LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH PROJECT          May 13, 2019     LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESOURCE SHOP

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California School District Teachings on Pedophilia Reminder of Child Sexual Abuse Epidemic and Cover-Ups

LTRP Note: Recently, one of our readers informed us about a new book called Wolves Among Lambs: My Story of Sexual Abuse & Cover-Ups in the Church by Stacey Shiflett, a pastor in the U.S. After reading this book, our editors have decided to carry the book because of its vital relevance for today’s church. If you belong to a church where there are children, we highly recommend you have your church leaders read this book. It not only tells the heart-breaking story of child sexual abuse and cover-up in the church, but it offers invaluable suggestions and advice on how to protect our children.

Lighthouse Trails has been reporting on and speaking up about child sexual abuse since we began 17 years ago. We have watched in horror as our Western society has embraced homosexuality and transgenderism and seen the real victims of this – the children. We knew it was just a matter of time when pedophilia (the sexual abuse of children) would begin to become normalized. The following situation that took place at a California school district is giving us a glimpse of the future where pedophilia is being referred to as a “sexual orientation” rather than a heinous crime against children.

“School District Caught Hiding Teachings of Pederasty”

From Capitol Resource Institute

BREA, Calif., April 16, 2019 /Christian Newswire/ — After submitting an open records request, Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) has discovered that the Brea Olinda School District has included in their “comprehensive sexual education” curriculum the positive portrayal and teaching of pederasty; the act of adult sex with boys. However, the information on pederasty was withheld from district’s response to the formal request. The public wants to know what else are districts hiding?

“Parents need to be on alert and should be outraged that Brea-Olinda school district saw no problem teaching about adult sex with boys and hiding it from the public,” said Karen England, executive director for CRI. “Under the guise of providing so-called ‘appropriate sex education’ to children, many school districts are beginning to incorporate some of the most offensive, absurd, graphic and inappropriate sex acts to some of the youngest students.” Click here to continue reading.

Related Reading:

APA Associated Pedophilia With Sexual Orientation but Claims It Was an Error

Mental Health Group Looks to Remove Stigma From Pedophilia – American Psychological Association’s Role in These Efforts


A Special Commentary: Recent Events Show America’s Children in Grave Increased Danger of Sexual Abuse by Deborah Dombrowski


5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators by Patrick Crough

(Photo from Greg Reid’s book, The Color of Pain)

The “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling” Tells Us to “Laugh at the Future”

By Warren B. Smith

The “Jesus” of Jesus Calling completely contradicts the sober warnings of the true Jesus Christ in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 when he states:

“The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future!”1

In the Bible, Jesus Christ makes it clear that the future is no laughing matter. In Matthew 24 and in other verses, He describes the serious events that will transpire at the end of time as very real and not a phantom. He tells His disciples to “not be troubled” by these future happenings, but He does not tell them to take the future lightly or to laugh at the future. Rather, He tells them to watch and be ready and to not be deceived by the false Christs and false prophets that will come in His name (Matthew 24:3-5, 24, 42, 44).

In the book of Revelation, Jesus prophesies of God’s impending judgment and about a very real battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh,” and the true Jesus makes it very clear that the future is not something to laugh at or laugh about. Rather, He warns in Matthew 24 of the increased hatred and persecution toward Christians that will be taking place—that we may even be killed for our faith. It is definitely a time to be taken most seriously. Only a false “Christ” would tell people to laugh at the future.

It is not surprising that the false “Christ” of A Course in Miracles promised that “[t]he world will end in laughter.”2 Nor is it surprising that this false “Jesus” of the New Age and the “Jesus” of God Calling and of Jesus Calling place an unbiblical emphasis on laughter rather than the watchfulness, sobriety, steadfastness, and prayer that is called for in Scripture.
Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 says:

Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

In Luke 21:19, Jesus Christ does not say “in your laughter possess ye your souls” but, rather, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” In regard to the future, the true Jesus Christ tells us to count the cost (Luke 14:28), not look for laughs:

Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. (Luke 6:25)

Endnotes:

  1. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004) p. 16.
    2. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Teacher’s Manual), (Glen Ellen, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975, 1992, Manual for Teachers), p. 37.

The post above is an extract of Warren B. Smith’s book,“Another Jesus” Calling.

