9/11 is our modern “day that will live in infamy”. Like the first day to be so designated, it probably didn’t have to happen. in-depth research by the 9/11 Commission revealed gaps in communication among agencies, lack of immigration enforcement, and failure to heed warnings that certain individuals posed a threat, among many other factors. In our wildest collective national dreams, no one could picture illegal immigrants, trained as pilots on our soil, wreaking total havoc on businessmen and women, simply “guilty” of going to work, and on grandparents travelling to see their grandkids. To a deadly degree, we underestimated our enemy.
And we haven’t stopped.
We expect of our government a level of excellence in detecting and immobilizing threats to both national and local security. If a Boston Marathon Bombing or a Shoe Bomber incident occurs, we demand answers as to why they couldn’t prevent such an attack or near-attack, and rightfully so. But I warrant there is an Enemy many are still underestimating, perhaps even some who read this.
A new way to die
I remember quite clearly on Tuesday evening, 9/11/2001, after our church’s specially called prayer meeting, turning to a fellow church member and stating,”We learned a new way to die today…Go to work and sit at your desk until a plane-load of innocent people crash through your building.” Why did I say that? Because we had never thought of that being a way to die before that date, but we can never think the same about security at work, or anywhere else, again.
Notwithstanding the political implications of failing to learn from the past, I certify you that many people seem unsuspecting that the Enemy of our souls could still be using weapons of mass deception, which he introduced in ancient times, even on us. Consider this:
All the same
When Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, and Aaron cast down his rod, as God had directed Moses in the wilderness as a sign that God was with him, the rod became a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians immediately threw down their rods, which also became serpents. How? By God’s power? Of course not. By Satan’s power? Well, there are only two options, and we’ve ruled out the other one, don’t you agree?
So are God’s power and Hell’s power equal? Absolutely not! The rod of Aaron ate up the rods of the magicians — a demonstration of superiority that the pharaoh-worshipping, God-hating, heathen magicians could not mimic. Would the demonstration of two powers have appeared to be equal, initially, to the untrained observer? Absolutely!
Now, consider who we’re talking about here: The sworn Enemy of God Almighty, and the sworn Enemy of your soul. Yet so many live life as if this Enemy would never use such a trick again. He would never allow some doctrine or religious system that is not of God, but claims to believe in all the tenants of Christianity, to produce signs and wonders and good feelings and good works, again. If people are basically good and they do good works and they feel something they believe with all their heart is God, then to many, it becomes vicious, self-righteous, judgement to suggest that they are not truly following God according to His Word.
They underestimate our Enemy.
The origin of what appear to be options
The root theology of many religious groups today, including the Catholic Church and all mainline denominations that branched off during the Protestant Reformation (this includes Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, etc.), is to insist that the Godhead is best understood as a trinity, and that failing to stand on this idea is heresy. What is not taught is where and when the doctrine emerged.
For the period of history covered by the Book of Acts, through around 64 A.D., the primary teaching of the church was that the true implementation of Jesus’ charge to the disciples to go into all the world, making “disciples of all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”, was to baptize in the one name that encompasses all of these: Jesus (see Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:47-48, Acts 19:5). A wealth of scriptures explain how they knew the “name of Jesus” had to be what Jesus meant by what He said.
Yet, over time, the exact thing that Jesus and the Apostles warned believers would happen after their time on earth not only began to happen, but multiplied: “Beware of false prophets…” (Jesus – Matthew 7:15), “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you…speaking perverse things…” (Paul – Acts 20:29-30), “…there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies…” (Peter – 2 Peter 2:1), “For there are certain men crept in unawares…denying…our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Jude – Jude 4), “For many deceivers are entered into the world…” (John – 2 John 7). By the second century, the voices that clamored for a shift from baptism in Jesus’ name to a formula that incorporated the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost, no doubt insisted that nothing was to be lost, but rather gained, for the Early Church by making this change. (Note that the Book of Acts records no baptisms being performed where these titles were used in place of the name of Jesus for baptizing believers). By the third century, the new doctrine was becoming law, and the original doctrine was beginning to be excluded from the official debate. Didn’t Jesus warn his disciples: “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake?” (Matthew 10:22, 24:9,Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17)
Though it is impossible for both ideas to be right (i.e., baptizing exclusively in the name of Jesus vs. baptizing in the titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), they were put forth to believers, first perhaps as being equal, then as the trinitarian formula being superior, somehow, to the “only name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved”, Jesus (Acts 4:11-12). Though there is much to be said on the formula for baptism and the understanding of God as One, notice what happened in history around the time the relatively new doctrine was adopted as the official one at the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D. The Great Persecution of the church, under the Roman Empire, ceased around that time. The Council had been convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine, with the stated intention of bringing “unity” to the church. The doctrine of One God whose name is Jesus, (called “modalism” by theologians) was outlawed, and documents supporting it destroyed. It continued to be reported on from time to time by opponents continuing to work to stamp it out.
