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Understanding the language of the Bible is critical. The language of the N.T. is written in the later Greek, and the writers applied the Greek to subjects on which it had never been used by native Greek writers. The things concerning Jewish affairs, their theology, and rituals. I have committed the work of the Greek dictionary found within, to assist in your personal study, and in repelling those who choose to distort the word. Acquaint yourself with the language of the Greek N.T., you will find it to be of an indispensable importance.
The author of these articles and features quotes verses from the King James Version. We investigate the Bible's original text, examine the Greek, Hebrew, text, context, symbols, and terminologies. We will continue to make every effort to aid readers to grow in their individual faith. We will also make every effort to assist, and to support those who have vowed to honor our Lord Jesus Christ, and His finished work.
Part 11: Decline of the church. Parts 1 thru 10 can be seen in the lower left hand column.
The ancient Britons were idolaters. Their priests, the druids, had some notions of a supreme divinity and of immortality, but they worshipped susudordinate dieties, as Taranus the thunderer, Hesus, the god of battles, Andrasse, the goddess of victory; and their immortality was little more than the Indian notion of the transmigration of souls. They built great temples of massy stone, in which they performed bloody rites. One of these, Stonehenge remains to this day. The secured a great revenue by compelling all the inhabitants to extinguish their fires on a certain day in winter, and come and kindle them again from the sacred fire of the Druids. This they withheld from such as had not paid their revenues.
They held sacred the Misseltoe. They were notorious, above all other heathen priests, for the practices or pretended magic. When a chief was afflicted with sickness, they sacrificed a human victim. Naked women assisted at the bloody rite. Such was the abominations of the ancient inhabitants of England.
When and by whom the knowledge of Christianity was first introduced there is unknown. It is certain there were Christians there soon after the days of the Apostles, and they probably came from Rome. They were persecuted; and Christianity as well as the druidical religion was exterminated by the Saxons, Angles and other tribes who conquered the country. These practiced their idolatries for about a hundred and fifty years. They worshipped the Sun (Sunday). Moon (Monday); Thuth (Tuesday); Odin (Wednesday); Thor (Thursday); Friggs (Friday); and Surtur (Saturday), and from these were derived the English names of the seven days of the Week. They had idols in wood, stone and metals, temples and a regular priesthood, and their rites were mostly bloody.
One day in the sixth century, Gregory, an eminent man at Rome, was walking in the market place, and beholding a number of youths with clear skins, flaxen hair and beautiful countenances fro sale; he inquired from where they came and whether they were Christians. On being told that they were Pagans from Britain, he asked further by what name they were called, he was told they were Angli. “Well” said Gregory, “May they be so called, for they have angelic countenances, and ought to be made co-heirs with the Angels in heaven.” And when informed they came from the province of Deirs, he exclaimed, “De Dei Ira! From the wrath of God they must be delivered.”
And it being added that Ella was their king, he replied”Hallelujah ougt to be sung in his dominions.” Gregory soon offered his services as a missionary to England, but they were not accepted. When, however, in a few years, he was raised to the seat of the Pope and than sent forty monks under Augustine, to convert the English nation. They entered Britain in 597 A.D. and were received by Bertha, a pious descendant of Clovis, who had married Ethelber, king of Kent and were permitted to preach the Gospel, taking up residence assigned them to them in the city of Canterbury. The king soon declared himself a convert, and his subjects followed his example. Other kings in the Saxon heptarchy, were soon persuaded with their people to renounce idolatry and in a short period, the whole land became nominally Christian.
Concerning the English being converted to Christianity, we have very sketchy information. One fact speaks highly in its praise. Missionaries issued forth, who spread the light of truth through Bavaria, Friesland, Cimbria and Denmark, delivering the North and West of Europe from pagan darkness and idolatry. The venerable Bede, who died in 735, was an ornament to the age in which he lived. He translated the Psalms and the Gospels into the Anglo Saxon, and wrote a valuable Church history. Alceuinus, one of his pupils, who became the instructor of Charlemagne, deserves mention for his learning and piety, but a great and general degeneracy was soon to take place.
The Danes broke up every thing good in the nation. When Alfred came to the throne in the 9th century, there were but a few priests who understood Latin enough to interpret his daily prayers. His efforts to restore learning and religion were noble, and soon the whole Bible was translated by his order. He began to translate the Psalms himself. But when he had passed away, monarchism reared its head, and the light which had permitted to shine in Britain was extinguished, as a gross darkness began to cover the land. As the papacy arose, the monarchs found a convenient engine in the despotic exercise of civil power, and soon the whole country was subjected to its dominion.
In the East, some Indians on the Malabar coast were converted to Christianity, by the Syrian Mar Thomas, as early as the 5th century. The principal propagators of Christianity, subsequent to this were the Nestorians, who gained a firm footing in Persia, establishing their patriarch at Selencia, passed over Tartary and India, and penetrated even into China. A prodigious number of people through all these countries, which are now overrun by Mahomet’s armies and Idolatry, were induced to embrace Christianity.
We cannot however form a very exalted opinion of the conversions of this period, either in the East or West. They were no more than nominal; a change of religion; and, in many cases, the converted retained many of their heathen customs, and most all their vices. Yet they paved the way for the establishment of the kingdom of the Redeemer in the hearts of men.
Fulgentius, bishop of Rome in Africa, and Gregory, bishop of Rome adorned the 6th century. The one lived near the beginning, the other near the close, and both were considered authors of great merit, and as stated before, Gregory introduced Christianity into England.
The Emperor Justinian, who succeeded to the Roman Empire in 527 A.D. was an champion for Christianity, though it appears he himself had not been unacquainted with any disciplines of holiness. He endeavored to bring all nations to nominal subjection to Christ; built sumptuous temples, and suppressed and destroyed everywhere what remained of idolatry. At that time, Chosroes, king of Persia, waged a cruel and desolating war against Christians, and the God of the Christians.
The disputes in which the churches had been involved concerning the nature and person of Christ; the depravity of man, and the necessity of divine grace in order to be saved, had brought forth many truths, so that these great subjects were now much better understood by many throughout Christendom in the 5th and 6th centuries, much more than they were for a considerable period before the reign of Constantine. But almost every part of the Christian world were fiercely engaged for the peculiarities of some distinguished leader of a sect or party, who had the boldness to advance some new opinions, overlooking, as they having no value, the great essentials of Christianity. The numerous sects into those the Arians split maintained with passion their peculiar views.
In the East the Nestorians, a powerful body, had broken off from the general Church. Their leader, Nestorius, a bishop of Constantinople in the 5th century, had affirmed that in Christ there were two persons, or two natures united by one operation and will, and that, as only the human nature could proceed from Mary, it was improper to call her the mother of God. In this he was opposed by Eutyches, an abbot of monks, who declared that in Christ there was but one nature, that of the incarnate word which proceeded from Mary, who ought, therefore, to be called the mother of God. His adherents were called Eutycheans. Both were successively condemned by general councils. The Theopaschites were furious in their words and anctions in maintaining that all three person in the Godhead suffered on the cross. The Monophasites believed that the dive nature absorbed the human. The Corrupticolae looked upon the body of Christ as corruptible; and the Agnoetae, upon the human nature of Christ as knowing all things. The Donatists increased and became powerful amid violent persecutions in in Africa. The Manicheans also continued to disperse in the East, continued to teach their wild opinions of two original principles, good and evil.
Before the close of the sixth century, the world was at ease, and superstition had made great strides. The mass of ministers were excessively ignorant, and were led away themselves by the strangest phantasies, doing little but delude and destroy the people. A thousand rites were performed; each one of which was produced, whose touch, it was said, could heal the body and the mind. The most marvelous feats, called miracles, were performed. The most superstitious services were rendered to the dead. Images of saints were worshipped, under the belief that such worship would draw down their favorable presence. Tombs and grave-yards were viewed as the places most frequented by departed spirits, and were the general gatherings of the misinformed. The doctrine of purgatory, or the purification of souls by fire, beyond the grave, had gained strong hold in the mind of the multitude. Some starved themselves with a frantic obstinacy. Some, possessed of a superstitious frenzy, erected high pillars and stood on them for many years. The leader of this debased class of men, was one Simeon, a Syrian, who, to climb as near to heaven as he could, passed thirty-seven years of his life upon five pillars, of six, twelve, twenty-two, thirty-six, and forty cubits high; attracting the admiration of the world around him.
Such things are disgusting to the rational person, and those of the truth of the gospel. It is a subject of gratitude, that Christianity is not answerable for them. Our faith lies in the love of God and men, holiness of heart and life, and not the superstitious veneration of a bone; or standing upon stilts. These things belong to the history of a declining church and of the ages; and to the history of the kingdom of darkness, not the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let those who will, even to this day, stumble over these things, and fall into a fatal whirlpool, a whirlpool of infidelity.
“Wisdom is justified of her children.” From this period froward, what lies ahead for the true Christian Church until the time of our Lord’s return is a period like that of the Egyptian darkness.
Matt.7:14, “Enter you in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Phil LaSpino www.seekfirstwisdom.com
The Prince of this world:
In many ways and degrees, the personal existence of a Spirit of Evil is revealed over and over again to us in Scripture. Every quality, every action, which can indicate personality is attributed to Satan who is the Prince of this world in language which cannot be brushed aside or explained away. The tendency of the human mind in its inquiry as to the origin of evil is generally towards one of two extremes.
The first is to consider evil as a negative imperfection, arising, in some unknown and inexplicable way, from the nature of matter, or from some disturbing influences which limit the action of goodness in man. The second is the Old Persian hypothesis, which traces the existence of evil to a rival Creator, not subordinate to the Creator of that which is good, though inferior to Him in power, and destined to be one day overcome by Him.
The book of Revelation speaks with authority, meeting the truth of this subject head on. It also removes any error in thinking and is essential in both of the above hypotheses as they being false and ridiculous. Scripture asserts in the strongest terms the perfect supremacy of God, so that under His permission alone, and for his inscrutable purposes, evil is allowed to exist. We read in,
Isa.45:7, “I (Jehovah) form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil = (calamity): I the LORD do all these things.”
Compare Amos with Rom.9:22-23,
Amos 3:6, “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil = (calamity) in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”
Rom.9:22-23, Jesus is speaking “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted (prepared for) to destruction: And that he (God) might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he had afore (beforehand) prepared unto glory?”
It regards this evil as an anomaly (a deviation from what is usual or expected) and corruption, and evil to be taken away by a new manifestation of God’s Love in the Incarnation and Atonement. The conquest of evil began virtually in God’s ordinance after the fall itself; was affected actually on the cross, and shall be perfected in its results on the Day of Judgment.
Still Scripture recognizes the existence of evil in the world, not only as felt in outward circumstances, meaning in the world itself; but also as inborn in the soul of man (the flesh,) and proceeding from the influence of an Evil Spirit (the devil) exercising the mysterious power of his free will, which all of God’s rational creatures possess; a free will to rebel against Him, and to draw others into the same rebellion.
God’s revelation of Satan is only gradually revealed to us in Scripture. In his first appearance the temptation is referred only to the serpent himself. Throughout the period of the patriarchal and Jewish dispensation, a vague and imperfect revelation of the Source of Evil is given. The Source of all “Good” is set forth in all Jehovah’s Supreme and unapproachable Majesty; and evil is known negatively as the falling-away from Him.
The book of Job stands alone on the basis of natural religion apart from the gradual and orderly evolution of the Mosaic revelation. In it we find a distinct mention of Satan, the adversary. It is important to comment on the emphatic stress laid on Satan’s subordinate position, on the absence of all but delegated power, of all terror, and all grandeur in his character. It is especially remarkable that no power of spiritual influence was set forth on Job, but only a power over outward circumstances is attributed to Satan, Job 1:14 thru 19, including the outward affliction of boils on his flesh from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
The Jewish captivity brought the Jews face to face with the great dualism of the Persian mythology, -- the conflict between Ormuzd with Abriman, the co-ordinate Spirit of Evil. Here is an overview of Ormuzd and Abriman.
The (mythological) omniscient Lord, Ahura Mazda, by a fusion of his two names, became Ormazd and Angra Mainyu – “agonized or negative thought” became Ahriman. These two marked the two poles of existence. The first created life, the second death. The first consisted of light and truth, the second of darkness and falsehood. Both could be defined by their antagonism: the god as anti-demon, the demon as anti-god. This world was claimed to be the result of their hand to hand struggle. You can research the rest for yourself.
In the books written after the Jewish Captivity, we again find the name of Satan:
1 Chro.21:1, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” And,
Zech.3:1-2, “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD rebuke thee, O Satan,” but let me note, the name of Satan bears no resemblance to the Persian god Ahriman.
Satan’s subordination and inferiority are strongly marked in the Old and New Testaments. In the apocryphal books of Tobit and Judith, as well as Josephus, no mention of Satan is found. In the ancient Jewish mind, Satan remained in the background; he was felt, but not understood. Many Christian’s have fallen into the same trap; evil is felt, but not understood. For anyone not to know, understand, and acknowledge the enemy of our Lord and of Christian’s can be a spiritual disaster. From the beginning of the gospel, when Satan appears as the personal tempter of Jesus Christ, through all the Gospels, Epistles and the Apocalypse, it is implied over and over again as a familiar and important truth.
Without dwelling on other passages, the following verse in John should be sufficient; for it is plain, sober, and is stated by our Lord Jesus with un-metaphorical words:
John 8:44, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts (desires) of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode (stands) not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Phil LaSpino www.seekfirstwisdom.com
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