Martin Collins, by way of introductory comments to his sermon-series on the history of the true Church, reminds us that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. God's people have an obligation to acquire, safeguard, and transmit the history of our fellowship to future generations. The Apostle John, as well as Jesus' brothers Jude and James, warned of interlopers taking over the flock from within, expelling true believers as heretics. The parabolic problem of the tares threatening the wheat has continued from the Apostolic Era. Even in our times, ravenous wolves, hating the weekly and annual Sabbaths, have expelled the true believers in the Worldwide Church of God, discarding God's Law, while ushering in practices of the lawless, satanically-ruled world. In His seven letters to the churches, Jesus Christ warns us to hold fast to true doctrine regardless of circumstances. Secular historians (e.g., Eusebius and Josephus) help us discover the identity of the small flock repeatedly rescued from apostasy. For example, Polycarp and Polycrates, disciples of the Apostle John, protected the church of Smyrna from heresy proffered by prelates of the Roman Church who advocated Easter over Passover and Sunday worship in place of the Sabbath. The Roman Church did not accept the canon of Scripture formulated by the Apostles until 485 A.D., and then only after it had "added to" Scripture by appending a collection of apocryphal works.
John Ritenbaugh explains that Protestant reformers by and large understood that there were two aspects—physical and spiritual—of creation. Humans have no part in creating themselves in the image of God in either aspect; God does the shaping and molding. In the spiritual aspect, God alone is responsible for individually calling each person; He also play the dominant role each person's sanctification process. The calling which believers receive is conditional, requiring that each one must live by every word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3. God's called-out ones are responsible for yielding to God's shaping, allowing the Creator to purge out all imperfections. The Father and His son understand the need to rigorously prepare Their people so that each one will fill a specific position in Their master plan. God-designed personalities, having His character, will populate God's family, not self-made personalities created by human will. In faith, we absolutely must yield to Him as He creates "designer personalities" according to His purposes.
Richard Ritenbaugh discusses the explosive interview concerning the reality of hell conducted by Eugenio Scalfari, a longtime atheist friend of Pope Francis. According to Scalfari, Pope Francis maintains that hell does not exist. In stating that condemned souls just "disappear," the Pope denies the 2000-year-old Roman Catholic doctrines about an ever-burning hell and the immortality of the soul. Though Vatican representatives responded by accusing Scalfari of taking some artistic license with the Pope's phraseology, Vincent Nichols, the highest ranking Catholic in the UK, agrees that the image of an ever-burning hell derives more from iconography than from biblical sources. Much of Roman Catholic doctrine is a rickety house of cards, in danger of collapsing as one carefully explores the pathetically feeble doctrines of the immortal soul and an ever-burning hell. For this reason, the Church has historically protected this fragile edifice by brute force (such as the Inquisition). When the searchlight of reason endangers Catholic doctrine, history teaches us to expect a backlash from conservative Catholics.
In the professing-Christian world, an insidious, false belief exists: that the God of the Old Testament was a cruel, angry God, while Jesus, the God of the New Testament, is kind and loving. Pat Higgins, using the Bible's own testimony, shows that nothing could be farther from the truth! In fact, Scripture plainly shows that the same God has always communicated and interacted with humanity throughout its history.
John Ritenbaugh, reiterating that the reality of God is not a mathematical formula beyond the reach of garden-variety human reason and observation, warns us that God's reality is not the root of the human problem. Rather, the powerful pulls of our carnal nature, innately hostile to God's law, prevents us from believing Him or obeying Him. The deadliest enemy to our spiritual well-being is within us. God calls the weak and base of the world to put the intellectual and strong to shame. To provide a counterweight to the destructive carnal nature, God provided His Holy Spirit—as well as spiritual gifts—in order to enable His called-out ones to put to death their carnal natures, as they refocus their attention to things above, bringing about a life-giving fellowship with the Creator. God does not create character by fiat, but has ordained that His true children exercise their power of choice to build an intimate relationship with Him, a task not impossible, but not easy. God has providentially given us trials to build character, proving beyond a doubt that we believe Him and have a burning desire to be at one with Him. We exercise these spiritual gifts in order to kill our carnal nature, not to win salvation. Unlike the first Adam, who yielded to his carnal lusts, choosing to please himself, we must follow the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who always submitted to the will of the Father. All people are without excuse when it comes accepting God's existence. Refusal to believe or obey God puts blinders of foolishness on the ungodly, preventing them from knowing God. When one observes the consistently law-governed Creation, it is foolish to embrace atheism.
David Grabbe, mentioning the typical reaction of subscribers to statements against the trinity doctrine, reminds us that the great false church has had 1,600 years to falsely indoctrinate its congregation with a false explanation of the nature of God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit or the Comforter is Jesus Christ's mind dwelling in us, shaping our behavior, molding us into the mirror image of Jesus Christ. The reference to "walking in the spirit" in Micah 2:11 refers metaphorically to having a dominant attitude and behavior, adopting a lifestyle-trajectory toward walking in a false spirit or, conversely, walking in the spirit. Spiritual neglect weakens a child of God so that things of the flesh become more important. If we live by the flesh, we will ultimately die. If fleshly things become more important, we are on a trajectory toward death. God's called-out ones must exercise control, drawing on the power of God's Holy Spirit.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on Genesis 6:5, prior to the Flood, in which mankind's thoughts and intents were evil continually, warns us that a parallel time is on the horizon for those living today. Like our ancient ancestors, we share a habitation with Satan and his demons, evil beings who have been preparing for our demise for thousands of years. The hideous perversions (such as homosexuality and infanticide) did not arrive on the scene instantaneously, but the demonic world has been working to make them the cultural norm for thousands of years. Demons have fostered to the point of fury the ancient conflict between Ishmael and Isaac, and Jacob and Esau. These spirit beings chose to become demons into order to stop God's purpose. They have succeeded to erase all discussion of God out of the public schools by spreading the humanist agenda previously introduced into the universities by anti-God philosophers such as Marx, Darwin, and Nietzsche. John Dewey promulgated this 'progressive' doctrine into the public schools, where it has spread like leavening, fostering a whole generation of individuals lacking any knowledge of God at all. As God's called-out ones, we have entered (through baptism) the same Covenant God made with our forebears before they entered the Promised Land God has not removed the demonic influence which plagued our forebears, deeming it necessary for our spiritual growth. However, God has given us gifts our forebears never received, such as His Holy Spirit, thereby enabling us to advance in the face of massive enemy fire. We are marching to the beat of a different drummer from the rest of the world.
