Monthly Archives: November 2017

Martin Luther

The Reformation 500 year Anniversary

One cannot call himself a Christian, let alone born again, without knowing the miraculous work of Martin Luther. A Catholic. A monk, who could not find salvation. The Catholic church back in Luther’s time in the 1500’s kept all the gospels and Bible from the masses. Printing presses hadn’t fully begun, nor been invented. There was no  translations from the Hebew  and Greek, so that the Catholic Churches’ interpretations, with services in Latin, left something, to be still deeply desired.

During the times of the 1500’s, it also included Queen Elizabeth of England and her half sister
Mary Queen of Scots. Mary had been sent to France as a child, for her own safety to be brought
up. The other child at the time was young Francis, his mother Katherine, a Medici. By the time
both children had become teens, they fell in love and married. Francis was to become a young king. The intertwining period between Luther, and all the bloodshed throughout Europe, into Rome, was mind boggling. Elizabeth eventually, many, many years later, long after Francis’ early illness and death, had Mary captured and put in England’s tower for 20 years, upon which
she had her head chopped off. Those were the times that Luther, a German, was living in, under the cloud of the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican.

With the Catholic Church, then it was about money and control. Peasants would have to “buy”
themselves out of sin, to reach a “purgatory” that is nowhere even mentioned in the Bible. They
could get away with this, as all services were in Latin, and there were no Bibles. Of course then,
you also had the Borgia’s. Rodrigo Borgia B1431-D1503 with all his mistresses, and 4 children,
by one, became Pope Alexander VI. The mistresses then, continued in the Vatican. As Pope,
he legitimized his children, one through the ages whose name was known, was Lucrezia, the other Cesare. Thus was the world that Luther became a monk.

For 20 years young Martin Luther would be on his knees scrubbing the Abby floors, trying to
earn his salvation. In pain, and frustration, he would then finally comb through scriptures and
so painstakingly, would transcribe from the Greek and Latin. Finally one day, he found the
scriptures, and the Holy Spirit fell on him, as he got saved FREE, by grace. Then he left the
Church. The following is his story, from Beyond Today magazine. Thank you Jesus for this
man. Thank you Jesus, for his courage, for his perseverance, for his pain, for his brilliant mind,
insight, and most of all thank you for not letting his head get chopped off before YOUR work
was done God.  It was due to Luther, publishing the Bible, and breaking away from the Catholic Church to start the Lutheran Protestant Church.  He later married a woman who had been a nun, and they had 6 children. And what a legacy, he left this world.  Salvation free with grace!      (I might note here, that William Tyndale’s translation came after Luther, and in English, while Luther’s was German. As he was greatly influenced by Luther and also a Greek Erasmus. )

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale

The Unfinished Reformation Posted on Sep 12, 2017 by Gary Petty
From: Beyond Today
https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/martin-luther-the-unfinished-reformation

“According to popular tradition, it was on Oct. 31, 1517, that a relatively unknown Catholic monk named Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the front door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Luther intended his work, written in Latin, to be read by priests and monks. The Ninety-five Theses concerned changes he felt were needed in the Catholic Church. Within a short time Luther’s Theses were translated into German, and a number of clergy and lay people began to agree with him.

Little did he know that this simple act would spark a revolution that would break the Catholic Church’s power over the spiritual life of Europe. Within a few years Western Christianity would split into competing branches. The world would never be the same. Medieval fear of hell and purgatory.  At the core of theological thought in the Middle Ages was the absolute terror of going to hell. Salvation was introduced to humanity through Jesus Christ, but pious people were plagued by the question of what would happen to them if in this life they weren’t totally cleansed from sin?