Is it uncomfortable to think that banning baptism in the name of Jesus, in favor of one that leaves out the only saving Name, was the price paid by the powerful Early Church and its descendents, for being relieved of persecution? Not all of them took this option, of course, but the records of their history is sparse, as noted above. Is it odd at all to you to believe that the actions of the Apostles as recorded in the Book of Acts were supposed to be overridden by later theologians? Does it seem most likely that what God really meant by the Great Commission was not truly discovered until 200-300 years after Calvary? Or does it seem possible that this is a duplicated “rod-serpent”, put forth to distract from the original?
Does the idea that the basic theology of your church, if it does not insist on baptism in Jesus’ name exclusively, and the teaching of God as One, and not a trinity, descended from this act (which essentially instituted the Catholic church as we know it)? It is incredible for you to believe that your Enemy could have pulled off an illusion of this proportion on modern society, to the point that good people fight against the original doctrine of the Apostles (or at least bristle at the suggestion that it should now be taught and followed exclusively)? If so, then you have seriously, and perhaps tragically, underestimated your Enemy.
So your basis for being sure you are right, and this is wrong, is the fact that you feel so strongly about what you’re doing, and are surrounded by others who are the same. Is that a safe basis for being sure the doctrine of the Apostles is no longer the only doctrine safe to base your eternity on? Can I share with you that I have friends and former co-workers who are just as adamant about their conversions to Mormon theology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses as I am to what I say and as you are to what you say? They are faithful to what they believe and recount with excitement their conversions to what most readers of this blog — whether they share its theology or not — would consider false doctrine. I realize they teach a different view of Jesus and hell and other things than mainline denominations, but they are sincere and are good people, the same argument many use to justify their unwillingness to change or investigate the scriptures behind the One God theology.
An ever-evolving threat
Shortly after the birth of my daughter, the fear of potential harm caused me to pack a bag and leave the home I’d rented for a number years in the hands of the husband who had joined me there, just three years before. Most of the possessions that meant anything to me were necessarily left behind. As the separation became prolonged, and legal options for protection led to the unsavory process of divorce, several people questioned the safety of my things still quartered where an angry and unpredictable man was dwelling. I confidently replied that what I knew of him was that he of all things was not a thief, and I truly believed with his other considerable deeds and potential ones that his pride would not lead him to taking what was not his. You learn a lot about someone during a divorce. Once a court decree finally restored those things to me, some of them that I treasured most were marred permanently from being hid in a location somewhere that exposed them to moisture. I had grievously underestimated one who should not have been, but had become, my enemy.
People often cling to a belief that is being challenged, because of their not being sure of the alternative. They are somewhat comfortable with what they know, even when it does not fully fit the facts presented. Often, someone becomes interested in seeking a change, or more truth, for a time, but are unsure of where to safely inquire about it. That is a real concern. Every flavor of “Pentecost” that Satan can dream up and is still dreaming up, has been evolving for nearly two thousand years: those who seem to worship as Pentecostals, but still teach a trinitarian form of baptism; those who teach Baptism in Jesus name, though not exclusively, and with no standard of separation from the world; and those who teach the doctrine and a standard of separation, but have no true balance, no joy, or have been affected by the tares Jesus spoke of, to the point that people are made merchandise of, and those who associate with their churches are left bitter toward even the real, true church, should they find one. But there are still those that have the power of the Holy Ghost flowing in them, with sincere and unpretentious worship, and alignment with the commandments of the Apostles to baptize in the name of the One who bought our salvation with His blood.
Know the real
You know –if you’ve read the Book of Acts–that teachings of the Early Church are different from your own, if you’re part of a religious group that insists on the trinitarian formula for baptism. Two thousand years’ worth of theologians’ reasons why this shouldn’t bother you have been thrown at you up to this point. But make no mistake: day after day, someone is being taught a Bible study about the foundations of the Apostles’ doctrine and why it applies today, and is seeing that they were misled by their denominational teaching up to that point. If you feel any curiosity at all about what you’ve read, and if you’ve never had someone who believes that baptism in Jesus’ Name is the only saving message, and who lives a life that you could point to as being separated from the world, and possessing the power that God intended for the church to have, to sit down with scriptures and show you what they base that belief on, you owe it to yourself to seek that out.
You may contact me through the Comments section of this blog, the Contact tab of this website, email me at SusanJenkinsMS@gmail.com, or visit our church, First Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ in Bay Springs, (www.fpcbaysprings.com) if you’re in this local area. I challenge you to size up your Enemy, and make sure he hasn’t pulled you in with one of the oldest tricks in his book.