Archive for the ‘Religious News’ Category

Martin Luther King, Jr. had some interesting writings about religion

Monday, January 16th, 2017

COGwriter

Today is observed in the USA as Martin Luther King, Jr. day. And although I normally do not take this day off (nor presidents’ days unless sometimes when I am out of town), I thought it might be appropriate to quote some writings from the late Martin Luther King Jr.

His birth name was Michael King, Jr. His father was also born Michael King, but the elder King changed his and his son’s names following a 1934 trip to Germany to attend the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin in honor of the Protestant leader, Martin Luther.

Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister who became best known as a civil rights activist.

But he also noticed certain things about religion before he became well known as a civil rights leader.

In the middle of the last century, he wrote about many things, including Mithraism. Mithraism was a religion that observed Sunday and had followers such as the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century.

Here is some of what Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about it in a paper dated November 23, 1949:

In Avesta, Mithra was the genius of celestial light…The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was another view which was very prominent in Mithraism…

Women were compelled to seek salvation in some other cult, for Mithraism excluded them entirely…

When Mithraism is compared to Christianity, there are surprisingly many points of similarity. Of all the mystery cults, Mithraism was the greatest competitor of Christianity…

That Christians did copy and borrow from Mithraism cannot be denied (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 213-214, 217, 222, 224).

Here are some of his writings dated February 15, 1950:

Mithraism…was suppressed by the Christians sometime in the latter part of the fourth century A.D.: but its collapse seems to have been due to the fact that by that time many of its doctrines had been adopted by the church, so that it was practically absorbed by its rival.

…the Church made a sacred day out of Sunday partially because…of the resurrection. But when we observe a little further we find that as a solar festival, Sunday was the sacred day of Mithra: it is also interesting to notice that since Mithra was addressed as Lord, Sunday must have been “the Lord’s Day” long before Christian use. It is also to be noticed that our Christmas, December 25th, was the birthday of Mithra, and was only taken over in the Fourth Century as the date, actually unknown, of the birth of Jesus.

To make the picture a little more clear, we may list a few of the similarities between these two religions: (1) Both regard Sunday as a Holy Day. (2) December 25 came to be considered as the anniversary of the birth of Mithra and Christ also. (3) Baptism and a ritual meal were important parts of both groups…

In summary we may say that the belief in immortality, a mediator between god and man, the observance of certain sacramental rites…were common to Mithraism and Christianity. (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 307, 309.)

Notice that Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly understood that the Sunday churches dropped the Sabbath, that “the Lord’s Day” essentially first meant the day of Mithra, and that the worlds’ churches did adopt many practices from Mithraism. Much of what now is called “Christianity” is a compromise with the religion of Mithraism.

I wish that Martin Luther King, Jr. and others would have emphasized this aspect of his writings more. I would also add that Christians faithful to the original teachings of Christ, the apostles, and the New Testament did not adopt the practices of Mithraism.

Actually, early records show that there were basically two main groups that professed Christianity. One that was mainly based upon the Bible, and the other that accepted doctrines from those who followed Simon Magus and Mithras.

While Dr. King was most known for his civil rights protests, he figured out that much of what passed for Christianity in his day was really a form that adopted Mithratic practices.

Does that include your version? Are you sure?

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
Church of Rome, Mithras, and Isis? Dr. Thiel is recorded in Vatican City and points to a variety of symbols and displays there and explains where some of them seem to have originated from. Specifically, he discusses the connection of the cave grotto and mitre to Mithraism as well as obelisks and certain other ties to Isis. He also briefly touches on some doctrines that those groups share.
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?
Is Revelation 1:10 talking about Sunday or the Day of the Lord? Most Protestant scholars say Sunday is the Lord’s Day, but is that what the Bible teaches?
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god? Here is a link to a related sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday? What relevance is the first or the “eighth” day? A related sermon is also available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?
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?
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”?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
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?
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?
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, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

Do you take seriously the warnings God had the prophet Habakkuk record?

Saturday, January 14th, 2017


Statue Intended to be Habakkuk by Donatello (15th century)

COGwriter

Habakkuk was a Hebrew prophet. Some observe a memorial to him on January 15th. He had messages for the 21st century.

The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 reports this about him:

HABAKKUK (; LXX. Ἀμβακούμ; Vulgate, “Habacuc”):

Prophet; author of the eighth in the collection of the twelve minor prophetical books. The etymology of the name of the prophet is not clear. It seems to be a loan-word representing the Assyrian “hambaḳûḳu,” a garden-plant (Friedrich Delitzsch, “Prolegomena,” p. 84; König, “Historisch-Kritisches Lehrgebäude der Hebräischen Sprache,” ii. 1. 473, on the vocalization), and has the appearance of being a writer’s pseudonym (F. E. Peiser, “Der Prophet Habakuk,” in “Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft,” 1903, i. 12). That he was a Levite has been urged on the strength of the postscript to ch. iii. (verse 19, “on my stringed instruments”), which indicates that he owned instruments: only a Levite was authorized to use an instrument to accompany his songs in the Temple. The superscription of the Septuagint apocryphon Βὴλ καὶ Δράκωυ, in the Codex Chisianus, also designates him a Levite.

Around 605-625 B.C. Habakkuk wrote a short book of the Bible that has a lot of implications for the time that we are now in.

Here are some passages from it (italics are not inspired but were headings in the translation):

1 The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.

The Prophet’s Question

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!”And You will not save. 3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me;There is strife, and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

The Lord’s Reply

5 “Look among the nations and watch — Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you. 6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. 7 They are terrible and dreadful; Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. 8 Their horses also are swifter than leopards,And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. 9 “They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand. 10 They scoff at kings, And princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it. 11 Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; He commits offense, Ascribing this power to his god.” ( Habakkuk 1:1-11)

Notice that the above states that the end time work will not be believed by many even though God will reveal it–which He does through His prophets, like Habakkuk. While some claim that this was only for the past and have despised my quoting of this, they seemingly forget that this is in the New Testament:

41 ‘Behold, you despisers,
Marvel and perish!
For I work a work in your days,
A work which you will by no means believe,
Though one were to declare it to you.‘” (Acts 13:33)

Now, getting back to Habakkuk:

The Prophet’s Second Question

12 Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. 13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he? 14 Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them? 15 They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. 16 Therefore they sacrifice to their net, And burn incense to their dragnet; Because by them their share is sumptuous And their food plentiful. 17 Shall they therefore empty their net, And continue to slay nations without pity? ( Habakkuk 1:12-17)

Notice that in the above the one getting punished will be punished by someone who in certain ways is worse than the one who will be punished. So while some believe that in certain ways that the USA and its Anglo-allies are more “righteous” than the Beast power that will destroy it, the reality is that this is part of God’s plan.

2:1 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.

The Just Live by Faith

2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. 4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.( Habakkuk 2:1-4)

Notice that the prophecy that is being discussed is for the appointed time of the end. It is a prophecy for our time–and will affect the proud. What will happen is so bad “That he may run who reads it”:

Woe to the Wicked

5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine,He is a proud man,And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples. 6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his — how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? 7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it. (Habakkuk 2:5-8)

Actually, with an admitted debt of nearly $20 trillion dollars and plans to increase that much further, the USA has increased pledges more than any nation in the history of the planet. And on a per capita basis, the United Kingdom is one of the most indebted nations on the earth itself.

Since the above prophecy in Habakkuk will be fulfilled at the time of the end (cf. “The message was true, but the appointed time was long…in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come”, Daniel 10:1,14). Daniel 8:19, 11:27,29,35 uses the same Hebrew term for “appointed time” as Habakkuk 2:3, while Daniel 10, using a different term, ties the latter days to the time in Daniel 8:19. Habakkuk 2 was not fulfilled in its entirety anciently. Also, it makes little sense that Habakkuk would be directed towards the modern nation of Israel as it does not have enemy creditors. It must be a nation or group of nations with some prominence at the appointed time of the end. As far as “violence of the land” as a contributing factor, this would seem to include crime, military missions, and perhaps riots/civil unrest, but might it also include promotion of violent sports?

Do you believe the words that God inspired Habakkuk to write? If so, do you really understand what is going to happen to the USA, UK, and their Anglo-descended allies relatively soon?

There is also a YouTube video related to this: Was USA debt and destruction predicted 2,600 years ago?

Here is something that was written in 1973 for the old Ambassador College by Dean Blackwell:

Why do you think in Habakkuk, God said that He’d “revive His work in the midst of the years”? Would this be said if they were doing the work in all the time of the New Testament Church?

You might note that in Habakkuk 3:2, he says:   O Eternal, I have heard thy speech and was afraid: O Eternal, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

   He is referring to God reviving His work in the midst of man’s last century. He said that God would make known what is happening and what’s going to happen in man’s last years, in the day of His wrath. He requested that God remember mercy and hide His people in a place of safety.

The work needs to be done in the 21st century. Will you truly support it?

Whether or not Habakkuk himself died on January 15th, the reality is that since much of his message is for the appointed time of the end, his writing (that God inspired) is applicable today.

To learn even more, please, with your Bible, check out the following:

USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo (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 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. A video of possible interest may be Will Will USA Spying Help the Beast Power?
Will the Anglo-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?
Protestant and Church of God views of the United States in Bible Prophecy Is the USA mentioned in Bible prophecy? Some Protestants say yes, while others say no. What does the Bible really teach? Learn the truth about this. There is also a video available: Is The United States Mentioned In Bible Prophecy?
Who is the King of the West? Why is there no Final End-Time King of the West in Bible Prophecy? Is the United States the King of the West? Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Quién es el Rey del Occidente? ¿Por qué no hay un Rey del Occidente en la profecía del tiempo del fin?
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from lower level leaders? A related sermon is available titled Priority of the Philadelphia Work.
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.
Leading the Final Phase of the Work Matthew 24:14 teaches “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come ” will be fulfilled and RCG is not the group doing this. Who is leading the final phase of the work? What did Herbert Armstrong and the old WCG teach about that and about prophets? Does Bob Thiel meet the criteria that the Bible and the old WCG set? What is the proof? What has the Continuing Church of God been doing?  This is a sermonette length video.
CCOG’s Four Years and God Revealing Philadelphia? Has God been revealing Philadelphia since CCOG formed? What has been happening? Can you see the hand of God in this? A related sermon is titled CCOG: Four Years Revealing Philadelphia?
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.
Are You Being Called by God? Norman Shoaf wrote various points to consider.
Is God Calling You? Alfred E Carrozzo wrote this.
What Did Christ Mean – Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen? This article was by Raymond McNair.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
Just What Do You Mean — Repentance? Do you know what repentance is? Have you truly repented? Repented of what? Herbert W. Armstrong wrote this as a booklet on this important subject.
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.

Global increase for persecution of those professing Christ

Friday, January 13th, 2017


ICC persecution map

COGwriter

We continue to see increases in persecution towards those claiming some version of Christianity as their faith:

January 13, 2017

Religious differences run deep in our pluralistic world. It may come as no surprise that such disagreements sometimes end up in violence. Yet that rarely is the case in what might be called Christendom. … brutal mistreatment of religious minorities of all faiths is the norm in majority Muslim countries. The degree of harm varies — Christians live better in the small Gulf States than in Saudi Arabia, for instance, where not a single church is allowed to exist. https://spectator.org/the-shame-of-religious-persecution/

Global persecution of Christians has risen for the fourth year in a row and is on a “rapid rise” in Asia, the advocacy group Open Doors UK warned on Wednesday in its annual report on Christian persecution.

“Religious nationalism is sweeping the globe according to figures released today as part of the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List,” said Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland.

“Persecution levels have been rising rapidly across Asia and the Indian subcontinent, driven by extreme religious nationalism which is often tacitly condoned, and sometimes actively encouraged, by local and national governments.” …

Overall persecution of Christians has risen from last year, Open Doors UK noted, stating that “Christians are being killed for their faith in more countries than before.”

“Christians living in these countries need the support of their family, the body of Christ, to help them stand firm in their faith,” they stated.

Pakistan had the most fatal attacks against Christians, “even more than Northern Nigeria,” the report noted. Mexico also saw a violent spike in the killings of 23 Christian leaders in 2016 …

For the 16th consecutive year, Communist dictatorship North Korea was determined to be the “worst place on earth for Christians,” Open Doors UK said. There are 300,000 Christians amidst the population of 25.4 million. …

All top 10 countries with the worst persecution of Christians are in Asia and Africa. Somalia ranks second on the list, followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Eritrea. 1/12/17 http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/persecution-of-christians-has-risen-for-the-fourth-straight-year-96153/

India has risen to 15 on the list of places where those practising the Christian faith are most likely to be persecuted, with North Korea holding the spot at No. 1, says Open Doors which has monitored persecution over 60 years.

“The suffering of Christians simply because of their faith is taking place on a staggering scale. But it is not only Christians who suffer. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and many others suffer persecution too,” says Open Doors.

It notes that the rights of people from every faith and none to practice what they believe, is enshrined in Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. …

India’s Muslim neighbour Pakistan rose to number 4, being the country that faced most violence, even more than northern Nigeria.

“Among the numerous atrocities which raised it to fourth place on the list was the detonation of a bomb in a public park on Easter Sunday in Lahore, which killed at least 69 Christians.”

In Somalia – number 2 on the Open Doors World Watch List – at least a dozen Christians were killed this year by al-Shabaab militants.

Militants were also active in neighbouring Kenya, leaving this Christian majority country firmly in the top 20.

Mali rose 12 places in the list: three people were killed when a gunman opened fire outside a Christian radio station.

In Nigeria, Open Doors found Christians face not only the violence of Boko Haram, but also Muslim Hausa-Fulani herdsmen who have driven thousands of Christians off their lands.

And persecution is also “official” policy in some places.

The Islamic governments of Sudan and Somalia are actively anti-Christian.

As a Somalian believer said, “Everything works against the Christian.”

And, in Somalia, Kenya, Niger and Burkina Faso, Open Doors found Saudi Arabian money is building schools and mosques, and funding local politicians, leading to an increasing presence of radical Islam in mainstream society. http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/india-climbs-league-table-measuring-global-persecution-of-christians-study-shows/57832.htm

(As far as some of the type of persecutions Christians face in countries like the USA, see the article USA makes ICC’s ‘Hall of Shame’ list of nations regressing in religious freedom.)

Religious persecution is terrible, but was prophesied for Christians (John 15:20; see also Persecutions by Church and State).

Will it end?

Yes (cf. Revelation 21:4).

Let’s however consider history.

Real as well as false Christians were subject to persecution under the old Roman Empire.

After claiming to see a militaristic cross in the sky, Roman Emperor Constantine decided to change that. In 313 A.D., Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which began as follows:

When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I Licinius Augustus fortunately met near Mediolanurn [Milan], and were considering everything that pertained to the public welfare and security, we thought -, among other things which we saw would be for the good of many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence of the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the Christians and others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred;

This brought an end to official persecution.

In the future, we should expect to see deals between the Europeans and Muslims (cf. Daniel 11:27; Psalm 83:2-8). These deals will likely reduce persecution of professors of Christ. Later, we would expect to see a tendency to reduce certain types of persecution in non-Muslim lands in Asia, such as India and North Korea (cf. Revelation 13:4,8).

But will that end all persecution?

No.

Let’s again look at history and Emperor Constantine.

While Christians officially were not suppose to be persecuted after the Edict of Milan, many of the Greco-Romans did not care for those that practiced original Christianity. Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and attempted to force a non-biblical date for the observance of Passover.

While Greco-Romans accepted this, those in the Church of God did not.

This non-acceptance by those that held to the biblical date upset the Greco-Romans as well as Emperor Constantine.

Instead of trying to get along  and be tolerant, around 332 Emperor Constantine decided to issue what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics:

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure? (Chapter LXIV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

“Forasmuch, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together. We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and our care in this respect extends so far as to forbid the holding of your superstitious and senseless meetings, not in public merely, but in any private house or place whatsoever. Let those of you, therefore, who are desirous of embracing the true and pure religion, take the far better course of entering the catholic Church, and uniting with it in holy fellowship, whereby you will be enabled to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. In any case, the delusions of your perverted understandings must entirely cease to mingle with and mar the felicity of our present times: I mean the impious and wretched double-mindedness of heretics and schismatics. For it is an object worthy of that prosperity which we enjoy through the favor of God, to endeavor to bring back those who in time past were living in the hope of future blessing, from all irregularity and error to the right path, from darkness to light, from vanity to truth, from death to salvation. And in order that this remedy may be applied with effectual power, we have commanded, as before said, that you be positively deprived of every gathering point for your superstitious meetings, I mean all the houses of prayer, if such be worthy of the name, which belong to 540 heretics, and that these be made over without delay to the catholic Church; that any other places be confiscated to the public service, and no facility whatever be left for any future gathering; in order that from this day forward none of your unlawful assemblies may presume to appear in any public or private place. Let this edict be made public.” (Chapter LXV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

Some of those referred to as Paulians (Paulicians) and Cataphrygians were part of the true Church of God; thus they would have rejected Sunday and other doctrines that Emperor Constantine endorsed. And like some other persecutions, the Edict included those truly in the Church of God and those not in the true church. Herod, when he tried to kill Jesus, persecuted an entire nation, killed many babies, but Jesus’ family fled the persecution and He survived. Constantine’s tactics seem similar.

Christianity under Constantine becomes a form of imperial Roman culture. One Christian denomination is favored with his patronage. They get tax breaks. They get big, beautiful Bible codices copied at public expense. They can use the imperial post for free. They ask Constantine to kick out the leaders of the other Christian denominations in town. So the people who get the worst treatment after Constantine becomes a patron of this one church are other Christians. More Christians are persecuted after the conversion of Constantine than before, because they’re targeted by one particular branch of the church (Hulme, David. Interviews Paula Fredriksen Paul and Paula. Vision magazine, Fall 2005).

Of course, no branch of the actual true church would be persecuting–it was an apostate branch that Constantine favored that did so.

Constantine also prohibited literature:

Thus were the lurking-places of the heretics broken up by the emperor’s command, and the savage beasts they harbored (I mean the chief authors of their impious doctrines) driven to flight. Of those whom they had deceived, some, intimidated by the emperor’s threats, disguising their real sentiments, crept secretly into the Church. For since the law directed that search should be made for their books, those of them who practiced evil and forbidden arts were detected, and these were ready to secure their own safety by dissimulation of every kind. Others, however, there were, who voluntarily and with real sincerity embraced a better hope. Meantime the prelates of the several churches continued to make strict inquiry, utterly rejecting those who attempted an entrance under the specious disguise of false pretenses, while those who came with sincerity of purpose were proved for a time, and after sufficient trial numbered with the congregation. Such was the treatment of those who stood charged with rank heresy: those, however, who maintained no impious doctrine, but had been separated from the one body through the influence of schismatic advisers, were received without difficulty or delay. Accordingly, numbers thus revisited, as it were, their own country after an absence in a foreign land, and acknowledged the Church as a mother from whom they had wandered long, and to whom they now returned with joy and gladness. Thus the members of the entire body became united, and compacted in one harmonious whole; and the one catholic Church, at unity with itself, shone with full luster, while no heretical or schismatic body anywhere continued to exist. And the credit of having achieved this mighty work our Heaven-protected emperor alone, of all who had gone before him, was able to attribute to himself. (Chapter LXVI.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).

In 364 A.D. the Council of Laodicea declared:

CANON XXIX. CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ (THE COMPLETE CANONS OF THE SYNOD OF LAODICEA IN PHRYGIA PACATIANA).

Laodicea was in Asia Minor and thus this would have basically been an Eastern Orthodox persecution against those who wished to keep the biblical Sabbath.

The Rome Emperor Constantine apparently liked unclean food so much that he persecuted those who would not eat it. Here is a report from a source with Middle East ties:

Constantine called a gathering of Christian monks with a view to the formulation of obligatory religious beliefs…However, some of them disagreed with this text…There was a scission and the symbol of faith which had been formulated was not regarded as valid.

Thereupon, three hundred and eighteen men gathered in Nicaea and formulated a symbol of faith, which was accepted and made obligatory by Constantine.  People who dissented from it were killed and professions of faith differing from it suppressed.

In this way people who professed the religion of Christ came to do all that is reprehensible; they worshipped the cross, observed the Roman religious rites and ate pork.  Those who did not eat it were killed (Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 31-32)

Here is a report from a Roman Catholic scholar about matters in Jerusalem:

That there existed strife between the different branches of the faithful can easily be gathered from the expression of the anonymous pilgrim of Bordeaux in 333, who says that the three basilicas were erected by the gentile Christians “at the command of Constantine”, that is by force, and from the late account of Eutychius (PG 111,1012-1013) that, just at this time, the faithful while they were leaving the church on Easter day, were forced to eat pork under the pain of death.  We know how the Judaeo-Christians refused this in order not to transgress the Mosaic law to which they held there were bound (Bagatti, Bellarmino.  Translated by Eugene Hoade.  The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970.  Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 13-14).

True Christians would not eat biblically unclean meat (see The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats), yet Constantine decided it was acceptable to kill people who followed what the Bible says. He tried many ways to persecute those not following his faith, which I have called Constantinian Christianity: a Babylonians mix of religions that professes Christ, but will not live according to the Bible.

As it turns out Constantine’s declarations did not stop everyone from properly observing Passover or keeping other Christian practices. So, a later Roman Emperor decreed the death penalty related to proper Passover observance:

Edicts of Theodosius against the heretics, A.D. 380-394…Theodosius…decreed that…by the death of the offender; and the same capital punishment was inflicted on the Audians, or Quartodecimans, who should dare to perpetrate the atrocious crime of celebrating on an improper day the festival…

The theory of persecution was established by Theodosius, whose justice and piety have been applauded by the saints (Gibbon E. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Chapter XXVII. ca. 1776-1788).

Is killing those that followed the example of Jesus and John to observe the Passover on the 14th instead of Sunday a sign of a true Christian leader or a sign of a supporter of antichrist?

How could any true saint applaud Theodosius for killing people who followed Jesus’, Johns’, Polycarps’, etc. example of observing Passover on the biblical date?

On the night of His final Passover, Jesus declared:

the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. (John 16:2).

And those who followed the Emperor Theodosius fulfilled that prophecy–they killed people for keeping Passover the same night that Jesus did. Those who will associate the final Imperial leader are apparently prophesied to do the same thing (Daniel 7:25).

Why is this relevant now?

Because more persecution of the truly faithful will come again.

While persecution if Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Jews, and Protestants in the Islamic nations has gone up since the so-called 2011 Arab Spring and is wrong, similar to what happened in the fourth century, we will eventually see a massive lessening of persecution against many of them (those who will tend to eventually unify and support the coming European Beast of Revelation 13).

Yet, after imperial power is in place, the Bible says that persecution against the faithful will take place (Daniel 7:25; 11:29-25). Persecution will again come against those that will not accept the religion that a power in Europe will endorse.

Not worshiping the Beast will be a cause of persecution. But notice that the persecution is not limited to true Christians (saints) as any who do not worship the beast will be subject to it:

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Revelation 13:11-18).

Persecution is a fact of history. It has happened before and we should be prepared for the fact that it will happen again.

During the time of the final persecutions, the Bible records:

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

The good news is that Jesus will come and the Beast power will be eliminated:

11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.

12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:11-14)

1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:1-8)

But have no doubts about it, even though the Babylonian European Beast power will eventually be destroyed, more persecution of true Christians is coming.

A listing of Church of God doctrines Christians were persecuted for in the past and are expected to be persecuted for in the future is included in the article Persecutions by Church and State.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
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. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
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.
Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 Who is 666? This article explains how the COG views this, and compares this to Ellen White. Here is a link to a prophetic video Six Financial Steps Leading to 666?
The Mark of Antichrist What is the mark of Antichrist? What have various ones claimed? Here is a link to a related sermon What is the ‘Mark of Antichrist’?
Mark of the Beast What is the mark of the Beast? Who is the Beast? What have various ones claimed the mark is? What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?
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?
Canada in Prophecy: What Does Bible Prophecy, Catholic Prophecy, and other Predictions Suggest About the Future of Canada? There are prophecies that suggest involvement with Canada. And many are not positive about its future.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
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?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? 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: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?

Catholic and Islamic authors on Valentine’s Day

Friday, January 13th, 2017

COGwriter

February 14th is often celebrated as Valentine’s Day. Should you celebrate it?

Christians who may be tempted to compromise need to ask themselves about the origins of Valentine’s Day.

Notice what the Roman Catholics teach:

The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year (The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day. http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/ValentinesDay/, January 31, 2004).

It is of interest to note that the same Catholic source states:

The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.

It is good that the Church of Rome no longer officially honors Valentine or the holiday.

Look at some of what the Muslims say about Valentine’s Day:

Celebrating the Valentine Day is not permissible because: Firstly, it is an innovated holiday that has no basis in the Sharee`ah…Christians were aware of the Pagan roots of Valentine’s Day. The way the Christians adopted St. Valentine’s Day should be a lesson for Muslims. In fact, the failure to fully separate Valentine’s Day from its pagan roots explains why Islamic scholars and a number of Muslims avoid adopting traditions of non-Muslims, even though they could possibly be Islamicized…We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices -…- Islam does not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic relationships before marriage – Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins (Ruling on Celebrating Valentine’s Day. http://www.contactpakistan.com/news/news144.htm, January 31, 2004).

What is the ruling on Valentine’s Day?…Firstly: Valentine’s Day is a jaahili Roman festival, which continued to be celebrated until after the Romans became Christian. This festival became connected with the saint known as Valentine who was sentenced to death on 14 February 270 CE. The kuffaar still celebrate this festival, during which immorality and evil are practised widely…Secondly: It is not permissible for a Muslim to celebrate any of the festivals of the kuffaar, because festivals come under the heading of shar’i issues which are to be based on the sound texts…Partially joining in, at the very least, is disobedience and sin…it is not permissible to celebrate the festivals of the ignorant and the mushrikeen (polytheists). (fatwa No. 73007. What is the ruling on Valentine’s Day? http://islamqa.info/en/ref/73007 viewed 02/04/12)

So, according to Muslims, it is improper to celebrate pagan holidays and the so-called “Christians” clearly adopted a pagan holiday.

In Pakistan and other Islamic-dominated lands, steps to minimize its impact have been taken:

Conservatives in Pakistan tacked up posters urging people to boycott Valentine’s Day on Thursday, saying it’s a western-inspired event that’s spreading vulgarity in their country…

For them, Valentine’s Day is nothing but an occasion to encourage illicit relations between the country’s young unmarried males and females. It’s a sign that Western culture and values are eating away the fabric of Pakistan’s traditional, Islamic society. Valentine’s Day, they say, is not a Pakistani holiday and not part of the culture here…

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, government officials and clerics in Jakarta called for young people to skip Valentine’s Day, saying it was an excuse for couples to have forbidden sex. Santana R. Valentine’s Day under attack in Pakistan. AP, February 14, 2013 http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2013/02/14/valentines-day-under-attack-in-pakistan)

Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or PEMRA, sent a letter to TV and radio stations reminding them that the holiday is “not in conformity to our religious and cultural ethos.” The report warns that “a large segment of society” has complained about “Valentine’s Day celebrations” and blames Valentine’s Day for “depraving, corrupting and injuring morality of Pakistani youth.”…

The letter begins:

It is generally observed that in the past “Valentine’s Day” is celebrated on February 14 by all the satellite TV channels whether an Entertainment or News & Current Affairs channel. PEMRA has been receiving complaints from a large segment of society that Valentine’s Day celebrations are not in conformity to our religious and cultural ethos and has, therefore, condemned its unequivocal propagation through media. Furthermore, such events have been perceived as a source of depraving, corrupting and injuring morality of Pakistani youth as well as violating Code of Conduct developed by PEMRA in pursuance of Rule 15 & PEMRA Rules 2009. (Dewey C. Pakistani regulator warns media against promoting Valentine’s Day (Washington Post, February 14, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/02/14/pakistani-regulator-warns-media-against-promoting-valentines-day/

Notice that because of sexual immortality associated with Valentine’s Day, many of the states in Malaysia have taken proactive steps to try to stop sinning then:

PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hasan Tantawi said the Kedah, Kelantan and Selangor governments have directed all local authorities to work closely with police and Rela in order to carry out operations to check immoral activities during Valentine’s Day…He said the National Fatwa Council forbids Muslims from celebrating Valentine’s Day because of elements of Christianity and sin. (Move on Valentine’s Day ‘sins’ Malaysia Star – Feb 8, 2011. http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/2/9/nation/8024821&sec=nation)

KUALA LUMPUR – More than 300 volunteers between 19 to 25 years-old today joined a programme to make Muslims wary of the importance of not celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director of Family, Social and Community Division, Saimah Mokhtar hopes parents take the ban on Valentine’s Day celebration seriously as it has elements of Christianity and mixed with vices forbidden by Islam.

The programme called “Jerat Hari Valentine” (Valentine’s Day Trap) targets several locations in Kuala Lumpur, said Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha. (Bernama. Now Jakim wants parents to ban Valentine’s Day celebration. Malaysian Chronicle. February 3, 2013. http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=51672:now-jakim-wants-parents-to-ban-valentines-day-celebration&Itemid=2)

Notice that many of the Muslims associate Valentine’s Day with Christianity (obviously the false compromising kind) and sin.

In other words, Valentine’s Day causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5)!

Valentine’s Day causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles–which is something that the Bible warns against doing:

24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. (Romans 2:24)

How does this pagan holiday help get the true gospel out?

It does not.

And that is the point.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is NOT a real Christian holiday and does have its basis in sinful pagan practices.

Jesus did not observe Valentine’s Day or anything close to it.

Valentine’s Day is not a biblical holiday.

It is essentially based upon lawlessness and does not edify Christ. 13 years ago, an article in Christianity Today stated:

There are more tales of the “origins” of Valentine’s Day than arrows in Cupid’s quiver. As expected, most have something to do with pagan ritual (pretty much every holiday—from Christmas to Mother’s Day—has something to do with pagan ritual). Four centuries before Christ, Romans had a day called Lupercalia. Without going too much into it, I’ll sum it up as a sexual lottery. Pull names out of a box at random and couple with a young member of the opposite sex. After a year, you get to pick another name (Olsen T. Then Again Maybe Don’t Be My Valentine. Christianity Today. February 12, 1999).

The modern practice of giving cards to ask/tell someone to “be my Valentine” seems to be a holdover from the ancient sexual lottery.

None who profess Christ should observe this February “holiday”–it simply is not a Christian holiday. It began as a sexual lottery and still has sexual ramifications, even in the 21st century. Modern Muslims and modern Catholics realize this, shouldn’t you?

For more information, please consider studying the following:

Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine’s Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true? There is also a YouTube titled Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :) In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
Differences Between Islam and the Continuing Church of God What are some of the main differences? Are there any similarities? A video of related interest is titled: Islam: Any Christian Concerns or Similarities?
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.

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?

More resistance to Pope Francis

Thursday, January 12th, 2017


Raymond Leo Burke ( Geerlingguy)

COGwriter

A reader tipped me off to the following:

Conservative Catholic group at odds with Pope Francis

January 12, 2017

Strains between Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional wing have erupted into the open with leaders of a millennium-old lay Catholic order publicly telling the pope, in effect, that he has no authority to meddle in the order’s affairs.

The conflict between the papacy and the Knights of Malta, a 1,000-year-old lay order, is the latest example of an apparently widening breach between Francis and a group of progressive European bishops on one side and conservatives, including an American cardinal, on the other side. What is now an open conflict was rumbling last year after the pope issued an “apostolic exhortation” that appeared, to some, to loosen church teaching on whether civilly remarried Catholics may take Communion.

The conflict with the Knights of Malta began after the order’s Malteser International aid group distributed condoms in Myanmar to combat HIV/AIDS. Church teaching prohibits using contraception. Albrecht Boeselager, the order’s third-highest-ranking official and the one who oversaw the aid group, was held responsible for the condom distribution and was asked on Dec. 6 to resign.

He refused, saying he had been unaware of the distribution and terminated it as soon as he learned of it. In response to Boeselager’s refusal to resign, the order’s leaders began a disciplinary action against him, stripping him of his office and suspending his membership in the Knights.

Both the order’s spiritual patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, and its chief executive, Grand Master Matthew Festing, said the dismissal was “in accordance with the Holy See,” according to the Tablet, a Catholic newspaper in Britain.

However, on Dec. 12 the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, wrote to Festing denying that the pope approved of the dismissal, the Tablet said. The letter also said Francis was forming a five-member commission to investigate the matter.

Parolin told an Italian newspaper, Il Messaggero, that the Knights were faced with an “unprecedented crisis.”

On Tuesday evening, the order issued a statement declaring that it would not cooperate with the Vatican’s investigation and saying the papal commission was “legally irrelevant.”

Cardinal Burke has had many issues with Pope Francis (e.g. Australian Cardinal hints Francis could be an antipope; US Cardinal also expresses doubts about Pope Francis) and was once demoted by Pope Francis (see Pope Francis speaks of unity and authority; Conservative Catholics have doubts and Francis demotes Cardinal Burke).

On a related note, last month a reader sent me a link to the following:

Pope Francis’ Reported Words: “I Might Go Down in History for Having Split the Catholic Church”

DER SPIEGEL, a very influential German publication, published an article about the manifest current crisis in the Church, to include a growing resistance to Pope Francis’ proposed and actual reforms. At the end of this article its author, the Spiegel’s Correspondent in Italy, Walter Mayr, reveals an important new leak:

In a very small circle, Pope Francis is said to have self-critically further explained himself as follows: “It is not to be excluded that I will enter history as the one who split the Catholic Church.” [my emphasis]

In light of this self-revealing comment, it is worth quoting some other parts of this article which shows just how much open and smoldering indignation Pope Francis has caused within the Catholic Church. Mayr describes the atmosphere in the Vatican with critical words, as follows:

It is Saturday morning last week, shortly after eight, in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican. A group of fifty cardinals now living in Rome – purple elegant robes and purple caps as far as the eye can see – has appeared in order to honor Pope Francis with a common concelebrated Mass, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. As they sit there under the fresco of Michelangelo depicting the crucifixion of Peter, the dignitaries have their eyes on the powerful man to the left of the altar – and the estrangement can nearly be palpably grasped with one’s hands. “Be assured that we are close to you,” says the cardinal deacon [Cardinal Angelo Sodano] to Francis – but this reassurance sounds strangely hollow.

As the article’s author also says, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, who lives in Rome, had excused himself from this celebration, however, due to his frailty; but he had sent Pope Francis a congratulatory letter.

In the following, Mayr also describes the events surrounding the dubia of the Four Cardinals, with Pope Francis’ decision not to respond to the letter containing their doubts concerning his promulgated document Amoris Laetitia. The author even calls the pope’s decision not at all to respond his own “highest penalty.” In Mayr’s eyes, Pope Francis apparently feels wounded by all these events, as became quite discernible when he spoke at his address to the Roman Curia yesterday about those “evil forms of resistance” that aim at accusing him personally by way of specious reference to traditions and formalities.

With reference to Edward Pentin, the well-known Vatican specialist, Mayr says: “The pope is boiling and fuming.” 12/23/16 http://www.onepeterfive.com/pope-francis-reported-words-might-go-history-split-church/

As far as Amoris Laetitia goes, I felt so strongly it was wrong that we even put together a video about it: Pope Francis’ Tolerance of Immorality is Not Biblical.

As far as splitting the Church of Rome goes, there are a lot of Catholic writings that state that will happen (many are cited in my book The Last Pope Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis?).

Is Pope Francis Catholic? Notice some statements from my book The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis?:

Is the Pope Catholic or Will He Betray Rome?

In some households, the expression, “Is the Pope Catholic?,” is asked with the intent of suggesting a “yes” or “obviously yes” response to a question. Since the fourth century, the popes have all claimed to be Catholic (they were not called “pontifex maximus” prior to then) and the vast majority have been Roman Catholic in their faith. Some were more hypocritical, etc. and thus this author would be hesitant to claim that all the Bishops of Rome have truly held to the faith of that church.

But is it possible that the last pope, who could be Pope Francis I, will not be Roman Catholic? On the surface this seems absurd.

As discussed in chapter 2, prior to becoming Pope Francis I, Jorge Mario Bergoglio went to Catholic seminary, became a Catholic priest, then a bishop, then a cardinal, and then on March 13, 2013, the Bishop of Rome. So, to most he clearly is a Catholic. And Pope Francis I may well truly be.

But if he is the last and final pope, then the Bible shows that he will allow compromise mightily and allow the Catholic Church of Rome to be betrayed, hence suggesting that he would not then be true to the Catholic faith.

Connecting the Dots

As cited earlier, the Bible tells of a religious leader who will rise up and support the final European Beast power to the point of attempting to force people to worship that Beast (Revelation 13:11-17).

Although some have suggested that the ten-horned Beast of the Sea (Revelation 13:1-4) will turn against and burn the two-horned Beast of the Earth (Revelation 13:11), based upon the teachings of Revelation 17:16-17, since this two-horned Beast is the False Prophet of Revelation 16:13 and he gets burnt by Jesus and His angels (Revelation 19:15-21, someone or something else must get destroyed in Revelation 17.

The Bible specifies that the someone/something is a city that rules over the world. Since the time of Jesus, what are the only organizations that ruled over much of the old Roman Empire from a seven-hilled city?

They would include the old Roman Empire, the Church of Rome, and to a lessor degree, the Eastern Orthodox Church (Constantinople/ Istanbul is on seven-hills, similar to Rome and had a certain prominence for about 1,000 years). They have had relations with world rulers that have not always lived up to New Testament ideals and actually are the only ones that could possibly fit the historical record.

Now since parts of both Roman and Orthodox Catholic prophecy show that Rome wins out between the two in the end in terms of final top leader, this is consistent with the historical understanding within the Church of God that Rome is the unfaithful woman in Revelation 17. Presuming that is the case, then if one connects-the-dots, it is the Church of Rome that gets betrayed by supporters of the ten-horned Beast in Revelation 17. And since the two-horned Beast is a major supporter of the ten-horned Beast, he then has at least some responsibility in this end time destruction of the Church of Rome (for more dots to connect, see also chapters 5 and 12).

Since it should be almost inconceivable that a pope that was truly Roman Catholic in the sense of the Catechism of the Catholic Church would totally betray his church, this is why I am suggesting that the last pope will not truly be Catholic.

This destruction of Rome is consistent with various Catholic private prophecies that suggest that a top Roman clergy member (like a pope) would betray their church and oversee the destruction of Rome…

For years I have believed that the last pope would not truly be Catholic. He would be a different type of “antipope” (most antipopes occurred because of disputed elections, but I have suggested that a pontiff who does not hold too many of the core beliefs of the Church of Rome would also seem to fit the definition of an antipope).

Will Pope Francis I end up being that pontiff?

(Thiel B. The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Nazarene Books, 2013, pp. 86-89)

The above was written within ONE DAY of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio becoming Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has taken many steps that many Catholics do not believe are appropriate for the Bishop of Rome. Yet, most believe that they cannot go anywhere else as they improperly believe that the Church of Rome is the original church that Jesus founded through His apostles. Francis today alluded to a type of succession from the Apostle Peter that Rome simply does not have (see also Apostolic Succession ).

Those interested in learning which church actually is faithful and has proper succession from the original church that Jesus founded, should carefully study the article Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God?.  More information can also be found in the free online pdf booklets Continuing History of the Church of God and Where is the True Christian Church Today?

Pope Francis, himself, wants to keep the ‘conservatives’ under control so he can appeal to the more ‘liberal’ as well as to those that are not part of the Church of Rome.

The Bible and even certain Roman Catholic warn against the type of ecumenical unity that Pope Francis is promoting. Furthermore, the Bible and certain Catholic writings essentially teach that there will be a split between the Antichrist/Antipope and the Vatican (cf. Revelation 17:15).

While because of his age, I have tended towards the view that Pope Francis will NOT be the final Antichrist/Antipope, I remain of the view that his ecumenical agenda is setting the stage for the final Antichrist/Antipope to arise.

The fact that there is opposition within the Catholic clergy to Pope Francis and he to them shows that there can well be a split among those in the Church of Rome.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Anti-Pope Francis? Some cardinals and other members of the Roman Catholic clergy are concerned that Pope Francis has deviated from its traditional positions on matters such as homosexuality, salvation, fornication, remarriage, and other doctrines. Australian Cardinal George Pell even mentioned ‘antipopes’ when discussing Pope Francis. North American Cardinal Raymond Burke has raised many concerns about Francis’ pontificate. Did Catholic saints teach that popes could become heretics? Will the final pope not be Catholic? Is an ecumenical pontiff possibly the final Antichrist? What do both biblical, and even Roman Catholic, prophecies warn about? Could Pope Francis be an antipope and final Antichrist?  This is a video.
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? (And the Protestants) Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
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?]
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, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?
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?
The Last Pope Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Why might Pope Francis be the last pope? What happens if he is? Biblical and other prophecies help explain what to expect.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Amazon Book What does the Bible say about a pope near this time? Is the final pope to be an antipope and antichrist? Does Catholic prophecy point to Pope Francis as being the dreaded “Peter the Roman”? This 186 page book provides information and answers.
The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle This electronic version of the printed book which is available for only US$2.99. 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 The Last Pope: Do Biblical and Catholic Prophecies Point to Pope Francis? Kindle.

Could Hyginus have changed Passover for Rome?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017


Vatican City (photo by Joyce Thiel)

COGwriter

January 11th is the feast day of the Church of Rome for a leader called Hyginus. Although the claimed early leaders of Rome in the Catholic “succession lists” refer to him as a pope, that title was not used by leaders there until the latter part of the fourth century.

The generally touted Catholic position is that Hyginus was the ninth pope and that all subsequent leaders of the true church passed through him. Is that correct?

Certain Claims

While visiting the Vatican in 2004, I purchased a book in its basilica museum bookstore titled The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997). The book states that it is sponsored by the “Pontifical Administration, which has tutelage over the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Peter”.

It makes many claims about the early “bishops” of Rome including this about Hyginus:

9. HYGINUS, ST. (136-140) Born in Athens, he was considered a philosopher and he behaved like one…During the baptism of children, he ordered the presence of a godfather or a godmother who would guide and direct them in leading a Christian life. He ordered that churches should be dedicated. His pontificate was marked by persecution and his martyrdom (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p. 3).

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes this about him:

The ancient authorities contain no information as to his having died a martyr (Kirsch J.P. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas.The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

There is also no evidence that he came up with godparents or requiring churches to be dedicated. Actually, these are unlikely to have been done then. Essentially, the Roman Catholics now teach that the godparent repents and accepts Christ on the behalf of infants that they baptize—godparents are part of the justification they have for infant baptism (please see article on Baptism).

For example, The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

When infants are solemnly baptized, persons assist at the ceremony to make profession of the faith in the child’s name. This practice comes from antiquity and is witnessed to by Tertullian, St. Basil, St. Augustine, and others. Such persons are designated sponsores, offerentes, susceptores, fidejussores, and patrini. The English term is godfather and godmother, or in Anglo-Saxon, gossip (Fanning W.H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Note that Hyginus is not listed as coming up with this as many Catholic scholars realize that there simply was no record that he did.

It is of interest to note that:

…the Gnostic Valentine came to Rome in Hyginus’s time, remaining there until Anicetus (Ibid).

According to the Catholic historian Eusebius, it was Polycarp of Smyrna who had to deal with that heretic as Hyginus apparently did not. This helps show that it was the leadership in Asia Minor, which at that time was clearly “Church of God,” that dealt with various heresies and heretics that the Church of Rome tolerated.

According to Tertullian, the Church of Rome tolerated Valentinus for decades after he was denounced by Polycarp of Smyran.

Easter Sunday

Although most who profess Christianity now celebrate it, Easter-Sunday was not observed by the second century Christians in Asia Minor. They observed Passover.

However, beginning with possibly the Roman leader Telesphorus or possibly Hyginus (or possibly Sixtus, there are no contemporaneous records, only an unclear report 5-6 decades later written by Irenaeus), what is now called Easter began to be observed in Rome. First, it was apparently a change in date of Passover from the 14th of Nisan to a Sunday. This is believed to have happened because there was a rebellion by Jews and that any distancing between Jews and Christians seemed physically advantageous (at least to some in Rome and the Greeks in Jerusalem). It was due to cowardice and antisemitism that the Sunday date was chosen (the fact that cowards often were killed anyway, does not prove they were not cowards).

The late SDA scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek bishops in Jerusalem, which took over after the rebellion was crushed):

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)…

The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians…

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to “the inclination to break away from Judaism.” In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid “even the semblance of Judaism” (Bacchiocchi S. God’s Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).

It is likely that Telesphorus made this change at the time to attempt to distance himself from the Jews in Rome. If he was the one who did it, and if he thought that this would spare his life, he was wrong as he was later killed by the Roman authorities (circa 136 A.D.). On the other hand, it is perhaps more likely that Hyginus, who was also possibly Greek that decided to introduce the Passover Sunday tradition, perhaps to decrease the wrath of the anti-Jewish Roman authorities.

Since Anicetus’ account claimed that this practice was began by presbyters who preceded him (see Easter), it would need to have been no later than the Greeks Telesphorus or Hyginus, as they were followed by Pius who was then followed by Anicetus (it probably did not originate with Sixtus as he preceded Telesphorus, he was not believed to have been Greek, and he was dead, if he even existed, circa 125 A.D.).

It is probable that Hyginus either began, continued, or started the practice of observing Passover on a Sunday, but there is no specific information that proves he did. But if he did, he obviously is not someone who should be celebrated by Christians as the Bible teaches that Passover was held on the 14th of Nisan.

Historical records demonstrate that the Apostles John and Philip, as well as their spiritual descendants in Asia Minor, did not change or compromise on this point–they continued to follow the Bible. But Hyginus might have compromised, and the Church of Rome at some point in time most certainly did.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

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!
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.
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?
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
Baptism and the Early Church Was it by immersion? Did it include infants? Does Polycarp prove infant baptism?
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.
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?

Idolatrous ‘Black Nazarene’ festival in the Philippines

Monday, January 9th, 2017


‘Black Nazarene’ (Constantine Agustin)

COGwriter

One of the world’s largest idolatrous religious festivals has been going on in the Philippines:

10 January 2017

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Approximately 22 hours after leaving the Quirino Grandstand, the image of the Black Nazarene reached its home, Quiapo Church, escorted by hundreds of thousands of devotees who defied a terror threat Monday, January 9.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has not released the final figures of devotees who joined the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday, but the PNP said the number of devotees reached 1.4 million at one point.

The procession began at around 5:28 am at the Quirino Grandstand, around 30 minutes earlier than in previous years.

The image of the Black Nazarene arrived at the street in front of the gate of the church 21 hours later at around 3:10 am of Tuesday morning, January 10, and the gate was opened at around 3:20 am. http://www.rappler.com/nation/157836-black-nazarene-returns-quiapo-church-traslacion-2017

9 January 2017

Thousands of security forces stood guard as the huge procession made its way through the Philippines capital on Monday in a massive display of Catholic devotion. The event is one of the largest religious processions in the world.

Police estimated that at least a million people took part in order to touch, or at least glimpse, the Black Nazarene, a statue of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ believed to have miraculous powers. Devotees believe that touching the statue will grant them good fortune or relieve them of ailments.

In what was the centerpiece of the ceremony, revelers braved the heat to take part in a day-long procession in which they traversed 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) across the city barefoot.

Philippine Red Cross staff said they’d treated more than a thousand people for dizziness, fainting and wounds on their feet, although there were no fatalities. Last year, two people died from heart attacks and seizures during the procession. http://www.dw.com/en/catholic-black-nazarene-procession-in-philippines-draws-huge-crowd/a-37065094

The idea of intentionally afflicting oneself with pain is pagan, but has been part of the beliefs of many in the Church of Rome for sometime. The ‘Lady of Fatima’ encouraged such demonic behavior (cf. Matthew 5:2-5; Mark 9:22).

Here is some of this ‘Black Nazarene’ idol’s secular history:

The statue was made by an anonymous Mexican sculptor, and the image arrived in Manila via galleon from Acapulco, Mexico, sometime in the mid-1600s. Traditional accounts attribute the colour to factors such as votive candles offered before the image, although the most widely held belief is that it was charred by a fire on board the galleon that brought it from Mexico.

Monsignor Sabino A. Vengco, Jr. from Loyola School of Theology meanwhile noted that the image was not charred but in fact dark through to its core, as it was carved from mesquite wood.(Black Nazarene. Wikipedia, accessed 01/10/15)

The truth is that Jesus did not have long hair, look like the ‘Black Nazarene’ image, nor did He ever carry a cross looking like that. The idea that touching idols is good is certainly not from the Bible.

People may be surprised to learn that a while back, the BBC addressed the fact that the commonly seen pictures claimed to be Jesus are false, but instead are a Byzantine version of Zeus:

Everyone knows what Jesus looks like. He is the most painted figure in all of Western art, recognised everywhere as having long hair and a beard, a long robe with long sleeves (often white) and a mantle (often blue).

Jesus is so familiar that he can be recognised on pancakes or pieces of toast.

But did he really look like this?

Probably not.

In fact this familiar image of Jesus actually comes from the Byzantine era, from the 4th Century onwards, and Byzantine representations of Jesus were symbolic – they were all about meaning, not historical accuracy.

They were based on the image of an enthroned emperor, as we see in the altar mosaic of the Santa Pudenziana church in Rome. …

Jesus is dressed in a gold toga. He is the heavenly ruler of all the world, familiar from the famous statue of long-haired and bearded Olympian Zeus on a throne . . . Byzantine artists, looking to show Christ’s heavenly rule as cosmic King, invented him as a younger version of Zeus. What has happened over time is that this visualisation of heavenly Christ – today sometimes remade along hippie lines – has become our standard model of the early Jesus. December 24, 2015 http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35120965

From the above, we can also conclude when we have reports of people who claim to have seen Jesus in various ways, those who claimed He had long hair, etc. clearly were not seeing Jesus.

Whatever healing powers are claimed for the ‘Black Nazarene,’ they do not come from the God of the Bible.

It is a version of the pagan deity Zeus that many people are bowing down before or otherwise venerating.

John, the last apostle believed to have died, wrote:

1 Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21).

14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam…to eat things sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:14).

20 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow…My servants to…eat things sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:20).

20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk (Revelation 9:20).

8 But …idolaters…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

15 But outside are…idolaters (Revelation 22:15).

Unless they repent, idolaters will be outside the Kingdom of God.

Many in the Philippines and elsewhere who profess Christianity should pay more attention to what God inspired the Apostle John and the others in the New Testament to write.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians? A related sermon is available: The Second Commandment, Idols, and Icons.
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.
Jesus: Married with Children?
Was Jesus the Christ married? Did He have two children as some claim the so-called “Lost Gospel” teaches? Was He married to Mary Magdalene as the “Da Vinci Code” and others have stated? How many gospels are there? Are the supposed ‘historical records’ that Jesus was married, simply false? When were the gnostic gospel accounts written? Did Polycarp of Smyrna list any of the extra or so-called “lost gospels” in his letter? Does the Bible clearly contract the assertions of the book “The Lost Gospel”? This is a video.
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. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days? Do you know what the Catholic Church says were the original Christian holy days? Was Christmas among them? Is December 25th Jesus’ birthday or that of the sun god? Here is a link to a related sermon: What do Catholic and other scholars teach about Christmas?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Birthdays? Did biblical era Jews celebrate birthdays? Who originally celebrated birthdays? When did many that profess Christ begin birthday celebrations? A related sermon video is available and is titled: Birthdays, Christians, and December 25th.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy. Here is a link to a sermon video: Why Learn About Fatima?
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! is a highly documented book by Bob Thiel for those interested in the real truth about Fatima and how future apparitions may affect the future. In addition to the print version, there is a Kindle version of Fatima Shock! which you can acquire in seconds.
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, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
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?
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?
Islands and Bible Prophecy What’s ahead for islands? What does the Bible prophesy about them?
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.

Another Mary and halos

Monday, January 9th, 2017


Mary did not have a halo

COGwriter

The following is in the Mike Gendron’s newsletter:

Another Mary Who Is Quite Contrary

In its refusal to submit to God’s Word as the supreme authority in matters of faith, the Roman Catholic Church worships another Jesus, teaches another gospel, and is deluded by another spirit (2 Cor.11:4). However, those soul-condemning errors are only the tip of the iceberg. Her deceptive practices and ungodly traditions also include the veneration of another Mary. The Mary of Catholicism is a twisted distortion of the Mary revealed in Scripture who also gave birth to James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and their sisters (Mark 6:3). Rome rejects the Scriptural proof of Mary’s other children by infallibly declaring she remained a virgin throughout her life. This counterfeit Mary is said to be another sinless mediator who is the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 494).The exaltation of the virgin Mary by Catholics is completely unfounded in Scripture. Outside of the Gospels, Mary’s name is mentioned only once and that is when she is praying with her other children and other believers in the upper room (Acts 1:14). Information about Mary in the Gospels is also very sparse. After the narratives related to the birth of Jesus, there are only three other references to Mary. The first is at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-5). Next is when she and the brothers of Jesus desired to talk to Jesus. Jesus responded that His mother and brothers are those who do the will of God (Mat. 12:46-50). One other reference is given when a woman in the crowd calls the mother of Jesus blessed, but Jesus does not affirm her. Instead He said blessed are those who hear the Word and observe it (Luke 11:27-28).

Roman pontiffs have created a Mary that shares the divine attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ. They say she was conceived without sin, lived a sinless life, was bodily assumed into glory, is the mediatrix of all grace, is our advocate, and now reigns as Queen of heaven alongside the King of kings. Pope Francis declared, “The Immaculate ‘Virgin’ becomes the sublime icon of Divine Mercy that conquered sin. To her I entrust the Church and all humanity, especially the city of Rome.”

The idolatry associated with the Catholic Mary is evidenced in many ways, but primarily in the ungodly practice of praying to her. Prayer is one of the deepest forms of worship because it acknowledges the divine power of the person to whom we pray. This is why we never see any God-fearing man praying to anyone other than God in the Bible. Yet thousands of Catholics pray to Mary, at the same time asking for her help. The only way Mary could hear and answer those prayers would be if she were omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Yet, she is only human like all of us.

Mike’s Comment: As Christians, we esteem Mary as blessed among women, but to ascribe divine powers and attributes to her is blasphemous and idolatrous. Satan will use anything to persuade people to take their eyes off Jesus. Just as he deceived Eve by his cunning, Catholics who idolize Mary will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). Our dear Catholic friends and loved ones need to be warned of how God hates idolatry. We must call them to turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thes. 1:9).

While Christians can call Mary blessed (Luke 1:48), the Bible never refers to Mary as one to be venerated or prayed to.

Now, I intentionally used a picture that is claimed to be of Mary with a halo to point out that this too is contrary to scripture. If Mary had been traveling around with a halo, that would have caused quite a commotion. But even though she did not, that is how she is sometimes portrayed.

Most do not realize that the halo idea mainly comes from the followers of the pagan sun-god Mithra.

Mithra Had a Halo

Years ago, Wikipedia’s article on Halos reported:

Round “solar discs” above the head are seen in depictions of many deities of Ancient Egypt, including Ra and Hathor, and symbols resembling later haloes, such as the sun cross, are found in many ancient religions, especially in connection with sun worship. Homer describes a more-than-natural light around the heads of heroes in battle, and in Aristophanes’ Birds the founder of Cloud-Cuckoo-Land is extravagantly said to outshine stars and sun. Depictions of Perseus in the act of slaying Medusa, with lines radiating from his head, appear on a white-ground toiletry box in the Louvre and on a slightly later red-figured vase in the style of Polygnotos, ca. 450-30 BC, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On painted wares from south Italy radiant lines or simple haloes appear on a range of mythic figures: Lyssa, a personification of madness; a sphinx, a sea demon, Thetis, the sea-nymph who was mother to Achilles, The Colossus of Rhodes, was a statue of the sun-god Helios and had his usual radiate crown (copied by the Statue of Liberty). Hellenistic rulers are often shown wearing radiate crowns that seem clearly to imitate this effect. A more prosaic influence that has been cited by some historians is the Greek practice of placing circular metal discs above the head of statues to protect them from birds and their droppings, thus anticipating the “perspectival” halo by over a millennium. In Asian art The halo and the aureole have been widely used in Indian art, particularly in Buddhist iconography where it has appeared since at least the 1st century AD; the Kushan Bimaran casket in the British Museum is variously dated between 30BC and 60AD.

The above may be too politically incorrect now as it is no longer found on Wikipedia. But the idea of halos coming from Egypt has long been known (Massey. Ancient Egypt Light Of The World 2 Vol Set. Routledge, 2013, p. 219). While other pagan systems like the Egyptians had an illuminating “halo,” the one that came into the main Western religions apparently came from Mithraism as a sign of being illuminated.

Mithraism was the religion of the Roman Emperor Constantine who attempted to merge it with Christianity in the fourth century. The Marian cult was not something original, even to the Church of Rome:

Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in its ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Seeing that this doctrine is not contained, at least explicitly in the earlier forms of the Apostles’ Creed, there is perhaps no ground for surprise if we do not meet with any clear traces of the cultus of the Blessed Virgin in the first Christian centuries. The earliest unmistakable examples of the “worship” — we use the word of course in the relative sense — of the saints is connected with the veneration paid to the martyrs who gave their lives for the Faith…Further, it is quite likely that the mention of the Blessed Virgin in the intercessions of the diptychs of the liturgy goes back to the days before the Council of Nicaea, but we have no definite evidence upon the point, and the same must be said of any form of direct invocation, even for purposes of private devotion (Herbert Thurston. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Antidicomarianites
An Eastern sect which…was so designated as being the “opponents of Mary”… This doctrine…was afterwards modified so as to teach that, although Our Lord was born of Mary through the Holy Ghost, afterwards Joseph and Mary lived in wedlock and had many other children. The sect denied the formula “ever-Virgin Mary” used in the Greek and Roman Liturgies. The earliest reference to this sect appears in Tertullian, and the doctrines taught by them are expressly mentioned by Origen (Homilia in Lucam, III, 940). Certain Arians, Eudocius and Eunomius, were great supporters of the teaching. (Shipman AJ. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Antidicomarianites. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, Catholic scholars admit prior to the 4th century (which is when the Council of Nicea was) that there was not much related to Marian veneration, but they suspect that it may have existed. Thus, it was NOT documented as a part of the original faith nor among the earliest faithful traditions. This is a MAJOR CHANGE, then, as Marian adoration is a big deal within the faith that now calls itself “Catholic.”

In the late fourth century, the Catholic Bishop Epiphanius warned that some were worshipping Mary and were causing ”excess awe of the saint” (Epiphanius. Section VII, pp. 618-629)–he thus seemed to clearly condemn what is now referred to by Catholics as veneration of Mary.

False apparitions and compromise with paganism brought many to have a non-biblical view of Mary.

And this has continued.

Notice what a ‘messenger’ allegedly stated to a young girl named Barbara Reiss in Marienfried/Pfaffenhofen, Germany on May 26, 1946:

Have absolute faith in my Immaculate Heart…Some have received my imprint, and there will be many more (Culleton, Reign of Antichrist, p. 216).

Yes, I am the powerful Mediatrix of Grace. As the world can find mercy only through the sacrifice of the Son with the Father, so can you only find favor with the Son through my intercession. Christ is unknown because I am not known…it will be I who draw the power of God and the love of the Father {that} will renew the fullness of Christ in you…The devil has power over those that do not trust in My heart. (Culligan E. The Last World War and the End of Time. The book was blessed by Pope Paul VI, 1966. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 162)

So, the messenger is indicating that her “Son” will not be known until she is known.

This seems consistent with an earlier message given through a nun:

Bl. Mary of Agreda (17th century): It was revealed to me that through intercession of the Mother of God all heresies will disappear. The victory over heresies has been reserved by Christ for His Blessed Mother. In the latter days, the Lord will in a special manner spread the renown of His Mother…Mary will extend the reign of Christ over the heathens and the Mohammedans. (Dupont, p. 33)

Notice what another messenger allegedly stated in Pfaffenhofen, Germany on June 25, 1946:

I am the great Mediatrix of Grace. The Father wants the world to recognize His handmaid…My sign is about to appear. God wills it…I cannot reveal my power to the world as yet…Then I will be able to reveal myself…Chose a sign for yourself so that the Trinity may soon be adored by all! Chose a sign for yourself so that the Trinity may soon be adored by all! Pray and sacrifice through me!…I will impose crosses on my children that will be as heavy and as deep as the sea because I love them in my sacrificed Son. I pray, be prepared to bear the cross in order that the Trinity may be honored (Culleton, Reign of Antichrist, pp. 217-218).

Real Christians would not pray and sacrifice through Mary.

In addition to the fact that these apparitions indicate that they need to become more known (hence may be a sign or wonder warned against in the end times cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9), notice the claims about being a “Mediatrix” (the feminine form of the term mediator). But the Bible is clear that there is only one mediator and that this can only be Jesus:

5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5, NKJV).

5 For there is one God, one also mediator of God and men, man Christ JESUS (1 Timothy 2:5, RNT).

Thus any others who claim to be a mediator clearly contradict the Bible (from both the Catholic and Protestant translations) and CANNOT BE OF GOD.

Yet, Pope Leo XIII (as well as other Bishops of Rome) called Mary the Mediatrix and the “co-Redemptress” (another title not hers as only Jesus is our redeemer Titus 2:14; Isaiah 59:20) as well:

The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace; being by worthiness and by merit most acceptable to Him, and, therefore, surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven. Now, this merciful office of hers, perhaps, appears in no other form of prayer so manifestly as it does in the Rosary. For in the Rosary all the part that Mary took as our co-Redemptress comes to us, as it were, set forth, and in such wise as though the facts were even then taking place; and this with much profit to our piety, whether in the contemplation of the succeeding sacred mysteries, or in the prayers which we speak and repeat with the lips (Pope Leo XIII. Iucunda Semper Expectatione On the Rosary. September 8, 1894).

The Catholic Saint Bridget claimed that a “Marian” messenger said the following in the 14th century:

…my Son and I never sinned…(Revelations of St. Bridget. TAN Books, 1984, p. 14)

But the Bible clearly teaches, that other than Jesus (Hebrews 4:15):

22 Even the justice of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe in him: for there is no distinction:

23 For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.

24 Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption, that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22-24, Douay-Rheims)

Thus, Mary of the Bible would never have claimed that she never sinned.

So, if much about Mary is not true, why be concerned about it?

Well, the current Pope Francis and various Catholic prophecies point to more Marianism.

And the Bible warns of a ‘virgin” that uses enchantments who is also called the Lady of the Kingdoms:

1 Come down, sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne for the daughter of the Chaldeans, for thou shalt no more be called delicate and tender …4 Our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel. 5 Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called the lady of kingdoms. 6 I was angry with my people, I have polluted my inheritance, and have given them into thy bend: thou hast shown no mercy to them: upon the ancient thou hast laid thy yoke exceeding heavy.

7 And thou hast said: I shall be a lady forever: thou hast not laid these things to thy heart, neither hast thou remembered thy latter end.

8 And now hear these things, thou that art delicate, and dwellest confidently, that sayest in thy heart: I am, and there is none else besides me: I shall not sit as a widow, and I shall not know barrenness.

9 These two things shall come upon thee suddenly in one day, barrenness and widowhood. All things are come upon thee, because of the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great hardness of thy enchanters. 10 And thou best trusted in thy wickedness, and hast said: There is none that seeth me. Thy wisdom, and thy knowledge, this hath deceived thee. And thou best said in thy heart: I am, and besides me there is no other. 11 Evil shall come upon thee, and then shalt not know the rising thereof: and calamity shall fall violently upon thee, which thou canst not keep off: misery shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know. 12 Stand now with thy enchanters, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, in which thou hast laboured from thy youth, if so be it may profit thee any thing, or if thou mayst become stronger. 13 Thou hast failed in the multitude or thy counsels: let now the astrologers stand and save thee, they that gazed at the stars, and counted the months, that from them they might tell the things that shall come to thee. (Isaiah 47:1, 4-7, 11-13, DRB)

Interestingly, the second of the seven wonders of the ancient world has been called, “Babylon the Great, the Lady of the Kingdoms, the glory of the whole earth“ (and the fourth wonder was called the temple of Diana of the Ephesians). The Bible also seems to connect the Lady’s haughty comments in verses 7 & 8 with those of the harlot of Revelation 17:1, 18; 18:7-8, 11 and the city in Zephaniah 2:15.

Some may be surprised to see this, but this immoral “Lady” also seems to have the title of “queen” and “harlot”:

7 You thought, ‘I shall be a queen forever.’ 8 I am the only one who matters. I shall never be widowed, never know bereavement.’ 9 Yet both these things will befall you, suddenly, in one day. Bereavement and widowhood will suddenly befall you (Isaiah 47:7, 8b, 9 NJB)

4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries. (Nahum 3:4, NKJV)

5 Look, I am against you!- declares Yahweh Sabaoth- I shall lift your skirts as high as your face and show your nakedness to the nations, your shame to the kingdoms. (Nahum 3:5, NJB)

3 All the nations have drunk deep of the wine of her prostitution; every king on the earth has prostituted himself with her, and every merchant grown rich through her debauchery. (Revelation 18:3, NJB)

17:1 Come, I will shew thee the condemnation of the great harlot, who sitteth upon many waters 18:7 As much as she hath glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her; because she saith in her heart: I sit a queen, and am no widow; and sorrow I shall not see. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine, and she shall be burnt with the fire; because God is strong, who shall judge her. (Revelation 17:1b, 18:7-8, DRB)

So, understand that what will happen to the queen/Lady of the Kingdoms as well as to Babylon is warned against in Revelation. Yet, various Catholics have claimed that Mary is the “Queen of heaven” and “Lady of the kingdoms.”

However, neither the Bible nor the apostles referred to Mary as any type of queen, nor as the “Lady of the kingdoms.” Â Sacred scripture clearly warns against doing anything, such as making cakes, to honor one known as “the queen of heaven” (Jeremiah 7:18-19; 44:17-25) and certainly condemns one called the “Lady of the kingdoms.” Some information is also in a video sermon Why Learn About Fatima?

The late Herbert Armstrong wrote the following related to Isaiah 47:

But WHO is the Power that will lay this YOKE of slavery upon, Britain and America? We begin to find this answer in the 47th chapter of Isaiah. Notice!

“Come down, and sit in the dust, 0 virgin daughter of Babylon,” is the salutation of this chapter, verse 1. It is addressed, not to the ancient Babylon of King Nebuchadnezzar. It is addressed to a descendant, or successor, of the ancient Chaldean Empire. It is addressed to a WOMAN. And in prophetic symbol the term “woman” represents a CHURCH (Eph. 5:23, 27, 32; II Cor. ll: 1-2; Rev. 19:6-9; Rev. 12:13-17, etc.). This “lady of Kingdoms” of Isaiah 47 is the same CHURCH pictured in Revelation 17 and 18. But let’s understand as we go along “… there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.” (Verse 1).

This “lady” is no longer a virgin! She is a prostitute. She is to LOSE her throne over political kingdoms. Notice her moral and spiritual fall: “Thy nakedness shall be uncovered , yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance … ” (verse 3 ).

God Almighty Himself is going to take vengeance on her. This can result only from spirirual harlotry, which is sin.

Continue: “Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shall no more be called The Lady of Kingdoms.” (Verse 5 ) . The Moffatt translation is more plain: “Sit thou silent in the dark.” Light represents TRUTH. Darkness represents error and SIN. She is a fallen woman. She has reigned over KINGDOMS of NATIONS. But, from the time of the conclusion of this prophecy, she shall no longer be called “The Lady of Kingdoms”- that is, the CHURCH that had a kingdom over the political civil kingdoms…

God will give the House of Israel of today-Britain and America-into the hand of this “Lady of Kingdoms.” She, through the armies and secret police of the nations she shall sit upon and rule, will very heavily lay HER YOKE of slavery, torture, and martyrdom on our peoples! (Armstrong HW. BRITAIN’S DOOM Prophesied for Common Market Seeking Membership! Plain Truth, July 1962; he also said something similar in his Sermon dated November 27, 1982)

Here are some items from the late Radio/Worldwide Church of God evangelist Raymond McNair:

Fatima Portugal

THE Pope’s pilgrimage to Portugal is the biggest event ever to occur in this country!” an elated Portuguese exclaimed to me. This momentous occasion is the 50th anniversary of the first Fatima vision. It was on May 13, 1917 that three poor, uneducated Portuguese peasant children believed the Virgin Mary appeared to them, It is also the 25th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary! …

The Pope had come to Fatima to lead all Catholics worldwide in prayer for peace – peace within the Church, and peace in the whole world. …

“The first intention is for the Church …. We want to pray, as we have said, for its intemal peace.” Then the Pope gave a solemn warning to the ecclesiastical princes of the Catholic Church who do not agree with the official teachings of the Church.” What terrible damage could be provoked by arbitrary interpretations, not authorized by the teaching of the Church, disrupting its traditional and constitutional structure … ” …

The Pontiff then pointed to that great part of humanity which lives in hunger and in dire need.” Therefore, we say, the world i s in DANGER. For this reason WE HAVE COME TO THE FEET OF THE QUEEN OF PEACE to ask her for the gift, which only God can give, of peace.”

In the German Suddeutsche Zeitung there was an article in which it was revealed that Pope Paul VI had received a message in Fatima through the only remaining shepherd girl (who is now a nun). They were seen quite some time together and it appeared as if she had something to say to him. When asked in Rome, after his return, if his visit to Fatima was a success, Pope Paul said: ” I went to Fatima to pray for peace to the Virgin Mary and I received the answer how to, achieve this peace.”

There are many rumors that he did receive a message, but he has not wanted to divulge it.

Since the pilgrimage to Fatima, the Pope has spoken out on Jerusalem- demanding it become an international city. What most do not know is that there is evidence the Vatican has plans to move from Rome to Jerusalem … This event will stir the world! It will be the Pope ‘s final effort as the world’s peacemaker! (McNair R. The Real Meaning Behind POPE PAUL’S PILGRIMAGE TO PORTUGAL. Plain Truth, June 1967, pp. 3, 47)

Jerusalem will become increasingly important to Catholics in the near future. The Papacy will, as previously reported in The PLAIN TRUTH, be moved from Rome to Jerusalem … Bible prophecy is very explicit on this point. Furthermore, according to a recent report in a leading German newspaper, the Third Fatima Message is reported (by inside, informed Vatican sources) to reveal that there will be a terrible World War III, during which (according to this Fatima Vision) both Rome and the Vatican will be destroyed! Could this possibly explain why the Vatican will be moved to Jerusalem? (McNair R. POPE MEETS PATRIARCH. Plain Truth, October 1967)

For even more information on Isaiah 47 as well as Fatima and other apparitions, please check out the book Fatima Shock!

The Bible warns against end time Babylon and says that God’s people should not be part of it:

1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:1-8)

Despite the biblical warnings about this, Pope Francis wants to use ‘Mary’ as a springboard for the type of ecumenical unity that the Bible condemns. Notice, for one example, how Pope Francis specifically appealed to Mary to unite prior to giving his ‘Angelus prayer’:

And we entrust this, our prayer, to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church so that She, like a good Mother, may unite us. (Angelus Address: On the Thirst for Unity. January 25, 2015 http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-the-thirst-for-unity)

The ‘Angelus prayer’ starts out with the words, “Hail Mary” and the pontiff’s goal is a Babylonian unity. The Bible warns against that (Zechariah 2:6-9) and shows that true unity does not come through ‘Mary’ but happens AFTER the return of Jesus Christ (Zechariah 2:10-11; see also Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox?).

False Marian apparitions and telling people to turn towards Mary are parts of Satan’s Plan (see also Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?).

Much of what many believe about Mary is contrary to the truth about Jesus’ mother.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy.
The ‘Lady’ of Guadalupe: Any Future Ramifications? It is claimed that a female apparition appeared near Mexico City on December 12, 1531. How has it affected the world? What might it suggest about the future? A video of related interest is titled: The ‘Lady of Guadalupe’ and Prophecy.
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.
Mystery of Civilization Why is civilization like it is? How will it end? What will replace it?Here is a link to a related sermon titled: Mystery of Civilization and How it Will End.
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?
Assumption of Mary Did Mary die? Was she taken to heaven on August 15th? What is known? What does the Bible show?
What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons? Did Catholic and Orthodox “saints” endorse or condemn idols and icons for Christians?
Fatima Shock! What the Vatican Does Not Want You to Know About Fatima, Dogmas of Mary, and Future Apparitions. Whether or not you believe anything happened at Fatima, if you live long enough, you will be affected by its ramifications (cf. Isaiah 47; Revelation 17). Fatima Shock! provides concerned Christians with enough Catholic-documented facts to effectively counter every false Marian argument. In addition to the print version, there is a Kindle version of Fatima Shock! which you can acquire in seconds.

Four-horned sheep a sign of the immanent building of the Third Temple?

Sunday, January 8th, 2017


Four-horned ‘Jacob’ sheep (photo by Crosa from Nuernberg)

COGwriter

Is a flock of special sheep a sign that the Third Temple is about to be built?  Some prophecy watchers seem to think so:

Some are calling it the fulfillment of prophecy. A step toward the rebuilding of the Temple.

A flock of sheep described in the pages of Genesis have returned to Israel for the first time since Jacob walked the Holy Land.

In Genesis 30:32, Jacob leaves his father-in-law Laban’s household and takes a very specific part of the flock as payment. The animals he takes are described as “every speckled and spotted one, and every dark one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and of such shall be my hire.”

The sheep followed Jacob from Canaan to North Africa. Though they have spread throughout the world, they had not returned to Israel – until now.

An Israeli couple living in Canada, Jenna and Gil Lewinsky, raised a group of the “Jacob sheep,” which, as a “heritage” breed, have retained most of its characteristics since ancient times.

In a repeat of how the Jewish diaspora returned to its country after thousands of years, the couple sought to bring the sheep back to their ancient homeland. But it required detailed negotiations between Canada and Israel. Indeed, the case of the sheep reportedly cleared the way for a sweeping trade agreement between the two nations.

A total of 119 of the distinctive four-horned sheep are now in their homeland. Gil Lewinsky says the sheep will eventually be part of a “Heritage Park” which will allow people to come see the animals.

However, the the sheep will also be used to produce raw wool for Jewish religious garments and horns for the production of shofars. They would also be used in rituals if and when a Third Temple is reconstructed.

Joel Richardson, the best-selling author of “The Islamic Antichrist” and the director of the teaching series “The Coming Battle For Jerusalem,” says believers should indeed expect to see a physical Temple in the Holy Land.

“Through the clear word of Scripture, we can be confident that there will indeed be a Third Temple rebuilt, perhaps in our near future,” he told WND. “Although this structure could be as simple as a tent, it could also be an actual brick and mortar structure so-to-speak. Four times the prophecy of Daniel speaks of this Temple being defiled and desolated (cf. Daniel 8:12-13; 9:26; 11:31; 12:11). Jesus likewise referred to a future time when Daniel’s prophecy concerning the time when the Temple would be defiled and desolated (Matthew 24:15). Paul the Apostle also spoke of the day when the Antichrist, whom he refers to as ‘the man of lawlessness’ and ‘the son of perdition’ would set himself up in ‘God’s Temple’ as he seeks to exalt himself above the God of Israel (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Finally, the Book of Revelation speaks of a future rebuilt Temple (Rev. 11:2).” 01/07/17 http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/3rd-temple-looming-1-event-considered-a-sign/#JejAvqYzlMx2yeXj.99

Return of Jacob’s Sheep to Israel Could be Precursor To Third Temple

The miraculous and prophetic ingathering of the exiles to Israel now includes four-legged returnees: descendants of Biblical sheep. Rare and listed as a threatened breed, Jacob’s sheep, believed to be the breed which Biblical forefathers shepherded across Israel, are making a comeback. …

Small, piebald, and crowned distinctively with four horns, Jacob’s sheep thrive in desert climates. They are a ‘heritage’ breed, meaning the sheep retain many of their genetic traits and remain relatively unchanged from their origins. The sheep are unique, with devotees who claim the breed is living proof of the Biblical story of Jacob’s deal with Laban for which it is named.

No longer found in the Mideast, Israeli flocks today are made up of Awassi sheep which originated in Syro-Arabian desert and are white, with brown or black faces. Jacob’s sheep are distinctly speckled or striped, conforming to the story found in the book of Genesis 30.

Israel’s Awassi sheep are numerous and most people naturally associate them with Israel, as Palestinian shepherds are often seen wandering the hillsides with large flocks. Nonetheless, the Awassi are not indigenous to Israel and, though kosher for the Temple service, it is much more likely that Jacob’s sheep, and not Awassi, were brought as sacrifices in Biblical times.

Though the prophecies describing the Jews’ return to Israel didn’t mention sheep, there is a precedent for flocks being essential to the Jewish return to Israel. 03/22/16 https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/64144/flock-biblical-sheep-set-out-journey-holy-land-jewish-world/#6P2iQkLmJeLIBAOb.99

So, is any of this relevant?

Some might be. But not as some seem to think.

First of all, while having Jacob’s sheep might be a preference, according to the Temple Institute (who I met with) and the reconstituted Sanhedrin (who I emailed) the Jewish priests already have everything they need to perform sacrifices, other than permission from the Israeli government to do so.

While these particular sheep are not required according to the Bible, the fact that they are available might be considered a sign to certain Jews that the time for sacrifice is getting closer.

As far as Joel Richardson’s contention that there must be a Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem for the prophecies he cited to be fulfilled, he is in scriptural error (see also has other errors, see Can the Final Antichrist be Islamic?). According to the New Testament, it is Christians who are now the Temple of God (e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17), and any physical building would be where two or more of them gathered (Matthew 18:20; see als0 Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required?).

After the execution of Jesus, the veil in the ‘Second’ Temple was miraculously torn and that building ceased to be the Temple of God as there was no longer a need for animal sacrifices.

37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:37-39)

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”  21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another —  26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:11-26)

No Jewish building is the ‘Temple of God,’ although remnants of the first and second temples may exist (related to the second one, check out the article Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill).

All this being said, since the Bible teaches that animal sacrifices will stop (Daniel 9:27; 11:31), they must first resume.

Until Solomon built the first temple (1 Kings 6:14), the Bible shows that the Jews sacrificed animals on altars. David, Solomon’s father, for example sacrificed on an altar (2 Samuel 24:25), as did Aaron and his descendants (Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 1:10-11).  And prior to all of that, Abel (Genesis 4:4), Noah (Genesis 8:20), Abraham (Genesis 22:9-13), and others sacrificed animals to God.

So for over 3,000 years, animal sacrifices were offered without a Jewish temple.

Even after the first Jerusalem temple was built and left in ruins, the Bible itself specifically shows that sacrifices were made in the time of Ezra BEFORE the second temple was ready:

6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid. (Ezra 3:6)

One may argue that since it takes the participation of Jewish religious leaders in order for Jewish animal sacrifices to be resumed, that the above scripture is a moot point.

And it might be if there were no Jewish religious leaders that thought that they could not sacrifice without a temple.

But the fact is, that although they are in the minority, there are significant numbers of Jewish religious leaders who are intent on starting animal sacrifices as soon as possible.  And these Jewish leaders do not believe that they have to wait in order for a temple to rebuilt in order to do so.

This resumption of animal sacrifices is something that the reconstituted Sanhedrin and the Temple Institute may well be involved in–and they mainly only need permission from Israeli authorities to do so. One person at the Temple Institute told one of our sons that this could be done within hours of getting permission. One person from the Temple Institute told me that they have all they need to immediately resume animal sacrifices once they get permission, whereas as representative of the reconstituted Sanhedrin told me in an email that they do NOT need a Third Temple to resume animal sacrifices–only an altar.  And such an altar does exist.

Getting ‘Jacob’ sheep may further motivate certain Jews to push for permission to resume animal sacrifices. But such sheep are NOT a requirement for a Third Temple to be built.

As far as getting that permission to sacrifice, that is not impossible. Though it may well take a war, peace deal, and/or political gridlock for that to happen. But it will come to pass as the Bible teaches. Having the sheep may be one of many factors that those who wish to sacrifice will bring up when they ask for that permission.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? Although people like Timothy LaHaye teach a third Jewish temple is required, who is ‘the temple of God” in the New Testament? Does the Bible require a rebuilt Jewish Temple? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Por qué no se requiere un templo judío en Jerusalén? Here is a link to a sermon titled The Temple, Prophecy, and the Work.
The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World The Temple Institute is watching a ‘red heifer.’ Why might this be important in the sequence of end time events? Here is a related link in the Spanish language Novilla roja descubierta en EE.UU. e Instituto del Templo está interesado en ella. Here is a related video in English The Red Heifer and the End of the World.
Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building?
Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? After a 20 year negotiation, the Church of Rome has negotiated the right to have Catholic mass in the building known as the Cenacle. It is in the area where the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill once stood. This is believed to be the location of the earliest Christian church building. How does the Bible define the ‘temple of God’ in the New Testament? Could this be the area where the ‘man of sin’ will sit in the “temple of God’ that Bible prophecy discusses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? This is a YouTube video.
The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27 This prophecy could give up to 3 1/2 years advance notice of the coming Great Tribulation. Will most ignore or misunderstand its fulfillment? Here is a link to a related sermon video Daniel 9:27 and the Start of the Great Tribulation.
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a version in Mandarin: 主编: 谁是’大罪人’?Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.
Can the Final Antichrist be Islamic? Is Joel Richardson correct that the final Antichrist will be Islamic and not European? Find out. A related sermon is titled: Is the Final Antichrist Islamic or European?

USA makes ICC’s ‘Hall of Shame’ list of nations regressing in religious freedom

Saturday, January 7th, 2017


ICC persecution map

COGwriter

Religious persecution has long been a problem, but now we are seeing different forms hitting the West, including the USA.

Here are some excerpts from the beginning of a report by ICC at Persecution.org:

To remember the world’s forgotten martyrs as well as the living victims of persecution, International Christian Concern (ICC) releases this Hall of Shame report that details the world’s worst persecutors and countries that are regressing in religious freedom.

This year, however, we’ve changed the format from our usual structure. Rather than using a straight 1-10 rank – ing of the worst countries, we’ve broken our report into three categories.

The “Worst of the Worst” (North Korea, Iraq and Syria, Nigeria) looks at the most egregious state persecutors.

Our second category, “Core Countries,” contains nations that are less egregious, but are perennial abusers of religious freedom (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, India, and Egypt).

Our third and most exceptional category is “New and Noteworthy.” The persecution in these countries is not anywhere near the same level of persecution as those in the rest of the list, but events in these countries indicate declining religious freedom and are cause for alarm. http://www.persecution.org/persecutionnl/2017-01/ICC%202016%20Hall%20of%20Shame%20Report.pdf

(For an enlarged version of the ICC persecution map, go to the link above.)

The persecution against Catholics, Orthodox, Jews, and Protestants in the Islamic nations has gone up since the so-called 2011 Arab Spring.

But in this post, I want to look more about what has been happening in the USA and what will happen in Europe.

Here is much of what the ICC report says about the USA:

Christians in the US are facing constant attacks in the media, where they are portrayed as bigoted, racist, sexist, and close- minded. The characterization in the media may be translating into direct attacks as well. The First Liberty Institute, the largest legal organization in the US dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom, documents such actions and reports that attacks on religion doubled between 2012 and 2015.

More importantly, Christians and all religious people are being marginalized through the law.

From the case of a Christian football coach suspended for praying at the 50-yard line, to Christian business owners forced to pay a $135,000 fine for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, the number of troubling cases directed towards Christians has exploded.

In 2011, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship lost their official recognition as a student organization in all of their respective chapters across 23 California public colleges. This occurred because the Christian organization required their respective leaders to uphold a doctrinal statement of Biblical principles, which allegedly conflicted with California State universities’ policies. After four years of embattled negotiations, InterVarsity regained their official recognition in June 2015.

In 2014, Eric Walsh was terminated one week after being hired by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). The basis of termination was alleged undisclosed income from prior employment in California. However, the Georgia DPH knew that Walsh was a Christian preacher outside of work and went to great lengths to review and investigate the content of his sermons posted on YouTube. Georgia officials have even requested copies of Walsh’s sermons, despite prior statements that the termination had nothing to do with his religious views or affiliations. Walsh is currently suing the Georgia DPH for wrongful termination and religious discrimination.

The rise of these cases stems partly from a broad cultural shift towards secularism. The Pew Foundation found that those identifying as non-religious in the US rose by seven percent, to 23 percent of the total US adult population within just seven years (2007 to 2014).

Anti-Christian entities have been able to leverage the growing secularization of society and culture to their advantage, utilizing the courts as a preferred venue to gradually marginalize and silence Christians. Using the cudgel of “equality,” secular forces in and out of the courts have worked to create a body of law built from one bad precedent after another. Claims of intolerance and inequality are used to fundamentally distort the clear intent of the First Amendment.

The Founders carefully and deliberately placed religious freedom as the first liberty because it encompasses several fundamental rights including thought, speech, expression, and assembly. The First Amendment explicitly grants freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The essential aim is to protect the right of citizens to practice religion in the public square.

Decades of accumulated poor judicial decisions and precedents have twisted the First Amendment so that the courts, in defiance of the Founders, are pushing religion out of the public square, and into the small space of private expression. In essence, the courts are deciding that you only have full religious freedom and expression in the church and your home. In the public domain, your religious views and thoughts must be restrained and controlled.

This trend is extremely worrying in the country that has long held the ideal of religious liberty.

While there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the US with persecuted believers overseas, ICC sees these worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States. http://www.persecution.org/persecutionnl/2017-01/ICC%202016%20Hall%20of%20Shame%20Report.pdf

In many ways, it is worse in Canada than the USA, but I did not see anything about that nation in the ICC report.

Sadly, as the USA turns more and more away from the Bible, it is becoming clearer to many that its first amendment is not protecting religious speech and practices like it once did. Instead of being a defender of actual religious freedom, the USA has more acted as a suppressor. Combine this with a mainly irreligious mainstream media, including those who run places like Google and Facebook, and we are seeing more and more restrictions of religious speech by those who profess to believe the Bible.

It is my view that the perception of persecution and loss of first amendment rights was a major reason so many evangelicals in the USA voted for Donald Trump. It is not that most saw him as the answer, but that most saw Hillary Clinton as one who took a different view.

How different?

Notice what Hillary Clinton said in a speech shortly after she announced that she would run for the presidency:

Hillary Clinton: Religious Beliefs Must Be Changed to Achieve Social Justice

April 24, 2015

In a fiery speech Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton argues that deep seated religious beliefs must be changed so that everyone can enjoy full participation in every aspect of society.

Clinton, speaking in Manhattan on Thursday at the sixth annual Women in The World Summit, declared that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases” must be changed both in the U.S. and around the world in order to achieve social justice.

Clinton, after discussing the pressing social justice issues of domestic violence and women’s reproductive health, said:

Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2015/04/hillary-clinton-religious-beliefs-must-be-changed-to-achieve-social-justice/#sthash.u8Q6OrVv.dpuf

Hillary Clinton told all who would listen that she wanted religious views changed so that people will embrace abortion, homosexuality, and other immoral positions that Christians should condemn. She won the popular vote.

It remains to be seen what Donald Trump may do along the lines of religious liberty–the cause of which he has claimed he will champion.  But as he also wants to champion certain LGBTQ and greed issues, he has credibility issues.

But what about European persecution?

Well, beyond the terrorist attacks that are usually tied to Muslims against non-Muslims we have seen in Europe, the Bible tells of a persecuting state power called the Beast that will arise in Europe.

In the past, in Europe and/or the Middle East (for some details, see Persecutions by Church and State), true Christians were persecuted because they:

These persecutions sometimes included economic problems (cf. Revelation 13:16-17), verbal harrassment, torture, and/or threat of death, often causing them to flee. The same things face Christians in this 21st century.

More persecution is coming–and some of those will be the very reasons.

Jesus taught:

20 If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also (John 15:20).

Sadly, even many of those who claim to be Christian do not keep Jesus’ word, have persecuted in the past, and will persecute in the future.

Some of the persecution may come from hidden or secret sources, such as governmental surveillance. Notice God’s people are to pray for protection from that:

2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,
3 Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows — bitter words,
4 That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear. (Psalms 64:2-4)

The Book of Daniel shows a two-part persecution coming from a European leader (I added the a and b below for emphasis):

25 a He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. b Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

First of all (a), he shall persecute certain of the saints, which is consistent with what Jesus said was coming:

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)

Much of the above will affect the Philadelphian Christians (cf. Revelation 12:13), but they will later be protected (Revelation 3:8-10) in the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time (Revelation 12:14-16; see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra). Part of why they will be persecuted is for proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and probably also for identifying the coming King of the North, who will not wish to be identified that way. This will likely result in internet and other restrictions on getting the truth of God out to the world (cf. Amos 8:11-12).

Note that the saints will be persecuted before they are “given into his hand”; perhaps that particular persecution means all of God’s people, or more likely at least many of the Philadelphians, will be persecuted before the period “time and times and half a time” begins (Daniel 7:25a ). Then the Philadelphians will flee and escape the sword:

50 0 You who have escaped the sword,
Get away! Do not stand still!
Remember the Lord afar off,
And let Jerusalem come to your mind. (Jeremiah 51:50)

So, the above talks about God’s people who escape (see also There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra).

Getting back to Daniel, the expressions “completely shattered” and “Then the saints shall be given into his hand” seem to show that most of the saints will be in the tribulation (Daniel 7:25b). We know this cannot mean all because the book of Revelation says the Philadelphians will be kept from the hour of trial (Revelation 3:10)–protected “from the presence of the serpent” (cf. Revelation 12:14). God will in some way separate Christians then living when these terrible calamities finally come to be. The Philadelphia Christians will be protected from the Tribulation–most of the rest of the real Christians, however, will not be! (Revelation 3:16).

Daniel 7:25 a, which are consistent with the persecutions in Daniel 11:28-35, are a factor in the opening of the fifth seal in Revelation, which is the start of the Great Tribulation:

9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (Revelation 6:9-11)

Notice that this is consistent with Daniel 7:25 a and b. There were those who were martyred/persecuted (a) then there were to be more who were to be martyred/persecuted (b).

Second of all (Daniel 7:25 b), the remaining saints will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. This is the portion of the COG, the non-Philadelphians, who are NOT protested in the wilderness as Revelation 12:17 shows this separation:

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)

There are persecutions just before the Great Tribulation starts per Daniel 7:25a, 11:28-35; Revelation 12:13, and then during the time of the Great Tribulation per Daniel 7:25b, Revelation 12:17; 14:12-13.

Although many in the Church of God have experienced economic and social persecution in their walk with Christ, future severe persecution, beginning first with the Philadelphia remnant of Christians, is expected, it is then followed by persecution on all Christians once the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) begins.

While many like to focus on the idea that the Philadelphians will flee to a place of protection, it needs to be understood that there will apparently be a time of severe persecution just prior to the fleeing and the start of the Great Tribulation. Specifically, for another example, evangelist Richard Ames has taught that the 45 day period (the 1335-1290 days) begins intense persecution against the true Philadelphian Church, and this will fulfill Matthew 24:9 (Ames R. Welcome the King, Feast of Trumpets sermon for 9/13/07).

It seems that part of this persecuting time, the one mainly involving the Philadelphians, is also discussed in Daniel 11:32-36 (information of the persecution just prior to Daniel 11:31 can be found in the article Who is the King of the North?):

28 While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land…32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time (Daniel 11:28, 32-35).

The persecutions above are by one called the King of the North (Daniel 11:40; 7:25a)–the King of the North will NOT like the message that the Philadelphians are proclaiming at least of part of which will likely be the Continuing Church of God identifying him to the world as the prophesied King of the North. While it is apparently the Philadelphia Christians that are targeted for this particular persecution, it is likely that some Laodicean and other Christians will be affected at least to some degree. The Laodiceans will mainly misunderstand what is happening and not realize that their persecution is coming! This is also consistent with the persecution, accomplishments, and problems in Matthew 24:9-20 that will mainly affect the Philadelphians, but will lead to problems then for the Laodiceans in Matthew 24:21-22.

Not worshipping the Beast will be a cause of persecution. But notice that the persecution is not limited to true Christians (saints) as any who do not worship the beast will not be able to buy or sell and this final hour of trial comes to all except the Philadelphians:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:11-17).

More information on the Beast and the Antichrist can be found in the articles Europa and the Beast and Some Doctrines of Antichrist.

In the future, according to Catholic teachings (most of which come from Europe and the Middle East), true Christians also will be persecuted for:

Christians have been persecuted for holding doctrines that we in the Continuing Church of God hold and are clearly expected to be persecuted in the future for holding Continuing Church of God doctrines.

Persecution is a fact of history. It has happened before and we should be prepared for the fact that it will happen again. And during the time of the final persecutions, the Bible records:

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

Thus, though the Philadelphian Christians will be subject to intense persecution first, even the Laodiceans (The Laodicean Church Era) and other Christians will receive some praise if they endure the persecutions that will then come during the time of “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10).

The Bible does show that the persecutors and their supporters will be punished in the end:

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:1-2)

24 “And I will repay Babylon
And all the inhabitants of Chaldea
For all the evil they have done
In Zion in your sight,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 51:20)

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21)

God and His people will win out in the end. Jesus taught that persecutions would come, but He also had it recorded that ultimately the persecutors will lose.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church. Here is information in the Spanish language: Persecuciones de la Iglesia y el Estado.
Christian Repentance Do you know what repentance is? Is it really necessary for salvation? A related sermon is also available titled: Real Christian Repentance.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety?  Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
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. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
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.
Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 Who is 666? This article explains how the COG views this, and compares this to Ellen White. Here is a link to a prophetic video Six Financial Steps Leading to 666?
The Mark of Antichrist What is the mark of Antichrist? What have various ones claimed? Here is a link to a related sermon What is the ‘Mark of Antichrist’?
Mark of the Beast What is the mark of the Beast? Who is the Beast? What have various ones claimed the mark is? What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?
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?
Canada in Prophecy: What Does Bible Prophecy, Catholic Prophecy, and other Predictions Suggest About the Future of Canada? There are prophecies that suggest involvement with Canada. And many are not positive about its future.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
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?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2017, 2018, or 2019? 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: Will the Great Tribulation Start in 2017?
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: 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic.
Hillary Clinton in Prophecy  Prophecy, Hillary Clinton? Are there prophecies that Hillary Clinton may fulfill?  Are there any prophecies that she has already helped fulfill?  Could Hillary Clinton be apocalyptic?  Could Hillary Clinton be the final Antichrist? A video of related interest is titled Hillary Clinton and Bible Prophecy.