To die while still in “mortal sin” was terrifying. If a priest wasn’t present to perform the last rites a person could end up being eternally tormented by demons.  And then there was the problem of venial sin—sins not warranting eternal damnation but requiring punishment. To deal with this problem the medieval church became obsessed with the concept of purgatory.
Purgatory, the church taught, was where Christians would go after death. It wasn’t hell, where the eternally damned had no hope of escape, but it was a place of unthinkable anguish where the souls of Christians faced punishment and purification. You can imagine the anxiety experienced by pious medieval Catholics obsessed with thoughts of loved ones bound in a torturous existence waiting to be freed to join Jesus and the saints in heaven.
The Catholic Church taught there was something the living could do. In Luther’s day the Wittenberg church had numerous side altars where priests performed private mass. People paid for these sacraments as a means to lessen the time their loved ones had to spend in purgatory.  Other practices included the selling of “indulgences.” An indulgence was a promise by the church that when a person paid a sum of money to the church, he could reduce the amount of time a loved one spent in purgatory. A person could even buy an indulgence for himself—a kind of spiritual debit card.  Paying for masses and selling of indulgences had made the Roman Catholic Church extremely wealthy. One of the issues Luther attacked in his Theses was the sale of indulgences. The result was that the entire economy of the Catholic Church, the way the Vatican financed building projects and maintained military power, was under attack.

An unknown monk on a collision course with the pope.  In his earlier years Luther had no intention of joining the clergy, but a dramatic event changed the course of his life. As a young man he was almost struck by lightning. At the time, most people believed that lightning was caused by the devil or demons. The idea that he could suddenly die without receiving the sacrament of last rites was terrifying. In Luther’s mind his soul could be lost forever.
Luther joined a monastery where he took a vow of chastity and poverty, received a doctorate in theology and was ordained a priest. His days were filled with prayer, ceremonies, self-denial and religious studies. But he struggled with the concept of sin and how a person could be accepted by God. He was wracked with guilt, depression and a sense of self-loathing. He concluded that God would forgive only a sinner who was consumed with self-hatred.
In 1511 Luther traveled to Rome. It wasn’t long before the idealistic monk began to experience grave disappointment. He was shocked by how priests hurried through one mass so they could get paid for the next one. He grew disillusioned with the opulence and immorality he witnessed among the priesthood.

There was a staircase in Rome reported to be the very steps Jesus climbed to appear before Pontius Pilate. Luther wanted to help his grandfather spend less time in purgatory, so he paid an indulgence and climbed the steps on his knees, stopping on each step to kiss it and say a prayer. Later he would say that when he reached the top of the steps he wondered if anything in this ritual was true.  The monk, who thought the way to God was through self- hatred and rituals, was now plagued with doubts about the teachings of his church. And this led to his changed beliefs.  After his Theses, Luther, a prodigious writer, produced books that became popular, and Rome began to take notice. One that especially drew notice was titled The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, published in 1520. In this work Luther claimed that the papacy was antichrist.  The pope condemned Luther’s writings and commanded that his books be burned. Luther responded by publicly burning the pope’s decree. The next year Luther was called before the German emperor and at the Diet of Worms was condemned as a heretic. The unknown monk was now famous.

More revolutionary acts.  The outlaw monk fled to the Wartburg castle. It was here, between 1521 and 1522, that Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German.
In our world of books and instant Internet access to information, it’s difficult to understand just how monumental it was for Luther to complete this translation. For more than a thousand years the Catholic Church had maintained ecclesiastical power by making sure the Bible was not translated into common languages. The study of the Bible was mainly reserved for monks and priests either in Latin or the original languages of Hebrew and Greek. Even the regular mass, the everyday worship service centered on the Eucharist or communion rite, was said in Latin. This meant that most people throughout Christendom didn’t even understand the words of the mass.  Through the relatively new technology of printing, Luther’s supporters published many copies of the New Testament. It was now possible for literate people throughout Germany to obtain a copy of the Scriptures in their own language.  The next year Luther did something else that shocked the Catholic world. In spite of his priestly vow of celibacy, Luther married. And he didn’t just marry a common local girl—he married a former nun!

Luther’s disagreement with the book of James.  Luther’s most lasting legacy is his teaching that justification, being made right before a righteous God, is through faith alone.
One passage that was foundational to his teaching is Romans 3:23-26 Romans 3:23-2623 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.

