Archive for the ‘Church History’ Category

Church history is more important than most think

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

COGwriter

Many wonder how the churches of this world got that way. Mainly, it was because various ones had ideas that conflicted with the Bible, and many of those ideas ultimately got accepted by apparently billions throughout time.

Yet, Jesus taught that the true church would be a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), hated by the world (Matthew 10:22), and persecuted (Matthew 10:23). He also taught only a few would find the way to eternal life in this age (Matthew 7:14; 20:16). The Apostle Jude indicates that the number of saints was relatively small (Jude 14), while the Apostle Paul called the small group a “remnant” (Romans 11:5). Most who profess Christ, however, simply do not want to accept what the New Testament teaches about the church.

This post will contain a fairly brief overview of some events that led to the current state (more details are in the free online booklet Continuing History of the Church of God).

In the first century, apparently a false apostle, who is now called Mark, preached an allegorical interpretation of scripture in Alexandria. Alexandria was one of the most important intellectual centers of the Roman Empire in ancient times and had much influence in the Greco-Roman world. The falsely titled “Epistle of Barnabus” came from Alexandria in the early second century and also preached allegorical interpretation of scripture (see its chapter 10:2). The second century Gnostic heretics Valentinus and Basilides were Alexandrian.

The main bastion of faithful Christian leaders in the second century was Asia Minor–the Church of God leaders there did not accept improper doctrines that the Alexandrians were pushing. Actually, one way to help understand the Bible today is to look at how the faithful in Asia Minor understood it as they understood koine Greek (the language of the New Testament) better than translators of later centuries did (mistranslations have greatly impacted much of what calls itself ‘Christianity’ in the 21st century).

Within the Roman Empire the religion of Mithraism was increasing in popularity while various versions of ‘Christianity’ also were. Some considered that the two religions were in competition with each other (though that was really only the case with the compromisers and the followers of Mithras). Mithras was a pagan sun-god. Many beliefs and practices associated with Mithraism started to rub-off on many who professed Christ in the second through fourth centuries.

According to the 18th century historian E. Gibbon, around 135 A.D., many who professed Christ in Jerusalem chose to be led by a Latin leader who urged them to compromise with God’s law (which Gibbon calls “the Mosaic law”, see article on the Ephesus Church era) in order to be tolerated by the Roman Emperor Hadrian who was incensed at the Jews because of the Bar Kohkba revolt. Certain compromises in Rome apparently occurred around the same time, apparently for the same reason (see articles Arab Nazarenes and Passover).

The acceptance of some of the doctrines held by other heretics (such as Simon Magus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Marcus, and Montanus) spread to many who professed Christ. Various allegorical heretics, such as Valentinus, went from Alexandria to Rome and elsewhere and began spreading various Gnostic and semi-gnostic teachings. And while history shows that second century leaders from Asia Minor opposed these heretics and their teachings, many of them were tolerated, at least for decades, by the main churches in Rome and Alexandria.

Part of the reason for that acceptance of certain Gnostic teachings was that it greatly increased the number of Gentiles into those churches. Notice what one historian wrote:

The Gnostics blended with the faith of Christ many sublime but obscure tenets … the Gnostics were imperceptibly divided into more than fifty particular sects, of whom the most celebrated appear to have been the Basilidians, the Valentinians, the Marcionites… Each of these sects could boast of its bishops and congregations, of its doctors and martyrs; and, instead of the Four Gospels adopted by the church the heretics produced a multitude of histories in which the actions and discourses of Christ and of his apostles were adapted to their respective tenets. The success of the Gnostics was rapid and extensive. They covered Asia and Egypt, established themselves in Rome, and sometimes penetrated into the provinces of the West. For the most part they arose in the second century…

The Gentile converts, whose strongest objections and prejudices were directed against the law of Moses, could find admission into many Christian societies, which required not from their untutored mind any belief of an antecedent revelation. Their faith was insensibly fortified and enlarged, and the church was ultimately benefited by the conquests of its most inveterate enemies (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788).

While I do not agree with Gibbon that the true church “ultimately benefited” from this compromise as he indicated, this compromise did allow the mainstream Greco-Roman churches to “enlarge” as Gibbon wrote and become the majority of those who professed Christ.

Although many seem to accept blending of pagan ideas with their understanding of Christianity, this is not the way it was supposed to be. Notice, for one example, one of the accomplishments of Nehemiah:

I cleansed them of everything pagan. (Nehemiah 13:30)

However, many who professed Christ in the first few centuries did not share Nehemiah’s view as they included pagan concepts in their faith. Jesus Himself warned about adopting pagan practices of prayer (Matthew 6:7) and the Apostle Paul warned against adopting pagan festivals (2 Corinthians 6:14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21). Christians are not supposed to have the “spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 12:12) nor love its practices (1 John 2:15).

Despite biblical warnings, in the second century, one or more semi-gnostic schools developed in Alexandria, including the one headed by the semi-gnostic Clement of Alexandria and then Origen, whose teachings greatly influenced professing Christians in the Greco-Roman world. However, many of the teachings of the main school there have been condemned as heretical, even by Catholic and Protestant sources–and although many of the teachings had pagan ties, many who profess Christianity still have been influenced by them.

Notice what Dr. John Walvoord, who taught at the Dallas Theological Seminary for fifty years wrote about that school:

In the last ten years of the second century and in the third century the heretical school of theology at Alexandria, Egypt advanced the erroneous principle that the Bible should be interpreted in a nonliteral or allegorical sense. In applying this to the Scriptures, they subverted all the major doctrines of faith…the Alexandrian school of theology is labeled by all theologians as heretical…(Walvoord, John F. The Prophecy Handbook. Victor Books, Wheaton (IL), 1990, pp. 9,15).

Over time, some of the more obvious Gnostic concepts (like Aeons) were never formally adopted as the Gnostics taught them, but others that the allegorists felt had some type of support from tradition and/or scripture were adopted by the forming Greco-Roman “Catholic/Orthodox” confederation. And although leaders stood up to the early allegorists (for two such leaders see What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation?), the allegorizers continued to increase their influence. The Orthodox and even the current Pope Benedict XVI have praised Origen (who ran that Alexandrian school in the early third century) even though some of his beliefs have been portrayed as heretical by the same Pope Benedict (see Did The Early Church Millenarianism?).

After a local persecution by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus who died in 211 A.D., the church in Antioch ended up having a leader (Asclepiades) that was acceptable to those who compromised in Jerusalem and apparently other areas. Also in the early third century, a compromising Roman leader (Callistus) allowed abortion and generally lowered moral standards, which resulted in great increases among his and related churches.

Around 244 A.D., one “Gregory the Wonder Worker” of Neocaeseria claimed to see apparitions and apparently had mystical powers (Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions). He had been trained by Origin. Through the combination of Gregory’s influence (cf. Isaiah 47:5-6,12), Imperial persecutions, the rise of the allegorists, and doctrinal compromise, changes occurred in Antioch and Asia Minor. Allegedly Gregory “could cast his cloak over a man, and cause his death…he could bring the presiding demons back to their shrine” (Roberts A, Donaldson J, Volume 20, p. 3). He apparently was scarily impressive.

Around 250 A.D., during the severe empire-wide persecution by the Emperor Decius, the most public leader of the church in Smyrna (Eudaemon), apostatized. Shortly after this persecution, something new happened: A new leadership was installed throughout Asia Minor that was commended by the allegorist tolerating Bishop of Alexandria (Dionysius) who reported:

But know now, my brethren, that all the churches throughout the East and beyond, which formerly were divided, have become united. And all the bishops everywhere are of one mind, and rejoice greatly in the peace which has come beyond expectation. Thus Demetrianus in Antioch, Theoctistus in Cæsarea, Mazabanes in Ælia, Marinus in Tyre (Alexander having fallen asleep), Heliodorus in Laodicea (Thelymidres being dead), Helenus in Tarsus, and all the churches of Cilicia, Firmilianus, and all Cappadocia. I have named only the more illustrious bishops, that I may not make my epistle too long and my words too burdensome (Cited in Eusebius. Church History, Book VII, Chapter V, Verse I).

Notice that the Alexandrian Bishop acknowledged that those in the East (Asia Minor) had been divided from the Alexandrian and Roman churches, were no longer divided. This is because there were no longer any original Christians publicly leading them, but only those who tended towards allegory and non-biblical traditions. Is your religion one that followed the faithful or those who followed the compromisers?

And shortly after this time is the first recorded instance of the Italians being able to influence a Roman Emperor enough so that they could install a bishop of their choice (probably either Dmonus or Timaeus) in Antioch (circa 270-273 A.D.) (please see the article The Smyrna Church era).

Hence, essentially due to compromise and persecutions, the semi-gnostic allegorizers tended to become the main group of professing Christians. For example, by the third and fourth century, the Roman Church no longer taught many apostolic teachings that it once had and instead included more and more teachings that did not originate in the Bible (this is documented in the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?).

The pagan Emperor Constantine allegedly saw a vision of the sun-god Sol in 310 and became more of a sun-god worshiper. Two years later, he claimed to have a dream with Jesus and within a day, a vision of a spear crossed with a sword. He ordered his soldiers to paint a cross-like image on their shields and fight.

Historians realize that this alleged apparition and dream, changed the course of world history. Emperor Constantine, himself, was thankful for these apparent apparitions and believed that this indicated that some things should change in his empire. Constantine ended up making the first Sunday law, issuing an edict against those who would not accept his compromised religion, greatly exalting the political power of Greco-Roman bishops, and massively increased idolatry and military service amongst unfaithful professors of Christ. He also took away certain Church of God properties and ordered the death penalty to Church of God Christians in Jerusalem that would not eat pork.

He is known as Constantine the Great by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics for legalizing and essentially mandating their compromised faith throughout the Roman Empire. Other doctrinal compromises occurred because of him and afterwards. Even after his alleged conversion to his claimed version of the Christian faith in 312 (if he was ever baptized, it was supposedly on his death bed in 337 A.D., despite him declaring himself a lay “Christian” bishop by 325), years later, Emperor Constantine still put the sun god Sol on his coins.

While true Christians remained throughout history (please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3), they were often a persecuted minority (see also Persecutions by Church and State), and were more specifically persecuted by the State after the Council of Nicea in the fourth century and the subsequent “edicts against heretics” by Emperors Constantine (who had been a follower of Mithraism) in 331 and Theodosius in 381 (prior to that the Roman state normally persecuted Greco-Roman professors of Christ and original believers together)–so they fled into the wilderness for 1260 years (cf. Revelation 12:6).

Throughout time, God raised up faithful Church of God leaders and groups that kept “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)–for documentation please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3.

Over time people, like the Protestant reformers, sometimes stood up against those who often relied on allegory and tradition in an attempt to reverse some of the false doctrines that dominated mainstream Christianity. However, even though they were successful in removing some non-biblical practices (such as many idols and icons), they often retained many of the doctrines that the Alexandrian and Roman churches had accepted (some of this is documented in the article The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong).

Many today, cannot accept the idea that the faithful would truly be a very small flock.

In the 21st century, many in the mainstream are also hoping to end division that they have and to attain ecumenical unity between the Catholics of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox, and with many of the Protestants–thinking that this is God’s will (here is a link to a video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?).

They, however, would do well to recall what Jesus said:

Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division (Luke 12:51).

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:24).

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14)

Hence, for any to suggest or imply that Jesus is behind the current ecumenical bent of many should be biblically questioned (also the Bible indicates when there is an essentially one-religion prior to the second coming of Christ, that it is not good–see Revelation 13:3-4,8-15)–the “many” are not to be able to enter the Kingdom in this age per Jesus’ words in Luke13:24 and elsewhere.

Thus, the true and genuine Church of God will be somewhat small, like the faithful Continuing Church of God. The group that has restored more truth about true church history than any in the 21st century.

Teaching the truth about the Bible and history and the love of the word of God to the world in general and those called in this age in particular (Matthew 28:19-20) is the mission of the Continuing Church of God. You can click here for Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present: information on all of the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation. There is also a version in the Spanish language: Las Siete Iglesias de Apocalipsis 2 & 3.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God’s Holy Days and popular holidays.
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon videoed in Vatican City is Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.

Christianity, the State of the Dead, and Heaven

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

History of Early Christianity

COGwriter

Certain scholars who have looked into the Bible and early church history have properly questioned the idea of Christians going to heaven:

(RNS) The oft-cliched Christian notion of heaven — a blissful realm of harp-strumming angels — has remained a fixture of the faith for centuries…But scholars on the right and left increasingly say that comforting belief in an afterlife has no basis in the Bible and would have sounded bizarre to Jesus and his early followers…

Wright and Morse work independently of each other and in very different ideological settings, but their work shows a remarkable convergence on key points. In classic Judaism and first-century Christianity, believers expected this world would be transformed into God’s Kingdom — a restored Eden where redeemed human beings would be liberated from death, illness, sin and other corruptions.

“This represents an instance of two top scholars who have apparently grown tired of talk of heaven on the part of Christians that is neither consistent with the New Testament nor theologically coherent,” said Trevor Eppehimer of Hood Theological Seminary in North Carolina. “The majority of Christian theologians today would recognize that Wright and Morse’s views on heaven represent, for the most part, the basic New Testament perspective on heaven.”

First-century Jews who believed Jesus was Messiah also believed he inaugurated the Kingdom of God and were convinced the world would be transformed in their own lifetimes, Wright said. This inauguration, however, was far from complete and required the active participation of God’s people practicing social justice, nonviolence and forgiveness to become fulfilled…“And so it’s not a Platonic, timeless eternity, which is what we were all taught,” Wright said. “It is very definitely that there will come a time when God will utterly transform this world — that will be the age to come.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/nt-wright-christian-heaven-is-wrong_n_1524117.html

N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. Rob Bell’s bestseller Love Wins follows Wright in putting the post-mortem emphasis on resurrected bodies in the context of a new heaven and a new earth. More recently Howard Snyder and Joel Scandrett, in Salvation Means Creation Healed, make an extended argument that salvation focuses not just on souls and not just on people, but presents the hope of a transformed and new earth…

The eschatological hope of reembodiment and a renewed earth doesn’t belong to Paul alone. Second Peter 3:13 reads that “in accordance with his [God’s] promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.” And of course there are chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, in which the seer beholds “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (21:1) and focuses on a resplendent New Jerusalem, into which the nations will proceed by the light of the Lamb and offer up all their glories (22:23–24).

Such texts suggest that the new view is not so new but is indeed a recovery of an old and more decidedly biblical view of death and the afterlife. http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-05/life-after-life-after-death

There is no question that early Christians did not teach that believers go to heaven upon death, but instead taught that they would be part of the kingdom of God. See also Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?

An anonymous, likely first century, document sometimes called I Clement states:

The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. (42:1-3).

Although he had a lot of heretical views, Justin Martyr (considered to be a saint by both Catholics and Protestants, but not by those of us in the Church of God) in the second century wrote:

“For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians” (Justin. Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 80).

Polycarp of Smyrna was an early Christian leader, who was a disciple of John, the last of the original apostles to die. Polycarp, around 110-135 A.D. taught:

Knowing, then, that “God is not mocked,” we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory …For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since “every lust warreth against the spirit; ” and “neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God,” nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, Chapter V. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

While Greek philosophers and Mithraism taught going to heaven (see Do You Practice Mithraism?), the reality is that this was not a teaching of the New Testament nor early professors of Christ. It should also be noted that Dr. Wright was correct that Christians practiced nonviolence (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?).

However, since Mithraism was a military cult, when a follower of Mithras in the fourth century (the Roman Emperor Constantine, who opposed matters he considered to be Jewish, see Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? ) decided to attempt to blend the religion of Mithras with Catholicism, most who professed Christ then not only adopted the view of heaven, but also the view that military service in this age was acceptable (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? and Do You Practice Mithraism?).

What is the State of the Dead?

The dead are currently in their graves awaiting one of three resurrections (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?).

But some still have questions.

The Apostle Peter taught something related in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.… For David did not ascend into the heavens…” (Acts 2:29, 34).

Notice that David did not go to heaven. Peter, speaking many centuries after David’s death, taught that David was still in his grave where he had been placed at death, and was still awaiting the resurrection.

This differs from the common and mistaken belief that people like David went to heaven upon death or upon Jesus’ death and/or resurrection.

Jesus Himself explained, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).

So, only Jesus has been to heaven.

Some may wonder what the dead are now doing? The dead are dead. They are simply “sleeping” in their graves, unconscious, waiting to be called to resurrection.

What will happen when Christians are resurrected? The Apostle Paul explains:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).

The modern doctrine of going to heaven upon death simply was not part of early Christianity or taught in the New Testament.

Most know very little about early church history or where their doctrines came from–and what many think they know is clouded by misinformation and misconceptions.

But those willing to be called and led by God can find the truth in the Bible and the scattered records of early church history

Those interested in early Christianity may wish to check out the following to learn more:

Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven? What do the Bible and scholars teach? What about ‘near-death experiences’? Here is a link to a related sermon: Heaven and Christianity. A shorter video is Dante Aligheri’s Inferno, Heaven, and The Real Hope.
What Is the Place that Jesus Is Preparing? Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote this and answered whether the saints go to heaven upon death.
What Happens After Death? Is death like sleep, or is that a cultic idea? Can you speak to the dead? Here is a link to a related sermon: What really happens after death?
Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up? How does one explain Revelation 14:11 in light of Malachi 4:3? What happens to the incorrigibly wicked?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity? A sermon video from Vatican City is titled Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis?
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection? Is there more than one future resurrection? Did early Christians teach a physical resurrection? Did early Christians teach three resurrections?
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism? Here is a YouTube video titled Are humans immortal?
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate? Justin is considered one of the first Christian theologians and scholars. But did he support a Gnostic version of Christianity? Do you know what he taught about souls going to heaven upon death? This article shows from his own writings, what Justin really taught.
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?

Cartwright’s Journal Out: C. Wayne Cole

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

COGwriter

The latest issue (says #186, print date June 31 2016) of The Journal was sent out electronically and just received. This was another relatively short edition.

The most newsworthy item seemed to pertain to C. Wayne Cole.

Here is some of what Dixon Cartwright reported related to him:

BIG SANDY, Texas—Wayne Cole, known to thousands of present and past Worldwide Church of God members as C. Wayne Cole, in a sermon in Tyler, Texas, on July 2, 2016, listed lessons he has learned in his 61-year Church of God ministry.

The address was officially Mr. Cole’s farewell sermon, although the 86-year-old former Worldwide Church of God evangelist did not rule out the occasional religious discourse or other speaking engagement. He did say, however, that he want- ed to quit while he was ahead, while he could still competently speak and expound Scripture. His sermon included a description of a memorable meeting he had with Herbert W. Armstrong and three other church officials in Tucson, Ariz., ca. 1979. …

Mr. Cole’s preaching over the past 20 years has consisted of sermons delivered before geographically wide- ranging venues. However, much of Mr. Cole’s personal Sabbath fellowship has been with a group called Texas Fellowship that since 2007, when its attendees split from the Church of God Big Sandy, has met in halls and homes in East Texas, including Lindale and near Hawkins. In the beginning Mr. Cole was active in speaking and other ministerial responsibilities beginning with his graduation from Ambassador College, Pasadena, Calif., in 1954. His duties continued in various but uninterrupted forms for 25 years, until his sudden and unexpected exit under a cloud when WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong relieved him of his church responsibilities in 1979. Mr. Cole’s last assignment under Mr. Armstrong was to assist the WCG pastor general as chairman and president of all church operations every- where in the world. … Mr. Armstrong abruptly fired Mr. Cole not long after officials of the State of California assumed legal control of the church through the office of the California attorney general.  …

Known to hardly anyone but close family members was their move to Texas and their joining up with the new Church of God International ministry of Garner Ted Armstrong. But the Coles’ career with the CGI was short-lived, only about six months. Beginning in 1980 they dropped out of sight even of the CGI and reemerged in the parallel universe of the non-COG. They began successful careers brokering real estate in the Tyler area, not returning to regular Sabbath-service attendance until 1995. That year marked the beginning of a major crackup of the Worldwide Church of God prompted by its major doctrinal and administrative changes.

Big Sandy fellowship

The Coles in June 1995 began attending Sabbath and feast-day services of the Church of God Big Sandy and continued for several years with that fellowship. …

But Mr. Cole also frequently visited with and spoke widely in congregations affiliated with other Church of God ministries, mostly with brethren who would describe themselves as “independent” or “interdependent.”

For example, in 2004 the Coles assisted Guardian Ministries, based in Pasadena, with its Feast of Tabernacles observance. Guardian sponsors the Pasadena Church of God, pastored by David Antion.

In a sermon in Big Sandy in 2005 Mr. Cole talked about his experiences as a student at Ambassador in the 1950s and his founding, over the years, of seven congregations on behalf of the Radio/Worldwide Church of God. He “raised up” new congregations in Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Houston, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Akron, Ohio; Memphis, Tenn.; and Little Rock, Ark. He also pastored RCG/WCG churches in Tacoma, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; St. Louis, Mo.; Chicago, Ill.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

As an administrator in the RCG/ WCG he served as regional director for Australia and New Zealand for 11 years and as vice president for finan- cial affairs, church administration and ministerial services for Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. He served as regional director for the church and college in Canada for two years. He conducted baptizing tours in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and other countries. He was a founder of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation.

His last position in the WCG was as assistant to Mr. Armstrong for all operations of the church and college internationally.

It is possible that I saw C. Wayne Cole in person in 1977, but I never actually knew him personally–though do recall when he left WCG in 1979 (for information on one group he was part of, see the article Teachings of the Church of God, International).

On other matters, the following was on the front page of The Journal:

THE JOURNAL is listing contact information, locations and dates of Feast of Tabernacles observances for 2016 in several issues this year.

Those associated with the Continuing Church of God, and we submitted them to The Journal can be found in the article Feast of Tabernacles’ Sites for 2016.

As far as The Journal goes, it also had the usual letters to the editor and other advertisements, various comments, and opinion articles. The advertisements mainly seem to be from possibly Laodicean groups and/or individuals (not all seem to be COG) who seem to think that the ads are somehow doing the work. More of the real work that the COGs should be doing are in the article The Final Phase of the Work.

The Journal itself is available by paid subscription (though Dixon Cartwright says some subscriptions are free to those who cannot afford it). It tends to have a non-Philadelphian approach to many matters.

Doctrinal similarities and differences between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016


Herbert W. Armstrong and Martin Luther

COGwriter

Most people are familiar with the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther. And most people who come to this News page regularly are familiar with the late COG leader Herbert W. Armstrong.

While both men had issues in their personal lives, I would like to highlight a couple of their doctrinal similarities and a couple of doctrinal differences.

Ten Commandments

Regarding the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther claimed that:

God threatens to punish all who break these commandments…Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.12).

The fruits of this sin are afterwards the evil deeds which are forbidden in the Ten Commandments…we hold that the Law was given by God, first, to restrain sin by threats and the dread of punishment, and by the promise and offer of grace and benefit (Luther Martin. The Smallclad Papers. 1537. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau Published in: _Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church_. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), pp. 453-529).

…teach them first of all these articles, namely the ten commandments…But as for those that will not learn, let them be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians…(Luther M. The Short Catechism, 1529. Cited in Bettenson H, ed., Documents of the Christian Church. London: Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 225).

Furthermore the Christian Questions and Their Answers section of that book states (it is unclear he Martin Luther actually wrote that section, though it is ascribed to him),

“1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it, I am a sinner. 2. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept…The Ten Commandments are the law of God” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986. pp.39-40,53).

Martin Luther wrote,

…whoever wishes to know and to do good works needs nothing else than to know God’s commandments. Thus Christ says, Matthew xix, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” And when the young man asks Him, Matthew xix, what he shall do that he may inherit eternal life, Christ sets before him naught else but the Ten Commandments (Luther M. Treatise on Good Works, March 29, 1520).

For even if a Moses had never appeared and Abraham had never been born, the Ten Commandments would have had to rule in all men from the very beginning, as they indeed did and still do (Luther, M. Against the Sabbatarians:Letter to a Good Friend, Part II, 1538).

Similarly, Herbert Armstrong taught,

“The ten commandments were first made known to ADAM in the Garden of Eden…We read the answer in Romans 5:12, ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and DEATH BY SIN; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ And in verse fourteen, ‘Death reigned FROM ADAM TO MOSES’. ‘Sin is NOT imputed when there is NO law,’ you read in the 13th verse. Yet sin was imputed because death did reign from Adam to Moses. There must then have been a law from Adam’s time…What is sin? Is there a BIBLE definition? Is there any place in the Bible where it says, “Sin is . . . and then follows the definition? The answer is in 1 John 3:4, ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ ” (Armstrong, H. Were the TEN COMMANDMENTS in force before Moses? Circa 1956).

An article of related interest may be The Ten Commandments and the Early Church.

State of the Dead

They even had similarities on the state of the dead.

The immediate cause of Luther’s stand on the sleep of the soul was the issue of purgatory, with its postulate of the conscious torment of anguished souls. While Luther is not always consistent, the predominant note running all through his writings is that souls sleep in peace, without consciousness or pain. The Christian dead are not aware of anything—see not, feel not, understand not, and are not conscious of passing events. Luther held and periodically stated that in the sleep of death, as in normal physical sleep, there is complete unconsciousness and unawareness of the condition of death or the passage of time.† Death is a deep, sound, sweet sleep.‡ And the dead will remain asleep until the day of resurrection (Martin Luther and William Tyndale on the State of the Dead pp. 571-572).

Martin Luther specifically taught:

It is probable, in my opinion, that, with very few exceptions indeed, the dead sleep in utter insensibility till the day of judgment… On what authority can it be said that the souls of the dead may not sleep out the interval between earth and heaven… (Luther M. Translated by W. Hazlitt. The life of Luther written by himself. M. Michelet, ed. Bohn’s Standard Library. G. Bell, 1904, p. 133).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

“The Bible teaching contrary to much religious and church teaching – that is the WORD OF GOD teaching – is that the dead ARE DEAD – utterly unconscious. Notice the inspired wisdom of Solomon: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything…” – the RSV translates it “the dead KNOW NOTHING” (Eccl.9:5)… I Corinthians 15:49: “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall [future - resurrection] also bear the image of the heavenly” (verse 49). As we are now flesh, we shall be SPIRIT – at the resurrection, that is, when we shall be “BORN AGAIN” – when we shall see, enter into, the Kingdom of God – when we are Spirit – at the resurrection! ‘Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot Inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [be dead], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [the then living] shall be changed (verses 50-52)’” (Armstrong HW. Incredible Human Potential. Chapter 12).

While some criticize this teaching and call it “soul sleep”, it was held by the earliest Christians. Please check out the article Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?

Both men had a lot of dissimilarities, personal and professional. But, this article will not focus on personal dissimilarities, but rather on a few of the doctrinal dissimilarities. Because, from the perspective of biblical truth, those are the primary dissimilarities which should count.

Is the Bible Fallible? Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Martin Luther seems to think so as he wrote about the Book of James,

In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works. It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15…But this James does nothing more than drive to the law and to its works. Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the apostles and thus tossed them off on paper. Or it may perhaps have been written by someone on the basis of his preaching. He calls the law a ‘law of liberty’, though Paul calls it a law of slavery, of wrath, of death, and of sin (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

As the following quotes show, Martin Luther did not care for several books in the Old Testament either:

Job spoke not as it stands written in his book, but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book…Ecclesiastes ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it…Solomon did not, therefore, write this book…I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much…The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible. (as quoted in O’Hare, p. 202).

For additional information, please read the article, Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther: What Did Martin Luther Actually Teach about the Bible?

Yet WCG under Herbert Armstrong taught,

The Bible is true not only scientifically, but historically. Again, though the Bible is not a history book, what ever is mentioned as history in the Bible is always true…Is the Word of God infallible? It certainly is (Is the Bible Infallible? Good News Article – Dec. 1980).

Are All the Books of the New Testament Proper?

Martin Luther had a fairly low view of the Books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation as he wrote,

Up to this point we have had the true and certain chief books of the New Testament. The four which follow have from ancient times had a different reputation. In the first place, the fact that Hebrews is not an epistle of St. Paul, or of any other apostle, is proved by what it says in chapter 2 (Luther, M. Prefaces to the Epistle of the Hebrews, 1546; originally1522).

Martin Luther wrote,

Concerning the epistle of St. Jude, no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter’s second epistle, so very like it are all the words. He also speaks of the apostles like a disciple who comes long after them and cites sayings and incidents that are found nowhere else in the Scriptures. This moved the ancient fathers to exclude this epistle from the main body of the Scriptures. Moreover the Apostle Jude did not go to Greek-speaking lands, but to Persia, as it is said, so that he did not write Greek. Therefore, although I value this book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of faith (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546; originally 1522).

Martin Luther taught,

Which are the true and noblest books of the New Testament? From all this you can now judge all the books and decide among them which are the best. John’s Gospel and St. Paul’s epistles, especially that to the Romans, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the true kernel and marrow of all the books…Therefore John’s Gospel is the one, fine, true, and chief gospel, and is far, far to be preferred over the other three and placed high above them. So, too, the epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter far surpass the other three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it (Luther, M. Prefaces to the New Testament. LW 35:357-362, 394-399 Preface to the New Testament, 1546; originally 1522).

Under Herbert Armstrong, WCG taught,

The Bible is true not only scientifically, but historically. Again, though the Bible is not a history book, what ever is mentioned as history in the Bible is always true…Is the Word of God infallible? It certainly is” (Is the Bible Infallible? Good News Article – Dec. 1980).

” ‘To bind up’ comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘to complete.’ The apostles were used ‘to complete’ the testimony of Jesus Christ. The New Testament Church has “the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). It was also through Jesus’ disciples that God’s seal of approval was placed on those laws which are eternally binding on Christians. Yes, we can know! The Bible is COMPLETE! Not one book of the Bible has been lost. Not one is missing. The books of the Bible as you find them in your King James Version constitute the complete Bible! (Do We Have The COMPLETE BIBLE? Copyright 1959, 1974 Ambassador College).

Two articles of possibly related interest may be The Old Testament Canon and The New Testament Canon – From the Bible Itself.

It may be of interest to also realize that while Martin Luther wrote, “John’s Gospel is the one, fine, true, and chief gospel, and is far, far to be preferred over the other three and placed high above them”, he (unlike HWA) ignored much of what it taught. The plain truth is that much of the Gospel According to John had to do with two holy day seasons: the final Passover season (Chapters 13-21) and one particular Feast of Tabernacles‘ season (Chapters 7-9)–times that Martin Luther did not observe like the original Christians did, but that Herbert Armstrong did.

Baptism of Infants/Children

“Why are babies to be baptized? A. Babies are to baptized because they are included in the words ‘all nations’ (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1986, p.202).

Furthermore, Martin Luther got these statements confirmed,

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children…Article XII:…They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. (The Confession of Faith: Which Was Submitted to His Imperial Majesty Charles V. At the Diet of Augsburg in the Year 1530. by Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560. Translated by F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 37-95.)

Thus Martin Luther not only encouraged infant baptism, he condemned those who opposed infant baptism.

The Apostle Peter taught, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38) “Then those that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:42).

Herbert Armstrong taught,

Should Children Be Baptized? One cannot be baptized until after he has fully REPENTED. Only those who BELIEVE, both the true GOSPEL (the Message Jesus preached, which is the Kingdom, or Government of God) and on JESUS CHRIST as personal Saviour, can be baptized (see Acts 2:38; 8:37; 16:31). Children have not reached that maturity where they have the self-discipline to truly repent, and believe (Armstrong H. All About Water Baptism. 1948, 1954, 1972 edition).

There is no recorded instance of any babies being baptized in the Old or New Testaments. An article of related interest may be Baptism and the Early Church.

Herbert W. Armstrong had many doctrines closer with the teachings of the Bible and early Christianity than Martin Luther did. See also Continuing History of the Church of God.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Similarities and Dissimilarities between Martin Luther and Herbert W. Armstrong This article clearly shows some of the doctrinal differences between in the two. At this time of doctrinal variety and a tendency by many to accept certain aspects of Protestantism, the article should help clarify why the genuine Church of God is NOT Protestant. Do you really know what the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught and should you follow his doctrinal example? Here is a related sermon video: Martin Luther and Herbert Armstrong: Reformers with Differences.
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
COGwriter Position on Other Churches and Religions What is the fate of those who do not know Christ? What about those who profess Christ outside the Church of God?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? See also World Council of Churches Peace Plan.
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?

Australia keen on making a post-Brexit free trade deal, but there still is an Asian threat

Sunday, July 17th, 2016


Australia’s main export markets in 2006

COGwriter

Australia has contacted the UK to attempt to make a post-Brexit free treade deal:

July 17, 2016

Australia has called for a free trade deal with Britain following its exit from the European Union.

Theresa May described the move as “very encouraging” and insisted it showed Brexit could work for Britain.

In a phone call to the new PM, her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull said he urgently wanted to open up trading between the two countries.

Liam Fox, the new international trade secretary, said he was already “scoping about a dozen free trade deals”.

But the UK cannot sign any deals while it is still an EU member – and experts warned trade deals take a long time to negotiate. …

Mr Archer said that although the UK cannot sign trade deals while it is an EU member, there will be numerous informal discussions taking place leading up to the Brexit date, which could be in late 2018 or early 2019.

According to Australian government trade figures, in 2014 Australia exported A$8.3bn (£4.5bn) to the UK in 2014 and imported A$12.4bn (£6.5bn).

But that is a fraction of the A$100bn (£55bn) exported that year by Australia to China, and the A$54bn it imported from the Asian giant.

And according to the latest data from the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs for May 2016, Australia was 21st on the list of Britain’s export markets, and 20th on the list of import providers.


Analysis

BBC correspondent Phil Mercer, in Sydney

Britain is Australia’s seventh largest trading partner, and is second only to the United States when it comes to direct foreign investment down under.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said a free trade agreement with the UK was a priority, although such treaties are complicated and can be time-consuming. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36818055

This type of move by Australia was to be expected.

For at least a decade I have written that the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand would form greater trade ties. Even when US President Barack Obama falsely claimed that if the British voted to exit the European Union (the Brexit) that the UK would be in “the back of the queue” for trade talks, I posted that since he was on his way out and that I did not expect his successor to share his view on this (see BBC: What is the future for UK-US trade?). And I was correct, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton said that they would work on trade arrangements with the UK.

Furthermore, after the Brexit vote, Barack Obama reversed his improper stance on trade with a post-Brexit UK.

I expect the Anglo-Saxon nations to attempt to trade more with each other.

As far as Australia goes, it is getting much too dependent on Asia for trade–and it knows it. This is likely one reason that it has approached the UK already.

Many in Australia do consider China a military threat. And this was true even six years ago:

“ALMOST half of Australians believe that China will become a military threat to Australia within 20 years,” according to a recent Lowy Institute poll. While most Australians appreciate the economic benefits of a relationship with China, most believe that their government has allowed too much Chinese investment in Australia. A majority also feel China’s goal is to dominate the Asian region. The survey revealed that Australians “were positive about China’s economic growth but fearful of its military aims” (The Courier-Mail, May 31, 2010).

It may be of historical interest to realize that the Church of God has long taught that Australia faced threats from Asia, and in particular mainland China. Notice something published by the old Radio Church of God in 1963:

Simply because of her geographical situation, Australia is a land of opportunity. Yes, OPPORTUNITY- opportunity for the teeming masses of Asia!

lndonesia is only ONE of Australia’s worries!

Still further to the north lies the sprawling mainland of Red China. Standing on the Baok of China, like a sentinel on the alert, is the booming, highly industrialized nation of Japan with its progressive millions!

Australia is in trouble-and doesn’t know it! (Armstrong GT. Australia’s Deadly Peril! Plain Truth, February 1963, p. 9)

What if Britain Enters the Common Market?

Faced with this potential effecr of the Common Market-Australia has been FORCED to look hopefully toward ASIA for new and expanded outlets for its produce! …

Australia, like all of Israel, is headed toward captivity!

Just as ancient Israel made the mistake of seeking to the Gentile nations for her protection, making pacts and treaties, instead of trusting in God-so is modern-day Israel guilty of the same sin! Australia at the present time is linked with Gentile nations as a member of SEATO, the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization. She like other nations of Israel, is looking to Gentile nations for protection from her potential enemies.

This practice God condemns.

While the United States and Great Britain are faced with the prophesied revival of the “beast,” a union of ten powerful nations in Europe, forming the rebuilding of the ancient Roman Empire, Australia may well be taken over by an entirely different enemy! Australia, trying to populate and industrialize to stave off Communism, may become the SLAVES OF COMMUNISTS! And -make no mistake about it-aggression is actually BEING PLANNED against Australia! (Armstrong GT. Australia’s Deadly Peril! Plain Truth, February 1963, pp. 42-44)

Well, Britain did enter the old Common Market and as the 1963 article indicated, Australia has become more and more dependent upon Asian markets. Furthermore, as the 1963 article suggested, Australia is becoming vulnerable for captivity from China.

Back in 2009, I wrote that it looked like China could possibly end up with the land of Australia and Japan with that of New Zealand.  When I wrote that, I was unaware that the old Radio Church of God had written something similar (the first time I saw that 1963 article was July 14, 2016).

By 2010,  I wrote that since the USA owes Japan (the “land of the rising sun”) and China (the “middle kingdom”) massive amounts of money, it may be since Australia and New Zealand will be allies of the USA and UK, that Europe will give Australia over to China (and/or others in Asia) and New Zealand over to Japan (and/or others in Asia) to help satisfy the USA/UK debt. Both China and Japan have longed for more land and the proximity of the island nations of Australia and New Zealand to the Asian powers seems to make this a likely scenario. The fact that Australia has about 78% as much land as China and New Zealand about 71% of the land of Japan make them interesting candidates for takeover.

In 2009, I noticed some interesting Chinese prophecies from the Tang Dynasty (7-10th century).  Notice one Chinese prophecy might hint that it involves dividing Australia and New Zealand with Europe.  It states:

Population mouth takes territories south of the Yangtze river.  The capital is moved again.  The two divide up the territories, of which each maintains and defends (Pui-Hua R.  Ancient Chinese Prophecies Till the End of the World.  AuthorHouse, Bloomington (IN), 2008, p. 164).

This may be related to a deal that perhaps the Chinese will make in the future with Europe (there are some ancient Chinese prophecies that discuss arrangements with some from the West, as well as biblical prophesies indicating trade between them), as opposed to military conquest.  It also may not be related to the taking of Australia or New Zealand, but perhaps might be. China is now heavily invested in Australia and may argue that it has rights to the land.

Furthermore, in recent years, the Chinese have been buying a lot of real estate in Australia, beyond purchases of mineral assets:

July 28, 2015

It is estimated that last year, the Chinese snapped a quarter of all new stock in Sydney and a fifth in Melbourne.

Chinese capital investments in Australia are on the rise and are expected to be boosted further by recent changes to currency regulations that make it easier for wealthy Chinese to invest in property overseas. Credit Suisse forecasts the Chinese will pump as much as A$60bn ($44.55bn) into Australian property over the next five years. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150727-the-newest-chinese-obsession

Notice the following additional Chinese prophecies which tie China in with some from the West.

Beautiful people come from the West. Korea, China and Japan are gradually at peace (Pui-Hua R.  Ancient Chinese Prophecies Till the End of the World.  AuthorHouse, Bloomington (IN), 2008, p. 85).

All negative forces are subservient…China now has a saint.  Even if he is not that great a hero (ibid, p. 89).

Germany and all of Europe are west of China.  The “beautiful people” mentioned may be from the Beast and his false prophet which apparently will impress peoples in places including Asia. The “saint” will likely be “the false prophet” also known as the final Antichrist. I suspect that Satan may have inspired these Chinese prophecies so that the Chinese will one day point to them for their justification for getting involved with the Beast power of Revelation 13 (see also Satan’s Plan).  The Bible says that the whole world will worship that Beast power (Revelation 13:4,8) and that would thus have to include China.

But what about post-Brext trade?

Well, yes I believe that the UK and Australia will try to improve trade ties. New Zealand will also likely attempt to improve trade ties with the UK as well.

But I believe it will end up being too little, too late. They are still geographically close to Asia and have too many ties to Asia for the Asians to ignore, despite whatever deals they make with the UK.

Australia and New Zealand are not able to stop Asians militarily, and once the USA is out of the way (as the Bible prophesies in Daniel 11:39), this will not end well for Australia or New Zealand. The end will come to the USA, Great Britain, and Canada (see also Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves?).

While a post-Brexit trade agreement will likely benefit Australia and the United Kingdom, this will not prevent biblical prophecies from being fulfilled.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

British are the Covenant People What do ‘British’ and ‘Britain’ mean in Hebrew? Are the descendants of the Anglo-Saxons people of the covenant? Does the British royal family connect to the throne of David? What does the Bible teach? What does history show us? Is there any DNA evidence related to British-Israelism? When did Christianity make it to the British Isles? Could Jeremiah have made it to the British Isles? What type of Christians made it to the British Isles? Did the last King of England believe in British Israelism?
Forbes’ Brexit Monster is the Beast of Revelation
Various ones have been properly convinced that there is a plan for a European superstate. Forbes’ writer Tom Worstall wrote that the Brexit vote was about the United Kingdom “not joining the monster of the European Union to come.” The Bible tells of a Beast monster that will arise in the end times in Europe. Dr. Thiel cites news reports, as well as the Old and New Testaments, to show that the monster many fear will arise in Europe, despite the vote by the British to exit the European Union.
Post Brexit Prophecy On June 23, 2016, the voters of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) chose to leave the European Union. Now with this BRitish EXIT (Brexit) vote, what is prophesied to happen to the UK? Will the UK do well or be taken over and made slaves? Dr. Thiel explains from biblical prophecies what is ahead for the UK, Europe, and even the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This is a video.
Who is the King of the North? Is there one? Do biblical and Roman Catholic prophecies for the Great Monarch point to the same leader? Should he be followed? Who will be the King of the North discussed in Daniel 11? Is a nuclear attack prophesied to happen to the English-speaking peoples of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? When do the 1335 days, 1290 days, and 1260 days (the time, times, and half a time) of Daniel 12 begin? When does the Bible show that economic collapse will affect the United States? In the Spanish language check out ¿Quién es el Rey del Norte? Here is a link to a video titled: The Future King of the North.
Should a Christian Vote? This article gives some of the Biblical rationale on this subject. Would Jesus vote for president/prime minister? Is voting in the Bible? This is a subject Christians need to understand. A video of related interest is available titled: Should Christians Vote?
Donald Trump in Prophecy Prophecy, Donald Trump? Are there prophecies that Donald Trump may fulfill? Are there any prophecies that he has already helped fulfill? Could a Donald Trump presidency be apocalyptic? A related video is titled Could Donald Trump be Apocalyptic?
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? Does God have 7,000 year plan? What year may the six thousand years of human rule end? When will Jesus return? 2024 or 20xx? There is also a video titled The 6000 Year Plan: Is the end of humanity’s reign almost up? Here is a link to the article in Spanish: ¿Tiene Dios un plan de 6,000 años?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2016, 2017, or 2018? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2016 o 2017? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation Start in 2016?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermons Why Teach the Kingdom of God? and The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Europa, the Beast, and Revelation Where did Europe get its name? What might Europe have to do with the Book of Revelation? What about “the Beast”? Is an emerging European power “the daughter of Babylon”? What is ahead for Europe? Here is a link to a video titled: Can You Prove that the Beast to Come is European?
European Technology and the Beast of Revelation Will the coming European Beast power would use and develop technology that will result in the taking over of the USA and its Anglo-Saxon allies? Is this possible? What does the Bible teach? Here is a related YouTube video: Military Technology and the Beast of Revelation.
Must the Ten Kings of Revelation 17:12 Rule over Ten Currently Existing Nations? Some claim that these passages refer to a gathering of 10 currently existing nations together, while one group teaches that this is referring to 11 nations getting together. Is that what Revelation 17:12-13 refers to? The ramifications of misunderstanding this are enormous. A related sermon is titled Ten Kings of Revelation and the Great Tribulation.
When You Sin: Do You Really Repent? This is an article by Charles F. Hunting. A related sermon is Confess to God and truly repent.
WTO/TTIP and the Babylonian Beast Will international trade agreements like WTO/TTIP/CETA lead to the fulfillment of end time prophecies concerning the Babylonian Beast power that the Book of Revelation warns against? What does the Bible teach? A related video would be WTO Trade Deal and the Rise of the European Beast Power.
Asia in Prophecy What is Ahead for Asia? Who are the “Kings of the East”? What will happen to nearly all the Chinese, Russians, Indians, and others of Asia? China in prophecy, where? Who has the 200,000,000 man army related to Armageddon? A YouTube video of interest may be Is China THE Threat to the United States of America?
British and American Moral Decay Public nudity is becoming more prevalent in the Anglo-Saxon lands. What are some of the consequences?
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People. A short YouTube of prophetic interest may be Barack Obama and the State of the Apocalypse.
Will the Anglo-Saxon Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves? Will the lands of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand be divided? What about Jerusalem? What does Bible prophecy teach? Are there non-biblical prophecies that support this idea? Who will divide those lands? Who will end up with the lands and the people? Here is a link to a video titled Will the USA and other Anglo-nations be Divided and Their People Made Slaves? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Serán divididas las naciones anglosajonas?
Hillary Clinton, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States This is a 200 page book for people truly interested in prophecies related to Hillary Clinton and the United States, including learning about many that have already been fulfilled and those that will be fulfilled in the future. It also discusses Republicans. The physical book can be purchased at Amazon from the following link: Hillary Clinton, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States, 2nd edition: Is Hillary Clinton Fulfilling Biblical, Islamic Catholic, Hopi, and other America-Related Prophecies? What About Donald Trump? $11.99.
Hillary Clinton, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Amazon 2nd Kindle edition This electronic version of the 200 page print edition is available for only US$3.99. And you do not need an actual Kindle device to read it. Why? Amazon will allow you to download it to almost any device: Please click HERE to download one of Amazon s Free Reader Apps. After you go to for your free Kindle reader and then go to Hillary Clinton, Prophecy, and the Destruction of the United States-Amazon 2nd Kindle edition.

Sermon: Matthew 1-2: Greek or Aramaic, Jesus, and the Star?

Saturday, July 16th, 2016


ευαγγελιον κ̣ατ̣α μαθ᾽θαιον (euangelion kata Maththaion). Dated to late 2nd or early 3rd century, it is the earliest manuscript title for Matthew

COGwriter

The Continuing Church of God is pleased to announce this sermon from its ContinuingCOG channel:

1:13:14

Matthew 1-2: Greek or Aramaic, Jesus, and the Star?

This is the first part of a sermon series on the Gospel According to Matthew. In it, Dr. Thiel addresses the claim that this book may have been written in Hebrew or Aramaic instead of Greek. He also reads each and every verse in the first two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. He also addresses certain theories about the ‘Star’ that the wise men saw. Dr. Thiel also discusses issues associated with prophecies in the second chapter of Matthew.

Here is a link to the sermon: Matthew 1-2: Greek or Aramaic, Jesus, and the Star?

Some items of related interest may include:

Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 seemingly list two different genealogies for Jesus. Why?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You can also see a YouTube video sermon The Gospel of the Kingdom.
MARK Here is a link to a sermon covering all of Jesus’ words in the ‘Gospel of Mark’: What did Jesus teach in the Book of Mark?
LUKE Here are links to eight sermons covering the entire ‘Gospel of Luke’: Luke 1-2: John the Baptist, Mary, and the Census, Luke 3-6: John the Baptist, Jesus’ genealogy, Satan’s Influence, and the Sermon on the Mount, Luke 7-9: Miracles, Purpose of Parables, Kingdom of God, and Women Supporting the Ministry, Luke 10-11: The 70, Doing the Work, the Good Samaritan, Prayer, and Signs, Luke 12-13: Priorities, Delayed Fruit Bearing, Little Flock, Prophecy, and the Narrow Way, Luke 14-16: The Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son, the Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 17-20: Faith, the Kingdom, Gathering, Prayer, & Rewards, and Luke 21-22: Giving, Sorrows, Persecution, Tribulation, Fig Tree, and Violence. The last sermon also covers Jesus’ words in the Book of Acts.
JOHN Here are links to a seven-part sermon series covering the entire ‘Gospel of John’: John 1-3: Anti-unitarian, Wine, Being Born Again, & Heaven, John 4-6: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, Miracles and the Bread of Life, John 10-12: Sheep, Hirelings, Lazarus/Soul Sleep and ‘Palm Day’, John 13-15: Footwashing and the Words of Jesus, John 16-18: Truth, Trinity, and Pontius Pilate, and John 19-21: Do not only try, do what God wants.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? and The Continuing Church of God: Two Years of Proclamation. Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos as well as some ContinuingCOG channel sermons. It is also available as a mobile app.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

Do you know about Priscilla and Aquila?

Friday, July 8th, 2016

COGwriter

July 8th is observed in honor of Priscilla and Aquila by some associated with the Greco-Roman churches.

Priscilla and Aquila were apparently early converts to Christianity, and must have worked together. I have listed Priscilla (also called Prisca) first, as the Bible twice lists her first. This is not to say that she was necessarily superior to her husband Aquila, but since the Bible gives her that honor as often as it gives it to her husband, I thought I would also list her first.

Luke records that Priscilla and her husband Aquila were from Rome and shared the same occupation as the Apostle Paul:

After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3, NKJV throughout).

So when Paul met Priscilla and Aquila, they were living in Corinth as it was unsafe for them to have stayed in Rome at that time.

Priscilla and Aquila were quite well versed in early Christian doctrine as God used them to help Apollo:

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).

Apparently, after being with Paul for a while, they returned to Rome. They were also apparently quite brave and also had church services in their home in Rome:

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Romans 16:3-5).

When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, they still had church services in their home, and they apparently continued to support Paul, as he wrote:

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Later, they apparently moved again. In his letter to Timothy, who was then in Ephesus, Paul wrote:

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 4:19).

So, near the end of Paul’s life, they became part of the true church in Ephesus.

Priscilla and Aquila were a married couple who were also tentmakers. They knew and supported Paul, knew and taught Apollo, and also knew Timothy.

Although originally from Rome, they traveled extensively. The fact that they had church services in their house in Rome when Paul wrote two of his letters seems to suggest that the early church in Rome was not particularly large.

Some items of possibly-related interest may include:

Priscilla and Aquila An early Christian married couple from Rome who moved to Asia Minor.
Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here is a related sermon titled: New Testament Women.
True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? Is there still a place for being feminine? Here is an article from Herbert Armstrong about his thoughts relating to women and womanhood.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?

Peter taught many doctrines that most who claim succession through him do not

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016


Artist portrayal of the Apostle Peter preaching

COGwriter

Mike Gendron had the following in one of his newletters:

The apostle Peter played a prominent role in the early church. Soon after he abandoned his career as a fisherman to follow Christ, he became a fisher of men. Several of his sermons were recorded in the Book of Acts, and his two epistles are included in the divinely inspired Scriptures. Since Catholics have been taught that Peter was their first pope, I have developed some questions to shed some light on his theology, ecclesiology, and soteriology. All of the answers come directly from his writings and sermons…>

Peter, were you the first pope and the supreme head of the first century church?
“As a fellow elder, I exhort the elders among you… to shepherd the flock of God.” (1 Pet. 5:1-3)

Are you the rock upon which Jesus would build His church?
Jesus is “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God, chosen and precious… The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. They stumble because they disobey the word.” (1 Pet. 2:4,7-8)

Were you infallible?
Paul opposed me to my face because I was not in step with the truth of the Gospel.(Gal. 2:11,14)

Should we confess our sins to priests?
Repent of your wickedness and pray to God that your sins may be forgiven. (Acts 8:22)

Should we pray to Mary and the saints?
Pray to God. (Acts 8:22)

Can anyone be saved apart from the Lord Jesus Christ?
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

What would you say to Pope Francis who teaches that atheists can follow their conscience into heaven?
“There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” “The ignorant and unstable twist Paul’s letters to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2 Peter 2:1; 3:16)…

Is it possible for God’s grace or indulgences to be purchased for the remission of sins?
God ransoms us “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:18-19)…

Should Jesus Christ be made a sin offering during the sacrifice of the Mass?
Christ suffered “once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18)…

Should Jesus continue to be pictured as a dead man hanging on a cross or as a baby in Mary’s arms?
The resurrected Christ has “gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Pet. 3:21-22)

What should we do in these days of great deception? Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 3:17-18)

There is a profound contrast between the divinely inspired teachings of Peter and the fallible, ungodly opinions of Pope Francis. The enormous disparity between the instruction of these two men Catholics call “pope” shows how far the Roman Catholic Church has departed from the faith of the apostles. May God give us all a greater compassion for the many victims of religious deception.

Most who claim some tie to Roman Catholicism do not realize how much that church has changed. An article that documents this in great detail is available: Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?

As far as ‘apostolic succession’ goes, notice the following definition from a Roman Catholic priest and scholar:

Apostolic Succession...In its strict sense, apostolic succession refers to the doctrine by which the validity and authority of the Christian ministry is derived from the Apostles…In its broader sense, apostolic succession refers to the relationship between the Christian church today and the apostolic church of New Testament times. Thus, apostolic succession refers to the whole church insofar as it is faithful to the word, the witness, and the service of the apostolic communities. Understood in this way, the church is not simply a collectivity of individual churches; instead, it is a communion of churches whose validity is derived from the apostolic message that it professes and from the apostolic witness that it lives (McBrien R.P. Apostolic Succession. http://mb-soft.com/believe/txo/apossucc.htm 12/09/06).

In other words, according to the above priest, apostolic succession is actually related to the acceptance of the succession of biblical truth, as taught by the original apostles–spiritual apostolic succession is the most important factor to consider when it comes to the subject of apostolic succession (though the ‘laying on of hands’ is also a factor).

Jesus said:

23 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. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)

True successors of Jesus’ disciples would worship God in spirit and truth–”the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  Yet, the Church of Rome has made many changes, including many that disagree with positions held by many it considers to be early ‘saints.’

I would add that it is not just Roman Catholics that made changes that disagree with the views of the original apostles.

Some details are in the free online booklets Continuing History of the Church of God and Where is the True Christian Church Today?

Some items to assist in your studies may include:

Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood?
The Apostle Peter He was an original apostle and early Christian leader. Where was Peter buried? Where did Peter die?
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
What Was the Original Apostles’ Creed? What is the Nicene Creed? Did the original apostles write a creed? When was the first creed written? Are the creeds commonly used by the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholics original?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? A related YouTube video would be Origin of the Cross.
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. December 25th was celebrated as his birthday. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy? Pope Francis has taken many steps to turn people more towards his version of ‘Mary.’ Could this be consistent with biblical and Catholic prophecies? This article documents what has been happening. There is also a video version titled Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?
Feast of the Immaculate Conception? Did early Christians teach Mary had an immaculate conception and led a sinless life?
Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from c. 31 A.D. to 2014. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

India and the Apostle Thomas; Bangladesh terror

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016


India

COGwriter

July 3rd is observed by some to honor Thomas the apostle. He is believed to have been stabbed with a spear c.72 while in prayer on a hill in Mylapur, India.

Thomas is mentioned various times in the Bible. In Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, and Luke 6:15 his name is listed next to the Apostle Matthew.

He seemed to have a certain bravery, was willing to ask questions, and apparently was a twin (or perhaps resembled someone else very well):

12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:12-16)

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:1-5)

1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”

They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. (John 21:1-4)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)

He is probably best known for the following:

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)

Yet, if the legends about him later are true, he traveled farther than any other apostle. Some believe that he reached Malaysia and perhaps even the edges of China itself. But he seems best known for apparently reaching India.

In the early third century, Hippolytus wrote about Bartholomew and Thomas:

Bartholomew, again, preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward, and was buried in Allanum, a town of the great Armenia…

And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians, and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spears at Calamene, the city of India, and was buried there (Hippolytus. On The Twelve Apostles).

This may be the earliest reference to any form of Christianity coming to India.

One legend, that was written down in the late 1800s, but has been questioned, concerns Thomas:

The Rabban Song, which has been passed down orally by generations of Indian Christians, recounts Thomas’ career in India in some detail. It states that the apostle arrived in India in late A.D. 49, stayed briefly then went to China. This generally agrees with Indian traditions. Such a trip would have occurred shortly after Thomas’s arrival in South India. Farquhar and Garitte believe that it is unlikely that Thomas actually went to China proper–certainly not Peking–within the short space of perhaps a year alotted by the Indian narratives. They believe that he did evangelize in what are now Burma and Malaysia for a short time before returning to South India. According to the Rabban Song, between A.D. 52 and 59 Thomas founded seven churches and baptized one king…In A.D. 69, Thomas settled permanently in Mylapore…According to most Indian traditions, Thomas died of stab wounds on July 3, A.D. 72. The Braham priests of Mylapore feared that Christianity would eclipse Hinduism (Ruffin C.B. The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary. Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (IN), 1997, pp. 132-134).

“St. Thomas Christians” are claimed to be an ancient body of professing Christians on the east and west coasts of India. They claim spiritual descent from the Apostle Thomas and also claim various versions of the Ramban Pattu (Rabban Song). While none that I am aware of still keep the same faith that the Apostle Thomas kept, as they eventually accepted Roman dominance, it is probable that the Apostle Thomas was there and that there have been Christians in India since the times of the apostles (it should also be noted that there is, however, a congregation in the South-east coastal region of India in the area of Bhimavaram that does practice true Christianity–it is just that they do not refer to themselves as “St. Thomas Christians.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions this about the “St. Thomas Christians”:

St. Thomas Christians An ancient body of Christians on the east and west coasts of India, claiming spiritual descent from the Apostle St. Thomas…

Theophilus (surnamed the Indian) — an Arian, sent by Emperor Constantius (about 354) on a mission to Arabia Felix and Abyssinia — is one of the earliest, if not the first, who draws our attention to them…The people referred to were the Christians known as a body who had their liturgy in the Syriac language and inhabited the west coast of India, i.e. Malabar…

Gregory of Tours (Glor. Mart.), before 590, reports that Theodore, a pilgrim who had gone to Gaul, told him that in that part of India where the corpus (bones) of Thomas the Apostle had first rested (Mylapur on the east or the Coromandel Coast of India) there stood a monastery and a church of striking dimensions and elaboratedly adorned, adding: “After a long interval of time these remains had been removed thence to the city of Edessa.” The location of the first tomb of the Apostle in India is proof both of his martyrdom and of its Apostolate in India. The evidence of Theodore is that of an eyewitness who had visited both tombs — the first in India, while the second was at Edessa. The primitive Christians, therefore, found on both coasts, east and west, witness to and locate the tomb at Mylapur, “St. Thomas”, a little to the south of Madras; no other place in India lays any claim to possess the tomb, nor does any other country. On these facts is based their claim to be known as St. Thomas Christians…

There is one incident of the long period of isolation of the St. Thomas Christians from the rest of the Christian world which they are never tired of relating, and it is one of considerable importance to them for the civil status it conferred and secured to them in the country. This is the narrative of the arrival of a Syrian merchant on their shores, a certain Mar Thoma Cana — the Portuguese have named him Cananeo and styled him an Armenian, which he was not. He arrived by ship on the coast and entered the port of Cranganore. The King of Malabar, Cheruman Perumal, was in the vicinity, and receiving information of his arrival sent for him and admitted him to his presence…

It was only after the conversion of Sulaka in 1552 that the Chaldeans in part returned to the unity of faith. The truth is that the Malabar Church remained from A.D. 496 up till then in heresy….

During the centuries that these Christians were isolated from the rest of Christendom, their sole intercourse was limited to Mesopotamia…But from the close of the thirteenth century Western travellers, chiefly missionaries sent out by the popes, sent to the West occasional news of their existence (Medlycott, A.E. Transcribed by Mary and Joseph P. Thomas. St. Thomas Christians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Whether or not Thomas Cana was completely Syrian or part Armenian, the religion that his followers embraced was not one that allowed them to accept the authority of the Roman Church. Thomas Cana is believed to have died around 346 A.D. But eventually (after 1552) the bulk of the “St. Thomas Christians” accepted Roman church authority–hence would no longer have some of the characteristics of the early Christian church.

The reality, as real scholars will admit, is that the professing Christian world was NOT dominated by nor led by the Church of Rome in the first couple of centuries after Jesus’ resurrection. Church of God doctrines were found in many places including India, Asia Minor, various parts of Europe, and the British Isles.

A reader sent me the following on 7/03/15:

I went to the Church in India where St. Thomas was buried. I believe it was in Madras (Chennai?). It was a church with a strange mixture of Catholicism and Hinduism.

A lot of areas that early true Christians were in were later taken over by those that mixed paganism in with their faiths.

The true Christians did not do that, but were even forced out of places like the original Church of God building in Jerusalem (see Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill).

India, thus, is not the only area where this happened.

Now, perhaps it should be mentioned that presuming Thomas made it to Burma and/or Malaysia, he would have likely had to have gone through the area now called Bangladesh (probably on his way there and the way back).

Bangladesh was in the news because of Islamic State terrorism there. Here is a report about that:

July 2, 2016

Bangladesh authorities deployed heavy security throughout the capital Saturday following an 11-hour standoff with a group of militants who killed 20 mostly foreign civilians at an upscale restaurant.

The siege ended when security forces stormed the building, killing six attackers and capturing one. Most of the victims were hacked to death, and their killers sent photographs of the carnage to the Islamic State during the standoff.

Security forces rescued at least 13 hostages during the siege. Most of those who died are believed to be Italian and Japanese nationals. At least two police officers were also killed.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the identity of the attackers has not been confirmed.

Gunfire and explosions were heard Saturday morning after scores of commandos converged on the restaurant, more than 10 hours after the hostage crisis began.  Journalists were not allowed near the restaurant where several armored vehicles were on the scene.

Attackers Hit Restaurant in Diplomatic Quarter

The attack began late Friday when as many as 10 gunmen entered the Holey Artisan Bakery located in the diplomatic zone of Dhaka.

Police initially cordoned off the area around the restaurant and exchanged gunfire with the attackers who set off explosives. By midnight, shooting around the restaurant appeared to have stopped. Police then tried to open a channel of communication with the militants.  Several hours later, the commando operation to free the hostages began.

A bakery employee who escaped the attack told reporters the gunmen shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is the greatest) prior to taking hostages. Some people in the restaurant were able to escape through the roof of the facility. http://www.voanews.com/content/gunmen-in-bangladesh-open-fire-take-hostages-at-restaurant/3400597.html

It is terrible that people will point to religion as an excuse to kidnap and terrorize.

Some items of possibly-related prophetic interest may include:

India, Its Biblical Past and Future: Any Witness? The Bible discusses the origins of those of Indian heritage. This article quotes the Bible and also discusses some of the witness to India throughout history and what is happening in the 21st century (including those in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).
India and the Beast of Revelation 13 Do biblical, Catholic, and even Hindu prophecies suggest that many in India will follow, for a while, the Beast and False Prophet/Antichrist? Here is link to a related YouTube video Will People in India Worship the Beast of Revelation 13?
Asia in Prophecy What is Ahead for Asia? Who are the “Kings of the East”? What will happen to nearly all the Chinese, Russians, Indians, and others of Asia? Who has the 200,000,000 man army related to Armageddon?
Why Terrorism? Is Terrorism Prophesied? What does the Bible teach? Which nations may be affected? Here is a link to a related sermon: Terrorism, Christianity, and Islam.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
News Articles Related to Church History This link is to articles on Church history that were once published on the COG News Page.
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle, which is located on a Mount Zion, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building? There is also a video titled Might the oldest church building have prophetic ramifications?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.

Was Irenaeus a real saint or a real heretic?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016


An engraving allegedly of Irenaeus, in Gaul (now Lyons, France)

COGwriter

Today is considered to be the feast/saint’s day for Irenaeus of Lyon. His writings are some of the earliest available on certain heresies and he claimed to have met the faithful Polycarp of Smyrna.

A reader sent me the following:

Celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church on June 28, and by Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition on August 23, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons was a second-century bishop and writer in present-day France.

He is best known for defending Christian orthodoxy, especially the reality of Christ’s human incarnation, against the set of heresies known as Gnosticism.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke admiringly of St. Irenaeus in a 2007 general audience, recalling how this early Church Father “refuted the Gnostic dualism and pessimism which debased corporeal realities. He decisively claimed the original holiness of matter, of the body, of the flesh no less than of the spirit.” http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/st-irenaeus-stand-for-orthodoxy-honored-june-28/

Did Irenaeus properly defend Christian orthodoxy?

For years, I have considered Irenaeus to be a major heretic.

Notice also something from the late evangelist, John Ogwyn wrote:

Justin Martyr (ca. 95–167AD) and Irenaeus (ca. 130–202AD), while maintaining some truths they had learned under Polycarp, also sought to accommodate themselves to the new direction of Roman theology in the name of “church unity”…Justin also molded the thinking of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons…He believed that the God of Plato was also the God of the Bible (Ogwyn J. God’s Church Through the Ages. 2003).

While I have not seen any major other treatise explaining why Irenaeus was a major heretic (actually, outside of Church of God circles, I have seen little that specifically considers him to have been a heretic, though groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses probably do), it appears to me that he may have been the most dangerous heretic.

Why?

Because, Irenaeus’ heresies were not obvious to those outside the true Church of God. His heresies and false statements were less numerous and less obvious than Justin’s, thus have been missed by nearly all scholars (though some have noticed one or two errors he made).

What were His Most Important Heresies?

Irenaeus heard Polycarp, yet made deals with Rome that disagreed with Polycarp’s teachings. Irenaeus knew that Justin did not agree with Polycarp, yet he approved of Justin–and sadly seemed to prefer to be influenced more by him that by Polycarp.

Irenaeus knew that Polycarp condemned heretics such as Marcion and Valentinus, but Irenaeus failed to mention that they were still allowed to be part of the Roman Catholic Church until at two decades later. Irenaeus supported the Roman Church even though Irenaeus knew they tolerated heretics that had earlier been condemned by Polycarp (and eventually by Irenaeus himself).

Notice this from Tertullian:

Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part,—and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 30. Translated by Peter Holmes. Electronic Version Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Knight. All rights reserved).

Even though Marcion and Valentinus were condemned by Polycarp as a heretic about two decades before Eleutherius became bishop, apparently they were not put out of the Roman Catholic Church then. (Marcion gave a large financial contribution that kept him in good graces for a while–though the Roman Church allegedly returned that contribution after some time.)

And why is all of this about Polycarp and Irenaeus so important?

Because Irenaeus knew that Polycarp had the original faith that the apostles had, but did not stand up for it. Apparently, he did not consider that faith to be important enough to fully follow it personally–he compromised.

Notice what Irenaeus records this about Polycarp:

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna…always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 4, Verse 3 and Chapter 3, Verse 4).

So we have from this early Roman Catholic source that Polycarp and his successors in Asia Minor (at least until the time that Irenaeus wrote this, around 180 A.D.) practiced the true teachings that they learned from the apostles.

Irenaeus also wrote:

And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.”(Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

What Irenaeus failed to mention is that Marcion was possibly the first heretic to do away with the seventh-day Sabbath. And while Justin did not believe in keeping the Sabbath either, Justin did attend church services on Sunday. Irenaeus apparently felt that neither Saturday nor Sunday was of particular importance, as long as one worshipped God regularly–and this is a heresy that many still hold to today (including even the Jehovah’s witnesses).

Irenaeus also had some teachings that Polycarp held. For example, like Polycarp, Irenaeus clearly did not teach the trinity–he held a binitarian view, hence he did not follow that error of Montanus or Valentinus:

…there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Preface, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice that Irenaeus states that only the Father, the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Christians) are God. This is a binitarian, not a trinitarian view.

So why would binitarians consider Irenaeus a dangerous heretic?

Because he sided with Roman unity above the teachings that he must have known that Polycarp held. And he also introduced prophetic and other misunderstandings that many still accept today.

The Real “Passover Plot”

Irenaeus clearly knew that Polycarp kept Passover yet he did not condemn Rome for changing it. Notice what he wrote:

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Eusebius records that Polycrates explained how the Apostles Philip and John, as well as faithful church leaders and martyrs such as Polycarp and Melito, kept the Passover on the 14th of Nisan in accordance with the gospel and would not deviate from it.

This displeased the Roman Bishop Victor. Notice what Eusebius also recorded:

But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him: “We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away…”

He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows: “I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus.” Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate. But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor. Among them was Irenaeus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom and after many other words he proceeds as follows:

“For the controversy is not only concerning the day, but also concerning the very manner of the fast. For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their day as consisting of forty hours day and night. And this variety in its observance has not originated in our time; but long before in that of our ancestors. It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus formed a custom for their posterity according to their own simplicity and peculiar mode. Yet all of these lived none the less in peace, and we also live in peace with one another; and the disagreement in regard to the fast confirms the agreement in the faith.”

He adds to this the following account, which I may properly insert:

“Among these were the presbyters before Soter, who presided over the church which thou now rulest. We mean Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus. They neither observed it themselves, nor did they permit those after them to do so. And yet though not observing it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the parishes in which it was observed; although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it. But none were ever cast out on account of this form; but the presbyters before thee who did not observe it, sent the eucharist to those of other parishes who observed it. And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord…” (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

Notice that what Irenaeus did was to persuade the Roman Bishop Victor to not be as angry against those who in Asia Minor did what the Bible and the Apostles Philip and John stated. And also notice that Irenaeus himself did not stand up for the biblical Passover even though he knew that Polycarp observed it.

So why was that so heretical?

First of all, because Irenaeus’ own practices were complicit with Rome’s–Irenaeus should have condemned Rome’s practices. And secondly, because Irenaeus knew that Sunday was not observed by Polycarp as Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John–hence should not have advocated it. Thirdly, Irenaeus also had to have known that Victor was not binitarian (he was Sabellian). And fourthly because he, unbiblically, is referring to Sunday as the Lord’s Day (an article of related interest may be Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord?). Because of Irenaeus most who profess Christ now accept Easter.

And why was that so dangerous? Besides the pagan connections, notice what Eusebius recorded:

Irenæus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day…Thus Irenaeus, who truly was well named, became a peacemaker in this matter (Eusebius. Church History. Book V, Chapter 24).

Instead of condemning Irenaeus for not standing up for the biblical Passover, he is praised by Roman supporters for persuading those in the second century to not be too harsh on those that kept the proper biblical teaching of the date of the Passover.

Notice that the Apostle John taught that those who seemed like Christians, but did not do what John did were following leaders John describes as antichrists,

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us (1 John 2:18-19).

The change of Passover may have been the first specific departure from the practices of John that we have a historical record of (involving John’s name) (see also Some Doctrines of Antichrist).

Roman supporters ultimately did eliminate the observance of the Passover on the 14th among those they had cordial contact with by the decree of the pagan Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. And later did try to kill those who refused to accept that decree (please see article Europa, the Beast, and Revelation).

Apparently Irenaeus valued doctrinal compromise above biblical truth. Irenaeus, while knowing that Polycarp was faithful, only followed some of his faithful teachings (this reminds me of what Daniel told Belshazzar–Belshazzar knew what happened earlier, yet chose to ignore much of it and live the opposite–see Daniel 5:22-23).

These are reasons that most Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant scholars seem to have overlooked. Instead, they all tend to consider that Irenaeus was a great early apologist and/or saint.

Furthermore, notice that Pope Benedict XVI called him:

The true founder of Catholic theology, St. Irenaeus of Lyon (Pope Benedict XVI. Homily for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. June 29, 2005, http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/647/Homily_on_Saints_Peter_and_Paul_Pope_Benedict_XVI.html 6/19/07).

Those in the Church of God do not consider that Irenaeus was the founder of true theology.

Irenaeus Quoted “The Shepherd of Hermas” the Same as He Did Scripture

In a writing called The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Irenaeus wrote:

For it is necessary that, things that are made should have the beginning of their making from some great cause; and the beginning of all things is God. For He Himself was not made by any, and by Him all things were made. And therefore it is right first of all to believe that there is One God, the Father, who made and fashioned all things, and made what was not that it should be, and who, containing all things, alone is uncontained (Irenaeus, St., Bishop of Lyon. Translated from the Armenian by Armitage Robinson. The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. Wells, Somerset, Oct. 1879. As published in SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO, 1920).

The 69th footnote at that writing, which includes the original Greek states:

69 In IV, xxxiv. 2 he quotes, as “Scripture,” the Shepherd of Hermas, Mand.: Πρώτον πάντων πίστευσον ότι είς έστίν ό θεός, ό τά πάντα κτίσας καί καταρτίσας, καί ποιήσας έίκ τού μή όντος είς τό είναι τά πάντα, καί πάντα χωρών, μόνος δέάχώρητοςών. Cf. also I, xv. 1.

This is also the opinion of Roman Catholic scholars:

…”The Shepherd” (Poimen, Pastor), a work which had great authority in ancient times and was ranked with Holy Scripture. Eusebius tells us that it was publicly read in the churches, and that while some denied it to be canonical, others “considered it most necessary”. St. Athanasius speaks of it…St. Irenæus and Tertullian (in his Catholic days) cite the “Shepherd” as Scripture. Clement of Alexandria constantly quotes it with reverence, and so does Origen (Chapman. J. Transcribed by Don Ross. Hermas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

No one can read The Shepherd of Hermas and think that it is on par with scripture–it is simply too bizarre. Irenaeus, however, was apparently the first known leader to do so. Irenaeus may have deferred to it as many believe that it was written by the brother of the Roman “bishop” Pius. This was a dangerous compromise. And one of the most dangerous.

What Motivated Irenaeus?

While it is impossible to know for certain what Irenaeus thought, there are some clues in his writings.

Irenaeus’ writings against heretics shows that there were many heretics who held views of God that they could not have possibly gotten from the Bible–essentially the views of the followers or Simon Magus and others like Valentinus that were later termed “gnostics”. Apparently as far as Irenaeus was concerned, these were the important heresies.

And while Irenaeus commended Polycarp for blasting the heretic Valentinus (who originated the idea that God existed as three hypostases) and Marcion (who tried to do away with the Old Testament, the law, and the sabbath), he apparently did not think that changing the date of the Passover to Sunday (as some Roman bishops did) or the day of worship to Sunday (as Justin advocated) was heretical.

The question is: Was he right?

The answer is simply no.

The proof that Irenaeus gave (as mentioned earlier) was tradition, not scripture. However, based upon the following writing, it might appear that Irenaeus is providing scriptural justification for his position:

The apostles ordained, that “we should not judge any one in respect to meat or drink, or in regard to a feast day, or the new moons, or the sabbaths.” Whence then these contentions? whence these schisms? We keep the feast, but in the leaven of malice and wickedness, cutting in pieces the Church of God; and we preserve what belongs to its exterior, that we may cast away these better things, faith and love. We have heard from the prophetic words that these feasts and fasts are displeasing to the Lord. (Fragments of Irenaeus XXXVIII.)

However, he has misconstrued that scripture. He left off the end of the statement, Colossians 2:17. The verse he left out has been translated:

3739…. .2076…….. 4639… 3588…….. 3195…… 3588…1161 ..4983… 9999 3588…5547
Which are a ………shadow of things ….to come; the…… but…body….. is…….. of …..Christ

(Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft). Note: The term is does not exist in the original Greek (that is what 9999 represents–a translator added term).

Thus Colossians 2:16-17 literally states:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Christ.

Since the church is “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), this passage is stating to ignore outsiders (those that are not true Christians) as to how the feasts and the sabbaths should be kept, but that the church is the judge.

Notice that Irenaeus did not appeal to vs. 17 that the Roman Church had authority on this over those in Asia Minor–he probably did not do this because almost none outside of Victor thought that the Roman Church had that type of authority (Victor was the first to clearly attempt to actually project Roman Catholic authority to distant areas).

And this is why Irenaeus was possibly the most dangerous heretic. He decided to ignore what the Bible taught, decided that those not faithful to the original teachings were close enough and that both sides had valid views. Irenaeus, like nearly all theologians after him, concluded that certain traditions were of more value than what the Bible (or those faithful to the teachings of the apostles) taught.

The New Testament warned of the same type of problems in Jesus’ day:

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43, NKJV).

And the approval of men was apparently more important to Irenaeus than the truth of God.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Irenaeus: The Most Dangerous Heretic? Was Irenaeus a faithful peacemaker or was he possibly the most dangerous of the early heretics?
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter Polycarp was the successor of the Apostle John and a major leader in Asia Minor. Do you know much about what he taught? A YouTube video or related interesy may be: Polycarp of Smyrna: Why Christians should know more about him.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. [Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja do deus?]
Simon Magus, What Did He Teach? Sometimes called “the father early heretics” or the “father of heresies”, do you know what early writers claimed that Simon Magus taught? Sadly, most who profess Christ still hold to versions of his teachings.
Marcion: The First Protestant? Considered to have been an organized heretic, he taught against the Old Testament, the law, and the Sabbath. Some have considered him to be the first Protestant reformer. But was he?
Valentinus: The Gnostic Trinitarian Heretic He apparently was the first Christ-professing heretic to come up with the idea of three hypostases.
Justin Martyr: Saint, Heretic, or Apostate? Justin is considered one of the first Christian theologians and scholars. But did he support a Gnostic version of Christianity? Do you know what he taught about souls going to heaven upon death? This article shows from his own writings, what Justin really taught.
Marcus and the Marcosians: Developers of the Eucharist? Marcus was a second century heretic condemned for having a ceremony similar to one still practiced by many who profess Christ. Might he also be in the apostolic succession list of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?