Evangelical families in Mexico lose access to water, services for refusing to deny their faith

Two evangelical families in central Mexico have been threatened with being cut off from essential services or expelled from the community if they continue to refuse to deny their faith and pay a fine illegally levied against them, according to a report.

The families of Nemesio Cruz Hernández and Eligio Santiago Hernández, who are from the First Baptist Church in the La Mesa Limantitla area in Hidalgo state’s Huejutla de los Reyes Municipality, were threatened during a community meeting on Monday, the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported.

At the meeting, the evangelical families were forbidden to even speak as they were threatened.

On Aug. 3, community leaders, identified as Jose Marcos Martínez and Julio Alvarado Hernández, had made similar threats and instructed them to stop holding worship services in the home of Bartolo Martínez Hernández, who was also fined for allowing services in his house.

In January 2019, many evangelical families were forced to sign an agreement renouncing their faith. While eight families signed it, the families of Cruz Hernández and Santiago Hernández refused to do so.

The community leaders then blocked the two families’ access to water, sewer services, government benefit programs and the community mill for over a year until they were forced to sign an extra-legal agreement on Jan. 15, 2020, in which they renounced their right to hold religious services.

The agreement said each family would be ordered to pay an illegal fine of $3,000 ($57,700 Mexican pesos). State authorities paid part of the fine, but the families have continued to be threatened with forced displacement in several follow-up meetings throughout 2020 and this year, CSW said, adding that the amount of the fine is based on the costs incurred by community leaders in their efforts to halt any investigation into crimes or human rights violations associated with the case.

In Mexico, such extra-legal agreements are often used in lieu of appropriate justice mechanisms when the rights of religious minorities are violated.

The state officials must intervene “as a matter of urgency,” CSW’s Head of Advocacy, Anna-Lee Stangl, said. “If the state government refuses to protect the rights of religious minorities, the federal government must intervene.” Stangl added: “The government, at both state and federal levels, must address the culture of impunity which has allowed violations like these to go unchecked for far too long, ensuring that families like those of Mr. Cruz Hernández and Mr. Santiago Hernández are free to practice any religion or belief of their choosing without being forced to pay illegal fines or facing pressure to renounce their beliefs under threat of criminal actions including the cutting of basic services and forced displacement.”

This is not a one-off incident of Christian persecution in Mexico, which has risen due to drug cartel violence, persecution by traditionalist Catholics and violent discrimination by anti-Christian left-wing groups, Open Doors USA previously reported.

“Last year, Mexico was [No. 52 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List]. It’s jumped up a bunch,” Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry told The Christian Post in an earlier interview. “That would most certainly be around the issues of violence and drug cartels.”

Traditionalist Catholics often persecute Mexican Christians, too, he said. In this way, they resemble many small, rural groups of people practicing ancient folk religions around the world. Open Doors calls this kind of persecution “clan violence.”

“These rural indigenous groups see Christian churches as an outside force. They can harass and bother churches and believers who might be in the community,” Curry said. “It’s within these four states in Mexico: Chiapas, Hidalgo, Guerero, Oaxaca. It’s very localized.”

Source: Christian Post

Hammers on an Anvil

Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chimes;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn out with beating years of time.

"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he and then with twinkling eye, 
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know?"
And so I thought, the anvil of God's Word
For ages skeptics' blows have beat upon.
Yet, though the sound of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed, the hammers are gone.

John Clifford

“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” Peter – I Peter 1:24-25

Wise Advice

“Stick close to the exercise of Repentance, till the end of thy life, and never think of obtaining pardon “ab humano die”(from the human), because he who has made thee make this Promise, has deceived thee.  As thou hast properly sinned against the Lord, so seek thy Remedy only at his hand.”

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan 374 AD – quoted in Bishop Nicea of Aquileia (420-485 AD) Book “ab Virginem lap-sam” – quoted in Some Remarks Upon Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont by P. Allix D.D. – London, 1690

A Historical Perspective On Church Growth

The rise of monasticism did much to pull the Western Roman church back to spiritual purity, personal holiness, and devotion to Christ. On the other hand, monasticism had many questionable practices and perspectives that border on the extreme of fanatical asceticism for asceticism’s sake. The drive for things like isolation, silence, and mystical experiences are a curious contrasts to Jesus’ call to go and make disciples and engage with sinners in a fallen world.

The laity’s esteem and veneration of a monk’s lifestyle only cemented the perception that true spirituality is reserved for a special class of believers. One has to wonder: If the church had maintained its early and fierce devotion to Christ’s commands to love God and neighbor and to make disciples of all nations -instead of becoming secularized – would monasticism ever had come about as it did? In The Way – Church As We Know It – Damian Gerke

Dear Saint: Cooperate with the Spirit of Almighty God that indwells you. Be all you can be in Christ for your sake and the sake of the lost. Bring your salvation to its ultimate conclusion, Christ-likeness, so you can be light in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation which desperately needs the Savior’s message of redemption. (Phil. 2:12-16)

We should not lock our light away. He intends for it to be on a stand for all to see.

May grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus be upon each one.

Carl

UFOs, Hyperspace and The Unseen Realm

Years ago I remember talking to a man who was concerned about the environmental future of planet Earth. He was an intelligent, highly educated medical research doctor, and a firm atheist. His “hope” for humanity rested in the colonization of space. He seriously suggested that the planet Mars could be made to support life by exploding nuclear bombs at its poles, breaking up the ice detected there, and somehow creating a life-supporting environment!

