This past year, I had the opportunity to team up with the Northeast Regional Pastor of the Living Church of God, Jonathan McNair, to give a live Tomorrow’s World presentation in Manhattan, New York. These presentations are opportunities for our subscribers, such as you, to personally meet our television presenters, writers and a Living Church of God minister who serves in your area. We discuss trends in world news as they relate to Bible prophecy, and we normally have a follow-up for those who are interested in learning more about the Church that sponsors Tomorrow’s World.
The morning presentation in Manhattan was titled “Wake Up America!” The first of three points in this presentation was our need to wake up to our heritage—to our roots. The average person hardly knows recent history, much less longer-term history that reveals an amazing truth with significant implications. Americans and British-descended peoples, along with French, Dutch, Belgians, Swiss and Scandinavians, have lost their true identities. This is a large, too-big-to-cover subject for this short article, but I encourage you, if you have not already done so, to request a free copy of our booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy. You will be amazed that so few understand something so provable.
This leads me to the second point. Because we do not know where we come from, we have forgotten where our blessings come from. It is time to wake up and repent! Our arrogance in rejecting God will bring heartache and suffering beyond what we can imagine. Americans have forgotten, yes, even despised God and His commandments, and so have the other descendants of Israel’s twelve sons. And no matter what one’s ethnic background may be, if you live in one of these nations, you will be blessed or cursed along with the nation as a whole. We are all in it together, and unless we wake up and repent—and there is no indication that will happen—we are in for a very rough ride!
Much of the problem we face is the result of my third point. We must wake up to religious deception! This awakening especially applies to religious deception in the name of Christ! Some people find it offensive for anyone to criticize the beliefs of others, but not all beliefs are equal and not every belief can be true. The Bible reveals to us that there is an evil spirit directing the course of this world (Ephesians 2:2). Furthermore, the Bible tells us that this spirit being has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Do you believe this? Is it showing love to encourage people to continue living in ignorance and deception, due to our silence?
How can the world be deceived, when professing Christianity is the largest religion in the world, making up almost one-third of earth’s population? The answer is simple. What we think of as Christianity today is very different from that of Christ and His Apostles. This deception set in early, even in the first century.
The Apostle Paul warned the church in Corinth that there were those who were already teaching a different Jesus, having a different spirit, and proclaiming a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4). He further declared that Satan has his own ministers masquerading as ministers of Christ (vv. 13–15). This should be shocking, but most people take such news with a giant yawn, a shrug of the shoulders, and a resigned, “So what”! Yet God warns us and gives us encouragement to do something regarding this end-time Babylon: “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
Why does a major, supposedly “Christian” holy day have the name of a pagan goddess of fertility attached to it? Why celebrate that holiday with the fertility symbols of eggs and rabbits? What does that have to do with the resurrection of Christ? Why do churches that profess Christianity choose to worship on the day that the pagan Roman emperor Constantine decreed, and called “the venerable day of the sun”? Why choose the ancient “birthday of the sun” to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? These questions need honest answers!
One of my favorite quotes comes from the highly respected Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity: “When in 321 Constantine made the first day of the week a holiday, he called it ‘the venerable day of the sun’ (Sunday). When the pagan symbols eventually disappeared, the Unconquered Sun was the last to go…. The Christian church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun-worship, for example came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the twenty-fifth of December, the birthday of the Sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17–21 of December, provided the merriment, gift-giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays” (p. 131).
The well-known and prolific British author Paul Johnson points out how pagan influences infiltrated the church following Constantine’s suspicious conversion. “He himself appears to have been a sun-worshipper, one of a number of late-pagan cults which had observances in common with the Christians. Thus the followers of Isis adored a Madonna nursing her holy child…. Constantine was almost certainly a Mithraic [sun-worshipper], and his triumphal arch, built after his ‘conversion’, testifies to the Sun-god, or ‘unconquered sun’. Many Christians did not make a clear distinction between the sun-cult and their own. They referred to Christ ‘driving his chariot across the sky’; they held their services on Sunday, knelt towards the East [sunrise services] and had their nativity-feast on 25 December, the birthday of the sun at the winter solstice” (A History of Christianity, p. 67).
As a sincere believer, does any of this seem strange to you? You likely grew up, as did I, accepting the common practices of modern Christianity. Is it possible you have been deceived, as I was, regarding the truth of the Bible and the message Jesus brought to this world? Could you be accepting “a different Jesus,” “a different spirit” and “a different gospel”? Could you possibly be part of the whole world that Satan has deceived? Are you courageous enough to ask yourself these questions, to make an honest and informed assessment, and to act on your findings? According to Matthew 7:13–14, few are!
I challenged that Manhattan audience, as I challenge you, to look into these things for yourself. Don’t believe us because we say it, believe it because it is provable from Scripture and from history. Be sure to keep reading Dr. Roderick C. Meredith’s comprehensive series on the Protestant Reformation, as it gives historically accurate information you probably have never seen before.
We normally have a break at these presentations and invite all who are interested in learning more about the Living Church of God to stick around to ask questions and get answers. Some of the more common questions involve the Sabbath and Holy Days. What do the biblical Holy Days mean? How do you keep them? How should one keep the weekly Sabbath? Does the Living Church of God have a congregation nearby? Is baptism required for salvation, and if so, do you baptize? Some have questions about specific doctrines. Depending on the interest, we may have several follow-up Bible Studies, and we occasionally start a new congregation where there is sufficient interest, but no one is pressured to join anything and we do not take up offerings at our weekly services.
There will be a number of live Tomorrow’s World presentations in the months ahead. Keep your eyes open for an invitation, as we may schedule one in a city near you. You can also keep up with the locations for these presentations at our TomorrowsWorld.org website. We would love to meet you!