“If there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself on his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death.”
This quote comes from an ancient writing (1100 AD) of the Waldenses entitled the Nobla Leycon (Noble Lesson). The Waldenses are a very ancient branch of the True Church that left the “wreck of primitive Christianity” (Church of Rome) in the 800s AD.
J.A. Wylie in his The History of The Waldenses states, “Rome manifestly was the schismatic, she it was that had abandoned what was once the common faith of Christendom, leaving by that step to all who remained on the old ground the indisputably valid title of the True Church.”
They are today the largest Protestant faith in Italy though the past popes had attempted to exterminate them for over 600 years. This persecution is what the end of the statement “he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death” is referring to.
But enough history!
If I were to be dragged before the Inquisition today, would my conduct and speech produce enough evidence to convict me of being a True Christian?
The Waldenses way of life and speech revealed that they were very different from the contemporary culture they lived in. Can you and I say that about our conduct today? Or do we just say one thing at church and just blend in with the wicked and immoral culture that surrounds us the rest of the time, laughing at the same dirty jokes, looking at the same filthy entertainment, hating and being unforgiving, our cruel and wicked speech revealing our cruel and wicked inner man instead of a Holy Spirit controlled new man in Christ?
The apostle Paul believed in examining yourself to make sure your following Christ’s example in conduct/teaching and not your religious, fleshly, sin nature. That is why he told Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16). We should heed his instructions.
“Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure.” (Paul writing to the Philippians in 2:13)
Amazing! Today. All day today. Everyday. God is CONSTANTLY releasing His energy into our lives — in our decisions, in our battles, in our relationships, in our work, in our ministry, in our idle time, in our busy time, in our trial, in our victory, in our suffering, in our joy, in our sickness, in our vigor, in everything — for the purpose of bringing OUR salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion: more likeness to the Lord Jesus….NOW, not when we get to heaven, NOW, while we live on earth, NOW, while we can still make an eternal difference in our family, our friend’s lives, and lives of others. NOW, before I die and I am ashamed to stand before Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
What an awesome God we serve. What provisions He has made for His children. How He is committed to His Purpose for you and me!
Enjoy walking with God today!
“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, ….” (II Peter 2:14)
How does keeping of the Old Testament Law and walking in New Testament grace compare?
Do this and live, the Old Testament Law demands, but gives neither feet or hands.
A better word the Gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Born again believers get their “wings” by understanding the truths found in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter six through eight. Listen to what Apostle Peter said about these truths in II Peter 1: 3-4 (Wuest Expanded Translation):
“Seeing that all things to us His divine power has generously given, the things which pertain to life and godliness, through the experiential knowledge [which the believer has] of the One who called us [into salvation] by means of His own glory and virtue, by means of which [glory and virtue] there have been generously given to us the precious and exceedingly great promises in order that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.” [emphasis mine]
I hope you have your “wings” mentally on today. Have a blessed day walking in the Spirit!
I found this note while reading Luke 16: 13-15 the other day. As born again believers, the Lord Jesus Christ is to be “Lord” of our lives. The world system, which is controlled by Satan, is continually trying to impose its value system on us. In James 4:4 the Bible tells us that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. He compares it to a wife or husband having an affair thereby being an adulteress. James goes on to say that he who wishes to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.
Sometimes we are so entangled in the affairs of the world that we do not recognize it for what it is. The kingdom of the enemy of God. May the Holy Spirit show us today if we are in an adulterous affair with some aspect of the world.
In closing, I share Luke 6:46 with you. The scripture that God used to rip the deception off our minds and show us we were lost and bound for hell. The Lord Jesus said “Why do you call me Lord Lord and do not do what I say?
“Do not get knowledge for knowledge sake but so you can see and love to a greater degree the Lord Jesus Christ.” Kenneth Wuest
The Bible has a lot to say about gaining knowledge and about wisdom, how to use the knowledge you obtain. It also warns that knowledge can make you prideful.
“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
Therefore, our desire in gaining biblical knowledge should be to gain a clearer picture of the Lord Jesus Christ so we can love Him more. Since He said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me;…” (John 14: 21a), loving Him more means we will be more diligent in our obedience. That is how the “love of God” is manifested in our life. Words play a part but actions speak a lot louder.
We need to realize there are millions of people, right here in the U.S., that have never mentally “seen” Jesus. They have no Bible knowledge and have no concept of what Jesus looks like.
Lets put our Bible knowledge to use today and let someone “see” Jesus in us through our obedience to Him. It may be their first time to “see” the Lord Jesus.
Pay Close Attention to Yourself…. (Paul to Timothy)
“For he who desires to be loving life and to see good days, let him stop the natural tendency of his tongue towards evil, and the natural tendency of his lips to the end that they speak no craftiness, but let him rather at once and once for all turn away from evil and let him do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the Lord’s eyes are directed in a favorable attitude towards the righteous, and His ears are inclined into their petitions, but the Lord’s face is against those who practice evil things.” (I Peter 3: 10-12 quoting Psalm 34: 12-13) (Wuest Fuller Translation)
A Prayer: Father God I present myself to You as one alive from the dead and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness. Forgive me where I have sinned with my mouth. Thank you for your Spirit which gives me the desire and power to obey your Word. By your power I purpose to glorify the Lord Jesus today and everyday with my words and actions. Thank you my old sinful nature will not be master over me because of what You and the Lord Jesus have accomplished and my faith in what you have done. In Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 2:11-14; 3:3-7)
Praise Almighty God for His grace that has appeared to us! Bless His Holy and Righteous Name. May we all respond fully to the teaching of His Spirit contained in that ancient book, the Bible.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts”(Ecclesiastes 3:9).
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being”(Acts 17:26-28).
“The Wa were headhunters. Just once a year, in the planting season, Wa tribesmen felt compelled by bloodthirsty spirits to plant human heads in their fields along with their seeds—just to ensure a good crop. Neighboring tribes always wanted to leave for vacation when the Wa were planting their crops, but unfortunately that was when they had to plant their crops too.
A benign influence, however, was at work within the folk religion of the Wa people. From time-to-time prophets of the true God, whom the Wa called Siyeh, arose to condemn headhunting and spirit-appeasement! One such prophet, Pu Chan, appeared during the 1880s. He persuaded several thousand Wa tribesmen to abandon headhunting and spirit worship on the grounds that the true God was about to send a long-awaited white brother with a copy of the lost book. If he came to the Wa territory and heard that the Wa were practicing evil things, he might think them unworthy of the true God’s book and turn away again! If that happened, Pu Chan warned, surely the Wa would never get another chance to have the lost book restored to them.
