The world undergoes change every single day. Some changes are for good, but many prove to be detrimental at best. This last week has produced many noteworthy events.
1. Cyprus has decided that every person who has a bank account should forfeit amounts up to almost 10% of what you own. This has transpired because of greed and poor fiscal management within the government.
2. Obama is making a trip to Israel but has no expectations that they will accomplish anything.
3. North Korea continues to rattle sabres and threaten the world with destruction through the use of possibly a single nuclear weapon.
This and more dominates the headlines in our newspapers, but the one aspect that many might have missed took place in Rome. No, I am not talking about the election of a new pope. That was an expected event. No, I am not talking about the election of a new pope from someplace outside of Europe. That was also expected to a large decree especially considering that 40% or more of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics come from Central or South America.
What caught my attention was some of the first words from the first ever pope that hails from the ranks of the Jesuit order. Before we speak about those words though, a brief history lesson might be in order.
The Jesuits were founded by Ignatius Loyola of Spain. He was from a noble family and after founding the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), he would ultimately become the order’s Superior General.
Further, the Jesuits were the primary tool used by the Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition to persecute and murder tens of thousands of true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This order has long been held as the military arm of the Roman Catholic system.
The Jesuits sought to “evangelize” the world by subjecting entire countries through whatever barbaric means possible to the teachings of Rome. The Bible was deliberately kept from the people and even many priests knew little more than the doctrines with which they had been indoctrinated in their training. Anybody caught reading or studying the Scripture for themselves was subject to torture on the rack or other brutalities up to and including outright murder.
Through fear of physical harm to the body, as well as the teachings that enslaved the spiritual soul of men and women, the Jesuits were instrumental in ensuring that the Roman Catholic system would have a steady influx of funds and wealth for her coffers.
When soldiers sent from the courts of Europe “discovered” the New World, they came with a show of arms and required the local populations to accept the heresy of Rome at the point of a sword. Women and children were sexually abused, some were tortured, while many would be put to death – ALL in the name of Jesus Christ. The priests leading the charges were in many cases from the Society of Jesus or Jesuits.
What a way to evangelize! Will you convert or would you rather be abused or murdered? Today, the poor peoples in many lands, but primarily Latin and South America, have been under bondage to the evils of Rome. Her priests continue to be abusers and her teachings are nothing short of heresy. She preys on the innocent and all who get in her way eventually feel her wrath.
Visit the hinterlands of Mexico, Columbia, Peru, or Bolivia, and declare yourself as an evangelical devoted to the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will face immediate opposition and evangelical missionaries in these countries are still struggling and have suffered at the hands of the local peoples who have been incited to anger by the priests of the Roman Catholic Church.
Fast forward to this last week with the election of the new pope from Argentina. Argentina, a land that was settled by immigrants from Europe over the last almost two centuries. Argentina, a land that has ruthlessly murdered all the native inhabitants by several hundred thousand at the lowest estimate. Argentina, a land that holds many in poverty while her people watch the Roman Catholic church grow richer and richer at their expense. Yes, this is the same Argentina that the new pope hails from.
The new pope has chosen the name of Francis as a way to honor Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assisi, the priest who preached heresy and was known for baptizing and preaching to birds and animals. Francis, from Argentina, has declared that he desires to represent the poor of the world. However, I do not think that we will ever see the Catholic church giving her vast treasures back to the peoples from whom they were stolen through the last 1500+ years.
The words the new pope stated though should strike a chord in the heart of every true believer. In his words, he desires to evangelize the world and to “re-evangelize” the areas of the world that they are a predominant force. Remember that at the heart of this very fallible, very sinful, very depraved man from Argentina is the fact that he has long been a cardinal of the order of Jesuits.
I am afraid that there will be many, even in evangelical circles, who will laud this man and the work that he says he wants to accomplish for the poor and downtrodden of the world. They will claim that he is a brother and knows Christ just as they declared about John Paul II and Theresa of Calcutta.
In the meantime, the Catholic machinery will move into action once again against the peoples of Latin and South America. Evangelicals will come under fire for their teachings, and some may even face martyrdom all for the sake and testimony of Jesus Christ.
The harsh reality is the truth of Scripture does not line up with the teachings of Rome. Jesus Christ said that He alone is the way, the truth and the life. Further, He made it clear that nobody could get to God unless they go through Jesus Christ.
However, Rome has duped her followers into believing that they can pray to the saints, or to Mary for deliverance. She has told them that they can do penance and somehow atone for their own sins. She tells them at every mass that the death of Christ was not a one-time sacrifice and that in order to be assured of a short time in Purgatory that they must each physically and literally eat and drink of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. She teaches her priests to ignore Scripture because the end justifies the means. She leads her people astray and when they die, the priest solemnly atones to the gathered crowd that they have departed to be with God, but must first do time in a non-existent location called Purgatory. More money and more masses are encouraged so that the people foster a false hope that their loved ones will be able to escape the fires of hell.
Sadly, while many will go to serve as “missionaries” to these gospel-deprived lands, those who go will not be taking the truth with them. More and more will be encouraged to be led astray into the Roman Catholic system with the rallying cry to follow the first Latin American pope.
However, all of that is to be expected. Rome is not stupid and she will use whatever means necessary in order to not only attempt to keep her share of the market, but to also gain more converts. For 1500+ years of her existence, she has ruthlessly, barbarically, and coldly gathered millions to follow her teachings. Constantine, who was the first pope of Rome (NOT PETER), started the process by mixing paganism with Christianity. The result dominates many lands today in what is known as syncretism. Rome does not care who you worship during the week as long as you play your part in the theatricals of the mass and give of your wealth to ensure that she grows richer.
Yet, the reality is that there are many in our neighborhoods who are being led down the same primrose path. You may find an increase in social events being led by a local priest. There will even be further attempts to draw more back into the fold from mainline Protestant denominations. You can be sure that they will adopt more of our language, and they will declare that they teach the same truths we do. The truth though is very dark, and for many, the light will be extinguished as they go into a lost eternity. An eternity that was declared to be the way of God, but that was nothing more than the figment of the imagination of a group of men who are no more concerned about their own souls than they are the souls of those who follow them.
My challenge to those of us who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb is this – what are we going to do to reach out to lost within our own circles? Will we stand idly by while the priest continues to lead our friends and co-workers down the path to hell? We each have a calling to tell the truth, no matter what it costs. May our heart’s desire be to pray for those trapped in their sin and religion, to pray for those who serve at great cost to life and limb as they share the truth in the face of great opposition, and to pray that God will burden our hearts to see beyond the trappings of religion and look for a people who need the Lord.
I have family and friends who are caught in the traps of Catholicism. My heart breaks for them for they have been indoctrinated very well. They believe that they are correct and that heaven awaits their arrival regardless of the truth that they have flaunted the Word of God in favor of the teachings and leading of depraved men.
Who is my neighbor? Jesus made it clear that the Good Samaritan was the type of neighbor we are to be. We must care for others from a social aspect, but not at the expense of the preaching of the gospel. We must be willing to reach out to others when nobody else is willing. We must care enough to forget about our own self-importance and remember that each person we meet will face eternity very soon. Many will blindly walk the broad road to destruction while very, very few will find the path to life.
May it not be said when we stand before Christ that we allowed ourselves to become an obstacle to any to find the path to life.