Posted on 7/15/2012
Study the early history of the Christian church and you will read of some very heroic episodes of faith. We read about the apostles and the elders of Jerusalem who were eventually hunted down and killed, both by Jewish leaders and later by the Romans. Only the apostle John, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Lazarus (the man Jesus raised from the dead) seem to have survived all of the persecution. Jesus said that some would. Read his statement:
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:28)
Once again, it is not something you will hear the local preacher in church talk about, but it is a definite reality. We know it to be a reality because in the end, we have the specter of the "two witnesses" in Revelation 11:
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. (Rev 11:3-4)
The mention of the "two olive trees" is a reference to a prophecy from Zechariah 4. This does not make sense until you read that prophecy. The other interesting word in this document is the word "witness," which in both Greek and Aramaic explains that these two men have SEEN the ministry of Christ, WATCHED as He was crucified, and SAW Him raised from the dead. Any good lawyer will tell you that a credible witness must have documentary proof of what they are saying or they will be impeached by the other side in the courtroom. These two witnesses will have documentary proof of the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The theory (put forth by Hal Lindsey and others) that the witnesses are Enoch and Elijah, or Moses and Elijah is without foundation in scriptures. It is more the ramblings of unlearned preachers who tend to use scripture when it is convenient for them and discard it when it does not support their contentions. Besides, dead people reappearing is a trick of necromancy and witchcraft (see I Samuel 28:7-25 for an example), not something that Christians should be engaging in or in any way encouraging. Besides, Moses, Enoch, and Elijah did not physically witness the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Metaphysical witnesses have rarely been considered valid in any court in history. I rather doubt our "modern" courts would accept their testimony either.
Things changed for the church in the fourth century when the Roman emperor Constantine won Battle of the Milvian Bridge (near Rome) claiming that he saw a cross above the battlefield and allegedly heard the Greek words "ἐν τούτῳ νίκα" or translated "in this sign you will conquer." The cross he claimed to have seen is pictured to the right. It is called a chi rho cross. Antiquity says it is a Hellenized cross that some Christian groups adopted in the fourth century. It is interesting though that you will find this symbol on coins minted by the Egyptian King Ptolemy III Euergetes earlier in the third century. With the connection to the Egyptians, a lot of ideas come to mind. The biggest one being that this is not a true cross at all, but a Hellenized Egyptian Ankh or fertility symbol!
Emperor Constantine I's victory in battle would begin the second great attempt to infiltrate the church, the first being recorded in Acts 8. Unlike Simon the Sorcerer's failed attempt (Acts 8:9-24), this attempt would succeed beyond the Devils' wildest imagination. The gentile church, while suspicious of the Romans at first, finally did gather at Nicaea where they would convene their first church council in C.E. 323. Contrary to what many suggest, they never discussed the content of the Bible. That was never a subject for discussion at a church council until the Council of Trent (C.E. 1545-1563), twelve centuries later.
The most interesting aspect of the Council of Nicaea was the total exclusion of Jewish Christians (Nazerenes) from the Council. Though it was never officially explained at or by the Council, some church historians suggest a schism had occurred some time before. Others suggest that Emperor Constantine I had some influence in this. It could also be that the Nazerenes were not interested in formalizing themselves into another religion (they were apparently happy being associated with Judaism). Most of them still continued to live Torah-observant lives and observe Jewish practices, while much of the gentile church tended to take a more liberal approach.
Once the devils were able to infiltrate the main gentile churches, they began to reintroduce many pagan practices, while a the same time, they de-emphasized many of the Jewish practices taught in the Old Testament. They also began to develop a pyramidical hierarchial structure to maintain control in the organization. Even though they will argue that Moses set up a similar judicial structure in the Book of Exodus, his structure was only to solve legal differences, not to control and rule the people. Until the Jews insisted upon a king, the rulers of Israel were judicial in nature. When the prophet-judge Samuel was forced to anoint a king, this is what the LORD had to say about it:
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee." (I Samuel 8:6-8)
Even though the Torah makes provision for a king (See Deuteronomy 17:14-20), it was not the optimal ruling structure the LORD desired.
The formal church effectively instituted by Emperor Constantine I would become the face of Christianity to the world for centuries to come. Despite the major schisms in the tenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, the resulting church organizations all continued to maintain much of the structure set forth in the fourth through the sixth centuries. While the Roman Catholic Church's system is more formalized and has more management levels, the pyramidic supervision system used by the Roman Catholic Church is still present in most protestant church organizations.
|Dr. J. Franklyn Norris|
Once this system was in place, the devil was ready to convene his own evangelical crusades. While famous preachers dotted the landscape of Europe and North America throughout history, the advent of technology (improved means of travel, public address systems, magnetic recording tape, radio, and later television) meant that evangelical campaigns could easily cross the boundaries the denominations used to set. Before radio and later television, many Roman Catholic adherents would have never set foot in a Baptist or Pentecostal meeting, but when Rev. J. Franklyn Norris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas preached a daily message on his new radio station for the first time in 1920, he opened a new world. The same Roman Catholic people who would dare not go to one of Dr. Norris' church services, did not hesitate to listen to him on the radio in secret (if the Priest came to call, the radio could easily be shut off). Later on, many clear-channel A.M. stations began to make a lot of money selling time to a new breed of radio preachers.
