Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
May 23, 2005
Last Updated :
February 12, 2013
Jewish Lineage Of Christ And His Followers, Growth Of Early Church, Differentiating Between Chief Priests And Priests, Annas Caiaphas And The Corrupt Core, Jewish Priestly Courses Murderous Plot Of Chief Priests, Blood-Thirsty Jewish Mobs, Instruments In God's Hands, God's Divine Purpose - Salvation Jewish Remnant Shall Be Saved, Jesus' Sacrifice Cornerstone Of Our Faith, Pro-Catholic ZENIT.org, Ambiguities and Mysteries Can We Be Saved Without Acknowledging Christ?, Jesus' Central Role, Key Points Of Our Faith, Pope Benedict XVI Like A God, Blind Leading The Blind, Spirit Of Complacency, Lake Of Fire, Destruction Of The Unbelievers, Global Evangelism, Brevity Of Our Human Existence, Ratzinger's Rebellion And False Gospel, Beware Of Lying And Seducing Spirits And Doctrines Of Devils
While I have chosen to highlight some of the more prominent Jewish figures who were painted in a positive light by the writers of the New Testament, let us not forget that Jesus Himself was of Jewish lineage, at least after the flesh, as were many of the original Apostles and Disciples. While the vast majority of people have been conditioned to believe by Hollywood movies that Jesus had only twelve followers, the writer Luke informs us that, in actuality, in addition to the main Twelve Apostles, the Lord appointed other people to represent Him throughout the towns and cities of Israel as well. Luke writes as follows:
"After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come . . . And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
Luke 10:1, 17, KJV
In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, which many scholars believe was a continuation of Luke's account from the Gospel of Luke, Luke tells us that following the Lord's Ascension to Heaven, there were at least one hundred and twenty people who had joined the ranks of the Disciples. Luke writes:
"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)"
Acts 1:15, KJV
Of course, as we also know from Acts chapter two, following the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles had even greater success at winning new converts, and thousands more joined the ranks of the Disciples.
Another important point worthy of mention here, is that while Jesus had some very negative things to say about the Jewish religious hierarchy who conspired against Him, and who eventually killed Him, His words were not directed at all of them. For example, we have already seen how certain religious elders, such as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Gamaliel, clearly lent their support to Jesus and His followers. These three high-ranking officials were not the only ones who either outright embraced the young new faith, or at least offered a word of defense in its favor. Turning again to the Book of Acts, Luke tells us that even many of the priests were obedient to the faith, as we see here:
"And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith."
Acts 6:7, KJV
I believe that the previous verse requires clarification, as some of you may possibly be a bit confused. Why? Because on one hand, we are told that the High Priest, and the Scribes and the Pharisees were clearly intent on killing Jesus, and on the other, we are told that many of the priests actually embraced the new faith. So which is it? Well, actually, it is both.
You see, if my suspicion is correct, when Luke wrote that "a great company of priests were obedient to the faith", he was obviously not referring to the corrupt inner core of priests who were members of the Sanhedrin. These were the villains who were more concerned with maintaining the status quo, and with guarding their positions of power, than in saving the life of some itinerant preacher from Galilee, who not only had fully exposed their sins, but was causing them one big headache with the Roman authorities, whom they served. Luke offers us an idea of who some of these evil schemers were in the Book of Acts when he writes:
"And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem."
Acts 4:6, KJV
It is shortly after this verse, that they threaten Peter and John and the rest of the Disciples, and command them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ. So these men, as well as others who were loyal to them, were the ones who Jesus probably accused of being a generation of vipers, as well as children of Satan, children of hell, hypocrites, murderers, thieves and the synagogue of Satan. Along with the Scribes, they belonged to two main religious sects of the time, which were the Sadducees and the Pharisees, who, from a doctrinal perspective, were on opposite sides of the fence. If we go back to the four Gospels, we also discover that Annas and Caiaphas were concurrently the high priests, and that Annas was actually the father-in-law of Caiaphas; so they were one big happy family of vipers. It was apparently like a corrupt family business, you might say. Consider these verses:
"Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness."
Luke 3:2, KJV
"And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year."