One morning Pu Chan saddled a pony. ‘Follow this pony,’ he said to some of his disciples. ‘Siyeh told me last night that the white brother has finally come near! Siyeh will cause this pony to lead you to him. While Pu Chan’s disciples gaped in astonishment, the pony started walking. Expecting the pony to stop at the nearest stream, they followed it.”
Two hundred miles away, an American missionary from Nebraska, William Young, had recently set up base in the town of Kengtung. One day Young went to the marketplace to preach among the people, and he noticed strangely garbed men gravitating toward him out of the throng in the market.
They were not Wa, but were men from the neighboring Lahu tribe, who God chose to receive the Gospel first. The Lahu had also been waiting for a white man to come with a lost book that would reconnect them to the true God, whom they called Gwi’sha in their language. Richardson continues the story:
“They stared incredulously at the missionary’s white face, the interior of the book in his hand, and listened to his description of the laws of God contained in that book. Then, in an outburst of powerful emotion, the Lahu pleaded with Young to follow them up into the mountains. ‘We as a people have been waiting for you for centuries,’ they explained. ‘We even have meeting houses built in some of our villages in readiness for your coming.’
[Pu Chan above and William Young below. Our thanks to Marcus Young, the grandson of William, for providing these two precious photos.]
Some of the men showed him bracelets of coarse rope hanging like manacles from their wrists. ‘We have worn ropes like these since time immemorial. They symbolize our bondage to evil spirits. You alone, as the messenger of Gwi’sha, may cut these manacles from our wrists—but only after you have brought the lost book of Gwi’sha to our very hearths!’
Nearly speechless with awe, Young went with them. Tens of thousands of Lahu became Christians, and it was at that stage that Pu Chan saddled his pony (200 miles away in Wa territory) and told his Wa disciples to follow it to the missing book and the messenger of the True God. When the pony finally arrived at the home of William Young, the Wa asked him: ‘Have you brought the book of God?’ Young nodded. The men, overcome with emotion, fell at his feet and blurted out, ‘This pony is saddled especially for you. Our people are all waiting. Fetch the book! We must be on our way!”
Thousands of Wa heard the Gospel from both the Young family and the new Lahu Christians. They repented of their sins and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Young’s son, Vincent, later translated the New Testament into Wa.
During much of the 20th century, many Wa people continued to outwardly follow Christ, but their faith generally slipped into dead formalism. A vibrant, life-giving revival was greatly needed among the Wa, lest the amazing breakthroughs of the past would go to waste.
One reason for the spiritual decline among the Wa was the problem with their Bible. Because of their widespread locations and multiple dialects, only a fraction of Wa were able to understand the dialect the Bible was available in.
Some years ago, a Wa Bible committee was set up to address this problem, and a new translation was launched in a common vernacular that many more Wa people could understand.
Asia Harvest has been greatly blessed to provide more than 80,000 new Wa Bibles, free of charge, through our Asian Bible Fund. There are many requests for more, and we invite you to prayerfully consider supporting this strategic endeavor.
The very same power which raised Christ is waiting to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the Pharisee from his self-righteousness, to raise the Sadducee from his unbelief.
Pliny the Younger (61-113 AD) was a Roman Magistrate appointed by the emperor Trajan over Bithynia, now in modern Turkey. In 112 AD he wrote the emperor requesting direction on how to handle the many Christians that were brought before him. The English translation of Pliny’s letter and Trajan’s response was published by William Harris, Prof. Em. Middlebury College.
Harris said the Christians were brought daily before Pliny for refusing military service, refusing to worship the Roman emperors and for being members of a strange new and secret religion which although harmless, seemed dangerous to the established Roman way of life. I would add “revenge” to this list because of the change in temple economics due to Christians forsaking the idols.
This is the first documented evidence of the “Christian Problem” in the Roman world.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, Pliny the Elder was his uncle who died trying to rescue people from the Pompeii disaster. Here is the translation from Latin:
Gaius Plinius to the Emperor Trajan
It is for me an important point of responsibility to refer to you as Head of State, things about which I have questions, since you are the person best able to set straight my hesitations and correct my lack of information.
Actually I have never been present at a Examination (cognitio) of Christians, so I do not know what punishment is required or how far it is to be carried out. Nor do I understand the legal grounds for a prosecution, or how stringently it is to be prosecuted. I am not clear about prosecutions in respect to the age of the persons, whether no distinction should be made between the young and the old, and furthermore whether a pardon should be granted in cases of recanting, or if there is no advantage for a person completely ceasing to be a Christian. Or is it the name “Christian” which is prosecutable, even if not involved in criminal actions, or is that “criminality” is automatically attached to the name?
In the meantime, I now handle it this way with those who are turned over to me as Christians. I ask them directly, in person, if they are Christian, I ask a second and third time to be sure, and indicate to them the danger of their situation. If they persist, I order them led dispatched (= executed). I have had no trouble with this, since whatever it was they admitted or professed, I decided that their obstinacy and unyielding inflexibility should be sufficient reason for punishment. Some others who were virtually insane with this cult, but Roman citizens, I sent back to Rome for trial.
As I continue with this handling of the situation, as often happens, the numbers and kinds of incriminations are becoming more widespread. An anonymous List has been brought out which contains the names of a great many persons. I decided to dismiss charges again any on this list who stated that they were now not, nor had ever been Christians, if they repeated after me a prayer of invocation to the Gods, and made an offering of wine and incense to your statue, which I had brought in to the court along with the statues of the Gods, for this purpose. And in addition they were to formally curse Christ, which I understand true Christians will never do.
Other named by the anonymous List said they were Christians, and later changed their statement. Some said that they had been and then stopped, some three years before, some longer, some even twenty years before. All these reverenced your statue and those of the Gods, and cursed Christ. They stated that the sum total of their error or misjudgment, had been coming to a meeting on a given day before dawn, and singing responsively a hymn to Christ as to God, swearing with a holy oath not to commit any crime, never to steal or commit robbery, commit adultery, fail a sworn agreement or refuse to return a sum left in trust. When all this was finished, it was their custom to go their separate ways, and later re-assemble to take food of an ordinary and simple kind. But after my edict which forbids all political Societies, they did in fact give this up.I thought at this point that it was necessary to get information from two slave women, whom they call Deaconesses (ministrae) about the actual truth, by means of torture. I found nothing worthy of blame other than the blind and over-wrought nature of their cult-superstition.
I have therefore postponed further Examinations (cognitiones) and made haste to come to you immediately for consultation. This situation seem to demand serious consultation, especially in view of the large number of people falling into this danger. A great many persons of every age, of every social class, men and women alike, are being brought in to trial, and this seems likely to continue. It is not only the cities, but also the towns and even the country villages which are being infected with this cult-contagion.
It seems possible to check and reverse this direction at this point, for it is quite clear that the Temples of the Gods which have been empty for so long, now begin to be filled again, the sacred rites which had lapsed are now being performed and flesh for sacrificial rites is now sold again at the shops, although for a while nobody would buy it. So it seems reasonable to think that a great many people could be persuaded to reform, IF there were a legal procedure for Repentance.
Emperor Trajan to Pliny:
You have done the right thing, my dear Pliny, in handling the cases of those who were brought to you under the charge of being Christians. But it is not possible to make hard and fast rule with one specific formula. These people must not be searched out, if they are brought before your court and the case against them is proved, they must be punished, but in the case of anyone who states that he is not a Christian and makes it perfectly clear that he is not, by offering prayers to out Gods, such a one is to be pardoned on the grounds of his present repentance, however suspect he may have been in the past. But anonymous lists must not have any place in the court proceedings. They are a terrible example and not at all in keeping with our times.
A friend recently told me of a friend of theirs who had a lady friend who was shocked to hear that Lord Jesus had brothers when He was living on earth. Having been raised Roman Catholic, she stated that she had never heard this before and was going to have to check this out.
To elevate Mary, the earthly, blessed mother of Jesus, to an unscriptural position she never sought, nor God ever intended for her to assume, men had to do away with His brothers so they could create doctrine that makes Mary a perpetual virgin, therefore, she could not have any children after Jesus.
But the New Testament read with simple faith and not with doctrinal blinders imposed by the ‘church’, plainly tells us in the following scriptures that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters: Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; Acts 1:14 and Galatians 1:19.
In Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 the brothers are even named: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.
James wrote the book of James in the New Testament and was believed by the apostle Paul to be the leader or bishop of the church in Jerusalem when he visited. Judas wrote the book of Jude in the New Testament. Simon was the later bishop of the Jerusalem church. All three were martyred for their faith in their resurrected half-brother, Jesus.
They were not cousins or children from Jospeh’s previous marriage. The Greek word used in these New Testament scriptures for ‘brother’ is adelphos meaning “from womb”. The Greek word cousin is anepsios signifying cousin.
So according to the New Testament in the Bible, Mary and Joseph had a large, happy family of at least seven children, maybe more if there were more than two sisters.
May you and your family be happy and fulfilled as they follow the true Jesus of the Bible.
Studying the sobering results of Dr. George Barna’s research, “Millennials in America,” I felt fear for the future of the largest generation in our history.
I listened intently as he shared some of his key findings. Here are some of the startling discoveries:
Almost one-half of young adults prefer socialism to capitalism.
A foundation of absolute truth has been replaced by relativism with feelings and friends forming one’s worldview.
9 of 10 are syncretists picking a mixture of beliefs from different religions so as not to appear “intolerant.”
Being “born again” doesn’t result from repentance and faith in Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death and resurrection but refers to being a good person, doing good deeds to merit one’s salvation.
Only 28% believe the Bible is the Word of God.
The overwhelming majority reject the concept of an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and do not accept the biblical/historical view of scripture, sin, and salvation.
Similar times in Scripture
Two portions of scripture come to mind when the younger generation drifted dramatically from God.
“That entire generation passed away, and after them grew up a generation who did not know the Lord or the deeds that He had done …” (Judges 2:10).
“Moreover, in those days I also saw Jews who had married the women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke in the language of Ashdod, yet none of them could recognize the language of the Jews” (Neh.13:23-24).
Upon assessing the situation in his day, Nehemiah was definitely not complacent in confronting some of them with righteous anger. He “cursed” … “beat”… and “plucked out the hair”… of those responsible for “doing all this great evil who are behaving unfaithfully against our God …” (Neh.13:25-7).
Scripture does not rejoice over Nehemiah’s actions but does record them! In our day of comfortable, compromising and cowardly Christianity, it’s refreshing to see a leader not being silent and submitting to the fear of man.
A defining moment in my life
Years ago when Obama and LGBTQ activists were aggressively pushing for gay marriage, I partnered with a professional videographer on a biblical instructional video entitled “Is Gay OK?” From a Biblically informed worldview, it addressed questions like “Is a person born gay? Can someone be a Christian and practice homosexuality? Is same-sex marriage allowed by God?”
I was subsequently let go by the church where I served in leadership for five years being told by the leader to “just go and don’t come back.” Previously he’d warned me in no uncertain terms that to continue the project was a “deal-breaker” and “we don’t want to go there because we could incur death threats.”
A primary reason I worked on the resource video was to help rescue millennials being bombarded by an avalanche of deceitful propaganda on this and other cultural hot button issues. Because many pastors decided to be “seeker sensitive” and play it safe, steering clear of controversy, we now have a generation like in the time of Judges. “We don’t get into areas like abortion, living together, homosexuality, transgender stuff, voting, elections … you know, anything political.”
More sobering data
Apart from deception assaulting the younger generation in the area of morality, Dr. Barna’s research reveals chilling beliefs in the realm of spirituality:
Two out of three millennials believe they are “Christians,” yet their responses indicate they are not true disciples following Jesus as Lord.
Three out of four believe all religious faiths are of equal value.
56% reject the existence of absolute truth.
A scant 4% of millennials hold to a biblical worldview regarding God, life, and morality.
Only one in four millennials believe they can trust Christian pastors.
A high percentage identify themselves as “DONTS” meaning they don’t know or even care if God exists.
Inspiration from 5 past divine interventions
Before anyone succumbs to cynicism and pessimism concerning the future of the millennial generation, let’s remind ourselves of God’s sovereign intervention in similar seasons of history where outpourings of His Spirit broke through the darkness.UnmuteAdvanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next
•First Great Awakening. I’ve been to Northampton, Massachusetts, where Jonathan Edwards helped ignite God’s miraculous intervention in the darkest period of the 1700s that resulted in unbelievable societal transformation.