|Rev. John R. Rice|
|Rev. Billy Graham|
|Rev. Jack Hyles|
With the advent of magnetic tape, many preachers began to tape their meetings and play them on the radio. This caused many people to discard their denominational barriers and come to the meetings. These tactics also drew in a lot of "unchurched people" who either never attended church or attended church sporadically. The "soul-winning" campaigns, which started at the end of the First World War turned out to be a good way to fill the churches. Evangelists representing multiple denominations would use various manipulation and control techniques to play on the emotions of attendees that their meetings. Once they got people to "come forward" to a makeshift altar and "accept Christ as their savior," their plan was set. The new "converts" would then be "counseled" into visiting and later becoming members of specified churches. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association worked out this system in the late 1950s along with Dr. John R. Rice, a fundamentalist Baptist evangelist.
This procedure worked famously. Dr. Jack Hyles, once pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, claimed to have a membership list of over 100,000 people by the year 2000. Evangelical meetings run by Drs. Billy Graham and John R. Rice have often drawn 10,000 people. But when people would go forward and "accept Christ" at these meetings, they were hustled into churches where they could be managed and controlled.
Once the people were pushed into these churches, their activities could be controlled and managed by pastors and other church leaders, often trained either in Bible Colleges or Theological Seminaries (or maybe both). The pastors, creating the illusion of salvation, would define Christianity for the people and set new boundaries. The harsh reality is that the phrase "accept Christ" is not found in any scripture. Scripture teaches that people must repent (literally "change their mind"), believe, and become servants of the LORD Most High in Heaven. Jesus called the process being "born again." The idea of "accepting Christ" only suggests that people are expressing an interest in becoming a Christian. In many cases, most people never really make a commitment to the LORD in those meetings. We need to do what Paul teaches in II Corinthians 13:5:
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates."
The Apostle Paul makes is clear that it is possible to fall out of the faith. Otherwise, there would be no reason to "examine yourselves." This is one of the reasons prayer is such an important part of the Christian life. I also find it interesting that this examination is mentioned in plural. That suggests that we not only need to evaluate ourselves, we need to evaluate those around us who claim to be in the faith. The examination process is also a means to help us to grow in the Christian faith. Most churches are not willing to encourage this examination. They are more interested in promoting a "positive message."
One of the common traits of many of these churches, is the suppression of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Most Fundamentalist Baptist churches still insist that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are "not for today" (despite scriptural statements to the contrary). They wrongly argue, that since we have the "complete Bible," we do not need them. They explain further that we now have Bible College and Seminary-trained pastors to guide us and teach us (who have effectively become the Holy Spirit, though they won't admit it exactly in those words). When men and women even assume to take over the role of the Holy Spirit, they become Antichrists, effectively practicing a form of religious witchcraft. Scripture is clear about who is in charge of the teaching ministry in the Body of Jesus Christ:
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (I John 2:27)
Even when people attend one of the many Pentecostal and/or Charismatic church denominations where the ministry of the Holy Spirit is supposedly encouraged, I have seen more than one instance where pastors have either prophesied falsely in the name of self-interest, or intercepted the interpretation of tongues in order to protect their own interests. Everything appears to be the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but in time, the truth appears to be something different. When anyone engages in the practices, they are no different than the Baptist pastor who suppresses the Holy Spirit for control purposes. The only difference is that the leaders are effectively practicing Charismatic Witchcraft.
The harsh reality is that Charismatic Witchcraft is much more dangerous than simple denial. Ambitious people can easily manipulate the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to advance their own little fiefdom. It does not invalidate the value of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, it just invalidates the preacher. Before long, the plan become clear. Use evangelical campaigns to bring people into the churches, and once they are there, design and set up a structure that will control and manipulate them into being whatever the leadership of the church wants them to be.
The old cliché, "the devil is in the details" is very true here. While most people may not walk into a church to worship Satan on either Saturday or Sunday morning, they are likely walking into a controlled system managed by the legions of Satan. The minions of Satan stay in the background, but they still manage and control the church system. In many cases, prayer and communication with the LORD is discouraged, though not openly. Even Bible study is done only under the control of the church leaders. That is why, when you read these blogs, that I quote so many scriptures you have never seen. The "brethren" do not want you to see them.
We live in very dark times. The churches, which are supposed to enhance our Christian lives do nothing of the sort. They are instead, designed to stagnate and cripple the lives of Christian people. The label Ichabod is on the door of many churches right now. As I said in my last blog, you need to pray deeply before you walk through their doors.