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….

Believing Unbelievers #4

Saturday, March 26, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

Imagine being in today’s Scripture. To watch the Lord heal the sick, cast out devils, and do other mighty miracles would have truly been a sight to behold! It is beyond our comprehension. Yet, He was not seeking to entertain anyone—and He knew who was present just for amusement, to experience a spiritual high or adrenaline rush.

Consider modern Christendom. We notice many people walking aisles, making professions of faith, kneeling and bawling uncontrollably at “altars,” dancing and lifting hands to “praise and worship” music, packing stadium “sanctuaries,” sitting in confessional booths, being water baptized, reciting the “sinner’s prayer,” teaching Sunday School classes, preaching fervent sermons, knocking on doors, passing out tracts and Bibles, joining faculties of prestigious seminaries, sitting on Bible translation committees, talking about “Jesus” and “the Holy Ghost,” writing “Christian” study “aids,” memorizing creeds and confessions, organizing missions trips, travelling and setting up “healing tents,” and a host of other activities. The average person cannot help but remark, “Look at all these ‘Christians!’”

One brother in Christ observed: “God did not give the Scriptures for the purpose of scholarly intellectual exercise.” Yet, as he pointed out, innumerable people have used them—are using them—for just that. Textual critics study Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic. They pore over ancient manuscripts, teach theology and church history classes, and debate “Christian” philosophy, but is there any personal heart faith in the Bible itself? How many of them are actually Bible-believing Christians? Who are members of the Church the Body of Christ, and who are simply members of manmade denominations? Do they know what the Gospel of Grace even is? Could they show us verses for victorious Christian living?

Intellectual assent is no substitute for heart faith….

Bible Q&A #935: “What are ‘victuals?’

Orange, You Protestant (?)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5 KJV).

Well, today is Saint Patrick’s Day. People of Irish descent celebrate their culture by hosting parades, parties, dances, and the like (resembling raucous Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday!). Green articles, especially clothing and decorations, are prominent. Should we as Bible-believing Christians wear green on this day, March 17?

While I am partly Irish through my mother (and possibly my father), I am predominantly French by blood. I have never actually celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day as an Irishman though. Many years back, I “wore green” as an ignorant Protestant. Then, I did research!

Who is the “Patrick” of Saint Patrick’s Day? One or two figures in church history are known by this name (one man may have been a fictional character). What we can say is that a Protestant missionary named Patrick conducted a ministry in Ireland back in the A.D. 400s. He converted many Irish people from paganism to Bible-believing Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church, claiming that Patrick was not Protestant, seems to have fabricated a “Patrick” to become one of its many “patron saints.”

Where does green come into the picture? Why is it a popular color today? Ireland’s flag, from left to right, consists of three vertical stripes—green, white, and orange. Very few understand that tripartite arrangement. Green represents Ireland’s Roman Catholic history whereas orange signifies its Protestant history. Situated in the middle is the color white, symbolizing the longing for peace and harmony between these two groups that have warred for centuries there.

What we can say as Bible believers is that we should not be aligning with or supporting Roman Catholicism within Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter). Protestantism is the Bible-believing position to take. Wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day is to advertise Bible ignorance—you exhibit yourself as a Roman Catholic or an uninformed Protestant. Instead, wear orange, and use that as an opportunity to educate and give inquirers the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

You may read our archived study: “Should Christians celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

A Life That Will Please

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

Arrayed in Hypocrisy

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27,28 KJV).

“Looks can be deceiving” is not only true during Halloweentime, but confirmed year-round within Christendom.

Today is Halloween, when children dress up and feign themselves to be creatures they are not. Likewise, many church leaders today wear “Christian” garbs, but their ministries do not bring the Lord Jesus Christ glory and honor. They promote their denomination, and seek to perpetuate it, rather than serve and exalt the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Bible manifests these who appear to be good, as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ exposed Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the nation in His day. In His Parable of the Tares, Matthew 13:24-30,37-43, Christ explained how just as He had sown good seed (wheat, believing Jews) in Israel, Satan had also sown tares/weeds (unbelieving Jews). Tares resemble wheat; unbelieving Jews resemble believing Jews. The unbelieving Pharisees and scribes, for instance, looked like God’s people (believing Israel). Judas Iscariot was another example of Satan’s tares—the apostles never realized who Judas really was until it was too late!

But Satan’s counterfeit believers are not confined to Israel’s program. Today, within local assemblies of the Body of Christ, there are people feigning themselves to be Christians: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Beloved, beware of the church leaders who are arrayed in hypocrisy, “and avoid them” (Romans 16:17b). If their teaching does not agree with the rightly divided King James Bible, you have no business as a child of God to be listening to them.

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our special study, “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

Separated!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 KJV).

Disgusted with local assemblies he has visited these last 30 years, a dear Christian brother voiced his frustration: “I am finished with churches!” In the future, such disgust just might cause him to embrace dispensational Bible study that he has bitterly opposed this past decade. Like an increasing number of church members from various denominations, he sees Christendom is hopelessly incorrigible.

To wholly purge every group of sectarian bias is impractical in this life; it will only be accomplished once Christ returns to deliver genuine believers (now in Heaven, thus no longer confused) and comes to punish unbelievers (Earth finally rid of false doctrine, pagan religion, philosophy). Until then, brethren, if we are to serve Jesus Christ, we must separate from organized religion (if we have not already done so). Denominations, sects, and cults are all polluted with man’s opinions to varying degrees. There is no perfect church, that we freely confess; rather, we seek a pure church.

If we cannot find a pure local church to attend, then we should start one ourselves in our home. The day is coming—and, whether we want to admit it or not, it is true—when the Christian church even in the United States of America will have to go “underground.” Governmental agencies will attack the most prominent groups: megachurches will be disbanded and shuttered, yet, that will not be detrimental, for sound Bible doctrine has survived without them anyway. What will remain is innumerable home grace churches, whose focus all along was sound teaching instead of formalism-upholding… institution-building… theological system-forming… edifice-constructing… social club-joining… bu$ine$$-managing.

Bible Q&As #854 and #855: “What does ‘brutish’ mean?” and “Is ‘should’ a mistranslation in Romans 6:4?

Confession Confusion #7

Sunday, June 27, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

Contrary to popular belief, 1 John 1:9 is not written to any believers—Messianic Jews (Israel’s Little Flock) or the Church the Body of Christ. It is a Gospel invitation to unsaved Israelites in the prophetic program. Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), never once taught in Romans through Philemon daily confession of sins was victorious Christian living. Whether Roman Catholic auricular confession to a priest, or Protestant confession directly to God, it is legalism (bastardized Judaism!) and not Christianity!

Through confession of sins, lost Israel expressed her understanding of the Law’s purpose: “We cannot be God’s people through our own efforts. Having been persistently idolatrous, we confess our violation of the righteous standards of the Law!” Once Israel sees that, she is delivered from all five courses of judgment (redeemed from the Old Covenant), Jesus Christ returns to ratify the New Covenant, and He founds God’s earthly kingdom promised to their father Abraham!

Brethren, we must “rightly divide the word of truth” concerning this and all other doctrines (2 Timothy 2:15). It is ever so important to distinguish between Law and Grace, Israel and the Body of Christ, prophecy and mystery, Earth and Heaven. Our relationship with God depends entirely on Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Either He took care of our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 1:14; Colossians 2:13; Colossians 3:13), or not! Having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God will not “impute” any trespasses unto us (Romans 4:6-8).

Christ’s shed blood cleanses us from all sin… all unrighteousness” only once, whether believing Israel or the Body of Christ (1 John 1:7,9). We have permanent, total, perpetual fellowship with God—regardless of our performance. Confession of sins merely repeats what Calvary already took care of! We have already declared our guilt and admitted our sin problem by trusting the fact Jesus died for our sins, so it makes no sense to keep bringing up the past. Christ paid for all our sins at Calvary; leave them there and mature in grace, brethren (Titus 2:11-15)! 🙂