Martin Collins, pointing to the dazzling electronic and print replication of God's Holy Scriptures, moves the hands of the clock back to the Middle Ages, before the advent of printing, a time when it would take an industrious scribe more than ten months to finish transcribing one Bible—at a cost far above what the average worker could bear. During these dark times, the Waldensians translated the Bible into the vernacular from the Latin Vulgate. The Roman Catholic Church persecuted these 'heretics,' destroying their translations. Miraculously, each attempt to destroy the Scriptures resulted in the printers doubling their production for this sought-after document. Christ has always supplied the means to spread the Word. Printings of the Bible have exceeded 6 billion to date, making it the most widely printed and distributed Book on earth. Persecution of Christians, accompanied with attempts to destroy God's Word, has again reared its ugly head throughout the Middle East.
Mike Ford: In Part One, we saw that the New Testament authors say Jesus was crucified on a stauros, which is a pole or stake. However, the "traditional" cross is a stake with a cross-member ...
Mike Ford: Most of us have watched a baseball game. Chances are we have all seen a batter about to enter the batter's box make the sign of the cross. Or perhaps we are basketball fans. We have seen it there too ...
Richard Ritenbaugh, comparing the plain biblical account of Christ's resurrection occurring exactly three days and three nights after His burial with Christendom's miscalculation of one and one half days, claims the latter account did not derive from Scripture, but from rank paganism. This miscalculation results in Christendom's false teaching that Christ rose from the dead on Sunday morning, not at the last moments of the Sabbath, some twelve hours earlier. The world's churches have adopted the fertility symbols of chocolate Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, and the traditional Easter ham from pagan rituals pre-dating Christianity. The eating of pig-flesh supposedly honors Tammuz, the son-husband of the goddess Ishtar, who was killed by a wild boar. The Easter bonnet supposedly celebrates the cycle of fertility. If we honor Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the dead, serving as our Mediator and High-Priest, the trappings of rank paganism have no appeal, but are decidedly repulsive.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: As I hustled through an office park on my daily morning walk, a woman arriving for work responded to my “Good morning” with, “Merry Christmas!” I waved politely and walked on. ...
Kim Myers maintains that, while many people in the world likes some of God's laws, such as the proscriptions against murder and theft, they like to pick and choose when it comes to the rest, preferring a blend of their own preferences with some of God's laws added in. The penalties that result from breaking God's laws are sure and exacting, as we witness in homes in which adultery or fornication has taken place. Breaking any of God's laws is the height of stupidity. The experiences of those who have once committed to God's ways and then started to compromise have not been pleasant or successful. Young people, unfortunately, seem to be oblivious to painful cause-and-effect relationships. One does not conceal his foolishness in a vacuum, but it is on display for everyone to see. Our nation has felt the incremental effect of God's curses as it systematically replaces tenets of God's Law with foolish laws concocted from human reason. God's called-ones must not follow suit, deciding which of God's laws we keep, and which to discard. We must embrace the full counsel of God, trembling before His every Word. We want to have joy by living by every word that comes from His Mouth.
Martin Collins, reflecting on the ubiquitous symbol of 'Christendom,' namely the cross, adorning steeples and altars, worn as religious jewelry, reminds us that this symbol flourished centuries before Christ came on the scene, serving as an initial for Tammuz, the son of Semiramis, the prototype for the virgin Mary, worshiped and honored throughout the Middle East under various monikers. The pagan goddess Diana is depicted as having a cross over her head; the god Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, is adorned with crosses. The king of Nineveh also appears in pictures with the Maltese Cross. The cross did not enter 'Christendom' until the time of the Emperor Constantine in 325 AD, when he convened the Council of Nicaea, enforcing the display of the cross at all churches and private homes throughout the Empire. One finds it bizarre that an instrument of torture should receive worship. If Jesus had been killed by a shotgun, electric chair, gallows, or guillotine, would we feel compelled to wear these miniatures of these gruesome objects around our necks? There is much confusion as to the exact method of execution Jesus endured, whether on an upright stake (staros) or a plank across a tree, or something else. Hence, venerating the cross is totally unwarranted. Jesus Christ, not the instrument of His torture and death, should be the proper focus of our worship. God's true church has never used the cross as a symbol.
Mike Ford, focusing on the Roman Catholic practice of eating fish on Friday as a form of penance commemorating Christ's supposed death on 'Good' Friday, observes that the practice continues unabated as it began in the 13th Century though other acts of penance may take its place since Vatican II, except for the 40 days of Lent, when eating fish on Friday is mandatory for devout Roman Catholics. Lent supposedly represents the 40 days Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Those who observe Lent use this time for penance, repentance, self-examination, fasting, and reflection, clearly an attempt to counterfeit certain aspects of God's Holy Days. This man-made holiday, derived from the Babylonian feast of Tammuz, allegedly pays for our sins and prepares for the "kingdom to come." Ancient Egypt celebrated a 40 day fast in honor of Osiris. Lent, never observed by the early Church, had its debut in 'Christendom" at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD. Deluded or befuddled apologists advocating the observance of a holiday having a Pagan origin contend that if Christ did not specifically warn us not to keep it, we are absolutely free to keep it, totally at variance with Deuteronomy 12:32. Satan dresses his days up with color, emotions, and sex, intending to trap the gullible and unwary. As God's called-out ones, we dare not be conformed with the traditions of this world, practicing counterfeits of God's Holy Days, crafted by Satan.