• Azusa Street Revival. I’ve been to Bonnie Brae Street with revivalist Lou Engle where at the turn of the 20th century a handful of people gathered and soon God poured out His Spirit in an unprecedented way in Los Angeles birthing the Pentecostal movement that today has reached almost a half billion people worldwide!
•The Jesus movement. In one of the most turbulent times in America’s history, God rescued me from the 60s “Lost Souls” rock band and swept me into a revolutionary youth-centered Jesus revolution that saw millions of sons and daughters converted and changed by the power of the living God. I joined with Dr. Michael Brown, Mike Bickle, Greg Laurie, Keith Green and others in a Heaven-sent move of God that birthed Calvary Chapel, The Vineyard, contemporary Christian music and a cover story on Time magazine!
•Brownsville Revival. Revival broke out in Pensacola, Florida, and providentially God planted me in the midst of a divinely orchestrated move of His Spirit where in a five-year period 2 million came from across the world and 200,000 were converted to the glory of God!
7 Common denominators
Dr. George Barna’s excellent research revealed sobering data. It’s our time to seize the opportunity, remembering God’s sovereignty and the church’s responsibility. Historically we find common denominators to guide us.
1. Passionate and prevailing prayer.
2. Genuine repentance and living lives of happy holiness.
3. Freedom for the Holy Spirit to move in spontaneity under godly oversight.
4. Rekindling lifestyle evangelism and consistent, compassionate outreach to the lost and those suffering in poverty, persecution, and exploitation.
5. Rediscovering the passionate preaching of the Word of God.
6. Restoring a healthy fear of the Lord through a revelation of divine judgment and experience of Holy Spirit conviction.
7. Most importantly, rekindling the fire of first love zeal and simple devotion to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Here’s the deal: “In the last days it shall be, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
The time has come — let’s respond and see revival come.
Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves people and loves awakening them to today’s cultural realities and the responses needed for the bride of Christ—His church—to become influential in all spheres of life once again. He is also a public policy advisor with Liberty Counsel.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith… (James 1:5-6a)
Who does not need wisdom? We all do! Wisdom for dealing with issues involving children, grandchildren, sports, career, relationships, health, spouse, siblings, end of life, our nation, the church and life in general.
Jesus’ half-brother James, author of the quote above, was not a disciple of Jesus. The New Testament plainly tells us that. He only realized that his older brother was the promised Messiah and Savior when Jesus revealed Himself to James, and probably His other siblings, after He was resurrected. Can you imagine the shock of seeing his dead brother alive in a glorified, resurrected body? Could you imagine what it would be like to realize your older sibling was God?
James had a lot to ponder after that encounter. As James and his brothers waited in the upper room with the other disciples for the promise of the Father to be poured out at Pentecost, I would imagine they were all praying for wisdom. Therefore, when he tells us to ask for wisdom he speaks from experience.
An amplified version could read, “If anyone falls short of wisdom let him keep asking of God, who has come along side you as the Holy Spirit to help you and gives to all graciously and generously without throwing your past mistakes into your teeth or up in your face. But he must ask believing in God’s beneficent activity and have a personal reliance on Him …”
James tells us not to just ask once but to keep on asking for wisdom from the true God that has come along side us to lead us into all truth, not a distant and uncaring God. Knowing that He is not going to reproach us by reminding us of our past mistakes and failures but will graciously and generously give us the wisdom that we request and need, maybe desperately need.
The only requirement is that we believe that He is the Only One that is truly Good and produces Good, performing acts of kindness and charity for those who rely on Him as their God.
James’ half-brother and Lord, Jesus, said it this way,
Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Or what man is there among you who, when his son asksfor a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
If you need wisdom, keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. Our Father God has promised to answer.
“Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to sin.” (A.T. Robertson)
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
The apostle Peter exhorts those in the dispersion along the same line:
“ In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
James says that though we may be surrounded by trials, let our joy be whole or unmixed, not just “some joy” mixed with grief. I must realize that the very foundation of my religion, my faith in what God has done through His Son Jesus, will be tested by the devil using circumstances, accusations, condemnation, people of other faiths or no faith (communism) and people, some close to me and some unknown.
We are all are in need of “endurance” or “patience” that James says these trials will produce in our lives IF we allow it. Robertson says the original Greek word means “remaining under, staying power”, that under the pressure of trials you will have the ability to stay faithful to Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, in Revelation 2:10 tells the believers in Smyrna (modern day Turkey),
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
We in North America or Europe, read this and go ho hum, but this is a daily reality for many of our brothers and sisters in communist Red China, Vietnam, North Korea and other countries ruled by communism. It is also a daily reality in countries ruled by Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other false religions.
Religious persecution is coming to the United States, Europe, Canada and other currently free countries. Are you ready? Have you made up your mind? Are your children and grandchildren ready?
May no trial, person or set of circumstances cause us to deny our Savior today or ever. May our faith in Jesus and God the Father be the most precious thing in our life… so much so it is worth dying for. Tens of millions died for their faith during the Inquisition, under the Romans, and under communism in the 20th century and today.
May you walk in “hupomonen”….staying power. Holy Ghost empowered staying power!
Former Jesuit priest Peter de Rosa writes, “All the councils of the church from Nicaea in the fourth century to Constance in the fifteenth agree that Christ himself is the only foundation of the church, that is, the Rock on which the church rests…the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between Matthew 16:18 and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter. One after another they analyze it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys….[I]t was only in the year 1073 that Pope Gregory VII forbade Catholics to call anyone pope except the bishop of Rome. Before then, many bishops were fondly addressed as ‘pope’ or ‘papa.’…The first Bishop of Rome was not Peter…Eusebius never once spoke of Peter as Bishop of Rome…etc.”
So when did the church at large become the Roman Catholic Church in distinction to the true Christians which it persecuted and killed? There is no single date; it happened gradually. Yet the roots can be traced to Constantine (313-327), who while still Pontifex Maximus as head of the pagan priesthood became de facto head of the Church, was the first to call himself Vicar of Christ, and under whose influence the Church married the world. The paganism of today’s Roman Catholicism entered the church in the fourth century and today’s popes bear Constantine’s three titles: Bishop of Bishops, Pontifex Maximus, and Vicar of Christ.