American King James Version×, where the apostle Paul writes: “… For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  Here Paul presents the good news that our sins are forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins as our substitute. Since no human works can earn God’s forgiveness, then we are justified when we have faith in God’s promise and embrace Christ’s sacrifice for us.  Luther concluded that to be justified, all one has to do is believe in Christ without any corresponding works. He pointed to Paul’s writings in Romans where God promised Abraham descendants in number like the stars in heaven even though Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless and beyond childbearing years. Luther noted that Paul quoted from a passage in Genesis stating, “And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 Genesis 15:6And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.  American King James Version×; quoted in Romans 4:3 Romans 4:3For what said the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.  American King James Version×).
For Luther this was an open-and-shut case: Believe and you are justified. Once justified you are saved. Once you are saved, you remain saved without any influence of works—good or bad.
But Luther had a problem. The New Testament book of James teaches that more is needed for justification than mere belief. James, the half brother of Jesus Christ, wrote: “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20 James 2:17-2017 Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

American King James Version. In his Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, Luther claimed that the writer of James’ letter is “in direct opposition to St. Paul, and all the rest of the Bible, it ascribes justification to works …” ( Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, John Dillenberger, ed., 1962, p. 35).  And that’s not all James penned that bothered Luther. James wrote: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:21-24 James 2:21-2421 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 See you how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

American King James Version×).  Luther saw Paul and James as incompatible. “Scripture alone” was one of Luther’s guiding principles, but now he struggled with Scripture when it didn’t meet his understanding. He ultimately branded the epistle of James “an epistle of straw” that he felt like “throwing … into the stove” and wrote that he doubted that it truly belonged in the Bible at all ( Luther’s Works, E.T. Bachmann, ed., 1960, vol. 35, p. 362, and vol. 34, p. 317).
Are Paul and James incompatible?  Luther believed that Paul and James were promoting two different and incompatible ways to be justified. But are they really?  The answer lies in the way both writers used the example of Abraham. Paul was writing to the church in Rome to explain how both Jews and gentiles can come into a relationship with God. Both are justified by God’s grace and faith in the work of Christ. Paul clearly teaches that no one can earn God’s favor because of their good works. Abraham was justified because he believed in God’s promises.
James, however, was dealing with a somewhat different problem. James was addressing the wrong idea that mere belief constitutes living faith. Remember, he wrote that Satan and the demons believe in God and fear His awesome power and glory. James made it clear that our faith must be much more than Satan’s belief! Faith involves completely trusting God, and trusting God is a motivation for obedience.

Think about James’ argument. Abraham believed God’s promise that his son Isaac would give him descendants. Then God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. God’s promise and command for obedience seemed inconsistent to say the least.  What if Abraham would have said to God: “I believe your promise to give me descendants through Isaac, and since that can’t happen if I sacrifice him, I have decided to disobey you. But I still believe in your promise!”
James argued that if Abraham had refused to obey God, his belief would not have been real faith. If a person truly trusts God, then his actions will be rooted in that trust.  We can’t erase our own sins or impress God enough to earn salvation. We must also not fall into the trap of thinking that belief is all God requires. Faith must submit to God’s working in us. In this submission, real living faith produces works. Paul is correct in teaching that human beings can’t earn justification but must have faith in Christ. James is also correct in teaching that faith without works is dead—useless and empty because it doesn’t really change the person.
Moreover, Paul himself said that “the doers of the law will be justified” (Romans 2:13 Romans 2:13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

American King James Version×)—that is, made right before God. We must understand that we receive initial justification from God whenever we repent, apart from any deeds of obedience (Romans 3:28 Romans 3:28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  American King James Version×). But remaining justified before God is conditioned upon continuing to actively obey Him. There is no contradiction.
The revolution’s unforeseen results  It seems that after marrying, Luther thought he could finally settle down to pastoring and enjoying family life. But his break with Rome had other serious consequences.  More Protestants began to stand up to the Catholic Church. While most shared many of Luther’s biblical interpretations, they also disagreed on a number of important subjects. Issues like infant baptism, predestination, the state of the dead and free will would bring heated debate among the reformers as the movement spread across Europe and fractured into different groups.  The leading reformer would spend his last years not only defending himself against Rome, but attacking other Protestants with the same vigor he used against the Catholics.