John 18:13, KJV
In contrast to this tight-knit group of murderous, religious rogues, when Luke mentioned the great company of priests who were obedient to the faith, he was probably referring to the lower level of priests, who rotated throughout the year, and performed their priestly duties in the temple. For example, this is precisely what Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was doing when the Angel announced John's coming birth to him, as we see here:
"There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord."
Luke 1:5-9, KJV
Another clue we are given in the Bible, which suggests this distinction between the corrupt upper level priests, and the lower level priests, is that in quite a few cases, when these scheming devils are mentioned in the Scriptures, the writer will often refer to them as "the chief priests", and not just as "the priests", as we see by the following verses. There are many more examples, so please use your Bible program's search engine if you would like to find them:
"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."
Matthew 16:21, KJV
"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,"
Matthew 20:18, KJV
"And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people."
Matthew 26:47, KJV
"Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;"
Matthew 26:59, KJV
"When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:"
Matthew 27:1, KJV
"But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus."
Matthew 27:20, KJV
If you take the time to study the other three Gospels, you will see the very same pattern. It is the chief priests, as well as others, who are specifically named when discussing the satanic plot against Jesus. In the Book of Acts, it was also the chief priests who repeatedly persecuted the Lord's Disciples, and who also gave Paul -- who was then known as Saul of Tarsus -- his authority to persecute the fledgling Church. Ironically, it was those very same chief priests who later persecuted Paul as well, after he had embraced the Christian faith. A Jew betraying another Jew was the biggest insult, and that was apparently how the chief priests viewed Paul's conversion to Christianity; so they were out to get him.
While I have spent several paragraphs discussing the evil machinations of the corrupt Jewish priesthood of that era, allow me to add that it would be unwise for anyone to assume that the guilt stopped with the Jewish religious hierarchy. They were indeed guilty, as was Judas Iscariot the betrayer, but the Jewish masses were guilty as well. After all, were they not the ones who allowed themselves to be whipped into a religious fervor, and who demanded Jesus' innocent blood before the seat of Pontius Pilate, while they clamored for the release of a common thief and murderer named Barabbas? It was also the Jewish mobs who cried out:
". . . His blood be on us, and on our children."
Matthew 27:25b, KJV
Clearly then, in discussing the cold-blooded murder of Jesus Christ, and the persecution and the martyrdom of the Lord's Prophets and Saints, there is plenty of guilt to go around. In fact, as I have pointed out before, while the modern Jews have tried to switch the blame for Jesus' Crucifixion to the Romans, Jesus clearly cast the blame upon the unbelieving Jews themselves, when He said to Pontius Pilate:
". . . Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
John 19:11b, KJV
Who was it who delivered Jesus to Pilate? As we have already seen, it was a money-minded Judas Iscariot; it was the chief priests and their evil cohorts; and it was the unbelieving mobs of Jerusalem. They all played a major role in our Lord's Death. Of course, to add some balance to my words, it is also important that we all look at the Big Picture and realize, as Jesus said, that they could have had no power against Him, if it had not been ordained from above.
In other words, while those evil Jews did indeed commit the crime of killing the Son of God, as we all know, this was by God's Design. God merely used them as His instruments. God used the wickedness of their own evil hearts, in order to accomplish His own Divine Purposes, which was the Salvation of mankind. This does not by any means excuse the Jews, but it does serve to remind each of us to check our own hearts, and to realize that all have sinned, and that Jesus died for us all, without exception.
In spite of their rebellion against Him, God is merciful; and as I point out in other articles, such as "The Woman in the Wilderness and the 144,000", "The Great Tribulation and the Rapture", and "Is God a Racist?", the Scriptures do tell us, that the day will come, when after a terrible period of Great Tribulation, a small remnant of Jews will return to their first love for the Father, and will finally embrace Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior. But, they will indeed be a small remnant, for as Jesus taught us, many are called, but few are chosen.
Having now fully addressed all of these important concepts, beliefs and issues concerning sin, Salvation, the universal nature of God's Redemptive Plan, and the status of the Jews and other non-believers, let us turn our attention to the topic which actually served as the catalyst for my writing this current series.
If you happen to be a knowledgeable Christian, then you will already know that all of the verses which I have shared in this series, are taken straight from God's Authoritative Word, the Holy Bible, and that they constitute sound, clear Christian doctrine. These verses, and many others like them, form the very foundation, the very core, and the central belief system of our Christian faith. If we remove Christ as the Principle Figure, and if we eliminate His Sacrifice as the Cornerstone of what we believe, then our faith becomes essentially meaningless; and it is no different than any other worldly religion which promotes peace, love, kindness and good will towards men. Without Jesus' Atoning Sacrifice, our faith becomes a dry religion of self-righteous works.
The other day, while conducting some online research, I came across a certain news article, written not quite five years ago, and published by zenit.org, which really left me rather stunned. For those of you who are not familiar with ZENIT, on their website, they describe themselves as an international news agency, whose mission is "to provide objective coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church". In other words, ZENIT is a staunchly pro-Catholic news website. The article in question, which I am reproducing in full below, is entitled "Are Believers Of Other Religions Saved?", and deals with some remarks made by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In particular, I would like to ask you to carefully note what Ratzinger states in the second paragraph below.
----- Begin Quote -----
ARE BELIEVERS OF OTHER RELIGIONS SAVED?
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Responds
September 5, 2000
VATICAN CITY, SEP 5 (ZENIT.org).- "How is it possible to explain the unique character of Christ and of the Catholic Church to a Jew or a Lutheran, a reporter asked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, during a press conference to present the "Dominus Iesus" declaration, which is concerned, precisely, with the unique and universal salvation of Christ and the Church.
Referring to a believing Jew, Cardinal Ratzinger clarified that "we are in agreement that a Jew, and this is true for believers of other religions, does not need to know or acknowledge Christ as the Son of God in order to be saved, if there are insurmountable impediments, of which he is not blameworthy, to preclude it. However, the fact that the Son of God entered history, made himself part of history, and is present as a reality in history, affects everyone."
The German Cardinal continued "I think it is important to explain that Christ did not go away to heaven, but has remained in history." Because of this, "we can say that the hidden and real presence of Christ in history affects us all, even those who are opposed or cannot encounter Christ. This is a reality that transforms history; it is something important for others, without violating their conscience."
In speaking of the universal character of the Church's salvation with a Lutheran, Cardinal Ratzinger said that "we all recognize objectively that the Church should be one, and we should all desire to find ourselves in a renewed Catholic Church on the road toward the future.
However, this objective necessity must be distinguished from the state of conscience of persons who learn their faith in their community and are nourished by the world of God in it." This state of conscience impedes some Christians from understanding the importance and necessity of unicity and the unity of the Church.
----- End Quoted Article -----
As I said a moment ago, I was really taken back by the claim that, in Cardinal Ratzinger's words:
"we are in agreement that a Jew, and this is true for believers of other religions, does not need to know or acknowledge Christ as the Son of God in order to be saved"
Right after that, Cardinal Ratzinger offers some other rather confusing and ambiguous statements, the purpose of which, at least in my view, seems to be to soften the harshness of what he is saying in the portion I have quoted above.
I have noticed before, that some of these Catholic leaders seem to have this propensity, that is, this special tendency, for making confusing, semi-veiled remarks; so that when they are done talking, one is not exactly sure what has been said, or what is intended to be understood. They are rather astute politicians. But then, as you may already know, the Catholic faith, in general, seems to enjoy shrouding things within a spirit of mystery; and the word "mystery" itself is found frequently throughout their doctrines and belief system. But, this is precisely what draws certain people to it, and they surely know it!
But allow me to ask you . . .
Do you accept that statement as being Scripturally sound? Do you believe that acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Son of God is not necessary in order for one to receive forgiveness of sins, and Salvation? Do you accept that Jews do not need to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in order to be saved? How about Buddhists, or maybe Muslims, or Hindus, or Shintoists, or any other religious practitioner for that matter? I most certainly don't! Yet that is precisely what Cardinal Ratzinger appears to be saying. If I understand him correctly, his statement is in total contradiction to all of the Scriptures which I have shared with you in this series, concerning the universality of God's Salvation Plan, and the fact that Christ is the Key to it all, for everyone, without any room for exceptions.
To reiterate the key points of our faith: All have sinned; all deserve death according to God's own righteous Laws; all require a Savior in order to escape the penalties of sin; and Jesus Christ is God's one and only appointed Savior for all of mankind. How truly sad that former Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, doesn't seem to agree with this central Biblical doctrine.