Dear Reader: The following article is from the Jerusalem Post by Harry (Hirschel) Moskoff who is an investigative archaeologist, Temple scholar, film producer, and author of The A.R.K. Report. Enjoy. Carl
Pretend for a moment that the Vatican has in its possession some sacred and precious relics that were originally in the Herodian Jewish Temple located in Jerusalem 1,950 years ago.
If you were the pope living in the 14th century and could verify this fact, would you not ask yourself how indeed such Jewish artifacts had come to your residence in the first place?
After some digging around (no pun intended), you would have found that your new Vatican residence was actually built over sections of Caesar’s Palace – the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica, was constructed over Emperor Vespasian’s Roman palace approximately 200 years after the sacking of Rome in 455 AD. Indeed, there are excavations going on there right now, even as you read this magazine.
What this means is that the vandals and the Visigoths passed over, or simply didn’t find, the select treasures secreted away in that palace, and instead took with them the many items on public display in the Temple, located not far away.
It says in the Talmud that the famous Jewish sage and author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, went to Rome with his colleagues to nullify harsh decrees placed on Judea, and while there, saw the exact items mentioned in this article. They ended up being royal guests at Vespasian’s palace after being asked to attend to his ailing daughter. When they miraculously did heal her, the sages were afforded the chance to see these extremely holy items, proving that they were kept in that place.
In fact, historian Josephus Flavius records the event in which Vespasian took for himself these items specifically as his special treasures for safekeeping, including an ancient Torah scroll.
According to Vatican expert Dr. Michael A. Calvo, those vessels and others found their way to the Vatican via another route, after making their way to Byzantium: “These include Temple candelabra given to Pope Innocent III by Baldwin I after the sacking of Constantinople and the massacre of the Christian Orthodox population,” Calvo claims. “Temple shofars and utensils; garments of the High Priest; the Tzitz – a gold plaque with the words Kodesh L’Hashem (“Holy to the Lord”); cultural objects, and many other objets d’art, books and manuscripts that the Vatican and other churches have appropriated and placed in their own storerooms, libraries and museums.”
But where is the factual, tangible proof that the Vatican “inherited” these sacred items and retains them until today?
The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry and security services may already have evidence: about 50 years ago, there was a certain Jewish student – let’s call him DM – who was enrolled in a correspondence course at the Urbaniana, the Vatican’s university. Upon attending in person for the last semesters of his doctorate, he found himself the only Jew among 17,000 students! DM told me that he was well-loved, but when push came to shove, both professor and student approached him respectfully in order to convert him.
After firmly refusing time after time, a friend of his (later to become one of the Vatican archivists, Cardinal Antonio Samore) offered to show him what “used to be” his Jewish heritage – the Temple vessels – in an attempt to entice him to convert. DM agreed to be taken to see them months later, at night. When I asked him if there was anything in that cave that had belonged to the Temple, he simply replied: “Everything is there!”
Did he really see anything, or just come close? Many years later, in 2002, DM apparently gave sufficient proof to then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and others who were in negotiation with high-level Vatican officials at the time. If this is true, Israel may already have a solid, well-documented case.
So now what? Today in the 21st century there is a thriving sovereign State of Israel, being the sole worldwide representative of the Jewish people, or the World Jewish Congress, both being adequate addresses to make an arrangement for some sort of repatriation deal.
In the meantime, Roman Catholic relations with Israel are on the rise, dialogue and cooperation with the Jewish state are close, and there are even several Jews who have been knighted by recent popes. So why not negotiate over whatever there is now?
Before getting to that, however, let the thoughtful reader peruse through true stories suggesting that the Vatican does have much to hide?
ONE OF the greatest rabbis in his generation at the beginning of the 20th century was the chief rabbi of Libya, 77-year-old Rabbi Yitzchak Chai Bozovka, an expert in all areas of Torah both hidden and revealed who authored many outstanding books. In 1929, Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuel III came to Tripoli for a royal visit. Libya was then under Italian rule, and the Jews of the city made a huge banquet reception, indeed fit for a king, with their beloved chief rabbi at the forefront.
Rabbi Bozovka made quite an impression on the monarch, and before the king set sail back to Rome, he invited the rabbi to attend the wedding of his son, the prince. A year later, the rabbi received the royal invitation, but declined to go due to being weak, although he did add the question, “Why am I needed though when you have the pope?”
Within 48 hours, the king sent a telegram back stating not to worry, and that he very badly wanted the rabbi to bless the new couple (again). He offered to send him his royal boat, give him all the kosher food and accommodations that were required, and even signed it: Your Friend, the King. The rabbi reluctantly agreed. When he arrived in Rome, he was treated like royalty and the wedding was a huge success.
As the ceremonies came to an end, the king asked the rabbi if there was anything he could do for him. Bozovka responded that he so desired to see the holy vessels of the Jewish Temple in the cellars of the Vatican. When the king first heard this, he refused, saying that there is a separation of church and state, and that he didn’t have jurisdiction over the pope in these matters. The two didn’t exactly get along!
Nevertheless, after much prodding, the king went ahead and managed to convince the pope (making him an offer he couldn’t refuse), but on the condition that it was only the rabbi alone. That day he was even invited to the Holy See for a personal audience with the pontiff.
Late that night, and after much spiritual preparation, the rabbi met the guard at the Vatican gates, with his students remaining outside, and went down the steps (four stories under St. Peter’s Museum) to a hidden maze of ancient galleries attached to the Necropolis. After finally reaching the cave entrance, he saw what he saw, and writes in his book of Responsa that he saw “enough,” and was not capable of seeing anymore. He then turned around and practically ran out of the building.
Upon exiting, his students were shocked to find that his face was actually shining. From that day forth, the rabbi took it upon himself to abstain from speaking, until he died on February 21, 1930, 40 days later.
Another story, about the famous Rabbi Benjamin (ben Yonah) of Tudela, a Jewish merchant from modern Navarre in Spain. He spent significant time in Rome after the election of Pope Alexander III in 1159, and again from November 1165 until 1167. His mission was to record the lifestyle of Sephardi Jews across Europe and Africa. His travels took him from Spain to France, Italy, Turkey, and the Near East, including Beirut and Jerusalem. A well-known Iberian traveler, he kept complete and extremely accurate records in his travelogue, as noted by his contemporaries. When the rabbi passed through Rome in the 1160s, he noted the “honorable position” of the city’s Jewish population, as well as the “wonderful buildings” there.
Was he credible, though? Evidently, the commentators on this work held their subject in high esteem. A commentator that translated the itinerary in 1840, A. Asher, had glowing praise for Rabbi Benjamin: “The whole work abounds in interesting, correct and authentic information on the state of the three-quarters of the globe known at this time, and in consideration of these advantages, stands without a rival in the literary history of the Middle Ages. None of the productions of the period is as free from fables and superstitions as The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela.”
Tudela wrote, “Rome is the head of the kingdoms of Christendom, and there live about 200 (families of) Jews, who are respected and who pay no tax to anyone.” And now folks for the meat and potatoes: “In Rome, there is… the cave where Titus the son of Vespasian stored the Temple vessels that he brought from Jerusalem.”
This was before popes took up residence in the late 1300s at the Vatican. It appears that indeed, vandals didn’t run off with the whole hoard after all.
There is an old picture in my possession of that mysterious corridor in front of the cave, replete with creepy skeletal people embalmed to this day, 50 on each side, and showing the huge, arched wooden door at the end. This picture was taken at least 50 years ago with the custodian guard wearing all black and holding a lantern, essentially attesting to Tudela’s account.
RABBI DAVID ROSEN, international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, has a different approach. Rosen – who headed the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC), the broad-based coalition of Jewish organizations and denominations that represents world Jewry in its relations with other world religions – was granted a papal knighthood in 2005 for his contribution to Jewish-Catholic reconciliation.
He was also chosen to lead the famous 2013 prayer service with the pope, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres at the Vatican. Rosen suggests approaching various museums in Israel that already had exhibitions of Vatican art and archaeology (which had come from Israel originally), and suggesting a loan arrangement for a limited period, to display some ancient vessels of their choice.
This would constitute a win/win for both parties, and would certainly be a major event! Rosen cautions that the whole idea of restoring artifacts of cultural or religious heritage back to their countries of origin is a complex one that must take into account the interests of the country that currently possesses the artifacts, among other things.
Can, or more importantly, should Israel make use of today’s international laws of repatriation? This can be considered as well, but then uncomfortable issues are bound to arise. For instance, in this age of political correctness, the following might have to be addressed: are the Jewish people still the legitimate owners of this ancient treasure?
What about replacement theology? Could it be that after 2000 years, behind closed doors, the ownership of these historical religious artifacts is being debated and disputed? The same way, for instance, that the legal ownership of Jerusalem is debated and disputed? I say, yes!
This is not just food for thought. Believe it or not, and with all due respect, I have reason to suggest here (without getting into detail) that this is part and parcel of a new attitude and approach, an indication of what’s really being discussed in the long corridors of Rome, the United Nations, the EU and also the PA. It even has a name: Lawfare.
Here’s a case in point: Not long ago, Abbas had a personal consultation with Pope Francis. After agreeing that the two-state solution was the only way forward to make peace with Israel, Abbas stated that with respect to the advent of a Palestinian capital, “Jerusalem’s identity must be preserved through a special internationally guaranteed status.” In other words, the territory that used to belong to the Jewish people so long ago does not necessarily mean that it belongs to Israel today, according to Abbas. There’s more.
The official liaison of the pope to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic nuncio in Israel and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, stated in an official letter dated November 15, 2013, that if the Temple treasures do in fact still exist, surely the church would return those lost items to their “legitimate owners.” Let that sink in a bit.
I’m willing to make a wager that as sure as the sun rises in the east, if Vatican officials were to claim that they own it all (having acted as paternal preservationists, as it were), and that the treasure would theoretically be kept in a “Vatican Jewish museum” somewhere, everything would change. Indeed, this is in fact Plan B: no more need for the Vatican to ignore the elephant in the room; diplomatic evasion no longer required. And yes, at that point, I’m sure that the chief Prefect would take whatever they have out for all of humanity to see.
Let’s be clear, though. Plan A isn’t politically correct but in this author’s view it’s the truth, that this vast treasure was, is now, and will always be Jewish, with its home ultimately in Jerusalem, the united capital of Israel.
At the end of the day though, the proof is in the gelato. There are several people alive that can personally attest to being eyewitnesses of the Vatican possessing Temple vessels, including the Menorah candelabra. Will any one of them come forward and expose what they know (along with themselves)? No, and I quite frankly don’t blame them. That might be unwise. It doesn’t end here though, because if this were in a judicial court setting (and it isn’t), the majority would agree that there is enough information already on file to have reasonable, or “justifiable cause” to move forward. What this means in our case is that making that museum deal is starting to look better and better.
After over 25 years of research into the whereabouts of the lost Temple treasures, more Vatican details have been included in my book series, The A.R.K. Report, including the existence of the oldest (and very fragile) Torah scroll taken from the Temple building, the golden head plate of the high priest with the holy name of God engraved on it (tzitz in Hebrew), the giant curtain that hung from the Temple entrance (parohet in Hebrew) that still has the tear from Titus’ sword in it, trumpets, and various other ritual (copper) altar utensils to boot, as mentioned previously, and documented by Josephus.
Thirty-five years ago, a certain outstanding Swiss Vatican guard (now legally blind) who was posted close to the dormitories found out that he was in fact Jewish. This inspired him to decide to open the gate at night and make his way all the way down. He speaks of walking right to the end and finding a narrow, cramped tunnel that leads to a room of statues, a mysterious hallway and then the cave where he saw (and apparently nearly touched) the Menorah candelabra, apparently shining with a white light. The next morning he apparently told the whole tale to the chief rabbi of Rome at the time, Rabbi Elio Toaff, who was known to have testified to its truth.
But back down to business! The main concern now really lies on the political level. In 2022, far from being outrageous or insulting, approaching the Holy See with the museum idea whereby the Vatican retains ownership and sends a display of certain ancient Temple items to Jerusalem presents a brilliant idea. This is an international trend nowadays. Most people realize that there’s no sense in holding onto precious items that are in a sense for all humanity in a cellar or cave somewhere.
However, if the Holy See feels that the time is not yet ripe for such a gesture, things might get a little messier.
Some arbitrary ruling may come forth from the powers that be (think UN Security Council Resolution #2334) designating, in this case the lost Temple vessels, as something other than Jewish and therefore should stay put. Although the status quo vis-à-vis the hidden Temple treasures has remained in-situ for millennia, one can assume that it won’t go on like that forever. Either way, like in the case of Jerusalem, decisions will eventually be made with or without the consent of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
If things do work out with the Vatican, great! Now’s the time, and testimonies of various forms are coming in, all with the message that it’s high time that the Jews brought their pride and glory back home.
In the meantime, a team of lawyers and ambassadors associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) are joining me in this undertaking, as I meet up with the Department of World Religions at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Papal Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana. My aim, ultimately, is to identify the sacred items mentioned above at the Vatican by cross-referencing them with the earliest acquisitions of the Vatican (including 12th-13th century) as they appear in their original inventory listings.
It’s interesting to note that this manifest can be found in the Papal Secret Archive located behind a heavy door at the end of a corridor on the lower floor in the Tower of the Winds (originally built in 1578). Only the chief prefect has this key. This inventory list actually predates the time when the popes first used the Vatican as a place of residence, beginning in 1377.
If things don’t work out with the Vatican, that’s not so great. The State of Israel, therefore, should start preparing a legal repatriation case arguing that the ancient Temple artifacts, wherever they may lie, fully belong in Jerusalem as the everlasting national heritage of the Jewish people. Unless this happens, we might have to face a new reality coming down from those long corridors sometime soon.
Now let’s finish off with something BIG, something not known before, something new, that has added impulse to this whole undertaking. There have been many stories written about this subject matter before, but none has tackled the fact that up to 10 incense shovels have been found in Israel over the many years of biblical archaeology here. I know because I’ve held them in my hands: 2,000 year-old bronze (now green, of course!) shovels that are about 40 cm long that can still be used today! They were found all over Israel, from Jerusalem in the region of the Temple area itself, to cities near Tiberias in the north and on the shores of the Kinneret.
They all have one thing in common. They belonged to the various synagogues that were in Israel during the late Roman period, some perhaps being consecrated for the Temple itself! Many of these treasures were sent abroad to places such as Abu Dhabi, South Korea, and Singapore, while others went to Rome (acquired by the Vatican), and even Beverly Hills. They fit the description of the machtah (incense shovels) perfectly, being the same size and shape of those utensils that were used by the priests in the Herodian Temple, as described in the Talmud.
Why does this matter? Because it turns out that the Vatican is party to some of the international conventions regarding restitution and repatriation of ancient cultural artifacts to their original countries of origin.
This particular item would not prove difficult to find in the Vatican inventory list on my upcoming trip to Rome, where I would learn not only how many they have, but the location as to where exactly they are being kept. ■
Harry (Hirschel) Moskoff is an investigative archaeologist, Temple scholar, film producer, and author of The A.R.K. Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What do Saul of Tarsus, Martin Luther, and three former Roman Catholic priests all have in common? These devout religious leaders all came to discover God’s righteousness.
There is a huge chasm between God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness. So which of those two things makes a person a child of God and an heir of eternal life in Heaven? (Romans 8:17).
God’s righteousness is always perfect, whereas man’s righteousness is always imperfect. God’s righteousness can cover your sins and make you right with God. Man’s righteousness leaves a person separated from God forever.
Saul of Tarsus “was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of his own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers” (Galatians 1:14). After his conversion, Saul became the Apostle Paul who no longer relied upon his own righteousness to be right with God. Zeal for religious traditions is very different than zeal for the Gospel.
Prior to his conversion, Saul was “a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:5,6). He came to learn the massive difference between legalistic righteousness and God’s righteousness.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk who discovered the same thing 500 years ago. Luther was constantly striving to save his soul. He endured many self-inflicted punishments in his efforts to atone for his sins and be accepted by God. Luther felt he had to work his way to Heaven by his own righteousness.
Thankfully, God spoke to Luther through the Gospel, and particularly this passage: “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). In other words, the righteousness of God is applied to your soul when you trust Jesus as your Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
Joseph Tremblay was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1924. He was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy, and was sent to Bolivia, Chile, where he served for 13 years. He said, “My theology has taught me that salvation is by works and sacrifices. My theology gives me no assurance of salvation; the Bible offers me that assurance. I had been trying to save myself on my works. I was pushed to do good works to merit my salvation.”
While serving as a Catholic priest, Tremblay was relying upon human righteousness. But when he placed his faith in the Gospel promises found in Scripture, he discovered God’s righteousness. The righteousness of man cannot save a single soul. Even if you combined the good works of one million religious people, it would not provide enough righteousness to prevent one lost soul from going to Hell.
Bartholomew F. Brewer was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in Washington, D.C. He eventually served as a priest in San Diego, California, and entered the Navy as a Roman Catholic chaplain. He left the Catholic Church, got married, and discovered God’s righteousness through conversations with his wife and other Christians.
Brewer said, “I finally understood that I had been relying on my own righteousness and religious efforts and not upon the completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic religion had never taught me that our own righteousness is fleshly and not acceptable to God, nor that we need to trust in Christ’s righteousness alone … during all those years of monastic life I had relied on the sacraments of Rome to give me grace to save me.”
“The completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful historical fact and beautiful spiritual absolute! When you place your faith in what Jesus completed on the cross, you are justified, redeemed, born again, saved and forgiven. When Martin Luther finally placed his faith in Christ alone, he said, “I felt that I had been born again and that the gates of Heaven had been opened. The whole of Scripture gained a new meaning.”
The Gospel is the key that unlocks the Bible and ushers a person into the kingdom of God. The Law tells us what we must do. The Gospel tells us what Christ did on the cross to save us. “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Alexander Carson was ordained in 1955 and was a priest in Alexandria, Louisiana. Carson said, “… the Holy Spirit led me to judge Roman Catholic theology by the standard of the Bible. Previously, I had always judged the Bible by Roman Catholic doctrine and theology.” In order to learn the truth about God’s righteousness, it was necessary for this priest to rely completely upon Scripture as the basis of true theology.
Do you rely completely upon Scripture, or is your religious organization more important to you than the Gospel? Whether your religious affiliation is Protestant, Catholic, or something else, the Gospel (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-8) stands head and shoulders above your particular religious organization.
Religious traditions do not cover a sinner with the righteousness of Christ. This covering for sin only takes place when a person places their faith in the sacrifice Christ made on the cross 2,000 years ago. It was a one-time sacrifice. Paul wrote, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the Law” (Romans 3:28). “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10). That is, those who rely upon their own righteousness in order to enter Heaven are under a curse and on the road to Hell.