The movement he started led to more than a century of unrest and conflict between Catholics and Protestants—and the deaths of millions from warfare, massacres, genocide, famine and disease, all perpetrated in the name of God.  The unfinished revolution
Martin Luther exposed the avarice, ritualistic enslavement of the common person, and some of the unbiblical dogmas of Catholicism. He stood up to a religious system that had misinterpreted and misused Scripture. It was an awakening that unleashed the Protestant Reformation.
But is the movement he inadvertently spawned that much better? Five centuries after Luther presented the Ninety-five Theses, it’s time for Protestants to examine if their teachings have degenerated into a watered-down and corrupted version of what the Bible actually teaches. Has the idea that belief is all that’s needed for salvation led many to use God’s grace as a license to sin?

How many times do Christians excuse living with a boyfriend or girlfriend out of wedlock, disregarding one of the Ten Commandments, or living a lifestyle like unbelievers with the simple argument, “I’m justified without works; I’m saved by grace; God loves me just the way I am”?  This way of thinking is nothing more than using God’s grace as a license to sin. It has serious consequences. Jesus gives this warning in the Sermon on the Mount:
“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 Matthew 7:21-2321 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
American King James Version×).  Paul and James aren’t contradicting each other in their statements about faith and works. When combining the teachings of these inspired writers, we see that living faith is much more than simple belief. It is the complete and total surrender of the will and body, heart and mind, thoughts and works to the sovereignty of God and His power in us.

When a person surrenders his will to God, and in faith accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Master, then God will empower Him to do good works. And the person must do so, “striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4 Hebrews 12:4You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin.  American King James Version×), to continue in justification with God. If he sins, he must repent anew in trusting faith and genuine commitment.  Salvation is more than God’s forgiveness. Salvation is God’s work in human beings to create eternal children. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.  American King James Version×, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” We participate in His work as we faithfully submit to His working in us.  The world desperately needs a spiritual awakening. We need to return to the Bible as the guiding Word of God. Pick up the book and prayerfully ask for God’s guidance. Let the spiritual revolution begin with you! “

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Is The Protestant Reformation Being Undone?

*Posted by BEYOND TODAY MAGAZINE. This is a very important piece! jw

Posted on Aug 31, 2017 by Peter Eddington
https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/is-the-protestant-reformation-being-undone#.WgTHA_oYXcx.mailto

Has a major split ever occurred in your congregation or church denomination? It’s a sad fact of life that church splits have been common throughout the 2,000 years since Jesus founded His Church.

Five centuries ago the dominant branch of the traditional Christian religion, the Roman Catholic Church, faced a serious schism as one of its priests and theologians, the now-famous Martin Luther, came to reject several teachings and practices of the church. Among the disputes, Luther strongly took issue with the Catholic view on indulgences and that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money.

The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, which tradition claims was affixed to the door of the castle church of Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517 (though the story is a matter of dispute). The Theses launched what would become known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther was later excommunicated, his Theses rejected by Pope Leo X in 1520. This split in Christianity was the second major breakup after the Orthodox split of the 11th century.

Could unity actually end up being something quite dangerous? Is it possible that at some point in the future, only one official religion will be allowed and others banned?
Now, 500 years on, serious questions remain about the effectiveness of Martin Luther’s reforms and whether or not they will hold.  Is the Protestant Reformation being undone? Could the 500-year split be reversed, reuniting Catholics and Protestants. As this huge anniversary is being commemorated, an underlying current is quietly sweeping through the Lutheran Church as the Catholic Church in Rome gathers increasing support that could eventually see Luther’s dreams undone.

Lutherans and Catholics receiving communion
As we study the modern relationship between Catholics and Lutherans, we can’t help but notice a softening of the barrier that drove these two faiths apart starting in 1517. The wedge that initially divided them is gradually being pulled out. Is the Reformation losing its identity?
On July 5, 2017, in Wittenburg, Germany—the same town where Martin Luther openly attacked church practice and teaching 500 years ago, setting in motion the Protestant Reformation—the World Communion of Reformed Churches (representing 80 million believers) agreed to the Joint Declara-tion on the Doctrine of Justification, previously agreed to in 1999 by Catholics and Lutherans, and by Methodists in 2006.

“Together with great joy, today’s formal act brings new challenges and responsibilities in our pursuit of fidelity to the Gospel and unity in truth,” said Pope Francis in a written statement read out for him. “May it mark a new stage of fellowship and cooperation in the service of justice and peace in our human family” (Anli Serfontein, “Pope Francis Hails Declaration Signed at Reformed Churches Gathering in Germany,” Ecumenical News, July 5, 2017).
The message was read aloud to some 800 dignitaries, representing some of the largest Christian churches, who had gathered in Wittenberg for the event. Cardinal Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told the assembled delegates that the agreement has opened “a new era of trust between the churches—a time for healing and reconciliation and rediscovering how much we share” (ibid.).
This is the latest in several such moves. On Jan. 15, 2016, a group of Finnish Lutherans were offered Holy Communion by Catholic priests at a mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica following a meeting with Pope Francis. Lutheran bishop Samuel Salm said of the Communion, “I myself accepted it.” He added that “this was not a coincidence” (“Lutherans Receive Communion at Vatican After Meeting With Pope: Report,” LifeSiteNews.com, Jan. 21, 2016).
In a Dec. 12, 2015, interview with the National Catholic Register, Pastor Jens Kruse of Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran Church said, “I think it’s typical for Pope Francis to open doors, and now we, as churches, have the duty to find ways to fill this open door with more of a life of ecumenism of unity” —the term ecumenism used for efforts to unify the world’s churches (“Revolution: Rome Lutheran Pastor Says Pope Francis ‘Opened Door’ to Intercommunion,” LifeSiteNews.com, Dec. 16, 2015, emphasis added throughout).
It seems that the Roman Catholic Church is quietly working to bring back its estranged children with an aggressive push towards ecumenism—seeking to negate 500 years of separation. Where are such developments heading? Calling on Catholics and Lutherans worldwide
In October 2016, Pope Francis and Bishop Munib Yunan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, signed a joint declaration for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at
the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund, in Sweden.

It said in part: “With this Joint Statement, we express joyful gratitude to God for this moment of common prayer in the Cathedral of Lund, as we begin the year commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. Fifty years of sustained and fruitful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans have helped us to overcome many differences, and have deepened our mutual understanding and trust …
“We commit ourselves to further growth in communion rooted in Baptism, as we seek to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder us from attaining full unity … We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours …”
This joint statement concluded with: “We call upon all Lutheran and Catholic parishes and communities to be bold and creative, joyful and hopeful in their commitment to continue the great journey ahead of us. Rather than conflicts of the past, God’s gift of unity among us shall guide cooperation and deepen our solidarity. By drawing close in faith to Christ, by praying together, by listening to one another, by living Christ’s love in our relationships, we, Catholics and Lutherans, open ourselves to the power of the Triune God.”

So what is going on? What is transpiring before our very eyes? Is the Reformation about to be undone? Most importantly, is the Roman Catholic Church perhaps even on the verge of fulfilling a scenario warned about in the Bible almost 2,000 years ago? The World Lutheran Foundation reported the following words about the historic meeting that resulted in this joint statement:
“The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church jointly held an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation on 31 October 2016 in Lund, Sweden. Locally co-hosted by the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm, the event highlighted the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue, particularly in anticipation of the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017.”  As we can see, the Oct. 31, 2017, commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is going to reverberate around the world with major religious implications! Ecumenism is alive and well, and the Roman Church has a plan in mind—with an end goal.

Roman history leads to major prophetic implications. What are the prophetic implications surrounding the ecumenism we see between Catholics and Protestants? While unity and ecumenism look good on the surface, could this actually end up being something quite dangerous with unforeseen consequences? Is it possible that at some point in the future, only one official religion will be allowed and others banned?  In the prophecy Jesus gave on the Mount of Olives in the days before He was crucified (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), the first major trend He warned about when foretelling the signs that would precede His return was a counterfeit Christianity (Matthew 24:4-5 Matthew 24:4-54 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.   American King James Version×). Almost from the start, deceivers began trying to influence and infiltrate the New Testament Church.  Before long, still in the first century, several variant forms of Christianity took root—one staying faithful to the pure truth of the Bible and Christ’s teachings, and others blending the Bible with other beliefs and philosophies. This blending is called syncretism, and many of the popular pagan Roman beliefs that were added to Christianity actually originated with ancient Babylonian religions.
Very soon, within a few decades of Jesus founding His Church, the trends He had warned about began to come to pass. By the 50s A.D. the apostle Paul warned that false teachers were already proclaiming “another Jesus” and “a different gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4 2 Corinthians 11:4For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.

American King James Version×; Galatians 1:6 Galatians 1:6I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel:
American King James Version×). Late in the first century some had gone so far as to reject the apostle John and were putting true Christians out of the Church (3 John 9).
A new church arises and gains power.Early on, then, Christianity underwent drastic changes. The visible church became quite different from what was originally established by Jesus and His apostles. Historian Jesse Hurlbut calls this period “the age of shadows.” As he describes it, “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 very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” ( The Story of the Christian Church, 1970, p. 33).

In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the official state religion to further unify and strengthen his empire. But to do this, he used his power to bring different factions together that taught a variety of concepts—many of them foreign to Jesus’ teachings. The end result was official recognition of various beliefs that were similar in many ways to the popular pagan Roman sun worship.
For example, by this time the visible majority church had adopted as its weekly day of worship the first day of the week, Sunday, honored as the day of the unconquered sun, in place of the biblical Sabbath, the seventh day of the week (from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday). Similarly, the Roman celebration of the birthday of the sun, Dec. 25, was relabeled as the supposed birthday of the Son of God and became one of the world’s most popular holidays—Christmas!
Constantine’s state-sponsored church further evolved and grew in power and became known as the Roman Catholic Church—“catholic” from the Latin word catholicus, meaning universal or general . It was to be the universal religion of the Roman Empire.
At times the bishop of Rome, or pope, has had such great political as well as religious authority that he could enthrone and depose emperors. The church controlled the state! Because of this intimate relationship between church and state, for several centuries the empire was called the Holy Roman Empire.

And so, what we see happening as the church gained power and allied itself with the state is the combined church-state persecution of other Christians— especially those who held most closely to Jesus’ original teachings. Those not part of the Roman Church became intensely tyrannized during that time.  The Roman Catholic Church also adopted a governmental structure that was strikingly similar to that of the old Roman Empire. That is why historians have remarked on the Roman Catholic Church being a mirror image of the Roman Empire (we will examine this “mirror image” more in a moment).  But, as we noted at the beginning, 500 years ago a major disruption occurred in the Roman Catholic Church when Martin Luther gave his Ninety-five Theses in 1517.  Will this division, this wound, be healed, as called for in the 2016 joint declaration?

Let’s go to the source. What does Bible prophecy tell us?  To understand the future we must understand the past  Is a mandated, one-world religion on the horizon? Does Scripture give us the answer? Will all peoples one day have to show allegiance to a future church-state empire patterned after Constantine’s?  Since the fall of the Roman Empire more than 15 centuries ago, European leaders have made a number of attempts to resurrect it. Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V, Napoleon, and Hitler along with Mussolini all tried to unite Europe as a revived Roman Empire. All succeeded to varying degrees for a time. But there will be yet another attempt.  History shows us that out of the Roman Empire came the ruling power of the Roman Catholic Church. The empire itself is described in the book of Revelation as a “beast.” And side by side with the Beast in chapter 13, the church allied with the Beast is described as “the image of the beast”—a mirror image or something that strongly resembles the original.
History also shows that this church took over the former administrative governance structure and regions of the empire. “By the fourth century, the church followed the example of the Roman Empire. Emperor Constantine organized the church into dioceses along the pattern of the Roman regional districts. (The word diocese was a secular term that referred to the larger administrative units of the Roman Empire.) Later, Pope Gregory shaped the ministry of the entire church after Roman law” (Frank Viola and George Barna, Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, 2008, p. 119).