John Ritenbaugh, reiterating that Satan has indeed deceived the entire world, maintains that not only has Satan made exponential progress enslaving people with 'progressive' socialist leadership, but he has infiltrated the ranks of millions of nominal Christians, infecting them with destructive, pathogenic immorality, causing our current society to resemble the time of Noah immediately prior to the Flood. Though Satan has been working feverishly for thousands of years, the most dramatic erosion of spiritual and moral values has occurred in the last 70 years. Recently, the Pew Research Center, conducting a 6-year poll measuring 'Christian' acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle, demonstrated wholesale acceptance of this aberration in all major denominations, with the largest acceptance rate appearing among Roman Catholics, and the lowest rate among Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. The percentage of increases represent millions and millions of adherents, indicating that for many 'Christians' God's Holy Law is not taken very seriously. Consequently, God's wall of protection has been removed from modern Israel.
Mike Ford, observing that we are being carpet-bombed by Christmas tunes this time of the year, reflects that a scarcity of information exists in the literature of the Church of the Great God about the pagan origin of the event adjacent to Saturnalia festival—New Year’s Eve. An article appeared in the 1964 Plain Truth magazine, penned by William H. Ellis, titled The Plain Truth About NEW YEAR'S EVE!, drawing on the primary source 4,000 Years of Christmas, authored by Episcopal priest Earl Count who, although recognizing the pagan origins of the mid-winter fire festivals, embraces these syncretized customs as “Christian” customs, morphed from pagan to Christian under the watchful care of the Church Fathers. Pope Gregory, a rabid anti-Semite, proclaimed January 1, 1578 as the day Judaism allegedly ended and Christianity begun, allowing taxation and confiscating of Jewish property and eventually death to Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism. Pope Sylvester, whose sainthood day is commemorated on December 31, urged that the New Year be brought in by killing Jews. New Year’s celebrations often involve drunkenness, debauchery, and adultery. From these customs and traditions of the world, rooted in the Babylonian system, we have been commanded to extricate ourselves.
John Ritenbaugh, citing Samuel Blumenfeld's and Alex Newman's book Crimes of the Educators, a book which takes educator-philosopher to task for systematically dumbing down American education, transforming this nation's values and its system of government, criticizes these educator-philosophers for replacing God-centered ideals with 'progressive,' anti-God, secular humanist, socialistic values. The centers of American Higher education, Harvard and Yale, originally established as Puritan and Congregationalist theological seminaries, have become incubators of virulent atheism. Likewise the venerable European universities, originally established as extensions of the Roman Catholic Church, became more focused on controlling, promoting and extending government through the establishment of the 'holy' Roman Empire rather than promoting faith. Indeed, apostate educator philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas sought to bifurcate human reason from the protection of God's superior knowledge, compartmentalizing and isolating secular from sacred knowledge.
Martin Collins, reiterating that St. Valentine's Day is a shameless syncretism, an attempt to blend pagan rites with Christian observances, asserts that the practice started as a lewd, sensual festival in Rome. Lupercalia is an archaic rite connected with fertility, honoring Venus, the goddess of sexual love. The Roman Catholic Church, in an effort to attract pagan converts, began to attach 'Christian' significance, claiming that the purification of Mary occurred on February 14th. Saint Valentine of Rome was a priest imprisoned for performing weddings for Christian soldiers who had been forbidden to marry by the government of Rome. Protestants, who did not care for the worship of saints, were nevertheless pleased to blend the trappings of pagan culture with 'Christian' tradition. Sadly, every pagan rite practiced has been adopted and allegedly 'sanctified' by giving it religious significance, despite God's warning in Deuteronomy 12 not to mix the worship of God with pagan customs, lest one participate in demon worship.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the cumulative effects of Satan's long-term miseducation project, affirms that humanism is a powerful, fully functioning religion, responsible for the 'normalization' of abortion and other perversions, and a white-hot hostility to God and His sovereignty. Advances in technology, such as the Gutenberg press in 1439 to the internet in 1969, have been mixed blessings and curses, used for both good and evil. Gutenberg's press, instrumental in augmenting the impact of the Protestant Reformation, made the mass, ubiquitous distribution of the Bible possible throughout the entire world. The 17th century could be said to be the fountainhead of exponential communication progress, turning the oppressive ecclesiastical and the stultifying feudal world upside down, leading to the immigration of the Israelitish peoples to the western hemisphere, often in an effort to safeguard a base for religious liberty. At the same time, Satan, aware of his limited time to destroy, has been using the same advances in technology, advancing his agenda to neutralize religious liberty, replacing it with a so-called progressive, humanistic agenda attempting to destroy God's sovereignty and marginalize or destroy God's called-out ones.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon the developments currently taking place in Europe and the United States, asserts that Satan's fingerprints are all over the emerging New World Order, an entity that was conceived around AD 1700. The size of this conspiracy is immense, far beyond the capacity of any human being or human organization to comprehend or execute. People who are Satan's pawns in this conspiracy have no inkling that they are being manipulated. The religion of secular humanism binds this whole multinational, multicultural enterprise together. Hatred for God's Law and lust for wealth and power draw all these strange bedfellows together. The liberal-progressive mindset considers itself elite and superior to all other philosophies and religions. For the past several hundred years, secular humanist educators, steeped in the cunning and craftiness of the same serpent who corrupted the mindset of our original parents, have similarly advanced a crass material, secular education, throwing the thinking processes of our citizenry into confusion, debasing morality and ethics, and producing a hopelessly reprobate way of thinking and acting.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that Satan, attempting to once again usurp God's power and sovereignty, has been engineering a conspiratorial plan. He has carefully modeled it after God's propensity to work through families, working with familial traits, skills, and temperaments, using his present limited authority as ruler of this age and its cosmos. It appears that Satan picked up the pace of his plans in the 1700s, after the Protestant Reformation returned some respect toward the Bible and the moral standards reflected from its teachings. A counter-reformation was launched by the Jesuits, an order from which Pope Francis has emerged. In the meantime, humanistic leaders have been weaning people away from high moral standards to accept the baseness and depravity of the present culture. It has taken generations of time to implement this reprobate morality, eroding belief in God, destroying the family, and fostering excessive corruption in government and society.