This was his faith – his faith, in spite of the fact that the Martian atmosphere consists almost entirely of carbon dioxide and is very thin. Atmospheric pressure is 5,000 times less than that of the Earth’s. Temperatures are much too cold, averaging more than 58 degrees Fahrenheit below zero!

But evolution predicts that life has occurred throughout the Universe “accidentally”, with many different routes toward the culmination of intelligent life. The different imaginations of intelligent life, evolving through different chemistries along different paths – such as those found in the science fiction of Star Wars – should be evident all around us.

This medical research doctor wanted something to hope for other than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, there is no personal hope in his scenario, only a collective hope that mankind would be able to continue “evolving” on another planet.

Because of our pride and determined resistance to our Maker, mankind tries to hope for anything that makes us humans the hero. We search for anything that makes no mention of sin and the moral justice required by a Holy God. If human life had somehow been planted on Earth by visiting space aliens in time past, there would be no standard of morality which an all-knowing Creator would require of His “image-bearers”. This absence of accountability to our Creator is the attraction – and temptation – which evolution presents, including the outgrowth idea of space-aliens as “seeding” life on Earth and “guiding” mankind through the “wise men” of history.

Evolution does away with a Creator. At best, there are only “lesser gods” – much like ourselves – that could be “extraterrestrial”. They would be members of the space-time Universe further along the evolutionary ladder in their evolved planetary systems.

Currently this summer, a report is being issued by the U.S. government on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs, aka UFOs). The report includes decades of “incidents” reported by the U.S. military, noting that many are not of American origin.

But the report does not rule out foreign or extraterrestrial origins. So, its conclusions become another incentive for national security, and for more global government!

“We must defend ourselves against another Cold War-type threat of hypersonic weapons that may be able to go in and out of extra-dimensional space” – “hyperspace”, as the science fiction of Star Wars popularized. “Who knows? Extra-terrestrial life may be spying on us, and it might be unfriendly!” There are, indeed, so many things to fear and obsess about if we don’t know the Lord and keep looking to Him!

Hyperspace, in theory, is a set of extra dimensions beyond the three spatial dimensions that we experience daily. These extra dimensions are presumably able to connect distant points in real space and allow for faster-than-light speeds across the Universe. In the Star Wars movies, the characters would cross into “hyperspace drive” to travel quickly in their spacecraft. It’s pure science fiction – just like space aliens.

But the idea of “extra dimensions” carries an important biblical truth: “Interdimensional entities” are a reality! They are beings which can cross from one set of dimensions to another. The Bible – throughout its pages – speaks of angels, fallen angels, demons and the Spirit of God as moving between the four-dimensional time-space continuum (the physical world we live in) and a spiritual dimension that is unseen and unlimited by the space-time Universe.

For example, in Genesis 6 we are told how fallen angels interacted with mankind (inter-dimensionally) to bring a thorough corruption which helped lead to the Great Flood of Noah. Jude, the epistles of Peter, and the apocryphal books of Enoch elaborate on this. Psalm 82 discusses how God stands in a congregation where “He judgeth among the gods (elohim)”, who are being rebuked for ruling with corruption.

These are arguably the “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6) which, in the study of angels, are power-player beings over the nations in collusion with Satan. This corruption of the nations, of course, led to the fact that God had to select and train His own people-group through the believing Abraham and his descendants (Deuteronomy 32). All of this supernaturalism made sense to the Hebrew worldview and writers of the Bible. But it is more difficult for modern man to be comfortable with – enlightened and limited as we are by a worldview of materialist science.

Implications for “space aliens” ala Star Wars, thus, have a basis for truth in the supernatural/spiritual reality of the God of the Bible. Satan and his fallen-angels hierarchy would like to cater to our sin nature and deceive mankind with misplaced hopes, fears, and false philosophies – thwarting the purposes of God in drawing a special people to Himself.

But our great Creator wants us to be forever united with Jesus Christ and the rest of the saints now and in eternal communion and glory – able not only to “travel safely through hyperspace” but to enjoy the heavenly blessings that He “has prepared for them that love him.” Such blessings are so wonderful that they are beyond what we can possibly imagine! This is truly a hope worth having! — Creation Moments

Where Should We Start Our Search For Truth

There is a simple shortcut to truth: start with the Bible first and investigate it thoroughly. Why start there? Not just because the Bible claims to be the only inspired Word of the one true God who created us. It also claims that all of the world’s religions and their scriptures are false and actually in the service of Satan. The Bible calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and thus the author of its religions. So if the Bible is true, we have saved ourselves a lifetime of vain searching through false systems. 


In fact, we can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that every word in the Bible is true. The Bible has several unique features not found in the scriptures of the world’s religions, making it possible to substantiate its claims. Christianity is not a philosophy, mystical experience, or esoteric practice [but] is based upon undeniable and historical facts. The Bible stands on a four-fold foundation, every part of which can be examined and verified: 1) prophecy foretelling events and doctrines in advance, 2) fulfillment of those prophecies in detail, 3) secular history testifying to the fulfillment of prophecies and events, and 4) factual data corroborated by archaeology and science. None of this is the case with the teachings or scriptures of any of the world’s religions. —Dave Hunt[Excerpt taken from Seeking and Finding God (Bend, OR: TBC, 2007), pp 66-67) – Berean Call

Who Is Our Mediator With Almighty God?

