Church of God, New World Ministries

The New Apostacy

Why has God allowed a counterfeit religious system to exist? Why does God permit troubles, trials, and tribulations in this world? Why must God’s children suffer? We may blame all the trouble on sin; but where did sin come from? We can blame it all on the Devil, but where did he come from? Did a good God create a bad Devil? Did God know Adam and Eve would yield to temptation? Or was the choice that Adam and Eve made a surprise to God?

In seeking to understand these things we must recognize that it was the Father’s plan for each of us to have a right to choose. We were not created as mechanical men – as though all of our actions were to be made by remote control – with some higher “Being” at the controls. The Creator desired a people who would serve Him; not because he forced them to, but because they chose to do so. Adam had a choice. We have a choice. Some reject. The Father said: “I have set before you life and death, choose life” (Deut. 30:19). “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 25:15).

If one held a book in his hand and said to you: “I will give you either book you want; take your choice,” you might answer something like this: “What do you mean ‘take my choice?’ You only have one book in your hand!” Obviously, if only one thing is offered, there is no choice. But, if someone had two different books, then you would have a choice. You would be able to choose.

So likewise, in order for us to choose: Two different systems are very active throughout the world in millions of ways. There is true religion and false religion; good and evil; light and darkness, filth and purity; right and wrong; truth and error.

We could not know the Lord as our Savior or Messiah had we not been sinners. We could not be saved if we had never been lost! We could not be healed if we were never sick! Could we attain victory without knowing defeat? We never appreciate the mountaintop until we have been through the valley. We are thankful for the light of day because we have known the night. At times the Lord must even crush His saints to make them more tender and kind.

If we are not connected to the Lord, then we are not really His sons (Heb. 12:6-11). We are even told that the Son of God was made perfect through the things which He suffered! “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8-9). “He was made perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). Yet we think it strange that we should experience trials as a Christian!  Peter wrote that we should not regard such sufferings as a “strange thing,” but rather as an occasion to rejoice (I Peter 4:12).” For we know that all things” – even trials – “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Sometimes we may find it hard to believe that Satan had dealt a real blow against us. But he can do no further than God allows him. In the end, God gets the glory, Satan is defeated, and we have learned a valuable lesson.

A Biblical example of how misfortune actually worked together for good is seen in the case of Paul and Silas. Being thrown into a dungeon-like prison, falsely accused, and with backs bleedings, it looked as though hope for the future was dim. Who inspired their imprisonment? It must have been the work of Satan – or was it? If so, it could only be because the Almighty permitted it! In jail they would meet a jailor who, after seeing a manifestation of God’s power, would cry out for salvation! By natural reasoning, we might suppose a rough and mean jailor would be the last to accept the Messiah. But, being converted, we can see that his testimony would carry special weight. And this is exactly what happened. The Jailer, as well as his family, was converted. This was the beginning of a church that was established there!

In order to reach the jailer, Paul and Silas needed to be in the jail. In order for the jailer to see the miracle of them being loosed, they first had to be bound. It looked at first as though Satan had gained a victory. But God, who knows the end from the beginning, is always a step ahead. In the end, Satan was put down, God was glorified, and all these things worked together for good.

The Lamb of God said: “All power is given me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). If He has all power – then the only power with which Satan can operate is power the Almighty allows him to use. Since the Father is all mighty, He either does or allows every single thing that has been done, is done, or will be done! He is supreme. No wonder we read repeatedly in the Scriptures that “all things are of God” (II Cor. 5:18). If we can only accept this grand truth, we will have discovered the cure for worry and fear! We can understand how all things work together for good. This is why the Scriptures can say: “In every thing give thanks” (I Thess5:18).

But what about world events? We should all have confidence that no nation or ruler can do one thing God does not permit. During our Lord’s trial, Pilate said: “Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee?” But the Lamb of God replied: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:10-11). Uninspired religionists plotted the crucification of our Lord.  He was considered an outcast from family, a traitor to country, and a heretic by religion. He who came to bring life was now condemned to death! Finally He was crucified and died. Satan could have said: “At last I have won a great victory; the death of the Son of God – was actually the very thing which forever defeated Satan and sin! Through His death, burial, and resurrection, we can have life – everlasting.