Thus the church became a mirror image of the original—the Roman church copied the Roman Empire. As noted historian Will Durant observed in his monumental work The Story of Civilization: “Christianity … grew by the absorption of pagan faith and ritual; it became a triumphant Church by inheriting the organizing patterns and genius of Rome …
“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” (1944, Vol. 5, Caesar and Christ, pp. 575, 618-619).

A coming church-state combined power. Bible prophecy shows we will see yet another end-time attempt at a great church-state solution to humankind’s problems—but one which will be relatively short-lived.  The apostle John in a divinely revealed vision described what he saw, the imagery symbolizing an end-time church-state power: “And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast [a final end-time global superpower] which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon [the devil] gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:1-2 Revelation 13:1-21 And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
American King James Version×).
What do we see right away from these two verses?
• This Beast is blasphemous—not of God.
• This Beast acts like a wild animal, not with human kindness— like a wild leopard, bear or lion.
• This Beast receives its power from the devil (and the devil is even worshipped—Revelation 13:4 Revelation 13:4And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him?
American King James Version×).
Who is like the Beast?
We know that this future empire is a governmental system of major proportions because it’s supported by a powerful military: “So they worshiped the dragon [the devil] who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:4 Revelation 13:4And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him?
American King James Version×).
How long will this blasphemous Beast rule in its full power? “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5 Revelation 13:5And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months.
American King James Version×). So, for 3½ years this Beast will be the dominant power over much of our planet. (This also appears to be a dual prophecy, with lengthy dominance by this power during the Middle Ages as a precursor to the end-time fulfillment.)
And then some very disturbing prophetic words are written for us to contemplate: “It was granted to him [the Beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (Revelation 13:7 Revelation 13:7And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

American King James Version×). What we see here are the true people of God, those who believe differently from the established religion, being persecuted for their biblical beliefs!
It will become the “law” to obey this dragon-appointed Beast. In fact, Revelation points out that everyone will worship the Beast except those who have been written into the Book of Life of Jesus Christ: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
American King James Version×).
What do we see in summary from these six verses?
• This Beast will have the world’s most powerful military forces.
• This Beast is given power and authority to rule for 3½ years.
• This Beast savagely persecutes the true saints of God.
• This Beast forces everyone to submit and obey.
The religious partner with the Beast
And now the apostle John gives us a window into the religious power, the great church, behind the governmental Beast: “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” (Revelation 13:11-12 Revelation 13:11-1211 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12 And he excercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
American King James Version×).
The message proclaimed by this second beast (which is a mirror image of the first Beast, Revelation 13:15 Revelation 13:15And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
American King James Version×), is once again from the dragon—the devil himself—and all of humanity is required to worship likewise. This is a great revival of the Roman Church, partnering with the first Beast into a global church-state empire! Revelation 19 also calls the leader of this second beast—this Roman church—the False Prophet.
Note that this is a very convincing religious system. Humanity will be deceived. Will you also be led astray?