“For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all…” I Timothy 2:5

“…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” I John 2: 1-2

Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. There is no other mediator, not His mother, Mary, no preacher, priest, saint or angelic being. He alone is our mediator.

The second verse in the original Greek tells us that the Lord Jesus is facing the Father for us, as our Advocate. He is seated at the right hand of God’s throne according to Scripture. He is there in His resurrected, glorified human body with the spike prints in his hands and feet and the spear wound in His side, evidence of His ransoming all born again Christians.

I pray He is facing God as your Advocate and not your Judge.

Bless His Name forever more!

Remain faithful to Him above all else.

Carl

Roman Emperor Constantine – The First Vicar of Christ

In Constantine’s day (306-337 CE), the emperor, as the head of the pagan priesthood in Rome known as the Pontifical College (now headed by the Pope), was called Pontifex Maximus. Constantine headed the church, as would the emperors after him for five centuries. He called himself Vicarius Christi (Vicar of Christ). Yet he continued to officiate at pagan celebrations and to endow pagan temples even as he built Christian churches! The popes eventually claimed the emperor’s titles, Pontifex Maximus and Vicar of Christ, as their own. True Christians separated themselves from an increasingly apostate church and began to call the popes Antichrist.

Constantine never renounced his loyalty to the pantheon of pagan gods. He abolished neither the pagan Altar of Victory in the senate nor the Vestal Virgins; and the sun-god rather than Christ continued to be honored on imperial coins. Throughout his “Christian” life Constantine mixed pagan and Christian rites and continued to rely upon “pagan magic formulas to protect crops and heal disease.” Historian Philip Hughes, a Catholic priest, writes:

“In his manners he [Constantine] remained, to the end … the Pagan of his early life. His furious tempers, the cruelty which … spared not the lives even of his wife and son, are … an unpleasing witness to the imperfection of his conversion.”

Dave Hunt – The Berean Call

Mexican Census: Evangelicals at New High, Catholics at New Low

Thanks to migration, missions, and Pentecostal flair, Protestants now make up a 10th of the population.
GRIFFIN PAUL JACKSON|
Mexican Census: Evangelicals at New High, Catholics at New Low

Image: Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

The Catholic majority in Mexico is slipping, as Protestants surpassed 10 percent of the population in the country for the first time ever.

According to recently released data from Mexico’s 2020 census, the Protestant/evangelical movement increased from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 11.2 percent last year.

The Catholic Church has historically dominated the religious landscape across Latin America, but especially in Mexico, which ranks among the most heavily Catholic countries in the region. Today, though an overwhelming majority of Mexicans still identify as Catholic, declines are accelerating.

It took 50 years—from 1950 to 2000—for the proportion of Catholics in Mexico to drop from 98 percent to 88 percent. Now, only two decades later, that percentage has slipped another 10 points to 77.7 percent.

National church leaders attribute the boom in Protestantism to a range of factors, from the influence of Americans and fellow Latin Americans in the country to effective evangelical outreach in indigenous areas.

Pentecostalism dominates the Protestant landscape, and even many of Mexico’s historical denominations—think Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists—have been “pentecostalized” in some beliefs and practices, embracing energetic worship, healing, and spiritual gifts.

Nearly a million American-born people live in Mexico, as well as tens of thousands of Guatemalans and Venezuelans, and others from Central American countries. Some of them have brought evangelicalism with them, while others encounter it when they arrive in Mexico, according to Rosa A. Duarte de Markham, coordinator of the department of biblical translation at the Missionary Cooperation of Mexico (Comimex).

Markham also believes that the recent Protestant growth reflects how Mexican society longs for the sense of morality and family values upheld in evangelical churches.

“Mexico has been in mourning for several years due to enforced disappearances. Surely this has led to the search for God as a comforter, to value peace and justice,” she said. “On the other hand, the need to rescue the family nucleus has led mothers and fathers to search in the Word of God for values such as fidelity in marriage, harmony, love of children, honesty, and a healthy lifestyle.”

The 77.7 percent Catholic figure from the recent Census resembles ongoing polling on religious affiliation by Latinobarómetro, which found that the Catholic population in Mexico has hovered around 80 percent for at least 25 years.

The most popular Protestant affiliation in Mexico, according to Latinobarómetro, is nondenominational, at 3 percent of the population in 2018. Overall, Protestants are more active in their faith, with 63 percent of nondenominational Mexicans considering themselves practicing, compared to 41 percent of Catholics.

Fifty years ago, there were very few Protestants in Mexico, but missionary efforts were underway. Over the years, the population grew more committed to evangelism—particularly in areas where the Catholic Church didn’t have as prominent a presence—and the expansion over the past decade shows that their efforts have borne fruit.

“The most important thing is that the Catholic Church had a monopoly on belief for many years, and that monopoly broke most particularly after the Second World War,” said Roberto Blancarte, sociologist of religion and professor at El Colegio de México.

According to Blancarte, there were simply not enough priests in Mexico to meet the needs of all the people. At the turn of the century, there was only one priest for every 6,000 Mexicans, a staggering deficit that left a pastoral void in regions poorer and farther afield than major urban centers. Protestants stepped up to fill that void, sending pastors to rural, indigenous areas.

Today, Mexico’s northernmost states have significant Protestant populations thanks to American influence around the border. The far southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco have populations that are upwards of 35 percent evangelical, the most of any Mexican states. These are also the states with the largest indigenous populations, Blancarte points out.

“The big change was not missionaries themselves, but the translation of the Bible into native languages,” said Blancarte, referencing efforts by evangelical groups including SIL International. “That allowed many people to read the Bible directly and to have local ministers who develop, in their own language, their own services.”

Experts also saw popular Pentecostal-style worship appealing to indigenous believers’ backgrounds in ecstatic spirituality and magic, as well as ritual Catholics who still adhere to syncretistic spiritual beliefs.

For decades, the growth of Protestantism has corresponded with the decline of Catholicism in other Latin American countries, with dramatic changes in places like Honduras, Nicaragua, and Brazil. Even up until several years ago, Mexico was seen as an exception to the trend.

Now, as Protestantism rises in the majority Catholic country, so do the proportion of Mexicans without ties to organized religions. In the 2020 census, those with no religion rose from 4.7 percent to 8.1 percent. Another 2.5 percent consider themselves a believer but don’t have a religious affiliation.

The religious shifts have begun to foster a greater sense of pluralism and, for some, tolerance. They’ve also influenced the political sphere, according to Blancarte, with evangelicals becoming more visible and powerful, despite there being no monolithic evangelical voting bloc.

“We are still a minority, but we are a majority within this minority, and this gives us some force and the government is starting to look at us to see what we think about certain issues,” said Cirilo Cruz, president of CONEMEX, the National Evangelical Fellowship of Mexico.

Cruz also cautioned against the tendency to be seduced by political power for the sake of having influence and prays that evangelical leaders handle their new position in Mexican society carefully and prophetically.

“We need to be careful in regard to how we grow,” said Cruz. “That our DNA will be biblical. That our DNA will hold values, principles, and ethics emanating from the Word of our God.”

There is little data yet on the trajectory of Mexico’s Protestant community during the ongoing coronavirus health crisis, but church leaders have been adamant about continued evangelization in the midst of the pandemic.

“As for Mexican Protestants, in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have understood that our call is to continue preaching the good news of salvation,” said Markham, “to bring love and hope to a world that is collapsing.”

Christianity Today

Jesus Chosen Over Animistic Beliefs

Member of Animistic Indigenous Village in Mexico Embraces Christianity, Brings Family to Christ
A man from a tribal animistic village in Oaxaca, Mexico abandoned the traditions he grew up with and gave his life to Christ despite great persecution from other tribal members.   Reynaldo said he had followed the animistic rituals for years but did not really understand why he did them.  

“In many cases I didn’t even know why I was doing the animist rituals, except ‘to not anger the spirits,’ and a life full of doing that never fulfilled me,” he said, according to Christian Aid Mission, a nondenominational organization that helps plant churches indifferent parts of the world.

The village is one of the few communities in Mexico that have so far resisted Western influence. For 500 years, it has kept its traditions intact, and tribal members like Reynaldo who deviate from animistic practices were met with hostility. Yet it did not stop him from pursuing his new life in Christ.

“I’ve decided to follow the Lord whatever the cost,” he said.   His efforts were greatly rewarded: his wife, children and parents also gave their lives to Jesus, and they were all baptized together, along with four other members of the community.

An indigenous missionary named Mariano worked in the village for 11 years. After a long time of labor, the ministry has now turned the work over to a local believer named Pedro, the village’s first convert to Christianity, who has become the local pastor to lead the small congregation of about 20 believers.   “We told the local village authorities that Mariano now will only be three days a week in the community, and that going forward he will support the local leadership from outside so they can grow and get stronger,” the director said, adding that Mariano’s departure saddened the community leaders.

Oaxaca is considered as the world’s most ethnically diverse place. There are more than 200 languages and dialects spoken in the Mexican state, and about half of its indigenous inhabitants do not speak Spanish, which is why indigenous missionaries take a long time to study the dialects.    While the challenge in such places involves breaking through tribal traditions, in some parts of Mexico, evangelical Christians endure intense persecution from the Catholic church. About 80 percent of the country’s population is Catholic.

In April last year, Nate Lance of the International Christian Community said some Christians were being forced to convert to Catholicism.   “When they refuse to recant their faith, they are expelled from the community,” Lance told Fox News.   In many cases, Christians are beaten or imprisoned or punished in some other way, such as cutting off their utilities.

Lance condemned the Mexican government’s lack of inaction to address the issue,
particularly when the Constitution allows for freedom of religion in the country.  

https://www.gospelherald.com/articles/70234/20170426/member-animistic-indigenous-village-mexico-embraces-christianity-brings-family-christ.htm
Source: Berean Call

As The Shining Moon and Glittering Stars

Even as the shining moon and the glittering stars give the most light and adorn the blue expanse of heaven the most gloriously, in the darkest nights, so it was also after A. D. 1000, as regards spiritual matters, which concern the honor of God and the salvation of the souls of men.

For, about the year 1000, as well as many years before and after but particularly then, the world lay sunken, as it were, in an arctic, six-month’s night, through the thick, and palpable darkness, which had arisen, with heavy vapors of superstitions, from the Roman pit. Yet, notwithstanding the state of the times, some undefiled persons, as bright heavenly signs, and stars, began to shine forth the more, and to let their light of evangelical truth illumine the dark nights of papal error. Yea, some, like the polar star, served as a sign to sail by; I mean, to accomplish safely and in a godly manner, through the turbulent waves of perverted worship and human inventions, the journey to the heavenly fatherland. Others, like the morningstar, or the lovely, blushing Aurora, announced the approaching day; we mean, they pointed to the true day of the Christian and evangelical worship of God, and revealed it, as much as they were able, to those who sat in the darkness of error.

We will no longer speak by simile; what we mean is this: That there were men in those dark times, who maintained God’s truth, in various points, according to the needs of that time, and bore witness to and sealed it not only with the mouth, but with the deed, yea, with their blood and death.

Martyrs Mirror – from chapter: AN ACCOUNT OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY: SUMMARY OF THE MARTYRS IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY – page 265 -266, compiler T.J. Van Braght, 1660

May we, like the martyrs of the 1100s, stand for God’s truth as found in the Holy Scriptures; not only with the words of our mouth but with our actions, for the commandments and teachings of men continue today to produce a spiritual darkness that blinds the souls of men to eternal destruction. Let us be light in the darkness and guide others to the only safe harbor of Jesus, the Savior and Lord of Lords.

Carl

The Reformation: Why Martin Luther Was Angry.

Last post we discussed the 503rd anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. (You may scroll down past this post to read last post) We saw that Martin Luther was infuriated by the selling of indulgences to the German people. Having begun to read the New Testament, he knew that salvation from sin was not for sale by God.

Following are statements from contemporary documents which reveal, to those who know their Bible, that this was all devilish. It caused people to put their trust in the Pope and his word instead of the Holy Bible and what it says about the finished work of Christ on the Cross for sinful man.


Luther wrote the following concerning the Dominican monk named Johann Tetzel who was selling the indulgences for Pope Leo X:

  1. “…with might and main he sold grace for money as dearly or as cheaply as he could.

2. He had grace and power from the Pope to offer forgiveness even if someone had slept with the holy Virgin Mary*, the mother of God, as long as a contribution will be put into the coffer.

3. Furthermore, The Red Cross of indulgences and the papal coat of arms on the flag in the churches was as powerful as the cross of Christ.

4. Moreover, even if Saint Peter were here now, he would have no greater grace or power than he (Tetzel) had.

5. Furthermore, he would not want to trade places in heaven with Saint Peter, for he had redeemed more souls with his indulgences than Peter with his sermons.

6. Furthermore, if anyone put money into the coffer for a soul in purgatory** the soul will leave purgatory** for heaven in the moment one can hear the penny hit the bottom.

7. Furthermore, it is not necessary to show remorse or sorrow or to do penance for sins when purchasing indulgences or a letter of indulgence.

8. He even sold indulgences for future sins.

9. Such abominable things he did abundantly, he was merely interested in money. ” 

Martin Luther, Wider Hans Worst, 1541 (WA 51, 538)

The sale of the indulgence for the construction of Saint Peter’s in Rome was regulated by a ‘Summary Instruction’ issued by Albert of Hohenzollen, Archbishop of Magdeburg and Mainz. Two details set forth in the instructions are:

  1. “The first of the four graces that could be obtained is the complete remission of all sins. Nothing can be called greater than this grace, since man, living in sin and deprived of divine grace, obtains complete forgiveness by these means an enjoys anew the grace of God. Moreover, through such forgiveness of sins the punishment which one is obliged to undergo in purgatory on account of the offense of the divine Majesty is all remitted and the pain of purgatory** altogether done away with.”
  2. “The 4th distinctive grace is for those souls which are in purgatory**, and is the complete remission of all sins, which remission the Pope brings to past through his intercession, to the advantage of said souls, in this wise: that the same contribution shall be placed in the chest by a living person as one would make for himself.” ( from Intructio Summaria (W. Kohler, Dokumente zum Ablasstreit, pp. 104-16.)

In closing, Martin Luther knew what Tetzel was doing for Pope Leo X was an abomination to Holy God.  God is not for sale and neither is His marvelous grace. And especially not the precious blood of Jesus that was shed for payment for our many, many sins.  You can not bribe or buy God off. 

**And I pray, Dear Reader, that you know there is no such thing as purgatory in the Bible.  Hebrews 10:27 says, “…It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgement.” Almighty God only recognizes the precious blood of Jesus as the payment for man’s sin.  The fires of this cooked-up purgatory is not going to purify anyone of their sins. The forgiveness of our sins had better be settled before we take our last breath on earth. Once we die, our permanent destination in the next world is set: heaven or the place of torment. There is no moving around.

Purgatory is a great money maker for the Roman Catholic Church but it was cooked up in hell and given to men who had seared consciences to deceive the unsuspecting (I Timothy 4: 1-3).

*Mary, the mother of Jesus, realized she need a Savior just like everyone else. She said “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior (Luke 1: 46). She is blessed among women but she is not the co-redeemer of man and no one should be praying to her or other dead people. Read Deuteronomy 18: 10-14 where God forbids this.

Luther was just in being angry about all these lies. How we need a Reformation today, a Luther to rise up and expose these dangerous errors that still lead lost, religious man to eternal ruin!

Carl

Note: All quotations are from The Reformation – A Narrative History Related By Contemporary Observers and Participants by Hans Hillerbrand, Editor

The Reformation Born 503 Years Ago Today

In 1517 a Dominican Friar named Johann Tetzel had been selling indulgences near Wittenberg to raise money for constructing Saint Peter’s in Rome. According to Tetzel, those who purchased an indulgence would receive remission of purgatory. Indulgences could also be purchased on behalf of dead relatives and friends. The punchline of Tetzel’s sermon was, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

The sale of these indulgences infuriated Martin Luther, the professor of biblical studies at the University of Wittenberg, and he decided to hold a disputation with other faculty members on the subject. A professor interested in holding a disputation would nail the theses to be discussed on the cathedral door. Luther posted his 95-Theses on the great wooden door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31st, 1517.

Some of Luther’s points for discussion were: (1) “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in saying, “Repent Ye”, intended that the whole life of believer should be penitence”. (32) “Those who believe that, through letters of pardon, they are made sure of their own salvation, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.” (37) “Every true Christian, whether living or dead has a share and all the benefits of Christ and of the Church, given by God, even without letters of pardon”.  (62) “The true treasure of the Church is the Holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Luther knew from his own repentance and conversion that paying an indulgence could not achieve forgiveness of sins. Shortly before posting the 95- Theses, Luther had begun studying the Greek New Testament, and his studies persuaded him that the Greek word for repentance, metanoia, meant a change of heart, not mere performance of outward works, as theologians of his day defined it.

Luther wrote the 95-Theses in Latin, intending them to be discussed by scholars, not circulated among the populace. But as Luther himself acknowledged, “A fortnight they flew all over Germany.” Translated into German and sold as far away as Rome, the 95-Theses became much more than a University exercise.

For the next two decades, Luther enjoyed seeing the Reformation grow. Many regions in Germany accepted the evangelical doctrines that Luther and other reformers discovered in the Scriptures. Luther lived to see a second generation of evangelicals sing the hymns he had written, read his German translation of the Bible, and learn his catechism from their early childhood.

Throughout his life he preached and taught God’s promise of redemption to the repentant sinner. On his deathbed he prayed, “O Lord Jesus Christ, I commend my poor soul to Thee. O Heavenly Father, I know that, although I shall be taken from this life, I shall live forever with thee. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Luther died on February 18, 1546, at the age of sixty-two in Eisleben, the city where he was born. As word of his death spread to Wittenberg, bells tolled, and people crowded the streets, wanting to pay their last respects to their leader.

On Monday, February 22, 1546, accompanied by caravan that included his wife, Katie, his four children, and a throng of his followers, Luther’s casket was born through the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, on which, more than twenty-eight years before, the young monk had nailed his theses.

Reflection

Little did Martin Luther realize the forces that would-be set-in motion by the posting of his 95-Thesis. He merely felt it necessary to speak out against the error of his day. He was willing to stand up and be counted for truth and God used him to change the world. Do you ever feel that you should speak out against error? There is no predicting how God will honor your faithfulness.

They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth.     II Timothy 2:25

Source: The One Year Christian History – E. Michael and Sharon Rusten

Just Enough But Not Enough

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” Jonathan Swift –

Some of the meanest people are church people.” –Anonymous

“Minister, we been praying for revival of religion. And now God poured out his Spirit, we all ‘fraid for it.” –A Believer participating in the 1860 Jamaica prayer revival

Religion is dangerous in the sense that it is unregenerate man’s attempt to reach God by church membership, rituals, sacraments, obeying man’s commandments and teachings and performing other good works. It can only reform man, not change him. Religion can not cause man to be born again; therefore, it does not free man from his enslavement to sin. It still dominates him; therefore, though religious, he still hates and can be as mean as a snake. Listen to Brother Paul writing to the Christian church in Colossae concerning the keeping of religion’s commandments:

“These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” Colossians 2:23

Religion can not give us victory over our sinful nature. Paul said this about religious people: “…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…” (2 Tim. 3:5). The power to radically change our sinful life only comes when we are born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3).

Flee to Jesus Christ, and to Him alone, to escape man-made religion s0 you can experience true life. Ask Him to save you today and to forgive all of your sins and be your Lord and Savior. He will cause you to be born again and the Holy Spirit will come to you and be your Comforter and Guide in this life. And He will change you by causing you to will (desire) and do of God’s good pleasure, bringing freedom from the human sinful nature.

Flee to Jesus today!

Thank you for your precious time. God bless! Carl

Why Huguenots Came To America.

Dear Reader: After sharing about Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre and the Huguenots (French Protestants) in the pervious post, I wanted to share why they fled to various nations, including America. The following article is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten.

God bless you. Carl

“Why is France today considered a mission field?”

The Wars of Religion began in France in 1562 between the Roman Catholics and the French Protestants called Huguenots. The Huguenots were led by the family of Henry of Navarre, a minor kingdom including a small portion of southern France and the present Spanish province of Navarre. Henry inherited the throne of Navarre from his staunchly Calvinist mother. When his cousin King Henry III of France died in 1589, he became heir to the throne of France. His Calvinism made him an unacceptable candidate in Catholic France until he embraced Catholicism in 1593. He was then crowned King Henry IV.

Once he became king, however, he did not forget his Huguenot roots, and in 1598 he issued the Edict of Nantes. This agreement gave the Huguenots freedom of religion in certain areas of the country, civil equality, and fair administration of justice. It provided the Huguenots with a state subside for their troops and pastors and allowed them to retain control of approximately two hundred towns. The Edict of Nantes was historically unique in that it was the first time freedom was granted to two religions to coexist in a nation.

By the late 1600s Henry IV’s grandson, Louis XIV, was king of France. But Louis XIV shared none of his grandfather’s empathy for the Huguenots and on October 18, 1685, he revoked the Edict of Nantes. All Huguenot churches were either destroyed or turned in Catholic churches. Huguenot clergy were given fourteen days to leave France, but the remaining Huguenots were forbidden to emigrate. All children within France were to be baptized by a Catholic priest and raised as Catholics.

[Dear Reader: As time drew near for Louis XIV to meet his Maker, he inquired of his Roman Catholic priest as to what could he do to atone for the wicked things he had done in his life. The priest told him to exterminate the Protestants. To read about this time of persecution read “Six Centuries of Carnage” on this blog. If you scroll down under this blog, you will find it. ]

Mounted soldiers were housed in the homes of Huguenots. The troops were given license to do anything they pleased, short of murder. They forced their hosts to dance until they collapsed. They poured boiling water down their throats. They beat the soles of their feet and pulled out the hairs from their beards. The soldiers burned the arms and legs of their Huguenot hosts with candles and made them hold red-hot coals in their hands. They forced women to stand naked in the streets.

Some four hundred thousand “converts” were forced to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. Those who spat out the wafer as they left the [Catholic] church were sentenced to be burned alive. Obstinate Huguenot men were imprisoned in dungeons and unheated cells. The women sometimes fared better as they were sent to convents, where they often receive unexpectedly sympathetic treatment from the nuns.

Of the 1.5 million Huguenots living in France in 1660, over the next decades 400,000 risked their lives by escaping across the guarded borders. Geneva, a city of 16,000, welcomed four thousand Huguenots. Although they were Catholic, English kings Charles II and James II aided the Huguenot immigrants in their country. An entire quarter of London was soon populated with French workers. The elector of Brandenburg gave such a friendly reception to the Huguenots that over a fifth of Berlin was French by 1697. Holland welcomed thousands and gave them citizenship. Dutch Catholics joined Protestants and Jews in raising money for Huguenot relief. Many Huguenots fled to South Carolina and to the other colonies as well.

At the height of the Reformation nearly half of the population of France was Huguenot. But as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the intense persecutions that followed, today less than one percent of the French shares the faith of the Huguenots, making France a mission field for the gospel.”

The above history is from The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten. If you are looking for a daily, historical devotional, I strongly recommend this book.

Considering all of this, is it any wonder that some of the early American colonies prohibited Catholics from settling in their colony? And that the Huguenots risked it all to reach a tolerant nation where they would have freedom of religion.

Today, Christians are being persecuted in many nations. It is our responsibility as born again believers and children of Almighty God to remember out brothers and sisters who are being prosecuted, tortured, kidnapped and murdered for their faith in the Muslin countries, Nigeria, Vietnam, Communist China, Hindu India, Mexico, Central America and other countries. Hebrew 13:3 says:

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated , since you yourselves also are in the body. “

Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be with them and that they may persevere in the Faith, even unto death if necessary. Pray that their persecutors would be saved by the grace of God.

Thank you for your time.

Carl

Huguenots and St. Bartholomew’s Day

“The time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a service. This is because they have never known the Father or me.” John 16:2-3

My ancestors from Guernsey Island, France were Huguenots (French Protestants). Following is an account of Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, one of the most horrible days in the history of Christianity, when an estimated 70,000* Huguenots were murdered just for being Protestants.

“In Paris on August 18, 1572, there were hopes for peace between the warring Catholics and Protestants. On this day a royal wedding between the Protestant king Henry of Navarre and the Catholic Margaret of Valois brought together the two hostile factions. Margaret was the sister of young King Charles IX of France and the daughter of Catherine de Medici, the powerful Queen Mother. Protestant and Catholic nobles who had fought each other for ten years turned out for the celebration. Thousands of Protestants came to Paris for the wedding. The festivities lasted for days.

Calvinism had come to France in 1555. Soon there were two thousand French Reformed Churches, and nearly half of the population had embraced the Reformed faith. French Protestants became known as Huguenots.

Fighting broke out in 1562 with the massacre of Vassy, in which twenty-three Huguenots were killed and one hundred wounded. The Huguenots fought back in three successive “wars of religion.” Between 1562 and 1572 there were eighteen massacres of Huguenots, five of Roman Catholics and thirty assassinatons.

While Catherine the Queen Mother was planning her daughter’s wedding, she had also been plotting the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, a popular French war hero who had become a leader of the Huguenots.

On August 22 the assassination attempt failed. This ignominious plot so soon after the royal wedding threatened to embarrass the royal family. Near midnight the following night the twenty-two-year-old French King, brother of the bride, shouted to his mother in a fit of rage, ” If you are going to kill Coligny, why don’t you kill all the Huguenots in France, so that there will be no one left to hate me.”

Following this impetuous directive, Catherine ordered the murder of all the Huguenots leaders currently in Paris, including those who had attended the wedding. The massacre began August 24, 1572, which was St. Bartholomew’s Day. The gates of the city were closed so that no Huguenot could escape. Admiral Coligny was murdered first as he knelt in prayer.

Many of the Huguenot nobles who were guests at the royal wedding were lodged at the Louvre. They were called into the courtyard and shot one by one as the appeared. King Charles watched approvingly.

During the night the homes of Paris Huguenots had each been marked with white crosses. Before daybreak messengers were sent throughout the city screaming, “Kill! Kill! The king commands it.” A murdering frenzy fell on the whole city. Whole Huguenot families were taken into the streets and murdered. Unborn children were cut from their dead mother’s bellies and smashed on the pavement. The dawn of St. Bartholomew’s Day revealed thousands of martyred Huguenots.

But the savagery was not without cost to the king, Charles IX soon began having nightmares about the massacre. In less than two years at the age of just twenty-four he was dying. His last days were plagued with visions of his victims. “What bloodshed, what murders!” he cried to his nurse. “What evil counsel have I followed? O my God, forgive me! … I am lost!”

Reflection: The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was one of the worst days in the history of Christ’s Church. But Jesus warned that another day is coming that will be worst than this day. Are you ready for it if you live to experience that future awful day?

“For that will be a time of greater horror than anything the world has ever seen or will ever see again.” Matthew 24: 21

(Source: The One Year Christian History – E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (2003))

Dear Reader: The Pocket Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley states the following concerning the Roman Catholic Pope’s reaction to the Massacre:

“There was great rejoicing in Rome. The Pope and his College of Cardinals went, in solemn procession, to the Church of San Marco, and ordered the Te Deum to be sung in thanksgiving. The Pope struck a medal in commemoration of the Massacre; and sent a Cardinal to Paris to bear the King and Queen-Mother the Congratulations of Pope and Cardinals.”

* Pocket Bible Handbook -Henry H. Halley (1954)

Shocking isn’t it! Done all in the name of God! But what about you? Are you ready to meet your Maker. Are you at peace with God through Jesus Christ? For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We need a Redeemer. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourself, not of works lest any man should boast. No church can save you. It is by Christ alone, by faith alone, through grace alone, to the glory of God alone. Cry out to Him now while there is still breath in your lungs. May you be ready.

Carl

Six Centuries of Carnage

They will fight against you but will not overcome you. Jeremiah 1:19

1878: If there were a prize for Christian Group That Has Been Persecuted The Longest, the Waldensians would win it. Their story begins in 1173 when Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant in Lyons, France, began to take his faith seriously. He sold his estate and gave the money to the poor then had two priests translate the Bible from Latin into French and began to memorize passages. He began to attract followers who wanted to know the Bible, preach it, and put it into practice. His followers called themselves the Poor in Spirit, and they went about in pairs, preaching in the marketplaces. Their lives of poverty and service were an obvious contrast with the wealth and immorality of the [Catholic] church’s officials. Despite the fact that they were doing nothing wrong, they were branded as heretics and excommunicated. In the Middle Ages, thinking outside the box was dangerous.

The Poor in Spirit —- or, to use the more familiar name, the Waldensians —- were active in the Piedmont, the region where France, Italy, and Switzerland meet. In this isolated, mountainous area they found shelter from persecution —- but never for long because now and then, a ruler, with the approval of the [Catholic] pope, would launch a crusade against these Bible-centered people. In 1487 the [Catholic] pope decreed that anyone killing a Waldensian could receive pardon for all sins and confiscate the dead man’s property.

In the 1500s the Waldensians joined forces with the Protestants —- after all, Waldo and followers had been ahead of the curve in emphasizing the Bible as a guide to life. But since they lived in a area that was technically Catholic, persecution continued. King Louis XIV of France detested the Waldensians and in 1685 ordered his cousin who ruled the region to exterminate them.

(A side note on King Louis XIV: from another book on the Waldensians, I learned that toward the end of the Kings life, he asked his priest what he could do to atone for the horrible acts he had done in his life. The priest’s answer was: exterminate the Protestants. )

Finally, on February 17, 1848, came the Edict of Toleration, issued by Charles Albert, king of Piedmont. The Waldensians could finally live and worship in peace

The Christian History Devotional — J. Stephen Lang

Reader, Revelation 6: 9-11 says “And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth? And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.”

A terrible day of Judgement is coming when the Lord Jesus moves off the throne of grace onto His throne of Judgement. Those who have slaughtered God’s children will be Judged for eternity and placed in the lake of fire, which is the second death.

Is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, your Shelter from this horrible day? I pray so. Thank you for your time. Carl

Mantra Meditation – Yoga and Meditation Dangers

A warning from Chris Lawson about the dangers of mantra meditation and so-called “Christocentric meditation.”
— Read on www.spiritualresearchnetwork.org/mantra-meditation-dangerous.html

Christians and Christ’s Intention

“The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God: all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are his marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which he nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!”

John Wycliffe (c. 1320s – 31 December 1384),

He was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, biblical translator, reformer, minister, and professor at the University of Oxford. He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism. Wycliffe attacked the privileged status of the clergy, which had bolstered their powerful role in England. He then attacked the luxury and pomp of local parishes and their ceremonies. Wycliffe also advocated translation of the Bible into the common language.

From The Berean Call