Some have pictured the Devil as sneaking into the Garden of Eden when the Father’s back was turned – as though He who sees all things could not see this! And then some would have us believe that when God came into the garden for His walk, He was horrified, surprised, or shocked, His creation had fallen into sin! But the fall in Eden was no surprise to God. The Almighty knew there would be a fall. He knew that sin would enter in. Why else would He have planned our redemption even before the foundation of the world?

Our salvation is the result of “His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9). Was Satan at any time or place one step ahead of God? Hardly, for long before the fall – before the world began – it was all in the divine plan how lost men would receive redemption through the Messiah.

In order for man to choose, there had to be two different systems. Each of these systems had to have a leader. God is the leader of good, but there needed to be an opposite of God, a devil. Only by understanding this may we understand the reason for the existence of Satan and the false religious system.

The Father still has all things in complete control, and let us remember, “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord!”

For all those of us who do love the Lord and wish to do His will, it’s only logical to investigate the basis of our beliefs and modes of worship; to insure that our worship is acceptable to the Eternal, and will result in our salvation.

If someone approached you and held out his hand, offering you a thousand dollars, you would have a number of questions. You would want to know why he offered the money, who he was, why he was offering the money to you in particular, and what he expects of you in return.

So it is in the Christian life. Every one of the Father’s children owes it to himself to know why he believes as he does and why he responds as he does to his convictions. He should seek to know what the Bible says about the way he thinks and acts; because the inspired Bible is the Christian’s final authority.

We do so much without really knowing why. We are born into a world filled with practices which regulate social and religious life. We grow up participating in them, many times never taking the time or trouble to investigate why we do so. We are prone to take things for granted, persuaded that we are meeting with the approval of our Heavenly Father, but later find that “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12), it would be a good safeguard to re-examine our thinking once in a while.

Looking back to the middle of the second century we find that the relationship between the Jews and Christians, primarily of a social and political nature, was Satan’s tool in causing the forsaking of the Sabbath and adopting of Sunday as a new day of worship.

One of the most damaging heresies of this time was the teaching that the Jews had been completely responsible for the murder of the Messiah. To solidify this teaching, Pilate had to be exonerated and all the blame shifted to the Jews. This was done by changing the historical records.

The Roman historian Tacitus had plainly said: “Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurators of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius (Annals, 15, 44).

Justin Martyr changed the word by to under, and declared: “This very Son of God was crucified under Pontius Pilate by your (Jewish) nation” (Dialogue with Trypho).

The Greek writing called The Acts of Pilate has Pilate summoning the Jews and saying to them, “You know that my wife is a worshipper of God, and prefers to adhere to the Jewish religion along with you.” Subsequently, Pilate’s wife became identified in Christian writings as the Claudia   who saluted Timothy from Rome (II Tim. 4:21). About 200 A.D. the noted Tertullian concluded: “And now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, Pilate sent word of Him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, III, p. 35). With Pilate exonerated, the Jews could be fully blamed for the death of the Messiah. Since the Council of Nicea later determined Him to be “very God,” the Jews were branded as “God’s murderers.”

After the army of Titus had leveled Jerusalem and sent the Jews into the Diaspora, the bond of a mutual heritage and faith held both the Jews and the Messianic Jews together. Believers in the Messiah continued to meet and worship in the Jewish synagogues of the Diaspora.

These Jewish colonies revolted during the reign of Emperor Hadrian about 113 A.D.; only a few years after the book of Revelation was sent by the apostle John to the churches in Asia. This rebellion against Rome was led by Simon bar Kochba

Bar Kochba, spurred on by Rabbi Akiba, won battle after battle; even defeating General Severus’ 35,000 crack troops in Palestine.

On the strength of this victory Rabbi Skiba declared bar Kochba to be the Jewish Messiah. At this point the Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus) refused to fight under bar Kochba’s banner and pulled out of the war – refusing to fight for one of the prophesied “false christ’s.” In this manner the Church and the Synagogue were finally separated. From this time on, Hebrew Christians were ostracized, expelled from the synagogues, and forced to live outside the Jewish communities. Not for 19 centuries, until 1976, did there exist a Hebrew synagogue, both by Jews, where Yeshua was worshipped as the Messiah.

Such strong resentment against the Jews led Christians like Justin to strike out against things sacred to the Jews like the Sabbath and the Holy Days. These Sabbaths and Holy Days came to be Marks on the Jews, used to single them out for punishment, supposedly because they had rejected and killed the Messiah. The Gentile Christians felt themselves driven to search for a new day of worship and also to seek another time to remember the Passion of our Lord which would not fall on the “Jewish” Passover.

Initially, the faith in the Messiah was a completely Jewish faith. All the believers were Jewish; even the writers of the New Testament were Jewish; the Apostle Paul himself being a Jewish rabbi. Both the New Testament and history records that these Messianic Jews, continued to be Jews, remaining highly loyal to their land, people, and God-given laws.

The question at that time was not whether a Jew could believe in the Messiah, but whether a Gentile could follow Him without having to convert and become a Jew! It took a great vision to Peter, and a spiritual giant of a man named Paul to finally open the doors to the Gentiles. The members of nearly every nation in the Roman Empire poured into the faith, accepting the “Jewish” Messiah.

The Jewish believers soon became a minority, and many of the Gentile believers began to raise questions concerning the “Jewishness” of the faith of God’s covenant relationship with His people. Eventually a strong “de-Judaizing” process set in which would not only strip the faith of its Jewish roots, but would also lead the majority into an apostate form of Christianity.

Until this “de-Judaizing” process set in, both the Hebrew and Gentile Christians had observed the Sabbath, and had observed the time of the Passover in memory of the Lord’s suffering and sacrifice. It was at this time, Passover, that the early Christians had observed the Lord’s Supper.

The Babylonian Mystery religion had already blanketed the empire. Satan had paved the way for the entrance of “Sun” day worship, and the observance of the pagan Spring Festival. The Mystery Religion had again begun to change her names and adopt to a new culture.

When the heathen found that all they would have to do in order to become a part of the prevailing church of the time was to accept different names for their rites and modes of worship, they became ready “converts.”

It was probably in Rome that Easter Sunday originated in order for the “Christians” to separate themselves, as Constantine said, “from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast.”

Easter was probably first observed in Rome as a “Christian” day about 120 A.D. because Irenaeus mentions Bishop Sixtus (116-125 A.D.) as the first non-observant of the Quarto-deciman Passover at that time. Victory, Bishop of Rome (189-199 A.D.), later intensified the controversy with Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus. Victor held to the observance of Easter Sunday, while Polycrates, representing the churches of Asia, held strongly to the observance of the Quarto-deciman Passover. Ouarto-deciman was the term given by the Sunday-keepers to the those keeping the time of the Passover on the 14th of the first Jewish month as prescribed in Exodus 12:2; 12:14; 13:4 and Luke 22:15-16. Polycrates claimed to possess the genuine apostolic tradition transmitted to him by the apostles Philip and John, under whose guidance he had accepted the Faith.

Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, visited Rome to try to induce Anicetus to keep the Passover in the quarto-deciman manner as he also had learned from the apostle John. As a disciple and companion of the apostle John, he contended for the practice of celebrating the time of the Jewish Passover regardless of the day of the week. Polycarp was martyred February 23, 155 A.D.

Truly had the apostle Paul written “Except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (II Thess. 2:1-7) Paul also declared: “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

The controversy between East and West continued within the Church across the span of two centuries, with Rome continually growing in power and leadership. Their arguments culminated in the first general church council, called by Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. at Nice. The emperor wanted to use the rapidly expanding Christian Religion, with its great potentialities, to strengthen the Roman Empire. He presided over the council, expressly proclaiming that his will was ecclesiastical law. The three hundred and eighteen bishops participating in the council accepted him as “Universal Bishop,” even though he was uncrowned.

Constantine was completely ignorant of the Messiah’s teachings. He was a follower of one of the most widespread Mystery Cults himself – the cult of MITHRAS (the god of soldiers), who was portrayed on coins as the “invincible sun” and worshipped until far into the “Christian” era. Mithra had been declared “protector of the empire” in 304 A.D. In 307 A.D. Diocletian declared Mithra “patron “of the empire. Mithraism remained the religion of the State until 321 A.D. when Emperor Constantine declared himself a “Christian” and that religion the religion of the State.