Martin Collins alerts us to a plethora of political moves during 2014 initiated by European socialist labor unions and backed by interfaith churches, designed to enforce Sunday as the common universal week day of rest. This initiative could well lead to persecution of those who desire to keep God's seventh day Sabbath. Political parties, socialist trade unions, academicians, environmentalists, and activists for 'social justice' seem to be ganging up ostensibly for protecting society and the environment, but with the real sinister intention of getting rid of God's Sabbath. God's called-out ones need to realize that everything will work out for good for those who love God.
David C. Grabbe: In the Christian era, the Sabbath has been a point of controversy since at least the fourth century AD, when the Roman Catholic Church assumed the authority to change the day of worship from the seventh day to the first. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Despite the continuing secularization of our society, people remain fascinated and curious about the historical basis for the life of Jesus Christ. ...
Most of Christianity, both presently and historically, believes firmly in the Trinity as the structure of the Godhead, but a slim minority holds to a much older belief, one that hearkens back to the earliest Christians. David Maas analyzes some of the proofs offered in support of this doctrine and finds them lacking.
On Monday of this week, February 11, 2013, the world was shocked to learn that Pope Benedict XVI had announced his resignation from the papacy, effective February 28. ...
A rare event in Vatican history occurred when Pope Benedict XVI resigned his office due to deteriorating health. He has been succeeded by an Argentinian, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who took the papal name of Francis. Richard Ritenbaugh compares the two popes' doctrinal positions and styles of leadership.
Martin Collins, initially focusing on the commission of God's prophets as God's watchmen and messengers, switches his emphasis to the false prophets, those promoting the broad way, giving people what they want to hear. In the Roman Catholic Church, every month of the year was at one time a birth month of Christ. Finally, the Pagan date for the rebirth of the sun, or Saturnalia, was selected to resolve the hopelessly confused issue. Prophets, who falsely speak in God's name, prophesying lies, are particularly odious to God Almighty, causing people to go into captivity. The false prophets lead people away from God's way of life, causing them to forget His name, replacing God's truth with human tradition, telling people what they want to hear. Penalties were severe in Deuteronomy 13:1-5, proscribing the death penalty for falsehood. Christ warned against false prophets in the Sermon on the Mount and the Olivet prophecy, both from outside and inside the church, promising liberty by preaching against the Law of God. Even though the false prophets and teachers are subtle, they are easy to identify if one examines the fruit. The law of biogenesis demonstrates that good fruit cannot come from a bad tree. Even though they may be persuasive and gentle, promising liberty, they deliver depression and discouragement, and like wolves, desire to tear the flock to shreds.
Richard Ritenbaugh, focusing on Peter's proclamation that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, recognizes that after this awesome insight, Jesus realized that He could begin building His church. Sadly, the church that publically appeared in the second century was hopelessly corrupt, but appropriated the name 'Christian.' The Roman Catholic church presumed to speak for Christianity, attempting to control political and religious constituencies. The medieval (Roman Catholic) church was awash in sexual sins, as well as sins of avarice. The custodians of the 'keys to the kingdom' wielded their power to bind and loose for carte blanche control, using tithes, papal fees, papal taxes, fiefdoms, the threat of excommunication, and the selling of indulgences to increase the revenue of the church and promote tyrannical political power over secular domains. This massive, corrupt monolith was not the small flock that Jesus Christ founded, a group called and empowered by God's Holy Spirit, the same power that gave Peter the insight to recognize Christ's true office. Although Peter was given responsibilities of leadership, as connoted from the rock imagery or symbolism, he was not granted the post of 'vicar of Christ.' Peter would be considered first of the lively stones selected for His Temple. The apostles are indeed part of the foundation and Jesus Christ is the Corner Stone. Peter gets credit for being the first stone selected for the foundation that would also include us as part of the living stones. The 'keys of the kingdom' simply refers to the office of steward or caretaker to maintain the physical operations of the church, facilitating access to believers and protecting the sanctity from scoffers and detractors. Binding and loosing refers to powers of judgment, based on what God has already allowed through the apparent and manifest principles already revealed by the Scriptures.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: While most professing Christians consider the Passover to be a Jewish festival, it should also be a sacred observance for all Christians. The apostle Paul writes to the predominantly Gentile church in Corinth ...
George Santayana's famous quotation—"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it"—applies equally well to the church of God. Richard Ritenbaugh compares the history of the early church with the events and trends being exhibited in the modern church of God. Will today's church follow the disastrous example of early second-century Christianity?
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that Elohim is a plural noun indicating more than one personality. Elohim could be considered a genus—a God-kind, parallel to human-kind, animal-kind, etc. Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, is the beginning of the spiritual kind. The creation has switched from physical to spiritual as God reproduces His kind. God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate personalities, with the Father having pre-eminence. The Bible contains no shred of evidence to substantiate a third person in the God family, let alone a third co-equal being in a closed trinity. The Holy Spirit as a person did not enter the Roman Catholic Church until well into the 4th century. The doctrine was developed out of speculation, deduction, and human reason, ignoring and displacing scriptural evidence. The trinity doctrine is read into, rather than read out of the, scripture. The Holy Spirit has been designated as the "power of God" in the angels' announcement to Mary. According to the scripture, people will be immersed in the Holy Spirit, and it will be poured out on people, it will fall in people, it will fill a room, etc. In the salutations in the epistles from Paul, James, and Peter, the Holy Spirit is never mentioned as a personality or a part of the God family, and never mentioned in the chain of command. In Psalm 139, the Holy Spirit was designated as the power of God, the means through which He accomplishes His will, HIS very spirit! The communion of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to have fellowship with God and Jesus Christ, and it provides an invisible communication network to connect all of Christ's body simultaneously. When one looks at the figurative applications of the Holy Spirit (metaphor, simile, imagery, personification, anthropomorphism), the idea of the Holy Spirit as a person becomes increasingly absurd.
John Ritenbaugh observes that for over 50 years the Worldwide Church of God had no confusion about the nature of God, but in 1993, with the publication of the "God is..." booklet, the understanding of God as a family was surreptitiously replaced by the trinity doctrine, designated by the Roman Catholic Church as the most important doctrine in Christendom. The true understanding of the concept of Elohim thoroughly dismantles the entire trinity argument. What people worship is important to the quality of life within a nation, determining the ethics, art, fashions, and their vision for the future. As Emerson avers, we become what we worship. Unfortunately, there are many gods which compete for the loyalty we owe to the Almighty God, the God over all. God revealed Himself to Israel, but Israel has forsaken the legitimate knowledge of His nature, turning instead to vain Christological speculation. As late as 325 (at the Nicean conclave), the Catholic church could not find consensus with the trinity doctrine; not until more than 126 years later, in 451 AD, before the doctrine became accepted, as the people who would not accept it died off. Elohim wanted us to know that more than one personality (working in unity and harmony) was responsible for the creation of man. Jesus declared that the Son of Man came to reveal the Father of the spiritual creation, revealing how mankind can become children of God. God is recreating or reproducing Himself; we are being prepared to become a part of Elohim. To insert a third co-equal personality in the Godhead denies our opportunity for membership in the God family, and denies Christ's insistence that the Father is greater than He.
With all the abuse cases casting aspersions on Catholic priests—and some are indeed guilty of the charges against them—many people believe that the Roman Catholic Church is in decline and that it will never regain its moral authority. Richard Ritenbaugh argues that, instead, Pope Benedict XVI will use this crisis to help his Church emerge even stronger on the other side.
Many prophecy watchers have made their guesses about who the Two Witness of Revelation 11 are, but not all of their ideas have solid, biblical foundations. Charles Whitaker tackles a common view among interpreters, explaining that Scripture precludes it on very solid grounds.
John W. Ritenbaugh: Part One, published several weeks ago, ever so briefly covered one aspect of why there are so many religions. ...
Pope Benedict XVI recently issued a new encyclical in which he called for a strong "world political authority" to tackle the mounting global problems. Richard Ritenbaugh analyzes his statement in context, suggesting that the Catholic Pontiff had other aims than what most pundits assumed.
At creation, God sanctified only one day, the seventh, as a day of rest. At Sinai, He once again sanctified it as a holy day, connecting it with creation and freedom. John Ritenbaugh expands on these concepts, showing that God wants us to keep the Sabbath to support our continuing spiritual creation and freedom.
David C. Grabbe: Today's sunset marks the beginning of All Hallow's Even, better known as Halloween, the beginning of All Hallows (or Saints') Day. ...
We frequently use words and phrases whose meanings and origins are unknown to us. What is behind the phrase "Devil's Advocate"? Should Christians be engaged in taking the wicked one's side in anything?
Jesus had served the people all day, but that evening, when He entered Simon Peter's house, He found He had one more miracle to perform. Martin Collins dissects the healing of Peter's wife's mother, showing that it contains a pointed lesson about gratitude and service.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that if Jesus Christ is not who He said He is, He would be the most successful charlatan in the history of the world. The understanding that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament has always been challenged. God's called-out ones do not have pre-eminence in intellectual prowess, but God has made the truths of the Bible clear through the Holy Spirit, making available the spiritual gifts of faith and understanding, enabling us to decipher the mysteries of the Bible. Jesus' point of origin (having been with the Father and coming down from heaven) gives Him credibility that Moses or any other religious leader could never have. The Son (having inhabited eternity with the Father as a member of the God-kind) was also known as the Word, by whom the world was created. In this capacity, He has always interfaced between mankind and the Father, having primacy as our Lord, Master, and Ruler of creation.
It is a wonderful thing that God has called us out of this world and paid the penalty for our sins, but what happens next? After making the covenant with God, how does a person avoid backsliding as so many biblical examples show? John Ritenbaugh answers these questions by explaining what seeking God is really all about.
Pope Benedict XVI's statement regarding the historic Islamic practice of conversion at the edge of a sword ironically drew swift and violent reaction from the Muslim world. Knowing that the Vatican has a practiced hand in international relations, Richard Ritenbaugh wonders what the Pope's motives were in making such an obviously inflammatory comment.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on Psalm 50:21-22, states that the new paradigm or outcome-based religion has reconfigured God into something that He is not, something far inferior to God's nature, leading to degenerate behavior on the part of the worshiper, promoting the shameless "feel good" indulgence of the flesh, exalting carnality and human nature while shamelessly rejecting God's truth. Outcome based religion promotes death because it rejects God's correction. Its thinking is that God is altogether like us. Outcome based religion exalts numerical growth and feeling good over the truth of God, promoting the use of modern psychology and general systems theories over biblical doctrine. This religion, like historical Gnosticism, uses familiar religious terminology, but with totally different meanings or points of reference. The foundational sin of the purpose driven church is idolatry, rejecting any doctrine which threatens their growth or unity. This practice seems right to them, but we must remember that Satan's modus operandi is based on deception. Much of the thrust of their approach is to appeal to feelings. Satan‚s pattern of destruction consists of infiltration from within and distraction from without.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: A trip to the local Christian bookstore to buy a new Bible often turns into a dizzying experience once dozens of different translations confront the shopper. ...