This second beast performs amazing, compelling miracles that are sure to bring multitudes on board! “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire 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” (Revelation 13:13-14 Revelation 13:13-1413 And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
American King James Version×).
The first Beast uses its military power and governmental authority to enforce a global religion on humanity: “He [the first beast] was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast [the second beast, the Roman church], that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:15 Revelation 13:15And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
American King James Version×). See, this is a matter of life or death!
And then the apostle John talks about the infamous “mark of the Beast”: “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name … Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Revelation 13:16-18 Revelation 13:16-1816 And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.
American King James Version×).
What do we see in summary from these eight verses? It’s quite sobering:
• The first Beast is joined by a second, religious beast, also called the False Prophet.
• This second beast also speaks like the devil.
• This second beast is a mirror image of the first and forces everyone to worship the first beast.
• This second beast performs convincing miracles that will deceive all of humanity—except the true saints of God.
• The first and second Beasts unite in a church-state power that will enforce a global religion in areas under its control.
• The penalty for those who do not submit to this religion will be death.
Yes, this religion will be enforced. Other faiths and beliefs will be outlawed—including the true Church of God and its biblically held beliefs. Remember, those holding true biblical beliefs were systematically persecuted and exterminated by emperors such as Constantine in the early centuries after Jesus’ resurrection, as well as later when church and state were again combined.
Definitely an end-time scenario
Some students of Bible prophecy will claim that these events have already been completely fulfilled or that they are just allegories. But no, Revelation 17 shows these events happening just prior to the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings. Jesus will return to save humanity from imminent, total destruction (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-2221 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×).

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb [Jesus Christ], and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him [the true saints] are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:12-14 Revelation 17:12-1412 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast. 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
American King James Version×).
The words clearly show that this joining together of 10 “kings” (leaders of nations or groups of nations) who give their sovereignty to a single individual (who is also called “the Beast”) is yet future, part of the world-changing geopolitical events to take place just before Jesus Christ’s return.
Prophecy shows us that for a short time a single global religion will be enforced on humanity in the time of the end by the Beast. This Beast will be a combined church-state system that has its roots in the old Holy Roman Empire.
It’s not a coincidence that the Roman Catholic Church is working on bringing back its departed children with an aggressive push towards ecumenism designed to negate 500 years of estrangement that began with Martin Luther. Yes, the Protestant Reformation that split the world’s Christianity will eventually end in some kind of reunification. Bible prophecy says so!
What about you? Love the truth!
There is a great warning for you and me in these prophecies. The Bible warns in many other places of this great apostasy of the end time. There is coming a huge end-time appeal to deceive the vast majority of humanity.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Thessalonika, speaking about the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 2 Thessalonians 2:3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
American King James Version×). He then proceeds to explain this “falling away” in greater detail, Paul talking here about “the man of sin.”
This end-time “man of sin” is going to style himself as greater than God, pretending or even claiming to be God— and people will believe him. Why? “Because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 2 Thessalonians 2:9-119 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all delusion of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
American King James Version×).
Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

American King James Version×describes this powerful religious leader as the False Prophet, working with the political leader called the Beast. Daniel 7 even says that the pompous religious figure in union with state power “persecutes the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law” (Daniel 7:25 Daniel 7:25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
American King James Version×). That’s exactly what Roman Emperor Constantine did, and what church leaders have done ever since!
The end-time deception will be both powerful and great! Knowing that his rule over earth is nearing its end, Satan the devil will mount an end-time appeal to deceive people—even the people of God, who will fall prey if they do not love the truth. So you and I are warned! Keep the commandments. Love the truth.
You and I must stay pure in a society that mixes truth and error—that encourages religious syncretism. How easy it is to be sucked in at different levels by persuasive arguments and soon even persuasive miracles that appeal to our human nature. Don’t believe the lie. Love the truth!
Don’t believe the lie. Love the truth!    -end-

No, don’t believe the lies.  Remember too, Jesus was a Jew, Rabbi.  Jerusalem then at his crucifixion was under Roman rule and Caesar as well. When Rome fell, the Catholic church began. The very ones who killed our Lord.  Jesus never intended a new religion.  But, under the Jewish Tabernacle.  Then after Paul’s travels, the original Jewish Church with the disciples and those calling themselves Christians, following Jesus, split.  The Catholic Church always blamed the Jews for Jesus death, too, which totally turned them away from us Christians.  It has only been through all our Evangelicals and now Christian Tv , and CUFI, that the Jews finally realize that we Christians love them, and love Israel.  So, yes, don’t believe the lies, Love the truth!  Amen