Five years after the Council of Nice, when he gave his name to the old Greek city of Byzantium and made Constantinople the capitol of the Roman Empire, Constantine had a mighty column erected for the ceremonial opening of the metropolis with the Emperor and the Invincible Sun on top of it (forgetting all about the “Christian” religion). The Pontifex (Constantine) ordered that slaves caught pilfering food have molten lead poured down their throats; he also allowed parents to sell their children in time of need.

Until the Council of Nicaea, the doctrine of Arius of Alexandria that “God and Christ were not identical, but only similar,” held good. The Emperor forced the Council to proclaim that “God the Father and Jesus were the same essence.”

Rome, being stronger in numbers and in anti-Judaic motivations, was also able to place the time for the observance of Easter on the Sunday after the Passover. The Eastern churches had until this time observed the Passover once a year on the 14th of the first Jewish month, (Eusebius Encyclopedia Britannica. and Mosheim’s History of the Church). Observance of Easter at this new time was enjoined on all by the conciliar decree of the Council of Nicaea: “All the brethren in the East who formerly celebrated Easter with the Jews, will henceforth keep it at the same time as the Romans, with us and with all those who form ancient items have celebrated the feast at the same time with us.”

“A wonderful instance of spiritual blindness is given us in a very celebrated work of a late eminent writer, who supposes that the New Jerusalem came down from heaven when Constantine called himself a Christian! We say called himself a Christian, for we dare not affirm that he was one any more than Peter the Great. We cannot but believe that he would have come nearer the mark if he had said that it was the time when a huge cloud of infernal brimstone and smoke came up from the bottomless pit.” (John Wesley, Wesley’s sermon Vol. 2. P. 97).

This edict followed only four years after Constantine’s decree in 321 A.D. concerning the observance of the “Venerable Day of the Sun,” as opposed to the Sabbath: “Let all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades, rest on the venerable day of the sun but let those who are situated in the country, freely and at full liberty attend to the business of agriculture because it often happens that no other day is so fit for sowing corn and planting vines; lest the critical moment being let slip, men should lose the commodities granted by heaven.”

Only 15 years after this “Sun-day” blue law was enacted by Constantine, the Roman Church, in the Council of Laodicea (336 A.D), “transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” Herein lies the conclusive proof that “Sunday worship” comes to us directly from the Mystery cult of Mithras.

In Daniel 7:25 we learn that there would be a power rise that would “think to change times and laws.” This power was to rule for 1250 years. The Roman Church claims this power and cites the “change of the Sabbath” to prove it.

What kind of distortion takes place between academic teaching in theological schools and what is preached from the pulpit? Where does the brainwashing take place that causes the facts to be forgotten? Can this not be the “mystery of iniquity” in its latter day workings?

Summary

  1. Satan inspired the ancient Queen of Babylon to institute a counterfeit of the true religion and plan of redemption
  2. The Scriptures in many places warn against accepting this counterfeit system of worship.
  3. This counterfeit’s prominent characteristic were: false worship of the sun and the “Madonna and child.”
  4. Babylon’s festivals were centered around the sun: spring festival on the vernal equinox, winter festival on the winter solstice, and weekly sun worship on the first day of the week- primarily honoring Tammuz (the Babylon messiah) and his mother, Semiramis.
  5. This form of false worship had spread over the entire Roman Empire by the time the apostles went out preaching the Gospel
  6. Satan has thus largely inserted a carnal, human counterfeit into God’s program of redemption.
  7. God’s word recognizes this fact and admonishes us to choose the good rather than the evil.
  8. The Father, by this means, allows us to become sons and daughters by choice.
  9. The ancient “Christian” leaders of Rome (just as the majority of today’s clergy) failed to rise to this challenge – and thereby have perpetuated the mystery religion.
  10. One by one the festival and doctrines of Mystery-Babylon were adopted by nominal Roman Christianity – the saints (both Hebrew and Gentile) being martyred for their opposition.

If you are presently involved in this “Mystery Religion” God adamantly commands, “Come out of her my people” (rev. 18:4).  The Church of God exists to teach the truth from God’s Word.  We offer Bible study courses to teach the true gospel taught by Christ and His apostles. We also offer a series of Lessons refuting many of “Traditional Christian Doctrines” taught today in the churches of this world. Visit our website cognwm.org and enroll today.

 
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