The recently elected Pope Benedict XVI has already set out sweeping goals for his pontificate. Richard Ritenbaugh wonders, however, how much this German pope will be able to accomplish—and whether his efforts will incite turmoil in Europe.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Church of the Great God is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and as such, it is considered to be located in America's Bible Belt. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: The death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI made the Catholic Church—and the Catholic faith—front-page news around the globe. ...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Last week's leading news story dealt with Pope John Paul II's illness, described as a relapse of a viral infection that was making it difficult for him to breathe. ...
The Europe of the past few decades has honestly earned the label of "that vast plain of irreligion." What caused its secularization? David Grabbe shows that religion is to blame.
World news, events, and trends from the standpoint of biblical prophecy for November 2004: "Ich Bin Heide"
Since God has authorized no day other than the Sabbath, John Ritenbaugh observes that Sunday worship is a pagan deviation, perpetuated by Hellenistic Gnosticism, a multi-faceted movement that despises Yahweh, the Sabbath, and God's laws. Though Constantine enforced Sunday-keeping (the counterfeit Sabbath) on Western culture, the ugly tentacles of Gnosticism had already surfaced in Paul's warning to the Colossians about "rudiments of the world," angel worship (actually demon worship), and "white" magic. Gnostics have incorporated Neo-Platonic notions of real (supposedly appearing in the Pleroma) and corporeal (corrupt, earthly, physical forms) to counterfeit the shadow and reality concept as described by Paul. Christ, not angels, is the reality and the fullness of God. Antinomianism, Dispensationalism, eternal security, and irresistible grace—all assimilated into evangelical Protestantism—have all derived from Hellenistic Gnosticism.
John Ritenbaugh, repeating his caution about uncritically reading certain theological books and commentaries, warns that deception will abound exponentially in the Information Age. The elect are not immune to antinomian deception, including the doctrine of eternal security, the total depravity of man, unconditional love, irresistible grace, and the "once saved always saved" mentality. These pernicious, surreptitious teachings are designed to remove personal guilt and the necessity for personal responsibility or works (anathema to antinomian, "rule-hating," syncretistic, evangelical teaching), casting aside the law of God and substituting personal standards. Without a demonstration of works (prompted and empowered by God's Holy Spirit), it will be impossible for God to judge whether we will actively adhere to His standards, steadfastly walking in the footsteps of Christ. Finally, the amazing history of the rejection of the Sabbath and the embracing of Sunday is explained.
Most of us are living in the midst of the end-time manifestation of Babylon the Great. We can resist its influence if we understand what makes it so attractive to human nature. John Ritenbaugh explains what makes the Mystery Woman tick and why God judges her so severely.
John Ritenbaugh, exploring the invasion of the early apostolic church by Gnostics(interlopers who savagely denigrated the "enslavement to Yahweh, His Law, and the Jewish Sabbath," replacing it with 'enlightened' Greek philosophy- the immortality of the soul, eternal security, irresistible grace, and predestination) traces its development within mainstream 'Christianity.' An early source of Gnostic thought into mainstream 'Christianity' was Augustine, originally saturated in Manichean religion, later transferring Gnostic thought into the Catholic Church. The Protestant reformers Luther and Calvin, both heavily influenced by Augustine, taught the doctrines of eternal security, irresistible grace, and predestination. Modern evangelical leaders, continuing in this Gnostic tradition, promulgate "once saved always saved" and "unconditional love" — tolerating the most hideous abominable sins - allowing 'Christ's blood' to give license to this lawless behavior.
Who is the Woman of Revelation 17 and 18? John Ritenbaugh explains that this fallen Woman displays no religious characteristics but instead acts as a city or nation involved in the politics, economics, and culture of its time. What nation fits the symbolism?
News, events, and trends from the perspective of biblical prophecy for March-April 2004. "European Religious Revival?"; "The Vatican's Islam Dilemma"
David C. Grabbe: Hardly a day goes by without a major newspaper or newswire keeping us up-to-date on the latest dirt in the "Catholic clergy abuse scandal." With such media saturation it is easy to see why the general populace has such a negative opinion of Catholic priests. Through thick and thin, the media hangs on, determined to bring every gory detail to the fore. It is time we stopped to consider why, and take a look at some of the statistics surrounding this issue. ...
For centuries across Europe, Catholicism taught that the Jews were guilty of deicide—the murder of Jesus Christ. At various times in its history, the Church felt no compunction to ghettoize the Jews, ostracize them, confiscate their goods, and murder them. Charles Whitaker shows how false teaching like this can lead to horrible results.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: An anonymous quotation making the rounds of the Internet this year runs, "Christmas is weird. What other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?" Though it may induce a chuckle from its readers, most people either miss or ignore the larger point: Christmas is a bundle of contradictions, inanities, and outright lies. ...
The Catholic Church places great importance on Mary—to the point that many Catholics, both lay and clergy, are pushing for Mary to be recognized as "Co-Redemptrix"! David Grabbe points out that the Bible makes no such claims for her. She may be "blessed among women," but she is in no way to be deified!
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the writings of Malachi Martin, suggests that as the Catholic College of Cardinals have a large number of prudent agnostics within their ranks, we also have a great many fence sitters within the church of God, demonstrating an alarming deficit of faith. In times of intense stress and uncertainty, many become extremely apathetic, unwilling to persevere, unwilling to work at overcoming. We are on the threshold of the greatest period of testing ever to come upon mankind. We need to be developing a sense of internal hope and faith through the motivating power of God's Holy Spirit, striving to keep our focus on our calling (God sought us out purposefully), passionately striving for goodness. The apostle Peter wrote an entire epistle (I Peter) on the subject of hope—stressing that what we really need, God will not hold back—including shaping trials. Thankfully, we are not left without resources.
News, events, and trends in light of Bible prophecy for September-October 2003:
"Southern Christianity in Motion"; "Roman Catholicism and Homosexuality"; and "AIDS Devastation."
News, events, and trends focusing on biblical prophecy for February 2003.
Mike Ford asserts that the major religious festivals—Easter, Halloween, All Souls' Day, Christmas—are all derived from sex, fertility, and sun worship. Pornographic pictures and condoms in cemeteries currently punctuate Catholic ritual (mixed with Voodoo) in Haiti. Christmas derives from the incestuous relationship of Semiramis and Nimrod, the prototype for the Catholic mother (Semiramis, Isis, Astarte, Venus) and child (Adonis, Baal, Tammuz, Horus). Ezekiel 8 depicts blasphemous sun—"son"—worship, which is unabashedly practiced in worldly "Christendom."
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, recently gave a speech at the National Religious Broadcasters' annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee. In the last half of his message, he spurred the members of his audience to use their political influence to stem and reverse the declining cultural tide of this nation...
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: For the past several weeks, the nation has been wringing its collective hands over the pedophilia scandal among Catholic priests. ...
John Ritenbaugh warns that keeping the right days on the calendar is no guarantee of attaining a right relationship with God. How and why a person keeps the Sabbath determines whether this test commandment is really a sign between God and His people or an idolatrous act of futility. The Sabbath could metaphorically represent a date between God and His affianced bride, a special 24-hour time to become more intimately acquainted, the actual courtship stage before marriage. Letting worldly concerns enter the Sabbath is like committing adultery or flirting with other lovers. When we take time to know God, we become refreshed, strengthened, and actually liberated from worldly entanglements.
Halloween has seen a recent surge in popularity, now ranking second only to Christmas in retail sales. There is no doubt, however, that Halloween should never be celebrated by true Christians. Not only is it pagan in origin and practice, but it also promotes self-indulgence, deception, and other ungodly behaviors. Far from being a harmless holiday, Halloween has the potential to destroy our relationship with God.
John Ritenbaugh defines the world as the aggregate (total, mass) of things seen and temporal, having a powerful magnetic appeal to the carnal mind (or the spirit in man), including entertainment, fame, academic knowledge, material possessions, etc. Because we find ourselves immersed in this world's system (constituting a virtual Trojan Horse within our minds), we must realize we are walking on a razor's edge with the Kingdom of God on one side, and the world with all its sensual magnetic charms on the other side. Our marching orders are to seek the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and to walk by faith rather than by sight (II Corinthians 4:18).
In many respects, America has lost its moral and ethical foundation. Richard Ritenbaugh presents evidence from the fields of medicine, politics and religion that the slide into immorality is quickening.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing upon the scattering of the greater church of God, examines this event within the context of a larger global disintegration of religious influence. The moral agenda of this country and others is set by non-religious organizations and groups. The disintegration of the Catholic Church (described by Malachi Martin) and the disintegration of the greater church of God (the systematic destruction of its uniqueness and vision) have eerie parallels. The declining vigor and looseness of religious conviction will eventually be pulled together and galvanized by the power of the Beast—the mystery Babylon of the Bible, the Mystery of Iniquity—the real objective of those who would create a new world order. The antidote is to desire the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of men (I Corinthians 1:26).
In this keynote address of the 1997 Feast of Tabernacles, John Ritenbaugh warns that people are not going to understand the significance of prophecies until the prophecies are being fulfilled or have been completely fulfilled. Understanding prophecy is secondary in importance to overcoming, growing, developing character, and being in the image of God. One significant event, the scattering of the greater church of God, reflects a more general trend on the world scene—the disintegration of the major religions into millions of pieces (reflecting a general world wide disdain for hierarchical structure), making possible a post-modern syncretistic reconstruction of millions of personal private religions, incorporating feel-good palliatives and allowing for moral laxity. In the wake of this pernicious self-expression, we must desperately hold fast, contending for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
February 14, Valentine's Day, may seem harmless enough—until the truth of its origins comes to light. Mike Ford exposes this pagan day.
In this second and final installment in a series on the great harlot of Revelation 17, Richard Ritenbaugh focuses on her wealth and her bloodthirsty persecution of God's people. A Christians we must watch world events and come out of her ways!
Revelation 17 depicts a fallen woman astride a beast, drunk with the blood of God's saints. Whom does this image represent? "Christian" history makes the answer plain!
John Ritenbaugh clarifies some difficult terms which Protestant theologians have misapplied, characterizing God's holy law as a "yoke of bondage." If we fail to realize that Paul's focus in the Galatians epistle was justification (rather than the whole salvation process of sanctification and glorification) we could become confused. The Old Covenant had no provision for justification nor did it provide a mechanism to change the heart. The antinomian argument ignores that Christ also puts a yoke of responsibility on New Covenant participants (Matthew 11:29-30). The yoke of bondage Paul referred to was a syncretism of Halakhah- the code of regulations added by the Pharisees- and Gnostic ascetic ritualism, neither a part of God's Law. God's Spirit and law keeping are not contradictory.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that the Word of God is not ever improved by syncretizing or alloying it with human philosophy, a pattern of reasoning which often begins with a faulty or dangerous premise. The Gnostics criticized by Paul in Colossians 2:16-17 were guilty of bringing in ritualistic ascetic discipline to propitiate demons. While Paul never criticized self-discipline and rigor, he did condemn the practice if it did not emanate from Jesus Christ and if it contaminated the keeping of the Sabbath or Holy Days. God is not merely interested in what we do, but why we do the thing. Some misguided scholars, looking at the "touch not, taste not" phrase, assume that God is not careful about rules. They ignore the context in which Paul condemns an attractive self-disciplining mind control regime or system (Gnosticism) totally cut off from the Headship of Christ.
This article, the last in the series, explores the fourth world-ruling empire of Daniel 2. Explained further in Daniel 7 as a terrifying beast, this empire and its "horns" play a role down to the return of Christ!
Nothing is more confused than the state of religion today. God's people can stay above the fray by being firmly grounded in His Word. Included are seven principles of Bible study.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the dual purpose for the Sabbath consists of (1) a memorial of God's physical creation and (2) a memorial of our redemption from bondage. Bondage is the consequence of rejecting or neglecting the Sabbath. Far from doing away with the Sabbath, Jesus magnified the Sabbath, giving us principles enabling us to judge our activities. On the seven occasions where the Sabbath is the issue, Jesus emphasized some form of redemption, indicating that the purpose of the Sabbath is to free. While God rested from physical creation, spiritual creation continued, creating sons in His image. The Messiah's lawful work consisted of healing, redeeming, forgiving, and doing good. Our lawful Sabbath work consists of emulating Christ and committing ourselves to God's purpose.
John Ritenbaugh stresses that the Sabbath is the major means by which God protects His investment, the spiritual creation of His family. The Sabbath, far from being the least of the commandments, is a special creation, a very specific period of holy time (only God can set apart something as holy) given to all of mankind, reminding us that God does not stop creating, but elevates His attention to spiritual creation, providing us with unified instruction designed to free us from sin, celebrate life, develop a special relationship with Him, providing a major tool for our conversion, sanctification, and ultimate glorification. No other commandment so specifically defines God's purpose. Breaking the Sabbath is tantamount to idolatry.
A major distinguishing characteristic of mankind is his free moral agency, presenting him with choices and the right to make decisions. We need free moral agency to be transformed into God's image. The volition to do right has to come from the core of our character or nature. Paradoxically, the way to maximum freedom is to yield to God's way of doing things. Unless one has the Spirit of God, he cannot exercise the necessary internal control to be subject to the government of God. Even though the church is not the government of God (John 18:36; I Corinthians 15:50), we need to respect the ministry as well as lay members, being subject to one another (I Corinthians 11:1). The operation of God's government absolutely depends upon each person governing himself, never going beyond the parameters of the authority God has given him.
John Ritenbaugh focuses on eight conclusions regarding fleeing and the Place of Safety: 1) There will be a geographical separation of the church. 2) We can be worthy to escape the Tribulation. 3) Lukewarm fence-sitters will go into the fire of tribulation for purification. 4) Faithful people are generally assured protection from the hour of trial. 5) The Bible is purposely vague about the specifics of the Place of Safety. 6) Obsessing about the Place of Safety is a sure way to disqualify oneself from it. 7) God calls some faithful, zealous ones for martyrdom during the Tribulation. 8) If we make the Kingdom of God our focus, being faithful day by day, yielding to God's purpose for us, He will faithfully supply all our needs.
The vast majority of Christian churches today teach the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, as a time for rest and worship. Yet it is generally known and freely admitted that the early Christians observed the seventh day as the Sabbath. How did this change come about?
In 1893, the Catholic Mirror—the official organ of Cardinal Gibbons and the Vatican in the United States—ran a series of articles discussing the right of the Protestant churches to worship on Sunday. The articles stress that unless one was willing to accept the authority of the Catholic Church to designate the day of worship, Christians who wish to follow the Bible should observe the seventh-day Sabbath.
John Ritenbaugh continues to reflect on Stephen's incendiary message to fellow Hellenistic Jews (ostensibly given in hopes of their repentance), chastising them for their perennial rejection of prophets and deliverers, including the greatest Deliverer ever sent (namely Jesus Christ), clinging instead superstitiously to the land, the law, and the temple. Stephen's 'untimely' martyrdom and his compassion on his persecutors, followed by the protest reaction against his brutal murder (all part of God's divine plan) resulted in a rapid spreading of the Gospel. The study then focuses upon the influence of Simon Magus, a noted practitioner of sorcery or magic who became impressed with the power of God's Holy Spirit, presumptuously offering Peter money to purchase this power for selfish purposes to control others rather than to serve them. Peter recognized the hypocritical, deceitful, impure motives of this request and responded appropriately.
John Ritenbaugh warns that we dare not allow a root of bitterness to spring up in us as a result of the trials we go through - those burdens intended by God to strengthen us and perfect us. We are warned not to emulate the example of Esau, whose worldly mindset blunted his ability to distinguish the sacred from the profane, leading him to give up his birthright to satisfy a bodily craving. We have superior promises (of future Eternal life and a place in God's very family as well as current access to God's presence through the work of Jesus Christ). The intense admonitory quality in the twelfth chapter stems from the stark, inescapable reality that God will not budge one inch on sin. Far from being an indulgent lenient parent, God is a consuming fire to those who will not obey. We need to develop the same white-hot hatred for sin as does our Heavenly Father. Finally we are admonished to (1) increase our fellowship with our brethren, (2) practice hospitality, (3) sympathize and empathize with those going through trials, (4) strive for pure and chaste marriages, (5) resist covetousness, and (6) ease the ministry's burden
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