Is it any wonder that some non-Catholics have begun to think that Pope Benedict XVI -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- may be the Antichrist or the False Prophet who is described in certain Bible prophecies? Please understand that I am not suggesting that I agree with this particular point of view concerning the man, but I must admit that I do find Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks quite alarming, and naturally, totally contrary to the Scriptures. What I find equally alarming, is the fact that approximately one billion Catholics worldwide, reverence this man, and look to him for spiritual guidance. Pope Benedict XVI is like a god to them. On one extremely pro-Catholic site which I visited two days ago, they even went so far as to refer to Ratzinger as "Lord Pope Benedict XVI", not to mention the usual "holy father" bit.
Let us not forget that, prior to becoming Pope Benedict XVI, as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger's job was to establish, and to safeguard, Roman Catholic doctrine. It simply amazes me that he could have gotten it right on such important issues as marriage and divorce, abortion and birth control, stem cell research, homosexuality, etc., and then turn around and fall flat on his face, when it comes to the core element of our Christian faith. Ratzinger, what are you thinking??? You are really missing the mark!
Considering Ratzinger's own obviously apostate condition, is this not a prime example of the blind leading the blind? As Jesus said, shall they not both fall into the ditch? Sadly, unless Pope Benedict XVI forsakes this devilish, misleading doctrine, it is a sure thing that millions of people will indeed fall into the ditch; that is to say, the very ditch of hell, or more appropriately, the Lake of Fire.
Why do I say this? Quite simply, because the words of this misguided Pope will help to further convince such people that their false religions are just fine, and that there is really no need for any of them to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Thanks to the tragic apostasy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, millions of people around the world will now fall into a spirit of false complacency. They are going to fail to recognize the urgency of their situation, and the dangerous condition in which they are in, if they continue to refuse to recognize and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Such people may now need the shock treatment. They need to be made aware of the following Scriptural truth:
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
1 Thessalonians 5:3, KJV
"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Matthew 24:37-39, KJV
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God . . . For our God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 10:31, 12:29, KJV
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
John 3:36, KJV
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
Romans 1:18, KJV
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 20:15, KJV
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8, KJV
What a harsh picture indeed; but according to God's Word, it is exactly what awaits everyone who continues to stubbornly reject the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ until the end. As we've already seen, God is indeed patient; and He is very merciful; but He simply cannot wait forever. There must come a time when, in a symbolic sense, He will draw in the fishing nets; He will send forth His Harvesters; and He will gather His true children unto Himself, and then burn up the unbelieving chaff. As Jesus Himself said:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Matthew 24:14, KJV
In this present day of rapid global communications, Internet technology, and widespread propagation of the Gospel, is it possible that our job will soon be accomplished? If that is indeed the case, what does that mean for those of you who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? How much longer will you procrastinate? How much longer will you continue to resist God's Spirit speaking to your heart, and beseeching you to accept the Sacrifice of His dear Son? If you are one of such people, please consider the following verses:
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
James 4:14, KJV
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Isaiah 40:7-8, KJV
"But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"
Luke 12:20, KJV
Again, I ask you to please seriously consider the truth which is found in the previous set of verses. You simply may not have as long as you think. There is no guarantee of tomorrow for any of us. If your day were to arrive, will you really be ready for it? Will you have made your plans for the future?
So in conclusion, this, in my view, is Cardinal Ratzinger's rebellion. If this is what he truly believes, and if I have understood his words correctly, then according to the Holy Scriptures, he appears to be a heretick of the first order. Pope Benedict XVI, as Ratzinger is now known, is in direct rebellion against the very Cornerstone of our Christian faith. His words totally contradict the truth of the Bible. Cardinal Ratzinger is preaching not just a perverted gospel, but in fact a false gospel. He is preaching another "Jesus". Based upon Ratzinger's own statements, it appears that the "Jesus" he preaches, did not die for the sins of all men everywhere. This, I do not accept, and you shouldn't either. As God's Word plainly tells us regarding such deceivers:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;"
1 Timothy 4:1, KJV
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Ephesians 4:14-15, KJV
"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."
Hebrews 13:9, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
Romans 16:17, KJV
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, KJV
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9, KJV
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
2 John 1:9-11, KJV
Please go to part four for the conclusion of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .