Judas Maccabeus, to commemorate an important event in Jewish history—the rededication of the temple after it was defiled by the Greek ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes. But this traditional observance is observed on the Hebrew luni-solar calendar, not the Roman solar calendar, and is not an adopted pagan practice. It marks an important event in history, similar to Thanksgiving or Independence Day in America. Similarly, Purim is a Jewish festival occurring in later winter or early spring, that marks God’s protection of the Jewish people in the time of Esther. Both are found on the Hebrew calendar, and neither is taken from paganism. Jesus was an observant Jew and observed many legitimate traditions of His people—yet He <em>never</em> observed a pagan practice.</p> <p>Some make the mistaken assumption that because we may use things of pagan origin in our daily lives, it must be acceptable to use them in our religious activities as well. They point out that the names of the days of the week have their origin in pagan words. For instance, the name Wednesday takes its name from Woden—a Norse god.  Thursday is derived from another Norse god, Thor.  Saturday corresponds to Saturn’s Day, from Latin, <em>Sāturni diēs.</em> Saturnus was a Roman god. Also, most Western institutions do not use the biblical luni-solar calendar; they use the solar Gregorian calendar.</p> <p>In fact, the Israelites’ own calendar used months with Babylonian names.  So it is important to draw a distinction; people do not read or sing from a calendar at their churches. The fact that society has a myriad of pagan-influenced practices does not mean that we can ignore a plain biblical instruction. God does not say that a month cannot have a Babylonian name; he <strong>does</strong> command that His worship <strong>must not</strong> be taken from Babylonian (or other pagan) practices.</p> <h3>WHO ADOPTED WHOM?</h3> <p>The Roman emperor Constantine allowed Christianity to be practiced openly in the Roman Empire beginning in 318ad, and it was later declared to be the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380ad. Historians have long recognized that when the Roman world began to profess Christianity, many religious leaders found it beneficial to adapt various pagan customs to fit the new faith. The less change from old practices, the better—or so they thought!</p> <p>Noted historian Will Durant wrote an eleven-volume history titled <em>The Story of Civilization</em>. In Volume III, titled <em>Caesar and Christ</em>, he commented <strong>very frankly </strong>on the effect of paganism on the later development of professing Christianity. He wrote, “<em>Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. </em>The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity, the Last Judgment, and a personal immortality of reward and punishment; from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child… From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother; from Syria the resurrection drama of Adonis… The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. <em>Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world</em>” (p. 595).</p> <p>Some may reason that it does not matter if they use pagan practices in their worship as long as they do so to honor God. But what they should ask is whether God has changed His mind about this matter. He has told us, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mal%203.6">Malachi 3:6</a>), and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Heb%2013.8">Hebrews 13:8</a>). Jesus quoted the prophet, Isaiah and said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2015.8%E2%80%939">Matthew 15:8–9</a>). God has not changed His mind about how He is to be worshiped.</p> <p>God rejects pagan practices and instructs us not to incorporate them into His worship. He tells us what days we are to observe, how we are to observe them, and why we are to observe them. There was no instruction by Christ or the apostles to have an annual memorial to Christ’s birth or to copy the pagans in their festivals! Quite the contrary: copying the pagans in God’s worship was forbidden.</p> <h3>SANCTIFIED BY TRUTH!</h3> <p>God’s truth sets His begotten children apart. Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2017.17%E2%80%9319">John 17:17–19</a>). History shows us that the belief and practice of professing Christianity, from the second century ad onward, was very different from the faith Christ and His apostles preached. Seeing this already beginning to happen in his day, Jude wrote to the faithful Church: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv. 3–4).</p> <p>We must not go along with the widespread desire to turn Christ’s message into a popular paganized affront to His very teachings. God’s truth shows us the way, and deviating from “the faith once delivered” is tantamount to deviating from the path He has placed us on—the narrow way. Sadly, we see that the narrow gate has sifted out many in the past decades, just as in ancient times. One lesson we must always remember is that the true Church is “a little flock” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2012.32">Luke 12:32</a>).</p> <p><strong><em>We cannot “sanctify the pagan”!</em></strong></p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 7<br /> GOD OFFERS A BETTER WAY</h2> <p>Did the original Church observe any kind of Christmas holiday? No! There is absolutely no mention in the Bible or in secular history of the first-century Church keeping Christmas—or any such observance—at the time of the Winter Solstice. As noted earlier, history records that Christmas became a pervasive practice only when Roman Catholicism became the official religion of the Roman Empire. It is easy to understand that when the official state religion changed, millions of pagans throughout the Empire did not suddenly have a “conversion experience”—rather, they generally kept their customs and traditions which were given new meanings by the Roman church.</p> <p>There are historical records of Christ’s supposed December 25 birthday being observed before Constantine’s supposed “conversion” in 336ad, but before then it was not an institutionalized practice even of the Roman church! And for the Church of the first century—the original believers taught by Christ’s own apostles—there <strong>never was</strong> any such observance! The first-century Church used the Hebrew luni-solar calendar (as the New Testament demonstrates) and avoided the religious observances associated with the Roman solar calendar—which is the type of calendar we use today.</p> <h3>WHAT MEMORIAL DID CHRIST COMMAND?</h3> <p>What were the religious observances of the first-century Church according to the Bible and secular history? What was “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jude%203">Jude 3</a>) that they were to contend for, and what were the annual observances of the Church that the apostles taught? In sharp contrast to the idea that there should be an observance of Christ’s birth, <strong>Jesus Christ Himself instructed His followers to keep a memorial to His death</strong>, and the apostles passed His command on to the churches they raised up.</p> <p>Are Easter and Christmas in the Bible? In the <em>King James Version</em> of the Bible, the English word “Easter” appears in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Acts%2012.4">Acts 12:4</a>. However, it comes from a mistranslation of <em>Pascha</em>, which is Greek (<em>Πάσχα</em>) for “Passover.” This error is corrected in the <em>New King James Version</em> and in most modern translations which render the word correctly as “Passover.” The word, “Easter,” is an Anglo-Saxon word for a spring festival honoring the Teutonic goddess, “Eastra” or “Ostara.” The name of the festival and some of its associated practices were carried over by the early Anglo-Saxons when they converted to Roman Catholicism.</p> <p>How, then, did Christ want to be memorialized? The Apostle Paul instructed the brethren in Corinth, Greece—a congregation composed of Gentile believers—”For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed [Nisan 14, the beginning of the Passover] took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; <em>do this in remembrance of Me</em>.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it [each Passover], <em>in remembrance of Me</em>‘” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Cor%2011.23%E2%80%9325">1 Corinthians 11:23–25</a>). The early Church observed <em>a memorial to Christ’s death</em> just as they were instructed by Jesus and the apostles. Christ’s sacrificial death as the Lamb of God is of great importance to the whole world. <em>He gave us no memorial to His birth!</em></p> <p>Jesus asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%206.46">Luke 6:46</a>). He also said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2015.8">Matthew 15:8</a>). People say that they want to honor Christ, but they institute their own ways in contradiction to what Christ instructed them. Jesus continued, “But their heart is far from Me. <em>And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men</em>” (v. 9). If we want to honor Christ and have our hearts close to Him, <em>we will do the things He said—and we will not do the things He said to avoid.</em> We have a clear choice between the practices that God authorized and the traditions that mankind has created for itself.</p> <p> </p> <h2>CHAPTER 8<br /> MANY ARE OPTING OUT OF CHRISTMAS</h2> <p>Should Christmas be a religious celebration for you? The origins of Christmas are well known and are not particularly controversial. It is a traditional holiday that originated in paganism and was incorporated into professing Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries ad. It is not a biblical feast and was never practiced by the first-century Church. Jesus Christ never authorized a memorial to His birth; rather, He instructed His faithful followers to keep a memorial to His death (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2022.19">Luke 22:19</a>; <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Cor%2011.23%E2%80%9326">1 Corinthians 11:23–26</a>). This matters because the Bible <strong>forbids</strong> God’s people from adopting pagan customs in the worship of the true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus Himself said that using mankind’s traditional practices in His worship does not honor Him (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2015.9">Matthew 15:9</a>). So, Christmas is not an appropriate religious observance for one who professes to obey Christ!</p> <p>Furthermore, the secular aspects of the Christmas holidays—the costs and hassle that dominate the season—are difficulties many would rather avoid. The seasonal celebrations often involve excessive drinking, and the number of traffic accidents increases dramatically during the holidays. Everyone should be very careful on the highways, particularly at night.</p> <p>The loud and widespread commercial marketing of Christmas dominates the days and weeks before the holiday arrives. Shopping can be very stressful, since stores are packed with shoppers trying to finish their shopping for long lists of gift-recipients. Also stressful are the debts that mount up during the season—which often stay with shoppers for much of the following year. So, more and more people are opting out of the secular festivities—to their great relief.</p> <p>As a religious holiday, Christmas is not biblical. In fact, the Bible instructs us <strong>not</strong> to use pagan practices in our worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And we should not teach our children that lies and myths—such as those surrounding Santa Claus—are religious truths. Even simply as a secular custom, Christmas is generally an expensive, stressful time that many people would rather do without.</p> <p>Does Christmas honor Christ? What does the Bible say? It records that <em>as a matter of history</em>, the first-century Church of God kept the Christian Passover and the seven annual festivals as commanded in Leviticus 23.<strong><em> In doing that, they were not trying to “be Jewish”—they were simply obeying God.</em></strong> The Bible records no observance of the birth of Jesus. We honor Him by obeying Him and observing these festivals, which picture the plan of salvation.</p> <p>Passover pictures the cleansing of our sins by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, since “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Cor%205.7">1 Corinthians 5:7</a>). The Days of Unleavened Bread picture God’s Church being and remaining “unleavened” by sin. Pentecost pictures the founding and sanctification of the Church of God by the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Trumpets pictures the return of Christ in power and glory with the sound of a great trump—the voice of an archangel! The fast that occurs on the Day of Atonement pictures the binding of Satan and the freeing of this world from Satan’s rule. The great Feast of Tabernacles pictures the rule of Christ as King of kings with His saints on earth for 1,000 years. The eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, The Last Great Day, pictures the Great White Throne Judgment which will be the hope of all who have ever lived. The annual Holy Days are <em>holy time</em>, and should not be profaned by our regular work. They have great meaning for Christians and map out God’s plan of salvation for mankind.</p> <p>By commanding the observance of these festivals, God, in effect, has us <em>act out</em> this great plan by participating in His annual Feasts so that we will always remember it. The Apostle Jude exhorted the first-century Church—and us today, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to<em> contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” </em>(<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jude%203">Jude 3</a>). “For all” included both Gentile and Jewish Church members.</p> <p>Both biblically and historically, <em>“the faith once for all delivered”</em> included the annual biblical festivals. The real choice today is whether to follow the instructions of Christ and the apostles—as recorded in the Bible—or to continue with the familiar human traditions that replaced those instructions. <em>Christ’s clear instructions are for His Church to observe a memorial to His death, not to His birth.</em></p> <p>For more information on this vital subject, be sure to request our free booklet, <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets/the-holy-days-gods-master-plan">The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</a>. </em>This powerful and eye-opening booklet will help you understand which days your Creator really intended for His true people to observe, and will explain more about how, as mentioned above, these days teach us about the magnificent plan He is working out here on the earth. To request your free copy of <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets/the-holy-days-gods-master-plan">The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</a></em>, contact us at the Regional Office nearest you, listed at the back of this booklet, or go to our <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/">TomorrowsWorld.org</a></em> Web site, where you can read the booklet or order your very own free printed copy. This vital information will change your life!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-pdf field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet_PDF</div> <div class="field__item"><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf"><a href="/sites/default/files/2023-09/xc2.0.pdf" type="application/pdf" title="xc2.0.pdf">DOWNLOAD PDF</a></span> <span></span> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 20:24:47 +0000 4uwzvo 26 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com Who or What Is the Antichrist? https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/who-or-what-antichrist <span>Who or What Is the Antichrist?</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Wed, 03/02/2022 - 14:13</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Who or What Is the Antichrist?</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/Who%20or%20What%20Is%20the%20Antichrist">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/Who%20or%20What%20Is%20the%20Antichrist"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-03/atc-1.4.1-cover.jpg?itok=-yi3iE0g" alt="Image of a religious man" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#False Christianity</div> <div class="field__item">#Paganism</div> <div class="field__item">#Prophecy</div> <div class="field__item">#Revelation</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Can you prove, from the Bible, who or what the prophesied Antichrist really is? This is not some esoteric topic. Your correct understanding may affect whether or not you will be able to fulfill the role that God has planned for you in His kingdom!</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Horrifying events are beginning to happen in America and much of the western, professing “Christian” world. The destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, and the devastation of the Pentagon in Washington, DC, focused the minds of millions on Bible prophecy. They now wonder: “What is God’s <em>purpose</em> in all of this?”</p> <p>Indeed, prophesied events are truly speeding up. As Jesus instructed, we all need to “watch and pray.” For—within <em>this generation—</em>truly awful, Satan-inspired tragedies will begin to strike much of humanity. The “Antichrist” will be directly behind many of these events!</p> <p>After September 11, 2001, many began to wonder: is the sinister Osama bin Laden the prophesied <strong>end</strong>-time “Antichrist”? A decade earlier, some had suspected that Saddam Hussein was the Antichrist. Before him, suspicion had fallen on Mikhail Gorbachev. Even today, some consider Adolf Hitler the personification of the Antichrist.</p> <p>Surrounded by these ideas—and this confusion—can we really <em>know</em>? Can it be <strong>proved</strong> from the Bible <em>who </em>or <em>what</em> the “Antichrist” really <em>is</em>?</p> <p>Remember, men have <em>all kinds</em> of theories about this subject. Recently, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell opined that the coming Antichrist will probably be <strong>Jewish</strong>, and that he will be from the tribe of <strong>Dan</strong>. What Mr. Falwell apparently does not understand is that the Israelitish tribe of Dan <em>split off</em> from Judah—or the “Jews”—thousands of years ago, and is an entirely different people!</p> <p>Historically, most Protestant theologians of past generations assumed that the pope of Rome was the “Antichrist.” In fact, the primary human founder of Protestantism, <strong>Martin Luther</strong>, declared on August 18, 1520: “We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist” (<em>The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, </em>LeRoy Froom. Vol. 2, p. 121).</p> <p>Later, <strong>John Calvin</strong>, the founder of what became the Presbyterian church, stated in his <em>Institutes of the Christian Religion</em>: “Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt.… I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.”</p> <p>Were these professing Christian leaders correct? Or is there another answer? And you may ask: “Who gives <em>you</em> the right to be right? How can <em>you</em> possibly know the truth, when so many of the leaders of professing Christianity are in disagreement?”</p> <p>In Psalm 111:10, the inspired word of God tells us: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”</p> <p>Many of you know that we in this Work of Christ <em>do believe</em> in keeping God’s commandments. Therefore, we <em>have </em>been able to tell you, <em>in advance</em>, about most of the major prophetic events that have been occurring. But, as they say, “the <strong>proof </strong>of the pudding is in the eating.” <em>Prophesied events are moving swiftly!</em> What I will tell you in this booklet can be <strong>proven, </strong>if you will carefully compare what I write with the Bible and actually <em>study </em>the scriptures to which I will refer. You will soon <strong>see</strong> that world events— <em>including religious events</em>—will directly follow the pattern that I will describe, so you will soon <strong>know </strong>who is right on this vital subject!</p> <p>For investigating this subject of the “Antichrist” is not merely investigating some esoteric topic. The correct understanding of this subject could be absolutely vital to the very <em>survival </em>of you and your family in the years ahead. More importantly, may affect whether or not you will be part of the first resurrection at Christ’s second coming—and fulfill <em>your role</em> in the Kingdom of God!</p> <p>Probably within this generation, a powerful religious leader will appear on the scene. He will perform <em>awesome</em> signs and wonders. He will be the final personification of what the Bible describes as the “Antichrist.”</p> <p>Yet, as we shall see, there have been in the past—<em>and are now</em>—<strong>many</strong> Antichrists! And underlying <em>all </em>of their deceptions is the “spirit of Antichrist”—the wrong approaches and false doctrines which have blinded <strong>billions</strong> of human beings from understanding God’s Truth. The “doctrine” of Antichrist is <strong>not </strong>understood by most of the world’s religious leaders.</p> <p>“How so?” you might ask.</p> <p>Because there is a very real Satan the Devil. Jesus Christ twice called him the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30). Satan is the great <strong>deceiver</strong>. The Apostle John made it very clear that Satan deceives the vast majority of mankind: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who <strong>deceives </strong>the <strong>whole world</strong>; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).</p> <p>“But <em>I</em> am not deceived!” you might say. Do <strong>not</strong> be too sure!</p> <p>For we will now show you, in this booklet, what is undoubtedly <strong>the major deception </strong>that Satan has palmed off on mainstream Christianity! The widespread deception about the “Antichrist” is only the “tip of the iceberg” of the vast religious deception carried out in the name of “Christianity.” In fact, this deception is so thorough that thousands of professing Christian ministers and priests are themselves deceived and therefore do not even realize that they are perpetuating a lie! Jesus Christ similarly described the false religious leaders of His day: “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14).</p> <h2>HOW MILLIONS HAVE BEEN DECEIVED</h2> <p>This mass deception is so widespread and so believable because many of its tenets “look good” on the surface. Most of its practitioners will say that we must believe in Christ. They will say that Christians should exhibit love, kindness, mercy and patience, and that Christians should “do good” to their fellow man—give to the poor and support hospitals, charities and homes for unwed mothers. They will say that Christians should respond to Jesus’ “law of love.”</p> <p>All of this sounds biblical. It sounds very <strong>good</strong>!</p> <p>But these practitioners <em>do not</em> tell you <em>which</em> of the laws of God are to be kept—and exactly <strong>how</strong> God’s laws are to be obeyed. These people will talk sentimentally about Christ being the “Lord” of our lives. But they will inevitably <strong>fail</strong> to explain that if Jesus is “Lord,” we must <strong><em>obey</em></strong> Him! They will never tell you that Jesus directly and consistently taught obedience to <strong>all</strong> of the Ten Commandments!</p> <p>Therefore, because of this <em>Satan</em>-inspired deception, many of the bloodiest wars in modern history have been waged between professing “Christian” nations in Europe. Bishops on one side would bless their troops as they prepared for battle. The bishops on the other side did the same. Then thousands of young men—often still in their teens—would rush up some hill to shoot or brutally stab to death other young men who were often of the very same church denomination! All were supposedly “Christian.” All were supposedly of the “body of Christ”—the Church of which Jesus is the living, active Head (Ephesians 1:22–23).</p> <p>Does reading this make you a little “uncomfortable”? Well, it should! And, more importantly, I hope and pray that it makes you <strong>think</strong>. Because all too many of us have just grown up in some mainstream church and taken our religious beliefs for granted—simply <strong>assuming</strong> that all would be well if we just went along with the crowd, blended into this world, and lived reasonably decent and “respectable” lives. That is precisely how most of us have been terribly <strong>deceived, </strong>as I was in years past—and have unwittingly come to believe in a <em>false</em> gospel, a <em>wrong</em> way of life and a “different” Jesus Christ!</p> <h2>SATAN WANTS YOU TO “MISS THE MARK”</h2> <p>One of the Greek words for “sin” in the New Testament literally means “to miss the mark.” So Satan is content to let you “believe in” God and Christ as long as he can still control you, make you “miss the mark.” His goal is to keep you <strong>out</strong> of the coming Kingdom of God, which will replace him and his demons—by blinding you to what is really happening! God inspired the Apostle James to write: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19).</p> <p>Then James explains how the true Christian must not merely believe in God, but must surrender to God’s will and <strong>do</strong> what He says (vv. 20–23). James writes: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (v. 24).</p> <p>“Justified by works?” Yes—along with faith! Read verse 24 for yourself. It should be very clear that true Christianity involves more than just accepting, in faith, Christ’s death—which <strong><em>is</em></strong> a free gift from God—as full payment for our sins. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice, we must also make a literal “covenant with our Creator” to <em>quit sinning</em> in the future—to truly surrender to let Christ live His obedient life in us through the Holy Spirit! For, God’s inspired Word tells us: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, <em>KJV</em>). So we must <em>repent of </em><strong>sin</strong>, repent of <strong>breaking</strong> God’s spiritual Law, the Ten Commandments. This involves a life of humble obedience—the “works” of keeping God’s laws and commandments.</p> <p>Let us understand that no one can ever <strong>earn</strong> salvation—it is God’s gift! The <strong><em>true grace</em></strong> of God leads to the <strong><em>gift</em></strong> of salvation (Ephesians 2:8–10; Romans 6:23). Those <em>willing to obey</em> God (Acts 5:29, 32 ) and who are under true grace will be God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus <strong><em>for good works</em></strong>” (Ephesians 2:10). God’s grace does not eliminate the need for obedience and keeping God’s commandments. The Apostle Paul warned that one could “receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). And while the Apostle Peter exhorted Christians to “rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13), he continues with the expectation that we do so “as <strong><em>obedient </em></strong>children” (v. 14; cf. v. 2).</p> <p>But when men cleverly misuse “grace”—teaching “cheap grace” without <strong>real repentance</strong> from sin—it is the very <strong>essence</strong> of the doctrine of the Antichrist! This false concept has allowed millions of professing Christians to go through life regularly and habitually disobeying the Ten Commandments—yet still assuming they are “good Christians”!</p> <p>The Apostle Jude was inspired to warn us of this very deception. “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3–4).</p> <p>Notice that Jude warns of false teachers using the idea of “grace” as a vehicle for “licentiousness”—license to <strong>disobey</strong> the very laws of God!</p> <p>“Oh, my minister would <strong>never</strong> do that!” you may protest.</p> <p>I am sorry, my friends, but chances are that he or she will verify what I am saying if you approach your priest or minister directly with this question: “Pastor Jones, does God <strong>require</strong> true Christians to keep the Ten Commandments?” If you ask the question directly in these words, most ministers will begin to mumble something about being “saved by grace.” Then, they may hastily add that the Ten Commandments are a good moral guide but that “you don’t have to keep them since you are saved by grace.”</p> <p>If you press on and try to “pin your pastor down” to a straightforward answer on this matter, he may try to skirt the issue or point you to the “new” commandments of Jesus. Or, perhaps, he will finally come right out and say what virtually <strong>all </strong>mainstream theology actually teaches—the Ten Commandments were either “nailed to the cross” when Christ died or the Apostle Paul somehow “did away” with them! As I will now clearly explain, <em>this is the very</em> “<em>heart” </em>of the doctrine of Antichrist!</p> <p>How so?</p> <p>And why is this such a serious matter? Because it creates a “lawless society”—a society <em>cut off</em> from God since the Ten Commandments actually portray His <strong>character</strong>. God’s awesome purpose involves putting His “divine nature” into us through the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:4). It involves our going through a process of spiritual growth and “overcoming” to reflect the very character of God and be made fit to rule with Christ in His soon-coming Kingdom. Jesus directly states: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—’He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces’—as I also have received from My Father” (Revelation 2:26–27).</p> <h2>A DOCTRINE OF DISOBEDIENCE</h2> <p>The true saints of God are being prepared by Him to replace Satan and his demons in ruling over this earth. For Satan is now the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is now the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of <strong>disobedience</strong>” (Ephesians 2:2).</p> <p>Yet the Apostle Paul tells us: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).</p> <p><em>Why</em> have you not heard a lot more about <em>this awesome</em> <strong>purpose</strong> of the true Christian to exercise <strong>rulership</strong> in the future? Because Satan wants to block this knowledge from reaching human beings so they will be <strong>unable</strong> to replace him and his demons in ruling this earth. Therefore he, the “father” of lies (John 8:44), has <em>deceived</em> the vast majority of all humanity—including two billion professing Christians—regarding God’s <strong>purpose</strong> for man and the <strong>way</strong> to fulfill that purpose!</p> <p>Among Satan’s deceits, surely none is as great as his system of “counterfeit Christianity”! The Apostles knew this was going to happen. Paul warned: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [of Christ’s return] will not come unless the falling away [from the Truth] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.… For <em>the mystery of</em> <strong>lawlessness </strong>is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7–8).</p> <p>Notice that this false religious system is called “the mystery of <strong>lawlessness</strong>.” Shortly before Christ’s return, it will be headed by a figure called the “man of sin” or the “lawless one.” This man, who will perform “lying wonders” (v. 9) can be found elsewhere in Scripture as the great, miracle-working “false prophet” (Revelation 13:13; 19:20).</p> <p>But realize that Paul said this false Christianity was “already at work” when he wrote these verses—even as it still is today. The proponents of this lawless system talk about love and about the Lord—but they <strong>leave out </strong>Christ’s powerful instruction to keep the commandments of God! Yet we know that when the young man came to Jesus asking the way to eternal life, He answered: “If you want to enter into life, <strong>keep the commandments</strong>” (Matthew 19:17). Then Jesus began to name some of the Ten Commandments. And in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).</p> <p>Pray tell, <strong>who</strong> claims the authority to “do away” with this clear teaching of Jesus Christ? Does <em>your </em>minister, <em>your</em> church?</p> <p>Again, Paul warned the Christians of his day: “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted; you may well put up with it” (2 Corinthians 11:4)! Unwittingly, to be sure, most of us have grown up hearing about “another Jesus,” a “different spirit” and, very definitely, a “different gospel” than the one Jesus and the Apostles preached!</p> <p>Again, <strong>why</strong>?</p> <p>Because Satan has employed every stratagem available to get people to believe the “doctrine of the <strong>Antichrist</strong>“! If you are willing to face <strong>reality</strong>, if you truly want to fulfill the very <strong>purpose</strong> for which you were born, you need to understand what that doctrine is and avoid it at all cost!</p> <p>Jesus Himself warned us: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For <strong>many </strong>will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will <strong>deceive many</strong>” (Matthew 24:4–5). Note that it is the “many” who will be deceived. <em>And how</em>? They will be deceived because these “many” false teachers come “in Jesus’ name.” <em>Get that!</em> They use <em>Jesus’ own name</em> to <strong>deceive</strong> people! They come as “Christian” preachers and teachers—but their message is obviously <strong>contrary</strong> to the message Jesus Himself preached.</p> <p>Because “Christian” is stamped on the outside of the package, most people unthinkingly <strong>assume</strong> that Christ<em> must </em>approve of the inside of the package! But these deceived people <strong>fail</strong> to really <em>study</em> their Bibles. They fail to “<strong>prove</strong> all things” as God commands, so they are easily deceived by a <em>false</em> “Christianity” based upon the doctrine of “Antichrist.”</p> <p>The word “Antichrist” is first introduced in 1 John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now <strong>many antichrists</strong> have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” First of all, we see “<strong>the</strong> Antichrist” about whom they had heard. This, of course, is the “lawless one” Paul wrote about and the “false prophet” of Revelation. Yet some mistakenly identify the Antichrist as the coming world dictator and political system called the “Beast” in Bible prophecy. They forget that the real “power behind the throne” is the mysterious “harlot” of Revelation 17, and that this fallen woman “rides” or <em>controls </em>the Beast of Revelation.</p> <h2>THE HARLOT OF REVELATION 17</h2> <p>Millions of people—and even many theologians—are puzzled by the mysterious “harlot” of Revelation 17. Yet the Word of God devotes most of an entire chapter, plus many references elsewhere, to this vital topic. Who <em>is </em>this “harlot”—and <em>how </em>does she relate to the Antichrist?</p> <p>Whoever this great “harlot” is, she is very powerful. She has caused the deaths of <strong>untold millions</strong> in the past, and millions more will die at her hand in the future. She is destined to dramatically <strong>change</strong> the lives of all those living in the end times—including many of you who read this booklet! This harlot sits astride a system encompassing many nations and peoples: “And he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues'” (Revelation 17:15). This harlot continues to exist right up to the Second Coming of Christ! For God’s Word describes the “ten horns” or ten <strong>kings</strong> (v. 12) which will arise at that time: “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful…. And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (vv. 14, 16).</p> <p>Modern theologians and Bible commentaries try to be “politically correct” in their references to this great harlot. For instance, notice this comment from the <em>Expositor’s Bible Commentary</em>, Vol. 12, pp. 553–554: “In an important sense, the interpretation of this chapter controls the interpretation of the whole Book of Revelation. For a majority of exegetes, Babylon represents the city of Rome. The beast stands for the Roman Empire as a whole, with its subject provinces and peoples. The seven hills (v. 9) are the seven selected dynasties of Roman emperors from Augustus to Domitian. The ten kings are heads of lesser and restless states, eager to escape their enslavement to the colonizing power. John’s prediction of the fall of Babylon is his announcement of the impending dissolution of the Roman Empire in all its aspects.”</p> <p>While the commentators correctly identify Babylon with the city of Rome, they generalize that “early Christian readers would understand that whenever they were threatened with death by <strong><em>any temporal power</em></strong>… they were in reality facing the bloodthirsty <strong><em>mother prostitute</em></strong> God was about to judge and destroy once for all” (p. 557).</p> <p>Yet although they correctly understand the identity of “Babylon,” these scholars, like most today, are unable to see that the “woman”—the great harlot—” <strong>rides</strong>” the Beast (modern Babylon). She is clearly set forth as being distinctly <strong>separate</strong> from the Beast—the empire with ten final kings giving their power and authority to one super-dictator also called the “Beast.” Obviously, the woman cannot “ride” the Beast and at the same time <em>be</em> the Beast!</p> <p>Many scholars do realize, however, that the Beast of Revelation 17 is the Roman Empire and its “revivals” in various forms. For a fascinating and thorough explanation of the identity of this “Beast” of Revelation 17, please write for a copy of our booklet entitled <em>The Beast of Revelation</em>. It will be sent to you absolutely <strong>free </strong>upon your request.</p> <h2>WHO IS THIS “WOMAN”?</h2> <p>Throughout the New Testament, the term “woman” is used as a symbol for a church. For instance, the Apostle Paul writes the Church of God at Corinth: “Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly; and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1–2). Clearly, the true church is here described as “betrothed” to Jesus Christ—in the position of an engaged woman to her fiancé who is Jesus Christ.</p> <p>In Ephesians 5:23–24, Paul writes: “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Again, the analogy clearly identifies the true Church as being in the position of a woman—a wife who is submissive to her husband, Christ. And in Revelation 12:1–5, we read the inspired account of the “woman”—this time ancient Israel, the “<strong>church</strong> in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38, <em>KJV</em>)—being used by God to bring forth the Messiah: “a male child who was to <strong>rule</strong> all nations with a rod of iron.”</p> <p>Verse 5 picks up the story about “the woman”—now the true New Testament Church—fleeing into the wilderness to “a place prepared by God.” The following verses make it even more evident that this “woman” is, in fact, the true Church of God that is protected by God Himself from the wrath of Satan.</p> <p>So when we come to the “woman” of Revelation 17, it should be very obvious that—letting the Bible interpret its own symbols— <em>this woman is indeed a church</em>! However, this church “sitting on a scarlet beast” (v. 3) is truly a spiritual “harlot.”</p> <p>For she has entered into adulterous alliances with the leaders and kings of this world (v. 2), and the inhabitants of the earth are made spiritually “drunk” because of her false teachings. She is a “mother” church—giving birth to spiritual “harlots” (v. 5). And, as indicated, she deals in “mysteries,” as did the ancient pagan religions before her.</p> <h2>A PERSECUTING CHURCH</h2> <p>Also, this “woman” is a great <strong>persecuting</strong> church. The Apostle John was inspired to write: “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement” (v. 6).</p> <p>Please think about that.</p> <p>Who is this great fallen woman—a powerful church—which has and which will again be “drunk with the blood of the <strong>saints</strong>“? Obviously, she persecutes the true Christians—the true “saints” of God. They are described in Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who <strong>keep the commandments</strong> of God and the faith of Jesus.”</p> <p>In contrast to the commandment-keeping Church of God, this great apostate church and her “daughter” churches <strong>reject</strong> the need to keep the Ten Commandments as a <strong>way</strong> of life! Somehow, in their spiritual drunkenness, they manage to reason around the plain and clear teachings of Jesus: “<strong>If</strong> you want to enter into life, <strong>keep</strong> the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).</p> <p>Historically, do we read about a great church that did persecute millions of people during the Middle Ages? Did such a church actually exist?</p> <p>In his well-documented book, <em>A Woman Rides the Beast</em> (pp. 243–244), author Dave Hunt describes what the “woman” did for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Thus Roman Catholicism became ‘the most persecuting faith the world has ever seen… [commanding] the throne to impose the Christian [Catholic] religion on all its subjects. Innocent III murdered far more Christians in one afternoon… than any Roman emperor did in his entire reign.’ Will Durant writes candidly: ‘Compared with the persecution of heresy in Europe from 1227 to 1492, the persecution of Christians by Romans in the first three centuries after Christ was a mild and humane procedure.</p> <p>Making every allowance required by an historian and permitted to a Christian, we must rank the Inquisition, along with the wars and persecutions of our time, as among the darkest blots on the record of mankind, revealing a ferocity unknown in any beast.'”</p> </blockquote> <p>So when John saw this “woman” or apostate church “drunk with the <strong>blood</strong> of the saints,” he was certainly not exaggerating. Even scores of Catholic writers have been mightily embarrassed about what their church practiced for hundreds of years. With the vast record now known—of priests sodomizing young men, of many popes openly maintaining mistresses and fathering illegitimate children all over Italy and high offices in the church being offered and bought for money—it has seemed to many objective historians that this powerful church was the veritable embodiment of evil in nearly every aspect.</p> <h2>DANIEL’S “LITTLE HORN”</h2> <p>The prophet Daniel was inspired to picture this foul religious system as a “little horn.” After the four great ruling kingdoms of the Gentile world—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian Empire and finally Rome—Daniel describes a “little horn” coming up among the early resurrections of the Roman Empire: “I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.” (Daniel 7:8).</p> <p>In verses 25–27 of this same chapter, Daniel is inspired to describe the actions of this pompous “little horn” and how it would continue right up to Christ’s return and His <strong>rule</strong> over the nations: “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”</p> <p>Notice that this “little horn” is different from the pagan empire (v. 24), for it is, in fact, a <strong>religious</strong> empire! Note also that the human leader of this foul system speaks “pompous words” against God, persecutes the true Christians and intends to change <strong>times</strong> and <strong>law</strong>. The Roman Catholic Church has done just that, as Scripture predicted—teaching that the Ten Commandments were subsumed to church authority, and that by its authority it <strong>could change</strong> God’s commanded seventh-day Sabbath (Exodus 20:8–11; Hebrews 4:9–11), substituting the pagan “day of the sun” in place of God’s Sabbath.</p> <p>Renowned modern historian Will Durant writes: “The serious temper of the Jewish Sabbath was transferred to the Christian Sunday that replaced it in the second century” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, vol. 3, 1972, p. 599). How did this happen? A Roman Catholic study course tells us that “the [Roman] Church transferred the obligation from Saturday to Sunday” (<em>Father Smith Instructs Jackson</em>). The <em>Catholic Mirror</em> agrees: “The Catholic Church… by virtue of her Divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday” (September 23, 1893). If you wish further information about the true biblical Sabbath, please write for our powerful and enlightening booklet, <em>Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?</em></p> <h2>THE PAPACY PREDICTED IN ADVANCE</h2> <p>As we have seen, the “little horn” of Daniel is describing the false church and especially its spokesman, the pope, speaking “pompous words.” In the New Testament, God inspired the Apostle John to describe the “resurrection” of the final Beast, the Roman Empire (Revelation 13:1–10). Then, in verses 11–14, “another beast” is described as rising up, who looks like a “Lamb,” or Christ, but speaks like a “dragon,” Satan the devil (Revelation 12:9). This exceedingly clever and sinister <strong>false prophet</strong> “exercises all the authority of the first beast [the revived Roman Empire] in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed (Revelation 13:12). In other words, this great false prophet is able to sway most of mankind to stand in awe of and <strong>obey</strong> the revived Roman Empire!</p> <p>Then we read: “He performs great <strong>signs</strong>, so that he even makes <strong>fire</strong> come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he <strong>deceives</strong> those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived” (vv. 13–14).</p> <p>As this system developed, a “man of sin” would be revealed—audaciously taking to himself titles and authority that belong only to <strong>God</strong>. He was to sit as a veritable “god” in the temple of God—using some of the very titles of God. In fact, though Jesus called God “Holy Father,” Roman Catholics call the pope “Most Holy Father” and “Vicar of Christ”—which literally means “in place of Christ”!</p> <p>Dave Hunt describes the blasphemous pretensions of the papacy:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The total submission that Rome requires has been expressed by many popes, but none said it more clearly than Nicholas I (858–67):</p> <p>‘It is evident that the popes can neither be bound nor unbound by any earthly power, nor even by that of the apostle [Peter], if he should return upon the earth; since Constantine the Great has recognized that the pontiffs held the place of God upon earth, the divinity not being able to be judged by any living man. We are, then, infallible, and whatever may be our acts, we are not accountable for them but to ourselves'” (<em>A Woman Rides the Beast</em>, pp. 153–154).</p> </blockquote> <p>So the popes have claimed that they hold “the place of <strong>God</strong> on earth”! And what is most frightening is that they continue to make such claims—and even get away with it in our so-called “modern” world. Because the Roman Catholic Church is such an omnipresent and powerful entity, the media usually treads very lightly in attacking even the most outrageous and blasphemous claims of the modern popes and clergy.</p> <p>But how is all this destined to affect your life?</p> <h2>THE BEAST AND THE WOMAN: TOGETHER AGAIN</h2> <p>Few realize that the so-called “Holy” Roman Empire is being revived right under our noses! Throughout most of continental Europe, there is a great push for full European unity. One of the major players in this geopolitical chess game is—you guessed it!—the pope himself.</p> <p>In his detailed and revealing book, <em>The Principality and Power of Europe</em> (pp. 36–37), British author Adrian Hilton explains what is now happening:</p> <blockquote> <p>“While visiting Austria in 1983, the pope spoke out against the national and artificial borders all over Europe. He added:</p> <p>‘Europeans should overcome the menacing international confrontations of states and alliances, and create a new united Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.’</p> <p>In 1988, he continued this theme when he addressed the European parliament in Strasbourg; an occasion at which many asked why a perceived spiritual leader was addressing the issues of political unity. The Sunday Telegraph, in 1991, summed up the pope’s plans for the ‘evangelisation’ of Europe. It stated:</p> <p>‘He is calmly preparing to assume the mantle which he solemnly believes to be his Divine Right—that of new Holy Roman emperor, reigning from the Urals to the Atlantic.'”</p> </blockquote> <p>Although the Bible certainly does not indicate that the final pope will be the “emperor” of this revived Holy Roman Empire; it does show that he will be the “power behind the throne.” As God clearly indicates to us, the coming false prophet “causes” those who will not worship this system “to be <strong>killed</strong>” (Revelation 13:15). So, as many popes did during the Middle Ages, he will use the power of the state—the “Beast”—to force His will on the entire western world!</p> <p>Remember what happened under Hitler? A knock on the door, the father or mother grabbed and hustled into a van by the state police for saying or doing some “politically incorrect” thing! Do you think that could <strong>not</strong> happen again? If so, you could not be more wrong!</p> <p>The God who gives us life and breath clearly describes how, once again, the woman “rides” the Beast. Most people do not realize that the false teachings and practices of this fallen “woman” have permeated the <strong>entire</strong> world. That is precisely what John was inspired to write: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the <strong>whole world</strong>; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).</p> <p>Even sincere Protestants and Evangelicals have unwittingly been made spiritually <strong>drunk</strong> by the paganism of this system: “The inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:2). What each reader needs to realize is that <strong>Satan</strong> is the invisible “god” of this present world (2 Corinthians 4:3–4), and that “all nations” are spiritually <strong>drunk</strong>.</p> <p>In describing this entire system and the harlot “daughters” that have come out of “mother” Rome, here is what the respected <em>Critical and Experimental Commentary </em>has to say:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Not merely Rome, but Christendom, as a whole, as Israel, as a whole has become a harlot…. External extensiveness over the world, and internal conformity to it—worldliness in extent and contents—is symbolized by the world-city’s name, ‘Babylon'” (Vol. 6, p. 710).</p> </blockquote> <p>Ecumenism—Religious Harlotry?</p> <p>Today’s news is full of articles about the ecumenical movement. One headline reads: “Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Leaders Renew Talks.” Another headline states: “Episcopalian, Lutheran Alliance Forged.” More and more of the Protestant churches are trying to get together, and a number are preparing to come back to “mother”—the Roman Catholic Church. Speaking of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox talks, a July 9, 2000 article in the <em>San Diego Union-Tribune </em>reported:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Eventually, the churches could resolve even their ancient dispute over the pope’s jurisdiction, said the Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos, dean of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in New York and a veteran of ecumenical meetings.</p> <p>‘It could happen rather quickly in one respect, but when I say rather quickly, we’re still talking against the background of a thousand years,’ he said.”</p> </blockquote> <p>This recognition of the pope’s authority could happen much more quickly than Robert Stephanopoulos imagines. Just as when the Eastern European nations began to break away from the Soviet Union, world events sometimes seem to occur almost overnight! So additional <em>hundreds of millions</em> of members may be added to the Roman Catholic Church over the next several years as her daughters return to the fold.</p> <p>And the little Church of God—scattered here and there in little groups—will seem almost like a tiny speck in comparison. Truly, we will all need understanding, faith and courage to make it through the trying years ahead. For Jesus said: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).</p> <p>In the future, we will see increasing pressure brought to bear by the pope and others to make Jerusalem an “international city”—perhaps under the joint control of the Vatican and the United Nations or some other international agency. The relentless pressure of the ecumenical movement will also intensify. The Great Mother Church will be calling with increasing fervor for her daughters to come “home.”</p> <p>Within the next several years, the “second” Beast of Revelation 13 will appear on the scene. We read of this man in Revelation 13:11–14: “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs <strong>great signs</strong>, so that he even makes <strong>fire</strong> come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.”</p> <p>This coming powerful religious leader will look like a “lamb.” In Revelation 14 we see that <strong>Christ</strong> is described as the “Lamb.” So this coming religious leader will appear to be like Christ! But, John writes, he “spoke like a dragon.” And in Revelation 12:9, John was inspired to write: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who <strong>deceives</strong> the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”</p> <p>Satan the Devil is clearly identified as the “dragon” right here in the book of Revelation. This coming false prophet, therefore, will appear to <strong>billions</strong> of human beings to be a Christ-like figure. But his message will be that of Satan the Devil! Yet this charismatic leader will perform “great signs” and even make <strong>fire</strong> come down from heaven! He is also described in 2 Thessalonians 2 as the “man of sin” 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 <strong>is</strong> God” (vv. 3–4). This coming religious leader, your Bible says, will be <strong>worshiped</strong> by his followers!</p> <p>This man will appear a few years before the Second Coming of Christ, for Christ will “destroy” him “with the brightness of His coming” (v. 8). But this man is called “the lawless one.” In verse 7, Paul writes: “For the mystery of <strong>lawlessness</strong> is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” In an age of donkeys and ox carts, Paul is <strong>not</strong> talking about traffic laws! He is talking about a man and an entire religious system he leads—the “mystery of <strong>lawlessness</strong>“—which is obviously teaching against and is regularly breaking the <strong>laws</strong> of <strong>God</strong>.</p> <p>As in Revelation 13: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–10).</p> <p>All of us need to realize that we are in a spiritual <strong>war</strong>. The forces of Satan are moving swiftly to accomplish their goals. Within the next several years, under Satan’s influence, and with the limited powers God allows Satan to exert in this earth’s atmosphere of which he is “prince” (Ephesians 2:2), the devil’s forces will wield unprecedented power through a religio-political system under their control—and will do so in the name of “Christianity.” Very few Protestant, Orthodox or other religious leaders will have the faith and courage to stand up against this onslaught. They will enforce the dreaded “mark of the beast” and bring about a horrifying <strong>persecution</strong> of the true Christians—the real saints of God.</p> <h2>MANY ANTICHRISTS!</h2> <p>We have seen what the Bible says about “the” Antichrist. But even more importantly, we should note that John was inspired to write that “even now <strong>, many </strong>antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). So it should be clear that the term “Antichrist” does not apply solely to the false prophet—though he will certainly be the leading spokesman teaching the doctrines of Antichrist. Rather, as most modern scholars acknowledge, “Antichrist” simply means a spirit or person in opposition to Christ.</p> <p>John continues to describe the <strong>many</strong> who are “Antichrist,” saying: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father” (vv. 22–24). Notice that John was inspired to warn Christians to hold on to the original teaching that they had been given—”abide in… [what] you heard from the beginning.” This would mean “abiding in”—or obeying—Jesus Christ’s direct teaching concerning the Law of God.</p> <p>For, from the beginning, Jesus had taught them to “keep the commandments.” He had continually warned them about using His name and yet <strong>disobeying</strong> His teaching! Jesus said: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). And again: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21 ).</p> <p>So we “abide” in Christ and in the Father by <strong>obeying</strong> God and living <strong>as</strong> Jesus actually did—by <strong>every</strong> word of God. Jesus explained: “If anyone loves Me, he will <strong>keep My Word</strong>; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does <strong>not</strong> keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23–24).</p> <p>John’s first epistle goes on to describe the “spirit of Antichrist” in greater detail: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but <strong>test</strong> the spirits, whether they are of God; because <strong>many</strong> false prophets have gone out into the world. 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. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (4:1–4).</p> <p>Obviously, a vital key to understanding the teaching of the Antichrist is to recognize that this false doctrine does not admit the <strong>full humanity</strong> of Jesus Christ. It does not admit that Christ truly “has come in the flesh.”</p> <p>“Why?” you might ask. What is so special about Christ having “come in the flesh”?</p> <p>First, we must understand why Satan is continually trying to deceive people into disobeying God’s law—the Ten Commandments. Such lawbreaking constitutes sin since “sin <strong>is</strong> the transgression of the <strong>law</strong>” (1 John 3:4, <em>KJV</em>). And “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). So if Satan can somehow keep human beings from obeying God—and so yielding to let God build within them His very nature and character—then these disobedient men and women will continue to be under the death penalty. Cut off from God, they will be <strong>unable</strong> to prepare to be kings and priests in Christ’s coming Kingdom on this earth (cf. Revelation 5:10) and so replace Satan and his demons.</p> <h2>DIABOLICAL ARGUMENTS</h2> <p>So that people will not even try to keep God’s commandments, Satan uses the doctrine of Antichrist to promote the idea that mankind is unable to keep them! The teachings of the Roman Catholic Church—and most Protestant churches—in effect minimize Christ’s humanity, implying in various ways that He was not fully “in the flesh.” Their theology leads to the conclusion that He was not really subject to the “pulls of the flesh” in the same way we are, and was thus not really tempted as we are—indeed even that He was not capable of sin. In their understanding, Christ was not really setting an example for us while fully in the human flesh. Satan wants us to believe that we cannot keep God’s commandments, and that Jesus Christ could not have sinned and broken them!</p> <p>The Roman Catholic Church takes this idea even further. It falsely teaches that, except for the “Virgin Mary,” all human beings since Adam and Eve have been born with “original sin,” unable to keep God’s commandments. Mary alone, the teaching says, was protected by an “Immaculate Conception” and led a perfect and sinless life that allowed her to become the “Mother of God.” In this teaching, Mary could have sinned but did not, while our Savior did not sin and could not! If this were true, it would make Mary—not Jesus Christ—our actual example of living a sinless human life! What an insult to our true Savior!</p> <p>Yet the book of Hebrews tells us: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (2:18). And again: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in <strong>all points tempted</strong> <em>as we are</em>, yet without sin” (4:15). Was this through some supernatural power of His own? Was Jesus “fully God” while in the human flesh? The <em>truth</em> is that He was the Personality who had been with the Father <em>from the beginning</em>: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). But later “The Word became flesh” (v. 14).</p> <p>Many scriptures clearly reveal that, in the flesh, Jesus did <strong>not</strong> exercise the same unlimited power which He had previously exercised before His incarnation. For instance, the gospel of Mark tells us that when Jesus came to His own home area among skeptical family and neighbors: “Now He <strong>could</strong> do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:5). Jesus Himself said: “I can of Myself do <strong>nothing</strong>” (John 5:30). While in the flesh, Jesus <strong>chose</strong> not to heal people in a faithless atmosphere.</p> <p>The fully human Jesus was tempted in “all points” as we are, yet without sin. That being so, it becomes clear that there is a way for <strong>us</strong>, too, to keep the Ten Commandments while fully in the human flesh! But how? The same way Jesus did! Hebrews further tells us that “in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death… [He] was heard because of His godly fear” (5:7). If Jesus had to literally <strong>cry out</strong> with tears to the Father to “save Him from death,” it should be obvious that He was truly in the human flesh—and that we also should <strong>cry out </strong>for God’s help in the same way! So Jesus <strong>did</strong> set the “example” for us in keeping the Ten Commandments in the human flesh! We have a Savior and High Priest who <strong>does</strong> <em>fully understand</em> the pulls of human nature with which we must contend. Through His Spirit within us, as we will see, Christ will <strong>empower</strong> us to overcome temptation and keep the Ten Commandments while fully in the human flesh!</p> <p>But the doctrine of Antichrist says just the <strong>opposite</strong>. Although Satan is clever enough not to directly teach people to <strong>sin</strong>, the Antichrist doctrine nevertheless opens the door for deceived people to regularly break one or more of the commandments of God with impunity—yet still feel that they are somehow “good Christians.”</p> <h2>A UNIVERSAL TEACHING</h2> <p>This clever reasoning—<em>taught in most seminaries all over the world</em>—goes like this: Since God’s law is spiritual and we are only physical, we <strong>cannot</strong> keep the holy, righteous law of God. So Christ had to keep it for us. Now we just “accept Christ” and His righteousness is somehow “imputed” to us—without any requirement for righteous works.</p> <p>The above reasoning then relies on a whole series of misunderstandings and perversions of the writings of the Apostle Paul. Misguided theologians somehow put a clever “twist” on literally dozens of verses from Paul’s letters to directly <strong>contradict </strong>the plain, clear teachings of Jesus Christ, of His closest disciple, John, and of His brother, James. That is one reason for Martin Luther’s famous statement that the book of James was an “epistle of straw.” Luther <strong>hated</strong> the fact that James directly taught obedience to the Ten Commandments (cf. James 2:8–12).</p> <p>The Apostle Peter was even inspired to warn us that “Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15–16). Yes, Peter said that men would “twist” Paul’s writings to their own destruction! Peter continues this inspired warning: “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the <em>error of </em><strong>lawless</strong> <em>men </em>and fall from your secure position” (v. 17, <em>NIV</em>).</p> <p>A warning not to be carried away by the error of “<strong>lawless men</strong>“? Absolutely. For that is precisely the way Peter knew that deceived men would “twist” Paul’s writings—into an excuse to <strong>disobey</strong> the spiritual law of God, the Ten Commandments!</p> <p>Truly, this message needs to be heard now more than ever before. Millions in this deceived world are really confused about religion. They have become either just plain bored by mainstream religion and/or disillusioned by organized religion in general. So some have simply “tuned out.” Yet millions of others have virtually “invented” their own religion! As <em>Newsweek</em> magazine (May 8, 2000) recently reported on today’s teenagers and their beliefs:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Rather than seek absolute truths in doctrine, they cross denominational boundaries, savvy consumers in the broader marketplace of belief systems. Many describe themselves as spiritual rather than religious. ‘I believe there is a higher power at work in my life, but I do not have a name for it,’ says Amy McKinney, 18. ‘When I pray I do not ask a god to make everything all right. Instead I ask myself to be strong.’ In place of strict adherence to doctrine, many teens embrace a spirit of eclecticism and a suspicion of absolute truths. In a 1999 poll of teenagers by the religious researcher George Barna, more than half agreed with the statement ‘All religious faiths teach equally valid truths.’ Where explorers of the baby boom tried on Zen today, Methodism tomorrow, teens might cobble together bits of several faiths: a little Buddhist meditation or Roman Catholic ritual, whatever mixture appeals at the time.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“Whatever mixture appeals”? Appalling!</p> <h2>MODERN RELIGIOUS ANARCHY</h2> <p>This total confusion leads, of course, to religious anarchy. But, ominously, it also opens the door to leading these millions of young people to be very susceptible to the mass deceptions that the coming false prophet will perpetrate. When this man arises and begins to show himself “according to the working of Satan, with all <strong>power</strong>, <strong>signs</strong>, and <strong>lying wonders</strong>” (2 Thessalonians 2:9), what are these millions of confused youths going to do?</p> <p>Being swept along with excitement and also by the mass hysteria that will accompany the satanic signs of the “lawless one” (v. 8), most of these young people will succumb to the enormous pressure to join hands with this coming “revival” and “return to tradition” inspired by Satan. For throughout much of Western Europe and North America, there is indeed a yearning for specific doctrines and guidelines in the field of religion and standards of behavior. Millions of people are sick and tired of the hemming and hawing and equivocating of their ministers and priests. They are beginning to realize that many of these professing religious “leaders” are not absolutely certain about <strong>anything</strong>!</p> <p>Many of these religious leaders question the validity of Jesus’ virgin birth, of His miracles, of His resurrection from the dead. They question the real inspiration of the Bible. They question the idea of Jesus’ Second Coming and whether there will truly be a literal Kingdom of God set up on this earth with Christ as King.</p> <p>Do “all religious leaders teach equally valid truths”—as more than half of the teenagers in Barna’s poll believed?</p> <p>Is all religion equal? Can you just believe <strong>anything</strong> and have the same blessing of the Creator God and gain eternal life on your own terms?</p> <p>The <strong>only</strong> way to be definitive and truly correct about these matters is to prove to yourself—one way or another—if the Bible is directly inspired by the real <strong>God</strong> who created the universe! If the Bible is just partially inspired—as so many believe today—then each person can “pick and choose” which part of the Bible he thinks is inspired. Then, using human reasoning, he can go by that part of the Bible, even if it seems to directly contradict other parts of the Bible. Remember that the Christ of the Bible was nothing but “definitive.” Jesus did not “waffle.” He stated: “I am the <strong>door </strong>of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them” (John 10:7–8). And: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (v. 1).</p> <p>Later, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (v. 27). Most of you readers have “heard” Christ’s voice speaking through this Work. You know that we do not evade, denigrate or “mess around” with the words of the Bible. We have <strong>proved</strong> over and over that God, the Creator, directly inspired the Bible. It is God’s “Instruction Manual” for mankind. It is specific in what it tells us to do.</p> <h2>THE CRUX OF THE MATTER</h2> <p>The clearest passage of all explaining Antichrist is found in 2 John 6–7: “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world <em>who do</em> <strong>not confess</strong> <em>Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh</em>. This is a deceiver and an <strong>antichrist</strong>.” In this passage, we see first of all how John is inspired to define love: “that we walk <em>according to His</em> <strong>commandments</strong>.” In context, the “commandments” being spoken of are clearly the commandments of God the Father (cf. v. 4)—not some “new” commandments of Jesus. Even though John wrote in the 90s ad, some 60 years after Christ’s crucifixion and 20 years after Paul’s death, there is not even a <strong>hint</strong> that God’s commandments were “nailed to the cross” or “done away with” by the Apostle Paul! Then John reminds his readers that the commandments were those they had heard “from the beginning.” In other words, they are the clear teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 19:17 and elsewhere.</p> <p>Then, in verse 7, John warns that the “deceivers” do <strong>not</strong> teach “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” He describes such teaching as “Antichrist.” The significance of Jesus Christ “<strong>as</strong> coming in the flesh” is that—as in the original Greek—the present continuous tense is here used, denoting something that is <strong>now</strong> happening.</p> <p>The well-known <em>Expositor’s Bible Commentary</em> attempts to explain this passage (2 John 7) in the following words:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Curiously the tense is changed from the past tense ‘has come [<em>el luthota</em>] in the flesh’ (1 John 4:2) to the present participle ‘as coming [<em>erchomenon</em>] in the flesh.’ It would be possible, therefore, to interpret this as a reference to Jesus’ return: he is coming (i.e., will come) in the flesh (cf. 1 John 2:28; 3:2). But since we know of no controversy in this area, this seems unlikely. Dodd obscures the sense by translating the participle <em>erchomenon</em> in the past tense, as if its meaning were simply identical with 1 John 4:2, and then offers the surprising explanation that ‘our author is not skilled in the niceties of the Greek idiom’ (<em>Johannine Epistles</em>, p. 149).</p> <p>It is far safer, however, to assume that the writer does know the difference between a present participle and a perfect (past tense) and that his intention is to say something beyond what he was saying in 1 John 4:2.”</p> </blockquote> <p>As those highly trained Greek scholars acknowledge, John is indeed saying something “beyond” his statement in 1 John 4:2! John not only says that Christ <em>has </em>come fully in the human flesh. But God inspired John in this latter passage to reveal that Christ is <strong>now</strong> coming “in the flesh!”</p> <p>How?</p> <p>As we have already seen, Jesus said: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and <em>make Our home with him</em>” (John 14:23). Through the Holy Spirit, Christ and the Father actually <strong>live</strong> within the truly converted Christian, guiding him, inspiring him and <strong>empowering</strong> him to keep the commandments and live God’s way of life!</p> <p>The Apostle Paul was also inspired to make this very plain when he wrote: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but <strong>Christ liveth in me</strong>: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV</em>).</p> <p>That is the “key.” Through the Spirit, Christ will literally <em>live His life </em>in <strong>our</strong> human flesh! <em>He</em> will give us the strength to obey God’s commandments!</p> <p>Religious opponents challenge the real Christian by saying: “You <strong>can’t</strong> keep the Ten Commandments! They are spiritual and you are only physical.” But one who is led by God’s Holy Spirit may truly reply: “You are right. In my own human strength, I can’t. But to the degree I yield to God’s Holy Spirit, I can and I <strong>will</strong> keep God’s commandments! <em>Christ within me</em> helps me not to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, covet, dishonor my parents, break God’s Sabbath, practice idolatry, take God’s name in vain or have another ‘god’ before the true God. I may slip in some point occasionally, but I will then repent and confess my sin to God and have His forgiveness (1 John 1:8–9). Then I quickly get back on God’s path and, through His Spirit, <strong>grow</strong> in grace and knowledge. I am not perfect. But, through Christ living His life within me, I am <strong>growing</strong> toward perfection and walking in God’s law as my <strong>basic way of life</strong>.”</p> <h2>CHRIST LIVES WITHIN THE TRUE CHRISTIAN</h2> <p>The doctrine of Antichrist, then, is that Christ does not literally live His life within His people today! It is the false teaching that Christians today can live a different kind of life from what Jesus lived and still be His true followers. It often includes the idea that Christ was righteous in our stead, and therefore we do not have to be. We just accept Him and His righteousness is imputed to us. Effectively, God “kids Himself” and pretends that we are really righteous when we actually are <strong>not</strong>!</p> <p>This doctrine is a damnable <strong>lie</strong>!</p> <p>“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He will live the same kind of life in you and me today that He lived nearly 2,000 years ago when He walked this earth in the human flesh. At that time, He continually taught obedience to all of God’s commandments (Matthew 5:19). We have seen His answer to the young man asking Him how to inherit eternal life: “Keep the commandments” (19:17). Near the end of the Apostolic Age, God inspired the Apostle John to describe the <em>true </em>saints of God: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).</p> <p>There are many, many false ministers today who are teaching the doctrine of Antichrist, a doctrine that sanctions disobedience to God’s commandments—a doctrine of “no works.” The Apostle Paul said of these ministers: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). You will notice here that Satan has ministers who appear to be righteous. Ironically, their end—their final reward—will be according to their “works,” <em>the</em> <strong>very thing</strong> <em>they seek to deny</em>!</p> <p>God intends for us to obey His commandments, do good works and live by His every word. <em>Once you get this principle straight, you can clearly understand the “spirit of Antichrist” and how to test whether </em><strong>any </strong><em>religious leader’s idea or doctrine is of God!</em> Then, by diligent study of God’s Word and by constant prayer, you will come to a deeper understanding of the real purpose of your life and experience closer contact with the Living God than you may ever have dreamed possible.</p> <p>You will come to see who truly is of God—His true Church, which has faithfully proclaimed the same Gospel He sent through Jesus Christ. In this end time, that Message—of obedience to God’s Kingdom and rule—is to be preached by His Church as a witness to all nations (Matthew 24:14). You are reading that Message this very instant!</p> <p>In Revelation 12:17, the true Church of God is described as a woman persecuted by the devil. This Church is a remnant. Its members are those “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Again, the true saints of God are described in like manner in Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who <strong>keep the commandments</strong> of God and the faith of Jesus.”</p> <p>Yes, Jesus Christ is to live and dwell within His people today through the Holy Spirit. To the degree they yield to Him, their lives will be ones of full and complete obedience, just as Jesus’ life was in the flesh. Their customs, their traditions, their way of life will be the same as His in every respect, because He does not change. And He will be <strong>living</strong> within them! Then Christ and the Father can be absolutely sure that their people are fully surrendered to God, who can continually impart to true Christians His very divine nature and <strong>character</strong>—and so prepare them to be <strong>kings</strong> and <strong>priests</strong> in the literal Kingdom of God soon to be set up on this earth. “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, <em>and has made us</em> <strong>kings </strong><em>and </em><strong>priests</strong> <em>to His God and Father</em>, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5–6).</p> <p>Examine yourself honestly. Have you really understood Christianity before? <em>Is Christ really living His life in</em> <strong>you</strong>? Do you have the spiritual “backbone” to act on the knowledge you have just received?</p> <h2>RESTORING APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY</h2> <p>As many of you readers already know, we in this Work are restoring—for those willing to heed—the true Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles. This genuine “Apostolic Christianity” has definitely been lost as far as mainstream “churchianity” is concerned. It is important to realize that if Jesus Himself would walk into a typical Protestant or Catholic Church today, He would find people there with an entirely different concept of God than He taught.</p> <p>These folks would be observing different days for worshipping God—days that are pagan in origin and which utterly <strong>fail</strong> to point to the true God and His great <strong>plan</strong> as the biblical Holy Days do. Jesus would find that most of these professing “Christians” have <strong>no idea</strong> about how to truly keep the Ten Commandments or about the importance Christ placed upon them (see Matthew 19:17). These blinded individuals go to <strong>war</strong> with Britain (for instance) in one generation, with Spain in another, with Germany and Japan in another. They and their deceived ministers seemingly pay <strong>no attention</strong> to Jesus’ <em>very clear instruction</em> in Matthew 5:43–44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, <strong>love your enemies</strong>, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”</p> <p>These professing Christians are utterly <strong>blinded</strong> to the fact that true Christians are <strong>now</strong> “in training” to become kings and priests under Jesus Christ and to serve under Him in <strong>ruling</strong> this world during the next thousand years (see Revelation 5:9–10; 20:6)! Rather, these folks <em>assume</em>—<strong>contrary</strong> to Jesus’ teachings—that at death they will “go to heaven” and have <strong>nothing</strong> to do! So the false teachings of professing Christianity have <strong>blinded</strong> them to the entire <strong>purpose</strong> God is working out here on earth!</p> <p>In a typical church today, Jesus would find people who have a sentimental feeling about Him personally, but have virtually <strong>no</strong> understanding of the powerful <strong>message </strong>He preached. They speak about “the Lord Jesus Christ.” But, frankly, He is <strong>not</strong> their “Lord”—for they do <strong>not</strong> obey Him or even grasp <em>how they should</em> obey Him! And Jesus Himself said, over and over: “<strong>Why</strong> do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do <strong>not</strong> do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).</p> <p>Again: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; <strong>depart from Me</strong>, <em>you who practice</em> <strong>lawlessness</strong>!'” (Matthew 7:21–23). Indeed, those who fail to preach and to practice genuine <strong>obedience</strong> to the Ten Commandments are in terrible trouble!</p> <p>God’s Word clearly indicates that the <strong>vast</strong> majority of human beings today are <strong>deceived</strong>. For God speaks of “the devil and Satan, who <strong>deceives</strong> the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). And the Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has <strong>blinded</strong>, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4).</p> <p>The Apostle Jude warned us specifically: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the <strong><em>faith</em></strong> which was <strong><em>once for all</em></strong> delivered to the saint <em>s</em>. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3–4).</p> <p>It is significant that Jude was inspired by God to point out that these false teachers would turn “grace” into “license”—which is exactly what they do today! For the common Protestant teaching is that you are “saved” by a sentimental acceptance of Christ’s death and that—at that point—there is <strong>nothing</strong> else you really have to do! No obedience to the Ten Commandments. No required “growing” in grace, in knowledge and in Christian maturity. No further “overcoming” of your human nature, of the world or of Satan the Devil.</p> <h2>WHAT YOU SHOULD DO</h2> <p>Recent news reports from many nations have indicated that Roman Catholic persecution of religious minorities continues. Although the Roman Catholic Church has learned to smile and act agreeably in nations where Protestants or others are in the majority, the old demons of hate and authoritarianism come out very quickly when it is in control.</p> <p>A recent article in <em>Christianity Today </em>magazine (August 2000, p. 30) reported: “In March, about 70 Protestant families were expelled from the Mexican village of Plan de Ayala, in Chiapas state, by the town’s Roman Catholic majority. ‘Fourteen homes were demolished by the mob as the Protestants fled to the hills for refuge,’ reports Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Isias Espinosa.” This is just a tiny sampling of the type of religious oppression practiced by this powerful church! And its leaders continue to emphasize that they are the <strong>only </strong>true church—that others are, in effect, only “second-class Christians.” Note this September 5, 2000 report by Victor Simpson of the <em>Associated Press</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Accusing some Catholic theologians of manipulating fundamental truths of the church, the Vatican rejected Tuesday what it said are growing attempts to depict all religions as equal…the Vatican equality refers to ‘personal dignity’ of individuals and not to doctrine. It is the second recent document by the congregation [the Roman Catholic ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’] warning against abuses by Catholics in dealings with other religions and denominations. Italian media have reported the congregation also has warned against the phrase ‘sister churches,’ saying that it contradicts the Catholic Church’s identity as ‘<strong>mother</strong>‘ <strong>of all churches</strong>. That document has not yet been released. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, at a news conference repeatedly referred to a trend toward <strong>religious relativism</strong>.</p> <p>‘The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the church,’ the document said, saying it hindered ‘ <strong>the complete fulfillment of her universality in history</strong>.’</p> <p>The declaration, a complex theological document, was titled ‘On the Unity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church.'”</p> </blockquote> <p>So the Roman Catholic Church not only admits, but even insists that it is the “<strong>mother</strong>” of all professing Christian churches! And it insists also that it <strong>alone</strong> has the “keys” to God’s Kingdom!</p> <p>Truly, it is time to <strong>wake up</strong>!</p> <p>It is time for all who believe in God to go back and <strong>prove</strong> whether their religious beliefs and practices actually came out of the Bible—or out of “Babylon.” For the Creator God tells all who will heed: “‘For <strong>all the nations</strong> 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.’ And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘<strong>come out</strong> of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her <strong>plagues</strong>‘” (Revelation 18:3–4).</p> <p>Although, as the Apostle John wrote, “even now, <strong>many</strong> antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18), it is also true that the embodiment of Antichrist will be most fully expressed in the great false prophet described in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–10 and Revelation 13:11–14. Probably within the next five to 15 years, this cunning individual will appear on the world scene. He will appear at first as a great “peacemaker” and benefactor of mankind. Before long, he will begin performing <strong>miracles</strong>—even bringing <strong>fire</strong> down from heaven (Revelation 13:13)!</p> <p>But, again, His teaching will be “anti-Christ.” There will be lots of ritual, pomp and ceremony and lots of flowery talk. But there will <strong>not</strong> be the clear teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, to keep God’s commandments and literally imitate Christ—<em>surrendering</em> to let Jesus Christ live His obedient life within us through the Holy Spirit.</p> <p>Remember always, <em>that </em>is the “key!”</p> <p>For Satan the Devil is glad to have you “believe in Christ”—as long as <em>your </em>Christ is a <em>false </em>Christ. He is glad to have you go to the “church of <em>your </em>choice”—providing that he can deceive you into going to a church led by blinded, commandment-rejecting theologians. For as Jesus said: “If the blind <em>leads </em>the blind, <strong>both</strong> will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14).</p> <p>In Christ’s name, I urge you: please begin to genuinely <strong>study</strong> your Bible as never before! Also, do yourself a favor and write in for your absolutely <strong>free</strong> enrollment in our inspiring and most helpful <em>Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course</em>. Study through this course and follow Paul’s inspired admonition: “<strong>Prove </strong>all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, <em>KJV</em>).</p> <p>Again, I urge you to write in immediately and request your <strong>free</strong> copy of our truly revealing booklets entitled <em>The Beast of Revelation</em> and <em>Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?</em> These booklets—coupled with this booklet you are now reading—will give you the full picture and <strong>proof</strong> of the nature of the powerful and ominous forces now rising in Europe.</p> <p>As Jesus said: “Watch.” Keep your eyes on the revival of the Holy Roman Empire. “Watch” how it slowly but surely begins to gain total power in most of Europe—then Central and South America and, finally, most of the entire world. “Watch” how other churches are, bit by bit, coaxed, persuaded or finally coerced into going back to the “mother” church. Frankly, you will be disappointed to see how many supposedly dedicated Protestant and evangelical leaders will be maneuvered into giving up much of what they have always believed when real <strong>pressure</strong> is put upon them.</p> <p>Will <strong>you</strong> also turn aside from the God of the Bible? Will you join or continue to be part of a watered-down “Christianity” where deceived church members <em>regularly </em>violate God’s commanded Sabbath, where they are “allowed”—or perhaps even encouraged—to fight and to kill in human warfare, contrary to Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 5:43–45)? Will you be part of a church where pomp, ceremony and the worship of idols is practiced, and where the whole concept of <em>literal obedience</em> to the Ten Commandments as a <em>way of life</em> is <strong>not</strong> taught, and where clever arguments against the need for true Christians to keep God’s commandments are regularly employed against those who dare to heed Christ’s actual words?</p> <p>Soon, the ultimate personification of the Antichrist will appear on the world scene. Appearing at first as a kind and gentle “peacemaker,” he will gradually assert more and more authority. His authority will be enhanced by the <strong>false miracles </strong>Satan performs through him (Revelation 13:13). Then, the adoring masses will scream with excitement when they see him, and the <em>doctrine </em>of the Antichrist will permeate nearly all of professing Christianity—all except the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) described in Revelation 12:13–17.</p> <p>For your eternal good, pray for real <em>understanding</em>, <strong>faith </strong>and <strong>courage</strong>. Obey Jesus’ instruction: “Watch therefore, and <strong>pray</strong> always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">Prophecy</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 02 Mar 2022 14:13:22 +0000 4uwzvo 46 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com Easter: The Untold Story https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/easter-untold-story <span>Easter: The Untold Story</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 19:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Easter: The Untold Story</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Gerald E. Weston</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden">Image</div> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/eusv1.jpg?itok=J57EiWi4" alt="Rabbit and eggs cover" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#origins of traditions</div> <div class="field__item">#paganism</div> <div class="field__item">#easter</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Every year, billions of people observe a joyous Easter Sunday celebration. For some, it may be one of the few times each year they come to church. For others, it may be the culmination of observances going back to Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Good Friday in preparation for the festive day. Many of these people have no idea that their Easter celebration owes far, far more to pre-Christian myth than to anything Jesus Christ or His Apostles believed, practiced or taught.</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>THE NEGLECTED TRUTH</h2> <p>Every year, professing Christians celebrate the holiday known as Easter, but few understand its true origins. How is it that a day supposedly picturing the resurrection of Jesus Christ came to be known by the name of the pagan goddess, Eostre? What are the origins of celebrating the day with rabbits and colored eggs and how did they come to be associated with it? What do these have to do with the resurrection of Christ?</p> <p>Do you realize that the Good Friday crucifixion and Easter Sunday resurrection tradition <strong>contradicts</strong> the one sign Jesus said He would give to prove He was the prophesied Messiah? Shockingly, literally hundreds of millions profess that Jesus Christ is their Savior, but their very traditions deny the <strong>one and only</strong> sign Jesus said He would give that He was who He claimed to be—the Son of God. Consider what this means! Either Jesus is not the Messiah He claimed to be, or the professing Christian tradition is wrong. <strong>It cannot be any other way!</strong></p> <p>It is time to dust off your Bible and look into the one and only true source that reveals what really happened at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion! The truth of what happened—and what your Bible records—is not what most people think! If you are willing to look into the biblical record and the facts recorded by well-respected historians, you can know the truth about Easter and its pagan past; and you can know the truth of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 1<br /> WHAT’S IN A NAME?</h2> <p>For many professing Christians, Easter is the most sacred holiday of the year. For others, it is a time to show off a new set of clothes and perhaps a hat or bonnet. For children, it is an exciting time to search for brightly colored eggs that were hidden in the garden or around the house. Some children even receive live chickens or rabbits from well-meaning parents.</p> <p>But consider, what does all this have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? The simple answer is, absolutely nothing! Nevertheless, most people look at such customs as harmless fun for the children. But, are they? Or do they obscure the truth about the most important event in the history of mankind: Christ’s life, message, crucifixion and resurrection?</p> <p>I often tell people a true story about my uncle George. He was a colorful character, to say the least. He was a self-made man who left home at the age of 16 and went on to invent various electronic instruments used in the oil-drilling industry. I knew for many years that he was a passionate atheist, but I never knew why until a few years before his death when he explained it to me. When he was five years old, his mother, my grandmother, told him to go out and look for the eggs the rabbits laid. It was Easter Sunday. Even at this early age he knew that rabbits did not lay eggs, because my grandmother raised rabbits for sale. He immediately protested, “Rabbits don’t lay eggs.” And she replied, “Georgie, if you look real hard you’ll find them.”</p> <p>As he explained to me, he really did look, but he did not find any. He went back into the house and disgustingly informed her, “Mother, you lied to me. Rabbits don’t lay eggs.” And, as he further explained, “That’s when I began to question the whole idea of God and Christianity.”</p> <p>Why is it that Christians lie to their children about such things when the Ninth Commandment tells us: “You shall not bear false witness”? Are they not aware of <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Rev%2021.8">Revelation 21:8</a>, which tells us that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death”? Maybe these “little white lies” are more serious than we realize! Maybe we should rethink what we teach our children!</p> <h3><strong>What History Reveals</strong></h3> <p>From where do these seemingly harmless lies and quaint customs originate? Historians reveal a great deal about the origins of Easter traditions, starting with the very name itself. Easter is nothing more than another spelling for the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, but where did this goddess originate? The <em>New World Encyclopedia</em> suggests a connection between Eostre and Easter with the very popular and ancient goddess Ishtar: “Scholars likewise speculate that <em>Eostre,</em> the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring whose name later gave rise to the modern English ‘Easter,’ may be etymologically connected to Ishtar” (article “Ishtar”).</p> <p>Interestingly, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church admits this about the origin of the name Easter, but gives a slightly different spelling from that of <em>Ishtar</em>. Our modern English word “Easter” comes from Old English, and referred originally to the Norse goddess of fertility, Istra—who was symbolized by a rabbit.</p> <p>Thus the connection between Easter and rabbits, but why was Istra symbolized by a rabbit? Historians confirm this goddess, spelled variously as Ishtar, and Istra was known as the goddess of fertility, and the rabbit is a well-known fertility symbol. Even today people can be heard using the expression, “breeding like rabbits.” An example of this is seen in a November 2011 <em>Scientific American</em> article titled, “Why Pioneers Breed Like Rabbits.”</p> <p>The rabbit is not the only fertility symbol passed down from antiquity. <em>The Oxford Companion to World Mythology</em>explains this about Easter: “The holiday comes in the early Spring and is clearly related to ancient fertility myths of reborn heroes.… For many, Easter is synonymous with fertility symbols such as the Easter Rabbit, Easter Egg, and the Easter Lily” (article “Easter,” p. 111).</p> <h3><strong>Easter and the Egg</strong></h3> <p>While the egg is clearly a fertility symbol, many historians trace the origin of the Easter egg back to the Babylonian myth of a large egg falling from the sky into the Euphrates River, from which the goddess Astarte was hatched. Astarte was revered by the ancient Phoenicians as goddess of the moon and the measurer of time. But who was Astarte? Is there any connection with this goddess and Easter traditions? Historians tell us Astarte is merely another name for Ishtar.. “The name Ishtar is likely Semitic in origin, and was identified in ancient times with Canaanite goddess Ashtoreth or Astarte” (<em>New World Encyclopedia</em>, article: “Ishtar”).</p> <p>As we are beginning to see, this goddess—from which we derive the name of what is supposed to be a most solemn Christian celebration—has quite a past. She was no obscure figure, but was known by different names in different languages and cultures. The highly respected <em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em> confirms the connection between Astarte and Ishtar: “Astarte was worshiped in Egypt and Ugarit and among the Hittites, as well as in Canaan. Her Akkadian counterpart was Ishtar. Later she became assimilated with the Egyptian deities Isis and Hathor (a goddess of the sky and of women), and in the Greco-Roman world with Aphrodite, Artemis, and Juno” (article “Astarte”).</p> <p>These all refer to the same goddess, either with different spellings or with different names in various cultures. Here is a quote tying Ishtar with another important name: “Ishtar, a goddess of both fertility and war, is the Akkadian name of the Sumerian goddess Inanna and the Semitic goddess Astarte, the three names referring to the same deity in different cultural contexts. She inspired great devotion in the ancient Babylonian empire, as evidenced by the many grand temples, altars, inscriptions, and art objects devoted to her” (<em>New World Encyclopedia</em>, article “Ishtar”).</p> <p>Interestingly, just as there came in ancient cultures to be a connection between the moon and the various goddesses of fertility, the rabbit became entwined in many of these myths. Why the rabbit? With a gestation period of just about one month, the rabbit’s cycle came to be associated with the lunar cycle, across a number of cultures.</p> <p>With our modern understanding of biology we may laugh at this today, but many in the ancient world believed the rabbit to be a hermaphrodite—an animal that could reproduce without losing its virginity. This led to an association between the supposedly virgin rabbit and the Virgin Mary, as typified by the painter Titian’s <em>Madonna of the Rabbit</em>. When former goddess-worshipers discovered Christianity, it was easy for them to take their old reverence to a goddess and transfer it to Mary, in contradiction to Scripture and actual Christianity. Thus the various myths expanded and prevailed.</p> <p>Of course, just as there were variations of myth across the different world cultures, there were also variations of worship from one culture to another, just as we see variations in spellings and customs in our modern world in the worship of gods that transcend national and cultural boundaries.</p> <p>But does any of this matter? As long as we are celebrating Christ’s resurrection, what difference does it make? If there were no God, it probably would not matter, but if the God of the Bible does exist, it matters plenty!</p> <p>God told Moses to warn ancient Israel that they were to make “no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Exod%2023.13">Exodus 23:13</a>, <em>KJV</em>). Yet most of professing Christianity has done just that! And we cannot rely on the tired argument that this admonition applied only to the Jews under the Old Covenant. <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mal%203.6">Malachi 3:6</a> tells us that God does not change, and <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Heb%2013.8">Hebrews 13:8</a> tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”! This same Jesus Christ, prior to His human birth, was the very God family member who inspired <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Exod%2023.13">Exodus 23:13</a>: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, <strong>and that Rock was Christ</strong> (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Cor%2010.1%E2%80%934">1 Corinthians 10:1–4</a>). Is it any wonder that Jesus protests, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%206.46">Luke 6:46</a>).</p> <p>If Jesus Christ had proclaimed the observance of Easter, we would of course be obliged to do as He had instructed us. Even if it were His Apostles who had begun the observance in harmony with His instructions, we would do well to follow their example. But neither Christ nor the Apostles left us any example of observing such a festival.</p> <p>Indeed, as we will see throughout this booklet, the vast majority of nominal Christians today are observing a festival that Scripture reveals is not just non-Christian—it is actually repugnant to God. Worse yet; most are neglecting the actual festival that Jesus Christ observed and taught His disciples to observe in memory of His sacrificial death. Read on and learn the amazing truth that may change your life forever!</p> <h2>CHAPTER 2<br /> THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN</h2> <p>As we have seen, Ishtar was the ancient goddess of fertility and love, and was also known by the names Istra, Eostre, Easter, Astarte, Aphrodite, Artemis, and Inanna. In the Hebrew language, the plural form of Astarte was Ashtaroth and we find many references to the worship of Ashtaroth in the Old Testament, but never in a positive context! She seems to have been known as the “Queen of Heaven,” as we learn from <em>The New World Encyclopedia</em>: “Astarte may also be the ‘Queen of Heaven’ spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah several centuries later during the seventh or early sixth century B.C.E. Here, the people of Judah fear that by heeding the words of the prophets and abandoning the worship of the goddess, they have brought ruin upon themselves” (article: “Astarte”).</p> <h3><strong>A Heavy Price to Pay</strong></h3> <p>The encyclopedia goes on to reference <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2044.18">Jeremiah 44:18</a>, an instructive passage of Scripture that we would do well to examine closely. The time setting was shortly after the Jewish nation fell to king Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean Empire. Most were killed or deported to Babylon, but a few poor among them were left behind. Jeremiah was also spared and allowed to remain in the land of Judea.</p> <p>The remnant leaders approached Jeremiah, requesting that he seek God’s will on their behalf. Should they stay in Judea, or go to Egypt? They unequivocally assured Jeremiah that they would do whatever God directed: “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2042.6">Jeremiah 42:6</a>).</p> <p>Ten days later, Jeremiah returned God’s answer—that they should remain in Judea—but by now they had discounted the earlier profession and had set their hearts to go to Egypt. How true to human nature! We want to do God’s will… as long as it agrees with our own!</p> <p>Through His prophet Jeremiah, God again gave a strong indictment against this rebellious remnant upon their arrival in Egypt. “Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, out of Judah, leaving none to remain, in that you provoke Me to wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have gone to dwell, that you may cut yourselves off and be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?… They have not been humbled, to this day, nor have they feared; they have not walked in My law or in My statutes that I set before you and your fathers” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2044.7%E2%80%938">Jeremiah 44:7–8</a>, <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jeremiah%2044.10">10</a>).</p> <p>Idolatry was a primary cause behind the house of Israel going into captivity, and later the house of Judah was overthrown for the same reason. They defended their rebellion against their Creator rather than admit the obvious. No doubt, very few who are reading this booklet are burning literal incense to worship a literal statue or false god, so it may be very easy for us to condemn the Israelites’ actions. But, in our own way, do many of us do the same? Do we also defend our pagan customs and traditions while failing to obey our Creator? Notice their response, and the connection to the queen of heaven: “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to <strong>the queen of heaven</strong> and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble. But since we stopped burning incense to <strong>the queen of heaven</strong> and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2044.16%E2%80%9318">Jeremiah 44:16–18</a>).</p> <h3><strong>Cakes for the Queen</strong></h3> <p>How easily people are deceived! This rag-tag Jewish remnant chose to worship an ineffective pagan goddess rather than the Creator of the universe and the One who earlier had brought them out from Egyptian bondage to become a nation. The attitude we find today among the majority of professing Christians is not all that different from the people of Jeremiah’s day—defend tradition over Scripture at all cost! If one human rationalization fails to work, try another. Here is one rationalization that we would <strong>not</strong> likely find today: “The women also said, ‘And when we burned incense to <strong>the queen of heaven</strong> and poured out drink offerings to her, did we <strong>make cakes for her</strong>, to worship her, and pour out drink offerings to her without our husbands’ permission?'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2044.19">Jeremiah 44:19</a>).</p> <p>Jeremiah responded to the people by explaining the reason for the fall of their nation and their current pitiful state. “The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them, and did it not come into His mind? So the Lord could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you committed. Therefore your land is a desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant, as it is this day. Because you have burned incense and because you have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, in His statutes or in His testimonies, therefore this calamity has happened to you, as at this day” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%2044.21%E2%80%9323">Jeremiah 44:21–23</a>).</p> <h3><strong>A Family Tradition</strong></h3> <p>It is not as though the people were not warned. Jeremiah had rebuked them years earlier, prior to the time of their captivity, for their worship of this Queen of Heaven and what the results would be if they did not repent. Yet, as we know, traditions laden with emotion and family sentiment can exert a powerful pull! These pagan celebrations and customs involved the whole family. Each member played a part in this warm and comforting family affair. “The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%207.18">Jeremiah 7:18</a>). We should not minimize the appeal such a celebration has on the human psyche.</p> <p>Baking cakes of bread sounds innocent enough. Of course, the problem is not with bread, but with the purpose for which people bake it. How many professing Christians read these words, look down upon that poor misguided tribe of Judah, but then do exactly the same? What Jeremiah is describing in these verses is one Easter custom that is popular even to this day in some countries around the world—baking small cakes or buns with a cross cut into them prior to baking, or a sweet glaze cross placed on top after baking. These are especially popular on what is called Good Friday, the supposed day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Note this April 2012 quote from the popular <em>British Food History</em> blog, describing these buns in light of Jeremiah’s denunciation: “The cross, people assume, is to denote the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. This is in fact nonsense; spiced buns with crosses were being produced throughout much of pagan Europe. Spiced buns have always been symbolic in worship and ones adorned with crosses were made for the goddess Eostre (where Easter gets its name).”</p> <p>God’s reaction follows Jeremiah’s description of this practice . “‘Do they provoke Me to anger?’ says the Lord. ‘Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?’ Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place—on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jer%207.19%E2%80%9320">Jeremiah 7:19–20</a>).</p> <p><em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em> links the Queen of Heaven with Astarte, also known as Ashtoreth, whose worship God condemns. “Astarte/Ashtoreth is the Queen of Heaven to whom the Canaanites burned offerings and poured libations (Jeremiah 44)” The Bible refers to Ashtoreth as an abominable pagan goddess (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Kings%2011.5">1 Kings 11:5</a>, <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Kings%2011.33">33</a>; <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/2%20Kings%2023.13">2 Kings 23:13</a>).</p> <p>Ezekiel 8 introduces another element to this dark picture. Ezekiel is in Babylonian captivity and is taken in vision to the temple in Jerusalem where he is shown abominations committed by his people. He is first taken, “to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Ezek%208.3">Ezekiel 8:3</a>). What can this possibly be? We may not be able to know for sure, but the highly regarded <em>New Bible Commentary Revised</em> makes an educated guess. “The image of jealousy… may have been an image of the Canaanite goddess, Asherah. Manasseh had set up such an image… in the Temple and later removed it (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/2%20Chron.%2033.7">2 Ch. 33:7</a>, <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/2%20Ch%2033.15">15</a>).”</p> <p>But who is the Canaanite goddess, Asherah? “Other names of this deity were Ashtoreth [Astarte] and Anath. Frequently represented as a nude woman bestride a lion with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other.… Characteristically Canaanite, the lily symbolizes grace and sex appeal and the serpent fecundity [the ability to produce offspring in large numbers]” (<em>Unger’s Bible Dictionary</em>, article “Asherah”).</p> <p>We cannot say for certain that Ezekiel’s “image of jealousy” was indeed the same-named goddess, but this goddess that we find with so many names is all about sex appeal, fertility and various customs we now associate with Easter! We know that there is nothing inherently sinful about rabbits, eggs, cakes or lilies, but when they have the name Easter attached to them we ought to wonder why any of this should be associated with Christ.</p> <p>Ezekiel was told to turn again, to see greater abominations. After digging in a wall, he came to a door that he enters and sees “all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Ezek%208.10">Ezekiel 8:10</a>). Then he was told to, “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing” (v. 13). And what did he see? He found that, “to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz” (v. 14).</p> <p>Who was Tammuz, and how is he connected to Easter? The online edition of the <em>New World Encyclopedia </em>traces an important mythical tale involving Ishtar’s [Easter’s] descent into the underworld. There she attempts to usurp the throne of her sister, who is queen of the underworld; but her sister, Ereshkigal, hangs Ishtar on the wall by a hook. However, her uncle intercedes and sets her free, but she must first find a replacement. Her husband Tammuz temporarily angers her and she seizes him and drags him below to the underworld.</p> <p>Ishtar, also called Inanna in the tale, soon regrets her rash act toward Tammuz. Now we will pick up the story as told by the <em>New World Encyclopedia: </em>“Ishtar arranges for Tammuz’s sister to substitute for him during six months of the year—thus explaining the mystery of the sun’s diminishing in winter and growing stronger in summer. The story of Ishtar and Tammuz prefigures those of Cybele and Attis, of Aphrodite and Adonis, and of the Egyptian Isis and Osiris—all of them tales of a young god who dies, and a goddess who mourns him” (article “Ishtar”).</p> <h3><strong>A Sunrise Service and Pagan Gods from the East</strong></h3> <p>It is difficult for the average person growing up in a nominally Christian church, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or other, to realize just how heavily influenced their cherished practices are by ancient pagan traditions, but there is one more found in Ezekiel 8, where Ezekiel is told: “Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these” (v. 15). What could these possibly be?</p> <p>“So He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house; and there, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east” (v. 16).</p> <p>This passage is clearly describing a “sunrise service,” as the sun rises from the east. Such practices go back for thousands of years, linking the sun with ancient pagan deities. As historian Alexander Hislop observed, “Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen, at that precise time of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed” (<em>The Two Babylons</em>, pp. 93). Festivals focusing on the solstice days were observed in the name of pagan gods long before there was any “Christian” idea of celebrating Christmas or Easter!</p> <p>To the east, in central Asia Minor, more than a thousand years before the Romans, the Hittites also worshiped a great mother goddess. On the side of a hill near Sardis is a giant rock carving of a mother goddess that the ancient poets Homer, Ovid and Sophocles describe as the “Mother of the Gods, the oldest goddess of all” (<em>The Hittite Empire</em>, Garstang, pp. 176–177). On statues and carvings, this Hittite deity “assumes the aspect of a goddess of the skies, or Queen of Heaven, a familiar aspect of Astarte” (<em>ibid</em>., pp. 114, 204–205). Astarte was the Phoenician goddess of war, the evening star, sexual love and fertility. Temple prostitution was part of her worship. She was often depicted naked, “wearing a crown of cow’s horns enclosing a solar disc”—similar to the Egyptian goddess Isis (<em>Encyclopedia of Gods</em>, p. 33). The Roman army spread the worship of this ancient Hittite goddess across Europe from Germany to Britain because her cult “found great favor among the soldiers” (Garstang, p. 302).</p> <p>And this pagan Queen had a child. In Egypt, Isis was worshiped as one of the greatest deities. She was usually depicted seated on a throne “holding the child Horus… both official theology and popular belief proclaimed… Isis and Horus the perfect mother and son” (<em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em>, 15th ed.).</p> <p>How abominable! In this way, Jesus—the Word made flesh—was connected with a goddess-mother whose worship predated His birth by hundreds of years!</p> <p>All around the world, sincere people get up early on Easter Sunday to watch the sun rise. I remember such an occasion when my family did so to be part of a sunrise service at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Not only does this practice hearken back to ancient mother-goddess-and-child worship; it relies on the supposition that Jesus rose early Sunday morning. Yet, as we will see in the next chapter, even this simple question of timing is an unbiblical deception!</p> <h2>CHAPTER 3<br /> WORSHIPING CHRIST IN VAIN</h2> <p>It may be easy to look back with pity—even condescension—on such ignorant people who believed in those preposterous tales and practices. But, if that is the case, why do we find the very symbols of their worship so prominently featured in today’s professing Christianity? Why have professing Christians chosen the name of paganism’s outrageous goddess for the name of what many consider the most sacred of all Christian holidays?</p> <p>Does this really matter? In spite of the overwhelming evidence of pagan origins for Easter celebrations, some rationalize that mixing a little <em>innocent</em> paganism into Christian celebrations brings more people to Christ and makes Christian celebrations more colorful and enjoyable. But how does the God of the Bible see this? We have already read in Ezekiel and Jeremiah that these pagan practices were <strong>not</strong> pleasing to God 2,600 years ago, so why would we think He would be pleased today?</p> <p>Many people wrongly assume the only thing that is important is that we believe in Jesus. But is belief alone enough? James says, “No!” We read: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/James%202.19">James 2:19</a>). Furthermore, have we considered that it is possible to make a show of worshiping Jesus, but to do so in vain? Notice what Jesus Himself declared: “He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”‘” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%207.6%E2%80%937">Mark 7:6–7</a>).</p> <p>Jesus asked this thought-provoking question: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%206.46">Luke 6:46</a>). One of the things for which Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day was that they rejected God’s commandments and substituted their traditions. One of God’s commandments is that His people are not to borrow pagan ideas and blend them with His observances. We are explicitly told <strong>not</strong> to think: “‘How did these nations serve their gods?  “I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods.… Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Deut%2012.30%E2%80%9332">Deuteronomy 12:30–32</a>).</p> <p>And yet, this is exactly what traditional Christianity does! Highly respected encyclopedias and history books admit that much of what we think of as Christian simply <strong>was</strong> not and <strong>is</strong> not. The well-respected <em>Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity</em> confesses: “The Christian church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun-worship, for example, came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the twenty-fifth of December, the birthday of the Sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17–21 of December, provided the merriment, gift-giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays. Sun-worship hung on in Roman Christianity and Pope Leo I, in the middle of the fifth century, rebuked worshippers who turned round to bow to the sun before entering St Peter’s basilica. Some pagan customs which were later Christianized, for example the use of candles, incense and garlands, were at first avoided by the church because they symbolized paganism” (pp. 131–32). To learn more, request our informative booklet, <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets/is-christmas-christian">Is Christmas Christian?</a></em></p> <p>As we have already shown, these pagan influences are also clearly seen in Easter traditions. We might do well to ask, “How can ‘pagan’ customs be Christianized?” More often than not, professing Christians who read the Old Testament have a misguided understanding as to the nature of ancient Israel’s actual problem. While it is true that they gave themselves over entirely to pagan influences at various times, that is not the whole story.</p> <p>In the days of the famous prophet Elijah, their major problem involved mixing paganism with the worship of the true God. After Elijah prayed that it would not rain for three-and-a-half years, in an attempt to wake the people up from their sins, Elijah and King Ahab gathered the people together to settle the issue. Elijah’s question to the people is most instructive: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Kings%2018.21">1 Kings 18:21</a>). His very question indicates a blending of the worship of the true God with heathen Baal worship. Here is what <em>The New Bible Commentary Revised</em> has to say about Elijah’s question:</p> <p>“It seems to be literally, ‘Till when are you hopping at two forks?’ The sin of the people had been not in rejecting the worship of [God], but in trying to combine it with the worship of Baal. Such syncretism [blending religious customs and worship] is always considered to be broad-minded, whereas the other is narrow-minded. But [the God] of Israel left no room for other gods. Elijah makes this clear: <em>If Yahweh is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him</em>.”</p> <p>The pagan origin and celebration of Easter is a major problem for professing Christianity, but it is only part of the problem. In addition to blending pagan customs and traditions into the worship of the true God, contrary to His command, we find that even the part of Easter that supposedly comes from the Bible is terribly flawed—as we will see in the next chapter of this booklet!</p> <h2>CHAPTER 4<br /> THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS</h2> <p>Have you ever considered why you believe the things you do? If we are truly honest with ourselves, every one of us primarily believes what we were taught growing up. Even if you have cast aside belief in God, you most likely accept the things you <strong>think</strong> the Bible says. You may still picture a long-haired Jesus and His twelve disciples all stationed on the same side of a long table eating something called “the last supper.” Sadly, this is a poor fabrication of what really occurred. Even those who never darken the doors of a church building for anything other than a wedding or funeral probably believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected Sunday morning.</p> <p>Every year, so-called Christians and atheists celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans and similar festivals across Central and South America. It is a time of partying and “letting go.” How many do not realize this is connected to the Easter celebration? Mardi Gras simply means “Fat Tuesday” and is the last day to “let it all hang out” (sometimes literally!) before the next day that begins 40 days of “fasting.” This is followed by Good Friday and Easter Sunday. There are also a number of other special days thrown in, such as Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday, none of which are fully biblically based.</p> <p>These customs and traditions are so entrenched in people’s minds and culture that it seems heretical for anyone to question them. Yet, we are told in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Thess%205.21">1 Thessalonians 5:21</a> to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (<em>KJV</em>).</p> <p><img alt="3 days and 3 nights timeline" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="79c10a4f-4cc9-417c-afb9-85956d2672a1" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/eus_1.0_1a_0.jpg" width="1000" height="786" loading="lazy" /></p> <p>Virtually all people who think they understand anything about the Bible believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, put in the tomb in the late afternoon of that day and then resurrected early Sunday morning.</p> <p>But where did this idea come from? People may assume they read it in the Bible, because that is what they were taught in Sunday School. It is what they see every year—billions of professing Christians take note of “Good Friday” and think of Christ’s crucifixion, then two days later (or is it a day-and-a-half?) they celebrate Easter Sunday. “Sunrise services” are widely advertised, and people just follow along, because “everybody’s doing it.” Why, after all, would anyone do differently?</p> <p>Well, if the Bible says differently, we surely should be doing differently. After all, no matter how many human customs we may come up with (Rabbits laying eggs? Really?), the Bible is in fact the only truly reliable source we can turn to for a proper answer to this question.</p> <h3><strong>The Only Sign Jesus Gave</strong></h3> <p>We can begin with a simple question: how long did Jesus Himself say that He would be in the tomb? “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.38%E2%80%9340">Matthew 12:38–40</a>).</p> <p>Consider. Jesus said that no sign would be given to that generation except for the sign of Jonah. What was that sign? It was that Jesus would be in the grave the exact same length of time as Jonah was in a great fish’s belly. How long was that time? According to both Jesus and Jonah, <strong>three days and three nights!</strong></p> <p>Try as you might, you cannot count three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Even if you count parts of days, you still come up short. Try it for yourself. Scripture tells us Jesus was put in the tomb right at sunset, but some count a few minutes before sunset as day one. Friday night would be one night; the daylight portion of Saturday would be the second day and Saturday night would make the second night. Now <strong>if</strong> Jesus rose Sunday morning after sunrise we might count that as day three, but where is the third night? It just is not there! And that is stretching the case by counting a few minutes of daylight at the beginning and end as two of the three days.</p> <p>Many nominal Christians have never even read <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.38%E2%80%9340">Matthew 12:38–40</a>, and of those who have read it, many have never really studied what it means. As a result, professing Christians often simply assume that the period from Good Friday through Easter Sunday counts as three days. Yet that is hardly what Jesus said and meant! If we accept the Good Friday-to-Easter Sunday tradition, we are left with three possibilities: 1) We have not properly understood the sign Jesus gave, 2) Jesus was wrong and He is not our Savior, or 3) The Good Friday-to-Easter Sunday tradition is wrong.</p> <p>So, has the world properly understood the sign Jesus gave? If so, what are the implications? Was He wrong about how long He would be in the grave? Did He literally mean three days <strong>and</strong> three nights, because as we have seen, you cannot count three days and three nights from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning. If He meant what He said, we have a significant problem. Recognizing this problem, <em>The Abingdon Bible Commentary</em> bluntly tells us, Jesus was mistaken: “The statement made is inaccurate, for Jesus was in the grave only from Friday evening to Sunday dawn” (commentary on <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a>).</p> <p>Most popular commentaries are not as cynical and choose instead to explain that the statement is not to be taken literally. Is this because the true unprejudiced Scriptures demonstrate this? Or is it possible that tradition is trumping truth?</p> <p>Traditionalists allege that the Greek expression used in this verse simply means a “day/night,” or a single 24-hour day. Further, the first and third days only need to be a portion of a “day/night.” However, Jesus’ sign is not dependent on <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a> alone. Jesus’ words were recorded in the Greek language, and it is true that the Greek expression used in this verse <strong>may</strong> mean parts of three days. Even so, that reasoning is controversial at best among scholars of Greek (as we have just read from <em>The Abingdon Bible Commentary,</em> which is so careful about the Greek that it shockingly assumes Jesus was wrong!).</p> <p>What is the truth? We must remember what Jesus said: “For <strong>as</strong> Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, <strong>so will</strong> the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a>). Should we not then investigate what the Bible tells us about how long Jonah was in the belly of the fish? What does the original account tell us? “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jonah%201.17">Jonah 1:17</a>).