Patriot Bible University offers 30 courses of study which provide a well-rounded and balanced approach to help patriot/Christians get into the Bible for the development of successful Christian living in America.
Patriot Bible University offers 30 courses of study which provide a well-rounded and balanced approach to help patriot/Christians get into the Bible for the development of successful Christian living in America.
By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
At the heart of the “Christmas” story rests some important lessons concerning free enterprise, government, and the role of wealth in society.
Let’s begin with one of the most famous phrases: “There’s no room at the inn.” This phrase is often invoked as if it were a cruel and heartless dismissal of the tired travelers Joseph and Mary. Many renditions of the story conjure up images of the couple going from inn to inn only to have the owner barking at them to go away and slamming the door.
In fact, the inns were full to overflowing in the entire Holy Land because of the Roman emperor’s decree that everyone be counted and taxed. Inns are private businesses, and customers are their lifeblood. There would have been no reason to turn away this man of royal lineage and his beautiful, expecting bride.
In any case, the second chapter of St. Luke doesn’t say that they were continually rejected at place after place. It tells of the charity of a single inn owner, perhaps the first person they encountered, who, after all, was a businessman. His inn was full, but he offered them what he had: the stable. There is no mention that the innkeeper charged the couple even one copper coin, though given his rights as a property owner, he certainly could have.
It’s remarkable, then, to think that when the Word was made flesh with the birth of Jesus, it was through the intercessory work of a private businessman. Without his assistance, the story would have been very different indeed. People complain about the “commercialization” of Christmas, but clearly commerce was there from the beginning, playing an essential and laudable role.
And yet we don’t even know the innkeeper’s name. In two thousand years of celebrating Christmas, tributes today to the owner of the inn are absent. Such is the fate of the merchant throughout all history: doing well, doing good, and forgotten for his service to humanity.
Clearly, if there was a room shortage, it was an unusual event and brought about through some sort of market distortion. After all, if there had been frequent shortages of rooms in Bethlehem, entrepreneurs would have noticed that there were profits to be made by addressing this systematic problem, and built more inns.
It was because of a government decree that Mary and Joseph, and so many others like them, were traveling in the first place. They had to be uprooted for fear of the emperor’s census workers and tax collectors. And consider the costs of slogging all the way “from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David,” not to speak of the opportunity costs Joseph endured having to leave his own business. Thus we have another lesson: government’s use of coercive dictates distort the market.
Moving on in the story, we come to Three Kings, also called Wise Men. Talk about a historical anomaly for both to go together! Most Kings behaved like the Roman Emperor’s local enforcer, Herod. Not only did he order people to leave their homes and foot the bill for travel so that they could be taxed. Herod was also a liar: he told the Wise Men that he wanted to find Jesus so that he could “come and adore Him.” In fact, Herod wanted to kill Him. Hence, another lesson: you can’t trust a political hack to tell the truth.
Once having found the Holy Family, what gifts did the Wise Men bring? Not soup and sandwiches, but “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” These were the most rare items obtainable in that world in those times, and they must have commanded a very high market price.
Far from rejecting them as extravagant, the Holy Family accepted them as gifts worthy of the Divine Messiah. Neither is there a record that suggests that the Holy Family paid any capital gains tax on them, though such gifts vastly increased their net wealth. Hence, another lesson: there is nothing immoral about wealth; wealth is something to be valued, owned privately, given and exchanged.
When the Wise Men and the Holy Family got word of Herod’s plans to kill the newborn Son of God, did they submit? Not at all. The Wise Men, being wise, snubbed Herod and “went back another way” – taking their lives in their hands (Herod conducted a furious search for them later). As for Mary and Joseph, an angel advised Joseph to “take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt.” In short, they resisted. Lesson number four: the angels are on the side of those who resist government.
In the Gospel narratives, the role of private enterprise, and the evil of government power, only begin there. Jesus used commercial examples in his parables (e.g., laborers in the vineyard, the parable of the talents) and made it clear that he had come to save even such reviled sinners as tax collectors.
And just as His birth was facilitated by the owner of an “inn,” the same Greek word “kataluma” is employed to describe the location of the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified by the government. Thus, private enterprise was there from birth, through life, and to death, providing a refuge of safety and productivity, just as it has in ours.
The “Nicolaitans”, as referred to in Revelations Chapter 2, were a mysterious group of wicked religious imposters. What did they teach? Why does God hate them? Do they still exist today? In the warnings to the seven churches of Revelation, we are told to beware of them. Why are they dangerous and how would you recognize them, today?
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by William F. Dankenbring
In Revelation, chapter 2, we read of an enigmatic sect or group called the Nicolaitans who post a great threat to the churches of God. The Messiah, Yeshua, says to the Ephesus church: “But this you have, that you hate the DEEDS of the Nicolaitans, which I also HATE” (Rev. 2:6). Notice that they hated and rejected the doctrines, works, and doctrines of the “Nicolaitans.”
The Ephesus church was historically a type or antitype of the first and second century churches of God – essentially, the first generation of the church and their early descendents. But Christ said, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to [all] the churches” (v.7).
Then, to the Pergamos church, who existed in a succeeding period of the church, Yeshua declares again: “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. REPENT, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (vs. 14-16).
Doctrine of Balaam
Notice that their teachings are comparable or the same as the doctrine of Balaam, the arch apostate deceiver and prophet who tried to use divine magic against Israel when they came out of Egypt. When God would not allow him to place a curse on Israel, he later taught the Midianites and their allies to “seduce” Israel from their faithfulness to God by sending their daughters and wives to use their sexual charms on them and to entice them to commit immorality and the partake of pagan festivities and idolatrous worship, combining paganism with the worship of God – something which God considers an abomination and thoroughly detests! The blending of the truth of God with paganism and wicked pagan festivals and practices is an abhorrence to God. It is called religious “syncretism.”
The word “Nicolaitans,” in Greek, means “followers of Nicolas.” The name “Nicolas” means “victor of the people.”
Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary says of them, “They seem to have held that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit the immoral excesses of the heathen, in opposition to the decree of the Church rendered in Acts 15:20, 29. Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts, they brought the impurities of those feasts into the meetings of the Christian Church. And all this was done, it must be remembered, not simply as an indulgence of appetite, but as a part of a SYSTEM, supported by a “doctrine,” accompanied by the boasts of a prophetic illumination” (p.449).
Early Church Syncretism
The Nicolaitans, therefore, were the early Christian-pagan syncretists, the false teachers that crept into the church, who disguised themselves as followers of Christ – who professed to be His ministers and servants – but who led the people astray.
Peter wrote of them, saying, “But there were also false prophets among the people [such as Balaam], even as there will be FALSE TEACHERS among you, who will secretly bring in DESTRUCTIVE HERESIES, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” – by the world around, which will paint all true Christians with the same brush-stroke, as being corrupt, immoral, and evil, because of the shenanigans and wicked works of these “Nicolaitans” or false Christians, false teachers who claim to represent Messiah and His truth (II Pet.2:1-2).
Peter goes on, “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” (v.2). He says of them, that they “despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed,” and like brutish beasts “speak evil of the things they do not understand” (verse10, 12). “They are spots and blemishes [in the churches], carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you . . . They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, FOLLOWING THE WAY OF BALAAM the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (verses 13-15).
These are the ‘Nicolaitans.” Halley’s Bible Handbook tells us of them, “Sexual vice was actually a part of heathen worship, and recognized as a proper thing in heathen festivals. Priestesses of Diana and kindred deities were public prostitutes. The thing had been a troublesome question for Gentile churches from the start. . . Meantime great multitudes of heathen had become Christians, and had carried some of their old ideas into their new religion. . . Naturally there were all sorts of attempts to harmonize these heathen practices with the Christian religion.
Many professing Christian teachers, claiming inspiration from God, were advocating the right to free participation in heathen immoralities. In Ephesus, the Christian pastors, as a body, excluded such teachers. But in Pergamum and Thyatira, while we are not to think that the main body of pastors held such teachings, yet they tolerated within their ranks those who did” (p.694).
Ancient Pergamos was a city where the worship of Zeus and Asclepios were endemic, whose symbol was a serpent entwined around a rod or staff. It was a city where paganism and politics were closely entwined and allied. Nicolaitan pressures were very strong in this city where pressures to “compromise” would have been very heavy.
“Sacrificed to Idols”
The Nicolaitans seduced God’s people to “eat things sacrificed to idols” – that is, participate in heathen, pagan festivals, including sexual immorality – in other words, to commit spiritual fornication and adultery – which is IDOLATRY! This convergence of Christianity with pagan beliefs and practices was sheer APOSTASY in the eyes of God!
The Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary tells us, “Since the same practice and teaching of immorality and of idolatry appear in the church of Thyatira, the Nicolaitans, though not named, were probably present also in this church (Rev.2:20-25)” (p.547). By the time of the Thyatira church age, the problem had grown into a much greater state or condition, for at that time a woman, “Jezebel,” represented the group of apostate heretics and their heresy – a powerful church in conflict with the true Church, masquerading as the true Church.
John wrote, to Thyatira, “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because YOU ALLOW THAT WOMAN JEZEBEL, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev.2:20). God says of that heathen “church,” which inculcated massive pagan practices and festivals into its church calendar, “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit ADULTERY [idolatry!] with her into GREAT TRIBULATION, unless they repent of their deeds” (v.22).
Down Through Church History
It is clear from the evidence that this heresy, which began as a small group, in the first century, mushroomed and became a strong, dominant CHURCH by the third and fourth centuries, and became the foundation of the Church of Rome and the papacy. It is described in Revelation 17 as a “woman sitting on a scarlet beast” with the name: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth” (Rev.17:3-5).
By the Middle Ages this church became the great persecuting church and was guilty of spilling massive amounts of the blood of the true saints and servants of God (Rev.17:6).
What was the main crime of this church? Spiritual fornication – or spiritual adultery! Combining pagan practices and doctrines with the Word of God, or replacing the teachings of God’s Word with corrupt, pagan deceptions and lies, straight from the bowels of Satan the devil!
Says The Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary, “Pagan feasts might thus foster immorality, which is understood literally as licentiousness, or possibly in an allegorical way as unfaithfulness to God. . . . At Thyatira followers of Jezebel claim to know the deep things of Satan. . . . This claim to special knowledge of deep mysteries marks the incipient Gnosticism which flourished a century later (Iren.Her.II.2.2). The Nicolaitans may be taken to be a heretical sect, who retained pagan practices like idolatry [such as image worship, observing pagan holidays like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.] and immorality contrary to the thought and the conduct required in Christian churches” (p.548).
The early church fathers also spoke of the Nicolaitans. “Tertullian reports the lust and luxury of the Nicolaitans, cites evidence from Revelation, and adds that there was another sort of Nicolaitans, a satanic sect, called the Gaian heresy [worship of Mother Earth, which has reared its ugly head today] . . . Clement of Alexandria knows of followers of Nicolaus, ‘lascivious goats,’ who perverted his saying that it was necessary to abuse the flesh . . . Clement undertakes to show that Nicolaus [the deacon mentioned in Acts 6:1-6, a faithful servant of God] was a true ascetic and that the later, immoral Nicolaitans were not his followers, though they claimed him as their teacher . . . Later their name flourished as a designation for heretics.”
The “Synagogue of Satan”
When the Nicolaitans become powerful and the apostasy becomes full blown, and matures, then it changes into a whole Church – but no longer in any degree or sense a part of God’s true Church but an entirely apostate Church body! When Satan the devil takes over the church body, it becomes literally a “synagogue of Satan”!
This was prophesied to happen during the course of history, and a vast parallel church would be formed of people who think they are Christian, but they are far removed from the original true teachings of the apostles during the first century.
John, in the book of Revelation, spoke of it in the message to the Philadelphia church. He wrote, to this faithful and true body of believers, who held fast to the truth, and did not deny His Name, “you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed [for this reason] I will make those of the SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN, who say they are Jews [spiritual Jews or true Christians] and are NOT but LIE [they are deceived frauds, impostors, phony as a $6 dollar bill] – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev.3:8-10).
Christ warns this church body, the genuine “Philadelphia” church, called that because God names things according to their dominant characteristics, and this church is characterized by “brotherly love,” for the Greek word philadelphos literally means “brother love.” He warns it, “Behold, I am coming quickly! HOLD FAST what you have, that no one may take your CROWN” (verse 11).
This church does not slip into the apostasy of the Nicolaitans. In fact, it has conquered them and their full-blown image – the “synagogue of Satan” by remaining faithful to God’s Word and doctrine!
But many, not knowing or understanding, fall victim to the “conquerors” – the “victors over the people.” Speaking of such religious leaders, Paul declared, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (II Cor.11:13-15).
Church history has been replete with such splinter groups, heresies, sects, denominations, cults of all bizarre types and sizes and beliefs. They are all part and parcel of the “great apostasy” that developed over the centuries from the original church of God.
Paul warned the brethren in Ephesus, “For I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29-30).
He was especially concerned about the church in Galatia, and wrote to them, exclaiming, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to PERVERT the gospel of Christ” (Gal.1:6-7).
This was already beginning to occur during the very FIRST generation and Age of the church! The apostasy and heresy has developed and grown massively since that era, with thousands of Octopus-like tentacles reaching throughout the world.
How did it all begin? When did the real apostasy really start?
The Real Nicolas Identified
Who was the original founder of this apostasy? There is no evidence to support the idea that an early deacon in the church named Nicolas was the one who began this heretical movement. The New Testament nowhere says that he later went astray. Rather, he was a man who was chosen for a special task, along with Stephen, one of “seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:5).
However, God calls things what they are – He names people according to their major characteristic. A look at the name “Nicholas” will be helpful. It literally means “victor of the people.” A synonym of “victor” would be “one who vanquishes an enemy; a conqueror” (The Winston Dictionary).
Who was the great conqueror who first led the world into APOSTASY?
“Cush began Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a might hunter before [or, Hebrew, “against”] the LORD” (Gen.10:8-10). He was the first world despot or tyrant upon the earth after the Flood. Alexander Hislop, in The Two Babylons, tells us, “He [Ninus] was the first who carried on war against his neighbors, and he conquered all nations from Assyria to Libya, as they were yet unacquainted with the arts of war” (p.23, Hislop quoting Justin’s “Trogus Popeius”). Ninus was Nimrod, the most ancient king of the Assyrians and Babylonians.
Nimrod “began to be mighty upon the earth.” He was a great dictator, autocrat, and ruled with an iron hand. He was very contentious and brooked no insult or disobedience to his iron-fisted rule. He was also the religious leader of the world, leading mankind away from the worship of the true God and into incredible idolatry. He was the founder of the “Babylonians Mysteries” (compare Rev.17:1-5).
Cush and Religious “Chaos”
Says Hislop, “Cush [Nimrod’s father] is generally represented as having been a ringleader in the great apostasy” (p.25). Cush was also known as Hermes [“son of Ham”], or Mercury, and was “the great original prophet of idolatry; for he was recognized by the pagans as the author of their religious rites, and the interpreter of the gods” (ibid., p.25-26). Cush was also known as Bel, “The Confounder,” who confounded the truth with his replacement lies and deceptions. He was also called Janus, “the god of gods,” who said of himself, “The ancients . . . called me Chaos.”
He was the one who brought “Chaos” into the world after the Deluge.
Nimrod: The Original “Nicolas” and Arch Apostate
Cush’s son Nimrod (or “Ninus”) “inherited his father’s titles, and was the first king over the Babylonian Empire, which he created by conquest. Nimrod also led the great rebellion against God by building the tower of Babel, in an attempt to unite all mankind under his rulership and in defiance of the ordinances of heaven.
Hislop goes on to say that when the deification of mortals began, “the ‘mighty son’ of Cush was deified, the father, especially considering the part which he seems to have had in concocting the whole idolatrous system, would have to be deified too, and of course, in his character as the Father of the ‘Mighty one,’ and of all the immortals that succeeded him. But, in point of fact, we shall find, in the course of our inquiry, that Nimrod was the actual Father of the gods, as being the first of deified mortals” (p.32).
Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, tells us, “Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah – a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage that procured their happiness. He also gradually changed the government into a tyranny, — seeing no other way to turn men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power” (Bk.I, iv, 2).
Nimrod was the first great “victor of [or over] the people.” He was the first “Nicolaus.” He is the one for whom the WHOLE SYSTEM is named! His name is stamped on the forehead of this “Mystery, Babylon,” religious system which seeks to bring the whole world into one unified religious system of belief, doctrines, and religious globalization.
To compromise with that entire system or any part of it, God says He HATES – He is passionately against it – it is utterly idolatrous, the horrendous religious system inspired and created by Satan the arch-enemy of God – the devil who deceives the WHOLE WORLD by masking truth of God and replacing it with his nefarious, devious, enticing doctrines (see Rev.12:9)!
Where Are the Nicolaitans Today?
The Nicolaitans today comprise all those people who DEPART from the truth of God, and jettison the true teachings and doctrines of the Bible, for the substitute “mush” from the churches of “nominal, mainstream” Christianity, which has over the centuries, plunged back into a religious system originating in ancient Babylon, and from there to Rome, and from there to Protestantism, and the wide-ranging cults, sects, and denominations of our current generation.
The world is full of them! They are everywhere – like dandelion seeds, wafting on the winds, blown about and scattered all around us. “You will know them by their fruits,” the Messiah Yeshua declared (Matt.7:20).
The vast, overwhelming number of churches in the world today would fall into the category of the infamous “Nicolaitans”! The deception is global. And it is getting much, much worse, and stronger!
The apostle Paul wrote, about the last days, before the coming of Christ, “Let no man deceive you by any means for that Day will not come unless the FALLING AWAY comes first, and the man of SIN [lawlessness] be revealed, the son of perdition [destruction], who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped [such as Nimrod himself!], so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. . . . For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until He [or “he”] is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (II Thess..2:3-8).
An end-time “Nicolas” – victor or tyrant over the people – is soon to appear on the scene!
The end-time resurrection of this evil apostasy and deception is fast falling into place and coming together before our very eyes, at this moment in history!
False Doctrine – A Mark of the Nicolaitans
What are the identifying “marks” of this vast, deluded apostasy? How do you know that you personally have not to some extent fallen into some form of this adulterated subspecies which broke off from true Christianity?
First, look at their teachings and doctrine. Compare them with the Scriptures very carefully, taking nothing for granted. Believe nobody, but check up on everybody, and then believe your Bible! The apostle Paul wrote, “PROVE ALL THINGS; HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD” (I Thess.5:21). Isaiah the prophet wrote, “To the law and to the testimony [the Old Testament and the New Testament – the Word of God]! If they do not speak according to THIS WORD, it is because there is NO LIGHT in them” (Isa.8:20).
Paul praised the Bereans because “they received the word in all readiness, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Paul wrote to Timothy, exhorting him (and all of us), “Be diligent to present yourself to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of truth” (II Tim.2:15).
Nicolaitans are those who have departed from the faith, in some degree or completely. They have been led astray by false teachings and doctrines. Most have rejected the true Sabbath. Most have rejected the TRUE holy days of God, the annual festivals of His Word (Lev.23), and some THINK they observe them, but have been misled, and keep a false “Passover,” a false “Pentecost,” and even the wrong days for the other holy days, and reject specific commandments of God when they do so! Most reject the TRUE calendar of God, the New Moons, and the proper calculation of the Hebrew months, and therefore the holy days. Many accept a false, “fixed’ Jewish calendar when replaced the true calendar in 357-58 A.D. in the time of Hillel II.
And these are only SOME of the false teachings of modern day, end-time “Nicolaitan”-influenced churches which claim to be the true remnants of the Church of God and assure the people that they have the bona fide “TRUTH”!
But Yeshua declared, “Thy Word is truth,” (John 17:17), and “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), and asserted also, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4; Luke 4:40.
The Second Fatal Identifying Mark – False Form of Church Government
The Nicolaitans are also like their original founder, Nimrod the apostate, guilty of not only compromising the truth of God, and adulterating it, and mixing it with PAGAN beliefs and doctrines and practices, but they possess a wicked, deceptive, deceitful form of CHURCH GOVERNMENT. They are often in the form of religious tyrannies, authoritarian, totalitarian, abusive ministers, and very quick to discipline and disfellowship recalcitrant or slow-to-conform members of their churches. They are very intolerant and autocratic – and rule their congregations like a “god” or a Hitler with a Gestapo-like ministry.
Jeremiah the prophet prophesied of them: “ ‘WOE to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!’ says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: ‘You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,’ says the Lord” (Jer.23:1-2).
Speaking of the churches of God, and the religious leaders of His people, God says, “ ‘For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness,’ says the LORD. ‘Therefore their way to them shall be like slippery ways; in the darkness they shall be driven on and fall in them; for I will bring disaster on them, the year of their punishment,’ says the LORD. And I have seen folly in the prophets [ministers, pastors, preachers] of Samaria [the modern United States, Britain and house of “Israel”]; the prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to ERR” (Jer.23:11-13).
God is very angry at these end-time preachers, ministers, and their lack of true conversion, humility, fear of God, and arrogance! He thunders, “ ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision [or doctrine, teaching] of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD” (v.16).
God is going to punish. He declares, “The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly” (v.20).
Do you understand? Do you fear and tremble before the Word of God? (see Isaiah 66:1-2). Do you humble yourself before His Word?
God goes on in His severe warning: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied [preached]. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings” (vs.21-22).
God would even forgive them, for their preaching in His name, if only they would preach the TRUTH! But they don’t, and they won’t. So God declares, “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy LIES in My name, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed, they are prophets of the DECEIT [deception, false teaching, false doctrines] of their OWN heart” (vs.25-26).
God thunders, “ ‘The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the LORD. ‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the LORD, ‘And like a hammer the rock in pieces? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,’ says the LORD, ‘who STEAL MY WORDS everyone from his neighbor” (vs.28-30).
The warnings of Yahveh God are very explicit. He declares, “Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams [false ideas, teachings of their own heart – see verse 26],’ says the LORD, ‘and tell them, and CAUSE MY PEOPLE TO ERR by their LIES and by their RECKLESSNESS. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,’ says the LORD” (Jer.23:32).
And in verse 36 God warns, “For every man’s word will be his oracle [“burden”], for you have PERVERTED the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God” !
Very serious charges, these are! Don’t you agree?
The LORD Yahveh says He is going to forsake utterly those who pervert His Word, and preach the deceit of their own hearts, make His people to err and go astray by their LIES, and their “RECKLESSNESS” regarding His divine Word, His TRUTH!
Modern-day “Nicolaitans” and their followers should get a real “HEADS UP” and WARNING from Jeremiah’s message in chapter 23. He is speaking to THEM!
The Final Mark – Abuse and Cruelty
Ezekiel the prophet was inspired to continue this awesome, power-packed indictment against the shepherds of Israel during the end-time. He wrote, “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘WOE to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.
The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; BUT WITH FORCE AND CRUELTY you have RULED them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field [false churches, religions, and spiritual gurus] where they were scattered” (Ezek.34:1-5, NKJV).
Notice! These churches, regardless of their posturing and posing, and dubious claims, persecute the flock under them. They mistreat God’s people, cause them to grovel in the dirt before their imagined authority, rule them with CRUELTY and hardness, harshness, and overbearing authority.
They do not love the flock; they are not loving or good shepherds, who would even give their lives for the sheep (see John 10:11). Rather, they are mere ‘hirelings,” who have their own agenda, their own motives, for being ministers, teachers, and pastors! The Messiah Yeshua said, “But a hireling, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and FLEES; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (John 10:12-13).
These “hirelings” rule the flock with “force” and “cruelty.” The Hebrew word for “force” is #2394, chosqah, meaning “vehemence (usually is a bad sense), force, mightily, repair, sharply.” Gesenius says, “might, violence, very, mightily.” The Hebrew word for “cruelty” is #6531, perek, and means “from an unused root meaning ‘to break apart,’ fracture – i.e. severity – cruelty, rigor” (Strong’s Concordance). Gesenius states: “oppression, tyranny, from the signification of crushing.”
Do we get the picture? Do you know ANY ministers or churches like that? How does your minister or church handle it when or if members DARE to ask questions concerning doctrines, teachings, beliefs, or Scriptures which seem to conflict with the church’s teachings and doctrines?
A true minister of God will handle questions in a gentle, loving, patient manner. As Timothy was told by the apostle Paul, “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (I Tim.5:1).
Paul declared, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perchance will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” to stir up strife and cause confusion in the flock, and to destroy all he can, for he is the “great destroyer” (II Tim..3:24-26).
Peter tells the true servants of God, the true ministry, “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being EXAMPLES to the flock” (I Pet.5:1-3).
And to the church members, God says, “Remember those who rule [lead] over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established with grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them” (Hebrews 13:7-9).
Paul adds, “Obey those who rule [lead] over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable to you” (verse 17).
And to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “And we urge your, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish [“instruct or warn”] you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves” (I Thess.5:12-13).
Warning for the End Time
The problems with false teachings, false doctrines, and the spirit of Nicolaitan ministers and teachers, was foretold to become very serious and extreme in the “end of days.” The apostle Paul warned, “Now the Spirit expressly [explicitly] says that in the LATTER TIMES some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim.4:1-2).
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul issued the same warning, only more explicit He wrote, “But know this, that in the LAST DAYS perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a FORM of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth” (II Tim.3:1-8).
The Nicolaitan condition is like a spiritual cancer, that spreads and poisons cells and creates tumors and metastasizes until it spreads its lethal cargo throughout the whole body. If it is not purged, it leads ultimately to death.
Therefore, God tells His true ministers, and servants, to be on their guard. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with al longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (II Tim.4:2-4).
Each one of us is responsible for our own salvation. We dare not trust any man to do our work, study, prayer, or research for us – we must work out our own salvation, “with fear and trembling” (Phil.2:12-13). Paul also declared, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph.4:14).
Salvation is serious business! The spirit of Nicolaus/Nimrod and religious deception is alive and well, and thriving in this end-time generation.
Now that you know who and what the “Nicolaitans” are, what are you going to do about it?
John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
Galatians 4:16, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Jeremiah 9:5, “Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.”
2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
John 3:21, “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
1 Peter 1:22, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”
John 17:19, “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Isaiah 59:15, “Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.”
2 Timothy 4:4, “..and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Isaiah 59:14, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.”
2 John 1:2, “…because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.”
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Isaiah 65:16, “So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes.”
Proverbs 12:17, “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”
Psalm 119:160, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”
2 Timothy 2:25, “Correcting his opponents with gentleness, God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
1 Timothy 6:5, “And constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”
1 Timothy 3:15, “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”
John 18:37, “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 14:17, “Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
Proverbs 12:19, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
Revelation 16:7, “And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”
2 Timothy 3:8, “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.”
1 Timothy 4:3, “Who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
1 Timothy 2:7, “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”
2 Thessalonians 2:10, “And with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
Ephesians 6:14, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
1 Corinthians 13:6, “It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
1 Corinthians 5:8, “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Romans 2:8, “But for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
John 5:33, “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.”
John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Zechariah 8:16, “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace.”
Jeremiah 5:3, “O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.”
Proverbs 23:23, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”
Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
Psalm 51:6, “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”
2 Thessalonians 2:12, “In order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
2 Corinthians 6:7, “By truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left…”
Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
1 Corinthians 1:21, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
1 Corinthians 2:13, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”
1 Corinthians 2:1-8, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. …”
2 Corinthians 3:12, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”
James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
1 Thessalonians 2:3-12, “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. …”
Acts 8:27-38, “And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. …”
2 Timothy 4:1-2, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
1 Thessalonians 1:5, “Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
Acts 8:5-12, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city. But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. …”
Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Luke 8:1, “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him.”
Luke 3:3, “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Mark 6:12, “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.”
Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Ezekiel 22:30, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.”
Acts 8:9-13, “But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.”
Acts 2:14-41, “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy…”
John 15:4,5; Jesus says, “Remain in me, and I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branch. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Philippians 4:13; Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
John 17:26; Jesus says, “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”
Matthew 11:28-30; Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
John 5:30; Jesus says, “By Myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is just, for I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me.”
Exodus 14:13,14; Moses said to his people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again.
Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
1 John 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
Luke 17:6, “And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Hebrews 11:1-39, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. …”
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Matthew 9:22, “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.”
1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
James 1:3, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Mark 11:23, “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
Matthew 9:29, “Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”
Mark 11:22-24, “And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Acts 26:18, “To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
Acts 3:16, “And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
1 Peter 1:7, “So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 6:16, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
1 Corinthians 2:5, “That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Luke 5:5, “And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Matthew 9:21, “For she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”
Romans 3:22-28, “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. …”
Galatians 3:1-29, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.”
Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”
John 20:31, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Colossians 2:7, “Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Philippians 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. “
1 Samuel 17:37, “And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
Galatians 2:16, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
Revelation 2:19, ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.”
Hebrews 10:39, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
1 Timothy 1:19, “Holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.”
2 Thessalonians 1:3-5, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.”
Romans 10:6-10, “But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
Hebrews 10:38, “But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
Hebrews 6:12, “So that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Hebrews 12:2, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
2 Timothy 2:11-13, “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
2 Timothy 1:13, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 3:9, “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”
Colossians 1:23, “If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
1 Peter 1:21, “Who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
1 Timothy 2:15, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Ephesians 3:17, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,”
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Romans 11:20, “That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.”
1 John 5:10, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.”
1 Peter 1:9, “Obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”
James 2:1-26, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
1 Timothy 1:11-14, “In accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 1:18-19, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.”
2 Thessalonians 1:4, “Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.”
Ephesians 6:16-18, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Romans 9:31-33, “But that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
1 Peter 1:5, “Who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Hebrews 11:33, “Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.”
Titus 2:2, “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.”
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
1 Timothy 1:14, “And the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 2:12, “Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
Galatians 5:5, “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”
An excellent sermon that reminds us of what we often forget, that in declaring our independence from England, our forefathers made an equally strong declaration of dependence upon Almighty God.
By Melvin Newland
Today the United States is celebrating a crucial moment in the history of our nation – the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And as we look back at that event we need to realize that it was a fateful & very dangerous decision for each man who dared to sign that Declaration.
In fact, as John Adams signed it he said, “Whether we live or die, sink or swim, succeed or fail, I stand behind this Declaration of Independence. And if God wills it, I am ready to die in order that this country might experience freedom.”
It was that kind of patriotism which led men, armed with little more than hunting rifles, to engage in battle with the most powerful nation in the world.
Many of our forefathers paid a terrible price in the Revolutionary War, but finally they won the victory so that you & I might be citizens of this “land of the free & home of the brave.”
But what we often forget is that in declaring their independence from England, our forefathers made an equally strong “Declaration of Dependence” upon Almighty God.
I. THEY DECLARED THEIR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The closing words of their Declaration solemnly states: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes & our sacred Honor.”
It is important that we remember this declaration of their dependence upon God, for in a time of world turmoil, the United States today is rapidly forgetting the God of our fathers, the God who gave this nation its birth & its greatness.
I trust that all of you recognize the name of Patrick Henry. But I’m afraid many of our school children know almost nothing of him at all. Patrick Henry was a famous statesman of colonial Virginia. In 1764, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses where he became a champion of the frontier people, supporting their rights against the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy. In 1774 he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention, which was deeply divided between those who supported England & those who desired freedom, he uttered his most famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
During the Revolutionary War he became commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military forces. He was a member of the Second Continental Congress. He helped draw up the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, & was primarily responsible for drawing up the amendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. He became Virginia’s first governor, & was re-elected 3 more times. Then he retired from public life. But despite his strong objections, the people went ahead & elected him Governor for the 5th time. But he meant what he said, so he refused to take the office. He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, & posts as ambassador to Spain & to France. President George Washington asked him to join his cabinet & become Secretary of State, & later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But he refused all such honors & recognitions.
Now why do I mention these things about Patrick Henry? It is because I want you to realize that he was an important & respected leader in those days when our nation came into being.
Now listen to his words. He said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians – not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
His Last Will & Testament was filed in the Brookneal County courthouse in Virginia. Read his Will & you’ll see that he bequeathed everything to his children, just as most people do. But the last paragraph in his Will is especially interesting. He wrote, “I have now given everything I own to my children. There is one more thing I wish I could give them & that is Christ. Because if they have everything I gave them & don’t have Christ, they have nothing.”
I love reading about Patrick Henry & George Washington & John Adams & Thomas Jefferson & John Jay & many of the other patriots who gave of themselves so valiantly that we might enjoy the freedoms that are ours. But we also need to be reminded again of the solemn warning that God gave to another nation which was experiencing the thrill of independence after centuries of slavery in Egypt. Although it was written over 3,000 years ago, this warning could very well apply to the United States today.
In Deuteronomy 8:7-14, Moses tells the people, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land where you shall eat food without scarcity. When you have eaten & are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.”
Now listen to His warning: “Beware. . .lest, when you have eaten & are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them and your silver and your gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God.” Do we today have a reason to be concerned about this warning?
II. WATCH OUT THAT WE DON’T FORGET GOD
The testimony of history has made it abundantly clear that not only nations, but also individuals, need to heed that warning. The greatness of a nation is not measured by its military power, technological advancements, or national wealth. Righteousness & justice are the determining factors.
Solomon, the wisest of men, said: “Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)
Someone wrote: “What in the world is happening with our kids today? Let’s see…I think it started when Madalyn Murray O’Hair complained that she didn’t want any prayer in our schools.” And our Supreme Court said, “Okay.”
Then someone said ,“You had better not read the Bible in school” – the Bible that says, “Thou shall not kill, thou shall not steal,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And our nation said, “Okay.”
Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. So we said, “Okay, we won’t spank them.”
Then someone said that teachers & principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And our administrators said, “No one in this school is to touch a student when he misbehaves because we don’t want any bad publicity. And we surely don’t want to be sued.”
Then someone said, “Let’s provide our children with condoms so they can have all the ‘fun’ they desire.” And our nation said, “That’s a great idea.” Someone else said, “Let’s provide abortions for underage girls, and they won’t even have to tell their parents.” And our nation said, “That’s another great idea.”
Then some of our top officials said that it doesn’t matter what we do in private. And we said, “As long as I have a job, it doesn’t matter to me what anyone does in private.”
So now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with “We reap what we sow.” Wow! What a concept!
III. DON’T LET OUR FREEDOM GET OUT OF HAND
We have sung, “I’ve gotta be free,” but sometimes our proclaimed freedom has become the very thing that enslaves us.
In Titus 3:3, Paul says, “At one time we were foolish, disobedient, deceived and entangled by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
This is the enslaving and deceiving nature of sin. People who are caught up in sin think they are free, but in reality they are enslaved to sin.
Go to the wino on the street and say, “I want to set you free from alcoholism.” He will say, “I’m not a slave to anything. Give me back my bottle.”
The prodigal son came to his father and said, “I want to be free. Give me what is mine.” Then he wandered into the far country, saying, “I’m free! I’m free!” But his freedom was brief. His friends left him when his money ran out, and he found himself enslaved to a Gentile taskmaster and to a group of hogs in the hog wallow.
It was not until he came home and submitted to the father that he really found freedom.
IV. OUR REAL FREEDOM COMES IN CHRIST
So when we stand back and look at this land of the free we begin to wonder, “Is there any real freedom anywhere?”
But thank God, as Christians, we have a greater freedom than any Constitution can grant us. We have the freedom that is offered in Christ Jesus.
There is a word for freedom in the New Testament. It is the word “redemption.” “Redemption” means “to be set free.” It means that we have been bought with a price, that we have been freed of our bondage, and now we are really free.
In Paul’s letter to Titus he tells us that we have been set free from the bondage of sin. “For the grace of God teaches us to say ’No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, Godly lives in this present age. . . Jesus Christ. . .gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” [Titus 2:11-14]
If you really are concerned about America; if you earnestly want God to bless her, then live a life in harmony with the will of God. Only then does one truthfully have the right to sing:
God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her, Through the night, with the light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam. God bless America, my home sweet home.
So, as we celebrate again the birth of our nation, pray that our country might have a new birth of freedom; not a freedom from God, which always leads to license and ultimate slavery, but rather a freedom built upon God and His commandments.
Also, may each one of us, as individuals, reaffirm our dependence upon God so that, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” we might experience the freedom He gives not only from worry, doubt and fear, but also from all those sins which do “so easily beset us.”
Then, as did the founding Fathers of our country, we will find in Him our life, liberty, and true happiness.
Listen to this story:
The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he’d told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg.
It had been a year since Susan, 34, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis, she had lost her sight and was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, frustration, anger, and self-pity. And all she had to cling to was her husband, Mark.
Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again.
Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to go by herself. So Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city.
At first, this comforted Susan who was so insecure about herself now. Soon, however, Mark realized the arrangement wasn’t working. “Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again,” he admitted to himself. “But she is still so insecure, so angry – how will she react?”
Just as he feared, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. “I’m blind!”, she responded bitterly. “How am I supposed to know where I am going? I feel like you’re abandoning me.”
It broke Mark’s heart when he heard these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened.
For 2 solid weeks, Mark accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, especially her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment.
Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, and his love.
She said “Goodbye,” and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!
On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying the fare to exit the bus, the driver said, “Boy, I sure do envy you.” Susan wasn’t sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year?
Curious, she asked the driver, “Why do you say that you envy me?” The driver responded, “It must feel good to be taken care of and protected like you are.” Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about and again asked, “What do you mean?”
The driver answered, “Every morning for the past week, a fine-looking man in a military uniform has been standing across the street watching you as you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss and walks away. You are one lucky lady!”
Tears of happiness poured down Susan’s cheeks. For although she couldn’t see him, she had always seemed to feel Mark’s presence. She was lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift that she didn’t need to see to know – the gift of his love.
Watch entire sermon here.
Presented by John Piper.
The Nicene Council.
Running Time 48 Minutes.
Watch entire presentation here.
United Kingdom documentary about the beginnings of the Bible in English.
Channel 4 (UK)
The Nicene Council
Running Time 102 Minutes
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