The “righteousness from God” (Romans 3:21) is the only righteousness that can justify a sinner. Christians are saved on the front end of their relationship with Christ, before they have done even one good work. Christ’s righteousness is what produces good works in the life of a believer. God only accepts the good works of those who are already righteous in His eyes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Am I doing good works in a vain attempt to earn forgiveness and be saved, or am I doing good works because I have already been saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone? I hope you recognize the vast difference between man’s righteousness and God’s righteousness, and why only Christ’s righteousness can save your soul.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“Any doctrine claiming to be based on the Bible must be carefully checked against the Bible — an option open to anyone who knows God’s Word. Relying upon one supposed biblical expert for an evaluation of the opinions of another would be going in circles. No matter whose opinion one accepted, the end result would be the same; one would still be held hostage to human opinion. Each individual must personally check out all opinions directly from the Bible.” Dave Hunt – What Love Is This? p.25
If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. Jesus, The Lord – John 7:17
Note that Jesus said, ‘If anyone…”. Not some special elect group as some Calvinist would have us believe but ‘anyone’. He was speaking to the multitude of lost Jews, rabbis and Pharisees in the Temple on that day. The offer was to ‘anyone’ in that group. Some of them would be involved in his murder later.
Today, the same principle applies to all people who wish to know the teaching of the true God.
J. C. Ryle, the first evangelical Anglican Bishop in Liverpool England in 1880, commented as follows concerning John 7:17:
The English language here fails to give the full force of the Greek. It is literally, “If any man is willing to do –has a mind and desire and an inclination to do God’s will….” It should never be forgotten that God deals with us as moral beings, and not as beasts or stones.
Do you need some “knowing” concerning God’s teaching about Himself and His Son Jesus? His purpose for and desire to redeem lost mankind.
God has made lost mankind competent to act for himself. He is the only one who can. Give mental attention to divine truth expressed in the Bible and express your desire to God to do His will once it is revealed to you. It is okay to seek Him from motives of self-interest.
For it is in your present and eternal best interest to know the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Tell Him you are “willing to do His will.”
By Matthew Vadum January 16, 2022 Updated: January 17, 2022 From Epoch News
(Dear Reader: you cannot make this stuff up. Just unbelievable. The apostle Paul speaking about the spiritual darkness that was upon the whole world before Messiah came, said “…but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. (I Corinthians 10:20) I hope you are looking at our culture with Holy Spirit enlightened eyes. Carl)
California education authorities have agreed to drop a policy encouraging public school students to pray to Aztec gods in response to a lawsuit filed months ago by angry parents.
Among Aztec religious practices were the cutting out of human hearts and the flaying of victims and the wearing of their skin.
Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and special counsel for the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, said the “Aztec prayers at issue—which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces—were not being taught as poetry or history.”
Rather, the California State Board of Education’s nearly 900-page Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) “instructed students to chant the prayers for emotional nourishment after a ‘lesson that may be emotionally taxing or even when student engagement may appear to be low.’ The idea was to use them as prayers,” said Jonna, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.
The launch of the ESMC made California “the first state in the nation to offer a statewide ethnic studies model for educators,” the board boasted on March 18, 2021, when the curriculum was adopted.
“California’s students have been telling us for years that they need to see themselves and their stories represented in the classroom,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said at the time. “Today’s historic action gives schools the opportunity to uplift the histories and voices of marginalized communities in ways that help our state and nation achieve racial justice and create lasting change.”
The ESMC contained a section on “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers.” Among these was the In Lak Ech Affirmation, which calls upon five Aztec deities—Tezkatlipoka (God of the Night Sky), Quetzalcoatl (God of the Morning and Evening Star), Huitzilopochtli (God of Sun and War), Xipe Totek (God of Spring), and Hunab Ku (God of the Universe). The pagan prayers address the deities both by name and traditional titles, recognize them as sources of power and knowledge, invoke their assistance, and offer thanks.
According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, even after the settlement, the ESMC “is still deeply rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical pedagogy, with a race-based lens and an oppressor-victim dichotomy.” The Aztec chant component demonstrated “the politicized championing of critical consciousness, social justice, transformative resistance, liberation and anti-colonial movements in the state-sanctioned teachings of ethnic studies.”
“We are encouraged by this important, hard-fought victory,” Xu said in a statement.
“Our state has simply gone too far in attempts to promote fringe ideologies and racial grievance policies, even those that disregard established constitutional principles. Endorsing religious chants in the state curriculum is one glaring example,” he said.
“To improve California public education, we need more people to stand up against preferential treatment programs and racial spoils. At both the state and local levels, we must work together to re-focus on true education!”
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 3 in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, by the Thomas More Society, as previously reported. The plaintiffs argued that the ESMC constituted an impermissible governmental endorsement of the Aztec religion.
According to the legal complaint, the State Board of Education appointed R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a co-author of the 2019 book “Rethinking Ethnic Studies,” to chair a panel to develop the ESMC. In his book, Cuauhtin “demonstrates an animus towards Christianity and Catholicism—claiming that Christians committed ‘theocide’ (i.e., killing gods) against indigenous tribes.”
Sociocultural anthropologist Alan Sandstrom, an expert in the culture, religion, and rituals of Mesoamerican peoples, told the court the In Lak Ech Affirmation “is a modern creation that borrows elements of the Aztec religion. It would be of no real value in learning about the Aztec people or culture of the past or today.”
In the settlement agreement, the California authorities didn’t admit wrongdoing but agreed to remove the In Lak Ech Affirmation and the Ashe Affirmation from the Yoruba religion from the ESMC.
Yoruba is “an ancient philosophical concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian vodou or voodoo,” according to the Thomas More Society. It reportedly has 100 million believers worldwide in West Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, and in Caribbean nations.
The settlement provides that the California Department of Education and the board will pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers $100,000, “representing a payment toward Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with the Action.”
The two state entities will also issue a public notice to all California school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education about the changed policy, and they agreed not to encourage the use of the two challenged chants in California public schools.
Jonna told The Epoch Times via email that this is “a major victory in the fight to restore sanity in California’s public schools.”
“There is still much work to do—and our team will continue to monitor developments and be prepared to file new lawsuits when necessary.”
The Epoch Times reached out for comment on the settlement to California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the California Department of Education, and the California State Board of Education but didn’t receive a reply from any of them as of press time.
Matthew Vadum, CONTRIBUTOR – Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism