Heathen Churches #5

Saturday, August 6, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The Holy Bible says “heathen,” among other traits, have “churches,” repetitious prayers (chants), and various “aids to worship” (idols, images, and shrines). In fact, the ancient Jews corrupted the LORD’S Jerusalem Temple with this false religion. “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem(2 Chronicles 36:14). That evil religion had so infiltrated Israel during Christ’s earthly ministry that He addressed and condemned it (see Matthew 6:7,8; Matthew 23:1-39)! It had caused the deaths of countless Jewish saints, and even Jesus was ultimately murdered because this heathen mindset infected and confused His people.

In one sense, it was actually easier to become a Christian and learn Christian truth 2,000 years ago than it is today. Back then, there were not tens of thousands of “Christian” denominations riddled with heathenism all claiming to be “the church Jesus founded” as now. It was far simpler to identify Christian teaching, seeing how it was separate and distinct from heathenism. Over these last 20 centuries, however, the definite lines between truth and error have become blurred. The advanced revelations the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave the world through the Apostle Paul, have been increasingly set aside in favor of the pagan darkness they were meant to overcome.

“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles [heathen!], unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:16-18). If we are to guard against heathen churches, we had better look especially to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

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Heathen Churches #4

Friday, August 5, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The Holy Spirit’s commentary on Israel’s 10 northern tribes: “And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove [shrine], and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal [an idol]” (2 Kings 17:15,16). These sins resulted in their being taken away in judgment via the Assyrian Captivity.

About the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), the Prophet Jeremiah penned: “Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (Jeremiah 10:1-5). Do you happen to know of any trees decorated with “silver and gold” for religious purposes? The Bible calls it heathenism, not Christianity!

“Images,” shrines, and “idols” are aids to worship in heathenism. “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (Psalm 135:15). “And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone [idols] (Ezekiel 20:32). Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Heathen Churches #3

Thursday, August 4, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

Heathen also pray. Therefore, praying in and of itself is no automatic indication a person is a Christian. We ponder this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8).

In Christ’s day, the “heathen” (Gentiles, nations) recited prayers that were nothing but “vain repetitions.” Over and over and over and over and over again, these idolaters begged their deities (gods and goddesses) to intervene and give them this or give them that. They were under the impression that repeating something constantly would increase the likelihood of a “higher power” taking notice and helping them by answering their prayers. It was such mindless, mechanical, empty behavior that the speech was spiritual gibberish or babblings. The Lord Jesus instructed His followers that this was not how His Heavenly Father operated and it was not how He wanted them to function either.

We must always remember the religious or belief systems in existence today (except Judaism and Christianity), in their most basic form, can be traced back to the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11. Consequently, the “vain repetitions” of Christ’s earthly ministry are with us even now. They have existed for millennia in Eastern or Oriental religions—and they are known as “breath prayers” (essentially, mantras or chants). When Roman Catholicism was being developed during the three or four centuries after Christ, these breath prayers influenced the institution of the rosary, a series of elaborate petitions and adulations meant to influence a “higher power” through habitual recital. Ignorant Protestants, while not accepting the rosary, nevertheless also practice similar “breath prayers” to some degree at times (for instance, “Jesus, I love you, Jesus, I love you;” or, “Praise God, Praise God, Praise God”). Yes, it is controversial. It is also heathenism in “Christian” churches….

Heathen Churches #2

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The designation “heathen,” as used in Scripture, refers to anyone who is not in communion with the LORD God, the God of Israel, the God of the Bible. It is often interchangeable with “Gentiles” or “nations” (non-Jews). Yet, the nation Israel blurred this distinction. To wit, the ancient Israelites failed to rid the Promised Land of Gentiles during the time of the Book of Judges. Eventually intermarrying with these Satan worshippers, they adopted the Gentiles’ religions, thereby “heathenizing” or paganizing Judaism (the Law of Moses, the LORD God’s pure religion).

Consider these three passages. “They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them” (Psalm 106:34-36). “And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you (Ezekiel 11:12). “I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols(Ezekiel 23:30).

Normally, we think of “heathen” people as exclusively those who live in remote regions of the world, have primitive religious views and practices, and have had no exposure whatsoever to any Bible or Gospel of Grace. However, this is a misconception on our part. There are plenty of “heathen” under the false impression they are Christians because they “love Jesus,” “read holy books,” “pray,” and so on. The reason for this is quite simple. As the Jewish people corrupted Judaism with heathenism, so denominationalists have polluted Christianity with heathenism. Unfortunately, almost nobody can distinguish between genuine Christianity and counterfeit Christianity: essentially, anyone who is not a Jew or a Muslim is considered “Christian.” The ancient Israelites had similar difficulty in realizing they had a hybrid religious system (syncretism). We can “mark” and “avoid” the heathen churches and practices only when we know what Christian churches and practices are….

Heathen Churches #1

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

Many years back, a dear brother in Christ was recounting a few of his “adventures” in ministry. When he would travel to neighborhoods and knock on doors to distribute Gospel literature and talk to the residents, he would encounter many “smart-aleck” people. They were sassy or captious, asking him, “Where do the heathen go?” After all, what about these who had not heard about Jesus Christ? Would they be sent to Hell too? (This was nothing but a flimsy excuse or futile escape for those who had heard the Gospel but refused to believe it. Shifting the focus to “those who have not heard about Christ” allows those who have heard about Christ to ignore their own dreadful eternal plight!) My friend would reply with a smile, “Why, the heathen go to supermarkets and department stores!” Yea, the heathen also go to church!

One prevailing, eternally fatal myth is the belief that going to church or joining a church automatically makes people Christians. “I am a Christian because I grew up in church.” Conversely, (another eternally fatal myth) when they cease church service attendance or church membership, they are no longer Christians. “I used to be a Christian, but then I left the church.” These notions, although in the hearts and minds of sincere people, are sincerely wrong. If the Bible is correct, and we think it is, “heathen” (pagan idolaters) have “churches.” Today’s Scripture once more:For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. (While found in our King James Bible, unfortunately, “churches” is dropped from almost all modern English translations here.)

The English word “church” is taken from the medieval Greek “kurikon,” itself from “kuriakon,” with “kurios” meaning “lord, master.” Therefore, in its purest sense, “church” actually means “belonging to the Lord.” Yet, it has been used loosely to refer to anything related to religion, and today’s Scripture is an example. Indeed, “heathen” or non-Christians attend church….

God’s Hidden Face #10

Thursday, July 14, 2022

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 KJV).

How can dispensational Bible study deliver us from experiencing a lifetime of fear, doubt, frustration, discouragement, and even apostasy?

Regarding the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew 17:2 relays: “And [Jesus Christ] was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” This previews His return to reign in the Earth (chapter 16, verses 27 and 28). At Christ’s Second Coming, Israel literally sees the very face of God the Son illuminating Earth’s atmosphere! Malachi 4:2 likens it to a sunrise. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul speaks of “the brightness of [Christ’s] coming.” Satan’s nighttime reign in creation is forever over!

The Apostle John describes the New Heaven and New Earth in this fashion: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3,4). Look at the communion the saints will have with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the ages to come (cf. Isaiah 33:17,22; Matthew 5:8)!

Concerning what God is doing today—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—2 Corinthians 4:3-6 states: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Through His finished crosswork, we who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour have unrestricted, permanent fellowship with Almighty God. It is high time we start learning the program the Lord is working now, and stop claiming Bible verses (such as today’s Scripture) that have no relation to us! 🙂

God’s Hidden Face #9

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 KJV).

How can dispensational Bible study deliver us from experiencing a lifetime of fear, doubt, frustration, discouragement, and even apostasy?

When King David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit moved him to pen the psalm recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:7-36. David thanks the LORD for His goodness, exhorting his Jewish brethren: “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually (verse 11). “Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore (Psalm 105:4).

Unfortunately, the Jewish people grew more apostate (fallen from the truth) once David died. Since they did not “seek [God’s] face” (wishing intimate fellowship or communion with Him), He hid it from them (see today’s Scripture). Intensifying phases of Divine wrath meant He had left them because they had first left Him for idols. The Prophet Daniel, a member of believing Israel, prays for destroyed Jerusalem by confessing their national sins: “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake” (Daniel 9:17).

Israel’s believing remnant speaks in Isaiah 8:17: “And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” These Jewish saints expect their nation to one day be restored to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. According to the context (see verses 8,14,18; also, chapter 9, verses 1,2,6,7; also, chapter 7, verse 14; cf. Matthew 1:23-25, Matthew 4:12-17, 1 Peter 2:5-8, and Hebrews 2:9,13), Messiah or Christ Jesus is coming to deliver. Two visits are in view—one arrival to die on Calvary (Christ’s earthly ministry), the other coming to reign from David’s throne (Second Coming)—but the Old Testament saints had limited understanding here and could not distinguish two visits of Messiah like we can with a completed Bible (1 Peter 1:10,11). Looking into the ages to come, Israel awaits her approaching King: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah” (Psalm 67:1).

Even now, we see the face of the Lord Jesus Christ….

God’s Hidden Face #8

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 KJV).

How can dispensational Bible study deliver us from experiencing a lifetime of fear, doubt, frustration, discouragement, and even apostasy?

Today’s Scripture is really a national—rather than a personal—issue. An entire group has offended the LORD God: the nation Israel is guilty! Remember, several centuries before Isaiah, the Jews at Mount Sinai entered a covenant relationship with JEHOVAH God. Disregarding His earlier promise to make them His people in the Earth (grace; see Genesis 12:1-3), they wished to make themselves His people in the Earth (law; see Exodus 19:3-8). They demanded to have a system of rules and regulations, so this is precisely what He gave them to prove their performance would never qualify them to be His nation. Either He would have to work on their behalf to make them righteous (they would learn their need for a Saviour), or they would always receive curses because of their failures (sins) to live up to His perfect standards. See Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapters 27–28, the punishments that would signify God’s displeasure with them. The final judgment was their removal from the Promised Land via invading Gentile world-powers.

Concerning today’s Scripture, Israel has incurred yet another penalty because of falling short of the Law’s righteous standards. Again, they are under a performance-based acceptance system—and, like all sinners, they have failed miserably! Let us now reflect on Ezekiel chapter 39: “[23] And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. [24] According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.”

Thankfully, verse 29 offers a glimpse a hope:Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” God’s face will be seen again….

God’s Hidden Face #7

Monday, July 11, 2022

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 KJV).

How can dispensational Bible study deliver us from experiencing a lifetime of fear, doubt, frustration, discouragement, and even apostasy?

According to chapter 1, verse 1, the Prophet Isaiah’s Book concerns “Judah and Jerusalem.” Let us locate some helpful passages found in the immediate context of today’s Scripture. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins…. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:1,14). “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 59:20). Consequently, when we see “sins” in today’s Scripture, we know they are Israel’s wicked deeds.

The first 15 verses of Isaiah chapter 59—including today’s Scripture—delineate just why the LORD God is displeased with the nation Israel. Violence, murder, lies, error, injustice, and unrighteousness are destroying their society! Verses 12 and 13: “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee [God], and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.” Furthermore, chapters 40–48 are one gigantic section wherein the God of Israel voices His disapproval of their habitual idolatry!

Contemporary with Isaiah’s ministry, godly King Hezekiah counseled his Jewish people to reform: For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him(2 Chronicles 30:9). Having disobeyed the Law of Moses by forsaking the LORD for idols, the curses or punishments of the Law have fallen….

God’s Hidden Face #6

Sunday, July 10, 2022

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2 KJV).

How can dispensational Bible study deliver us from experiencing a lifetime of fear, doubt, frustration, discouragement, and even apostasy?

Dear friend, when considering any passage of Scripture, we should always (!) pose three simple questions to establish three critical facts. Firstly, who is the man the Holy Spirit has employed as the writer/speaker? This is usually found in the opening verse of the particular Book. Secondly, to whom is that Book written? Again, the answer can often be located in the initial verses of the Book. Lastly, what has been written? Alas, most Bible readers skip to that third question. By doing so, they isolate verses from contexts. Unless we notice the limited scope of the verse, God’s Word becomes meaningless and vexing to the soul that had hoped to gain spiritual light and understanding.

Recall Jesus’ temptations in Matthew 4:5-7 and Luke 4:9-12. Carefully read Satan’s “quotation” of the Hebrew Bible. “…[F]or it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). “For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Luke 4:10,11). Now, here is what was actually written in Psalm 91:11,12: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

Notwithstanding Satan’s additions and omissions, his “bible” application was shoddy to say the least. To the Devil, Psalm 91 (or any other Scripture, for that matter) could be “named and claimed” and haphazardly used in any and every situation. In fact, he wrongly assumed Jesus was the audience of Psalm 91. To paraphrase, “Jesus, jump from the Temple roof because the Bible says God’s angels will protect You!”This sloppiness characterizes most modern “Bible study” too….