</p> <p>The book of Jonah was written in the Hebrew language and we must look to that language and its common usage to understand this expression. <em>The Companion Bible</em> explores the meaning of three days and three nights in Hebrew usage. After giving a technical explanation that three days in Hebrew usage can mean all or parts of three days, it then explains that in Hebrew usage, when it speaks of days <strong>and</strong> nights, it means both three days and three nights. It then sums up the discussion: “Hence, when it says that ‘Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights’ (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jonah%201.17">Jonah 1:17</a>) it means exactly what it says, and that this can be the only meaning of the expression in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a>” (Appendix 144).</p> <p>This is the first reason we know that Jesus’ claim means a full three days and three nights—the meaning of <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a>, when taken in the context of the account of Jonah, can only mean three days and three nights.</p> <h3><strong>In, After and The</strong></h3> <p>The second reason we know the Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition is in error can be discerned by comparing other statements Jesus made about how long He would be in the grave. Jesus spoke figuratively of His body on a number of occasions as “this temple,” and even declared: “Destroy this temple, and <strong>in three days</strong> I will raise it up” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%202.19">John 2:19</a>).</p> <p>“In three days” means that it has to be <strong>within</strong> three days, but on other occasions we read that He would be resurrected to life <strong>after</strong> three days. “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and <strong>after three days</strong> rise again” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%208.31">Mark 8:31</a>).</p> <p>Following His resurrection, Jesus explained to His disciples what happened and why. “Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead <strong>the third day</strong>, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2024.46%E2%80%9347">Luke 24:46–47</a>).</p> <p>So here we have three different expressions that clarify how long He would be in the tomb: “in three days” and “after three days” and “the third day.” When we put these three statements together, along with <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a> and <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jonah%201.17">Jonah 1:17</a>, there can be only one time that fits—exactly 72 hours; not a minute before or a minute after. The time is precise!</p> <h2><em>PASCHA</em> OR EASTER?</h2> <p>The name Easter is nowhere to be found in the Bible, with one exception. The men who translated the <em>King James Version</em> of the Bible inserted Easter for Passover in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Acts%2012.4">Acts 12:4</a>. No modern translation supplies the word Easter, as they all properly translate the Greek <strong><em>Pascha</em></strong> as <strong><em>Passover</em></strong>. This is so well understood that some of the more modern commentaries, such as <em>The New Bible Commentary Revised</em>, do not even address the subject, though older ones (which relied on the <em>King James Version)</em> do. For example, <em>Adam Clarke’s Commentary</em> has this to say about <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Acts%2012.4">Acts 12:4</a> and the proper translation:</p> <p>“Perhaps there never was a more unhappy, not to say absurd, translation than that in our text [<em>KJV</em>].… The term <strong><em>Easter</em></strong>, inserted here by our translators, they borrowed from the ancient Anglo-Saxon service-books.… The Saxon [various Greek spellings] are different modes of spelling the name of the goddess Easter, whose festival was celebrated by our pagan forefathers on the month of April; hence that month, in the Saxon calendar.… Every view we can take of this subject shows the gross impropriety of retaining a name every way exceptionable, and palpably absurd” (<em>Adam Clarke’s Commentary</em>, <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Acts%2012.4">Acts 12:4</a>).</p> <p>The <em>Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown Commentary</em>, is more abbreviated, simply saying: “intending after Easter<strong>—</strong>rather, after Passover; i.e., after the whole festival was over” (The word in our <em>King James Version</em> is an ecclesiastical term of later date, and ought not to have been employed here).”</p> <h2>CHAPTER 5<br /> THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PASSOVER?</h2> <p>There is a third convincing proof that Jesus would be in the tomb exactly 72 hours. That proof is found in the biblical chronology of events. Sadly, this is something few understand, because most who call themselves Christians today have substituted pagan holidays and traditions, choosing to reject the Festivals and Holy Days that God gave to His people—days that were kept by Jesus Christ Himself, as well as His Apostles and the original first-century Christian Church.</p> <p>Why, then, do most people assume Jesus was crucified on a Friday? The truth is that many have no idea other than that is what they were taught. Still, those who are more biblically literate understand from Scripture that He was crucified on a Preparation Day leading up to a Sabbath. For example, we have Luke’s statement regarding Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea: “This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2023.52%E2%80%9354">Luke 23:52–54</a>).</p> <p>As all students of the Bible should know, the weekly Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. So, on the surface it might appear that Jesus was crucified Friday morning and put in the grave very late Friday afternoon, but this is <strong>not</strong> what happened—as we shall see.</p> <p>Many errors are the result of a carelessly made false assumption and this is the case on this subject. There is no doubt that Jesus was crucified on the Preparation day for a Sabbath, but which Sabbath was this? Was it the weekly Sabbath which began Friday evening at sunset and ended Saturday evening at sunset? Or is it possible that it was a High Day, an annual Sabbath?</p> <p>What is commonly called the Lord’s Supper, or the Last Supper, was in fact the Passover. There can be no doubt about this, although some scholars reject clear scriptures and claim otherwise. Matthew, Mark and Luke all call Jesus’ final supper with His disciples the Passover. Here is Luke’s account: “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when <strong>the Passover</strong> must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare <strong>the Passover</strong> for us, that we may eat.’ So they said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to prepare?’ And He said to them, ‘Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, “The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room <strong>where I may eat the Passover</strong> with My disciples?…'”‘ So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and <strong>they prepared the Passover.</strong> When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to <strong>eat this Passover</strong> with you before I suffer'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2022.7%E2%80%9315">Luke 22:7–15</a>).</p> <p>For further evidence, see <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2026.17%E2%80%9320">Matthew 26:17–20</a>, where the Passover is mentioned three times in connection to His final meal. Also see <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2014.12%E2%80%9317">Mark 14:12–17</a>, where the Passover is mentioned four times. The three synoptic gospels combined (Matthew, Mark and Luke) mention the Passover at least twelve times in relation to what is commonly called the Last Supper! Can there be any doubt that the last supper was indeed the Passover?</p> <p>God counts each day from sunset to sunset (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Gen%201.3%E2%80%935">Genesis 1:3–5</a>). So, we can see how, on the day of His crucifixion, Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples in the evening, was taken into custody that night and was crucified during the daylight portion of the Passover day. The Passover is a very special day, but it is not a Sabbath day. However, as we shall see, the day that began at the sunset after His death was an annual Sabbath day: the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!</p> <p>Many professing Christians are woefully ignorant of what the Bible actually says and many have no idea of the historical events of scripture. Were it not for the movie, <em>The Ten Commandments,</em> even fewer would know about Israel’s journey out of Egypt, but it is important for us to be aware of those events if we are to understand the true crucifixion and resurrection account.</p> <p>The family and nation of Israel were slaves in Egypt and served under cruel bondage. In the course of time, God sent Moses to rescue them and take them to the land that had been promised to their ancestor Abraham. Nine miraculous plagues fell upon Egypt, but Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. Then came the tenth plague by which all the firstborn in Egypt died, except those protected by a special ceremony.</p> <p>The Israelites were commanded to set aside a yearling male lamb or goat on the tenth day of the month and follow these instructions. “Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Exod%2012.6%E2%80%9311">Exodus 12:6–11</a>).</p> <p>Again, since the Bible counts time from sunset to sunset, this was the beginning of the 14th day, which began that year on a Tuesday evening after sunset. The firstborn in every household had death pass over them if they were in a house marked by the blood of a sacrificed lamb or goat—this evening became known as the Passover.</p> <p>During the daylight hours of Nisan 14, the children of Israel “spoiled” the Egyptians and traveled to the city of Rameses, from where the Exodus began after sunset at the beginning of Nisan 15. It took the children of Israel seven days to go from Rameses to the other side of the Red Sea, and this time period was memorialized as the Days of Unleavened Bread, because the Israelites were on the move and did not have time to allow their bread to rise.</p> <p>The Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread were very closely associated, such that we sometimes see “Passover” used to indicate both festivals together. The difference between the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is clearly delineated in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Lev%2023.5%E2%80%937">Leviticus 23:5–7</a>. “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you <strong>must</strong> eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.” See also <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Num%2028.16%E2%80%9318">Numbers 28:16–18</a>. In both accounts, we learn that Nisan 15, the first day following the Passover, is a day to congregate and to rest from our customary work. It is an annual Sabbath—a High Day—a little-understood fact with profound implications, as we shall see in the next chapter.</p> <h2>GOD’S MASTER PLAN</h2> <p><strong>Meaning of the Festivals</strong></p> <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="inset_table" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td> <h3>Old Testament</h3> </td> <td> <h3>New Testament</h3> </td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Passover</strong><br /> Blood of a sacrificed lamb was placed around the doors of Israelite houses God "passed over" in slaying the Egyptian firstborn (Leviticus 23:5)</td> <td><strong>Passover</strong><br /> Pictures Jesus Christ shedding His blood for the sins of mankind</td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Days of Unleavened Bread</strong><br /> A seven-day festival during which leavening is put out of dwellings and is not eaten (Leviticus 23:6–14)</td> <td><strong>Days of Unleavened Bread</strong><br /> Putting out leaven pictures a Christian's duty to "put out sin" from a life yielded to Jesus Christ</td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Pentecost</strong><br /> A day celebrating the gathering in of the first and smaller of the two annual harvests; observed 50 days from a fixed point in the previous Feast (Leviticus 23:15–22)</td> <td><strong>Pentecost</strong><br /> Pictures the Christian receiving God's Holy Spirit</td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Feast of Trumpets</strong><br /> Called <em>Rosh Hashana </em>by the Jews; a day of rejoicing marked by the blowing of trumpets (Leviticus 23:23–25)</td> <td><strong>Feast of Trumpets</strong><br /> Pictures a time of war and plagues leading to the "first resurrection" and Christ's return as King of kings</td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Day of Atonement</strong><br /> A day of fasting and repentance, known to the Jews as <em>Yom Kippur </em>(Leviticus 23:26–32)</td> <td><strong>Day of Atonement</strong><br /> Pictures the binding of Satan at the beginning of the Millennium and the world becoming at one with God</td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Feast of Tabernacles</strong><br /> A seven-day celebration of the great fall harvest, observed by living in temporary dwellings for the duration of the Feast (Leviticus 23:33–43)</td> <td><strong>Feast of Tabernacles</strong><br /> Pictures the Millennium, when the earth will be ruled by Jesus Christ and His saints</td> </tr><tr><td><strong>Last Great Day</strong><br /> Adjacent to the Feast of Tabernacles, this eighth day is considered a separate Feast (Leviticus 23:36, 39)</td> <td><strong>Last Great Day</strong><br /> Pictures the "White Throne Judgment" when all those not previously called will be able to hear the True Gospel and accept salvation</td> </tr></tbody></table> <h2>CHAPTER 6<br /> “FOR THAT SABBATH WAS A HIGH DAY”</h2> <p>Without knowing that the Sabbath right after Christ’s crucifixion was an “annual Sabbath,” it is difficult to understand the New Testament account, but with this understanding the whole story opens up to us. The day following the Passover was a high day, an annual Sabbath where work was not to be done. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the day (shortly after sunset), then was put in the grave late in the afternoon at the end of the Passover day. When the sun set that evening, the first day of Unleavened Bread, an annual Sabbath day, had begun; this is exactly what the Apostle John reveals in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2019.31">John 19:31</a>: “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath <strong>(for that Sabbath was a high day)</strong>, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” Of course, Scripture shows that Christ’s legs were not in fact broken (v. 33), in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Ps%2034.20">Psalm 34:20</a>).</p> <p>John tells us that it was not the preparation for a <strong>weekly</strong> Sabbath, but for a High Day Sabbath! Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples on Nisan 14. Then, as John confirms, the next day was (as every Bible student <strong>should</strong> know) an annual Sabbath! The day on which Passover is kept is also the Preparation Day for the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.</p> <p>So, why is this not widely understood by today’s professing Christians? Why do priests and ministers not teach this truth plainly? <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2019.31">John 19:31</a> is not unknown to biblical scholars, so how do they deal with it? Different commentaries have varying explanations, but the <em>Jamieson, Fausset and Brown</em> <em>Commentary on the Whole Bible</em> is typical in explaining away the <strong>true</strong> significance of this verse, describing only “the first day of unleavened bread, and, as concurring with an ordinary Sabbath, the most solemn season of the ecclesiastical year.” The <em>New Bible Commentary Revised</em> says: “It was doubly important to the Jews to observe their ritual requirements on a day which was both Sabbath and festival.” But is this accurate? Scholars recognize that Jesus died on the Preparation Day for an annual Sabbath, but miss the importance of this statement. By hanging on to their tradition, they reject the clear teaching of Scripture!</p> <h3><strong>Two Sabbaths</strong></h3> <p>What is generally missed is that the Bible records <strong>two Sabbaths</strong> involving the time Jesus was in the tomb! Scripture tells us the women rested on the Sabbath and then bought spices. “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2016.1">Mark 16:1</a>). Notice that this took place <strong>after</strong> a Sabbath!</p> <p>But Luke 23 tells us they prepared the spices and <strong>then</strong> rested on the Sabbath. “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2023.54%E2%80%9356">Luke 23:54–56</a>).</p> <p>It goes without saying that you cannot prepare the spices before you buy them! Read those two scriptures again. Mark tells us that they did not buy the spices until after the Sabbath, but Luke tells us they prepared them and rested on the Sabbath. These two passages give infallible proof that the women rested on the High Day (the annual Sabbath), then bought and prepared the spices the next day, then rested on the weekly Sabbath. This is the only way to harmonize these verses! Either there were two Sabbaths, with an ordinary day in between, or the Bible contradicts itself!</p> <p>If this is too hard for you to visualize or follow along with after so many years of having learned the wrong sequence of events, just look at the chart in the center of this booklet. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples Tuesday evening after sunset. Following the Passover meal, He then left the upper room and took His disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where Judas led the authorities to arrest Jesus, and where Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. Jesus was illegally tried and abused that night and during the early morning hours of Wednesday. Around 9:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, He was taken out and crucified. He then died about 3:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. What happened next?</p> <p>“Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath [the annual High Day Sabbath: <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2019.31">John 19:31</a>], Joseph of Arimathea… went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2015.42%E2%80%9343">Mark 15:42–43</a>). Permission was granted only after Pilate summoned the centurion, who affirmed that Jesus was indeed dead (vv. 44–45).</p> <p>The gospel of John informs us that Joseph, along with help from Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to Jesus by night (see <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%203.1%E2%80%9321">John 3:1–21</a>), collected the body and carried it to a nearby tomb. It is evident from the details that they worked very quickly, as there was only a short span between Jesus’ death and the beginning of the annual Sabbath which began at sunset Wednesday. “And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2019.39%E2%80%9342">John 19:39–42</a>).</p> <p>Luke clarifies how close to the Sabbath it was when Joseph and Nicodemus finished their work preparing and burying Christ. “Then he [Joseph] took it [the body of Jesus] down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, <strong>and the Sabbath drew near</strong>. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2023.53%E2%80%9355">Luke 23:53–55</a>).</p> <p>Now, count three days and three nights with this background in mind. Wednesday at sunset began the annual high-day Sabbath so Wednesday night was the first night. Daylight Thursday was still the High Day Sabbath and was the first day. The High Day came to an end when the sun set Thursday evening. Sunset Thursday until sunset Friday was another preparation day and was an ordinary work day between two Sabbaths. This was when the women bought and prepared the spices, satisfying both <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2016.1">Mark 16:1</a> and <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2023.56">Luke 23:56</a>.</p> <p>Thursday night is our second night and daytime Friday is our second day. When the sun set on Friday afternoon, the weekly Sabbath began. Friday night is our third night and daytime Saturday is our third day. Jesus was raised from the grave late Saturday afternoon (right before sunset), three days and three nights after He was put in the grave. Clearly, Christ’s words in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.40">Matthew 12:40</a> were fulfilled: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Note also that the Apostle Paul was inspired to remind us that Jesus rose exactly as He said He would (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Cor%2015.4">1 Corinthians 15:4</a>).</p> <h2>THE SIGN OF JONAH</h2> <p>Jesus told His enemies, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2012.39%E2%80%9340">Matthew 12:39–40</a>).</p> <p>Three days and three nights—this is the sign Jesus gave to establish His Messiahship. Our Savior staked His very identity on what some might brush off as a seemingly trivial detail. Yet the Pharisees did not consider it so trivial. Notice how they responded to Christ’s death: “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise”‘” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Matt%2027.62%E2%80%9363">Matthew 27:62–63</a>).</p> <p>The chief priests and Pharisees feared that Christ’s disciples might try to fake His resurrection, following the exact time-table He gave, thus continuing His influence even after His death. In response, Pilate authorized additional security to make sure no one would tamper with the grave (vv. 65–66).</p> <p>Significantly, when describing Jonah’s ordeal in the belly of the fish, the book of Jonah uses the <strong>exact same words</strong> for day and night that are used in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Gen%201.5">Genesis 1:5</a>. “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days [<em>yowm</em>] and three nights [<em>layil</em>]” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Jonah%201.17">Jonah 1:17</a>).</p> <p>Our Creator is a God of perfect timing. He gave exact instructions for keeping the Passover on time (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Exod%2012.12">Exodus 12:12</a>, <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Exodus%2012.22">22</a>). He gave human beings exact instructions for keeping a specific day of rest and worship (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Exod%2020.8">Exodus 20:8</a>). He instructs us to observe specific annual Holy Days throughout the year (Leviticus 23). When it comes to prophecy, He has perfect timing, knowing the “end from the beginning” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Isa%2046.10">Isaiah 46:10</a>).</p> <p>Indeed, the prophet Daniel foretold the timing of Christ’s first coming, hundreds of years in advance (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Dan%209.24%E2%80%9326">Daniel 9:24–26</a>). So we can understand that the death and resurrection of the Savior of the world would occur with perfect timing, as confirmed by the sign of Jonah.</p> <h2>CHAPTER 7<br /> WHAT HAPPENED ON SUNDAY?</h2> <p>The scriptures nowhere use the names we now use to label the days of the week. We never read in the Bible the name “Sunday.” Instead, as we look at how the days around Christ’s crucifixion are described, we find reference to the Preparation Day, the Sabbath, the first day of the week and a High Day. In this regard, virtually all scholars understand that the Preparation Day is the day before either a weekly or annual Sabbath. The weekly Sabbath runs from what we know as Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. The first day of the week is what we call Sunday in the English language. And a High Day is understood by scholars to indicate an annual Sabbath. Sadly, to maintain their tradition (contrary to the Scriptures), scholars and religious leaders have generally tried to conflate the annual Sabbath with the weekly Sabbath.</p> <p>Interestingly, as an aside for those who claim we cannot know when the biblical seventh-day Sabbath is, the Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition identifies both the weekly Sabbath (Saturday) and the first day of the week (Sunday)! And, as we have seen, so does the true chronology of events. Those who use the specious argument that time has been lost and we cannot know the day are without excuse! (If you have not read our booklets <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets/which-day-is-the-christian-sabbath">Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?</a></em> and <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets/the-holy-days-gods-master-plan">The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</a></em>, please call, write, or go online to <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/">TomorrowsWorld.org</a></em> to read or order your free copy)!</p> <p>Where does the idea come from that Jesus was resurrected Sunday morning? Mostly from tradition, but Scripture should take precedent over tradition. A careful reading reveals that when the women came to the tomb it was around dawn on the first day of the week. This is when most people erroneously think the resurrection took place. But notice what it says (and, even more importantly, what it does <strong>not</strong> say) in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Luke%2024.1%E2%80%936">Luke 24:1–6</a>: “Now on the first day of the week [Sunday], very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!'” Take note that it does not say that He rose that morning; it says only that when they arrived He was gone—already risen!</p> <p>But some would ask, “Doesn’t the Bible actually say that Jesus rose Sunday morning?” The answer is, yes, but no! Notice this in Mark 16: “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons” (v. 9). On the surface, this certainly looks as though Jesus rose Sunday morning, so what do we do with all the other evidence we have seen that contradicts this? Which is correct? John tells us: “the Scripture cannot be broken” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%2010.35">John 10:35</a>). Therefore we must take a closer look at this verse.</p> <p>Most people take for granted the chapters, verses and sentence structures found in the Bible, but it was not always this way. The first New Testament Greek manuscripts had no punctuation as we understand it today. All the letters were written in <em>uncials</em>, what we would call capital letters. Later manuscripts were written in minuscules, what we might call cursive small letters. Among the uncials, all words were run together with no space between them. <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2016.9">Mark 16:9</a> would look this way, except that instead of English letters, they were Greek letters:</p> <p><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/sites/default/files/booklets/eus_1.0_2_uncial.jpg"><img alt="Greek Letters" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="b047a7b6-82c8-49a9-9fa2-db3b8067dcf5" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/eus_1.0_2_uncial.jpg" width="1200" height="98" loading="lazy" /></a></p> <p>We can be thankful that translators and publishers have, over time, made Bible reading easier by adding capitalization and punctuation. More often than not they do a very fine job of this, but we must realize that their own biases creep into our translations and that is the case with this verse.</p> <p><a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2016.9">Mark 16:9</a> can be punctuated in at least two different ways. The <em>New King James Version</em> and many other modern translations have punctuated it according to their traditional beliefs; hence, that Jesus rose early on the first day of the week. However, as we have seen, if this were the case, the very sign Jesus gave that He was the Messiah and Son of God would be contradicted. We would also have a major contradiction about when the women bought and prepared the spices and the whole flow of events as given in the Bible would be wrong.</p> <p>We firmly believe that the Bible was inspired (God-breathed) and without error in its original writings, but no modern translation is without errors. Many of these deviations do not introduce truly major misunderstandings, but the <em>NKJV</em>rendering of <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Mark%2016.9">Mark 16:9</a> does. If we change the punctuation to be in harmony with the rest of scripture, it would read this way: “Now, when He rose, early on the first day of the week He appeared first to Mary Magdalene.” Here we see that the emphasis is not on when He rose, but on when He first appeared to Mary Magdalene. The fact is that the <strong>only</strong>way to know how it should be punctuated is to read it in both its immediate context and the context of Scripture as a whole. Since we know the proper order of events as shown earlier, we know that the emphasis is <strong>not</strong> on when Jesus rose, but on when He appeared to Mary. Punctuating it this way is totally legitimate, and is the only way to harmonize this verse with the rest of Scripture.</p> <h3><strong>Does It Matter?</strong></h3> <p>To deny the sign Jesus gave is to deny Jesus as our Savior. Millions of very sincere people have done just that, not realizing they have been deceived by traditions handed down from generation to generation and perpetuated in mainstream Christian churches. Instead of doing what Paul commanded in <a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/1%20Thess%205.21">1 Thessalonians 5:21</a>, “Test all things; hold fast what is good,” they have gone along with quaint sentimental customs involving rabbits, eggs, lilies and pagan deities and days.</p> <p>Some would protest that it is the thought that counts and as long as we are doing it for Jesus it is okay. But is this what Jesus told His followers? No! Notice: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/John%204.23">John 4:23</a>). Worshiping Him sincerely is important, but we must also worship Him in <strong>truth</strong>!</p> <p>We are specifically told <strong>not</strong> to ask, “‘How did these nations serve their gods? [And say] I also will do likewise.’ You shall <strong>not</strong> worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it'” (<a href="https://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Deut%2012.30%E2%80%9332">Deuteronomy 12:30–32</a>).</p> <p>If you would like to learn more about the Holy Days God instructed mankind to keep and how they portray the incredibly exciting plan God is working out here below, please call, write, or go to <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/">TomorrowsWorld.org</a></em> to order your own free copy of our booklet, <em><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/booklets/the-holy-days-gods-master-plan">The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</a></em> or to read it online. And if you are tired of being led about by unbiblical man-made and pagan traditions, and would like to meet with others who are keeping the biblically inspired Sabbath and Holy Days, please contact the Regional Office nearest you and request to speak to one of our representatives. We have congregations in many cities and countries around the world where people faithfully observe the days God instituted.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 19:15:12 +0000 4uwzvo 22 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/satans-counterfeit-christianity <span>Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 21:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/Satan%E2%80%99s%20Counterfeit%20Christianity">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/Satan%E2%80%99s%20Counterfeit%20Christianity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/scc-2.0.1-cover.jpg?itok=E0y6mxvK" alt="Candles in a chruch" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#False Christianity</div> <div class="field__item">#origins of traditions</div> <div class="field__item">#paganism</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">The astounding message in this booklet will affect you in the years just ahead, and it will also affect your eternal future! It is vitally important. This information has been suppressed for many centuries, but it is information that you need to know!</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>This booklet contains genuinely shocking information for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. It has profound implications for the future of our civilization. Yet the facts contained herein have been documented again and again by respected historians and even many theologians. They are not based on some “pie in the sky” theory or concept.</p> <p>The now-swiftly-developing result of false religion will dramatically affect <em>your very life</em> within the next decade—<em>far more</em> than you probably imagine! For this explosive revelation is <em>not</em> just for “religious people”—it is for <em>everyone</em>. <em>All</em> our lives will soon be affected.</p> <p>We all need to ask ourselves: “<em>How</em> did I come to believe what I now believe about religion, morality and the <em>entire purpose</em> of human existence? If my friends and I have just blindly gone along with generally accepted ideas, isn’t it likely that most other people have also done the same? Is it possible that we have blindly accepted <em>false religious ideas </em>which have, in fact, greatly affected the way our entire societies have developed—the kind of legal systems, educational systems and religious systems that we have devised and that we take for granted?”</p> <p>Have <em>you</em> ever asked yourself these basic questions?</p> <p>If there is a <em>real</em> God and if the Bible is His inspired revelation to humanity, then we <em>should carefully consider</em> what the Bible clearly says about these questions! For the Bible specifically says: “<strong>Prove</strong> all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, <em>KJV</em>).</p> <p>Again and again, the Bible clearly shows that most human beings are <em>deceived</em>. Describing the <strong>end</strong>-times, the Apostle John described the Devil in this manner: ”So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, <em>who deceives the</em> <strong>whole world</strong>; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). The more than <strong>two billion</strong> “Christians” in the major denominations are part of the “whole world” that John described—and many are <strong>deceived</strong>! These people and their preachers do not <em>intend</em> to be evil. For a <em>deceived </em>person <strong>does not </strong>know that he is deceived! It is important that we understand that distinction.</p> <p>So I am <em>not</em> being “mean” by writing the above, for the God of heaven commands me to <em>preach the </em><strong>Truth</strong>. And I cannot help you if I simply share sweet platitudes and pretend that “all is well” when all is <strong>not well</strong>! For we are now nearing the very <strong>end</strong> of 6,000 years of human history under the influence of Satan the Devil—whom Jesus Christ called the “<strong>ruler</strong> of this world” (John 14:30).</p> <h2>“SINCERITY” IS NOT ENOUGH</h2> <p>I am well aware that thousands of you who will read this booklet are <em>very sincere </em>in your desire to be Christian. You truly think that the form of religion you grew up practicing is what Jesus Christ and the apostles taught. Many ministers and priests also sincerely believe the same things. <em>You mean well.</em></p> <p>What you need to realize is that <strong>billions</strong> of other human beings have lived and died without ever understanding or practicing <strong>any</strong> type of professing Christianity. The majority of the world’s population has <strong>never</strong>—<em>at any time</em>—professed Christianity! And <em>most</em> of these people have also been very “sincere”—<em>just as you may be</em>. So it is <strong>not</strong> a matter of “sincerity” or of following the majority. It is a matter of finding the genuine <em>Truth</em> regarding the <strong>purpose</strong> of human existence, and finding the true <strong>way</strong> to fulfill that magnificent purpose.</p> <p>Is “sincere” religiosity enough? <em>No!</em> All religions are <em>not</em> “equal!” <em>If </em>you are willing to <strong>prove</strong> to yourself that the One great Creator is the true God and that the Bible is <em>His inspired revelation to mankind</em>, then you must understand that there is only <strong>one way</strong> to eternal life. And that “way” is through the <em>true</em> Jesus Christ of the Bible! As the Apostle Peter stated, “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10–12).</p> <p>Yet very few professing Christians even begin to grasp the <strong>enormity</strong> of the deception orchestrated by Satan the Devil. They find it hard to grasp the fact that Satan has not only deceived those in the pagan, non-Christian world, but that he has devised a <em>counterfeit Christianity</em> and has foisted it off on <strong>millions</strong> who sincerely think they are following the Christ of the Bible! As the Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. <em>For if he who comes preaches</em> <strong>another Jesus</strong> whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:3–4).</p> <p>Indeed, another “Jesus”—a <em>totally different</em> Jesus Christ—has been palmed off on an unsuspecting humanity! Remember, a <em>counterfeit </em>$100 bill is designed to look <em>very much like</em> an authentic bill. Seeing the apparent similarities, people are often deceived into accepting the counterfeit. So it is with Satan, the Master Deceiver! For <em>your own sake</em>, please be willing to consider whether <em>you</em> have been misled into <strong>assuming</strong> that you are truly following the Christ of the Bible and <em>what He actually taught</em>. For your Bible clearly indicates that only <em>genuine </em>Christians will be protected during the coming holocaust—the Great Tribulation described by Jesus Christ!</p> <p><em>Very soon</em> now—within the next several years—the great God of all creation will begin to <em>intervene directly,</em> more powerfully than ever. The hurricanes that come smashing through Florida, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of the United States are only a small prelude to what <strong>God</strong> will begin to do in these last days. Jesus Christ specifically predicted: “And there will be <strong>great earthquakes</strong> in various places, and <strong>famines</strong> and <strong>pestilences</strong>; and there will be <strong>fearful sights</strong> and great signs from heaven…. And there will be <strong>signs</strong> in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the <strong>waves roaring</strong>; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be <strong>shaken</strong> (Luke 21:11, 25–26).</p> <p>The great God <strong>will</strong> get mankind’s attention! He <em>will</em> help those who are willing to understand to “come out” of this modern Babylon (Revelation 18:4) and to extricate themselves from Satan’s society.</p> <p>The Apostle Paul was also inspired to tell us that Satan the Devil is the literal “god” of this world’s society! Paul wrote, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4).</p> <h2>THE BASIC PREMISE</h2> <p>The basic premise of this booklet is that our Creator has allowed a very <em>real</em> Devil to absolutely deceive most of humanity for the past 6,000 years. Satan has, in fact, established a <strong>counterfeit religion</strong> in order to mislead the entire world, but the great Creator will <em>soon</em> intervene to send Jesus Christ back to the earth as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). When He returns, Christ will cast Satan into a bottomless pit, “so that he should <strong>deceive</strong> the nations <em>no more</em> till the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:3).</p> <p>One of the primary ways Satan deceives most people is to make them think that he <em>does not even exist</em>! So people make jokes about how “the Devil did it,” feeling that there <em>is not</em> a real Devil after all. But, as we have seen, Jesus Christ called Satan “the <strong>ruler</strong> of this world.”</p> <p><em>How</em> did Satan come into being? <em>What</em> are his methods of deception? And, most importantly, <em>how</em> has Satan <strong>deceived </strong>the whole world? When Jesus Christ quoted from “Daniel the Prophet” (Mark 13:14), He considered those writings as Holy Scripture. In the book of Daniel, we find <em>spirit beings</em>—both angels and demons—described on a number of occasions.</p> <p>After Daniel had been fasting to seek greater understanding, God sent an angel to encourage him (Daniel 10:10–12). The angel gave Daniel a remarkable explanation about why it had taken him so long to answer Daniel’s prayers. “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (vv. 13–14).</p> <p>Later, this same angel recounted further details of the unseen spiritual world. “Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince'” (vv. 20–21).</p> <p>Clearly, this passage is speaking of <strong>spirit wars</strong>! It is describing the struggle that goes on behind world affairs in the spirit world. For Satan the Devil is described as “the god of this age” who “has <strong>blinded</strong>” the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4).</p> <p>Satan is also called “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The angel speaking to Daniel was describing a <em>battle among spirit beings</em> wherein even the great archangel Michael (see Daniel 12:1) had to be called in for assistance!</p> <p>This world, this “age”—this nearly 6,000-year period from Adam until now—has been, and still is, a society dominated by Satan the Devil and millions of fallen angels or “demons” who followed him in rebellion against the Creator God.</p> <p>“Satan” is <em>not</em> just a generalized term for evil. Satan is <em>not</em> a blind force. Satan the Devil is a <em>powerful spiritual personality</em>—originally created by God as a cherub—who rebelled against God. His original name “Lucifer” means “light bringer.” But since his rebellion he has been called “Satan”—which means “adversary.”</p> <p>Notice Isaiah 14:12–15: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! <em>How </em>you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.”</p> <p>Here we find the mighty Lucifer plotting to overthrow <strong>God</strong>! His great capacity and vanity made him decide to compete with his Creator!</p> <p>In Ezekiel 28:1–16, God describes first the human prince of Tyre. He was obviously a man of great capacity and the <em>full leader</em>—on the human sphere—over this “New York” of the ancient world. Then Ezekiel begins to describe the real “power behind the throne”—the “king” of this pagan city-state. Notice: “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord <strong>God</strong>: You <em>were </em>the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone <em>was </em>your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created'” (vv. 12–13). Here we find a personality who existed millennia before Tyre—in the “Garden of Eden!” Yet he was a <em>created </em>being (v. 15), <strong>not</strong> a member of the God Family.</p> <h2>SATAN HAS A KINGDOM</h2> <p>After his political bargaining and maneuvering to gain followers, Satan was cast out of the “mountain” or <em>Kingdom</em> of God. As Revelation 12:3–4indicates, Satan was able to draw after himself <em>one-third</em> of the angelic host in this rebellion against God! These fallen angels are now called “demons.” Satan now has literally <em>millions</em> of fallen angels who are his followers, and in that sense has a “kingdom” over which he rules in the spirit world.</p> <p>Matthew recounts the story of Jesus’ temptation by Satan, a very conniving personality. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).</p> <p>This gospel account forewarns us that Satan is not against quoting Scripture. In fact, Satan even had the audacity to quote scripture to the Author of scripture, Jesus Christ! “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In <em>their </em>hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'” (Matthew 4:5–6).</p> <p>Then Satan offered Jesus “<strong>All</strong> the kingdoms of the world and their <strong>glory</strong>. And he said to Him, ‘All these things will I give you if you will fall down and worship me'” (vv. 8–9).</p> <p>Of course, Jesus knew the spiritual principles involved and correctly applied the appropriate scripture in response, saying: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the <strong>Lord</strong> your God, and Him only you shall serve” (v. 10). Jesus chose to obey God and to receive His kingdom in <em>God’s </em>time and in <em>God’s </em>way.</p> <p>Later, when Jesus was accused of using Beelzebub to cast out demons, He said: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. <strong>How then will his [Satan’s] kingdom stand</strong>?” (Matthew 12:25–26).</p> <p>Satan <strong>does</strong> have a kingdom! He is the invisible “god” of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the prime deceiver of men and nations. “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).</p> <p>Satan is the spirit being who will powerfully influence, and perhaps even finally <em>possess,</em> a soon-to-come, charismatic, political dictator who will seduce a mighty world superpower arising in a revived, militant, united Europe—the <strong>end</strong>-time “Babylon”! Satan will be the “god” who animates and empowers the false religious system that will undergird this world-dominating, economic and military power! <strong><em>Do not</em></strong> just believe me or take my word for it. Look at the Bible for yourself!</p> <p>God’s word predicts that this coming oppressive system will be literally <em>energized</em> by <strong>demons</strong>: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 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. And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues'” (Revelation 18:1–4).</p> <p>Satan will motivate these coming world rulers to fight against Christ at His return as King of kings and Lord of lords. But Christ will depose Satan and his wicked rule will come to a sure end.</p> <h2>SATAN THE “COUNTERFEITER”</h2> <p>Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day for their hypocrisy. Those ecclesiastical figures made a pretense of being godly, yet <em>refused </em>to follow the spiritual intent of God’s law. Jesus attributed to them Satan’s own character, using the analogy that since their father was Satan, they could only behave “like father, like son.” The Devil lies and murders, so who should be surprised if the Devil’s children do the same, preaching a perverted gospel of deception and falsehood?</p> <p>It is important to grasp that Satan is the literal “father of <strong>lies</strong>.” He continually and cleverly lies and deceives mankind, and so do his servants. In fact, lying becomes so common to people under Satan’s influence that they often find it easier to tell a lie than to tell the truth!</p> <p>As part of his conspiracy to thwart God and overthrow His great plan for mankind, Satan has his own ministers! The Apostle Paul warned Christians about the great deception caused by Satan and his ministers: “For such <em>are </em>false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore <em>it is </em>no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13–15).</p> <p>Satan’s ministers often look like and sound like what deceived people think Christ’s ministers should sound like! But they preach “another Jesus” and proclaim a “different gospel.” It is up to each individual—including you!—to genuinely <strong>study </strong>the Bible and to <strong>prove</strong> what Jesus and the early apostles taught and practiced.</p> <h2>THE TWO BABYLONS</h2> <p>The Bible specifically describes not one, but <em>two</em> “Babylons.” Not long after the great flood, one “Babylon” was founded—the ancient city-state established by a man named “Nimrod” (Genesis 10:8–10). The<em> second </em>Babylon is a modern church-state system described in Revelation 17 and 18. Its leaders will literally <em>fight Christ</em> at His Second Coming (Revelation 17:12–14)!</p> <p><em>Think about that!</em> Hundreds of millions of people in this end-time “Babylon” are <strong>so deceived</strong> that they will have the audacity to literally do battle with the returning Son of God and the armies of heaven!</p> <p>To understand how this system called “Babylon” began, let us go back to the earliest days of man’s history. In Genesis 10—soon after the flood—mankind began to multiply again. Wild animals also multiplied, and people needed protection. At this point, a son of “Cush” was born. The Bible tells us: “Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.’ And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar” (Genesis 10:8–10).</p> <p>So this “mighty hunter”—said to have been a powerfully built man—began to gather people together into cities for protection, and also to put them <em>under his personal control</em>. The beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was “Babel”—<em>Babylon</em>. From there, he went on to establish other cities and to gather men together in a relationship that made them feel “independent” from God—<em>not needing</em> God’s protection. Finally, mankind—having “one language and one speech” (Genesis 11:1)—began to build a massive skyscraper or “tower” that has been called “The Tower of Babel” (vv. 4–9).</p> <p>God knew that, under this Babylonish system, mankind was quickly drawing away from Him and would soon invent weapons and means to <em>destroy himself</em>. God said: “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and <em>this is what they</em> <strong>begin</strong> <em>to do; now</em> <strong>nothing</strong> <em>that they propose to do will be withheld from them</em>” (v. 6). The creative power of the human mind was such that God knew mankind might invent terrible weapons capable of destroying the earth,  and that His plan to give mankind 6,000 years to <em>write the lessons of human suffering</em> could be cut short before He intended! So God came down to “confuse their language” and to scatter them over the face of the earth.</p> <p>But history and consistent, pervasive stories and ancient legends from nearly all nations indicate that the philosophies and religions started by Nimrod and his wicked wife, Semiramis, have continued down to this day. For, after Nimrod’s death, his wife Semiramis claimed that he was now the “sun-god.” As author Alexander Hislop wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The Chaldean Mysteries can be traced up to the days of Semiramis, who lived only a few centuries after the flood, and who is known to have impressed upon them the image of her own depraved and polluted mind. That beautiful but abandoned queen of Babylon was not only herself a paragon of unbridled lust and licentiousness, but in the Mysteries which she had a chief hand in forming, she was worshipped as Rhea, the great ‘Mother’ of the gods, with such atrocious rites as identified her with Venus, the Mother of all impurity, and raised the very city where she had reigned to a bad eminence among the nations, as the grand seat at once of idolatry and consecrated prostitution. Thus was this Chaldean queen a fit and remarkable prototype of the ‘<em>Woman</em>‘ in the Apocalypse, with the golden cup in her hand, and the name on her forehead, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.’ The Apocalyptic emblem of the Harlot woman with the cup in her hand was even embodied in the symbols of idolatry derived from ancient Babylon, as they were exhibited in Greece; for thus was the Greek Venus originally represented” (<em>The Two Babylons</em>, pp. 5–6).</p> </blockquote> <h2>COUNTERFEIT RELIGION SPREADS</h2> <p>This Babylonian system of idolatrous worship spread all over the world as the inhabitants of the city itself were scattered (Genesis 11:9). As they went from Babylon, these men took their worship of mother and child, and the various “mystery” symbols, with them. Herodotus, the world traveler and historian of antiquity, witnessed the mystery religion and its rites in many countries, and wrote of how Babylon was the <em>prime evil source </em>from which <strong>all</strong> systems of idolatry flowed. In his noted work, <em>Nineveh and Its Remains</em>, Layard wrote that we have the united testimony of sacred and profane history that idolatry originated in the area of Babylonia. Alexander Hislop quotes these historians and others confirming this point in his remarkable treatise mentioned above.</p> <p>Later, the Roman Empire assimilated into its system the gods and religions of the countries over which it ruled. Since Babylon was the <em>source</em> of this paganism, we can easily see how Rome’s early religion was a form of Babylonish worship that had developed under different forms and different names in the countries to which it had gone. In his well-documented book, <em>Pagan and Christian Creeds</em>, Edward Carpenter wrote: “The similarity of ancient pagan legends and beliefs with Christian traditions was so great that they excited the attention and undisguised wrath of the early Christian… not knowing how to explain it, they fell back to the theory the devil, centuries before, caused the pagans to adopt certain beliefs and practices” (p. 25).</p> <p>Carpenter also quoted Tertullian, an early “church father” living between 160–220ad, as saying: “The <em>devil</em>, by the <em>mysteries</em> of his idols, <em>imitates even the main part of the divine mysteries</em>“ (<em>ibid</em>.).</p> <p>Also, Carpenter, noted: “Cortez, too, complained that the devil had possibly taught the Mexicans the same thing that God taught Christendom” (<em>ibid</em>.). The famous Spanish explorer found that the originally <em>pagan</em> inhabitants of Mexico were already practicing the same <em>pagan</em> rites, and had many of the same <em>pagan</em> beliefs, that the Roman Catholic church had assimilated!</p> <p>Since the practices of today’s churches are <strong>not</strong> the same as the early true church recorded in the New Testament, it is vital to know whether there has been a <em>purposeful</em> mixing of false pagan practices with the true teachings of Christ, the apostles and the Bible. Many historians, such as Edward Gibbon, have noted the <em>change</em> brought about by great numbers of pagans flocking into the early Christian Church and mixing their pagan customs and beliefs with those of the Church (see <em>Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire</em>, Vol. 1, chapter 15).</p> <p>Notice how today’s churches have sprung from the same root as <strong>paganism</strong>! Satan has created an entire system of <em>“counterfeit Christianity</em>.” He has cleverly guided vain religious leaders to introduce completely <em>pagan</em> ideas, concepts and practices into “Christianity.” Since the word “Christianity” is stamped on the outside of the package, most people <em>assume</em> that the religion of Jesus Christ is being offered. Little do they realize that <em>totally false concepts</em> of God, of Jesus Christ and His message, of the purpose of eternal life and of the <strong>way</strong> to eternal life—have been wrapped up in a package called “Christianity.” But theirs is a “<strong>counterfeit</strong>” <em>Christianity </em>that has cut most of mankind off from the true God, and has caused enormous confusion, suffering and death!</p> <p>Note these excerpts from <em>Pagan and Christian Creeds</em>: “The Christian Church has kept itself severely apart from <em>discussion</em> of heathenism, taking the stand that it, the church, represents a unique and divine revelation and has persuaded mankind of this to such a degree that few people nowadays realize that it has sprung from just the same root as paganism and that it shares by far the most part of its doctrines and rites with the latter” (Carpenter, pp. 11–12).</p> <p>“The common idea is that the pagan gods fled away at Christ’s coming, yet it is well known to every student that this is contrary to fact. At the time of the recorded appearance of Jesus, and for some centuries before, there were temples without and dedicated to Apollo or Dionysius among the Greeks, or Hercules among the Romans, Mithra among the Persian, Baal and Astarte among the Babylonians, and temples dedicated to many other gods. An outstanding phenomenon is apparent: notwithstanding great geographical distances, racial differences between cults and in detail of services, the general outline of creeds and ceremonials were—if not identical—markedly similar” (<em>ibid</em>., pp. 19–21).</p> <p>“Not only were these pagan creeds and ceremonies which had existed centuries before Christ’s coming markedly similar to each other, but also they were similar to true Christianity—a fact that cannot be considered accidental. As an example of this, of eleven main deities from seven countries, it was believed of all or nearly all that ‘these deities’ births were on or near Christmas, of a <em>virgin</em> mother, in a cave underground, that they <em>led a life of toil for man</em>. They were called <em>light bringers</em>, <em>healers</em>, <em>mediators</em>, and <em>saviors</em>. They were thought to have been <em>vanquished</em> by the powers of darkness, descended into hell or the underworld, to have <em>arisen </em>and become <em>pioneers</em> of mankind to a heavenly world… Krishna, the god of India is an outstanding parallel with the life of Christ” (<em>ibid</em>., pp. 21–23).</p> <p>Carpenter goes on to write: “The idea of God sacrificing His Son for the salvation of the world is so remote and remarkable—yet it ranges through all ancient religion and back to the earliest times and is embodied in their rituals” (<em>ibid</em>., p. 133). These unusual customs were so similar to the truth that they strongly suggest there must have been some <em>guiding force</em> behind them. A <em>counterfeit Christianity</em> was being created by the invisible “god” of this age whom Jesus Christ called the “father” of <strong>lies</strong> (John 8:44).</p> <h2>THE DA VINCI CODE</h2> <p>It is evident that with such marked similarities to actual Christianity, as are shown by the eleven deities from seven countries, one should approach this subject <em>with an open mind</em> to see if a fusion of paganism and true Christianity is present today.</p> <p>Dan Brown’s <em>The Da Vinci Code</em> spent many months at or near the top of the best-seller lists. Millions have been enthralled by this fascinating novel. What <em>is</em> so unusual about it?</p> <p>Though cast in the form of a novel—and containing fiction and error—it can spur a reader to realize that a <em>lot more</em> is under the surface of our religious ideas and practices than usually meets the eye. There are three principal characters in <em>The Da Vinci Code</em>: Sophie Neveu—a gifted French cryptologist; Robert Langdon—a Harvard symbologist; and Leigh Teabing—a former British Royal Historian.</p> <p>Let us “listen in” on their conversation about the origins of what the world today calls “Christianity”:</p> <blockquote> <p>“‘Historians still marvel at the brilliance with which Constantine converted the sun-worshipping pagans to Christianity. By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a kind of hybrid religion that was acceptable to both parties.’</p> <p>‘Transmogrification,’ Langdon said. ‘The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual—the miter, the altar, the doxology, and the communion, the act of ‘God-eating’—were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.’</p> <p>Teabing groaned. ‘Don’t get a symbologist started on Christian icons. Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras—called <em>the Son of God</em> and <em>the Light of the World</em>—was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity’s weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans.’</p> <p>‘What do you mean?’</p> <p>‘Originally,’ Langdon said, ‘Christianity honored the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan’s veneration day of the sun.’ He paused, grinning. ‘To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they are there on account of the pagan sun god’s weekly tribute—<strong><em>Sun</em></strong>day'” (<em>The Da Vinci Code</em>, pp. 232–233).</p> </blockquote> <h2>THE HISTORICAL TRUTH</h2> <p>“But that is all fiction!” you might say. “Where did this crazy author get all these strange ideas? I am sure that <em>my</em> religion is based completely upon the Bible!”</p> <p>Please, my friends, <em>do not be too sure</em>!</p> <p>The Bible itself tells us: “<strong>Prove</strong> all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, <em>KJV</em>). The actual <em>truth</em> is—and I do challenge you to <strong>prove it</strong>—that <em>this part</em> of Dan Brown’s book is based on solid <strong>fact</strong>. For historian after historian acknowledges that the original Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles was dramatically <strong>changed</strong> within a few centuries after Jesus’ death! As noted historian Will Durant wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity… and a personal immortality of reward and punishment; from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child, and the mystic theosophy that made Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and obscured the Christian creed; there, too, Christian monasticism would find its exemplars and its source. From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother; from Syria the resurrection drama of Adonis; from Thrace, perhaps, the cult of Dionysus, the dying and saving god.… The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world.… [The Eucharist] was a conception long sanctified by time; the pagan mind needed no schooling to receive it; by embodying the ‘mystery of the Mass,’ Christianity became the last and greatest of the mystery religions” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Vol. 5, Durant, pp. 595, 599).</p> </blockquote> <p>Paul Johnson, a devout Catholic, is one of many highly respected historians who openly acknowledge that the biblical <em>seventh-day Sabbath</em> observed by Christ and the original Apostles was changed. “Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between this sun-cult and their own. They referred to Christ ‘driving his chariot across the sky,’ they held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice. During the later pagan revival under the Emperor Julian, many Christians found it easy to apostatize because of this confusion; the Bishop of Troy told Julian he had always prayed secretly to the sun. Constantine never abandoned sun-worship and kept the sun on his coins. <strong>He</strong> <em>made Sunday into a day of rest</em>” (<em>A History of Christianity</em>, pp. 67–69).</p> <p>What happened after Constantine? The widely read mainstream religious author Jesse Lyman Hurlbut explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship. About 405ad images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshiped. The adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Venus and Diana; the Lord’s Supper became a sacrifice in place of a memorial; and the elder evolved from a preacher into a priest.… The church and the state became one when Christianity was adopted as the religion of the empire, and out of the unnatural union arose two evils, one in the eastern, the other in the western provinces. In the east the state dominated the church until it lost all energy and uplifting life. In the west [“Rome,” Ed.] as we shall see, the church gradually usurped power over the state, and the result was not <em>Christianity </em>but a more or less corrupt <em>hierarchy</em> controlling the nations of Europe, making the church mainly a political machine” (<em>The Story of the Christian Church</em>, pp. 79–80).</p> </blockquote> <h2>A MODERN “BABYLON” CREATED</h2> <p>So where does all this lead? We have just read Hurlbut’s statement that the professing Christian church of the Middle Ages was “mainly a political machine.” It was <em>saturated</em> with pagan concepts, doctrines and practices. Did the leaders of the Protestant Reformation really bring the professing Christian church “back on track” to the “faith which was <strong>once for all </strong>delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)—back to the true Christianity of Jesus and the original Apostles? Although sincere, the Protestant reformers carried over most of the anti-law, anti-obedience attitudes they had come to adopt in their rebellion against “Mother Rome.” Like Rome, they were <em>still involved</em> in a paganized system of false doctrines, <em>pagan</em> Holy Days, and false concepts of God, which God Himself describes in Revelation 17:4–5: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”</p> <p>With this form of “Christianity” as the state religion, masses of former pagans “converted.” Many did so out of convenience rather than conviction, and kept their old beliefs privately. Others came to the new syncretistic faith uneducated in its beliefs, and able to receive only the most basic instruction.</p> <p>“Babylon” is a symbol of confusion. The formation of the Roman Catholic Church and then the later appearance of dozens of “daughter” churches has certainly brought about a spiritual malaise of conflicting denominations, doctrines, creeds and practices—all supposedly “Christian.” Yet <strong>none</strong> of them corresponds remotely to the Christianity that the original Apostles and the early Church of God followed for decades after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. They <em>all</em> have retained dozens of pagan ideas, and practices, that would have been utterly foreign to the early Church! Satan has indeed done a masterful job of creating a <em>counterfeit Christianity</em>.</p> <p>Although Alexander Hislop appears to have remained a Protestant until his death, he carefully pointed out—<em>with much historical documentation</em>—that the modern Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the ancient Babylonish mystery system, and that its religious festivals and most of its practices were drawn directly from the Babylonian religion and its priesthood. Hislop <em>partially</em> makes the connection with the “daughter” churches that have come out of Rome. But he was evidently blinded to the full meaning of what has happened to modern “Christianity.”</p> <p>Near the beginning of <em>The Two Babylons</em>, Hislop lays out the basic thesis that he goes on to document in full:</p> <blockquote> <p>“It has been known all along that Popery was baptized Paganism; but God is now making it manifest, that the Paganism which Rome has baptized is, in all its essential elements, <em>the very Paganism</em> which prevailed in the ancient literal Babylon, when Jehovah opened before Cyrus the two-leaved gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.… Her judgment is now evidently hastening on; and just as it approaches, the Providence of God, conspiring with the Word of God, by light pouring in from all quarters, makes it more and more evident that Rome is in very deed the Babylon of the Apocalypse; that the essential character of her system, the grand objects of her worship, her festivals, her doctrine and discipline, her rites and ceremonies, her priesthood and their orders, have all been derived from ancient Babylon; and, finally, that the Pope himself is truly and properly the lineal representative of Belshazzar. In the warfare that has been waged against the domineering pretensions of Rome, it has too often been counted enough merely to meet and set aside her presumptuous boast, that she is the mother and mistress of all churches—the one Catholic Church, out of whose pale there is no salvation. If ever there was excuse for such a mode of dealing with her, that excuse will hold no longer. If the position I have laid down can be maintained, she must be stripped of the name of a Christian Church altogether; for if it was a Church of Christ that was convened on that night, when the pontiff-king of Babylon, in the midst of his thousand lords, ‘praised the gods of gold, and of silver, and of wood, and of stone’ (Daniel 5:4), then the Church of Rome is entitled to the name of a Christian Church; but not otherwise. This to some, no doubt, will appear a very startling position; but it is one which it is the object of this work to establish; and let the reader judge for himself, whether I do not bring ample evidence to substantiate my position” (Hislop<em>,</em> pp. 2–3).</p> </blockquote> <p>Later Hislop describes how the Catholic “confessional” was borrowed from paganism, giving priests greater authority over the lay members. He explains that the pagan festivals of Christmas and Easter were introduced into “Christianity” centuries <strong>after</strong> Christ revealed the full Truth to His apostles. “Indeed,” Hislop writes, “it is admitted by the most learned and candid writers of all parties that the day of our Lord’s birth cannot be determined, and that <em>within the Christian Church </em>no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of <em>till the third</em> century, and that not till the <em>fourth</em> century was far advanced did it gain much observance. How, then, did the Romish Church fix on December the 25th as Christmas-day? Why, thus: Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the <em>heathen</em>, at that precise time of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed” (<em>ibid.</em>, pp. 92–93).</p> <p><em>Indeed</em>.</p> <p>Meeting paganism half-way “was <em>very</em> early developed,” Hislop writes! Yet God clearly told our ancestors: “Learn <strong>not</strong> the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people <em>are</em> vain: for <em>one </em>cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not” (Jeremiah 10:2–4, <em>KJV</em>). Yet modern day churchgoers persist in doing <em>just that</em>—and then have the audacity to stamp the name “Christian” on the outside of this package of <strong>pagan</strong> beliefs and practices! Those genuinely interested in the basic history of this relationship between ancient Babylon and modern professing Christianity should, if possible, find and read such books as <em>The Two Babylons</em>, <em>Pagan and Christian Creeds, The Golden Bough </em>by Sir James Frazer and many similar works of history and theology. If <em>your </em>mind is open, it is relatively easy to <strong>prove</strong> to yourself that modern “churchianity” is simply a continuation of the old Babylonian religion, with the name “Christian” stamped on the outside!</p> <h2>HAVE PROTESTANTS “COME OUT” OF BABYLON?</h2> <p>Many conservative Protestant and Orthodox leaders and theologians will wholeheartedly agree that the Roman Catholic Church is, indeed, a continuation of “Babylon.” They are <em>very familiar</em> with the fact that most of the early Protestant leaders clearly identified Rome with the “Babylon” and with the “Great Whore” described in Revelation 17–18.</p> <p>But what is the real basis of the Protestant churches <em>themselves </em>throughout the world today? <em>Why</em> did the early leaders revolt against the authority of the Roman Catholic Church? To what extent are they responsible for today’s “divided Christendom?”</p> <p>Did the Protestant reformers succeed in attaining their stated goals? More importantly, the <em>real</em> question is whether the Protestant reformers and their successors have succeeded in returning to the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”? (Jude 3).</p> <p>Each of us needs to examine the well-known saying of Chillingworth, the Protestant theologian, “The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Protestants” (<em>Schaff-Herzog</em> <em>Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge</em>, article “Chillingworth, W”). In their constant affirmation of the scriptures as “the inspired rule of faith and practice” (<em>ibid</em>., article “Bible”), the Protestant leaders have committed themselves to follow the religion of Jesus Christ and His apostles in all respects.</p> <p>Virtually all scholars acknowledge that the primary and original founder of Protestantism was Dr. Martin Luther. Yet Luther <em>constantly rejected </em>the authority of scripture when it pleased his own whims—although he often stated otherwise!</p> <p>It is remarkable that in rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation, Luther declares the <em>absolute authority</em> of Scripture in matters of faith and practice. He states: “For that which is asserted without the authority of Scripture or of proven revelation may be held as an opinion, but there is no obligation to believe it…. Transubstantiation… must be considered as an invention of human reason, since it is based neither on Scripture nor sound reasoning” (<em>Documents of the Christian Church, </em>ed. Bettenson, p. 280).</p> <p>If Luther had only applied this type of scriptural test to <em>all</em> of his doctrines, the world today might be a different type of place! For when he was charged with inserting the word “sola” (<em>alone</em>) into Romans 3:28, he haughtily replied, as cited by historian Johannes Alzog: “Should your Pope give himself any useless annoyance about the word <em>sola</em>, you may promptly reply: It is the will of Dr. Martin Luther that it should be so” (<em>Manual of Universal Church History</em>, p. 199). And, it is worth noting, no other reason for such unscriptural changes as these were ever given. When it came to his personal doctrinal convictions, Martin Luther was truly a <em>self-willed</em> man.</p> <p>In judging any man or movement, Jesus said, “By their <strong>fruits</strong> you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). Historian Henry C. Vedder recounts the instruction Martin Luther gave to the German princes when thousands of the peasants, who had sincerely followed his revolt against Rome, themselves rebelled against those arrogant princes:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Rebellion is not a vile murder, but like a great fire that kindles and devastates a country; hence uproar carries with it a land full of murder, bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and destroys everything, like the greatest calamity. Therefore <em>whosoever can </em>should <em>smite, strangle, </em>and <em>stab</em>, secretly or publicly, and should remember that there is nothing more poisonous, pernicious, and devilish than a rebellious man. Just as when one must slay a mad dog; fight him not and he will fight you, and a whole country with you.</p> <p>“‘Let the civil power press on confidently and strike as long as it can move a muscle. For here is the advantage: the peasants have bad consciences and unlawful goods, and <em>whenever a peasant is killed </em>therefore <em>he has lost body </em>and <em>soul</em>, and <em>goes forever to the devil</em>. Civil authority, however, has a clean conscience and lawful goods, and can say to God with all security of heart: ‘Behold, my God, thou hast appointed me prince or lord, of that I cannot doubt, and has entrusted me with the sword against evildoers” (Romans 13:4)…. Therefore I will punish and smite as long as I can move a muscle; thou wilt judge and approve.”… <em>Such wonderful times are these that a prince can more easily win heaven by shedding blood than others with prayers</em>‘” (<em>A Short History of the Baptists</em>, pp. 173–174).</p> </blockquote> <p>Well may we ask ourselves, “If these are the words of a reformer sent from God, then <em>what</em> is the measure of <em>true religion</em>?” Are these the words of a man directed by the Holy Spirit of God? Was the risen Christ using <em>this</em> man to purify His “little flock?”</p> <p>It is true that Luther and Calvin had personal religious motivations. Luther’s mind was tortured with a perpetual sense of <em>guilt</em>. In his extreme emphasis on salvation by faith <em>alone</em>, he was trying desperately to devise some system where the <em>law </em>of God and the <em>justice</em> of God would have no place.</p> <p>But Luther’s <em>personal</em> spiritual upheaval would have had little effect on Germany or the world had he not appealed to the <em>political</em> and <em>financial </em>instincts of German princes. And “it is true to say that the motives which led to the Lutheran revolt were to a large extent <em>secular</em> rather than spiritual” (Alfred Plummer, <em>The Continental Reformation</em>, p. 9).</p> <p><em>Especially</em> in regard to his insistence on faith <em>alone</em> and his <em>rejection</em> of countless scriptures teaching the need for <em>obedience</em>, Luther was a <em>stubborn</em>, <em>self-willed man</em>.</p> <p>The Bible teaches: “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, <em>KJV</em>). This is clearly referring to the <em>Ten Commandments</em>—the <em>spiritual</em> law written by the very finger of God. The inspired James explains: “For whoever shall keep the <em>whole law</em>, and yet stumble in one point, he is <em>guilty</em> of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a <em>transgressor </em>of the law. So <em>speak </em>and <em>so do</em> as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:10–12).</p> <p>What <em>law</em> forbids adultery and killing? Obviously, James is referring to the<em>Ten Commandments</em>. And he concludes by telling us to <em>speak</em> and <em>act </em>according to this law. And the words of Jesus Christ agree. For when a young man came to ask Him the way to eternal life, He answered, “If you want to enter into life, <em>keep the commandments</em>,” and He proceeded to name some of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:16–19).</p> <p>Completely ignoring its <em>direct</em> parallel with the teachings of Jesus Christ, Luther haughtily declared of the book of James: “Compared with the Epistles of St. Paul, this is in truth an <em>epistle of straw</em>: it contains absolutely <em>nothing</em> to remind one of the style of the Gospel” (Alzog, Vol. III, p. 208). Luther stubbornly <em>rejected</em> the <em>entire book</em> of James because it <em>did not agree </em>with his doctrines!</p> <p>In <em>rejecting</em> the first five books of the Bible, Luther declared: “We have no wish either to see or hear Moses. Let us <em>leave Moses to the Jews</em>, to whom he was given to serve as a Mirror of Saxony; he has nothing in common with Pagans and Christians, and <em>we should take no notice of him</em>” (Alzog, Vol. III, p. 207).</p> <p>Since Luther regarded Moses as having to do with <em>God’s law</em>—<em>which Luther hated</em>—he wanted “nothing to do” with Moses’ inspired writings!</p> <p>But since Luther’s favorite writer was the Apostle Paul, we wonder how Luther reacted to Paul’s inspired words to Timothy: “From childhood you have known the <em>Holy Scriptures</em>, which are <em>able to make you wise for salvation</em> through faith which is in Christ Jesus. <em>All Scripture</em> is given by <em>inspiration of God</em>” (2 Timothy 3:15–16). Remember that <em>only</em> the <em>Old Testament</em> Scriptures were written when Timothy was a child.</p> <p>Since Luther stubbornly wished to “take no notice” of Moses, we might remind him of the Apostle John’s description of the victorious saints of God singing “the song of <em>Moses</em> the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3). But Luther’s own writings promptly answer: “I look upon the revelations of John to be neither apostolic nor prophetic” (Jules Michelet, <em>The Life of Luther</em>, p. 273). He might then add, “Everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an <em>aversion</em>to it, and <em>to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it</em>” (Alzog, Vol. III, p. 208).</p> <p>And it is a <em>fact</em> that Martin Luther willfully <em>rejected</em> the authority of any book in the Bible to which he felt an “aversion.”</p> <p>Now, perhaps, we can understand the real <em>meaning</em> of the religious confusion of our time. Today’s Protestants have inherited from Luther—acknowledged as the <em>greatest leader</em> of the Reformation—a spirit of <em>self-will</em> and a tendency to <em>reject</em> the all-inclusive <em>authority</em> of God’s word!</p> <p>As historian George P. Fisher wrote, regarding Luther: “In the retention of <em>rites</em> and <em>customs</em> he did not require an explicit authorization from Scripture. Enough that they were not forbidden, and are expedient and useful. His aversion to breaking loose from the essentials of <em>Latin Christianity </em>in matters of doctrine is equally manifest” (<em>History of Christian Doctrine</em>, p. 283).</p> <p>In Luther’s own words: “No one can deny that we hold, believe, sing, and confess all things in correspondence with the old church, that <em>we make nothing new therein nor add anything thereto</em>, and in this way <em>we belong to the old Church and are one with it</em>” (Thomas M. Lindsay, <em>A History of the Reformation</em>, Vol. I, p. 468).</p> <p>By their <em>own</em> statements, then, it is <em>proved</em> that the Protestants regarded themselves only as a <em>continuation of the </em>historic <em>Catholic</em> Church, but under a different and “purified” form. Luther himself vehemently affirms their essential <em>oneness</em> with the Catholic Church!</p> <p>Regarding Calvin, Fisher wrote: “He did not deny that the Christian societies acknowledging the Pope are ‘churches of Christ’…. He indignantly denies that he has withdrawn from the Church” (<em>History of Christian Doctrine</em>, p. 304). Philip Schaff noted Calvin’s description of the historical Roman church: “As our present design is to treat of the <em>visible Church</em>, we may learn even from her the title of <em>mother</em>, how useful and even necessary it is for us to know her” (<em>History of the Christian Church</em>, Vol. VIII, p. 450).</p> <p>Protestant leaders’ insistence on their <em>basic unity</em> with the Catholic Church, and their identification of her as their “mother” church, is <em>most significant</em>!</p> <h2>GOD IDENTIFIES THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH</h2> <p>Martin Luther’s earliest New Testament translations include many illustrations picturing the “Whore of Babylon” as the <em>Roman Catholic Church</em>. Describing this <em>widely understood interpretation</em>, Roland Bainton tells us: “Fallen Babylon is plainly <em>Rome</em>” (<em>Here I Stand</em>, p. 258).</p> <p>Countless Protestant books, pamphlets, and tracts make that same identification today. They brand the Roman Catholic Church as the “great Whore” of Revelation 17.</p> <p>But, it must be admitted, most Protestant denominational writers have stopped making this identification. After publishing those editions of the Bible, and pamphlets and tracts, they suddenly came to the embarrassing realization that <em>they were telling on themselves</em>!</p> <p>For the corrupt Roman “mother” church has given birth to <em>harlot daughters</em>! If the clear, consistent principles of scriptural identification are to be honestly applied, the Protestant churches are “harlot daughters” of a paganized, apostate Rome!</p> <p>They came <em>out of her</em> in protest. But, as we have clearly seen, they retained <em>most</em> of her pagan doctrines and concepts. They are still following Rome’s example of mixing in the <em>politics</em> and <em>wars</em> of this world. And we have seen abundant <em>Protestant </em>testimony that they recognize she is their “mother” church!</p> <p>Protestant historian Rufus Jones wrote that Luther “started out to inaugurate a Church composed of those who had faith and spiritual vision, and who revealed an ability and power to proclaim the Word of God. But, in reality, he left in full operation a large relic of the <em>ancient creeds</em>, an extensive ‘rump’ of <em>superstitions, traditions </em>and <em>magic</em>, and a heavy inheritance of external authority” (<em>The Church’s Debt to Heretics</em>, p. 228).</p> <p>In other words, the Protestants still retain <em>many pagan doctrines</em> and <em>traditions</em> inherited from Rome. We have seen that some of these false traditions involve the <em>pagan holidays</em> that the early Catholics adopted and gave Christian-sounding names. We ought to <em>look into these things</em>!</p> <p>The Protestant churches stand <em>clearly identified </em>by God Almighty as the “<em>harlot daughters</em>” of apostate Rome!</p> <p>Speaking of this entire Babylonish system, God commands: “<em>Come out of her</em>, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).</p> <p>The question is whether or not we will <em>obey our Maker</em>!</p> <p>What Lies Just Ahead</p> <p>All of this information is <strong>not</strong> just a philosophical argument against genuinely pagan practices—important as that may be. The understanding of this matter can also <em>help protect</em> sincere and zealous Christians—<strong>if</strong> <em>they will take action</em>—from the coming “holocaust” described in the Bible as the Great Tribulation! Brilliant author Adrian Hilton describes the background of what is <em>right now</em> underway:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Jesus had said his kingdom was not of this worldly order, and talked much of the world and the Church being at odds until his return. It was not until Constantine began a process of syncretism that Christians began to understand the nature of the beast which was evolving. The Saturday Jewish Sabbath was replaced by Constantine’s edict forbidding work on ‘the venerable day of the sun’ [Sunday], and the celebration of the Passover was declared illegal—on pain of death. It was replaced by ‘Easter’, celebrated on a Sunday and inherited from a Babylonian cult to the goddess Ishtar. The Roman pseudo-Christianity caused many faithful believers to flee into the mountains of Europe and Asia Minor to escape persecution and death, and there they continued, away from the world’s view, as the true church of Christ. The majority of Christians, however, were awed by the universal influence of the new unity. There was one Empire under the one Emperor, leading one Church under one God. Many believers began to wonder if they had not misunderstood the concept of the kingdom of God—it might have been the Church itself, or even the christianised Empire. Thus the fateful union of Church and State was ratified—a union that was to shape the evolution of Europe for centuries to come” (<em>The Principality and Power of Europe</em>, pp. 23–24).</p> </blockquote> <p>Later, Hilton continues:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Just as crucial to the federalizing process is the erosion of the achievements of the Reformation. Even some prominent Evangelical Christian leaders have presented this momentous move of God as one of the greatest tragedies that ever happened to the Church, and state that Protestants ‘destroyed the unity of Christendom’. They fail to mention the true nature of the Papal system of religion, the depths of spiritual darkness in which it keeps its followers, and its diametric opposition to true biblical Christianity. Unity, it seems, is more important than truth. The concept of Christendom, however unbiblical its practice, appears to matter more than the national boundaries set between one principality and another, regardless of the liberties those boundaries defend.</p> <p>While visiting Austria in 1983, the Pope spoke out against the ‘national and artificial borders’ all over Europe. He added:</p> <p>‘Europeans should overcome the menacing international confrontations of states and alliances, and create a new united Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.’</p> <p>In 1988, he continued this theme when he addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg; an occasion at which many asked why a perceived spiritual leader was addressing the issues of <em>political</em> unity. The <em>Sunday Telegraph</em>, in 1991, summed up the Pope’s plans for the ‘evangelisation’ of Europe. It stated:</p> <p>‘He is calmly preparing to assume the mantle which he solemnly believes to be his Divine Right—that of new Holy Roman Emperor, reigning from the Urals to the Atlantic.'” (<em>ibid</em>., pp. 36–37).</p> </blockquote> <h2>“BABYLON” REVIVED!</h2> <p>As Britain’s <em>Sunday Telegraph</em> reported, Pope John Paul II expressed his wish to “reign” over a new Holy Roman Empire. A quarter-century later, when Pope Francis spoke before the Council of Europe on November 24, 2014, little had changed. The Pope stressed to delegates importance of Europe’s religious (Roman Catholic) roots. “These roots need to be sought, found and maintained by a daily exercise of memory, for they represent the genetic patrimony of Europe.” It is no coincidence that in a European Empire that rediscovers this “genetic patrimony” the Catholic pontiff would sit in a role of unique influence. But would such an Empire really be a “Holy” Roman Empire? Or would it actually be a revival of an ancient, pagan, <em>Babylonian</em> church-state system that God condemns? This is not just an idle question, because your Bible prophesies that such a return to Europe’s roots <em>will</em> come to pass!</p> <p>In a prophecy for <em>our time</em>, the prophet Isaiah describes a modern virgin “daughter” of the ancient Babylon, who would profane her own people (Isaiah 47:1–9). God clearly describes this modern Babylon as “the lady of kingdoms” (v. 5). Then God states: “And you said, ‘I shall be a lady forever,’ so that you did not take these things to heart, nor remember the latter end of them. ‘Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, “I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children”; but these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day: the loss of children, and widowhood. They shall come upon you in their fullness because of the multitude of your sorceries, for the great abundance of your enchantments'” (vv. 7–9).</p> <p>Notice how some of these <em>exact statements</em> are used against the <em>modern</em> Babylon that will <em>fight Christ at His Second Coming</em>! “In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (Revelation 18:7–8).</p> <p><em>This </em>is the soon-coming church-state system in Europe, which will eventually turn on the American and British-descended peoples and bring about the Great Tribulation! It will be a <em>revival</em> of ancient Babylon, with its priestly castes, pagan rituals and doctrines and <em>complete disregard</em> for God’s commands. It will be a clever <em>counterfeit</em> of true Christianity. To millions, though, it will <strong><em>seem</em></strong> like the real thing!</p> <h2>WHY?</h2> <p>Because the vast majority of professing Christians do <strong>not</strong> genuinely <em>study</em> the Bible. They do <strong>not</strong> really dig in and try to “prove” all things as God commands. Therefore, even many evangelical Christians—<em>and their ministers</em>—will eventually be caught up in the euphoria of this powerful Babylonish system! For it will be part of the “ecumenical movement.” It will seem like “the thing to do.”</p> <p>Please remember Jesus’ words: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are <strong>few</strong> who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).</p> <p>The Jesus Christ of your Bible also gave this powerful warning: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the <strong>will </strong>of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, <em>you who practice</em> <strong>lawlessness</strong>!'” (Matthew 7:21–23).</p> <p>The beautiful pageantry, the music, the pomp and ceremony and the intimidating <strong>power</strong> of this coming Babylonian system will be very impressive. But only those who genuinely <strong>do</strong> God’s will and <em>keep His commandments—all </em><strong>ten</strong><em> of them</em>—will be in Christ’s soon-coming Kingdom. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who <strong>keep </strong>the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).</p> <p>At the very end of His inspired word, our Creator tells us plainly: “Blessed are those who <strong>do His commandments</strong>, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:14–15). The religious sorcery and idolatry of the Babylonian system will be enticing to millions. The <em>vast majority</em> will follow that way. But the above passage warns about <em>anyone</em> who “<em>loves </em>and<em> practices</em> a <strong>lie</strong>.” The teachings of modern “Babylon” are filled with <strong>lies</strong>, misunderstandings and pagan practices. Satan has been extremely clever in creating a <em>counterfeit Christianity, </em>which looks so much like the original that untold millions have been deceived. Those who follow this pagan counterfeit religion will suffer the <em>full fury</em> of their Creator when the Trumpet Plagues and the Seven Last Plagues are poured out on a rebellious world (Revelation 8, 9, 16).</p> <p>Yet God’s word describes the <em>temporary</em> <strong>wealth </strong>and <strong>power</strong> of this system: “For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery <strong>all</strong> <em>the nations</em> were <strong>deceived</strong>. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Revelation 18:23–24). And how will it <strong>end</strong>? “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore'” (v. 21).</p> <h2>YOU NEED TO ACT!</h2> <p>God warns: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of <strong>demons</strong>, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” (Revelation 18:2). Then God commands: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘<strong>Come out</strong> of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues'” (v. 4).</p> <p>In this booklet, we have briefly demonstrated that virtually <em>all</em> religions have originated from “Babylon.” The Oriental and African religions have many of the same <em>pagan</em> and <em>false</em> concepts of God and salvation, developed from the original worship of Nimrod and his harlot wife, Semiramis. Professing “Christianity” is massively influenced and diluted by these pagan concepts.</p> <p><em>Wherever </em>you are, <em>whoever</em> you are, we urge you to genuinely <strong>study</strong> the Holy Bible, the inspired revelation which God gave to mankind. For <em>your sake</em>, please, <strong><em>do no</em></strong><strong>t</strong> just read the Bible for sentiment or to reinforce what you <em>already believe</em>. Learn to genuinely <strong>study</strong> the Bible and see what it clearly and repeatedly says about the real nature of the Creator God, of eternal life, and of the true <strong>way</strong> to eternal life. If you are genuinely interested and willing to <strong>prove</strong> these things, please contact us at the Regional Office nearest you (listed in the back of this booklet)and request one of our most helpful and <strong>fundamental</strong> booklets, entitled <em>Restoring Original Christianity</em>. Also, <em>if</em> you are willing to take the time to <strong>study</strong>, request enrollment in the <em>Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course</em>. Your enrollment is absolutely <strong>free</strong> and <strong>all</strong> our booklets and literature are <em>free</em>! We just request that you put forth the time and mental energy to <em>study</em> these materials, diligently <em>compare them</em> with the Bible itself and sincerely <strong>prove</strong> to yourself where the Truth is actually taught.</p> <p>We will continue to explain the prophetic events now unfolding to bring about the revival of Babylon—and of the coming Kingdom of God. <em>This message</em> will <strong>not </strong>be popular! We will be harassed, vilified and persecuted for bringing you the <strong>plain truth</strong> about what is <em>really</em> happening in world affairs. But we must not be <strong><em>afraid</em></strong> to proclaim the full Truth about <em>genuine</em> Christianity and about the apostasy directed against it by Satan the Devil. For the living God does not take kindly to fools and cowards!</p> <p>“He who <strong>overcomes</strong> shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the <em>cowardly</em>, <em>unbelieving</em>, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and <strong>all liars</strong> shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:7–8). Satan’s counterfeit Christianity must be <em>exposed</em>, <em>understood</em> and <em>repented of</em>!</p> <p>May God help <em>you</em> to <strong>act</strong> on this message while you have the opportunity. May God help <em>you</em> to <strong>prove</strong> to yourself what the Bible really says, and to find out about—<em>and fulfill</em>—the genuine <strong>purpose</strong> for your life.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 21:30:10 +0000 4uwzvo 32 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled! https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/revelation-mystery-unveiled <span>Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 21:20</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">John H. Ogwyn (1949-2005)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden">Image</div> <div class="field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/ru-2.0.4-cover.jpg?itok=HhZogjwR" alt="Horsemen" loading="lazy" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Beast of Revelation</div> <div class="field__item">#False Christianity</div> <div class="field__item">#Revelation</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Many consider Revelation the most difficult-to-understand book in the Bible. Some dismiss its complicated narrative and vivid descriptions as mere allegory. Others assume that it recounts past history. The truth, however, is far more remarkable: if you understand Revelation, you can know the future of our world!</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>Can You Know the Future?</h2> <p>Can you <em>really </em><strong><em>know </em></strong>what the future holds? Many people are beset with anxiety and uncertainty about the years ahead. Are you? Our world is filled with widely varying predictions of what lies ahead in this 21st century. Whose predictions are correct? How can you possibly be sure?</p> <p>Did you know that One claiming to be the Almighty Creator dares to proclaim the future <strong>in advance</strong>? God asserts that He declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and that His purpose shall stand. The Bible declares that human life is not a purposeless existence caused by blind chance or evolution. We are part of a planned creation, and there is a great <em><strong>purpose </strong></em>being worked out in our world. <em><strong>You </strong></em>can understand that purpose!</p> <p>Today, terrorist threats grip the Western world and preoccupy many people’s thinking. Many worry about “rogue states” that may possess nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction. Will we face the ravaging ecological disasters predicted by many environmentalists, or will dazzling futuristic technology finally solve mankind’s age-old problems?</p> <p>Politicians regularly describe what they think lies ahead. Think tanks and analysts seek to point the way to the future, though disagreeing widely in their conclusions. Add to that the best-selling religious novels that claim to tell you what the Bible foretells. How can you possibly <em><strong>know </strong></em>what the future holds?</p> <p>The book of Revelation is undoubtedly the most mysterious book in the Bible. Shrouded in symbols, it is a book that is absolutely closed to most people. Yet, over the years, readers have purported to find just about <em>anything </em>currently happening around them <em>somewhere</em> in its pages.</p> <p>Is it true, as some claim, that you can prove virtually anything by the Bible? The answer is emphatically <em><strong>“No!”</strong></em>—<em>if </em>you take it in context and let the Bible interpret itself.</p> <p>The ancient prophet Daniel was given an outline of what the future held, from his day (in the sixth century BC) until the time when Christ would finally establish the Kingdom of God on earth (cf. Daniel 2, 7). In addition, Daniel was given several specific prophecies that related to “the time of the end.” Daniel greatly desired to understand the meaning of those intriguing prophecies, <strong>yet he could not</strong>. They were sealed up until “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4, 9).</p> <p>God’s time for us to understand these prophecies <em><strong>has arrived</strong></em>! We are now in the <em>time of the end</em>—described as a time when “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” In the last century, and especially since World War II, we have seen a <strong>transportation revolution </strong>and a <strong>knowledge explosion</strong>. In just 66 years, mankind went from the Wright brothers’ first flight to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon!</p> <p>The Old Testament book of Daniel reveals prophecies of the end-time—recorded, but <em>sealed</em>. The New Testament book of Revelation depicts Jesus Christ <em>opening </em>the seals to <em>reveal </em>the future to His true servants (Revelation 1:1; 5:5). In other words, it is <em><strong>now </strong></em>possible to understand the future with clarity.</p> <p>Millions have wondered if they will perish in a terrible world war. Others have wondered whether Christ might come at <em>any </em>time, and they may find themselves “left behind.” Do you <em>know </em>the answers to these questions? You <em><strong>can </strong></em>know! The answers to these and other questions are recorded in the final book of your Bible—the book of Revelation. This mysterious book, understood by very few, can become <em><strong>clear </strong></em>to you. There are vital keys that will make it possible for <em>you </em>to understand what even many of the prophets of old desired to know, but were denied.</p> <p>Does that sound incredible? Well, it is <em><strong>true</strong></em>! If you really want to <em><strong>know </strong></em>what lies ahead in the 21st century, then read on.</p> <h2>Seven Keys to Understanding</h2> <p>Most scholars, surprisingly, do not truly understand the Bible. All you have to do is to read some articles in theological journals, or read some of the many books in print on religious and theological subjects, to see the utter confusion that abounds. Holding widely divergent views, religious authors contradict one another in a way and to an extent seen among writers on virtually no other subject. Do you know why?</p> <p>The most important single key to understanding the Bible is the <em>attitude </em>in which you approach it. The Bible is God’s book, and only those who approach it as God’s book have any real hope of understanding its message. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor [humble] and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). The Creator claims that His word is generally hidden from the “wise and prudent” but is revealed to “babes” (Matthew 11:25). God is not talking about babies in age or understanding, but rather those with a simple, humble, teachable attitude that one might call “childlike.”</p> <p>Along with this humble and teachable outlook must be a willingness to actually <em><strong>obey </strong></em>God. “A good understanding have all those who do His commandments,” the psalmist declares (Psalm 111:10). The natural or carnal mind is “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). It is rebellious against God’s law and wants its own way. Many religious people <em>talk </em>about “knowing the Lord” but, as Paul told Timothy, have a mere <em>form </em>of religion, while denying the Bible’s authority to <em>rule </em>and <em>regulate </em>their lives (2 Timothy 3:5).</p> <p>If you will approach the Bible in a humble and teachable way, and are truly willing to <em><strong>obey </strong></em>God and <em>keep His commandments</em>, the following keys will make the book of Revelation <em><strong>come alive </strong></em>before your very eyes. You can have this seemingly mysterious book’s message open up to you in a way you probably never thought possible.</p> <h2>Key 1—Christ Is the Revelator</h2> <p>In some Bibles, the book of Revelation is titled “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine.” It is important to remember that this title was added by men, and is not in the original text. In fact, the very first verse flatly contradicts this humanly devised title, explaining that this book is the direct revelation of Jesus Himself, which He received from the Father.</p> <p>When Jesus Christ walked the earth, He frequently talked about the future. However, He never did so in a speculative or wishful sense. He spoke authoritatively, because He had come directly from the Father and spoke the words that the Father gave Him, not mere human ideas (John 14:24).</p> <p>Jesus Christ came with a message: the good news about God’s coming kingdom and how we could become part of that kingdom (Mark 1:14–15). Yet when He was here on earth almost 2,000 years ago, He did not establish that kingdom. Only days before His crucifixion, as He traveled to Jerusalem one last time, He spoke a parable to His disciples, who mistakenly thought that the kingdom would immediately appear. Jesus told a story about a young nobleman who first had to go away into a far country to be invested with kingly power, before returning to possess his kingdom (Luke 19:11–12).</p> <p>How excited would <em>you </em>be if you had the opportunity to ask Jesus Christ <em>in person</em>about the events that would precede His return and the establishment of His kingdom? Some of the 12 apostles <em>did have</em> exactly that opportunity! Jesus’ answer is preserved in the parallel accounts of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, in what is often called the Olivet Prophecy. Seated privately with His disciples on the Mount of Olives, a hill just east of Jerusalem, Jesus described the signs of His future coming, and the end of this current age. In this Olivet Prophecy, Jesus used plain language to describe many events that would later figure in the apostle John’s symbolic visions, when he opened Revelation’s seven seals. In Revelation, as in the Gospels, it is vital to remember that <em>Christ </em>is the Revelator.</p> <h2>Key 2—Start With the Text</h2> <p>Many who study Bible prophecy will first look at the world around them, then look at certain Bible symbols or descriptions in order to find something that “fits.” In doing so, they have simply read their world’s current events back into Scripture. This is a backwards approach.</p> <p>If we want to understand God’s revelation to mankind, we must start with Scripture and understand the story flow that God lays out. We cannot understand John’s description of a mysterious “beast” in Revelation 13, unless we look at what else Scripture has to say on the matter. We need to look at the earlier inspired information on this subject, given in the book of Daniel. Daniel, after all, recorded the divinely inspired foretelling of the rise and fall of great powers between his day (the sixth century BC) and the final establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth.</p> <p>We have to let the Bible interpret itself, rather than trying to read our own preconceived notions or current world events back into the text. Only in this way can we see Bible prophecies in their proper context.</p> <h2>Key 3—The Purpose of Revelation</h2> <p>Modern scholars disagree about what they consider the purpose of the book of Revelation. However, careful Bible students will see that the book’s very first verse describes its purpose! Jesus Christ gave Revelation to John so that he might <strong>show the servants of God the things that must shortly come to pass</strong> (Revelation 1:1). It was intended as a <em>revealing </em>or <em>unveiling </em>of the future. It was given so that God’s true servants could understand where world events are headed, and could know what the future holds. It was a message of encouragement to God’s people, showing that—even in the midst of turmoil and persecution—they need not become anxious about the future. God the Father allowed Christ to unveil, through John, the final culmination of future world events.</p> <p>Therefore, it is wrong to think that Revelation is merely a vague allegory about good versus evil, or that it simply describes the historical circumstances and difficulties faced by first-century Christians. The entire book must be understood as laying out the future in advance.</p> <h2>Key 4—The Day of the Lord</h2> <p>Most commentators completely misunderstand Revelation 1:10. As a result, they do not understand the perspective from which the entire book was written. When John declared that he was in the Spirit in the Lord’s Day (Note that, elsewhere in the New Testament, the Greek word <em>en </em>is almost always translated “in,” though many wrongly render it here as “on”), he was not talking about the day of the week on which he received the prophecy. Rather, he was describing the future prophetic time that he saw in vision—a time when God will intervene powerfully in end-time world affairs. John’s perspective in writing Revelation was this vision of the future.</p> <p>The Bible nowhere defines the first day of the week as “the Lord’s Day.” That usage developed among the early Roman Catholic “church fathers,” decades after Revelation was written. However, more than 30 times in the Old Testament, the future time of God’s judgment is called the “Day of the Lord.” When you look at the contents of Revelation, it is clear that the time of Christ’s coming is the focal point of the visions John saw.</p> <p>The <em>time of God’s future intervention and judgment</em> is the theme that runs throughout Revelation. John wrote from that future perspective. Notice that in Revelation 1:12, when John saw the lampstands representing God’s Church through the ages, he looked <em>behind </em>him to do so. From the perspective of John’s vision, Church history was almost completely in the past.</p> <h2>Key 5—What John Recorded</h2> <p>Revelation 1:2 shows us that John wove together three strands of vital information—the “word of God… the testimony of Jesus Christ, and… all the things that he saw.”</p> <p>The Old Testament authors used, as a standard phrase, “the word of the LORD came, saying” or “the word of God came, saying” (cf. 1 Kings 12:22; 13:9). When Revelation was written, “the word of God” primarily referred to what we now call the Old Testament.</p> <p>More than 100 times throughout Revelation—more often than in any other New Testament book—John either quotes or paraphrases verses from the Old Testament. Most Old Testament prophets simply recorded God’s messages in the order that they received them. If you only had the Old Testament, you would be totally at a loss to fit many of the Old Testament prophecies into a clear time frame. But by weaving references throughout, John enables us to see <em>where </em>these different messages, previously recorded by the prophets, fit into God’s plan for the future.</p> <p>The “testimony of Jesus Christ” describes the good news that Jesus brought from heaven. His “testimony” is simply what He bore witness to. In the book of Revelation, Christ’s direct testimony is primarily found in the messages to the seven churches.</p> <p>Revelation 19:10 tells us that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This means that the <em><strong>gospel message </strong></em>gives life and breath to prophecy. If you do not understand the <em><strong>gospel message</strong></em> that Jesus taught, then you certainly cannot understand prophecy. As we read through Revelation, we find John alluding to Jesus’ words in the Gospels, and also recording what he heard Jesus say during his visions.</p> <p>In addition to weaving together strands from both the Old and New Testaments, John recorded a series of visions of the future. Some visions were filled with mysterious symbols, while others pictured events and weapons so far beyond his day that John struggled to find words to describe what he saw. For example, he could only compare futuristic weapons to first-century objects with which he and his readers were familiar.</p> <h2>Key 6—The Bible Interprets Its Own Symbols</h2> <p>To properly understand Scripture, we must let the Bible interpret itself. Most of the Bible is written as a straightforward narrative account, though some parts—such as Psalms and Proverbs—rely on poetic imagery. Revelation and some of the Old Testament prophets, particularly Daniel and Zechariah, describe symbolic visions. However—and this is a vital key—<strong>the Bible interprets its own symbols</strong>. When John saw the seven lampstands and seven stars recorded in Revelation 1, for instance, he was told that the seven lampstands represented seven churches and that the stars represented angels (v. 20).</p> <p>Daniel not only recorded symbolic visions of a great image (Daniel 2) and of creatures emerging from the sea (Daniel 7), but he also gave the interpretation of these symbols. He explained to King Nebuchadnezzar that the great image with a head of gold, chest of silver, thighs of brass and legs of iron represented four successive world-ruling empires that would stretch from the days of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon all the way down to the future time when the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that would endure forever (2:31–44). The nightmarish creatures Daniel saw in Daniel 7 are also interpreted to represent the same succession of world-ruling governments that will conclude with the future establishment of the Kingdom of God (7:17, 23–27).</p> <p>Elsewhere in Revelation, we read of symbols such as a dragon, a lamb, women, mountains and horns. Again the Bible interprets its own symbols. Revelation 12:9 identifies the dragon as a symbol of Satan the devil. This hearkens back to Genesis 3, which records Satan’s appearance in the guise of a serpent. In John 1:29, John identifies the “lamb” as symbolic of Jesus Christ. The Bible pictures the true Church as a woman—Christ’s virgin bride (2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7–8)—so a harlot, or “fallen woman,” represents a false church that has not been faithful to Christ. Mountains represent kingdoms or governments (17:9–10), while horns represent kings or rulers (vv. 12–13). We will never properly understand Revelation unless we are willing to let the Bible explain its own symbols rather than relying on human imagination.</p> <h2>Key 7—The Book of Revelation Is Primarily in Time Sequence</h2> <p>In Revelation 5, John saw a vision of One (clearly God the Father) sitting upon the throne in heaven, holding a scroll sealed with seven seals. The only One authorized to open the seals, and therefore to reveal the contents, was Jesus Christ. A scroll must be unrolled sequentially, and the seals must be broken one at a time to reveal what comes next. This vital key, when properly understood, makes plain that the book of Revelation is written in chronological order. While there are a few “insets” that go back and let a reader “catch up” on certain events, Revelation’s narrative flows chronologically.</p> <p>The opening of the seven seals begins in Revelation 6. When the seventh seal is opened in Revelation 8, the seven trumpets begin to sound. After the seventh trumpet is blown, seven angels are given seven bowls containing God’s wrath to pour out.</p> <p>Understanding this key point clears up many issues. It also sheds light on events such as the mysterious sealing of the 144,000 recorded in Revelation 7. In context, we can understand that this is a yet future event—not something that happened in the past. The book of Revelation allows us to view all the prophecies of the Bible in their proper time sequence, and to have an overview of God’s plan from start to finish.</p> <p>With these keys in mind, we can proceed to examine the contents of Revelation itself.</p> <h2>A Final Vision for the End of an Era</h2> <p>The close of the first century was a bewildering and discouraging time for many of God’s people. Years earlier, after the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Church of God had begun in a very dramatic fashion on Pentecost, 31AD. Three thousand people were baptized on that day. In the months that followed, the number of disciples multiplied greatly. God’s miraculous intervention was evident on a regular basis.</p> <p>Three decades later, however, the situation seemed to have changed. God’s people were discouraged and confused by events both in the Church and on the world scene. In 62AD, Jesus’ brother James, who served as leader of the Jerusalem Church, was killed by a mob in Jerusalem. A few years later, the Roman government arrested Paul and transported him to Rome a second time, this time to be executed. Soon after, the Jerusalem Church had to flee the city to escape advancing Roman armies. By 70AD, both Jerusalem and its magnificent temple lay in ruins, destroyed by General Titus and his army. Nearly all the original leaders of the Church were dead. The only original apostle still alive was the aged John. After 70AD he made Ephesus, located in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) near the Mediterranean coast, his primary base of operations.</p> <p>Around 96AD, the Roman government arrested this elderly apostle and banished him to the isle of Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor (Revelation 1:9). Patmos was a place where political prisoners were exiled, and from which few ever returned. For someone of John’s advanced age, exile to a prison island must have seemed like a sentence of certain death. But it was in this context that John was given the visions that were to be recorded in the final book of the Bible.</p> <p>God used John, almost 30 years after the deaths of the other original leaders of the Church, to complete the New Testament. John carried out this commission by writing a fourth Gospel and three letters, all probably completed before his Patmos exile, and finally by writing the book of Revelation. As such, John was responsible for putting the New Testament into its final form.</p> <h2>The Final Message</h2> <p>God the Father has reserved authority over the times and seasons of human history (Acts 1:7). The ebb and flow of the tide of world events is <em><strong>not </strong></em>simply a matter of chance. The rise and fall of great powers is <em><strong>not </strong></em>just determined by human decisions. Rather, God established limits for the roles of various nations. These limits include both length of time on the world stage and the extent of their geographic dominance (17:26).</p> <p>Though God the Father has determined the nations’ roles in advance, how can we possibly understand unless <em><strong>He </strong></em>chooses to reveal them? It was precisely at the end of the first century that the Father did just that. He gave Jesus Christ an <em>unveiling </em>of what had previously been hidden, that Christ in turn would reveal to the Church. Christ did this by sending an angel to the aged apostle on Patmos (Revelation 1:1). Through a series of visions at the end of an era, John was allowed to see the future—and to record it in advance.</p> <p>The book of Revelation is an <strong>unveiling</strong>. The English word “revelation” comes from the Greek word we also render as “apocalypse”—literally meaning a “revealing” or an “unveiling.” While the future is veiled and mysterious to human beings, it is plain to God. Man tries in vain to look through the mists of time to perceive what the future might bring. But while men can only guess, the great God who inhabits eternity is able to declare, from the very beginning, what the end will be.</p> <p>As an elderly man, in exile on Patmos, John had the most remarkable experience of his long life. In a vision, he saw himself transported into the future, to the time of God’s impending intervention and judgment, which the Old Testament calls “the Day of the Lord.” Hearing a powerful voice behind him, John turned to gaze upon seven golden lampstands, then saw One, whose face shone like the sun in its full strength, standing in the midst of those lampstands. Absolutely overwhelmed by what he saw, John collapsed in a faint. The One he saw standing there was the very One with whom he had walked and talked as a young man; the One beside whom he had sat and upon whom he had leaned at their last Passover meal together. John had last seen Him about 65 years earlier, when he stood with the other disciples on the Mount of Olives, gazing up and watching Him disappear into the clouds. As John lay collapsed, that One reached down and touched him gently with His hand. “Do not be afraid, John,” He declared, “It is Me.” Christ went on to reveal Himself to John as the One who is the first and the last, the One who was dead but is now alive forevermore. John was then told to write down what he had seen and what would yet be shown to him.</p> <p>This final book in your New Testament, then, is <strong>Jesus Christ’s </strong><em><strong>unveiling </strong></em><strong>of the future—</strong><em><strong>your </strong></em><strong>future! </strong>It is a book written as Christ’s final message to His Church, showing what will happen. Though most people have considered it a mysterious and closed book, it can now be open to <em>your </em>understanding. If you really want to know what lies ahead, then keep reading!</p> <h2>Setting the Scene</h2> <p>Revelation’s first chapter sets the scene, and provides an introduction to the book. As we have already seen, the Day of the Lord (Revelation 1:10) is the time setting from which events in the book are viewed. From this standpoint, John saw <em><strong>behind him </strong></em>the lampstands representing the seven churches, symbolizing God’s Church down through the ages.</p> <p>Remember, Revelation was given as a prophecy to show God’s servants what would come to pass. Therefore, the messages to the seven congregations (Revelation 2–3) are far more than a mere historical account of circumstances extant in the last decade of the first century. These seven churches in Asia Minor represent the stages (or eras) through which the true Church would pass before Christ’s return.</p> <p>After receiving the messages to the seven congregations, John received in Revelation 4—<em><strong>in vision</strong></em>—an invitation to come up to heaven. He described God’s throne in heaven, and noted that the One sitting on it held a sealed scroll in His hand. There was no one worthy to break the seals and open the book except Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. As Christ, the Revelator, opened the seals one by one, John was invited to come and look. Beginning in Revelation 6, he described what he saw when each seal was opened.</p> <p>The first six of the seven seals are opened in Revelation 6. Revelation 7 tells of a pause before the opening of the seventh seal. During that pause in the action, 144,000 servants of God are sealed to ensure their protection from the plagues of the Day of the Lord that would follow.</p> <p>The story continues in Revelation 8 with the opening of the seventh seal. When that seal is opened, John watches as seven angels are given seven trumpets, which they sound one after another. The first four trumpet blasts are revealed as ecological disasters. Revelation 9 describes the blowing of the fifth and sixth trumpets, and the dramatic military events that unfold in their aftermath.</p> <p>Revelation 10 recounts a pause in the action before the seventh and final trumpet is sounded. At this point John is given a small scroll, which he is symbolically to eat, and he is told that more prophecies concerning nations and rulers must be delivered. Revelation 11 opens by describing what the Two Witnesses—special servants of God at the time of the Great Tribulation—are doing during the three-and-a-half years leading up to Christ’s return.</p> <p>The seventh trumpet, described in Revelation 11:15, is central to Revelation both in the book’s length and in its importance. It is the “last trump”—the time of the saints’ resurrection to immortality. This verse is vital for understanding the rest of Revelation, because it marks the point at which the saints come out of their graves to enter into glory. The events from this point through the beginning of Revelation 20 all occur within a very short time. Except for inset accounts, the entire period covered by these chapters is <em><strong>after </strong>the first resurrection </em>and <em><strong>before </strong>the onset of the Millennium</em><strong>.</strong></p> <p>An inset in the story flow occurs in Revelation 12 and 13. These chapters pick up the story at an earlier period, and bring it up to date, presenting the stories of the Church (Revelation 12) and of the beast (Revelation 13). These contrasting stories of the persecuted and the persecutors need to be understood as the background to the events surrounding Jesus Christ’s return as King of kings.</p> <p>Revelation 14 and 15 contrast the newly resurrected saints rejoicing in glory, with the final preparation for God’s wrath to be poured out upon rebellious mankind. God will need to punish severely the “sons of disobedience” (cf. Colossians 3:6) and the system that has persecuted His faithful servants through the centuries, because they have refused to respond to previous calls to repentance. Then, in Revelation 16, we learn the details of the pouring out of the seven bowls that contain the fullness of God’s wrath.</p> <p>Revelation 17 and 18 provide another inset into the story flow, giving an overview of the end-time system called Babylon the Great. This is an alliance of false religion, military-political power and commercial dominance that will hold sway before Christ’s return. Revelation 18 describes this entire system’s absolute destruction.</p> <p>The first verses of Revelation 19 reveal a celebration at God’s throne. This is the prelude to both the marriage supper of Christ and the Church, and the actual arrival on earth of the all-conquering Jesus Christ to destroy the leaders and armies of Satan-inspired human rebellion against God.</p> <p>Satan the devil is then placed under restraint for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2) and the remainder of Revelation 20 introduces Christ’s and the saints’ millennial rule on the earth. At the Millennium’s end, the rest of mankind will be resurrected (vv. 11–15).</p> <p>After reading, at the close of Revelation 20, about the destruction of the incorrigibly wicked in the lake of fire, we learn in Revelation 21 and 22 about the new heaven and new earth that God promises to create. The new Jerusalem will come down to the earth and will be the dwelling place of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Church. The book of Revelation ends with a look at what God has in store for those who love Him. It leaves us standing on the threshold of eternity with an assurance of the certainty of Christ’s return and the fulfillment of God’s promises.</p> <p>Having completed this brief overview of the book, we can now examine the story in greater detail, to understand what lies ahead for us and for all mankind.</p> <h2>The Seven Churches</h2> <p>Jesus Christ, the great Revelator, inspired John to record a message to His Church. While there were other Christian congregations in Asia Minor at the first century’s close, seven particular congregations were singled out. The Bible frequently uses numbers in a significant way, and this is certainly true in the book of Revelation.</p> <p>In the Torah—the first five books of the Bible—we see particular emphasis on two numbers—seven and 12. The number seven denotes completion and perfection, as in the Genesis account of creation, where the seventh day of the week was hallowed and set apart as the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2–3; Exodus 20:11). Later, in Leviticus 23, God gave Israel seven annual festivals that outlined His plan of salvation. Even the economic life of ancient Israel was regulated by cycles of seven years. The sabbatical year came every seventh year, during which the land was to lie fallow and personal debt was to be forgiven (Leviticus 25:1–4). The 50-year jubilee cycle came at the end of seven cycles of seven years, marking the time when slaves were to be set free and land was to revert to its original owners (vv. 9–10). Throughout the book of Revelation, the number seven is used over and over. As just some of the many examples, there are seven lampstands, seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath and seven heads on the beast.</p> <p>Genesis introduces the number 12 with Jacob’s 12 sons who gave rise to the 12 tribes of Israel. Throughout the Torah, 12 is used as the number indicating “organizational beginnings.” When we look at Revelation, we again see this same pattern. Revelation 7 recounts the sealing of the 144,000 with 12,000 selected from each of the 12 tribes. It also reveals the New Jerusalem with 12 foundations, named after Jesus’ 12 apostles, and 12 gates named for the 12 tribes. Even the measurements of the city are based on the number 12.</p> <p>We should take special note when Revelation uses numbers such as seven and 12. The descriptions of seven churches are not coincidental, but are clearly used in a symbolic way to represent the Church in its entirety. Jesus Christ is pictured as standing in the midst of the seven lampstands, which represent far more than a handful of first-century congregations. The cities in which those congregations were located were linked by Roman roads, and were successive stops on an ancient Roman mail route. Each of these seven congregations was used to typify or represent one of the seven successive stages or eras through which the true Church of God would pass from the time of the first century until the time just before Christ’s return. The church at Ephesus, for instance, represented the early Apostolic Church, from its beginnings on Pentecost 31AD until shortly after John’s death. Using this prophecy, the true Church’s story can be traced through the centuries, step by step.</p> <p>It is beyond the scope of this booklet to offer a detailed history of the seven stages of the Church, but we encourage you to write for our free booklet, <em>God’s Church Through the Ages</em>, to help you understand this important subject. It is fully documented with historical sources to help you see how this remarkable prophecy has been fulfilled. Most commentators are unable to understand this prophecy properly, because they are looking at the <em>wrong </em>church! Not realizing that the Church that Jesus built was never to grow into a large worldly organization, entering into political intrigues and alliances—but was to remain a “little flock” separated from the world—most do not recognize the striking fulfillment of these prophecies.</p> <p>We should especially note Christ’s words to the last two congregations: Philadelphia and Laodicea. These represent Christ’s true Church at the end time, and understanding His message to them will help make sense of a key prophecy recorded in Revelation 12. In Revelation 3:8, the living Christ tells the Church at Philadelphia that He has set before them “an open door.” Scripture uses the term “open door” to describe an opportunity to proclaim the gospel (cf. Colossians 4:3). Because of their faithful endurance, Philadelphians are promised protection from the great time of severe trial that will come upon the whole world in the end time (Revelation 3:10). By contrast, Christ rebukes the Church at Laodicea, representing the final era, for its lukewarm spirit. Lacking in zeal, Laodicea is beset by compromise with the world, unaware that it is spiritually impoverished and naked. Because of its attitude, the living Christ will have to spew Laodiceans out of His mouth and right into the Great Tribulation, to wake them up and bring them to ultimate repentance and complete surrender to Him. Understanding this distinction between the final two eras allows us to understand prophecies in Revelation 12 that describe Satan’s attempt to make war with the “woman”—the true Church.</p> <h2>At the Throne of God</h2> <p>Beginning in Revelation 4, John is given an astounding privilege. <em><strong>In vision</strong></em>, he is actually invited into the heaven of God’s abode, and is allowed to record some of what he saw. Obviously, pen and paper cannot adequately convey the glory and grandeur of God’s heavenly court, but several features of John’s description do stand out. John does not try to describe the appearance of the great Being on the throne, but does mention the beautiful colors and light surrounding the throne. The lightning and thunder that proceed from the throne are reminiscent of Exodus 19, in which the glory of God came down and settled on Mount Sinai before the giving of the Law.</p> <p>We then find a description of the vastness of the heavenly court, including the presence of millions of angels (Revelation 5:11). There is a great crystalline expanse upon which the throne sits. From Revelation 15:2, we will learn that the expanse, called a sea of glass, has the appearance of fire embedded within it. Also present are four strange-looking creatures with six wings and the faces of a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle (4:6–8). John’s readers, familiar with the Old Testament, would recognize the similarity of the description of the seraphim recorded in Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 6:1–2).</p> <p>There are 24 elders who sit on 24 smaller thrones surrounding God’s throne. Many have tried to imagine who these elders are and some have tried to identify them with certain men mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. In fact, however, these elders are part of the <em>angelic </em>realm. They play an important part in God’s government (the number 24—12 doubled—makes this plain), probably in managing the millions of angels. God is not the author of confusion, and in heaven has a highly organized realm that is responsive to His will.</p> <p>Revelation 4:5 mentions “seven lamps” before the throne, defined as the seven spirits of God, whom we are told in Revelation 5:6 are sent forth into all the earth. The ancient prophet Zechariah alluded to the same in Zechariah 4:10, referring to the seven “eyes” that God sends to run to and fro throughout the entire earth. Hebrews 1:7, referring to this created angelic realm, tells us that God “makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” In some way that we cannot fully fathom, God uses these spirit creatures, which looked to John like flames of fire, to gather information from all over the earth.</p> <p>Next, John describes Jesus Christ standing before the throne in the midst of this great assembly (Revelation 5:5–6). Here, Christ is described by two symbols: a Lamb who was slain, and the Lion of Judah. The Lamb of God describes Jesus Christ in His sacrificial role, taking our place and dying in our stead. The Lion of Judah describes Him in His kingly role, as the One who will conquer rebellious mankind and sit on the throne of David, ruling over the earth.</p> <p>Revelation 4 and 5 also allude to an aspect of John’s vision which is developed more fully in later chapters: the heavenly connection with the earthly temple. Remember, the earthly sanctuary was modeled after a heavenly reality (Hebrews 9:24). So, as we go through the book of Revelation and read about the altar of sacrifice, the altar of incense and the heavenly Ark of the Covenant, we should realize that these were the heavenly originals after which the furniture of the tabernacle—and later of the temple—were modeled.</p> <h2>The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse</h2> <p>One of the best-known images from the book of Revelation is of “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.” Though most have heard the term, hardly anyone actually knows who or what it describes. Yet Christ is the Revelator, so in order to understand these symbols we must find where, in Scripture, He explained in plain language the events portrayed here. Is there such a place? Absolutely! It is Christ’s famous response when He was asked what would be the signs of His coming and of the end of the age (Matthew 24:3–31).</p> <p>In Matthew 24, outlining a scenario that begins with false prophets and proceeds on through war, famine, disease, tribulation and dramatic heavenly signs, Christ describes the events leading up to His return from heaven. The parallel with Revelation 6 is remarkably clear. Notice what John records. He first sees Jesus Christ take the scroll from the Father and open the first seal. When this occurs, an angel tells John to come and look. John then sees a rider on a white horse wearing a crown and holding a bow (Revelation 6:1–2). Many have carelessly assumed that the rider is Christ, since Revelation 19 describes the returned Christ riding a white horse. This assumption could not be more wrong! In Matthew 24, and in the parallel accounts of Mark 13 and Luke 21, Jesus talks about <em><strong>false </strong></em>“Christs.” He says that some “will come in <em>My name</em>” and say that Jesus is the Christ, yet will deceive many. How can someone use Christ’s name, yet deceive people? By substituting <strong>a different message </strong>in place of the one He actually taught (Mark 7:7)!</p> <p>History shows that there have been false teachers, wars, diseases, famines and religious persecutions throughout the almost 2,000 years since Jesus Christ spoke those words on the Mount of Olives. What is different about the events occurring after the seals are opened? Revelation 6 reveals that, in the end time, mankind will experience these age-old scourges occurring with far <strong>greater magnitude </strong>than ever before.</p> <p>Notice what Paul taught regarding the Day of the Lord and the events surrounding the time of Christ’s return. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he explained that the Day of the Lord “will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” Who is that “man of sin”? Down through the centuries, there have been many men of sin and many antichrists (1 John 2:18; 2 John 7). However, the one of whom Paul speaks in 2 Thessalonians is the specific one whom Christ will destroy at His coming (v. 8). This connects him with the one labeled the False Prophet, whom Christ will destroy at His return (Revelation 19:20).</p> <p>2 Thessalonians 2 tells us more about this end-time False Prophet. He will make blasphemous claims, proclaiming his divinity and demanding worship (v. 4), and will work miraculous signs through satanic power (v. 9; cf. Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:13–14). This <em>final </em>false religious leader, undoubtedly a very smooth and charismatic individual, will cut a dramatic swath on the world scene. He will <em><strong>not </strong></em>label himself as “antichrist,” but rather will present himself as the leader of the entire Christian church.</p> <p>Remember, Jesus said that individuals would come <em><strong>in His name </strong></em>saying that Jesus is the Christ, not in the name of some false gods or merely in their own names (Matthew 24:5). Paul also explained that Satan appears as an “angel of light,” and that his ministers seek to appear as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14–15). The religious system that will yet produce this end-time man of sin was already at work in Paul’s day. Paul called this system the “mystery of lawlessness”—an outgrowth of the old Babylonian mystery religion that promoted the false idea that God’s law was “done away” and no longer need be kept. Though this system of false Christianity was already beginning in the first century, the final man of sin would not be allowed to emerge until the proper time (2 Thessalonians 2:6–7).</p> <p>When this final False Prophet arises on the world scene, true Christians will be able to recognize exactly where we are in the scope of prophecy. The first seal will have been opened, and its end-time fulfillment will have been manifested. The opening of the other seals will follow quickly thereafter.</p> <h2>Tribulation and Trumpets</h2> <p>Revelation 6:3 records the opening of the second seal, revealing a rider on a red horse. This rider is given a great sword, the symbol of powerful war-making ability. Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 shows us that this seal portends regional wars and world wars. As we near the end of the age, a great military power will emerge.</p> <p>Just as the rider on the white horse reminds us of the role that the end-time False Prophet will play, so the rider on the red horse may remind us of the crafty military-political leader who will emerge on the scene in Europe—undoubtedly claiming to be a man of peace. In the name of “peace” he will launch preemptive strikes and wars in the Middle East and even against America and our allies in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In close alliance with the False Prophet, this great military-political leader (called “the Beast” in Revelation 13 and elsewhere) will seek to dominate and control all nations. He will bear responsibility for a final round of warfare that will conclude only in the aftermath of the armies of the world gathering at Armageddon.</p> <p>Soon after this dramatic upsurge in global strife and warfare, these events will combine with terrible weather upsets to produce massive food shortages and famine. This is pictured by the opening of the third seal, and a rider astride a black horse holding a set of balance scales. While basic foodstuffs (symbolized by barley and wheat) will be sold only in small amounts for vastly inflated prices, luxury items (symbolized by the wine and oil) will still be available for the wealthy. The denarius, or “penny” (<em>KJV</em>), was a day’s wages for laborers in the first century, showing that many ordinary people will be spending all of their earnings just trying to feed themselves and their families.</p> <p>Disease and pestilential death will follow in the wake of food shortages, symbolized by the rider on the pale horse, revealed at the opening of the fourth seal. This grim rider is pictured as holding sway over a quarter of the earth when he emerges for his end-time ride. The events symbolized by the seals are cumulative and the seals, once opened, remain open.</p> <h2>The Great Tribulation</h2> <p>Jesus warned us of the Great Tribulation—a time unique in all history (Matthew 24:21–22). The Great Tribulation begins shortly after the “abomination of desolation” (v. 15), and is the result of the final end-time fulfillment, in rapid succession, of the first five seals. After the first four seals were opened and John saw the “four horsemen” ride forth for their end-time fulfillment, the fifth seal was opened and he was again called to come and watch. He saw a strange vision that, when properly understood, was the harbinger of terrible religious persecution on a scale that is almost unimaginable to us in the modern Western world. John described seeing “souls under the altar” and hearing them cry out asking God “how long” until they would be avenged. The answer is that the time of God’s judgment on their oppressors will not come until the number of martyrs is filled up. There is to be an end-time martyrdom that must yet take place.</p> <p>Notice the symbols that John described. As is often the case in Revelation, it is important to understand the symbolism of the Jerusalem temple. What is meant by “souls under the altar”? The Bible uses the term soul (<em>nephesh </em>in Hebrew and <em>psuche </em>in Greek) to refer to creatures with life—both human and animal. Leviticus 17:11 states that the life is in the blood. The blood of sacrificial animals was poured out at the base of the altar of sacrifice, one of two altars in the temple. The altar of sacrifice was outside the sanctuary, and the altar of incense was inside, directly in front of the mercy seat. (In the temple at Jerusalem, before the earthquake that followed Christ’s death, a veil separated the altar of incense from the mercy seat). The altar of sacrifice is the basis of the symbolism used in Revelation 6.</p> <p>In Genesis 4:10, we are told that the blood of righteous Abel figuratively “cried out” from the ground, demanding retribution from a God of righteous judgment. If the blood of one martyr cried out, with how much louder voice would the collective blood of <em><strong>all </strong></em>the righteous martyrs down through time cry out? In the vision, John heard them being told that they must continue to rest in their graves. More martyrs would die before the time would come for God’s judgment to be poured out.</p> <p>This future time of trouble will clearly be a time of intense religious persecution, when all will be forced to conform to false religious practices that will be portrayed as “Christian.” All will be required to give their devotion to the great false church and its hierarchy, labeled in Revelation 13:15 the “image of the beast.” An outward sign of conformity called the “mark of the beast” will identify those whom Scripture labels as the children of disobedience.</p> <p>There is another aspect of this coming Great Tribulation that is often overlooked. It is not only a time of religious persecution but it is also identified as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” in Jeremiah 30:7. We know that this is identical with the time of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:21, because in both places we are told that it is a unique time, a time such as never was before nor ever again shall be. <em>There cannot be two separate times like that!</em></p> <p>If you are not familiar with the identity of Jacob’s end-time descendants, we invite you to write in for our free booklet, <em>The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy. </em>This will give detailed explanation and proof that is beyond the scope of this current booklet. The coming Great Tribulation will be a time of intense pressure and persecution directed against both spiritual Israel (the true Church of God) and physical Israel, which includes not only the Jews, but also the modern descendants of the so-called “lost ten tribes.” It represents Satan’s wrath and begins in deadly earnest once he is cast back to earth for the final time (Revelation 12:12–13).</p> <h2>Prelude to the Day of the Lord</h2> <p>When the sixth seal is opened, John sees dramatic signs in the heavens. He describes great meteor showers—so intense that it appears that the very stars are falling out of the sky! He also describes events, resembling eclipses, involving the sun and the moon. The sun becomes dark, just as during a solar eclipse, and the moon takes on a reddish hue, just as it often does during a lunar eclipse. These dramatic and frightening events, accompanied by massive volcanic and earthquake activity (cf. Joel 2:30–31), are the prelude to the time of the Creator’s intervention, called throughout Scripture “the Day of the Lord.”</p> <p>At this point, there is a pause in the action before John sees the seventh seal opened. Revelation 7:1–4 makes plain that this pause is for a very specific purpose. Before the outpouring of God’s wrath, 144,000 saints from the 12 tribes of Israel are to be sealed so that they might be spared from what God is preparing to pour out on rebellious mankind.</p> <p>A parallel can be found in Ezekiel 9, where Ezekiel saw a vision about God’s punishment on the rebellious people of Jerusalem. In the vision, he saw an angel clothed in linen with a writer’s inkhorn by his side standing beside the altar in front of the temple. The angel was told to go throughout the city, putting a mark on the foreheads of those who “sighed and cried” for all of the abominations of Jerusalem. In the wake of the angel with the writer’s inkhorn, the other angels were to go out as avenging angels to slay the rebellious and ungodly. In the same way, Revelation 7 describes that a remnant of Israel will respond to God’s grace with repentance. They are servants of God, and are to be set apart so that they might be spared God’s wrath that will be poured upon the children of disobedience during the coming Day of the Lord.</p> <p>In the closing verses of Revelation 13, and the opening verses of Revelation 14, we see a contrast drawn between those who accept the mark of the Beast in their foreheads and the 144,000 who have the Father’s name in their foreheads. The forehead is the seat of intellect, and this pictures our choice of obedience—either to God or to Satan.</p> <p>Many fail to notice that Revelation 7 records two different groups. They are both introduced by the same phrase, “after this I saw,” recorded in verses 1 and 9. The 144,000 drawn from the 12 tribes precede the description of a multitude of indefinite number drawn from every nation and people. This great multitude is described in a victory celebration before the throne of God, an event that is future to the time sequence that John has been describing. In the course of seeing the remnant of Israel sealed before the Day of the Lord, he also was allowed to look even further into the future. Who is this great multitude? Revelation 7:14 defines them as coming out of “the Great Tribulation.” Even though they may have perished as martyrs during that hellish time, thereby representing a completion of the martyrdom foretold in Revelation 6:11, they are actually victors. They will be resurrected in glory and will receive comfort and blessing from the Father and from Christ.</p> <p>One other observation about the 144,000 should be made. We need to understand that the Day of the Lord is primarily the time of the seventh seal and the year-long period (Isaiah 34:8; 61:2) leading up to Christ’s second coming. But, in another sense, it stretches on into the future to include not only the year of God’s wrath, but also the thousand-year reign of the Messiah, the Great White Throne Judgment period and the introduction of the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:10–13). There will ultimately be a great harvest, numbering into the billions, brought in during this extended Day of the Lord, but these 144,000 from Israel will represent a firstfruits of those redeemed to their Creator during that time. 144,000 is the number of organized beginnings squared and multiplied a thousandfold. It represents the starting point of the Creator’s harvest of the nations after He has begun His direct intervention in judgment.</p> <h2>The First Four Trumpets Sound</h2> <p>Revelation 8 continues the flow of events that began with the opening of the first seal. In verse 1, John sees the seventh seal opened, as seven angels standing before God are given seven trumpets to be sounded, one by one, signaling God’s judgments. The seventh seal consists of these seven trumpets.</p> <p>Note the symbolism in Revelation 8:3–5. Ceremonies carried out in the earthly sanctuary from the days of Moses were patterned after this heavenly reality, providing a key to understanding what is being described. In the earthly sanctuary, every morning and every evening after the daily sacrifice had been offered, the priest took fire from the altar of sacrifice and proceeded into the sanctuary to offer incense on the golden altar in the holy place, located “before the mercy seat”—from which it was separated by a veil (Exodus 30:6). As this account and other scriptures show, the incense offering represented the prayers of the saints coming up before God. The mercy seat, located inside the Holy of Holies and over the Ark of the Covenant, was symbolic of God’s throne.</p> <p>In Revelation 6, we saw that the blood of those martyred down through time called out to God for vengeance. God did not answer that plea earlier, because it was not yet the proper time. In Revelation 8, however, fire from the altar is symbolically slung out upon the earth, and God instructs the seven angelic trumpeters to announce His retribution.</p> <p>The remainder of Revelation 8 describes the trumpet blasts sounded by the first four angels. Remember, Isaiah 34:8 and Isaiah 61:2 equate the Day of the Lord with the year of God’s recompense. This period begins with the first trumpet and concludes with the last, or seventh, trump. When God gave ancient Israel His Holy Days, He ushered in the entire fall festival season by designating the first day of the seventh month as “a memorial of the blowing of trumpets.” Since other of God’s festivals received their fulfillment on the very day (note Christ’s being offered as the Lamb of God on the day of Passover and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost), it seems likely that the year of God’s recompense will begin and end on the Feast of Trumpets.</p> <p>As each of the first four angels sound, terrible ecological disasters take place on earth. When the first angel sounds, terrible fires break out, ultimately consuming a third of the green vegetation. Next, a great meteor-like object lands in the ocean and causes one-third of the seas to become red like blood. This causes a third of sea life to die and greatly disrupts shipping and commerce. After the third trumpet, John sees another meteor-like object fall upon one-third of the fresh water rivers and lakes, turning them to poison and causing massive water shortages. When the fourth angel sounds, there follows disruption in the very sky above. Evidently, belts of smoke and debris will block out sight of the sky for one-third of every day. Perhaps this will be caused by massive amounts of smoke from the great fires that engulf virtually one-third of the earth, as well as from debris thrown into the air during increased volcanic eruptions.</p> <h2>The First Two Woes</h2> <p>If these ecological disasters in the opening months of the year of God’s recompense sound devastating, think about the even greater devastation that occurs when the final three angels sound. These last of the seven angels are said to announce the “three woes.” This involves mankind’s unleashing weapons of mass destruction that will imperil the world so severely that if Christ did not return, no flesh would be saved alive (Matthew 24:22).</p> <p>When the fifth angel sounds his trumpet in Revelation 9:1–2, we find the great abyss opened and demonically inspired forces unleashed. Revelation 17:8 shows us that from this abyss the Beast power symbolically emerges. The forces that are unleashed are first compared to locusts, because John did not have the words to describe modern weapons of mass destruction. Notice that these “locusts” do not harm natural vegetation (which physical locusts would devour), but instead for five months cause incapacitating but not deadly pain—rather like that of scorpions. This describes an attack by the European-led Beast power on the nations of the east, as mentioned in Daniel 11:44.</p> <p>This surprise attack will provoke a massive Asian retaliation against Europe. This retaliation, signaled by the sixth angel blowing his trumpet, is pictured as spewing out fire, smoke and brimstone, and destroying one-third of humanity (Revelation 9:17–18). This description fits well with modern nuclear weapons and the devastation they can bring.</p> <p>At the fifth and sixth trumpet blasts, we see that God has removed restraints previously imposed on Satan and his demons. Abaddon or Apollyon, a name for the devil that means “destroyer,” is the one who precipitates the Beast power’s attack with futuristic weapons. Also, we are told that demonic spirits have been associated with the eastern powers that were previously restrained at the Euphrates River. Evidently, the Euphrates will be the dividing line between the eastern and western spheres of influence.</p> <p>When the sixth angel sounds, two events occur. One is the unleashing of a nuclear attack on Europe, and likely on its Latin American allies as well. The other is the massing of the largest army ever assembled on the east bank of the Euphrates—200 million men (vv. 15–16). At this point, it will have been almost a year since the trumpets began to sound. The earth and its inhabitants will be reeling in what seem to be the very death throes of the planet itself. But this is <em><strong>not </strong></em>the end of the story.</p> <h2>Witnesses and Wrath</h2> <p>Revelation 10 opens with another short pause in the flow of action. After the sixth trumpet, but before the sounding of the final seventh trumpet, John sees an angel come down from heaven to give him a small scroll to eat. This is very similar to the Old Testament passages where Ezekiel is told to ingest the contents of a scroll so that he can deliver its message (Ezekiel 2:8–10; 3:1–3). The angel tells John to eat the contents of this little scroll and deliver yet another prophetic message to the nations and rulers of this world. What is that message? Before the abomination of desolation and the onset of the Great Tribulation, the Philadelphia era of the Church of God will <em><strong>for decades </strong></em>have gone through the “open door” provided by Christ, proclaiming the gospel and the end-time warning message. Near the time when the Church’s organized proclamation of the gospel is shut down, the Two Witnesses will boldly deliver God’s message, and will die in Jerusalem. Yes, there will still remain a message to be delivered to the world in the waning days of Satan’s rule! That is why John is told, after the sixth trumpet has been blown and just before the seventh trumpet sounds (Revelation 10:7), that there yet remains a message to be delivered to nations and rulers. The Two Witnesses, who “prophesy” (Revelation 11:3) and “finish their testimony” (v. 7), along with three angels whom God dispatches after the sounding of the seventh trumpet (14:6–9), all “prophesy again” after John receives the “little book” from the mighty angel.</p> <p>Matthew 24:15–21 and Luke 21:20–24 make plain that the multinational army described in Zechariah 14:1–2 will have occupied Jerusalem at the onset of the Great Tribulation. By comparing Luke 21:24 with Revelation 11:2, we see that the Beast power will occupy and control Jerusalem for 42 months, or three-and-a-half years. It is right after the False Prophet desecrates the holy place, revealing his idolatrous symbols and blasphemous claims, that God will empower two of His servants, known as the Two Witnesses, to make their public appearance in Jerusalem, two-and-a-half years before the Day of the Lord begins. God will empower them to deliver His message to a world dominated by the power of the Beast and mesmerized by the illusions of the False Prophet.</p> <p>God will use these two men to perform miracles similar to those performed by Moses and Elijah. They will announce God’s judgments to a world in rebellion against Him, and will confront the power of the Beast and the False Prophet. Throughout the three-and-a-half years of their prophetic career, they will receive God’s supernatural protection, just as Elijah did many centuries earlier (cf. 2 Kings 1:9–14). Finally, God will allow them to be killed. Many will celebrate at their deaths, since the False Prophet will have accused them of causing all of the world’s troubles. Their unburied bodies will lie in Jerusalem’s streets for three-and-a-half days, then they will be restored to life and will rise in the air, disappearing into the clouds while their enemies watch in shocked amazement (Revelation 11:11–12).</p> <h2>The Last Trumpet Sounds</h2> <p>We now come to the mid-point of the book of Revelation and the defining moment of end-time events. What exactly happens when the seventh and final trumpet blast is sounded? Revelation 11:15 states: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'” According to verse 18, this final trumpet blast signals the time when the final wrath of God will be poured out and when God will begin to judge the dead and give reward to His true servants.</p> <p>Paul tells us that this event will occur “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). It is a time when the dead in Christ, along with those Christians still alive on earth, will undergo an instantaneous change from mortal to immortal and death will be completely swallowed up in victory. It is called the “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:6, and those who are part of it are called “blessed and holy.” They need never worry about death again, but will rule and reign under Christ Himself as He establishes His thousand-year reign on the earth.</p> <p>At this point, we should note that those who propound the so-called “rapture” theory do not understand Scripture correctly. The Lord will descend from heaven, and the resurrected saints will be caught up to meet Him in the air, <em>at the seventh and final trump</em>. As we have seen from the story flow of Revelation, this can only occur <em><strong>after </strong></em>all the previously described events have transpired, and is <em><strong>not </strong></em>something that could happen “at any moment” as some mistakenly believe.</p> <h2>The Woman and the Dragon</h2> <p>Having described Christ’s opening of all seven seals, John next provides, in Revelation 12, an inset describing the conflict between the woman and the dragon.</p> <p>John describes a vision of a woman clothed with the sun, the moon and 12 stars. This description hearkens back to Genesis 37:9, where in a dream Joseph had seen the family of Israel depicted by the sun, moon and stars. As we have seen earlier, the Bible uses a woman to symbolize a church. In a few brief verses, the entire history of the Church is traced from the time of the Congregation of Israel—the Church in the wilderness—to the end of the Great Tribulation. The woman is said to have brought forth the man child who was to rule all nations—a clear reference to Christ, who sprang out of Israel. The dragon, defined in verse 9 as Satan the devil, attempts to destroy Jesus Christ—who was taken back to heaven after His resurrection.</p> <p>In verse 6, we read of the woman having to flee to the wilderness to be protected during a period of 1,260 prophetic “days”—1,260 literal years. Since this occurs after Christ’s ascension, it clearly refers to the New Testament Church. Indeed, in the early fourth century AD, after the Roman emperor Constantine allied with the bishop of Rome, the true Church had to flee to remote areas. Historically, a 1,260-year period can be traced from after the Council of Nicea in 325AD, down to about 1585, when the true Church began to emerge openly once again. You can read this entire remarkable story in our free booklet, <em>God’s Church Through the Ages.</em></p> <p>Also, it should be noted that Revelation 12 describes two different rebellions of Satan. Verse 4 reminds us of the archangel Lucifer’s original rebellion (cf. Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28), in which he drew one-third of the angels with him before Adam was created. He was cast to earth, and his name was changed from “light bearer” (the meaning of “Lucifer”) to “adversary” (the meaning of “Satan”). In context, verses 7–12—placed in the story flow after the time of the Church in the wilderness (historically the medieval period)—refer to a yet future attempt of Satan to seize power in heaven, just before the final Great Tribulation.</p> <p>After this future and final casting down of Satan, God will take the “woman”—His true Church—into a special place in the wilderness, to be nourished and protected during this final three-and-a-half-year period. A remnant will be left behind, however, which the devil will go to attack. Scripture shows the Church at Philadelphia being kept from this hour of severe trial, but Christ will <em>spew out </em>the Church at Laodicea into the Great Tribulation, because of its <em>unwillingness </em>to repent of—<em>or even recognize</em>—its lukewarm complacency, materialism, self-righteousness and spiritual blindness and nakedness!</p> <h2>The Beast</h2> <p>Having been given an overview of the history of the true Church in Revelation 12, John was shown another vision in Revelation 13 that gave him an overview of the Beast system. The Beast is first referred to in Revelation 11:7, seeking to destroy the Two Witnesses. It is not further defined until we come to Revelation 13. In this chapter, John saw a vision that hearkened back to what Daniel recorded in Daniel 7.</p> <p>Daniel had seen four creatures emerge one after another from the sea: a lion, a bear, a four-headed leopard and a terrible creature with iron teeth and ten horns. These are defined in Daniel 7:23 as four kingdoms. When the vision in Daniel 2 is compared to that in Daniel 7, it is evident that this progression of four world-ruling kingdoms started in Daniel’s day with Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire and continued down through the successive kingdoms of Persia, Greece and Rome. By the time of John’s vision in the book of Revelation, the empires of ancient Babylon, Persia and Greece had passed into history and the fourth kingdom—the Roman Empire—dominated the world scene.</p> <p>In Revelation 13, John described the Roman Empire as having the characteristics of the earlier empires whose remnants it had absorbed. A detailed study of all the scriptures relating to this and the historical references that prove their fulfillment is given in our booklet, <em>The Beast of Revelation</em>. It will give you much detail that is beyond the scope of this present booklet.</p> <p>John saw the Beast receive a deadly wound. Historically this was the fall of the Roman Empire in 476. Then John saw that the deadly wound was healed, as occurred with the Imperial Restoration by Justinian in 554. The Beast then continued for 1,260 prophetic “days,” the duration from Justinian until the fall of Napoleon in 1814. This was the period of the so-called Holy Roman Empire and its alliance with the Roman pontiff. John also saw a second beast, this one looking like a lamb but actually serving as the mouthpiece of Satan, the dragon (Revelation 13:11). Clearly this is symbolic of a religious system that claims to be Christian but actually proclaims the devil’s message rather than Christ’s gospel. This false religious system is pictured as constructing a model, or an image, based upon the institutions of the old Roman Empire. Ancient pagan Rome was the model upon which papal Rome and its political structure was built. There was an alliance of church and state that continued down through the medieval period. The church used the state to enforce conformity with religious edicts and in turn required its adherents to be loyal to the state.</p> <p>The mark of the beast, a brand that advertises disobedience to the law of God, is something that goes back to antiquity. It has been insisted upon ever since this unholy alliance of church and state took place in the days of Emperor Constantine.</p> <p>The number of the beast, 666, is derived from numeric values anciently assigned to letters of the alphabet, in lieu of separate numerals as we commonly use today. Hebrew, Greek and Latin all used such a system, so all names in those languages had a numerical value. See our booklet, <em>The Beast of Revelation, </em>for further information on the mark of the Beast, and the detailed proof that the Roman system is branded by the number 666—the number of a name.</p> <p>It is also vitally important to realize that this medieval alliance of church and state is once again to rear its head. In the days soon ahead of us, the final appearance of the Beast system will emerge once more from out of the abyss. Will you give in to the pressures to fit in with this powerful system that will hold a brief sway over all the earth in the near future? You need to understand this subject for your own sake and for that of your family.</p> <h2>Triumph and Wrath</h2> <p>After these brief insets to bring the story of the persecuted and the persecutors from the time of antiquity down to the time when the seventh trumpet will blow, the story switches to focus on the aftermath of the final trumpet. It will be a time of wonderful triumph for the saints of God. Persecuted and derided down through the centuries, the saints of God are described in glory rejoicing before God the Father and Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the remainder of rebellious mankind is about to receive the undiluted wrath of God Almighty.</p> <p>The 144,000 whom we had earlier seen sealed to protect them from the wrath of the Day of the Lord are now pictured in glory and are singing a new song as they stand before the throne of God praising Him for their redemption (Revelation 14:1–5). All the while this celebration is taking place, three angels go through the earth proclaiming God’s final message for mankind as He prepares to pour out His final wrath (vv. 6–11).</p> <p>As the glorified saints rejoice and the three angels proclaim God’s final warning, preparation is made for rebellious mankind to be cast into the winepress of the wrath of God (v. 19).</p> <p>Here we should note that Scripture identifies the true saints as those who actually obey God and <em><strong>keep His commandments</strong></em>. Revelation 14:12 emphasizes this point by describing the saints in comparison to those who will receive God’s punishment. Also, it should be noted that <em><strong>both </strong></em>the song of Moses and that of Christ (the Lamb) are sung before the throne (15:3). The messages of the Old and New Testaments are not contradictory or discordant; rather, they are in harmony, as shown by the singing of the glorified saints.</p> <p>In Revelation 15, John records a vision of seven angels, with seven golden bowls that pour out seven final plagues, one after another. This pouring occurs rather quickly, as we see when we examine the nature of the plagues. If the second and third plagues, for instance, lasted more than a few days, all life would perish from the planet.</p> <p>When the first bowl is poured out, a grievous sore comes upon those who had disregarded the third angel’s message and were still loyal to the Beast system. Then, when the second angel pours out his bowl, <strong>all the oceans </strong>become like “the blood of a dead man” (16:3). All sea life dies. With the pouring out of the third bowl, <strong>all the fresh water turns to blood, </strong>and sources of drinking water are destroyed. Then, the fourth angel pours his bowl, and scorching heat from the sun punishes rebellious mankind. Next, great darkness comes upon Europe (“the seat of the Beast”) and its people are in agonizing pain and heat, engulfed in total darkness and lacking usable water all at the same time. The darkness results from the bowl poured out by the fifth angel.</p> <p>After this, John sees the sixth angel pour his bowl upon the Euphrates. Demon spirits go forth to bring all the armies together north of Jerusalem. The huge Asiatic army that had previously been massed on the east bank of the Euphrates pours into the land of Israel, and converges in the area of <em>Armageddon </em>(Hebrew for “mount of Megiddo”). Megiddo is a hill that stands overlooking the Valley of Jezreel, about 55 miles north of Jerusalem. When the final seventh bowl is poured out, there will be a tremendous earthquake so massive that the very topography of the earth itself will be altered (vv. 18–20). Very likely this earthquake is the same one that is described in Zechariah 14:4, when the feet of Jesus Christ finally stand once more upon the Mount of Olives, located just east of Jerusalem.</p> <h2>Babylon the Great Is Fallen</h2> <p>Following his vision of the seven last plagues being poured out, John is shown two more visions that represent an inset into the story flow of Revelation. These visions describe Babylon the Great and the final destruction that will come upon that terrible system. In Revelation 17 the focus is upon the religious and political alliance that once again—in the not-too-distant future of you who are reading this booklet—will come to dominate the world. The political system is described as ridden by a woman, but a woman very unlike the chaste virgin bride of Christ. This is a church that is described as a great whore, one that has entered into illicit liaisons with various national leaders. These unions have spawned what the Bible labels as harlot daughters. This whole religious system is defined as an outgrowth of the ancient pagan Babylonian mystery religion.</p> <p>In Revelation 18, John was shown in vision the announcement of the fall and total destruction of modern Babylon. This chapter reveals that in addition to being a religious and political system, as is emphasized in Revelation 17, Babylon is also a commercial system that seeks to dominate the world economically. Many details of the prophecies recorded in these two chapters are covered in our free booklet, <em>The Beast of Revelation</em>.</p> <p>It is important that we realize now, and in the crucial years ahead, that <strong>God’s victory is certain</strong>. This history has already been written <em>in advance</em>! Therefore, it is imperative that we <em><strong>come out </strong></em>of this world’s Babylonish system (18:4) and give our total and true allegiance to Jesus Christ and the <em><strong>message </strong></em>that He taught!</p> <h2>Beyond the Chaos</h2> <p>Much of Revelation describes the chaos that results from mankind following Satan and seeking to build its own civilization apart from Almighty God. But neither that chaos, nor God’s victory over Satan, is the climax of the book. Rather, Revelation ends with the living Christ showing John what would take place <em>beyond </em>the chaos.</p> <p>After seeing, in vision, the cataclysmic destruction of Babylon the Great, John sees another vision of heaven, and of a celebration before the very throne of God. Babylon’s fall is noted in Revelation 19:2, and verse 6 depicts the rejoicing of those before God’s throne: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”</p> <p>John then learns that the time has finally arrived for the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Church, changed from flesh and blood to immortal spirit at the resurrection, is now ready to marry Christ. The bride—collectively the Church—is pictured as being arrayed in wedding garments of clean white linen, representing the righteousness of the saints.</p> <p>Understanding ancient Jewish marriage customs may give us some insight into what is being described. The marriage ceremony had three major components, each taking place at a different time, as we know from secular history as well as Scripture. These three components share some of the symbolism of the three festival seasons that God gave to ancient Israel, by which he revealed His great plan of salvation (If you do not already have our free booklet on the Holy Days, then please request your free copy of <em>The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan</em>).</p> <p>The first part of the wedding ceremony was the bride price, normally paid by the father of the bridegroom. We see this in Genesis 24, where Abraham offered gifts when arranging to seek a wife for his son Isaac. This parallels the Passover season. The bride price that God the Father offered was the life of His only begotten Son (John 3:16).</p> <p>The second phase of the wedding ceremony was the espousal, or signing of the marriage covenant. Once this formal agreement was made, the couple was considered married, even before they had celebrated or consummated their marriage. Joseph and Mary were in this espousal stage when it was discovered that Mary had supernaturally conceived Jesus Christ. This second stage of the wedding ceremony parallels the second festival season: Pentecost, the time of the covenants (see Jeremiah 2:2, where the time of Israel in the wilderness was likened to the time of espousal).</p> <p>The third phase of the wedding ceremony was the celebration of the marriage feast. Normally a week in duration (cf. Genesis 29:27), it was characterized by festivity and celebration (John 2:1–10). This phase usually began with a procession. The bridegroom would go to claim his bride, and the bridal party would go out to meet him (cf. Matthew 25:6). Usually the bride would proceed, together with the bridegroom, from her father’s house to the home that her husband had prepared. This was followed by seven days of feasting with friends and family. This final stage of the wedding ceremony parallels the Feast of Tabernacles—seven days of feasting that represent the millennial reign of the Messiah, when He will make a “feast of choice pieces” to the whole world (Isaiah 25:6).</p> <h2>The Kingdom Established</h2> <p>As Revelation 19 concludes, John sees heaven opened and the triumphant Jesus Christ returning to the earth in power and glory, astride a white horse, followed by the armies of heaven. Mankind’s armies, which had previously gathered at Armageddon, are destroyed on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The Beast and the False Prophet are taken and thrown into a fiery, molten lake where they are burned up. The blasphemous claims of divinity that they had made are thus shown to be empty and false.</p> <p>When Christ’s feet stand once more on the very Mount of Olives from which He ascended into heaven about 2,000 years ago, the mount will split in two. At that point, a stream will break forth from beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It will flow eastward through the newly divided Mount of Olives, and westward into the Mediterranean Sea. Spreading quickly, this “living water” will supernaturally heal all of the dead waters that had become like blood a few days earlier (Revelation 16:3–4), when the second and third bowls of wrath were poured out. Abundant sea life will be restored (Ezekiel 47:1, 8–9).</p> <p>The returning King of kings will immediately dispatch a mighty angel to seize Satan the devil and lock him away for a thousand years. This sets the stage for the reign of the Kingdom of God on earth. The symbolism of the Holy Days, which God gave to Israel, can help us understand the meaning of the sequence of events. Just as the Feast of Trumpets represents the time of God’s intervention and judgment, so the Day of Atonement—coming nine days later—pictures the time when Satan will be banished and made to bear his responsibility for sin. The fulfillment of what this day symbolized is described in Revelation 20:1–3. Most likely, the action that is described in the book of Revelation as occurring between the blowing of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15 and the putting away of Satan in Revelation 20:2 will take place in a nine day span between Trumpets and Atonement. Satan being put away will represent the liberation of mankind. This is the fulfillment of the symbolism of the ancient year of Jubilee, when freedom was proclaimed (Leviticus 25:9–10). Note that the Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, the day that symbolized Satan’s banishment. At this point, the remnants of all 12 tribes of Israel will begin to be regathered from their captivity to the land of Israel (Isaiah 27:1, 13).</p> <p>In his vision of the future, John described the resurrected and glorified saints carrying out governmental responsibilities (Revelation 2:26–27; 5:10). They will reign on earth carrying out their functions as kings and priests under Jesus Christ. Other scriptures, such as Isaiah 2 and Isaiah 11, describe how God’s government will go forth from a rebuilt Jerusalem to encompass all nations. There will be a thousand years of healing and rebuilding, and all mankind will have the opportunity to learn God’s ways. It will be a time of abundance and prosperity, when “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4).</p> <p>During the last generation living at the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released for a short time, and he will immediately go out to deceive the nations once more (Revelation 20:7–10). Why will God release him, knowing what he will do? God has always given mankind a choice, desiring us both to choose the right and to reject the wrong. Some, even after experiencing the benefits and blessings of God’s government, will allow themselves to fall under Satan’s sway. Satan will gather armies, from many nations around the earth, that bear the same rebellious attitude as Gog and Magog—two of the nations that fought against God in the beginning years of the Millennium (cf. Ezekiel 38). These armies will converge on Jerusalem, but will quickly be destroyed, and Satan will be put away forever.</p> <h2>New Heavens and a New Earth</h2> <p>At the close of this period of judgment, when every human being who has ever lived will have had a genuine opportunity to receive God’s salvation, there will be a time of reckoning for those who have rejected that free gift. As the earth and the very universe itself appear to dissolve in a fiery cosmic conflagration (cf. 2 Peter 3:10–13), all of the wicked will be burned up completely and for eternity. After the passing of this sin-tainted realm will come new heavens and a new earth.</p> <p>That new earth will become the dwelling place for God the Father and the family that He has built. John saw the New Jerusalem, which had been under preparation in heaven, descend to the new earth. God the Father will dwell there, with His children, forever.</p> <p>Near the end of the book of Revelation, John describes the glory of this great city with its 12 foundations and 12 gates. The streets are of gold and the gates are each made of a single pearl. There is brilliant color, and light pervading everywhere, because of the presence of the Father and Christ. Those who are part of Christ’s bride will actually dwell <em>in </em>the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1–3), while those who came later—during the Millennium and Great White Throne Judgment—will inhabit the remainder of the new earth. The rest of God’s glorified family—”the nations of those who are saved”—will have unfettered access to the Father and Christ, as the gates of the city will remain open by day and there will be no night there (vv. 23–26). They will have complete access to the tree of life that grows in the city, and to the river of the water of life (22:1–2).</p> <p>Death, pain and tears will finally be banished forever. The curse will be removed that came upon mankind, and even upon the earth itself, after the sins of Adam and Eve. Sin and its consequences will at last be totally gone. Whoever desires will be able to take of the water of life freely.</p> <p>“And behold, I am coming quickly,” Jesus declared to John, “and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.… Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (vv. 12, 14).</p> <p>The book of Revelation tells us of <em>the end of history </em>and <em>the beginning of forever</em>. It leaves us standing upon the very brink of eternity, with the assurance that Jesus Christ <em><strong>really will </strong></em>return soon. The promises that John was inspired to record are absolutely sure—and <em>they apply to you and to your family</em>! “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (1:3).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/17" hreflang="en">God</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">Prophecy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/19" hreflang="en">The Afterlife</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 21:20:46 +0000 4uwzvo 31 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com Restoring Original Christianity https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/restoring-original-christianity <span>Restoring Original Christianity</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 21:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Restoring Original Christianity</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="https://tomorrowsworldhk.com/Restoring%20Original%20Christianity">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href="https://tomorrowsworldhk.com/Restoring%20Original%20Christianity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/roc-restoring_original_christianity_2.0.3-cover.png?itok=lF6TafCH" alt="Picture of Jerusalem" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Christian Living</div> <div class="field__item">#Doctrine</div> <div class="field__item">#False Religion</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">If Jesus of Nazareth were to return to the earth today, would He recognize the religion that is using His name? Not at all! Mankind has twisted Jesus Christ’s teachings so that the religion bearing His name has practically no relationship to what He and the Apostles actually lived and believed. Can you find a Church that strives to live by the original teachings of Christianity? Can you prove for yourself what God’s Truth really is? This booklet will give you the all</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>If Jesus of Nazareth were to return to the earth today, would He recognize the religion that is using His name? Would He be shocked to find that people claiming to be His followers have been waging <strong><em>war</em></strong> against each other almost continually for the last 1,900 years—Catholic fighting Catholic, and Protestant fighting Protestant? That His professed followers believe doctrines <strong><em>totally contrary</em></strong> to what He taught, observing different days of worship, different customs and—most importantly—having a totally different concept of God and of His purpose than Jesus and the original Apostles did?</p> <p>Jesus might wonder: “Why are they putting <strong><em>My</em></strong> name on all this “stuff”?</p> <p>Yet most genuine religious scholars recognize that <strong><em>vast </em></strong>changes have overtaken professing Christianity—rendering it totally different from the Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles! As respected mainline Protestant scholar Jesse Lyman Hurlbut acknowledges:</p> <blockquote> <p>“For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120ad with the writings of the earliest church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (<em>Story of the Christian Church</em>, p. 41).</p> </blockquote> <p>If the leaders, during this time which Hurlbut elsewhere called an “age of shadows,” were filled with and led by God’s Spirit, then why would the Church suddenly be “very different”? For the Bible tells us that Christ is “the <strong><em>same</em></strong> yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Yet the professing Christian church today is <strong><em>not</em></strong> even remotely the same as the one Jesus founded.</p> <p>Describing the time period after all the original Apostles and their successors had died out, Hurlbut writes:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship. About 405ad images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshiped. The adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Venus and Diana; the Lord’s supper became a sacrifice in place of a memorial; and the elder evolved from a preacher into a priest” (p. 79).</p> </blockquote> <p>Notice Hurlbut’s statement that “some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals.” They “became” that way because God Himself had predicted that <strong><em>evil</em></strong>men and false leaders would take over most of the Church! Remember this inspired warning the Apostle Paul gave the Ephesian elders: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:29–31).</p> <p>When Paul realized the depth of the <strong><em>apostasy</em></strong> that would overtake most of the Church, it hit him emotionally. He then “did not cease to <strong><em>warn</em></strong> everyone night and day with tears”! Very few people today seem to be concerned enough about this massive apostasy to even begin to shed tears over this awesome change.</p> <h2>HOW Could This Happen?</h2> <p>This massive apostasy occurred because men and women back then, just like today, did not zealously <strong><em>prove</em></strong> to themselves where God’s Truth was being taught. That is why the living Christ corrected those Christians living near the end of the Apostolic Era: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4–5).</p> <p>And what about today? How can we account for the more than 400 different denominations and sects—all calling themselves “Christian”? And all of them having some type of different ideas, traditions and approaches and yet claiming to follow the same Jesus Christ?</p> <p>Part of the answer is the fact that <em>extremely few</em> professing Christians really study their Bibles! So they do not “<strong><em>prove</em></strong>” virtually anything they believe by carefully researching it in the Bible! Oh, they may enthusiastically study books and articles on health, on self-improvement or on investing and making more money. But somehow it does <em>not</em> occur to them to thoroughly study the most <strong><em>vital</em></strong> subjects of all: <em>Is there a</em><strong><em>real</em></strong> <em>God?</em> <em>If so, what is His </em><strong><em>purpose </em></strong><em>in creating human beings? And </em><strong><em>how</em></strong><em> can we fulfill that purpose?</em> Yet the Bible commands: “<strong><em>Prove</em></strong> all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, <em>KJV).</em></p> <p>Most people have just “accepted” the religion passed down through their families. Most have just “gone along” with the beliefs and the traditions taught to them as children. Noting the public’s lack of attention to their religion,<em> Los Angeles Times</em>religion writer Teresa Watanabe reported:</p> <blockquote> <p>“According to one religious research firm, two-thirds of Americans don’t regularly read the Bible or know the names of the Four Gospels. More than half of Americans surveyed can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. And the majority say they find the Good Book irrelevant.… ‘We still hold the Bible in high regard, but in terms of actually spending the time reading it, studying it and applying it—that is a thing of the past,’ said George Barna. The reasons cited range from changes in American culture to the intrinsic difficulty of the text itself.</p> <p>Now religious organizations are making a major effort to jazz up the ancient Scripture’s doddering image. Bible publishers are producing a dizzying array of products, with translations and editions pitched to every conceivable niche market, to convince people that the book is neither arcane nor irrelevant” (<em>Los Angeles Times</em>, July 23, 1999).</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, the real underlying cause of this massive religious apostasy is that this is Satan’s world and that he has totally <strong><em>deceived</em></strong> the vast majority of humanity. In the comfortable surroundings of western civilization, most Americans, Canadians and others fail to realize that the <em>overwhelming majority</em> of human beings have never believed in <strong><em>any</em></strong> form of “Christianity”—let alone the real Christianity of Christ and the Apostles! The vast majority of humans are—<em>and always have been</em>—Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, atheists or agnostics.</p> <h2>A Very REAL Satan Is Involved</h2> <p>If you will study and believe your own Bible, you will find that Satan the devil is described as the one “who deceives the <strong><em>whole</em></strong> world” (Revelation 12:9). You will also find Satan referred to as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). For Satan “broadcasts” a selfish, rebellious attitude throughout this earth. He is the one who is influencing deceived men into injecting <strong><em>enormous</em></strong> amounts of licentious sex, violence and a general spirit of disrespect and lawlessness into the so-called “entertainment” you and your children see or hear on television, at the movies, on the radio or when playing various kinds of perverted computer games which simulate almost indescribable acts of perversion or violence. Do you know who is really laughing at all this “fun stuff”? <strong><em>Satan</em></strong> <em>is!</em></p> <p>For by perverting mankind’s normal interest in sex and excitement, and by cleverly injecting sick humor into so many of television’s “situation comedies,” Satan is able to cleverly mislead mankind into abusing, degrading and ultimately <strong><em>destroying</em></strong> itself if God does not intervene at the last minute to stop it (Matthew 24:21–22). Satan is truly the “god” of this present world! The Apostle Paul was inspired to write, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the <strong><em>god</em></strong> of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4).</p> <p>Most important of all, Satan has injected into mainstream “Christianity” a whole series of totally <strong><em>false</em></strong> ideas about the origin and destiny of man, of what God is like, of what God’s awesome <strong><em>purpose</em></strong> is, and how we are to achieve that great purpose. Additionally, Satan has confused people about prophecy so much that most professing Christians and even most professing Christian ministers and priests simply throw up their hands and almost totally neglect biblical prophecy. Yet our Creator devotes about one-fourth of the entire Bible to the “<strong><em>sure</em></strong> word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19, <em>KJV).</em></p> <p>Have you ever looked at traditional Christianity and asked yourself: <em>“Is this religion really based on the Bible? Is </em><strong><em>this</em></strong><em> the religion founded by Jesus Christ and taught by His Apostles?” </em>If Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, then his life should be an example for His followers. But <em>practically no one</em> actually <strong><em>follows</em></strong> His example!</p> <h2>Christianity Without Christ?</h2> <p>Instead, mankind has made its own religion that is <em>almost completely different</em> from what Jesus Christ preached and practiced. And they call that religion “Christianity,” as if it were connected with Jesus Christ! As the philosopher and theologian Soren Kirkegaard put it:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The Christianity of the New Testament simply does not exist… what has to be done is to throw light upon a criminal offense against Christianity prolonged through centuries, perpetrated by millions (more or less guiltily), whereby they have cunningly, under the guise of perfecting Christianity, sought little by little to cheat God out of Christianity and have succeeded in making Christianity exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament” (<em>Attack Upon Christendom</em>, Kirkegaard, 1956, pp. 32–33).</p> </blockquote> <p>Those are strong words, but they are hardly unique. Professor Rufus M. Jones concurs, noting how Christ’s true teachings were quickly detached from the religion bearing His name:</p> <blockquote> <p>“If by any chance Christ Himself had been taken by His later followers as the model and pattern of the new way, and a serious attempt had been made to set up His life and teaching as the standard and norm for the Church, Christianity would have been something <strong><em>vastly different</em></strong> from what it became. Then ‘heresy’ would have been as it is not now, deviation from His way, His teaching, His spirit, His kingdom.… What we may properly call ‘Galilean Christianity’ had a short life, though there have been notable attempts to revive it and make it live again, and here and there spiritual prophets have insisted that anything else other than this simple Galilean religion is ‘heresy’; but the main line of historic development has taken a different course and has marked the emphasis very differently” (<em>The Church’s Debt to Heretics</em>, Jones, 1924, pp. 15–16).</p> </blockquote> <p>We should not be surprised that mankind tried to remake Christianity its own way. Mankind has tried for thousands of years to find its own way. Humanism, materialism, socialism, communism or capitalism—human society has invented so many philosophies in the <strong><em>vain</em></strong> hope of giving meaning to life without God, and creating through human effort a happy and prosperous society on the earth.</p> <p>The truth is clear. Modern “Christianity” <em>has become</em> “<strong><em>vastly</em></strong> <strong><em>different”</em></strong>—as Professor Jones wrote—from the Christianity of Christ! But what has been the result? Nations are almost constantly at war with each other, the rich prosper while the poor starve and disease runs rampant. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. He was <strong><em>right</em></strong>! But neither Thoreau nor most of mankind have had their eyes opened to the solution, the <strong><em>Truth</em></strong> that would fill their lives with meaning and joy and peace.</p> <p>Some might say, “So what?” But this is no small matter we are talking about. Frankly, we are talking about the way to eternal <strong><em>life</em></strong> on the one hand, or eternal <strong><em>death</em></strong> on the other (Romans 6:23). For if you do not have the Christianity of Christ, <em>you have no Christianity whatsoever!</em></p> <p>Jesus Himself warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21–23). It is important to realize that Christ will say to those failing to do the “will” of the Father: “I <strong><em>never</em></strong> knew you.” In plain language, these deceived churchgoers will be told that they were, in fact, never acquainted with the Christ they claim to serve. They were never really converted<em>. They were never really “Christian”!</em></p> <p>Again, Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). A “lord” or “master” is someone you <strong><em>obey.</em></strong> But most professing Christian ministers and their followers do <strong><em>not</em></strong> follow the clear teachings and examples of Jesus and the Apostles. And most of them do not even bother to deeply study their Bibles to find what those teachings and examples are!</p> <h2>Restoring Original Christianity</h2> <p>The key issue, then, is our desire and willingness to get back to the true Christian faith, “the faith which was <strong><em>once for all</em></strong> delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Are you willing to genuinely try to follow the Christianity of Christ? Or are you willing to “take a chance” in your relationship with God and in your quest for eternal life?</p> <p>Frankly, the “little flock” (Luke 12:32)—the true Church of God—has always understood the need to pattern itself after the teachings and examples of Christ and the Apostles. Although very few have seriously attempted to follow this pattern, many scholars and religious historians have understood the concept of the “Jerusalem Church of God.” This is a vital concept to understand if we are sincerely interested in contending “for the faith once delivered.”</p> <p>The Apostle Paul was inspired to write to the Thessalonians, “For you, brethren, became <strong><em>imitators</em></strong> of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 2:14). The book of Acts makes it clear that the earthly “headquarters” Church of God—for many decades—was the Jerusalem Church. It was here that the Holy Spirit was originally poured out on the true Christians (Acts 2). It was here where Peter, James and John carried on most of their ministry for many years (cf. Acts 4:1; 8:1; 11:1–2). Later, it was to the leadership at Jerusalem that Paul and Barnabas came to settle the major question of circumcision for the Gentiles and related questions (Acts 15:4-6).</p> <p>As renowned historian Edward Gibbon wrote: “The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all circumcised Jews; and the congregation over which they presided united the law of Moses with the doctrine of Christ. It was natural that the primitive tradition of a church which was founded only forty days after the death of Christ, and was governed almost as many years under the immediate inspection of his apostle, should be received as the standard of orthodoxy. The distant churches very frequently appealed to the authority of their venerable Parent” (<em>The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire</em>, chap. 15, sec. 1, p. 389).</p> <p>As indicated above, the only major ministerial conference indicated in the New Testament was held at Jerusalem. Here lived the leading original Apostles. Here was the true “mother” church (<strong><em>not</em></strong> Rome!). And it was to Jerusalem Paul and Barnabas had come even earlier, lest, as Paul had put it, “I might run, or had run, in <strong><em>vain</em></strong>” (Galatians 2:1–2).</p> <p>After the major Jerusalem conference, Paul and Silas traveled through Asia Minor visiting the churches: “And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders <strong><em>at Jerusalem”</em></strong> (Acts 16:4).</p> <h2>Paul Looked to Jerusalem</h2> <p>Clearly the original Apostles and the Jerusalem Church of God set the inspired “pattern” for true Christianity—<strong><em>not</em></strong> just for that time—but for <strong><em>all</em></strong> time! Contrary to the heretical Protestant ideas that the Apostle Paul later was used by God to “reinvent” Christianity, the real Apostle Paul of the Bible—as we have seen—constantly showed deep respect for the original Apostles and deferred to the leadership at Jerusalem in all major matters! And it was the Apostle Paul who wrote the primarily Gentile church at Corinth: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters” (1 Corinthians 7:19). Noted historian Carl von Weiszäcker wrote in 1895:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Paul was far from confining his interest to the Gentile Christian Church which he had himself founded. His thoughts were much too lofty to leave Jewish Christianity to itself. He toiled not merely for his own work, but for the Church of God… the whole Church. He never forgot for a moment the true birthplace of the gospel. And for him the Christians in Jerusalem were always the [saints].… He did not however merely entertain a grand policy of ecclesiastical union, but his first and constant thought was that the primitive Church was the foremost divine institution under the Gospel.… In the early Apostles he saw… the Apostles of the Lord. From them the testimony of the Resurrection emanated (1 Corinthians 15:1 ff.). They were ever the apostles, whom God had placed at the head of His Church, the first of those divinely commissioned men who held the leading office in the Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:28) (<em>The Apostolic Age of the Christian Church</em>, pp. 12–13).</p> </blockquote> <p>Later in Paul’s ministry, he traveled again to Jerusalem: “And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present” (Acts 21:17–18). Notice that Paul presented himself to James, the Lord’s brother, who by now was undoubtedly the chief Apostle at Jerusalem—Peter probably having gone to the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel in northwest Europe and the British Isles.</p> <p>After rejoicing in the good news Paul brought about God’s Work among the Gentiles, the Jerusalem leadership told Paul: “You see, brother, how many <strong><em>myriads</em></strong>of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law” (v. 20). The term “myriad” literally means “tens of thousands.” So as not to confuse or discourage these many Jewish Christians, Paul was asked by the Jerusalem Church to go through an offering ceremony to publicly demonstrate that he was <strong><em>not</em></strong>teaching in any way against God’s laws. The Jerusalem leaders exhorted Paul: “Take these men along and be purified with them and pay all the expenses connected with the shaving of their heads. This will let everyone know there is no truth in the reports they have heard about you and that you still <strong><em>regularly</em></strong> observe the Law” (v. 24, <em>Jerusalem Bible</em>).</p> <p>If Paul had in fact been teaching against God’s Law in <strong><em>any</em></strong> way—especially the <strong><em>spiritual law</em></strong> containing the Ten Commandments—he most certainly would <strong><em>not</em></strong>have gone through this ceremony of the law of Moses! That particular ceremony—probably a thanks offering at the conclusion of the Nazarite vow—was <strong><em>not</em></strong>necessary for a New Testament Christian. But it was not “sinful” either! And Paul’s deep respect for God’s Law, for the original mother church and the pattern of <strong><em>obedience</em></strong> to God’s Law—all this guided Paul in his decision to go ahead and participate in this ceremony. By guiding Paul in this—and putting this example in the Bible—God is showing <strong><em>all</em></strong> of us that Paul’s approach was one of <strong><em>obedience</em></strong> to law, <strong><em>not</em></strong> one who tried to do away with or “reason around” God’s spiritual laws as so many Protestant theologians teach!</p> <h2>What Did Christ Do on Earth?</h2> <p>Nearly all professing Christians understand that in order to be an acceptable sacrifice for mankind’s sins, Jesus Christ had to keep the Law perfectly. But what law did He keep, and what did He expect of His followers? Here is how Christ Himself described His mission:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17–20).</p> </blockquote> <p>Many Christians do not grasp the importance of those words. Christ said that not “one jot or one tittle” (the tiniest marks in the Hebrew script) of the law would pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away. Since heaven and earth have not passed away, we must understand that the law remains. And Christ condemned those who would falsely teach men to break even the “least of these commandments.” Rather, He explained that those who both <strong><em>do</em></strong> and <strong><em>teach</em></strong> the commandments will be called <em>“great” </em>in the kingdom of heaven!</p> <p>Did His “fulfilling” the law somehow change these commands? Or did they change after Christ’s resurrection? No! Heaven and earth did not pass away at His resurrection. And we must understand what He meant when He said that he would “fulfill” the law. One scholar explains His words as follows:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Did [Jesus] fill or fulfill the [Law]? The common word <em>plerôsai</em> means ‘to fill.’ At [Matthew] 5:17 most translations render it ‘to fulfill.’ The theological implications often drawn are that [Jesus] fulfilled all the prophecies of the [Old Testament] pertaining to the Jews, so that none remain for them now; and that he kept the [Law] perfectly, so that no one need obey it today. But these conclusions do not follow logically, and in fact they contradict [Jesus’] immediately preceding statement that he did not come to abolish (or destroy) the [Law]. More fundamental for translation, however, is the question of whether <em>plerôsai</em> in this verse should be rendered ‘to fulfill’ at all. [This] translator’s view is that [Jesus] came to fill the [Law] and the ethical pronouncements of the Prophets full with their complete meaning, so that everyone can know all that obedience entails. For this reason the <em>Jewish New Testament</em> says that [Jesus] came ‘not to abolish but to complete.’ In fact, this is the subject of the entire Sermon on the Mount; and [Matthew] 5:17, understood in this way, is its theme sentence” (<em>Jewish New Testament</em>, Stern, 1995, pp. xxii–xxiii).</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, Jesus came, as Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 42:21), to “magnify” God’s law and to show its fullest <em>intent</em> and <em>purpose. </em>What Jesus Christ sought to abolish were the abuses of the law, and the man-made traditions that perverted the law. His sacrificial death, foreshadowed by the temple sacrifices, made those animal sacrifices and washings irrelevant for Christians. But His life showed that the <em>spiritual</em> law—the Ten Commandments—<em>was and would remain</em> relevant for those seeking to obey Him. One cannot properly understand His teachings without understanding the Old Testament scriptures and the law they contain, as noted by Frederick Holmgren:</p> <blockquote> <p>“The Old Testament brings gifts to the Christian tradition. One of those gifts is the Torah (the Law).… Jesus embraced the Torah of Moses; he came not to end it but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17)—to carry its teachings forward. Further, to those who came to him seeking eternal life, he held it up as the essential teaching to be observed (Luke 10:25–28). Despite Jesus’ conflict with some interpreters of his day, both Jewish and Christian scholars see him as one who honored and followed the Law. When Jesus proclaims the coming rule of God, he speaks nowhere in detail about the inner character of this rule. He does not need to because that has already been described in the Old Testament.… The Old Testament is not an antiquated Scripture; its life-giving teachings are needed by the church” (Frederick C. Holmgren, “Preaching the Gospel Without Anti-Judaism,” <em>Removing Anti-Judaism from the Pulpit</em>, ed. Howard Clark Kee and Irvin J. Borowski, 1996, pp. 72–73).</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, Jesus Christ taught from the Old Testament, and He lived by it, as did His followers.</p> <h2>What Did the Apostles Teach?</h2> <p>We have seen that Jesus Christ plainly upheld God’s law. Yet some churches falsely accuse the Apostles—especially the Apostle Paul—of teaching that Christians need no longer follow Jesus Christ’s example. Indeed, even in the first century ad we see that some were twisting Paul’s words for their purposes (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). Yet when writing to the young evangelist Timothy, Paul plainly reminded him “that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15–16).</p> <p>When Timothy was a child, the “Holy Scriptures” he knew were the Old Testament scriptures. Most of the New Testament books did not yet exist! Paul says that these Old Testament scriptures are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Paul saw no conflict between Old Testament scripture and Christian faith and practice, and confirmed that <strong><em>all</em></strong> Scripture (including the Old Testament) is profitable for <em>doctrine</em> and for <em>instruction in righteousness</em>. These are not the words of someone teaching that the God’s Old Testament laws have been done away!</p> <p>The Apostle Paul instructed Christians: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Apostle John observed: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).</p> <p>These two, like all the Apostles, knew that Jesus Christ came to show the perfect <strong><em>example, </em></strong>and that Christians <em>ought to follow His example,</em> strengthened by the Holy Spirit. This was the commonplace understanding in the Apostle Paul’s day, as Christianity spread across the Roman Empire.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Everywhere, especially in the East of the Roman Empire, there would be Jewish Christians whose outward way of life would not be markedly different from that of the Jews. They took for granted that the gospel was continuous with [the religion of Moses]; for them the New Covenant, which Jesus had set up at the Last Supper with His disciples… did not mean that the covenant made between God and Israel was no longer in force. They still observed the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; they also continued to be circumcised, to keep the weekly Sabbath and the Mosaic regulations concerning food. According to some scholars, they must have been so strong that right up to the fall of Jerusalem in ad70 they were the dominant element in the Christian movement” (<em>Judeo-christianisme</em>, “Paul and Jewish Christianity,” Davies, 1972, p. 72, quoted in Bacchiocchi, <em>From Sabbath to Sunday</em>, p. 151).</p> </blockquote> <p>So for about the first 40 <strong><em>years</em></strong> of Christianity, guided by the Holy Spirit, the “dominant element” in the Church of God was still following Christ’s example of keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths commanded by God. They were still following the example set by the Jerusalem Church of God!</p> <h2>Who <strong><em>dared</em></strong> to change all of that?</h2> <p>As we have seen, it was <strong><em>not</em></strong> the Apostle Paul. It was certainly <strong><em>not</em></strong> any of the original 12 Apostles. Rather, as the time period—which is fittingly called the “Dark Ages”—began to get underway, misguided false religious leaders began to change virtually <strong><em>everything</em></strong> that had made the Christian religion totally different from the pagan cults of the Roman Empire.</p> <p>Some wrongly teach that after Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed in 70ad, Christians were no longer to keep the law as had Jesus Christ and the Apostles. So it is important to note that the Apostle John, the last surviving Apostle, wrote the book of Revelation <strong><em>after</em></strong> the Temple was destroyed. And in that book, he upheld the law of God! “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). John heard these words from God, and knew the importance of obeying Him: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). Clearly, Christians were keeping the law, living just as Jesus Christ did, long after the Temple was destroyed! Scholars concur. “The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals [the biblically-taught festivals], though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed” (<em>Encyclopædia Britannica</em>, 11th ed., vol. 8, p. 828).</p> <h2>What Was First-Century Christianity Like?</h2> <p>Most professing Christians today have <em>no idea</em> what first-century Christianity was really like! Yet for decades—<strong><em>long</em></strong> after Christ’s death and resurrection and the disciples’ reception of the Holy Spirit—the true Christians all believed and practiced a way of life and worship <em>totally</em> <strong><em>different</em></strong> from professing Christianity today!</p> <p><strong><em>How</em></strong> was it different?</p> <p>As we saw earlier from Professor Davies, the early Christians “took for granted that the gospel was continuous with [the religion of Moses]; for them the New Covenant, which Jesus had set up at the Last Supper with His disciples… did not mean that the covenant made between God and Israel was no longer in force. They still observed the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles; they also continued to be circumcised, to keep the weekly Sabbath and the Mosaic regulations concerning food.”</p> <p>Subtly, but surely, Satan the devil has deceived most of today’s professing ministers into believing that Christianity was a “brand new religion”—seemingly <em>cut off</em> from the Old Testament and the teaching God gave through Moses. And although some may not be consciously aware of it, a definite <strong><em>anti</em></strong>-Jewish bias crept into early Christianity and has <em>continued to this day!</em></p> <p>But the biblical and historical facts show that Christianity was a continuation—an enlargement and “magnification” of the teachings God gave through Moses—<strong><em>not</em></strong>something brand new! As the Apostle Paul was inspired in the <em>New</em> Testament to explain to the Gentile Christians at Ephesus: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the <strong><em>foundation</em></strong> of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19–20). So a basic part of the very “foundation” of Christianity was the writings and teachings of the Old Testament prophets—those writings which Christ and the Apostles referred to as “Scripture” again and again!</p> <p>For Jesus Christ was a circumcised <em>Jew</em> (Luke 2:21–22; Hebrews 7:14). It was Jesus’ “custom” to keep the seventh-day Sabbath—right along with the other Jews (Luke 4:16). Far from abrogating God’s Sabbath, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for “man”—<strong><em>not</em></strong> just the Jews, and that <em>He</em> was “Lord” of the Sabbath. So the Sabbath is, in fact, the true “Lord’s Day” as far as a day of rest and worship is concerned!</p> <p>Long after the crucifixion, it was the Apostle Paul’s “custom” also to keep the seventh-day Sabbath (Acts 17:2). We also find Paul observing the annual biblical festivals such as Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8), Passover and Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7–8) and other festivals.</p> <p>The true Church of God—<em>named</em> “Church of God” <strong><em>12</em></strong> <strong><em>times</em></strong> in the New Testament—was itself started on the Day of Pentecost, one of the seven annual Sabbaths God gave Israel. At His second coming, Christ Himself will return at the “seventh trump” (Revelation 11:15)—pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, another one of the biblical Holy Days. And the Living Jesus Christ, who inspired the entire Bible, also inspired His servant Zechariah to explain that after Christ’s second coming the <strong><em>whole world </em></strong>will be observing the Feast of Tabernacles! (read carefully the entire 14th chapter of Zechariah). Also, during the soon-coming Millennial reign of Christ, Isaiah tells us, “‘And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one <strong><em>Sabbath</em></strong> to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:23).</p> <p>So true Christians who observe the biblical Sabbaths and biblical festivals are, in fact, “pioneers.” They are not only following the “pattern” of the original Christianity taught and practiced by Jesus Christ; they are “pioneering” the <strong><em>Way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> which <strong><em>all</em></strong>nations will soon be learning in tomorrow’s world!</p> <p>For example, the seventh-day Sabbath pictures the reign of Christ during the coming seventh millennium of human history. It is the “rest” which God commanded from the beginning (Hebrews 4:4). That is why Paul was inspired to write, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (v. 9). It is important to realize that the Greek word here translated “rest” is <em>sabbatismos</em>—the “keeping of a Sabbath”—whereas <em>katapausin</em> is the normal Greek word for taking rest and is the word used throughout the rest of Hebrews 4.</p> <p>Incidentally, if you would like full, documented <strong><em>proof</em></strong> that Christians today should keep the biblical Sabbath, then write for our powerful and absolutely vital booklet, <em>Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?</em> It will be sent to you at no charge upon your request. Just write or call us at the address nearest you listed at the end of this booklet.</p> <p>God’s Sabbath and His annual Holy Days picture His great <strong><em>Plan.</em></strong> But true Christianity, of course, involves far more than keeping the biblical Sabbaths. As we have already intimated, it involves an entire <strong><em>Way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> based on Jesus’ example and His teaching, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by <strong><em>every</em></strong> Word of God” (Luke 4:4).</p> <h2>Jesus MAGNIFIED God’s Law</h2> <p>In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus certainly did <strong><em>not</em></strong> “do away” with God’s spiritual law (Matthew 5:17). Rather, He “magnified” the Ten Commandments. He explained that we must not only refrain from killing other human beings, we must not even look on them with contempt or hatred (vv. 20–23), as that is the “spirit” of <strong><em>murder.</em></strong>We are <strong><em>not</em></strong> to “hate” even our enemies. As Jesus said clearly: “But I say to you, <strong><em>love</em></strong> your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (v. 44).</p> <p>We are <strong><em>never</em></strong> to commit adultery. But, as Jesus clearly said: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever <strong><em>looks</em></strong> at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (vv. 27–28).</p> <p>The early Christians were taught that they should <strong><em>give</em></strong> in a very private manner—<strong><em>not</em></strong> showing off, or having a big “foundation” in their own name to perpetuate <em>their </em>honor in the giving (Matthew 6:1–4). True Christians were to <strong><em>pray</em></strong> <em>regularly</em> and <em>privately—</em><strong><em>not</em></strong> showing off their oratorical skills before men or using certain words or phrases over and over in “vain repetition” (vv. 5–13). And true Christians certainly would <strong><em>fast</em></strong> regularly (vv. 16–18), following biblical examples of doing without food and water in order to humble the self and get closer to the invisible God as Jesus did (Matthew 4), Moses did (Deuteronomy 9:9, 18) and the Apostle Paul did (Acts 9:9).</p> <p>In our materialistic age, we need to understand that the <em>original </em>Christians did not allow themselves to be overcome by the desires for money, or material things as most professing Christians do today (Matthew 6:19–20). As Jesus later warned His followers: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Rather, as the book of Acts explains: “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32).</p> <p>First century Christianity was squarely based on the teachings of the “law and prophets”—except for those animal sacrifices and washings which pre-figured the sacrifice of Christ and the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. These sacrifices and washings were made obsolete (Hebrews 9:9–12). But the <em>spiritual</em> <strong><em>laws</em></strong> of God were <strong><em>never</em></strong> done away. Rather, as Jesus’ beloved disciple John was inspired to write: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the <strong><em>commandments</em></strong> of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).</p> <h2>A View of First-Century Christianity</h2> <p>If you could somehow “look in on” true Christianity during the first century and even beyond, what would you see? You would see a group of dedicated believers in Jesus as the promised Messiah. You would see a community of believers to whom the God of Israel, the God of Creation, was <strong><em>real.</em></strong> For these people would not just talk about the <em>person</em> of Jesus Christ. They would <strong><em>do</em></strong> <em>what He commanded.</em></p> <p>With Christ living in them through the promised Holy Spirit, they would keep <strong><em>all ten</em></strong>of the Ten Commandments as a <strong><em>way</em></strong> <em>of life.</em> As they learned to <strong><em>“grow</em></strong> in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), there would be in their community <strong><em>no crime—</em></strong>no murder, rape, robbery or assault. No fornication or adultery. And except in rare incidents of sexual misconduct, there would be no divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:32). Obviously, such Christians would have in their society <strong><em>no </em></strong>pornography and <strong><em>no</em></strong> gross sex and violence of <strong><em>any</em></strong> kind in their “entertainment”—whether in books, plays, or (among today’s Christians) television, movies, computer games or the Internet. Rather, all these dedicated, wholesome families would be <strong><em>obeying</em></strong> their “Lord,” not just using His name while they contradicted by their lifestyle everything He taught (Luke 6:46). They would be resting and worshiping God on the <em>seventh-day</em> Sabbath as He commanded—constantly being reminded by this biblical day of worship that the <em>true</em> God is the <strong><em>Creator</em></strong> of all that is (Exodus 20:8–11).</p> <p>True Christians, for instance, would <strong><em>never</em></strong> be found fighting or butchering their fellow Christians—as has happened over and over again in the last few centuries in France, Belgium, Germany and Italy. In first century Christianity, the members of God’s Church <strong><em>never</em></strong> prayed to dead, so-called “saints” or to idols. They <strong><em>never</em></strong>worshiped the Virgin Mary. Of course, they understood that as a normal wife, Mary had <em>at least</em> <strong><em>six</em></strong> other children by her husband after Jesus’ supernatural birth had taken place (Matthew 13:55–56).</p> <p>In first century Christianity, the dedicated ministers and elders in the Church of God were primarily husbands and fathers (1 Timothy 3:1–5; Titus 1:5–9). They were taught that in “latter times” some would be <strong><em>deceived</em></strong> by “doctrines of demons” into thinking it was wrong for men—certainly including ministers or priests—to marry (1 Timothy 4:1–3). Meeting regularly in plain surroundings on the day God made holy, <em>His </em>Sabbath, God’s ministers were instructed: “Preach the <strong><em>word!</em></strong> Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to <strong><em>fables”</em></strong> (2 Timothy 4:2–4).</p> <p>Indeed, as we have seen, mankind has been turned aside to “fables.” Today, in dark, dank, foreboding cathedrals, priests and ministers in strange-looking “Mother Hubbard” gowns go through incomprehensible rituals, chant prayers and responsive readings—and expound the Bible itself very seldom. They have <em>very little</em> to say about the <strong><em>way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> which Christ and the Apostles taught or about the one-fourth of the Bible which was <em>prophetic,</em> or about the true <strong><em>purpose</em></strong> which God is working out here on earth.</p> <p>As the New Testament makes plain, first century Christians would be “feeding on Christ” (John 6:57) by constant <em>study</em> of the Bible. Remember God’s description of the Bereans? “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and <strong><em>searched</em></strong> <em>the Scriptures daily</em> to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).</p> <p>First century Christians, then, would be trying sincerely, with God’s promised help, to <strong><em>live</em></strong> by every Word of God. They would be following Christ’s example of obedience to God’s laws—<strong><em>not</em></strong> the ways, the rituals or the religious festivals learned from the pagans around them.</p> <p>Again, they would not only believe in the <em>person</em> of Jesus Christ, but they would <em>believe</em> and <strong><em>practice</em></strong> what He taught: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My <strong><em>word;</em></strong>and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). And they would believe what the Apostle John wrote near the end of the Apostolic Age: “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard <em>from the</em><strong><em>beginning.</em></strong> If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).</p> <p>Most first century Christians would have deeply understood the fundamental teaching of the Apostle Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ <strong><em>liveth</em></strong> in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV).</em> The Bible makes it clear that “Jesus Christ is the <strong><em>same</em></strong> yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).</p> <p>So true Christians—<em>through Christ living in them</em>—would be <strong><em>obeying</em></strong> the Ten Commandments as Jesus did, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and biblical Holy Days as Jesus did and following the entire <strong><em>way</em></strong> <em>of life</em> modeled by Jesus Christ and the original Apostles whom He taught. As they worshiped together, sang together and <em>served </em>one another, they would have been filled with <strong><em>love</em></strong>—with worship and adoration toward the Great God, and with kindness and out-flowing concern toward one another.</p> <p>For Christ would be living within them His loving, serving and obedient life. And they would be filled with and led by God’s Spirit (Romans 8:14). That very love of God flows down the riverbed of the Ten Commandments. As Jesus’ beloved Apostle explains: “For this <em>is</em> the <strong><em>love</em></strong> of God, that we <strong><em>keep his commandments.</em></strong> And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).</p> <h2>HOW Was the Truth Lost?</h2> <p>Some teach that their denomination was given the authority to change Christ’s teachings, and that by this authority its members need no longer obey Christ’s commandments or follow His example. The largest professing Christian sect calls itself “universal” and claims to trace its human leadership back to the Apostle Peter—from whom it claims the authority to change biblical doctrines, even though Peter himself never did so.</p> <p>Sincere members of that church would be shocked to learn that many of those who today call themselves Christians can trace their faith not to Peter, but to Simon Magus, mentioned in Acts 8! This Simon Magus was at the heart of the apostasy that turned much of the first-century Church away from Christ’s teachings.</p> <p>Scripture recounts that all of Samaria gave heed to Simon Magus as someone great, calling him “the great power of God” (Acts 8:9–10). That phrase represents Simon’s “claim to be the bearer of divine revelation” (<em>The New Testament Environment</em>, Lohse, p. 269). Simon received baptism and became a nominal Christian, but the Apostle Peter recognized Simon as being “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:23). Simon’s Samaritan religion was also greatly influenced by Greek philosophy, and early Christian writers reviled him<em>. Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity</em> notes: “Early Christian writers regarded Simon as the fount of all heresies” (p. 100). The <em>Encyclopaedia Britannica</em> (11th ed.) in its article on Simon Magus identifies him as the “founder of a school of Gnostics and as a father of heresy.” Noted historian Edward Gibbon says the Gnostics “blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets which they derived from oriental philosophy” (<em>The Triumph of Christendom in the Roman Empire</em>, p. 15).</p> <p>Simon Magus and others sought to create a syncretistic faith, mixing popular devotions with their philosophies, and adding a covering of Christ’s words, to create a religion that could win mass acceptance. As noted historian Will Durant wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity… and a personal immortality of reward and punishment; from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child, and the mystic theosophy that made Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and obscured the Christian creed; there, too, Christian monasticism would find its exemplars and its source. From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother; from Syria the resurrection drama of Adonis; from Thrace, perhaps, the cult of Dionysus, the dying and saving god.… The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world.… [The Eucharist] was a conception long sanctified by time; the pagan mind needed no schooling to receive it; by embodying the ‘mystery of the Mass,’ Christianity became the last and greatest of the mystery religions” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Vol. 5, Durant, pp. 595, 599).</p> </blockquote> <p>In the fourth century after Christ, the Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as his religion. More properly, one might say that he “adapted” it, since what went by the name of “Christianity” was <strong><em>dramatically</em></strong> transformed under his imperial influence.</p> <p>Under Constantine’s direction, the Council of Nicaea was held in 325ad. Though he had not yet been baptized, Constantine presided over the council’s opening session and took part in its discussions, believing that it was his duty as emperor to oversee the establishment of doctrine for the church. But was Constantine presiding over the council as a former pagan now turned Christian, or did he use the Council of Nicaea to infuse his pagan background into what would become “official” Christianity? Respected historian Paul Johnson has observed the following regarding Constantine’s religious views:</p> <blockquote> <p>“There is some doubt about the magnitude of Constantine’s change of ideas.… He himself appears to have been a sun-worshipper, one of a number of late-pagan cults which had observances in common with the Christians. Thus the followers of Isis adored a madonna nursing her holy child; the cult of Attis and Cybele celebrated a day of blood and fasting, followed by the Hilaria resurrection-feast, a day of joy, on 25 March; the elitist Mithraics, many of whom were senior army officers, ate a sacred meal. Constantine was almost certainly a Mithraic, and his triumphal arch, built after his ‘conversion,’ testifies to the Sun-god, or ‘unconquered sun.’ Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between this sun-cult and their own. They referred to Christ ‘driving his chariot across the sky,’ they held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice. During the later pagan revival under the Emperor Julian many Christians found it easy to apostatize because of this confusion; the Bishop of Troy told Julian he had always prayed secretly to the sun. Constantine never abandoned sun-worship and kept the sun on his coins. He made Sunday into a day of rest.…” (<em>A History of Christianity</em>, Johnson, 1976, pp. 67–­69).</p> </blockquote> <p>If you read the above historical quotes carefully, you will understand that—during the appropriately named “Dark Ages”—nearly all the aspects of <strong><em>paganism</em></strong> were introduced into professing Christianity. False concepts of the “mystery of the mass,” the <em>worship</em> of the Virgin Mary patterned <em>directly</em> after the worship of the pagan goddesses, the idea of a “little Lord Jesus” being born on December 25, calling it “Christmas” and connecting it with all the pagan rituals of the Saturnalia—all these <strong><em>false</em></strong> concepts and more were woven into what became “mainstream” Christianity.</p> <p>Centuries later, the Protestant “reformers” were able to see a <strong><em>few</em></strong> of the problems of this Roman religion. But most of these pagan concepts were so thoroughly inculcated into their minds that the reformers made only a very few “surface” changes.</p> <h2>The “Reformation” Reformed Very Little</h2> <p>Martin Luther—the “father” of the Reformation—and other reformers still held hostile attitudes against all things “Jewish,” including the Sabbath of Jesus Christ, the annual festivals and, in fact, literal obedience to the Ten Commandments. That is one reason Martin Luther presumptuously added something to God’s own Word! In Luther’s translation of the New Testament, he deliberately added the word “alone” to Romans 3:28. Luther was so adamant against the necessity of obeying God’s law—confusing it perhaps with Catholic canon law and Catholic rituals—<em>that he added a word to God’s inspired revelation</em>!</p> <p>Romans 3:28 in the <em>New King James Version </em>reads: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Luther added the word “alone” (<em>sola</em> in Latin) so that in his German-language New Testament the phrase became “justified by faith alone”—a plainly wrong change without support in the text. When one critic raised an objection to his changing Scripture, Luther haughtily replied: “Should your Pope give himself any useless annoyance about the word <em>sola</em>, you may promptly reply: ‘It is the will of Dr. Martin Luther that it should be so.’” (John Alzog, <em>Manual of Universal Church History</em>, Dublin: M.H. Gill and Son, 1902, p. 199). And, we may add on good authority, no other reason for such unscriptural changes as these was ever given. When it came to Luther’s own personal doctrinal convictions, Martin Luther was truly a <em>self-willed</em> man.</p> <p>His third tractate of 1520, <em>On Christian Liberty,</em> asserts that a Christian man is spiritually <em>subject to no man or to any law.</em> He contended that since we are justified by <em>faith alone,</em> we are no longer under obligation to keep the law of God.</p> <p>And, as is well known, Luther called the book of James an “epistle of straw” because James clearly taught the necessity of obedience to the Ten Commandments! Notice James 2:10–12: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. <em>So speak and so </em><strong><em>do</em></strong><em> as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”</em></p> <p>It is exceedingly clear in this passage of inspired Scripture that James is talking about the ten “points” of the Ten Commandments. He tells Christians to keep the <strong><em>whole</em></strong> law. James then concludes by teaching <em>New</em> Testament Christians to “speak and to <strong><em>do”</em></strong> as those who will be <strong><em>judged</em></strong> by God’s law.</p> <p>So although often sincere, the Protestant reformers carried over most of the anti-law, anti-obedience attitudes they had come to adopt in their rebellion against “Mother Rome.” Yet, like Rome, they were still involved in a paganized system of false doctrines, wrong Holy Days and false concepts of God, which God Himself describes in Revelation 17:4–5: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”</p> <p>As this form of “Christianity” became the state religion, masses of former pagans “converted.” Many did so out of convenience rather than conviction, and kept their old beliefs privately. Others came to the new syncretistic faith uneducated in its beliefs, and able to receive only the most basic instruction.</p> <h2>A PAGANIZED “Christianity”</h2> <p>The church gained from Constantine and the Empire not just new doctrines, but new organization. Rome had a long-standing imperial cult, and its practices found a home in this compromised Christianity. Will Durant observes:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Christianity… grew by the absorption of pagan faith and ritual; it became a triumphant Church by inheriting the organizing patterns and genius of Rome.… As Judea had given Christianity ethics, and Greece had given it theology, so now Rome gave it organization; all these, with a dozen absorbed and rival faiths, entered into the Christian synthesis. It was not merely that the Church took over some religious customs and forms common in pre-Christian Rome—the stole and other vestments of pagan priests, the use of incense and holy water in purifications, the burning of candles and an everlasting light before the altar, the worship of the saints, the architecture of the basilica, the law of Rome as a basis for canon law, the title of Pontifex Maximus for the Supreme Pontiff, and, in the fourth century, the Latin language as the noble and enduring vehicle of Catholic ritual. The Roman gift was above all a vast framework of government, which, as secular authority failed, became the structure of ecclesiastical rule. Soon the bishops, rather than the Roman prefects, would be the source of order and the seat of power in the cities; the metropolitans, or archbishops, would support, if not supplant, the provincial governors; and the synod of bishops would succeed the provincial assembly. The Roman Church followed in the footsteps of the Roman state; it conquered the provinces, beautified the capital, and established discipline and unity from frontier to frontier. Rome died in giving birth to the Church; the Church matured by inheriting and accepting the responsibilities of Rome” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Vol. 5, Durant, pp. 575, 618–619).</p> </blockquote> <p>As new and false elements were added to this “Christianity,” the authentic elements were crowded out. Sometimes this occurred because of anti-Semitic feelings. Since Jesus Christ was physically from the tribe of Judah, many Gnostics denied His bodily appearance—they refused to accept that their God had been from this much-despised tribe. Others perverted Christ’s teachings because they hated the nation from which those teachings came. They knew that Christians kept the “Jewish” Holy Days and adhered to other practices that pagan observers found offensive. Early church historian Eusebius wrote of those who, holding this sentiment, sought to replace the New Testament Passover that Christ kept with the Easter festival drawn from Ishtar-worship:</p> <blockquote> <p>“It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews [of keeping Passover on the 14th of Nisan], who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul.… Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way.… Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness.… For how should they be capable of forming a sound judgment, who, since their… guilt in slaying their Lord, have been subject to the direction, not of reason, but of… every impulse of the mad spirit that is in them?… Strive and pray continually that the purity of your soul may not seem in anything to be sullied by fellowship with the custom of these most wicked men.… All should unite in desiring that which sound reason appears to demand, avoiding all participation in the perjured conduct of the Jews” (Eusebius, <em>The Life of Constantine</em>, bk. 3, chaps. 18–19, <em>Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers</em>, 1979, vol. 1, pp. 524–525).</p> </blockquote> <h2>A Far “Different” Way</h2> <p>Yes, many taught that “we have received from our Savior a different way.” But that way is not found in the Bible. Instead, it is found in the customs of the Greeks and Romans and other European converts who adopted Christianity on the surface but kept their old ways. With the passage of time, these old ways overwhelmed the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, as discussed by John Romer below:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Subtly, so subtly that the bishops themselves had not seen them, the old gods had entered their churches like the air of the Mediterranean. And they live still in Christian ritual, in the iconography and the festivals of Christianity. When Julian arrived in Antioch in 362… the great Christian city was in mourning, bewailing in the Levantine manner the annual death of Adonis, Venus’s beautiful lover. At Ephesus, though the sanctuary of Diana, goddess of the city, was taken down… her statues were carefully buried in dry sand. And when the Third Council of the church assembly at Ephesus solemnly voted that henceforth the Virgin Mary should be honoured with the title of Theotokos, the God-bearer, Ephesus, itself for centuries the city of the virgin hunter Diana, became the city of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. In Egypt, too, the ancient sign of life, the ankh, which the gods had carried in their sculptures for thousands of years, was easily transformed into the Christian cross; the figure of Isis nursing her child Horus, Isis Lactans, became the figure of the Virgin with Jesus at her breast.… At Rome, Romulus and Remus were swapped for the biblical saints Peter and Paul. And still in the fifth century, the Pope had to stop the early morning congregation of St Peter’s from walking up the church steps backwards so as not to offend Sol, the rising sun god. Similarly, 25 December, now Christ’s birthday, was also the day of Sol Invictus’ festival and Constantine’s birthday. This festival was celebrated by cutting green branches and hanging little lights on them, and presents were given out in the god’s name. Sol’s weekly festival Sol-day—Sunday—became the Christian Sabbath. Just as Apollo of Delphi had made a beautiful transformation to become the Roman Sol Invictus, so later he became a Christ of the sun. All three of them are sometimes pictured in their fiery chariots… with… radiant haloes” (<em>Testament: The Bible and History</em>, Romer, 1988, pp. 230–31).</p> </blockquote> <p>So we can see that true Christianity has been opposed from the very beginning by those who would turn it away from the true God whose commandments Jesus Christ upheld. But many of today’s professing Christians do not realize just where those commandments came from, and who proclaimed them on Mount Sinai.</p> <h2>The God of the Old Testament</h2> <p>In Matthew 22:42–45, Jesus challenged the religious leaders: “‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’”? If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his Son?’” The Pharisees were not able to answer. For they knew that King David of Israel certainly had no <em>human</em> “lord.” This scripture had to be describing <em>two personalities</em> in God’s Family—one greater than the other. And, as should be obvious to us, David’s <em>immediate</em> “Lord”—the one who later became Jesus of Nazareth—was told to sit at the right hand of the Father <strong><em>until</em></strong> it was time for Him to become King of kings.</p> <p>Yet the Jews had known that the coming Messiah was to be a literal “son of David.” How could this one also be David’s “Lord,” but have a still “greater” Lord telling Him what to do?</p> <p>In 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, we read that ancient Israel was baptized into Moses and they all “ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual <strong><em>rock</em></strong> that followed them, and that <strong><em>rock</em></strong> was Christ.” Again, it is clear—as a number of Bible commentaries acknowledge—that the spirit Personality who dealt with ancient Israel was the One who became Christ. For, as we have seen, Jesus said that “no one” had ever seen “God”—obviously meaning the One we call the Father.</p> <p>Yet, right after giving the Ten Commandments and some of the statutes to ancient Israel, we find that the “God of Israel” did indeed appear to some of Israel’s leaders! “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:9–11). So more than 70 of the leaders of Israel <strong><em>“saw </em></strong>the God of Israel”—<strong><em>not</em></strong> God the Father, but the “Word” who later became Jesus Christ (John 1:1–12). Could anything be more clear?</p> <p>It was the One who became Jesus Christ who literally walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. <em>He</em> was the One who dealt directly with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. <em>He</em> was the One who spoke “face to face” with Moses (Numbers 12:8). <em>He</em> was the One who spoke the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai! <em>He</em> was the One who commanded the seventh-day Sabbath.</p> <p>If all professing Christians were taught the <strong><em>truth</em></strong> that the One who became their Savior is the One who gave the Ten Commandments, perhaps their actions would be quite different. The world would be a <strong><em>much</em></strong> safer place! All would realize that true Christianity is a <strong><em>law abiding</em></strong> religion—a <strong><em>way</em></strong> of life based on the great spiritual law of God. They would learn that—although <em>no one</em> is suddenly perfect, and we are commanded to <strong><em>grow</em></strong> in Christ’s character—it is possible to follow Christ’s inspired example through His Spirit within us.</p> <h2>How Can a Christian Live as Christ Did?</h2> <p>The Bible makes it plain that Christians are to keep God’s commandments. The Apostle John wrote: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3–6).</p> <p>But how can Christians walk “just as He walked”? If Jesus Christ had to come and give His life because all have violated God’s law, how can anyone keep that law? Again, perhaps the most concise explanation was given by the Apostle Paul. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, <em>but Christ</em> <strong><em>liveth</em></strong> <em>in me:</em> and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV).</em></p> <p>A Christian does not obey the law on his own, but through the power of Christ living in Him. Paul goes on to emphasize that law-keeping comes through the grace of God, and that law-keeping does <strong><em>not</em></strong> earn grace. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). With God’s grace, a converted Christian <strong><em>will</em></strong> keep the law; but without that grace, <strong><em>no amount</em></strong> of effort will bring righteousness and salvation.</p> <h2>What Should a Christian Do?</h2> <p>One can recognize a true Christian as someone striving, through Christ’s help, to live by every word of God (cf. Matthew 4:4). “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). By yielding to Jesus Christ, the fruits of the Spirit will become more and more evident in a Christian’s life.</p> <p>A Christian is more than someone who “knows” the truth. The Gnostics believed that “knowledge” brought salvation, and some today would deny that one has to “do” anything as a faithful Christian. Yet Scripture gives a very different instruction: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).</p> <p>Christians are to <strong><em>do</em></strong> as Christ did. In the “Great Commission” He instructed His followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe <strong><em>all things</em></strong> that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). Christians are to take His message to “all the nations” and teach “all things” that He commanded! They were <strong><em>not</em></strong> to <strong><em>change</em></strong> His message so much that it is today almost unrecognizable!</p> <p>Sadly, many who call themselves Christians today—<em>even commandment-keeping Christians</em>—have turned inward. Saying that they must “prepare the bride” (the Church) for Christ’s return, they neglect the Bridegroom’s instructions. How can the Church “prepare” for His coming by neglecting His instruction to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to <strong><em>all</em></strong> nations? (Matthew 24:14). It cannot! That is why the Living Church of God has sent you this booklet, and why we print booklets, magazines, a Bible study course and other publications. It is why we broadcast the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em> telecast. It is why we use the Internet and other tools that God provides to do His work as He opens doors for His Message to be given to the world as a witness before He returns!</p> <p>It is important that all our readers fully recognize that those of us in this Work—those of us on the staff of the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em> magazine, of the <em>Tomorrow’s World</em>television program and, indeed, all of us involved in this Work of the Living Church of God—are all dedicated to the task of <strong><em>restoring the original Christianity taught and practiced by Jesus Christ and His Apostles!</em></strong></p> <p>As you read our articles and booklets, and as you view the <em>Tomorrow’s World </em>program, it is vital that you recognize “where we are coming from.” For we intend to continue to preach and teach the <strong><em>same message</em></strong> that Jesus and the early Apostles did. We intend to restore—in all of its spiritual aspects—the way of life that Jesus and the Apostles lived and taught. Also, guided by God’s Spirit, we will continue to preach the inspired prophecies of the Bible and warn those willing to listen of what lies ahead.</p> <p>As the time of God’s intervention in human affairs and the soon-coming <strong><em>Great Tribulation</em></strong> approaches, it is absolutely vital that you and your loved ones make sure that you truly belong to Jesus Christ—the Christ of the Bible—that you are worshiping God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23), and that you are part of the true Church of God which teaches and practices the Christianity of Jesus and the original Apostles. “He who has an ear, let him hear” (Revelation 3:13).</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 21:09:27 +0000 4uwzvo 30 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality? https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/beast-revelation-myth-metaphor-or-soon-coming-reality <span>The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/28/2022 - 22:05</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">John H. Ogwyn (1949-2005)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/The%20Beast%20of%20Revelation%3A%20Myth%2C%20Metaphor%20or%20Soon-Coming%20Reality">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/The%20Beast%20of%20Revelation%3A%20Myth%2C%20Metaphor%20or%20Soon-Coming%20Reality"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-02/br-2.0-cover.jpg?itok=QcHeRY5S" alt="Beast with seven heads and 10 horns ridden by a woman" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Beast of Revelation</div> <div class="field__item">#Prophecy</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">How will global religio-political developments affect you and your family? Will a world dictator soon appear? Just who or what is the Beast, and will you receive its infamous mark? Read on for the startling answers!</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2><strong>Introduction</strong></h2> <p>Today’s newspapers record a state of affairs that would have been absolutely unthinkable to an observer in 1945, at the end of World War II. Then, the Rome-Berlin Axis lay smashed, and American and British forces stood at the pinnacle of victory. Today Britain has been shorn of her empire and America is morally and culturally bankrupt. Europe is busily uniting under the aegis of a powerful German-dominated European Union.</p> <p>In the decades following World War II, America and Britain invested billions of dollars in intelligence and counterintelligence operations. Yet the most astounding geopolitical events of the post-World War II era—resulting in the collapse of the “Iron Curtain” and the emergence of a powerful reunified Germany—caught these governments completely by surprise.</p> <p>The rapid unfolding of events in eastern and central Europe in 1989 did not catch <em>everyone</em> by surprise, however. As an editorial writer in the Hendersonville, Tennessee, <em>Free Press</em> on December 7, 1989, stated:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“Like a great many Americans I have been watching the current political situation in East Germany with interest. While many have expressed surprise at the recent events and at East German cries for reunification of East and West Germany, I have to admit I haven’t been too surprised by these events. The reason I haven’t been particularly surprised is that for years I have occasionally read the publications of… the late Herbert W. Armstrong… Armstrong predicted that the Berlin Wall would some day come down and the two German states would once again reunite into a powerful nation.”</em></p> </blockquote> <p>As far back as the April 1952 <em>Good News,</em> Herbert W. Armstrong had written that East Germany would be returned to West Germany and that Russia “will be forced to relinquish her control over Hungary, Czechoslovakia and parts of Austria” (p. 16). In 1956, following Russia’s invasion of Hungary, when it seemed that the “Iron Curtain” had inexorably fallen on the nations of eastern Europe, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “The way is being prepared for a colossal third force in world politics—a European Federation of Nations more powerful than either Russia or the United States!… We have shown years in advance what would happen to Russia’s ill-fated Empire in Eastern Europe” (<em>Plain Truth</em>, December 1956, p. 3).</p> <p>How could he possibly have known? In this booklet you will find out!</p> <p>Not since the days of the Tower of Babel have humanity’s efforts been more intertwined and interconnected. Today we commonly talk of how the world has been transformed into a “global village.” Jet planes, instantaneous telecommunication and integrated world economies have changed our world.</p> <p>From finance to manufacturing, multinational corporations and conglomerates now dominate virtually every field. People everywhere are linked by the Internet and satellite television transmissions. Yet paradoxically, nations are increasingly subdividing and fragmenting along old ethnic and religious lines.</p> <p>Where is it all leading? While the world economy becomes ever more interconnected, ancient ethnic rivalries and hatreds are being renewed afresh. Leaders in finance and government cite these continually increasing pressures to illustrate the need for a viable alternative to the present, unsteady system of independent nation-states.</p> <p>It is apparent that unless human emotions can be channeled differently, they will fracture the whole global economic structure. Humanity is seeking an identity that reaches beyond current divisions and rivalries. Internationalists have a great desire to supplant the independent nation-state with something greater. Still, they have been unable to devise a solution that would claim the loyalty and stir the emotions of the average man in the street. People do not develop intense emotional loyalty to faceless bureaucrats or to goals of maximizing corporate profits.</p> <p>Where is this looming crisis—fragmentation in an age of globalism—really taking us? There is only <strong>one source</strong> where you can find the answer! The Creator God is the One who has declared the end from the beginning (<a href="http://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Isaiah%2046.10">Isaiah 46:10</a>), and He lays it out for us in His book, the Bible.</p> <p>The most complete outline of future events is found in that last and most mysterious of Bible books, the book of Revelation. In it we read of a mysterious Beast which is described with heads and horns, bringing a dreadful mark. This creature is described as dominating the whole world and wielding awesome power and control.</p> <p>But what does this all mean? Can you really understand it anyway? Though much of Revelation is in symbolic language, the Bible actually interprets its own symbols! Read on to understand the clear message of the prophecies of your Bible regarding the Beast of Revelation. These prophetic words will have more effect on your world and your own future than you can possibly imagine.</p> <h2><strong>CHAPTER 1<br /> THE BOOK OF DANIEL—KEY TO AN ANCIENT MYSTERY</strong></h2> <p>All eyes turned as an elderly man walked erectly into the brightly lit and lavishly decorated banquet room. Wine-induced laughter and loud banter—which had filled the room a mere hour ago—had abruptly given way to an eerie silence followed by subdued whisperings in the aftermath of a spine-chilling scene. During the height of the revelry, a hand had appeared out of thin air and had written on the wall a message in large letters.</p> <p>The occasion was a great banquet thrown by Babylonian King Belshazzar to celebrate the invincibility of Babylon. Babylon, which had been under siege by the troops of Cyrus the Great of Persia, considered that her walls were impregnable.</p> <p>So, on that evening of the new moon of the seventh month in 539bc, Babylon’s powerful elite celebrated and drank toasts. Belshazzar had even insisted that the sacred vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem by his grandfather decades earlier be brought. He wanted to use them as drinking goblets. Then the handwriting on the wall appeared, and the party came to a stunned halt. The message inscribed on the wall read, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” The words were well-known Chaldean terms for units of weight, but their significance was utterly incomprehensible to those watching.</p> <p>The elderly man summoned by the king was named Daniel. He had been brought to Babylon as a teenaged Jewish captive, and had risen to high office under Belshazzar’s grandfather. Daniel proceeded to explain to the king that the God of heaven had numbered his kingdom and that it was at an end. The king had been weighed in the balance scale and found wanting. That very night his kingdom was to be delivered into the hands of the besieging Medes and Persians.</p> <p>Within hours the Persian army had totally overrun the city, having entered it by coming underneath the mammoth city walls. The river, which flowed underneath the city walls, had been diverted by a canal several hours earlier. In the dark, pre-dawn hours, Persian troops marched through the dry riverbed and opened the massive city gates from the inside. Before the sun rose, they had conquered Babylon and executed King Belshazzar with a sword.</p> <p>Confronted by the evening’s events, Daniel’s mind was drawn back to a scene that had occurred some 65 years earlier. Though he had then been a young man still in his teens, he had been brought into the presence of the ruler of what was then the most powerful country on earth. His own life, and the lives of his closest friends, had hung in the balance that day. Daniel’s purpose in being brought before King Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar’s grandfather, had been to interpret a baffling dream that the king had experienced a few days earlier. Daniel had boldly announced to the skeptical, agitated ruler that there is a God in heaven who is a revealer of secrets. He then presented a God-inspired interpretation of the king’s strange dream.</p> <h2><strong>THE BOOK OF DANIEL SETS THE STAGE</strong></h2> <p>In 604bc, the Chaldean army, under King Nebuchadnezzar, swept from Carchemish down the Jezreel Valley and captured the city of Jerusalem, reducing Judea to a tributary state. Several of the children of prominent Jewish families were taken back to Babylon as captives. During the decades that followed, one of those captives, Daniel, rose to hold high offices of trust in Babylon. The God of Israel, whom he continued to serve faithfully, gave Daniel many visions and interpretations of visions which he recorded in the book of Daniel.</p> <p>Look carefully at the prophetic outline of world events that God inspired Daniel to record. The Bible really does interpret itself, and the book of Daniel is pivotal to understanding the book of Revelation and other end-time prophecies.</p> <p>Daniel 2:1 describes King Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream, hidden from the king’s magicians and astrologers. They failed to recount back to him this puzzling dream. Finally Daniel came in to the king and explained to him that there is a God in heaven who is a revealer of secrets, and that He would reveal to Daniel not only the dream, but also its interpretation (v. 28). Daniel then explained to the king that in his dream he had seen a great image rising above the plains of Shinar. This mammoth image had a head of gold, shoulders and chest of silver, thighs of brass and legs of iron. The iron legs ended with feet which were composed of a mix of iron and clay (vv. 31–33). Nebuchadnezzar had in his dream watched a great stone of supernatural origin (“cut out without hands”) come down from heaven and smash the image on its ten toes, at which point the whole image was turned to chaff and blew away. The stone became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth (vv. 34–35).</p> <p>What did this mean? Remember that the Bible interprets itself! Daniel was inspired to tell Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:38, “You are this head of gold.” He also told the king in Daniel 2:39–40 that three more <strong>kingdoms</strong> would each arise in turn after him. Daniel was inspired to record for us that four great kingdoms or empires would in succession dominate history, after which the God of heaven will set up His everlasting kingdom at the time of the final ten kings—which are represented by the toes on the feet of the “iron legs” of the fourth kingdom (vv. 41–44).</p> <p>Daniel 2:28 emphasizes that the living God whom we serve is a “revealer of secrets.” The king’s dream was meant to reach from the days of ancient King Nebuchadnezzar to “the latter days” of this world, culminating with the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth (v. 44). Have the events Daniel foretold come to pass just as he foresaw? They absolutely have, as we shall see.</p> <p>In Daniel 5, we read of the events surrounding the fall of Babylon to the armies of King Cyrus the Great. The empire of the Medes and the Persians was the “second kingdom” that arose after Babylon. History tells us that the reign of the vast-reaching Medo-Persian Empire established by King Cyrus continued just over 200 years.</p> <p>Then, beginning in 333bc at the Battle of Arabella, the Persian Empire collapsed and the third great world-ruling kingdom took over. This was the Greco-Macedonian Empire under Alexander the Great. The Hellenistic empires of Alexander’s successors dominated the Middle East for about 300 years until they were finally swallowed up, one by one, by the fourth great world-ruling empire—the kingdom of iron.</p> <p>This fourth kingdom, clearly identified in history as the Roman Empire, was prophesied to continue as two “legs” all the way down to the end-time. In that end-time, the ten toes (or kings, Daniel 2:44) would constitute the final embodiment of this system that had its origins in ancient Babylon. If we let the Bible interpret itself, this progression of four world-ruling kingdoms is clear.</p> <h2><strong>THE BEAST OF DANIEL 7</strong></h2> <p>In Daniel 7:1–3, we find that decades after his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel himself had an unusual dream in which he stood staring transfixed at dark swirling clouds and a raging sea. From this stormy sea he saw “four great beasts” arise and proceed, one by one, to shore. The first was like a lion, the second like a bear and the third like a four-headed leopard. The fourth Beast was described as a terrible creature with huge iron teeth (vv. 4–7). Out of the head of this fourth Beast arose ten horns. The end of Daniel’s vision revealed a time when “the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). Remember, the vision in Daniel 2 also ended at the establishment of the kingdom of heaven.</p> <p>Should we let our imaginations soar in trying to discern the identity of these creatures, or should we let the Bible interpret itself? According to verse 17, these four creatures which arose successively (vv. 3–7) symbolize four kings or kingdoms. According to verse 23, the fourth Beast represents the “fourth kingdom upon the earth.” We have already seen from Daniel 2 a succession of four kingdoms. The scenarios recorded in both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 recount four great world-ruling empires, which were to arise successively. Each scenario ends with the establishment of the Kingdom of God to rule the earth. Clearly these two visions are recording different details of the same set of events.</p> <p>When we compare the visions of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, we find that the first kingdom of Daniel 2—the head of gold—is equated with the lion, the king of beasts, in Daniel 7. The second kingdom—the silver of Daniel 2—is compared to a bear in Daniel 7. The third kingdom—the brass of Daniel 2—parallels the four-headed leopard in Daniel 7.</p> <p>Why four heads? History records that after Alexander’s death, his empire was divided among four of his generals. This four-fold division was prophesied in Daniel 8:8. All four kingdoms were Greek in culture and language. They were a divided continuation of the empire that had been unified under Alexander for less than a decade. Just as Persia’s ponderous size and might was symbolized by a bear, the lightning-like quickness of Alexander’s Greek armies was well described by the leopard metaphor.</p> <p>Daniel 8 records more details of the interaction of the second and third kingdoms—Persia and Greece. Daniel 8:3–4 describes a two-horned ram going out to subdue everything in all directions. According to Daniel 8:20, this ram represented “the kings of Media and Persia.” A powerful he-goat with one great horn coming up from between his eyes then defeated the ram completely (vv. 5–7). According to verse 21 <em>(KJV), </em>“the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” After Alexander’s death (“the great horn was broken” v. 8, <em>KJV),</em> “four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power” (v. 22, <em>KJV).</em> This is why, in Daniel 7, we see the third kingdom described as a four-headed creature.</p> <p>These events set the stage for the fourth kingdom described in Daniel 7, too terrible to be characterized by one of the above animals. Daniel 2 characterizes this kingdom with two legs of iron, and Daniel 7 portrays it as a creature with huge iron teeth. Daniel 2:40 explains, “And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.” Notice what Daniel 7:19–23 reveals about this fourth kingdom. “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet… The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.” It is this fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire that is pictured as continuing in one form or another until the time of Christ’s return. Does history confirm this? Absolutely!</p> <p>Just as Medo-Persia had absorbed Babylon, and Alexander the Great had absorbed the empire of the Medes and Persians, so the Romans absorbed all four of the “heads” that had sprung from Alexander’s empire. When Alexander died at Babylon in 323bc, an attempt was made to hold his empire together. A regency was proclaimed to govern in the joint names of his nephew and his unborn son. This attempt failed. Within a few years, his empire was divided among four Greek generals who proclaimed themselves kings, just as Daniel had foreseen (Daniel 8:21–22).</p> <p>In 307bc, Antigonus and his son Demetrius “took the title king, whereupon Ptolemy and Seleucus, Cassander, and Lysimachus did the same. The unity of Alexander’s empire was thus openly ended” (<em>Encyclopedia of World History</em>, William L. Langer, 1968, p. 90).</p> <p>Cassander seized <strong>Greece and Macedonia</strong> and, with the aid of Lysimachus and Seleucus, triumphed over Antigonus who was slain at the Battle of Ipsus in 301bc. In turn, however, Cassander’s dynasty was overthrown in 276bc by Antigonus’ grandson, Antigonus II, who established a dynasty that held Greece and Macedon until the Roman conquest in 168bc, when this area became absorbed into the Roman Empire.</p> <p>Lysimachus, who seized <strong>Asia Minor</strong> and proclaimed himself king in 305bc, was eventually defeated and slain at the Battle of Corpedium in 281bc by his erstwhile ally, Seleucus. Eumenes I, the Seleucid governor of Pergamum (Asia Minor), succeeded in becoming virtually independent of the Seleucids by about 260bc. By 230bc his successor had taken the title “king.” When Attalus III died in 133bc, his will left his kingdom of Pergamum and Asia Minor to the Romans. Rome had thus absorbed the second head of Daniel’s leopard.</p> <p>Seleucus established a kingdom which stretched eastward to <strong>Babylon</strong> and westward to <strong>Syria</strong>. The Seleucid dynasty which sprang from him continued until 64bc, when the Roman general Pompey made Syria a province in the expanding Roman Empire.</p> <p>The Macedonian general Ptolemy took the title “king” at the same time as his three contemporaries, Cassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus. His kingdom was centered in <strong>Egypt</strong> and continued under his descendants down to Cleopatra’s death in 30bc following her defeat by the Romans. Julius Caesar’s nephew Octavian (later known as Augustus Caesar) defeated the forces of Cleopatra and Marc Antony at the Battle of Actium, and absorbed Egypt into the Roman Empire. “This brought to an end the last of the Hellenistic monarchies” (Langer, p. 97). With this conquest, all four heads of the Greco-Macedonian leopard were an integral part of the Roman Empire, the fourth Beast of Daniel 7.</p> <h2><strong>CHAPTER 2<br /> THE BEAST OF REVELATION REVEALED</strong></h2> <p>Napoleon, Hitler and Saddam Hussein have something in common. So also do Mikhail Gorbachev, Benito Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt and various and sundry popes. Some have labeled them—and countless other figures, well known and obscure—as the mysterious Beast described in the book of Revelation. Institutions such as the League of Nations, the United Nations, international communism—and even the United States government—have in the last century also been called the Beast.</p> <p>Other commentators have argued that the book of Revelation is only to be understood as a metaphor for the battle between good and evil. To these commentators, the Beast is the personification of evil, not a historical figure or institution.</p> <p>“But,” some might ask, “aren’t there all sorts of views and interpretations of Bible prophecy?” Of course there are! It seems that most would-be interpreters start with what they see on the world scene and then attempt to read it back into the Bible. This is why nearly all who commented on Bible prophecy in the 1950s and 1960s identified the Soviet Union’s communist empire as the scarlet-colored Beast of Revelation. A few years ago it was Saddam Hussein. Today, many commentators identify the “New World Order” or the United Nations as the Beast. There seem to be just about as many interpretations as there are interpreters.</p> <p>The Creator God does not intend Bible prophecy to be understood by an exercise in creative imagination. Neither is prophecy to be understood by looking at contemporary events and attempting to read them back into the Bible account. Rather, no prophecy of the Scriptures is to be of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). If the Bible uses symbolic language, it contains in its text the keys to understanding what the symbols mean.</p> <h2><strong>REVELATION 13 EXAMINED</strong></h2> <p>The elderly Apostle John stood upon the sandy shore of the Isle of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea. As he gazed out to sea, the scene before him seemed to change. Dark clouds lowered and the sea appeared to churn. As he stared transfixed, a strange creature rose up out of the water. This creature had the body of a leopard, the mouth of a lion and the feet of a bear. It thus embodied the main characteristics of the first three creatures Daniel had seen in his vision recorded in Daniel 7. The Beast that John saw also had seven heads and ten horns. We are told that “the dragon” gave this creature its power and authority. Finally, we are told that one of this creature’s heads was wounded to death and was then healed. After the healing, the creature continued for 42 months (Revelation 13:1–5).</p> <p>An almost identical scene is described in Daniel 7. In his vision, Daniel had seen four creatures—a lion, a bear, a four-headed leopard and a fourth terrible creature with ten horns—arise up out of a dark and stormy sea (Daniel 7:1–7). The creatures that Daniel saw are clearly identified as the succession of empires from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, to Medo-Persia, to Alexander’s Greek empire which split four ways after his death and finally to the Roman Empire. It is out of the fourth creature, symbolizing the Roman Empire, that the “ten horns” arose.</p> <p>Notice the similarity of the two accounts. In each case there are seven heads. In Revelation 13 John saw one creature, not four distinct ones, but the characteristics were the same: seven heads and ten horns were described. In each account the prophets used the symbolism of a lion, a bear and a leopard. Why were there differences in the visions?</p> <p>When Daniel saw his vision, it was virtually all future. Babylon, symbolized by a lion, was on the scene and the others were yet to come. When John wrote, more than 600 years later, Babylon, Persia and Greece had all passed into history. John focused not on the different heads to arise, but upon the details concerning the seventh head, the one that was extant in his day and whose history he recorded in advance. Where Daniel focused on four empires, John focused on one system derived from Babylon. He saw the various empires as merely different heads of the same creature. Daniel identified what he saw as beginning in his days and continuing on until the return of Christ when the saints would possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:18). The Roman Empire of John’s day was simply a continuation of what had begun in Babylon.</p> <p>Remember that the Bible interprets its own symbols. Daniel 7:23 makes plain that the four creatures (embodying seven heads) represent kingdoms. In Revelation 17:9–10, the seven heads of the Beast are identified as “seven mountains” or “seven kings.” According to Daniel 7:24 and Revelation 17:12, horns symbolize kings or kingdoms. As for the dragon which is the source of power for this system, Revelation 12:9 tells us “the great dragon… [is] that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan.”</p> <p>What of the head “wounded to death”? Remember, of the seven-headed Beast described in Revelation 13, only the final seventh head, the Roman Empire, was extant in John’s day. The fulfillment of the previous six heads had already passed into history by the time of John’s writing. Did the Roman Empire receive a deadly wound, then later come back to life and continue “forty-two [prophetic] months”?</p> <p>The date that has for centuries been taken as the line of demarcation between ancient and medieval history is 476ad. This date, the traditional “fall” of the Roman Empire, marks the murder of the last Roman emperor of the West, Romulus Augustulus, by the barbarians. In the next chapter we will examine this empire’s subsequent revival.</p> <p>But first, notice another detail described in both Daniel 7 and in Revelation 13. In each account we read of ten horns coming up out of the Beast’s seventh head, the Roman Empire. John saw each of these horns as having a crown upon it (Revelation 13:1) and Daniel explained that they represented kings or kingdoms (Daniel 7:24).</p> <p>Daniel also tells us that from among these ten horns came up a “little horn” which caused the first three to be “plucked out.” To see what this means, we must look further at the history of the old Roman Empire.</p> <h2><strong>THE STORY OF THE FIRST THREE “HORNS”</strong></h2> <p>In 286ad, the emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into East and West for administrative purposes. This was symbolized by the “two legs” described in Daniel 2. Serious trouble lay ahead, however, for the western “leg.” By 400ad, the empire in the West was in its death throes. Following barbarian incursions on the frontiers, Rome itself was sacked and looted—for the first time in eight centuries—by Alaric and his Visigoths in 409ad.</p> <p>As the Roman Empire in the West collapsed, three groups of barbarian invaders—the <strong>Vandals</strong>, the <strong>Heruli</strong> and the <strong>Ostrogoths</strong>—sought to establish themselves as the successors to the Roman emperors of the West. The emperor in the East officially recognized each as a continuation of legitimate Roman government in the West. Yet another emerging ruler in the West eventually obtained their overthrow and ouster.</p> <p>This emerging ruler was the bishop of Rome. While the western emperors grew weaker, his power and stature increased. This involved not only a growing religious power over the professing Christian community, but civil and political power as well. The Vandals, the Herulii and the Ostrogoths particularly disturbed him. While they professed Christianity, it was a non-Trinitarian brand called Arianism. They were not “orthodox” and were therefore viewed as a threat to the religious unity of the empire.</p> <p>The <strong>Vandals</strong> invaded North Africa in 429ad. After several years of fighting, they entered into a treaty in 435 whereby the Romans “recognized” them as the legitimate continuation of the empire in North Africa (Langer, p. 135). The Vandals sought to expand their power as successor to Rome. In 455 they even pillaged the city of Rome itself. They were so thorough that to this day the name “vandal” is attached to those who destroy others’ property. But ultimately, the Vandals were uprooted. “In Africa the Vandals were hated as Arians [by the Church of Rome] and they had to deal with serious Berber revolts, but their power was not broken until the 533–548 Vandalic Wars of [eastern emperor] Justinian” (Langer, p. 159).</p> <p>In 476, about 20 years after the Vandals sacked Rome, the <strong>Herulii,</strong> under their leader Odoacer, deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last western Roman emperor. The eastern emperor, Zeno, “recognized” Odoacer as the legitimate continuation of Roman government in Italy. Odoacer was an Arian, however, and after an appeal by the Bishop of Rome, Zeno dispatched Theodoric, the leader of the Ostrogoths, to drive out the Herulii in 488. “The orthodox bishops of Italy, disliking Odoacer’s Arianism, supported the Arian invader [Theodoric] as representing an almost orthodox emperor. With their help Theodoric broke Odoacer’s sturdy resistance in five years of war, and persuaded him to a compromise peace [in 493]. He invited Odoacer and his son to dine with him in Ravenna, fed them generously, and slew them with his own hand” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Will Durant, vol. 4, pp. 97–98).</p> <p><strong>Ostrogothic</strong> rule of Italy, though accepted as a means of getting rid of the Herulii, remained unpopular with the bishop of Rome and the Roman Catholic population. General Belisarius, who had been sent from Constantinople in 533ad with 500 transport ships and 92 warships to rid Africa of the Vandals, came to Italy in 536 to drive out the Ostrogoths. “The Ostrogothic forces were meager and divided; the people of Rome hailed Belisarius as a liberator, the clergy welcomed him as a Trinitarian; he entered Rome unopposed” (Durant, p. 109).</p> <p>Thus the first three “horns” were plucked up at the behest of the bishop of Rome, the “little horn” of Daniel 7. The stage was being set for the true revival of the Roman Empire in the West. This revival in 554, like all the revivals that have occurred since, involved the bishop of Rome’s blessing and his role as an intimate player in the various continuations of the empire of ancient Rome.</p> <h2><strong>CHAPTER 3<br /> ROME—ANCIENT AND FUTURE MASTER OF THE WORLD?</strong></h2> <p>The tourist posters display a fascinating Rome—a city of seven hills covered with the architectural glories of the past and present. Rome is a city of contrasts. Old buildings and ancient ruins jostle side by side with a thriving, modern city. Twenty-seven centuries have come and gone since its legendary founding at the hands of Romulus and Remus. During this long expanse of time, this remarkable city has played an unparalleled role in the history of western civilization, as a seat of ongoing intrigue and power!</p> <p>Nestled within the city of Rome is the world’s smallest sovereign territory—Vatican City. Maintaining its own diplomatic relations with all the major powers, this minuscule city-state, ruled by the Roman pontiff, is a full participant in international affairs. The Vatican aspires to be far more than a mere participant, however. It seeks to once again achieve the <em>guiding</em> role it played for so many centuries.</p> <p>Though Rome’s ancient empire received a fatal wound with the death of the last emperor in 476ad, that was not the end of the story! The first three kingdoms springing out of the old Roman Empire, the Vandals, Herulii, and Ostrogoths, were uprooted. The might of the eastern emperor, Justinian, accomplished this “plucking up” at the behest of Rome’s pope. Justinian’s “imperial restoration” in 554 “healed” the “deadly wound” and launched the first of six historical attempts to revive and carry on the empire of ancient Rome. And according to the Bible, there is a seventh and final revival yet to come. Your life will be affected <em>profoundly</em> by events yet to take place in what its residents call the “eternal” city!</p> <h2><strong>THE DEADLY WOUND IS HEALED</strong></h2> <p>With the conclusion of the Gothic Wars in 553ad, Italy was left in poverty and disorder. Rome had been captured, besieged, looted and starved. Finally the armies of the eastern Roman emperor Justinian stood victorious. Justinian’s armies had succeeded in reconquering Italy and remnants of the western empire, but how was he to govern it? The answer lay in an alliance of church and state that has shaped the history of western Europe ever since. Though secular authority in the West had collapsed, “the survival of ecclesiastical organization [under the bishop of Rome] appeared even to the emperors as the salvation of the state. In 554 Justinian promulgated a decree requiring that ‘fit and proper persons, able to administer the local government, be chosen as governors of the provinces <strong>by the bishops and chief persons of each province</strong>‘” (Durant, pp. 519–520).</p> <p>This event is known in history as the Imperial Restoration. The emperors in Byzantium continued as nominal rulers of a revived <em>Imperium Romanum</em> in the West from 554 until 800. By the terms of Justinian’s decree, however, the bishops of Rome (now called popes) held the reins of power and were thus the real riders sitting astride the imperial Beast in the West.</p> <p>It is important to note at this point a significant difference between the Beast described in Revelation 13 and the one described in Revelation 17. The Beast of Revelation 13 corresponds to what Daniel saw in Daniel 7. John described a creature that began in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon and continued on to his day. Out of the seventh head, the Roman Empire, would arise ten kingdoms. Daniel 7 explained that the first three of those ten horns would be “plucked out.” However, the Beast of Revelation 17 is different. It is a creature <strong>ridden by the woman,</strong> unlike the earlier description. The Beast in Revelation 17 is the one “that was and is not” (v. 11)—the Roman Empire <strong>after</strong> the deadly wound is healed. This is what history has ironically and misleadingly labeled the “Holy” Roman Empire, dominated by the Church of Rome, which has continued from 554ad through various revivals to modern times.</p> <p>Revelation 17:11 explains that this Beast “is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition” <em>(KJV).</em> It is a continuation of the seven-headed creature described in Revelation 13, but it is in some ways like an eighth head on that creature since it begins after the last head of the Beast of Revelation 13 receives a “deadly wound.” The seven heads of the Revelation 17 Beast are seven kingdoms (v. 10). They are the seven resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire, corresponding to the last seven of the “ten horns” of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. The ten horns of Revelation 17 are also ten kings or kingdoms (v. 12). They give power to the final revival of the Holy Roman Empire and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming (v. 14), thus corresponding to the ten toes on the image described in Daniel 2.</p> <p>Now, look more closely at the history of the “seven heads” mentioned in Revelation 17. In the years after the imperial restoration, the eastern emperors generally focused their attention closer to home. The protection and security that the eastern emperors provided for the West became negligible. Private negotiations between Charles, King of the Franks, and Leo, Bishop of Rome, were held to resolve this problem. The results of the negotiations were made manifest in 800ad.</p> <p>“On Christmas Day, as Charlemagne [King of the Franks], in the chlamys and sandals of a <em>patricius romanus</em>, knelt before St. Peter’s altar in prayer, [Pope] Leo suddenly produced a jeweled crown, and set it upon the King’s head. The congregation, perhaps instructed beforehand to act according to ancient ritual as the <em>senatus populusque Romanus</em> confirming a coronation, thrice cried out: ‘Hail to Charles the Augustus, crowned by God the great and peace-bringing Emperor of the Romans!’ The royal head was anointed with holy oil, the Pope saluted Charlemagne as Emperor and Augustus…” (Durant, pp. 468–469). After several years of dispute, the eastern emperor at Byzantium recognized Charlemagne as co-emperor. The <em>Imperium</em> in the West passed to yet a second head since the days of the “deadly wound” in 476 and its subsequent “healing” in 554. Both times were at papal behest and with papal blessing.</p> <p>As historian Will Durant puts it: “Out of this intimate co-operation of Church and state came one of the most brilliant ideas in the history of statesmanship: the transformation of Charlemagne’s realm into a Holy Roman Empire that should have behind it all the prestige, sanctity, and stability of both Imperial and papal Rome” (Durant, p. 468).</p> <p>During the century and a half that followed Charlemagne’s coronation, his empire slowly disintegrated under weak successors. By 936 the German Saxons had become the most powerful group in central Europe. In 955 Otto, Duke of the Saxons and King of the Germans, defeated the Magyars who were attempting to invade western Europe from the East. Several years later he entered Italy at the request of Pope John XII to restore him to power and in the aftermath received the imperial crown at Pavia in 962. “Thus once again the ghost of the Roman empire was summoned to sanction the successful state building of a semi-barbarian king” (<em>Handbook of Western Civilization</em>, William McNiel, p. 317). Otto’s coronation marked the inauguration of a third head in the continuity of the western empire since Justinian’s imperial restoration.</p> <p>How did Otto’s contemporaries and their successors view the significance of his revival of the empire? As historian Robert Hertzstein wrote<em>,</em> “the Empire was understood not as a mere term, but as a universal Christian regent for God on Earth, to exist until the coming of the Anti-Christ. Like Charlemagne, Otto received his throne through the Papal claim that the Roman Church had been the only Imperial elector since the early fourth century… The Holy Roman Empire was thus to a large extent German in its ethnic and political base, Christian in its moral justification, and Roman in its claim to legitimacy and universality” (<em>The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages</em>, ed. Hertzstein, p. viii).</p> <p>In an essay titled “The Empire as a Regency for God on Earth,” noted Austrian historian Friedrich Heer wrote: “The task of the Empire was to be God’s protagonist on earth, to fulfill His aims here, to protect Christianity and the Church, and to preserve the righteousness of God and the divine order of the universe on earth. The earthly Empire was the transitory reflection of the eternal City of God… In the imperial symbols this claim was displayed to the whole world: with the imperial apple, filled with earth from the four corners of the world, the Emperor holds the whole world in his hand… [the emperor] called the imperial crown <em>corona urbis et orbis</em> [the crown of Rome and of the globe]; he viewed himself as the <em>caput mundi</em> and as the <em>dominator obris et urbis</em> [head of the world and ruler of the globe and of Rome]” (Hertzstein, pp. 64–65).</p> <p>Otto’s revived empire continued for almost 300 years. Finally, with the death of Conrad IV in 1254, the empire became so rent by rival factions that a 19-year <em>interregnum</em> (time without an emperor) resulted. In its aftermath, Rudolph I was elected emperor in 1273—the first of the Hapsburg family to be elevated to the imperial throne. The apex of this fourth revival of the old Roman <em>imperium</em> was the crowning of Rudolph’s descendant, Charles V, in Bologna by Pope Clement VII in 1530. Charles ruled over a vast empire. From his mother (Joan, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain) he had inherited Spain and all Spanish possessions in the New World. From his father he inherited the vast Hapsburg domains in Germany, Italy and central Europe.</p> <p>After Charles V, Hapsburg power waned. By the 18th century, “Holy Roman Emperor” was an increasingly empty title. In the final decade of the 18th century, all of Europe was shaken by the French Revolution and its aftermath. A man both highly gifted and supremely ambitious came to power in France. His name was Napoleon, and he aspired to far more than the presidency of a French Republic or even becoming a new king of France. His ambition could only be satisfied by the reestablishment of the Roman Empire—with himself as emperor. As historian Will Durant notes, “he dreamt of rivaling Charlemagne and uniting western Europe” (<em>The Story of Civilization, </em>Will Durant, vol. 11, p. 243).</p> <p>Napoleon considered himself a successor to Caesar and Charlemagne. Staging a plebiscite which he won by a vote of 3,572,329 to 2,569, Napoleon had the French Senate proclaim him emperor on May 18, 1804. Immediately he began negotiations with Pope Pius VII to come to Paris and consecrate him as emperor. The negotiations were successful and the coronation occurred on December 2.</p> <p>The Hapsburgs of Austria felt keenly the successive diplomatic and military pushes of Napoleon, especially his assumption of the imperial title. Two years later, at Napoleon’s instigation, 16 princes and their states withdrew from the Holy Roman Empire, formed the Confederation of the Rhine and asked Napoleon to take them under his protection as a part of his empire. The following month, on August 6, 1806, Francis II renounced his now-empty title as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon’s European empire now stretched from the Atlantic to the Elbe. Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, western Germany and eventually all of Italy formed his renewed empire. Napoleon thus became the fifth head of the revived western <em>Imperium</em> since the days of Justinian.</p> <p>Napoleon’s empire was not destined to be long-lived, however. A British-led coalition brought about his defeat and abdication in 1814. This ended a period of 1,260 years since the imperial restoration under Justinian in 554. Thus the prophecy in Revelation 13:3–5 of the Beast receiving a deadly wound, the wound being healed, and then the Beast “given authority to continue for forty-two months” was fulfilled (42 “months” of 30 days equal 1,260 “days”). Napoleon’s abdication marked the end of an epoch. According to prophecy there were yet to be two more attempted revivals of the glory and grandeur of ancient Rome.</p> <h2>TWO FINAL REVIVALS—One Past and One Yet to Come</h2> <p>After Napoleon’s collapse in 1814, Germany and Italy remained divided and impotent for the next half-century. Each was divided into a number of small states and principalities and was rent with internal squabbles. By 1871, Bismarck had succeeded in uniting all of non-Hapsburg Germany under the Prussian king while Garibaldi succeeded in uniting all of Italy under the northern Italian king of Sardinia-Piedmont.</p> <p>Fifty years after the inauguration of Garibaldi’s union, a strong man, who had visions of once again restoring the grandeur and glory of ancient Rome, came to power in this united Italy. His name was Benito Mussolini and he led his Fascists to power in 1922. The Fascists derived their name from the <em>fasces</em> of Imperial Rome. The <em>fasces</em> was an ax wrapped in a bundle of rods signifying unity and authority. It was carried by Roman consuls as a symbol of their office.</p> <p>Since 1870, when King Victor Emmanuel’s Italian army had defeated the armies of the pope and captured Rome, there had been a tense standoff between the popes and the new rulers of Italy. Finally in 1929 Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the papacy, which established papal sovereignty over Vatican City and made Mussolini’s government the first Italian government in modern history to be recognized officially by the pope.</p> <p>The Concordat signed between the papacy and Italy’s Fascist government was a prelude to one signed four years later between the papacy and the German Nazi government. The role of the Vatican in establishing both Mussolini and Hitler in power is detailed in <em>Hitler’s Pope, the Secret History of Pius XII</em> (John Cornwell, Viking, 1999).</p> <p>Anxious to restore “glory,” Mussolini looked for places to conquer. Ethiopia, whose armies had routed the Italians out of East Africa in 1896, seemed a likely prospect. Mussolini’s armies successfully invaded Ethiopia and Somaliland. In 1936 he grandiosely proclaimed, from the balcony of the Palace Venezia, “after 15 centuries, the reappearance of the Empire on the fated hills of Rome.” Mussolini then proceeded to enter into an alliance with Adolph Hitler, ruler of Germany since 1933, that resulted in the Rome-Berlin Axis of World War II. This sixth attempt at uniting Europe by reviving the concept of imperial Rome went down in flames and ignominy in 1945.</p> <p>Many said in the aftermath of World War II that Europe’s day was gone. Cities, countryside and national economies were devastated throughout the continent, especially in Germany. Many thought Russian communism was the wave of the future in Europe. After all, Stalin quickly planted the Russian boot on as much of Europe as he could immediately after the war. The idea of a German-led Europe playing a dominant role in world affairs was something that most observers said could never again happen.</p> <p>Yet in 1957, within 12 years of the end of World War II, the Treaty of Rome instituted a fledgling Common Market consisting of France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux states. This was the direct predecessor of today’s powerful European Union.</p> <h2><strong>PROPHECIES FOR OUR DAY AND BEYOND</strong></h2> <p>Is this European Union setting the stage for the future—a seventh and final attempt at resurrecting the grandeur and might of imperial Rome? When Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 are compared, we see that the “ten horns” (kingdoms) sprang out of the Roman Empire, the seventh head of the Beast. The first three of these “horns,” the Vandals, Herulii and Ostrogoths, were “plucked up” at papal behest. This fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel 7:7–8, 23–25, leaving the final seven “horns.” Six attempts to restore the empire of ancient Rome occurred with papal sanction. They have come and gone, and are now part of the historical record.</p> <p>The story of the seven revivals (six in the past and one yet future) is also told symbolically in Revelation 17. Here we find pictured another Beast with seven heads and ten horns. This creature is different from that of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13—it is ridden by a woman, symbolizing a religious organization labeled “Mystery, Babylon the Great.” In other words, it is a perpetuation of the old Babylonian mystery religion now grown great and powerful.</p> <p>The seven-headed creature of Revelation 17 is clearly the Holy Roman Empire, because “The seven heads are seven mountains <strong>on which the woman sits</strong>” (Revelation 17:9). In verse 10, the seven “mountains” are identified as seven kings or kingdoms. The creatures portrayed in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 were not ridden by the woman. The Beast of Revelation 17 is. Like its predecessor, it has ten horns on its final head. In Revelation 17, the ten horns represent ten future rulers who will collectively give their power and authority to “the Beast”—an end-time revival of the old Holy Roman Empire. The time setting is yet ahead of us because these ten will fight against Christ at His return (Revelation 17:12–14, 17).</p> <p>This brings us back to the first vision that Daniel interpreted—the image in Daniel 2 of the two legs of iron ending in feet of iron and clay. The ten toes, five on each foot, were pictured as being smashed by Christ at His return prior to setting up the Kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 2:34–35, 42–44). The ten toes of Daniel 2 and the ten horns of Revelation 17 are synonymous, symbolizing ten rulers who will collectively support and give their allegiance to the seventh and final resurrection of the Roman Empire.</p> <p>The legs of the Daniel 2 image represent the Roman Empire divided into the Eastern Empire and the Western Empire by the emperor Diocletian in 286ad. Bible prophecy focuses on the continuation of the western empire—the Beast ridden by the “woman.” Yet Daniel 2 shows that the eastern leg has a part to play in the final revival. The eastern Roman Empire continued with emperors ruling in Constantinople until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks overran the city and killed the last emperor, Constantine XI.</p> <p>But that was not the end of the eastern leg. In 1472, 19 years after the fall of Constantinople, the pope performed a marriage ceremony between Ivan the Great, Duke of Muscovy, and Zoe, niece and heir to the last eastern emperor. “The marriage was of importance in establishing the claim of Russian rulers to be the successors of the Greek emperors and the protectors of Orthodox Christianity… Ivan took the title <em>Tsar</em>, [or <em>Czar</em>] i.e., Caesar” (Langer<em>,</em> p. 342). Thus, down through history, the Roman Empire continued as two legs. Two individuals claimed to be the successors of Caesar. In the Latin, Germanic, Roman Catholic realm of the West the form of the title was <em>Kaiser</em>. In the Greek, Slavic, Orthodox realm of the East it was <em>Tsar</em>.</p> <p>The One who says He declares “the end from the beginning” reveals that eventually ten kings (or rulers) who are the successors of <strong>both</strong> the eastern and western “legs” will unite. They will form the last resurrection of the Roman Empire—the final embodiment of Babylon.</p> <p>There is some bad news ahead. These final ten rulers will give their support to a coming union of church and state in Europe, which will aspire to world dominance. As Johannes Haller, a popular German historian who died in 1947, put it: “In the memory of the German people the old [Holy Roman] Empire lives on as a time of greatness and splendor that must one day come to life again” (“The Greatest Epoch of the German People,” 1944).</p> <p>After an interlude of apparent peace and prosperity, this system will plunge the whole world into a hellish nightmare. Unless God were to intervene by sending Jesus Christ back to this earth, utter destruction would result and no flesh would be left alive (Matthew 24:21–22, 29–30).</p> <p>Yet beyond the bad news there is good news—really the best news possible. In the days of this final union of European rulers, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed… it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).</p> <h2><strong>CHAPTER 4<br /> THE BEAST’S MYSTERIOUS MARK</strong></h2> <p>Scarcely any prophetic subject has elicited more conjecture and speculation than the “mark of the Beast.” In addition to a “mark,” Revelation 13 also mentions an “image” of the Beast as well as the mysterious “number of his name”—666. What is the significance of these mysterious symbols?</p> <p>Before examining the number, the image or the mark, consider what we have established so far. The end-time Beast is clearly identified in your Bible as the modern successor to the empire of ancient Babylon. The prophet Daniel identified four successive kingdoms: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Rome, the “fourth kingdom,” was to continue through seven revivals until the return of the Messiah, when the God of heaven will destroy the final revived Roman Empire and set up a kingdom that will endure forever.</p> <p>Since the Roman Empire is the Beast described by John in Revelation 13 and Revelation 17, the “mark” is a brand or mark of the Roman Empire. The “image” of the Beast must be something modeled or patterned after the Roman Empire.</p> <p>Before going further, notice that Revelation 13 mentions a second “beast” with an earthly, not heavenly, origin (v. 11). It outwardly masquerades as Christian, seeking to be identified with Christ, the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29) but receives its power from the devil, that old dragon (Revelation 12:9). In prophecy, horns are used to represent rulership or authority, and this creature is pictured with two horns. Revelation 13:12 reveals that this second beast insists that all give their allegiance and loyalty to the Holy Roman Empire, the beast whose deadly wound was healed (v. 12). This second beast is described as performing great miracles, which will deceive humanity (vv. 13–14). In Matthew 24:24, Christ prophesied of “false Christs” who will deceive all but the very elect.</p> <p>Historically, was there an institution claiming to represent Christ (“like a lamb,” v. 11) and holding sway over the populace by means of various “miracles” (v. 14)—an institution which taught the devil’s false message that God’s law was “done away” and which insisted that its adherents give their loyalty to the Holy Roman Empire? Throughout the medieval period, the Church of Rome did exactly this!</p> <p>Why the two horns? The Church of Rome is both an ecclesiastical and a civil government. The pope is both a religious leader and a civil head of state. Bible prophecy shows that the church-state union of the Middle Ages was a forerunner of end-time events whose scale will be far grander.</p> <h2><strong>THE MYSTERIOUS MARK</strong></h2> <p>What could possibly be considered the mark or brand of the Roman Empire? Whatever it is, within a few years it will be required for all of those who are going to participate in the economic system of Babylon the Great (Revelation 13:17). Yet those who accept it will, by their actions, call down upon themselves the undiluted wrath of God (Revelation 14:9–10). Whatever this mark is, it has been extant for centuries, because all of the righteous martyrs have rejected it (Revelation 20:4). Revelation 13, in describing the interaction of the Church of Rome and the medieval Holy Roman Empire, makes plain that the mark, the image and the number of the Beast’s name were all extant during the Middle Ages as a precursor of end-time events.</p> <p>In years past, many suggestions have been advanced to identify this mark. Back in the 1930s, some tried to connect it with the Social Security cards required by the Roosevelt administration. Others have seen sinister implications in the universal product codes read by cash register scanners. Still others have been suspicious of bank ATM cards and other technological innovations. Many expect some sort of tattoo or hidden embedded computer chip to be foisted upon an unsuspecting populace. But unless we look at <strong><em>all</em></strong> that the Bible reveals about this subject, we will be unable to gain a clear understanding.</p> <p>Revelation 14:10 reveals that those who receive the mark of the Beast will have the wrath of God poured upon them. Notice the Apostle Paul’s clear teaching about the recipients of God’s wrath. Colossians 3:6 tells us that “the wrath of God is coming upon <strong>the sons of disobedience</strong>.” The mark of the Beast is therefore a brand of disobedience to God. It marks those who refuse to keep God’s commandments in spite of both the preaching of the two witnesses and even the final warning delivered by an angel of God (Revelation 14:9).</p> <p>The <strong>mark of the Beast stands clearly as a brand of disobedience</strong> to God and His laws. Does the Bible reveal a contrasting <strong>sign of obedience</strong> that identifies God’s true people? Notice Exodus 31:13–17. Here God declared to ancient Israel that His <em>Sabbaths</em> were a sign between Him and His people forever! <strong>The Sabbath is the test commandment</strong> to identify the true God of creation and the people who are obedient to His commands and laws.</p> <p>Revelation 13 explains that the mark of the Beast, a brand of disobedience to God, is taken upon the hand and the forehead. Just as disobedience is described as worn upon the hand and forehead, so also is obedience to God’s law. Notice Deuteronomy 6. “Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and commandments… And thou shalt bind them <strong>for a sign upon thine hand</strong>, and they shall be as frontlets <strong>between thine eyes</strong>” (vv. 1–2, 8, <em>KJV).</em> The hand is symbolic of actions, while the forehead is the seat of intellect. Obedience to God involves both actions (hand) and will (forehead).</p> <p>The mark of the Beast is a brand of disobedience to God. Not only must this involve rejection of God’s sign of obedience, the Sabbath, but also the acceptance of a counterfeit sign or mark. This mark is, in reality, a brand deriving from Babylon and Rome. Is there such a symbol that has come all the way down to modern times?</p> <h2><strong>SUN WORSHIP—SATAN’S ANCIENT COUNTERFEIT</strong></h2> <p>In ancient Babylon, the kings served as high priests of the sun, Bel-Marduk. “To take the hand of Bel-Marduk” was part of the ceremony of installation as king in Assyria and Babylon (“Babylonian and Assyrian Religion,” <em>Encyclopædia Britannica</em>, 11th ed.). The celebration of the winter solstice around December 25 was regarded as the birthday of the sun. It was a major holiday associated with gift-giving and the sacred evergreen tree.</p> <p>Not only did much of Babylonian pagan worship involve the sun, but so also did the worship of each of Babylon’s successors in its own turn, first in Persia and later in both the Hellenistic world and Rome. In fact, by the time each of Daniel’s four beasts arose, sun worship had risen to prominence as the imperial religion.</p> <p>Persia was Babylon’s first successor. Ancient Persian religion centered on the worship of Mithras, the god of light. As a result of Babylonian influence, however, Mithras came to be identified with the Babylonian sun god. The Greeks of Asia Minor identified Mithras with their ancient sun god, Helios, and contributed to the westward spread of the cult of the sun. Alexander the Great traveled to Egypt to the Temple of Amon-Ra to be proclaimed by the priests as the literal son of the sun god. And what of Rome? “Mithras, identified with Sol Invictus at Rome, thus became the giver of authority and victory to the imperial house” (“Mithras,” <em>Encyclopædia Britannica</em>, 11th ed.). <em>Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary</em> states that Sol, the sun god of Rome, was worshipped as “the Baal or Bel of the Chaldeans [Babylonians]” (p. 590). Sun worship and its symbols were adopted by the Roman Empire from her predecessors and passed on to the entire western world!</p> <p>In modern Lebanon today there is a tiny Arab village called Baalbek. Located there are the ruins of two majestic temples, once the pride of Heliopolis, the Greco-Roman “City of the Sun.” Notice the explanation of historian Will Durant: “Augustus planted a small colony there, and the town grew as the sacred seat of Baal the Sun-God…. Under Antoninus Pius and his successors Roman, Greek, and Syrian architects and engineers raised, on the site of an old Phoenician temple to Baal, an imposing shrine to Iuppiter Heliopolitanus” (<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, Will Durant, vol. 3, p. 511). Thus the Roman Jupiter became identified with Baal the ancient sun god.</p> <p>Another great center of pagan sun worship was the temple at Heliopolis in Egypt, where a great obelisk sacred to the sun was located. Around 40ad, the Roman emperor Caligula had this obelisk transported from Egypt to Rome and erected in his circus on Vatican Hill. In 1586, upon order of Pope Sixtus V, this ancient obelisk—83 feet in height and weighing 320 tons—was moved a short distance to its present location. Requiring a crew of 800 workmen, 160 horses and 45 winches, the obelisk was exactly centered before the entrance of St. Peter’s Cathedral—where it remains to this day.</p> <p>In ancient Rome, before the days of the empire, there was a cult devoted to Sol, the sun god. Parrinder’s <em>World Religions from Ancient History to the Present</em> discusses the development of sun worship as the religion of Rome:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“It was natural that as the centre of gravity of the Roman empire moved eastwards, sun-worship should grow in power. It was already strong in imperial propaganda; Nero’s Golden House was an appropriate home for the incarnate sun, and Antonius accorded the sun peculiar honour. Under the Severan dynasty sun-worship became dominant; the sun-god was portrayed with Severus’s characteristic beard, and the emperor took the title INVICTVS (unconquered), which was the peculiar epithet of the sun… The sun was a superb unifying symbol and rallying-point for the whole empire… in AD 274 Aurelian established the sun-god as the supreme god of the Roman empire” (p. 175).</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Aurelian, emperor from 270–282ad, ascribed much of Rome’s third-century moral and political chaos to religious disunity. He sought to unite the whole empire in the “worship of the sun-god, and of the Emperor as the vicar of that deity on earth… He built at Rome a resplendent Temple of the Sun, in which, he hoped, the Baal of Emesa and the god of Mithraism would merge… Aurelian advanced that Orientalization of the monarchy which had begun with Elagabalus and would complete itself in Diocletian and Constantine” (Durant, p. 639).</p> <p>Constantine, considered Rome’s first “Christian” emperor, was himself a devotee of the sun god. “In fact the emperor Constantine’s Christianity was ambiguous. His family owed traditional allegiance to the sun-god; the famous vision of the cross as he marched on Rome came to him from the sun; the sun continues to appear on his coins through the decade, and on his arch at Rome; his own statue at Constantinople bore the rayed crown of the sun-god” (Parrinder, p. 175). By the first century, the seven-day planetary week was being popularized at Rome. The seven-day week itself originated at creation (Genesis 1) and the knowledge of the correct weekly cycle was preserved by the Jews. However, in ancient Babylon each of the seven days of the week became associated with what the ancients called the seven planets: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. This is significant because it set the stage for an imperial proclamation that indelibly stamped upon the Christian-professing world a mark,<strong> or brand,</strong> derived from ancient sun worship.</p> <p>The <em>Encyclopædia Britannica</em> records: “The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty is a constitution of Constantine in 321ad, enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday (<em>venerabili die solis</em>)” (“Sunday,” 11th ed.).</p> <p>By using the Latin term properly translated as “venerable day of the sun,” Constantine identified the first day of the week with that day dedicated from ancient times to Sol, the sun. Through the proclamation of a Roman emperor, a mark from ancient Babylon and the cult of sun worship was forcibly stamped on the inhabitants of the Roman Empire. That mark—with other associated symbols of sun worship—has continued right on down through the medieval period to modern times.</p> <h2><strong>THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST</strong></h2> <p>We have seen that the second beast mentioned in Revelation 13 is none other than the Church of Rome, while the first beast mentioned is the Roman Empire. The Church of Rome, this second beast, instructed that an “image” of the first beast, the Roman Empire, should be made. What is an image? It is a copy, model, representation or counterpart. The image of the Beast is therefore a counterpart to the old Roman Empire—something modeled after the pagan Roman kingdom or government. Notice the plain statement of British historian and statesman James Bryce that the “papal [system] itself had been modeled after the elder Empire” (“A History of the Holy Roman Empire Must Be Deduced from Its Theory,” Hertzstein, p. 53).</p> <p>Revelation 13 explains that the false church, the second beast, insists that all people give total loyalty and devotion (worship) to the image, the religious organizational structure modeled after the old Roman Empire. It “causes” to be killed those who refuse (<a href="http://biblia.com/bible/nkjv/Revelation%2013.15">Revelation 13:15</a>). During the Middle Ages, the church did not carry out the punishment itself. It simply declared as heretics those who refused adherence to the system. Those declared anathema from the church were considered as enemies of the state and were accordingly dealt with by the civil government.</p> <p>The first-century Roman Empire was authoritarian. But most do not realize that for many offices election was also an honored and accepted practice. Even the emperor was elected—ostensibly by the Senate, though more commonly in fact by the Praetorian Guard or simply by the army.</p> <p>Some of the very elders that Paul admonished (Acts 20:30) later became ringleaders in deceiving God’s people into following the pattern of Roman municipalities by holding public church meetings with elected officers. Notice the statements of historian Arthur Boak: “These municipalities were patterned closely after Rome, although certain titles, like those of consul and Senate, were reserved for the capital city… All officials were popularly elected” (<em>A History of Rome to 565ad,</em> 1965, p. 370). Dr. Boak goes on to write, “While the lower classes of Rome and the municipalities had little opportunity for political activity, they found compensation in the social life of their guilds or colleges… Thus arose professional, religious, and funerary colleges. Their organization was modeled on that of the municipalities” (pp. 370–371). Writing of the development of the incipient Roman Catholic Church, Dr. Boak adds, “In their organization these communities were all of the same general type, resembling the Roman religious <em>collegia</em>” (p. 401).</p> <p>In the congregations, increasing numbers of unconverted people wanted “say-so.” They chose teachers who sanctioned elections, who pleased them with teachings that increasingly led them back into the pagan customs of the world around them. In his final letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul had directly prophesied of this turn of events (2 Timothy 4:3–4).</p> <p>Historian Edward Gibbon wrote that “the order of public deliberations soon introduces the office of a president, invested at least with the authority of collecting the sentiments, and of executing the resolutions, of the assembly” (<em>Triumph of Christendom in the Roman Empire</em>, p. 44). Gibbon went on to describe the times following the emperor Constantine’s reign:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“But the episcopal chair was solicited, especially in the great and opulent cities of the empire, as a temporal rather than as a spiritual dignity. The interested views, the selfish and angry passions, the arts of perfidy and dissimulation, the secret corruption, the open and even bloody violence, which had formerly disgraced the freedom of election in the commonwealths of Greece and Rome, too often influenced the choice of the successors of the apostles” (p. 336).</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Using the institutions and practices of the Roman Empire as a model, men devised a church government structure. Political maneuvering became a substitute for seeking God’s will. Popular and soothing teachings were substituted for the plain word of God, which offered correction and rebuke.</p> <p>The problem with the Church of Rome was that it substituted a human political structure in place of God’s government. In God’s government, elders are to be appointed, <strong>based upon their fruits</strong>, by those Christ has already set as leaders in His Church (Titus 1:5–9). God’s government is based upon His law. God validates it based upon positive fruit being borne (Matthew 7:15–23; cf. Numbers 17:7–10).</p> <p>The Church of Rome developed on the model of the old Roman Empire from which it derived its structure. Idolatrous allegiance to the organizational structure was demanded, even if it sought to “change times and laws” (cf. Daniel 7:25). In God’s government, He makes it plain where He is working by the fruits, and we submit to human leaders as long as they are following Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).</p> <h2><strong>THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME</strong></h2> <p>What of the mysterious number 666? Many ingenious solutions have been devised to label desired individuals with that number. But what does the Bible mean when it tells us that this is the number of a man?</p> <p>Before Arabic numerals became accepted in the western world in the 13th century, letters of the alphabet doubled as numerals. Thus all names had numeric value. Most of us are familiar with Roman numerals, where the letters of the Latin alphabet have numeric value. In this system I=1, V=5, X=10, and so on. Greek and Hebrew are the languages in which the Bible was written, and both use a similar system.</p> <p>The earliest proposed solution to the meaning of 666 is a tradition attributed to Polycarp, the disciple of the same Apostle John who wrote Revelation. This tradition is preserved in the second century writings of Irenaeus. The number 666 is “…contained in the <em>Greek</em> letters of <em>Lateinos</em> (L=30; A=1; T=300; E=5; I=10; N=50; O=70; S=200)” (<em>Commentary on the Whole Bible</em>, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). <em>Lateinos</em> is a Greek term referring to the Romans. Interestingly, the Greek expression meaning “the Latin kingdom” (<em>h Latine Basileia</em>) also has a numeric value of 666. Greek writers commonly referred to the Roman Empire in this way. The book of Revelation was originally written in Greek, as it was written to Greek-speaking churches in ancient Asia Minor.</p> <p>Another interesting explanation involves the name of the emperor Nero, who died about 25 years before John wrote Revelation. Though Nero was dead, his rule was nevertheless a type of the end-time Roman system. He was brought to power promising constitutional reforms and a return to the “golden age” of Augustus, but became increasingly cruel and despotic after achieving power. Living in an atmosphere of intrigue and conspiracy, he abused his power and was responsible for the Roman state’s first official persecution of Christians. During his reign most of the Apostles, including both Peter and Paul, were martyred. His name in Greek was spelled <em>Neron Kaesar</em> (Nero Caesar). When the Greek form of his name is spelled out in Hebrew characters, their numeric value also adds up to 666.</p> <p>The founder of ancient Rome was Romulus, from whose name Rome and Roman are derived. The Latin name <em>Romvlvs</em> is written in Hebrew as <em>Romiith</em>. In the Hebrew language this also adds up to 666 (<em>resh</em>=200, <em>vau</em>=6, <em>mem</em>=40, <em>yod</em>=10, <em>yod</em>=10, <em>tau</em>=400). Thus, in both Greek and Hebrew, the two languages of the Bible, the number 666 is stamped upon the kingdom that derived from Rome.</p> <p>The years ahead of us will bring the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. There will most likely be special numeric significance to either the name, or perhaps a special title, of the end-time leader of the Beast power. However, it is important to realize that the Roman system is already stamped with 666. That system—and its end-time resurrection—is identified as the Beast.</p> <h2><strong>CHAPTER 5<br /> A TALE OF TWO CITIES—PAST AND FUTURE</strong></h2> <p>The tale of two dramatically contrasting cities is a thread that runs from beginning to end throughout the Bible. Genesis 10 introduces us to Babylon, or Babel, the city that Nimrod built. In Genesis 11, we meet Abraham, a man born in Ur of the Chaldees, an adjacent town and part of Babylon’s ancient kingdom. Genesis 12 tells of Abraham’s departure, at God’s command, from the vicinity of Babylon. In Genesis 14, Abraham comes to Jerusalem, anciently called simply Salem, to meet with Melchizedek, “the priest of the Most High God,” who both blessed Abraham and received his tithes.</p> <p>In the last book of the Bible, we read of Babylon once again. Revelation 18 speaks of “Babylon the Great” and of its final and total destruction. Just as was Abraham of old, God’s end-time people are told, “Come out of her my people” (Revelation 18:4). Revelation 21 records the arrival on earth of the New Jerusalem, the city “whose maker and builder is God” (Revelation 21:2).</p> <p>Babylon and Jerusalem are two ancient cities, which represent two completely opposite systems of government and ways of life. One is derived from Nimrod, the first post-flood tyrant who rebelled against God and His laws. Nimrod introduced a system of human tyrannical government and sought to build a one-world government the devil’s way. Babylon is Satan’s historic counterfeit of, and alternative to, God’s kingdom.</p> <p>After God’s intervention at the Tower of Babel, Babylon’s prominence rose and fell over the following centuries. Finally in the seventh century bc, the Assyrian capital Nineveh fell to invaders, and Babylon once again came to prominence as the chief city of Mesopotamia. Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon and launched an expansion drive that gave Babylon dominance over the entire Middle East. His conquests included Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. About 586bc, the invading Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple of God located there. Nearly 20 years before that, a number of young Jewish captives had been taken to Babylon. Among those captives was Daniel.</p> <p>On the evening that began the Feast of Trumpets in 539bc, 66 years after Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom had begun, Daniel stood in a hushed banquet hall and read “the handwriting on the wall” to one of Nebuchadnezzar’s successors, Belshazzar. Babylon was weighed in the balance, found wanting, and would that very night give way to a successor kingdom.</p> <p>The city of Babylon fell, and after centuries became a desolate and uninhabited location, but the system that originated there did not end. It continued through its successors, just as Daniel recorded so many centuries ago.</p> <p>Genesis 10:10 explains that the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was Babel. In the years just ahead of us, the end-time embodiment of that ancient kingdom is destined to once again rise. The ancient city built by Nimrod has long ago been reduced to dust and ruin, but the governmental, religious and economic system that began there has continued. Ancient Babylon has been succeeded by a modern Babylon, called by the prophet Isaiah the “daughter of Babylon” (Isaiah 47:1).</p> <h2><strong>WHAT LIES AHEAD?</strong></h2> <p>We are living in a turbulent world. There is fear and apprehension about the future. On the one hand, science and technology promise a world of dazzling prosperity. Yet on the other hand, nuclear war and biological and chemical terrorism threaten the very existence of our world. A great charismatic leader in Europe will arise, responding to this crisis. He will enter into an alliance of church and state that will offer peace, security and prosperity to a desperate world.</p> <p>Using duplicity and intrigue, he will induce ten European leaders, representing the end-time successors to both the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire, to unite temporarily and give their power to him as leader. As we saw in the 1930s, when people become genuinely frightened about their future, they are often willing to trade freedom for security.</p> <p>A period of growing peace and prosperity will ensue. A great worldwide trading combine will seem to offer incredible profits to international cartels. Later, responding to crises involving both the Middle East and the English-speaking nations, this leader will move with lightning speed and iron determination. Annulling a treaty previously made with the Jewish state, his armies will overwhelm Jerusalem and will take half of the city into captivity (Zechariah 14:2). At the same time, an attack of overwhelming force will be launched on America, Britain, Canada and related nations (for details of the prophecies relating to this event, write for our free booklet, <em>The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy</em>).</p> <p>The end-time manifestation of Babylon will promise what Nimrod promised the human family at the Tower of Babel: unity, security and prosperity. This is what Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great and Caesar Augustus, each in turn, also promised.</p> <p>The intensifying problems of global fracturing will be countered by a scheme designed to impose both political and religious unity on a worldwide scale. The coming European superpower may actually co-opt existing global institutions to use as a political structure for its own ends. Though important developments will occur in the political sphere, it is in the area of religion that we will see events <em>unprecedented</em> in modern times. Religion will be considered the key to bringing about the common identity required for political unity.</p> <p>By this time, millions all over the globe will have been caught up in a religious frenzy fed by a charismatic leader working what are apparently great signs and wonders. More concerned with “feeling good” than with true doctrines, they will respond to this leader’s false promise that he is ushering in a golden age.</p> <p>A powerful war-making apparatus marshaled by the coming European superpower will be billed as the cornerstone of world peace and security. Modern technology will be used to create a police-state that Hitler and Stalin could only have dreamed about. People will be induced to accept such draconian measures as the price of getting rid of terrorism and violent crime.</p> <p>At first, this system will bring an upsurge in the world economy. A worldwide trading combine, prophesied in Ezekiel 27 and Revelation 18, will be hailed as the key to universal prosperity. Those at the helm of this system will, for a short time, enjoy unparalleled wealth.</p> <p>Yet fatal flaws in this system, inherent from its beginning, will in time produce widening disparities. The Arab world will be displeased by attempts to coerce it into religious unity with Europe. A powerful leader—called in Daniel 11 the “king of the South”—will then arise, able to bring about temporary unity of much of the Islamic world. Provoked by this leader, Europe will launch a “blitzkrieg” resulting in European occupation of much of the Arab world (Daniel 11:40–43).</p> <p>This European occupation will deepen suspicion among the eastern nations—already wary of the German-led Europeans. Rumors from the eastern capitals will ultimately cause the Europeans to launch what is intended as a preemptive attack to intimidate the East into submission (Daniel 11:44). Things will not go as well as planned, and the resulting warfare will ultimately cause the nuclear destruction of much of Europe, including Rome itself (Revelation 18:10, 17), by the alliance of eastern powers (Revelation 9:13–18).</p> <p>As eastern armies cross the Euphrates River to launch an invasion of the European-controlled Middle East, events will spin totally out of control. The ten European rulers who gave power to launch this system will bitterly turn on the church and religious system which failed them (Revelation 17:16–17). Horrifying weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons as well as biological and chemical weapons (Revelation 9:5–6, 18), will be unleashed. Just when it appears that humanity will destroy itself as a result of the confrontation in the Middle East, the living, glorified Christ will return from heaven (Matthew 24:22).</p> <p>In the context of this most hellish period in the history of mankind’s violent and bloody existence, the real solution to humanity’s problems will be inaugurated. Jesus Christ’s return to this earth is not a fantasy—it is mankind’s only hope.</p> <p>Transported in vision into that future Day of the Lord, John recorded a marvelous event yet ahead of us, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” (Revelation 18:2). In the aftermath of that event, Jesus Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem with all of the resurrected saints. The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be removed (Daniel 2:44). The law will go forth from Jerusalem, and all nations will be brought under the government of God (Isaiah 2:2–3).</p> <p>The Bible records a tale of two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem. One will be destroyed forever. The other will be created anew as the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven after the 1,000-year reign of the Messiah, providing the dwelling place for the Father, for Christ and for the “firstfruits” for all eternity (Revelation 21).</p> <p>The end-time events described in this booklet are real—and will occur within the lifetime of many reading it. Yet Christ offers protection to those who are truly, zealously walking with Him and doing His Work (Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:10).</p> <p>What about you? Does your “citizenship”—your loyalty and allegiance—reside in Babylon below or in Jerusalem above? <strong>Your future depends upon your answer to that question! “</strong>Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). The God of heaven will soon set up an enduring kingdom. He now offers us not only His protection and help in the terrible times ahead, but also an entrance into His glorious kingdom and an inheritance that will last forever!</p> <p>As you watch the world around you increasingly unravel in the years ahead, do not become discouraged. Rather, Jesus Christ exhorts His true followers, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).</p> <p>In spite of calamities on the horizon, always remember that <strong>the best news lies yet ahead</strong>! “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37, <em>KJV).</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/7" hreflang="en">Prophecy</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 28 Feb 2022 22:05:13 +0000 4uwzvo 34 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com What Is a True Christian? https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/literature/booklets/what-true-christian <span>What Is a True Christian?</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/1" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">4uwzvo</span></span> <span>Tue, 03/01/2022 - 21:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-title field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">What Is a True Christian?</div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-author field--type-list-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-media field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Media</div> <div class="field__item"><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field__label visually-hidden"><a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/What%20Is%20a%20True%20Christian">Image</a></div> <div class="field__item"> <a href="https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com/What%20Is%20a%20True%20Christian"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-03/tc-what_is_a_true_christian_2.1.3-cover.png?itok=uqWIuyEU" alt="Family at Church" loading="lazy" typeof="Image" /></a> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tag field--type-string field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="field__item">#Christian Living</div> <div class="field__item">#Christianity</div> <div class="field__item">#God</div> <div class="field__item">#Jesus Christ</div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-teaser field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">More than 400 sects and denominations call themselves “Christian”—but they all have some basic, and often fundamental, differences. Would Jesus Christ recognize the organizations using His name today?</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Have you ever met a true Christian? Have you ever attended a church full of true Christians? Are you sure? What is it that makes a person truly Christian?</p> <p>America calls itself a Christian nation. We even print the words, “In God We Trust,” on our currency. In many Western nations, Christianity is the official state religion.</p> <p>Yet in our mixed-up, confused world, there are more than 400 sects and denominations calling themselves “Christian.” They all have somewhat different beliefs and practices. Even so, <em>every one of them</em> is named after Jesus Christ! Partly because of this, many non-Christians scoff at the idea that Christianity is directly inspired by God.</p> <p>And no wonder. For many of the greatest wars in modern history have been started by professing Christian nations. And statistics show that the incidence of rape, robbery and murder has been skyrocketing in many of the Western, so-called “<em>Christian”</em> nations over the past several decades.</p> <p>Why?</p> <p>Could it be that they <em>do not really understand</em> what Christianity is all about? Could it be that, even though millions are heavily involved in “churchianity,” they do not really grasp—or live by—the plain, clear teachings of Christ?</p> <p>Modern philosopher Sören Kierkegaard, in his <em>Attack Upon Christendom</em>, wrote: “The Christianity of the New Testament simply does not exist. Millions of people through the centuries have little by little cheated God out of Christianity, and have succeeded in making Christianity exactly the opposite of what it is in the New Testament” (pp. 32–33).</p> <p>Why would he say this? Part of the answer is in the fact that the greatest and most bloody wars in all human history have been waged primarily in Europe—the very heart of western, “Christian” civilization. In fact, the professing Christian church <em>directly instigated</em> a series of “holy wars” during the Middle Ages, called the “Crusades.” Here is one description of the supposed <strong>blessings</strong> which “Christians” put on the murderous and bloodthirsty activities of the Crusaders: “The knight who joined the Crusades might thus indulge the bellicose side of his genius—under the aegis and at the bidding of the Church; and in so doing he would also attain what the spiritual side of his nature ardently sought—a perfect salvation and remission of sins. He might butcher all day, till he waded ankle-deep in blood, and then at nightfall kneel, sobbing for very joy, at the altar of the Sepulchre—for was he not red from the winepress of the Lord?” (“Crusades,” <em>Encyclopædia Britannica</em>, 11th ed.)</p> <p>Were <strong>these </strong>men <em>true followers </em>of the humble carpenter of Nazareth who said: “Love your enemies”?</p> <p>Yet remember that these men called themselves by the <strong>name </strong>of Christ—”Christian.” It seems that nearly all western religions, philosophies and sects insist upon applying the <em>name </em>of Christ to their own ideas, teachings and practices. In ancient times, the pagans at least openly and honestly <em>acknowledged </em>their worship of the various “gods” and demon spirits of their own choosing.</p> <h2>The NAME of Christ Is Often Misused</h2> <p>Since the life, death and <em>resurrection </em>of the Son of God, a great <strong>deception </strong>has resulted in the placing of Christ’s <strong>name </strong>on every type of pagan, heathen, perverted philosophy of man that has come along!</p> <p>Shocking as it may sound, the fact that many churches, doctrines, ideas and practices of men are called “Christian” <em>proves absolutely </em><strong>nothing</strong>!</p> <p>Did <em>Christ start these ideas and institutions?</em> Do <em>they follow His teaching and His example?</em></p> <p>How can you <strong>know</strong>?</p> <p>Almighty God inspired the Apostle John to describe the Devil as “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who <strong>deceives </strong>the <strong>whole world</strong>” (Revelation 12:9). Again, in Revelation 20:1–3, God describes how Satan will soon be restrained “<em>that he should </em><strong>deceive </strong>the <strong>nations </strong><em>no more</em>.”</p> <p>These inspired scriptures certainly show that most people and nations have been misled and <strong>deceived </strong>by Satan the Devil! This, very frankly, is the “key,” which explains <strong>why </strong>there are so many obvious contradictions in our supposedly “Christian” society. It shows why this world is so mixed up and <strong>confused </strong>about what the word “Christian” really means. It shows that our civilization has <strong>not </strong>been following Christ, but has been <strong>deceived </strong>into going <em>many different ways </em>under Satan’s confusing influence!</p> <p>Strangely, yet at least honestly, some of this world’s noted religious leaders and scholars have acknowledged that our professing “Christianity” has <strong>not even seriously tried </strong>to follow the literal <em>teaching </em>and <em>example </em>of Jesus Christ—its supposed Author!</p> <p>Observe also this revealing and even shocking quote from highly respected historian Will Durant:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>“Christianity </strong>did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the ideas of a divine trinity… and a personal immortality of reward and punishment; from Egypt the adoration of the Mother and Child, and the mystic theosophy that made Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and obscured the Christian creed; there, too, Christian monasticism would find its exemplars and its source. From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother; from Syria the resurrection drama of Adonis; from Thrace, perhaps, the cult of Dionysus, the dying and saving god.… The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. <strong>Christianity was the last creation of the ancient pagan world</strong>… [The Eucharist] was the conception long sanctified by time; the pagan mind needed no schooling to receive it; <strong>by embodying the ‘mystery of the Mass,’ Christianity became the last and greatest of the mystery religions” </strong>(<em>The Story of Civilization</em>, pp. 595, 599).</p> </blockquote> <p>This noted historian plainly acknowledges that church leaders did <strong>not </strong>take Jesus’ life and <strong>His teaching </strong>as the standard for their so-called “Christian” churches!</p> <p>Ask yourself, honestly: <em>What other true standard </em>could there possibly be?</p> <p>Several years ago, evangelist Billy Graham was quoted as saying that, while many Americans believe there is a God, most “have not accepted true Christianity or Judaism or Islam. They believe the Bible, but they don’t read it or obey it.” (<em>U.S. News &amp; World Report</em>, April 4, 1994). This same article quotes famous pollster George Gallup, Jr. as saying that America is “<strong>a nation of biblical illiterates… the stark fact is most Americans don’t know what they believe or why</strong>.”</p> <p>This statement by Dr. Gallup is one of the key reasons why Satan has been so successful in <strong>deceiving </strong>the vast majority even of those who profess Christianity! These professing Christians “don’t know what they believe or why!”</p> <p>They <em>do not </em>really study or understand the Bible. They only have vague ideas of what they <em>think </em>the Bible says. Other religious polls have shown that most Americans are unable even to <em>name </em>more than one or two of the four gospels—let alone understand them. Apart from a vague, sentimental recollection of the Lord’s Prayer or the 23rd Psalm, the Bible is truly a “mystery book”—even to most churchgoers. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God'” (Luke 4:4). How can one live by “every word” of the Bible and yet <em>not even know </em>what the Bible says!</p> <p>Yet the Bible provides the <em>foundational knowledge </em>upon which true Christianity is built. For unless one proves—to his own satisfaction—that the Bible is God’s inspired revelation to mankind, then one is “lost in the fog.” But today most people follow the dictates of their own conscience without biblical understanding in religious matters. People make up <em>their own </em>religious ideas and concepts as they go along.</p> <p>As a result, you have utter <strong>confusion. </strong>“Here is the way I <em>feel</em>,” some will say, or “Here is the way I look at it.” How you and I “look at it” may make interesting coffee-cup chatter, but what truly matters is: “How does <strong>God </strong>look at it!”</p> <h2>Are Denominations “Christian” Because They Do Good Works?</h2> <p>There is no question that good works have been done by a wide spectrum of religious organizations. As people treat their neighbors well, they and those around them experience blessings. Speaking of the spiritual laws and principles of the Bible, Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). In other words, these inspired words describe intrinsic values and forces that operate automatically in many cases—just like the law of gravity. If a person does good to others and treats them with love and kindness, it almost <em>automatically</em> works out that he is going to be blessed in one way or another. This principle holds true no matter what someone’s religion might be.</p> <p>However, actions like being personally helpful and loving—or doing “good works” in some kind of organized effort—in <strong>no way</strong>, of themselves, qualify people for eternal life in the Kingdom of God. I have had fellow ministers of Christ tell me more than once that some of the most loving, generous and religiously devoted people they have ever known are the Thai Buddhists. Many exhibit a personal warmth, grace, gentleness and spirit of service that is <em>seldom seen</em> even in the Christian world—<em>despite</em> the general destructiveness of their false religion, which rejects the very Savior of all humanity, Jesus Christ. Many professing Christian organizations today—<em>as well as secular ones—ought</em> likewise to be commended for their service and acts of charity on behalf of the needy or disadvantaged. But if these same groups reject God’s laws and the <strong>entire</strong> way of life that Christ revealed, then what will be the end of their good works?</p> <p>The point is that, historically, these people may do “good works” one day and the very next day pull out their long knives or guns and butcher their neighbor! Not truly knowing or fearing the true God—and not being led by His Spirit—they do not have the capacity to live, consistently, as Christians should live.</p> <p>Jesus Christ said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who <em>does the will</em> of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice <em>lawlessness'”</em> (Matthew 7:21–23). And Christ spoke further about those who worshiped Him to no avail: “‘In <strong>vain</strong> they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men'” (Mark 7:7–8).</p> <p>So although doing good works is an integral part of Christianity, there is much more. Yes, we certainly <em>do</em> need to work on developing gentleness, kindness and service toward others. But we must also—in a very real sense—be <strong>conquered</strong> by God. Realizing that our own righteousness is simply not good enough (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23), we must be totally <em>surrendered</em> to do God’s will in <strong>every</strong> phase and facet of our lives—not just in “good works.” We must <em>obey</em> His Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:17), <em>keep holy</em> the days He <em>made holy</em> (Exodus 20:8) and let Jesus Christ live His life within us fully through the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV</em>). For we should, in fact, be preparing now to be kings and priests in Christ’s soon-coming world government (1 Corinthians 6:2–3; Revelation 5:9–10). Christ and the Father need to <em>know where we stand</em>. We must demonstrate consistent obedience and genuine good character—<em>a truly surrendered attitude—</em>in order to be fit to assist Christ in His coming kingdom!</p> <p>The major “Christian” denominations, down through history, have <strong>not</strong> really taught these truths at all. And they have <strong>not</strong> been explaining God’s awesome <strong>plan</strong> and <strong>purpose</strong> for mankind. They have <strong>not</strong> been actively preparing their followers to be kings and priests in the soon-coming Government of God to be set up on this earth under Jesus Christ (Revelation 2:26–27). They have <strong>not</strong> been preaching the Bible’s prophetic warnings about end-time events that our people so desperately need to hear. In fact, most of them have virtually <em>no understanding</em> of the vital one-fourth of the Bible devoted to prophecy—so they seldom have anything to say about it. And so, because of all this, these major denominations are <strong>not</strong> doing the Work of God or preparing their people for the Kingdom of God.</p> <p>So read (and carefully re-read!) this vital booklet—so that you can understand what <em>true </em>Christianity is really all about!</p> <h2>A Planned Deception</h2> <p>The fact is, true Christianity—and true Christians—<em>do exist. </em>But they may be harder to find than you would think. If you will examine what the Bible teaches, you will find out <em>why</em> there are so few true Christians.</p> <p>Let me explain. Jesus said, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall <em>deceive many”</em> (Matthew 24:5, <em>KJV</em>). Notice that these people do <strong>not</strong> come in their <em>own</em> name! Many people erroneously believe that this verse refers to a multitude of “false Messiahs,” each pretending that he, personally, is the true Christ. <em>Some</em> misguided men have, in fact, made such blasphemous claims. A famous recent example is David Koresh, who died at the besieged Branch Davidian compound in 1993.</p> <p>But common sense should tell us that this is a <em>misinterpretation</em> of the Scriptures. Remember that the Bible says <em>“many </em>shall come,” and shall “deceive <em>many.”</em> The fact is, there just have not been <strong>many</strong> who have personally claimed to be Christ. And there most certainly have not been <em>many</em> who were taken in—”deceived”—by them. David Koresh himself hoodwinked no more than a few. He definitely did not sway teeming millions of human beings into believing that he, personally, was the Messiah!</p> <p>What, then, is the answer? Is Jesus <em>mistaken </em>in His claim? Not at all. The correct interpretation of Matthew 24:5 is that <em>many </em>people would come and claim that <strong>Jesus Christ</strong> was the Messiah—but that they would “deceive many” by subverting, twisting and perverting all that Christ taught and stood for.</p> <p>These false prophets, then, come in <em>Jesus’</em> name and tell people that He is the Christ. Using <em>His</em> name, they go on to palm off their own <em>false</em> religious ideas and philosophies under the banner of “Christianity”!</p> <p>Some of these “false prophets” go so far as to take for themselves titles that rightfully belong only to Jesus Christ Himself. They may compose their own “prophecies” and pass them off as “divinely inspired” or “revealed by an angel.” Some may try to exalt their own writings almost to the level of Scripture—all the while claiming falsely to have derived their prophecies and their authority from Christ. In the name of “Christianity” they draw people further and further away from the <strong>true</strong> Jesus Christ of the Bible.</p> <p><strong>You see, if people are “clever” enough, they can apply the term “Christian” to almost anything. They can wrap an idea or philosophy in nice, religious-sounding phrases and get others to believe it.</strong></p> <p>But there is even more to it than that. For behind misguided men and women, there is a powerful spirit being called Satan the Devil. Formerly an extremely wise and beautiful cherub or angel (Ezekiel 28:12–15), he is now fiendishly clever and still very attractive and compelling in his appeal to unsuspecting individuals (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:14).</p> <p>God calls Satan the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). And Satan is further described in Revelation 12:9 as the “great dragon… that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who<strong> deceives the whole world</strong>.”</p> <p>So if Satan works in the sons of disobedience, and if he “deceives the <em>whole world,”</em> then obviously <strong>billions</strong> of people are taken in by him!</p> <p>The point is that, under the invisible but powerful influence of Satan, there have been <em>all kinds</em> of ideas presented as “Christian” that are not Christian at all. Some of them come directly from paganism. Furthermore, the clear, straightforward teachings of Jesus Christ about a <em>way of life</em> have been virtually <em>buried</em> under an avalanche of strange creeds, doctrines and liturgy.</p> <p>Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, in his handbook, <em>The Story of the Christian Church,</em> makes this striking point:</p> <blockquote> <p>“We name the last generation of the first century, from 68 to 100 A.D., “The Age of Shadows,” partly because the gloom of persecution was over the church; but more especially because of all periods in the history, it is the one about which we know the least. We have no longer the clear light of the Book of Acts to guide us; and no author of that age has filled the blank in the history. We would like to read of the later work by such helpers of St. Paul as Timothy, Apollos and Titus, but all these and St. Paul’s other friends drop out of the record at his death. For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects <strong>very different</strong> from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (1970, p. 33).</p> </blockquote> <p>In the above quote, this mainstream Protestant author acknowledges that the professing Christian church became <strong>vastly</strong> “different” after the original Apostles died. <strong>Why</strong>? Who gave <em>anyone</em> the <strong>authority</strong> to change the beliefs and practices of the Church? Or did deceived men just take it on themselves to make these profound changes?</p> <h2>What Jesus Actually Taught</h2> <p>To understand how the various churches have become so “different” from one another, we need to get back to the source of Christianity—Jesus Christ. If <em>anyone</em> knows what true Christianity is, it would certainly be Christ Himself!</p> <p><strong>As a young Jew in Israel, Jesus was reared to keep the Ten Commandments. He observed God’s weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days that God had revealed to ancient Israel. It seems easy for Bible scholars to forget these simple facts, gloss over them or pretend they are irrelevant.</strong></p> <p>But as we shall see, the fact that Christ kept God’s laws makes a <strong>huge</strong> difference. And those who pretend otherwise do so at great peril to their <em>eternal lives!</em></p> <p>Listen!</p> <p>Jesus was asked by a young man: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life.” Christ answered: “If you want to enter into life, <strong>keep the commandments.”</strong> The young man then asked: “Which ones?” And Jesus replied: “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 19:16–19).</p> <p>So Jesus clearly taught that the <strong>way</strong> to eternal life was to obey God by keeping His Ten Commandments!</p> <p>In His “Sermon” on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly <em>magnified</em> the Ten Commandments. He said: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). A careful study shows that far from “doing away” with these commandments, Jesus made them <em>even more binding</em>. Christ revealed that they formed a <em>spiritual</em> law, including, but far greater in scope than, the literal requirements God had given to ancient Israel. He taught that His followers were not only to refrain from murder, but also that they were not even to harbor the <em>spirit</em> of murder—misguided anger, hatred and rage—in their hearts (Matthew 5:21–22).</p> <p>He went on to show that not only must a true Christian never commit adultery, but that “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (v. 28). So even the spirit or attitude of adultery is breaking God’s great spiritual Law, the Ten Commandments. And <em>who</em>, pray tell, had the authority to “do away” with this clear instruction?</p> <h2>The Law of Liberty</h2> <p>Think of it! If the whole world would start living by the Ten Commandments—as magnified by Jesus Christ—we would have no crime, no murder, no adultery, no broken homes, no displaced children and <em>no wars!</em> The deep sense of stability, peace and security that would then fill the world would have a definite <em>healing</em> effect in every way. The incidence of depression and mental disease would greatly diminish. Even physical sickness and suffering would decline because mental attitudes affect our physical health.</p> <p>Obedience to God’s law <strong>frees</strong> us from harmful conduct. The Apostle James called it the <strong>“law of liberty.”</strong> He wrote: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, <strong>‘Do not commit adultery,’</strong> also said, <strong>‘Do not murder.’</strong> Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the <strong>law of liberty”</strong> (James 2:10–12).</p> <p>This New Testament Apostle, then, was inspired to urge us to keep the law of God—summarized by the <strong>Ten Commandments!</strong> He also said that if we obey only <em>part</em> of that law, while disobeying other parts, we are “convicted <em>by the law</em> as transgressors” (v. 9). So the Ten Commandments were <strong>not</strong> done away or “nailed to the cross”—otherwise, they could not convict anyone of anything!</p> <p>As magnified by Christ, God’s wonderful “law of liberty” would indeed provide humanity with world peace and individual happiness—<em>if it were universally obeyed!</em> But will that ever happen?</p> <p>Yes, indeed!</p> <p>Jeremiah’s inspired prophecy describing the coming 1,000-year rule of Christ is quoted in the letter to the Hebrews: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: <strong>I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts</strong>; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Hebrews 8:10–11).</p> <p>So it is clear that the very basis of life in the Millennium will be God’s spiritual law, the Ten Commandments. All will come to love, adore and worship the true God—<strong>and do what He commands.</strong> All will learn to <em>love their neighbors</em> as themselves. Through true conversion and the empowerment of God’s Spirit, they will gradually learn to “get inside the head” of their fellow men and—with understanding—be able to help, serve, build and encourage <em>all</em> human beings to lead happy and productive lives.</p> <p>As stated above, when God’s “law of liberty” is universally understood and obeyed, the world will truly be “at peace”—in a way it has never been since Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden.</p> <h2>What Should You Do?</h2> <p>If you want to become a true Christian—the kind of Christian the <em>Bible</em> describes—there are several things you need to do.</p> <p>First, you must <em>absolutely prove to yourself</em> that there is a real God—not an “essence of good” somewhere out in the heavens, but the actual Spirit Personality who created and now rules the entire universe. As the book of Hebrews tells us: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6).</p> <p>Furthermore, you need to prove to your own satisfaction that the Bible is truly God’s <em>inspired revelation</em> to man. As Paul explained: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).</p> <p>Then you need to begin to really <em>study</em> the Bible! Do <em>not</em> just “read” it. Rather, with different translations, a concordance and other study aids, begin to carefully <em>pore over</em> the Bible. <em>Meditate</em> on what you read, <em>pray</em> about it and determine to <em>obey</em> God’s Word—to <strong>do</strong> what God says.</p> <p>For Jesus said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God'” (Luke 4:4). So you must sincerely yield yourself to <strong>live</strong> by every Word of God! Then, through this personal, genuine approach of <em>seeking</em> the true God and His will, you will no doubt be led by His Spirit to see that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is indeed the Son of God and Savior of the world—that He is <em>your</em> Savior from <em>your</em> sins.</p> <p>Paul describes it this way: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8–10).</p> <p>So we are “justified,” that is, made right—reconciled to God—by our heartfelt acceptance of Christ’s death as payment for our personal sins. <em>We all </em>must continually have a deep, personal sense of appreciation and loyalty to Jesus for having so “emptied Himself” on our behalf. The Apostle Paul stated in Philippians 2:5–9: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”</p> <p>For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, <em>gave Himself</em> for us! And now He is our faithful High Priest, sitting in glory at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us as we seek God in prayer (Hebrews 4:14–16). Christ is also the Living Head of His Church (Ephesians 1:22–23). And He is coming soon to reign as King over the whole earth (Revelation 11:15).</p> <p>You, personally, <strong>must accept the real Jesus Christ of the Bible as your personal Savior, your Lord and Master, your High Priest and coming King.</strong> Your commitment to Christ must be absolutely genuine!</p> <p>But next is a vital “key.”</p> <p>You must not merely accept Jesus’ <em>person.</em> You must also believe in His <em>Message</em>—in what He taught and stood for! For Jesus Himself asks: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do <strong>not </strong>do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).</p> <p>We have already noted this same sentiment in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the <strong>will</strong> of My Father in heaven.”</p> <p>So what was the Message that Jesus preached? “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, <strong>preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,</strong> and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'” (Mark 1:14–15).</p> <p>Jesus came preaching the <strong>Good News</strong> of the Kingdom or Government of God. As we have already seen, He clearly taught that the <strong>laws</strong> of that Kingdom are based on the Ten Commandments.</p> <p>Therefore, to be a true Christian, you must <em>repent</em> of your sins and dedicate yourself to begin <em>keeping the laws</em> of that coming Government, to <em>believe</em> the Good News about the Kingdom of God and to <em>accept</em> Jesus Christ as your personal Savior from sin and your Lord—your absolute <strong>“Boss”</strong> whom you willingly and lovingly <strong>obey</strong>!</p> <p>If you would like more information about the <em>true </em>Gospel of Jesus Christ, please call or write to request your <em>free</em> copy of our eye-opening booklet, <em>Do You Believe the True Gospel?</em></p> <h2>Repent and Be Baptized</h2> <p>We have already seen from James 2:9 that sinners are convicted by the law. James also states: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (v. 10). The law has ten fundamental points—the Ten Commandments. If we break <em>any</em> of them, we are <em>convicted by the law</em>.</p> <p>The Bible makes it <em>very clear</em> what sin <em>is.</em> Near the end of his life, John wrote: “Sin <strong>is</strong> the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, <em>KJV</em>). He further wrote: “And whatever we ask [of God] we receive from Him, because we <strong>keep His commandments</strong> and <strong>do</strong> those things that are pleasing in His sight” (v. 22). This verse clearly shows that <em>keeping God’s law</em> is so important that even the answers to our prayers depend—at least in large measure—upon it. How vital it is that true Christians come to grasp the fact that they are <em>accountable</em> to God to keep the Ten Commandments!</p> <p>The New Testament tells us <em>what sin is.</em> It <em>never</em> says that sin is dancing or going to a movie. For sin cannot, in every case, be defined simply by <em>what you do. </em>But sin always involves wrong thoughts or attitudes that violate the<em> spirit</em> of the law of God.</p> <p>Certainly, the kind of dancing that incites sexual lust is always sinful. And viewing movies that glorify violence and lust will undoubtedly ease the way for sinful thoughts to rule your mind. But remember that the standard is <em>not</em> “here’s the way <em>I</em> look at it” or “here’s what <em>so-and-so</em> says.” The true standard for determining right and wrong is the <strong>law</strong> of <em>God.</em> “Sin <strong>is</strong> the transgression of the law.” Could anything be clearer?</p> <p>A true Christian, then, must internalize God’s law so that it becomes part of his thinking and identity—the very fabric of his being. For that to happen, he must be filled with, and led by, God’s Holy Spirit. “For as many as are <strong>led by</strong> the Spirit of God,” Paul stated, “they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14, <em>KJV</em>).</p> <p>But <em>how</em> do you receive the Holy Spirit? And how does it <em>function?</em> The way to receive the Holy Spirit was revealed by the Apostle Peter. He said: “<strong>Repent,</strong> and let every one of you <strong>be baptized</strong> in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).</p> <p>Since your old self must be <em>baptized,</em> that is “immersed”—figuratively <em>buried</em>—in water for the remission of sin, you must repent of, or turn back from, sin! Recall that “sin is the transgression of the law.” So you must <strong>turn back from breaking God’s Law</strong>!</p> <p>You must be <em>baptized</em> in a “watery grave” as an outward acknowledgment of both the <em>death penalty</em> you have brought on yourself by disobeying the <strong>law</strong> of your Creator and your <em>willingness</em> to let the <em>old self die.</em></p> <p>God’s Word tells us: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3–4).</p> <h2>A Covenant with Your Creator</h2> <p>So when you decide you want to become a true Christian, you need to be willing to “bury” the old selfish self in baptism. Frankly, only God can <em>grant</em> you the real repentance you need to fulfill His will (Acts 11:18). But if He is, in fact, opening your mind to grasp what true Christianity is all about—and calling you to be in the first resurrection—then you must utterly <strong>surrender</strong> your will to the Creator. You must sincerely and bitterly <strong>repent</strong> of having carelessly gone your <em>own way</em> all these years—and repent of continually breaking and <strong>smashing</strong> God’s Holy law in both your thoughts and your actions. <strong>Real repentance means to be profoundly sorry—so sorry that you turn around and go the other way!</strong> You must, then, make a <em>covenant with your Creator</em> not only to <strong>stop breaking</strong> the Ten Commandments but—with the <em>power</em> of God’s promised Holy Spirit—to start <strong>keeping</strong> them as a <em>way of life.</em></p> <p>You must determine that, with God’s help, you will <strong>never</strong> let any desires or vanities or other “gods” come between you and the true God. That you will remember to keep holy <em>His </em>Sabbath day. That you will truly <em>honor</em> your parents. That you will not only refrain from committing murder, but will carefully guard your mind against even entertaining murderous<em> thoughts</em> of hatred or violence against your neighbor. That you will not only refrain from ever committing adultery, but you will not even let your mind dwell on lust (Matthew 5:27–28). You must also determine that you will constantly ask God for the strength <em>not</em> to steal, <em>not</em> to lie and <em>not</em> to covet. As we will explain, it is the power of <em>Christ in you </em>which enables you to keep the Ten Commandments as a <strong>way of life</strong>.</p> <p>Remember, after real <em>repentance</em> from rebelling against God and a heartfelt disavowal of your own carnal ways and desires, you should be <strong>baptized</strong>—signifying your acceptance of, and faith in, <strong>Christ’s shed blood</strong> as payment for your past sins. After baptism, you are <em>promised</em> the “gift” of God’s Holy Spirit. Then, through His Spirit, Christ places His nature within you—His <em>love,</em> His <em>faith,</em> His <em>strength</em> to overcome your weaknesses and the temptations of Satan and this world.</p> <p>The love you receive through God’s Spirit is not mere human love. It is the very love of <em>God,</em> “because the <strong>love of God</strong> has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5).</p> <p>Now <em>how</em> does this love operate? Let God’s Word give the true answer! “For <strong>this</strong> is the love of God, that we <strong>keep His commandments.</strong> And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Through God’s love placed in us by His Spirit, <strong>we are able to keep His commandments</strong>!</p> <p>It is not through <em>your mental strength,</em> but through <em>God’s spiritual power</em>—which His Holy Spirit imparts—that you <em>can</em> follow the perfect example of Jesus Christ! You <em>can</em> yield to let Jesus live the same kind of life in you that He <em>did</em> live almost 2,000 years ago—keeping the same laws of God, worshiping on the same Holy Days that <em>God</em> ordained, remaining <em>separate</em> from this world’s society, politics and wars. And—through earnest prayer, constant Bible study, occasional fasting and consistent spiritual overcoming and growth—you <em>can</em> yield to let God fashion you in His image, to be resurrected as His <strong>Spirit-born child</strong>—<em>possessed of His very nature!</em></p> <p>This is, in fact, the very <strong>purpose</strong> of your existence!</p> <h2>The Spiritual POWER You Need</h2> <p>As we have seen, in order to keep God’s spiritual law and to overcome our own sinful ways, we need the love that only God can give. And this He has promised through His Spirit. Furthermore, we have just learned from 1 John 5:3 that God’s love operates through keeping His law.</p> <p>Again, John—the Apostle Jesus especially loved in a personal way—writing near the end of the Apostolic Era, tells us that God’s love leads us to <strong>“keep His commandments.”</strong> And in spite of clever modern theological arguments to the contrary, John says God’s “commandments are <strong><em>not</em> </strong>burdensome.”</p> <p>A true Christian, then, will have God’s love flowing through him like “rivers of living water” (John 7:38–39). As he deeply <em>studies</em> the Bible and feeds on it, and as he fervently <em>prays</em> to God every day on his knees for the spiritual strength, faith, guidance and love he needs, the true Christian <em>grows</em> spiritually.</p> <p>It is obvious that millions of professing Christians <em>never change!</em> They may have “grown up” in a particular church. Or they may have “accepted Jesus” in some evangelistic meeting. But in most cases, the “Christ” they have accepted is <strong>not</strong> the true Christ of the Bible! In most cases, the “gospel” they have been taught is <strong>not</strong> the Gospel of the Bible! Far too often, it is just an incomplete message about the <strong>person</strong> of Jesus Christ—teaching that the only thing <em>we</em> need to do is “believe” that He died for our sins.</p> <p>Usually, these unwitting victims of Satan’s massive deception are <strong>not</strong> told to keep the Ten Commandments! They are <strong>not</strong> told that Christ must live the <em>same kind of life</em> within them that He lived as a human being almost 2,000 years ago. They are <strong>not</strong> told about the glorious <strong>good news</strong> of Tomorrow’s World—that <em>all </em>true saints are preparing to be kings and priests who will assist Christ in ruling the world (1 Corinthians 6:2–3; Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 5:9–10). The Apostle Paul was inspired to warn us about this false Christianity, which was already beginning in his day: “For if he who comes preaches <strong>another Jesus</strong> whom we have not preached, or if you receive a <strong>different spirit</strong> which you have not received, or a <strong>different gospel</strong> which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it” (2 Corinthians 11:4)!</p> <p>Unwittingly, most of us <em>have</em> “put up” with the kind of empty, namby-pamby “gospel” described above! Many people prefer this kind of watered-down “gospel” message, because it lets them feel comfortable in their sins. It is a kind of “cheap grace” (as Dietrich Bonhoffer put it) that by neglecting God’s Law tempts its adherents to “crucify again for themselves the Son of God” (Hebrews 6:6).</p> <p>But the <em>true</em> Gospel tells Christians to <em>grow</em> and <em>change</em>—to develop the very character of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:15–16). The <em>true</em> Gospel—the <em>real</em> “Good News”—tells us that we are to be kings and priests in the soon-coming Kingdom of God (Luke 19:11–19; Revelation 20:6). Paul challenged the Corinthians: “Do you not know that <strong>the saints will judge the world</strong>? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that <strong>we shall judge angels</strong>? How much more, things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).</p> <p>So, in this life, we are to wisely use the natural abilities God has given us to prepare for the <strong>goal</strong> of assisting Jesus Christ in bringing genuine <em>peace</em> and <em>joy</em> to this earth through a government based on God’s spiritual <strong>Law</strong>—the Ten Commandments. As <em>all the world</em> will eventually experience, we must have God’s Law written in our hearts and minds now: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: <strong>‘I will put My Law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people'”</strong> (Jeremiah 31:33).</p> <p>As we actively surrender to allow God—through His Spirit—to build His very <em>character</em> within us, we should genuinely become better, kinder, more loving neighbors. We should become better, wiser, more dedicated workers or professional people. We should become more thoughtful, loving and patient fathers and mothers, husbands and wives. And we should become more zealous bondslaves of Jesus Christ in the great Work of His true Church—proclaiming the Truth to all nations.</p> <p>As Paul wrote: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but <strong>Christ liveth in me</strong>: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, <em>KJV</em>). <em>That</em> is what true Christianity is all about—not merely believing <em>in </em>Christ, but having the <em>Living</em> Jesus Christ <strong>live</strong> within us by the power of the Holy Spirit! <em>That</em> is what gives us the spiritual strength and love to live by God’s law. It is <strong>not</strong> our strength. It is <em>Christ’s</em> strength—His <strong>power</strong> and His spiritual <strong>love</strong> placed within us by the Holy Spirit! For Christ <strong>lives</strong> within the true Christian. <em>That is the key!</em></p> <p>Bit by bit and step by step, each of us must “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Through God’s help and His Spirit in us, we are to <em>surrender ourselves daily</em> to let Jesus Christ live <em>His</em> life in us.</p> <p>God’s Word tells us: “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Since Jesus Christ bought and paid for each of us by shedding His own blood, true Christians need to realize their responsibility to <em>seek God’s will daily</em> in everything they think, say and do.</p> <p>Certainly we will all stumble at times, falling short of the goal of letting Christ live in us. One must <em>not</em> be discouraged by this. It happens to <em>everyone.</em> John, the “Apostle of love,” wrote about this problem to the <em>true Christians</em> of his day: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).</p> <p>So when we “slip up” after conversion and repeat old mistakes (or make new ones!), <em>if</em> we are truly repentant and <em>confess</em> these sins to God, <em>He will forgive us.</em> Further, as John stated, God will “cleanse us from <strong>all</strong> unrighteousness.”</p> <p>Overcoming, then, <em>takes time.</em> It does not happen all at once. <strong>That is why we must never get discouraged and give up.</strong></p> <h2>Is There Hope for Me?</h2> <p>Many people are wrongly convinced that God could never forgive them because their sins are so awful. Yet, speaking as a sinner in serious need of forgiveness, the prophet Micah wrote: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?… .Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6–7).</p> <p>The answer seems too good to be true: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (v. 8).</p> <p>Jesus Christ, the Lord God of Israel, came into this world to <em>save</em> mankind—not to condemn <em>us,</em> but to condemn <em>sin</em> (cf. John 1:1, 11–14; 3:17; Romans 8:2–3). Our part is to <em>repent, </em>to accept Christ as our Savior, to turn toward God and His perfect law with our whole being—and to be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). God will completely forgive <em>and forget</em> the past sins of every person who takes these actions sincerely (1 John 1:8–9). There is no limit to the mercy and goodness God will show to <em>every</em> person who seeks Him wholeheartedly (cf. Jeremiah 29:12–13).</p> <h2>The Fruits of a True Christian</h2> <p>Jesus said: “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). The “fruits” or <em>results</em> of God’s Holy Spirit working in our lives show whether or not we are truly Christian. Jesus explained the most important thing for a Christian to do when He said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:37–39).</p> <p>For the true Christian, God becomes the center of <em>everything.</em> The genuine Christian is really <strong>God</strong>-centered. He will want to please God in <em>all</em> his thoughts and actions. He will constantly remember that God is his Father and that Jesus is his Savior, his High Priest and his living, active Head. Therefore he will <strong>not </strong>be looking for clever trick arguments to “get around” keeping God’s commandments or His inspired Holy Days.</p> <p>Rather, he will “feed” on Christ by constantly <em>studying</em> and drinking in the inspired Word of God, the Bible (cf. John 6:56–57). He will learn the habit of <em>seeking God in earnest prayer</em> as Jesus did (Mark 1:35). In all of this, he will learn to “walk with God”—to have his thoughts and actions more in tune with God and Christ every day of his Christian life.</p> <p>A genuine Christian will also be led by God’s Spirit to “love his neighbor <em>as</em> himself.” He will strive, with God’s help and guidance, to be kind, loving and giving. The <em>real </em>Christian will seek to live by Christ’s instruction: <strong>“It is more blessed to give than to receive”</strong> (Acts 20:35).</p> <p>A genuine follower of Jesus will strive to be a “giver”—to help, serve, encourage and lift up his fellow human beings. <em>And he will put his whole heart into helping to give God’s precious Truth to others</em>. As Daniel wrote: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who <strong>turn many to righteousness</strong> like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).</p> <p>In his own life and personality, the Christian will, more and more, manifest the spiritual “fruit” that Paul described: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).</p> <p>Through Christ’s Spirit living within him, the true Christian will demonstrate love—a sincere, outflowing concern for all men—and warmth and affection for all those around him. And the true Christian will always have a deep and abiding <strong>love</strong> for God and for Christ His Savior. He will <em>appreciate forever </em>the fact that Jesus Christ came down to this earth to suffer, to shed His blood and to <strong>die</strong> in order to reconcile us with God. So the genuine Christian will have an everlasting feeling of love and loyalty to Jesus Christ!</p> <p>Furthermore, true Christians will experience inward <em>joy</em> and <em>peace,</em> which are priceless. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). And all Christians will grow in the spirit of kindness, longsuffering, goodness and gentleness that the above passage describes.</p> <p>Another vital fruit is <em>faith</em>—the spiritual strength to <em>trust in God</em> and demonstrate commitment to that trust in every area of life. As King David was inspired to state: “But let all those rejoice who put their <strong>trust</strong> in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11–12).</p> <p>The final fruit of the Spirit is <em>self-control</em>—the spiritual strength to master one’s sins and lusts in order to <em>obey God.</em> Again, if you truly <em>surrender</em> your heart, mind and will to God, accept Jesus Christ and are baptized <em>in His name</em>, you are promised the <strong>power</strong> of the Holy Spirit to give you this kind of strength and self-control.</p> <p>Paul wrote to Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Through God’s Spirit, He gives us the <em>power</em> to obey His commandments. And our obedience <em>shows</em> that we have that Spirit. As John wrote, “he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1 John 3:24).</p> <p>John also states: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a <strong>liar</strong>, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (2:3–6). The <em>Living Bible</em> paraphrases these last two sentences: <strong>“That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did.”</strong> And, as we know, Christ <strong>kept</strong> His Father’s commandments—<em>including the fourth commandment</em>—setting us an <strong>example</strong>. And as we know, Christ set us an <strong>example—</strong>by <em>keeping the fourth commandment </em>and <strong>all</strong> of His Father’s commandments (John 15:10).</p> <p>But <em>we</em> should not expect “perfection” in <em>our</em> lives all at once! We have already learned that we are to “<strong>grow</strong> in grace and in knowledge.” The true Christian life is one of overcoming and growing to become more like Jesus Christ—even in our innermost thoughts and desires.</p> <p>But for the true Christian, the magnificent future makes all the trials, tests and “growing pains” <em>more than worth it</em> (cf. Romans 8:18).</p> <h2>Keep Your Eyes on the GOAL</h2> <p>If God has called <em>you</em> to true understanding and you grasp what you have been reading in this booklet, you have undoubtedly been called to become a <em>full son or daughter of God </em>(2 Corinthians 6:18<em>).</em> The meaning and ultimate purpose of your calling is <strong>awesome</strong>.</p> <p>For as you daily yield your thoughts, your time, your energy and your very <em>life</em> to letting Jesus Christ live His life in you, you will be building more and more of the very character of God. Month by month and year by year, you will be learning to think, act and live <em>like Christ Himself.</em></p> <p>Finally, at Jesus Christ’s return to this earth as King of kings, you will be either resurrected or changed from flesh into spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). As a Spirit-born child of God, you will then join with Jesus Christ in <strong>ruling</strong> the nations of this earth (Revelation 2:26) and in bringing the entire world genuine <em>peace</em> and <em>joy</em> at last!</p> <p>In your own right, you will then be <em>glorified</em> as a ruling member of the Kingdom or Government of God. The Apostle John writes: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, <strong>we shall be like Him,</strong> for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).</p> <p>In the resurrection, the true saints will be fully <em>like</em> Christ. They will be offered the awesome opportunity and responsibility to help rule the cities and nations of this earth. The Apostle John was inspired to reveal to us the “prayer of the saints” in Revelation 5:9–10: “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and <strong>have made us kings and priests</strong> to our God; and we shall <strong>reign on the earth</strong>.'” The saints will then have glorified spirit bodies that will enable them to do the job. For they will <em>never</em> become tired, <em>never</em> become sick and <strong>never die</strong>!</p> <p>Composed of spirit, filled with drive, energy and <strong>joy</strong>, the resurrected saints will live forever in the very Family of God. For they will have surrendered to let God build within them the very <em>wisdom</em> and <em>character </em>of Christ in order to assist Him in <strong>ruling</strong> this entire world and even judging angels!</p> <p>Thus John continues: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Truly there is a transcendent <strong>reason </strong>to become a <em>genuine </em>Christian!</p> <p>If you would like to know more about the <em>glory</em> and <em>power</em> ahead for true Christians, then call or write today for our truly exciting booklet, <em>Your Ultimate Destiny.</em> It is offered to you <em>free</em> for the asking—just phone us, or write to us at one of the addresses listed in the back of this booklet. If you have access to the Internet, you can view or download all this material, and more, from our Web site. Just go to <em><a href="http://www.tomorrowsworld.org">www.tomorrowsworldhk.com</a></em> and you will find dozens of booklets and articles, along with audio and video programs, to help you learn more about these vital topics.</p> <p>And if you wish to talk to someone personally about baptism, meet with others who believe the Truth, or inquire about related matters, please write or call us and request a visit. And also request our very informative booklet, <em>Christian Baptism: Its Real Meaning.</em></p> <p>All of us who understand God’s Truth have every good reason to want to <em>yield</em> to the God who made us, <em>accept</em> His Son as our Savior and Lord, <em>surrender</em> our lives to live by every Word of God, <em>keep</em> His commandments, allow him to <em>build</em> within us His character and so <em>prepare</em> for the real <em>Tomorrow’s World—</em>the soon-coming Kingdom of our God to be set up on this earth.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-booklet-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Booklet Category</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/9" hreflang="en">Christian Living</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/16" hreflang="en">Doctrine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/6" hreflang="en">False Religion</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/17" hreflang="en">God</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/11" hreflang="en">Morality</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 01 Mar 2022 21:56:08 +0000 4uwzvo 43 at https://www.tomorrowsworldhk.com