Almost two millennia ago, Jesus called His Church
to follow Him, treasure His Word and spread His gospel. Countless thousands did. By
faith, they faced torture and persecution, hatred and death. Yet they rejoiced,
for they knew they were sharing the life and
suffering of Jesus!
His eternal Kingdom was far more precious to them than any earthly treasure.
Twelve centuries later, dark clouds shrouded
Europe. During the Middle Ages, the "common people" could neither own nor read
the Latin Bible. So when John Wycliffe's first English Bible became available around 1390, a virtual
war on Biblical Christianity began. In the years ahead, thousands of faithful
martyrs were tortured and killed by Europe's corrupt Catholic hierarchy for
owning the new Bible and spreading God's Word. For example:
- In 1413, John Oldcastle was hanged and burned
in Wales. His sin? Living by the truths he found in his new Bible! “Do with
me what ye will," he told his executioners. "Though ye judge my body...
ye can do no harm to my soul.... I will stand [true to His Word]
to the very death by the grace of my God."
'church' in Bohemia, accused John Hus of
heresy for teaching God's Word. "Tried" and found guilty in 1415, he was
mocked by the crowd and led naked to a stake to be burned. "We commit
your soul to the devil," cried a bishop. When offered a last chance
to recant, he answered, "In the truth of the Gospel which I have written,
taught, and preached I am willing gladly to die today." Then the fire
was lit using pages from the forbidden Wycliffe Bible as kindling. Immersed
in flames, he sang, 'Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon
In Germany, many
were hounded for their faith. Their emphasis on pacifism and adult baptism
offended other Protestant groups as well as the Catholic establishment.
So in 1527, when leader
Michael Sattler refused to recant his faith, he
faced a cruel sentence: the hangman would "cut out his tongue, then
chain him to a wagon, tear his body twice with hot
tongs... then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic. Before
he died, he prayed with slurred speech, "Almighty eternal God.
Thou art the way and the truth.... I will, with Thy help on this
day, testify to the truth and seal it with my blood."
the New Testament and much of the Old Testament directly from the original
Greek and Hebrew into English,
William Tyndale faced
the rage of the British Anglican elites as well as the Catholic establishment
on the continent. By 1535, he was captured and imprisoned in Brussels. The
following year he was impaled and burned on a stake for daring to challenge
Europe's church-state tyranny.
When the Bible is banned
and His Word forbidden, it's time for God's people to take stand for truth!
"We ought to obey God rather
than men." Acts 5:29
The Downward Slide of the Western
serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows
that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will
be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:4-5
From the beginning
of time, Satan has been twisting God's Word and replacing it with tempting
promises that seemed good to a gullible, blinded world. As former president
Bill Clinton told America in his
2000 State of the Union message:
"We restored the vital center, replacing outdated ideologies
a new vision anchored in basic, enduring values: opportunity for all,
responsibility from all, and a community of all Americans."
have sounded good to those who cringed at the "outdated" moral boundaries of
the Bible. God's old narrow ways don't fit 21st century lifestyles. Whether
"Christian" or not, most would happily agree that God's wise guidelines are
an obstacle to the "new vision" of social
solidarity. No wonder
liberal churches are fast replacing His unchanging
Truth with more enticing visions of right and wrong.
We forget that God's moral standards
have stood as restraining wall against the corruption that now floods our nation.
While laughing at today's lies and licentiousness, our blinded, post-modern
culture sinks deeper into the darkness it craves. And
Will the Shocking Decline of Christianity in America Affect the Future of this
Nation?" shows this disturbing
"...the percentage of Christians
in America has been steadily declining. ...what 'Christianity' means to
American Christians today is often far different from what 'Christianity'
meant to their parents and their grandparents. Millions upon millions
of Christians in the United States simply do not believe many
of the fundamental principles of the Christian faith any longer."
Its 2009 research found that
"Less than one percent of the youngest adult generation in America" and
"only nine percent of all American adults" share a biblical worldview.
As defined by the Barna Group, such
a worldview means:
believing that absolute moral
Satan is considered to be a
real being or force, not merely symbolic;
a person cannot earn their way
into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works;
Jesus Christ lived a sinless
life on earth;
God is the all-knowing, all-powerful
creator of the world who still rules the universe....
slightly more than a quarter of adults (27 percent) believe Satan is real,
and less than half of born again adults (40 percent) have this worldview."
Apparently, most so-called "Christians"
feel free to adapt the Bible
to today's politically correct views of God and His ways. Afraid to offend,
many pastors are simply limiting their Biblical teaching to passages that make
people feel good rather than guilty. Confession and repentance
are rarely emphasized.
to the rebellious children,' saith the Lord, 'that take counsel,
but not of Me..."
Violence and the changing tides
While we shudder at the horrendous persecution
by radical Muslims in Africa or the Middle East, we tend to forget the inhumanity
of our own Western history. The fact is that false "christianity" can be just
as cruel and bloody as Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or Shamanic violence.
While basic human nature doesn't change, cultures,
beliefs and actions are always changing -- either for good or evil.
Ponder these examples of
atrocities committed under the banner of false "biblical" mandates:
Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 AD and established a precedent
that led to the state church of the Roman empire. Like many protestant denominations
today, corruption and spiritual syncretism soon became endemic. As
Pastor Charles Spurgeon
"A Roman emperor [Constantine] professed
to be converted.... [It] seemed that the world was Christianized, whereas,
indeed, the Church was heathenized! Hence sprang the monster of a State
Church.... It promises to advance the Truth of God and is, itself, a negation
of it! Under its influences a system of religion was fashioned which, beyond
all false religions... is the greatest hindrance to the true Gospel of Jesus
Christ! Under its influence dark ages lowered over the world."
"Men were not permitted to think. A Bible
could scarcely be found and a preacher of the Gospel, if found, was put
to death! That was the result of human power coming in with the sword
in one hand and the Gospel in the other and developing its pride of
ecclesiastical power into a triple crown, an Inquisition and an 'infallible
Legends and literature still surround the Crusades with an aura of
romance and grandeur, of chivalry and courage. But many of their
stories were only remotely related to reality. The countless tales of
the "gallant knights of the Cross" were often based on imagination rather
than factual documentation.
Many Crusaders joined the campaign out of genuine concern for Israel.
Others sought the thrills of the battlefield and didn't hesitate to kill
and steal on the way. Traveling through Turkey,
they destroyed towns and slaughtered
"infidels"-- including orthodox Christians whose sin was simply to look like Muslims.
According to Biblical author Ray Vander Laan, "the Crusaders did this with the
full support of popes and other religious leaders:"
"For nearly 200 years, under the sign of
the cross and in Jesus’ name, Crusaders used violence and hatred
as a means of presenting the gospel of peace. Their actions were
inconsistent with Jesus’ commands and defamed his name. These 'holy wars'
illustrate how easily Christians justify methods and attitudes other
than those that Jesus commanded and lived...."
In the end, the crusaders occupied the Holy Land only temporarily.
Ultimately their mission was a failure.
16th and 17th Centuries:
Papal edicts banned the new Bible translations.
Lutherans, Anabaptists, Huguenots,
and other supposedly "heretical sects" faced merciless torture and executions,
including hanging, burning, starvation and the dreaded "rack." The latter was
a horrible torture instrument that pulled arms and legs in opposite directions
until popping sounds indicated that ligaments were severed and bones were torn
from the torso.
The murderous Spanish Inquisition
was led by the Catholic King Philip [husband of
England's "bloody" Queen
goal -- not unlike that of radical
Islam today -- was to cleanse Europe of believers who owned or read the
Bible and treasured its Truths.
In this true story, King Philip's
inquisitors found a Bible in the home of a mayor, but no one claimed ownership
at first. Then...
is true, this book is mine. I am reading from it, and it is
more precious to me than anything!"
...a young maidservant
came in. When asked about the Bible, she declared, "I
am reading it!"
The mayor sought
to defend her saying, "Oh, no, she doesn’t know how to read."
But the maidservant
did not wish to be defended by a lie. "
She was sentenced
to die by suffocation, sealed in the city wall. Just before
her execution, she was asked by an official, 'So young and beautiful
and yet to die?'
"My Savior died for me. I will also die for him."'
one single brick remained to complete the wall, she was told
again, "Repent! Just say a single word of repentance!"
Instead she voiced
her single desire to be with Jesus and added, "O Lord,
forgive my killers!"
How many Christians today love Jesus enough to make that choice? Are
you and I willing to take such a stand?
Preparing for the
The last book written by C. S. Lewis shows the author's
attitude toward social change and ambiguity. In
The Discarded Image,
he predicts that when people no longer tolerate the old
based largely on Christian
beliefs and values, they will simply discard it. In that context,
nothing is permanent; everything changes along with human thought,
wants, and speculations. Even "ultimate realities"
"We must recognize that what has been
called 'a taste in universes' is not only pardonable but inevitable.
We can no longer dismiss the change of Models as a simple progress from
error to truth. No Model is a catalogue of ultimate realities, and none
is a mere fantasy."
Lewis ends his book with this strange prediction:
"It is not impossible that our own Model
[this fading era of Christian faith and freedom] will die a violent
death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts -- unprovoked
as the nova of 1572. ...The new Model will not be set up without evidence,
but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes
Lewis doesn't seem to mind
the anticipated loss of a Christian worldview. His own changing perspectives
suggest that he passed through at least two personal paradigm shifts in
his lifetime: from
with the occult, to a
of the Christian worldview, to
that worldview and
"What Lewis imagined to be 'not impossible'
some generations away -- the death of the modern model or worldview
-- turns out to be happening," wrote postmodern Pastor
Brian McLaren, who has indeed
discarded absolute truth.
With help from both Lewis and McLaren, the Bible's true message
is fading from sight. It won't totally disappear, because God will preserve a remnant
of believers who will treasure it. But life will change. Our cultural foundation
of truth and integrity is crumbling fast, and most churches seem to follow
the trends. The consequences could be severe:
"...as they did not like
to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a
reprobate mind.... Being filled with all unrightsousness,
fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness...."
All the more, let's pray that God will prepare
us to stand firm on His Word through this time of change and new challenges.
continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Walking with the World
the rest here]
give me your hand,” said the merry World,
walk with me this way!”
the faithful Church hid her gentle hands
And solemnly answered
will not give you my hand at all,
I will not walk with you;
way is the way that leads to death;
words are all untrue.”
walk with me but a little space,”
the World with a kindly air;
road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines
path is thorny and rough and rude,
mine is broad and plain;
way is paved with flowers and dews,
And yours with tears and
shyly the Church approached the World
gave him her hand of snow;
the old World grasped it and walked along,
in accents low:
dress is too simple to please my taste;
will give you pearls to wear,
velvets and silks for your graceful form,
diamond to deck your hair.”...
be conformed to this world.... Abhor that which is evil; cleave
to that which is good.." Romans 12:2, 9