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….

Graduation to Degradation

Thursday, July 28, 2022

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:19-21 KJV).

Famed Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546) said: “I am much afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates to Hell, unless they diligently labor to explain the Holy Scriptures and to engrave them upon the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution where men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.” Dear friends, that concern 500 years ago is just as real today!

Many of the world’s most celebrated “institutions of higher learning” were originally founded as Bible schools. Of course, their anti-Christian faculty and graduates make them unrecognizable today. What happened? So as to maintain “prestige” before the unsaved public, these universities began to cease occupying themselves with the Word of God. After all, who is willing to spend all that time and money learning “narrowmindedness?” The curriculum had to be broadened—changed to be more accommodating of alternative worldviews—if enrollment, revenue, and secular praise are to be high! As the decades passed, the “scholarly” (human-wisdom-worshipping) crowd assumed leadership positions. Students who graduated became teachers themselves. The Scriptures were no longer reigning paramount or supreme. Other belief systems were presented in the classrooms with equal conviction. Eventually, the Bible became “just another Book” in their eyes.

Our human flesh (sin) always wants to be in the “driver’s seat,” running our lives, churches, schools, and everything else. If we do not have a clear, intelligent understanding of what the Holy Spirit is doing today, we do not have a prayer in the world of ever glorifying the God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God of Christianity. We had better head over to the Lord Jesus Christ’s words through the Apostle Paul, Romans through Philemon!

They Hear Not

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31 KJV).

Neither will they be persuaded….

Having died in his trespasses and sins, the rich man is suffering torment in the flames of Hell. Although deceased, he has retained his memories, recalling details of his former life on Earth: “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father [Abraham], that thou wouldest send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (verses 27-29). Abraham, valuing the Bible, corrected the rich man. If they wanted to avoid Hellfire, those brethren did not need to hear from a resurrected Lazarus: rather, they should pay attention to and believe the Hebrew Scriptures, the Divine revelation they already possessed.

Nonetheless, the rich man disagrees: “And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent” (verse 30). Abraham rejoins with today’s Scripture: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” No matter how spectacular a miracle of God is, if the observer has failed to believe the Biblical truth underlying the work, the miracle will be dismissed as non-miraculous. Why would these five brethren believe Lazarus’ preaching—even if he did come back from the dead to speak to them? Lazarus would simply repeat what the Hebrew Bible taught: in other words, it would be the same revelation they (like their rich brother) had previously rejected. The problem lies in the heart, not the evidence.

If a celebrity were to trust Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour, colleagues would be just as eager to believe that testimony as they would be enthusiastic to trust the Scriptures undergirding that witness. Even if lost people could return from Hell and warn their family members on Earth, there would still be unbelief (the same rejection of the Scriptural truths that advise about that awful place of eternal judgment).

NOTE: Dear saints, I commemorate 16 years of writing ministry today!

Those Who Want to Hear

Monday, June 27, 2022

“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:13-15 KJV).

Do we want to hear and believe the truth? Or, are we like these from Christ’s earthly ministry?

Over 250 years ago, a hardened Bible-hater went to see—but not hear—a famous preacher addressing a large crowd outdoors. The unbeliever climbed a tree to have a good view of the service. Placing his fingers into both ears, he started watching the minister. Suddenly, a fly landed on the skeptic’s nose. Though he repeatedly shook his head to drive away the fly, the pest refused to leave him alone. At the precise moment he removed his finger from his ear to brush the fly away, he heard the preacher citing Matthew 11:15: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The minister bellowed the pitiful fact that so many souls continually refuse to listen to and believe the Gospel. Moments later, the Bible-hater heard about Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary, and trusted it for salvation from his sins!

It is commonly asked, “What will happen to those who have not heard about Jesus?” A more thought-provoking inquiry is, “What will happen to those who do not want to hear about Jesus?” Excuses aside, we do not know what they know or do not know, or what they have heard or have not heard—but we do know what we know and we do know what we have heard. Friends, may we be satisfied with being concerned with our responsibility of faith, and be willing to let the Lord take care of those others. Remember, no matter what, all are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain ‘of late’ in John 11:8?

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 30, 2022

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘in array’ mean?” and “What does ‘environ’ mean?

Labour for the More Important Meat #5

Thursday, May 26, 2022

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26,27 KJV).

Where is our interest—in “the meat which perisheth” or in “that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?”

Dear friends, though spoken and written 20 centuries ago, today’s Scripture is not “dead history.” It is just as true then as it is now. Human nature has not changed one whit. The God of the Bible is still treated like He is “Santa Claus.” Multimillions beg Him for a promotion or bonus at work, a larger home, a spouse and kids, a new vehicle, a safe journey, a miracle healing, and countless other temporary material blessings.

How many of these precious souls have ever stopped to think these sobering words?! “My, oh my, how I fear that I am dead in my trespasses and sins, and, having offended the holy, righteous Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, I am on my way to an everlasting Devil’s Hell! I had better look to Jesus Christ and believe on Him, lest my eternal soul be lost forever! He can supply me with eternal life, something infinitesimally more important than all these lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and the pride of life!”

Indeed, we should not reduce the mighty God of the Bible to a mere genie in a bottle—even if countless “Christians” have already done it and still do it. The greatest work the Lord Jesus Christ could ever do for us, the most valuable gift He could ever give us, He gave it (His very life!) 2,000 years ago. He died for our sins, shedding His sinless blood, He was buried, and He resurrected victoriously on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). We need to trust Him alone as our personal Saviour, before it is eternally too late. In the grand scheme of things, nothing in this world really matters—so, why do we act like it does?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain ‘reel to and fro’ in Isaiah 24:20?