 

Comments From Our Readers

The following are some of the comments that came in this past two weeks from our readers regarding articles posted on our blog. If you would like to post a comment to one of our articles, you may do so at the blog. You only need to give your first name. We would be grateful to hear from you, and such feedback is helpful for others. You can also post comments on the Lighthouse Trails Research Facebook page:

The “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling” Tells Us to “Laugh at the Future”: In Ezek. 33 The Watchman on the city walls were to be ever vigilant for signs of danger heading for the city. If he saw danger coming but failed to sound the alarm the blood of the fallen would be upon his head. When the city did not heed the warning their blood was upon their own head. Prophets, just like the watchmen, were to warn Israel that they were going astray. God could not depend on the Priests to warn the people. Rather, all to often, they went along with the apostasy as did Aaron in Exodus. Not even the High Priest warned the people or supported the prophets. it was typically the priests and the King that led the attack on the the Prophets. Look at the examples of John the baptist and Jesus. More than once it was the church elders that opposed Paul the Apostle. Nothing has changed. if the Clergy were doing their job today, there would be no need for LHTRM to sound the alarm for them. Unity tween light and darkness, tween truth and error is not possible. Every false teaching is against Jesus. all who refuse to fight it, are against Jesus. T.I.

The Jews: Beloved by God, Hated by Many: I am a Messianic Jew whose ancestors were taken to the R. Catholic Inquisition and perished in Spain. After reading the entire Bible I do not know how Christians can hate the Jewish people or not see that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the root of Christianity. Some so-called Christians even believe the lies of Israel’s enemies. In the end, the entire Jewish remnant will accept their Jewish Messiah after the Tribulation. Hallelujah! Elizabeth

The Jews: Beloved by God, Hated by Many: The author states: “This brief history of Jewish suffering shows the terrible truth that most of it has been instigated by people who claimed to be Christians.” Instead of ‘claimed to be’ it should read. ‘claim to be’ for the hate for Jews is still very much alive in many ‘Christians.’ Jesus loves the Jews. They are God’s chosen people and God hasn’t cast them aside. We Gentiles who love Jesus do love the Jews. This is such a heart-stirring article. Thank you for posting it. Iva

Remembering the Holocaust: I thank God for every single one of those in every country who participated in the Underground (against the Nazis) in any way, including Diet. I’ve read her book and thoroughly enjoyed it. When our oldest son was in high school, he became friends with a guy who seemed just fine for quite some time. Then, while visiting our son’s grandad one day, the friend mentioned his “no Holocaust” belief. My father-in-law immediately and kindly informed that guy that YES there really was a Holocaust. He was among the troops who liberated concentration camps, the bodies were “stacked like cordwood” (his words) and the ovens were still smoking. He said the stench never left him. Since then, many WW2 veterans and Holocaust survivors have died and we no longer have their first-hand accounts. It is more needful than ever that the truth be told without any so-called politically correct mitigation! CW

The Jews: Beloved by God, Hated by Many: Good article. I see the hatred for Jews and born again believer’s everywhere especially on so called Christian blogs, and conservative news outlets when reading the blogs, it’s normal to see in liberal media, but conservative so called. Nanette

The “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling” Tells Us to “Laugh at the Future”: Laugh? There is a difference in the bible between having joy and “laughter.” Sarah Young is a serious threat to believers who are gullible and not strongly grounded in God’s Word. John

Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute: My husband and I have been on a four year search for a new church, as the Lord called us out of the church we had attended for 15 years. As the Lord sharpened my discernment (through deep study of His Word, and the help of discernment sites such as this), the “worship” music began to be intolerable to me…it grieved my soul to the core. I felt like an alien, as those around me clapped, cheered, and other antics, after each song. Then, the pastor’s “teaching” began to be confusing to me…it seemed like he never really got to the point. In hindsight, the Lord was doing a spiritual surgery on my heart, separating my heart from this “family” I had loved for 15 years. We have since found (at last, thank You Lord!) a church that teaches expositionally, and the music is REVERENT. Even though it was heart-rending to leave so many friends behind, it was well worth it to be where the Lord has us now. Shannon

Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute: I once was actually sitting in a Church membership class while the Pastor said how in their Church name, “the word -Baptist- is small”. Humm… Along with that he said they are affiliated with Converge. I just had to write that little word down and do some research… Since then I have a couple reams of printed paper on the Missional and seeker sensitive movement relating to how the Church is getting their ears tickled in the modern day downgrade. In lovingly talking to the associate Pastor, he was ok with the seeker sensitive model. We have since found a small, rare, Whole Council of God, expositional (not topical) preaching Church. Also mentioned in a previous post a couple other fine sources for discernment, neglecting it was a given that Lighthouse Trails sets the standard. A daily check for me. Gary

The “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling” Tells Us to “Laugh at the Future”: Every major religion, church and denomination I can find is so loaded with lies and deception the only place my family can to turn to is a home church. We have hit the reset button as the reformation did 500 years ago. Ralph

Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute: This is so true, I came out of drugs and living with rock bands, drugs and was saved during the Jesus Movement at Calvary Chapel with Chuck Smith. It was a healing experience for me and I now love and follow Jesus. I have been attacked by leaders I respected and told my testimony was a lie, I have been ridiculed, I was raped by a church leader but he was caught and the whole thing was on the Internet on scandals in that church, God healed me. The church has become scary to me, it’s hard to find a church that’s not into the seeker friendly movement, Kundalini, teaching Yoga and more. I believe it is the last days. Shirley

The “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling” Tells Us to “Laugh at the Future”: I keep seeing comments on here of people saying they had to leave their church / can’t find a good church. I hope this will encourage those who find themselves in similar siutations. When our church / pastor began to go astray, we decided that if we left our church it was going to be because they kicked us out. We took many a stand and challenged everyone (as lovingly as possible) firmly, including the pastor and worship leader, both publicly and privately on unBiblical teachings / stances. We coupled this with prayer and fasting, getting involved directly with many of the people in our church and discipling them. By God’s grace, it looks like we are back on the right track, praise Jesus’ name. Don’t let them take down your church without a fight, and if you leave make sure that they feel it and that everyone knows why. Sacrifice your comfort, your reputation, your job (yes, this could have cost us our business), your brothers and sisters are worth it and they deserve to know if they are being led astray. Josh

Letter to the Editor: Southern Baptist Convention Leaders Taking SBC Far From Its Biblical Moorings: I hear the sadness in the responses here, and it is extremely disturbing to see what is going on with God’s people in the churches. But we must continue to look to God’s Word, and allow His beautiful Spirit to lead and guide us into the Truth. God will give us the boldness when it is time to speak, and the confidence when we need to be quiet. Look at Esther, had she not been obedient and waited on the LORD, things would have been much different for her, but God would still have saved His people. And consider the Apostle Paul, and those who were with him, when God was adding many to the Church. C. Read

California School District Teachings on Pedophilia Reminder of Child Sexual Abuse Epidemic and Cover-Ups
The “Jesus” of “Jesus Calling” Tells Us to “Laugh at the Future”
Comments From Our Readers

BOOK REVIEW: “Subversive Sabbath, the Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World” by A.J. Swoboda

“Activating” the kids at Bethel Redding
Remembering the Holocaust
The Jews: Beloved by God, Hated by Many
Note About Lighthouse Trails Journal Mailed to Homes, Offices, and Churches
Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute
Leave a Review and Get a Discount Coupon and Check Out New Release
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BOOK REVIEW: “Subversive Sabbath, the Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World” by A.J. Swoboda

LTRP Note: The following is a book review by Gary Gilley on A.J. Swoboda’s book Subversive Sabbath, the Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World.

BOOK REVIEW: Subversive Sabbath, the Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World by A.J. Swoboda

By Pastor Gary Gilley
Think on These Things

Used with permission.

Subversive Sabbath won Christianity Today’s 2019 Book of the Year award in the spiritual formation category, and thus represents well spirituality as understood by mainstream evangelicalism today. Written by a pastor and seminary professor, the book’s strength lies in its reminder of the believer’s need for rest as grounded in the Sabbath principle and modeled by the Lord Himself in the creation account. If the Lord rested after His work of creation, the author insists, so should we (pp. 5, 7, 15).  Taking Sabbath rest seriously will result in better health, more productivity and freedom from a messiah complex in which many Christians seem to believe they are essential to the continuation of the universe (pp. 46, 58).  God has embedded Sabbath rest into the rhythm of life so that we recognize only the Lord is necessary and therefore we can learn to trust in Him, rather than ourselves (pp. 164-166, 181, 195).  At its best Subversive Sabbath relays the same message as Wendell Berry (who he quotes several times, pp. xiii, 96, 142), Annie Dillard, Henry David Thoreau and other authors who preach the gospel of slowing down and smelling the roses. The message of throttling back our frantic pace of living and learning to rest in God and appreciate His good gifts is a needed one.  The book’s targeted audience is “anyone interested in living life God’s way and desiring to be part of Christ’s healing work in the world” (p. xii).

The central theme and message are well-represented by the first quote given by none other than that eminent theologian Winnie-the-Pooh, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, or just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering” (p. 3).  Despite the source, this is a winsome invitation and explains the draw of the book.  However, the reader can get that message from any of the authors mentioned above, none of whom is Christian. Swoboda, on the other hand, is a Christian author, and as such claims to have a more profound understanding of the rhythms of work and rest grounded in biblical Sabbath keeping. It is at this point the book falls apart theologically.  Swoboda does not simply claim that keeping a Sabbath is a command of God (although he does) but that it is the “goal of all creation” (p. 17).  Adam, he believes, was given this command even before the fall (p. 11), although he admits the first use of the word “Sabbath” is not found until thousands of years later in Exodus 16:23, and is mentioned 58 times in the whole of Scripture (p. 16). Sabbath then is practiced out of obedience (p. 20) and is an invitation to play, something many of us no longer know how to do, Swoboda thinks (p. 20).  Sabbath being one of the great themes of Scripture is a command which must be practiced literally and not spiritualized (p. 33).  As such, the author criticizes those who add to or subtract from the Sabbath (p. 8) and yet ironically in no sense does Swoboda practice or instruct his readers to follow the Old Testament biblical teachings on the Sabbath, for to do so is impossible.  This leads to a number of important observations of Swoboda’s understanding of the Sabbath:

  • While stating often that Sabbath keeping is a command incumbent upon the Christian, at no point does he engage in the debate that since the Sabbath command is not repeated in the NT it is not a requirement under the New Covenant.
  • Never mentions that the Sabbath was given specifically to the nation of Israel as the sign of the Old Covenant and therefore has no significance for NT Christians (Exod 20:12; 31:16).
  • Believes it is God’s ideal that everyone Sabbath on the same day “but God’s ideal is not always a possibility” (p. 198). And yet, under the Old Covenant God’s ideal was possible; it is when authors such as Swoboda rip Sabbath out of the OT Jewish context that it becomes problematic. It simply cannot be practiced today as giving in the OT (p. 86).
  • Teaches that we have freedom to practice Sabbath according to our own choices. The author practices Sabbath on Wednesdays (p. 21) and pancakes are “essential to Sabbath” (p. 22).  He has freedom to garden, play ball, pick up wood on his Sabbaths, some of which are direct violations of the OT Sabbath instructions (p. 57).  In other words, by ignoring direct biblical commands concerning Sabbath, he is free to be lord of his own Sabbath.
  • As a matter of fact, defining Sabbath work and rest can only be discerned by listening to the Holy Spirit (p. 77). Apparently listening to the Holy Spirit, as found in His inspired Scriptures, is inadequate. Instead, “One has freedom to do on the Sabbath what one’s spirit and soul needs” (p. 81).  The reader has to question by what authority a human being can dismiss the instructions found in Scripture and insert his own.
  • Swoboda’s use of Scripture is obviously selective and often out of context (see pp. 16, 60, 73-74, 86, 102, 108, 134, 156). His misuse of Scripture is noticeable and unsettling.
  • If Scripture is not the source of Swoboda’s views on Sabbath, what is? He relies on a wide collection of secular authorities (pp. xiii, 45, 96, 142), Jewish and Catholic mystic (pp. xiii, 18, 31, 32, 49, 89, 96, 128, 139, 179, 190, 199), spiritual formation leaders (pp. 4, 6, 48, 94, 127, 128, 142, 195), heretics (pp. 17, 73, 84, 139, 147, 184, 195) and even Eastern mysticism. In addition, Swoboda turns to ancient myths such as the Jewish myth of Tikkun Olam (p. 49), and the sixth century “Sunday Letter” myth (p. 92).
  • The author believes we are not bound by Jewish laws (p. 199), yet seems to forget that Sabbath was part of Jewish laws that he believes we are commanded to obey today. He mentions Colossians 2:16, which shows that Jewish celebrations are not necessary for the church, but does not follow through with its implications on his Sabbath thesis (p. 202).
  • Admits Sabbath keeping, at least as he practices it, opens one up to serious spiritual attack (p. 186), is boring (p. 70) and hard (p. xi), yet believes we are commanded to keep it. We have no other option (p. 20), although as this review has shown, it cannot be kept today according to OT precepts and instructions.
  • As an aside, the author moves into social justice concerns, claiming God made covenants with animals as He did with humans (pp. 150-151), advocating for “green” agendas (pp. 129, 145-172), and claiming “the gospel is hypocritical without the social gospel” (p. 2).
  • Thinks that when the church embraces the Sabbath, including implementation of the OT Jubilee, our society will change (p. 107). He imagines a world that practices Sabbath as a virtual utopia, but his description of such is reminiscent of America is the 1950s (p. 83). Being only 36 years old (p. 93), he cannot recall the 1950s, but suffice it to say, it was not utopia.

As can be discerned from this review, despite accolades and awards, Subversive Sabbath has virtually nothing to do with the Sabbath teaching found in Scripture. It rather is a diatribe on the need for rest in a hectic world (not a bad idea).  However, the book distorts the teachings of Scripture on the subject, leads the reader in false directions, badly mishandles Scripture, and draws from a wide assortment of unbiblical sources.  That there is a Sabbath, or rest principle engrained in God’s universe, is a defensible position.  That Sabbath is to be practiced as outlined in this volume is not.

Subversive Sabbath, the Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World by A.J. Swoboda (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2018) 235 pp. + xiii.

(This book review is from Gary Gilley’s book review website, Think on These Things. We have posted it with permission.)

 

 

“Activating” the Kids at Bethel Redding

By John Lanagan
The Word Like Fire

1. “We also have a curriculum, four lessons on that that will just get your kids activated in prophesying over each other, over teachers,  and learning how God will talk to them, learning to hear Him…” [1] –Seth Dahl, Bethel Redding Children’s Pastor

2. “Oftentimes, I think we get too concerned about is that God or is that me. I think we get way too concerned since we have the mind of Christ.  Much of what God will do will feel like us or seem like us. ” [2] –Seth Dahl, Bethel Redding Children’s Pastor

3. “That’s the goal, is to get the children experiencing the works of God from a young age, having experiences to do with God, so they can never be argued out of their experience.” [3] –Seth Dahl, Bethel Redding Children’s Pastor

4. “You know, I think our environment, we have a lot of grace for, let’s say a kid gives a Word of Knowledge that isn’t accurate. We’re okay with that. We just have a high value for risk. And if it didn’t work, it didn’t work, and we move on.” [4] –Eric Johnson, Bethel Redding Pastor

5. “You had me come down and bring some kids to do Words of Knowledge on the stage. Like, how can we activate the kids more?” [5] –Seth Dahl to Eric Johnson

Activate the kids? Bethel Redding leaders continue to present an unbalanced and unhealthy preoccupation with signs and wonders–or, as I have come to call it, a bells-and-whistles theology. It should be no surprise that this is also present in Bethel Redding’s children’s ministry. It seems as if it is more important to encourage children to seek angelic visitations, visions, and Words of Knowledge than it is to actually determine whether the experience/communication with God is genuine or not. Click here to continue reading.

 

Remembering the Holocaust

May 1st was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Sadly, many people don’t even think about it, and sadder still, many children in public schools are not being taught about it (and in some instances, they are being taught that the Holocaust was exaggerated or didn’t even happen at all!). As we watch anti-Semitism increasing worldwide, even among many so-called Christian groups, we remember the suffering and persecution that the Jewish people have undergone.

The following story is written by Lighthouse Trails author Diet Eman, from her book Things We Couldn’t Say. Diet was part of the Christian resistance movement in Holland during the Nazi occupation of that country. The work her group did helped to save the lives of many Jews from Hitler’s “final solution.”

Jews in Holland boarding a train going to a concentration camp (photo: USHMM; used with permission)

Christians in Holland in 1941: “Should We Help Save the Jews?” (Obey God or Man)

By Diet Eman

Editor’s Note: Diet Eman was a young Christian woman when Hitler invaded Holland. As the Nazi war machine for an Aryan society overtook her country and the persecution of Jews became evident, Christians in Holland were compelled to ask themselves, “Should we obey the Nazi government or should we help save the Jews?”

1941 Holland
It was no more than a few months after the Occupation [of the Nazis in Holland] began that we realized there were things that simply had to be done. When we saw injustice, we all felt it; we couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. But what could we do? The atrocities toward the Jews all around were beginning, and we felt it was our duty to act in some way. But it took time for us to know exactly what, when, and how we could do something.

Right from the beginning, the Occupation created ambiguities, arguments, and difficult struggles within Christian circles. When Jesus lived, His country was occupied by the Romans, and everyone remembered what He said: “Give Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Jesus Christ never preached rebellion against the Romans. Part of the moral struggle was the belief that what had happened in our little country was in fact ordained by God: some people claimed we shouldn’t interfere with what went on because the Occupation itself was God’s will. Even my brother was originally inclined to think that one simply could not work against the Germans if one followed the teachings of Scripture.

The queen and the government had left for England in the early moments of the five-day invasion; there was a whole group in Holland who said the queen had no right to lead us anymore, and those of us who remained behind would be required to obey the government that God had given us now—that is, the Germans. But Hein, my fiancé, and I and many others felt our royal family had been crowned in a religious ceremony, with the words “by the grace of God.” We felt the queen was our rightful government, and we felt we were doing what the Lord wanted when we obeyed her. That’s why, later in the Occupation when the queen actually told the Dutch to go on strike against the Germans, we did it, although our actions cost many lives.

Many people in our church felt that the queen was still our head, not the Nazi puppets. Meanwhile the church we called the “black-stocking church” leaned toward the other point of view—that our burden was to be in subjection to whatever higher powers God had placed over us. People who took that point of view were never very strong in the Resistance because they thought resistance against the established government was, quite simply, sin.

Those were the kinds of arguments we used to hear, and we would even have them among ourselves during those early days of the Occupation. We had especially good arguments at the home of one of my fellow bank employees, a man named Platteel. We talked about how we were to live now in this new arrangement with the Germans. He was older than I was, in his thirties, and was married with two little kids.

In those early days, members of the Platteel group would advise everyone what passages to read from the Bible, what Scriptures we should consider when we were trying to reflect morally about our new national situation.

Some of the early Resistance people would sit down and take passages from the Bible that clearly showed the direction we as Christians ought to take. Then they would write those passages on pieces of paper and pass those notes around. A little note would say, “Read this passage, or that one.” Mr. Platteel would give me such a note, passing it along after copying it many times. There were no copy machines in those days, so who knows how many times he wrote that out and gave it to someone? He would often distribute lists of readings on his own, and even that small gesture would be an encouragement, a direction for us to go in. Such little things were important because such little things gave our hearts strength.

We all felt terrible about what was happening around us. Hein and I would sit down and ask ourselves, “What can we do?” We always talked about it together and then discussed how we felt with a few more people at my bank or at his office, people who thought the same way we did.

The Beginning of Resistance
Once the Occupation began, the Germans began to make all kinds of rules: we were not allowed to listen to the BBC, for instance, though any number of people still did it secretly, of course. And then came the next order in the newspapers: “Everybody has to surrender their radios.” Radios, in those days, were the size of televisions today; nobody had little pocket-sized appliances. So deciding whether or not to give them up to the Germans was a big decision. And the Germans made it very clear that if you didn’t deliver your radios to them, you could be thrown in prison. People became very scared. In the Netherlands, people were accustomed to liberty; nobody had ever told us what to do before.
This is what we thought: “Do we simply obey those miserable Huns?” The question “Are we going to obey?” had to be asked and answered, asked and answered, over and over again. Some brave people would make a hole in the wall of their homes, put in a shelf, and then place a radio in that hiding place and hang a painting or a mirror over it.

Every evening at eight o’clock, the BBC sent out information about the progress of the war and other matters. If you lived on a main street of the city, somebody from the family would walk the dog or just walk down the street to be sure there was no spy around. By that time, there already were Dutch cowards—those who sided with the Germans—who had started to make money by turning in their own countrymen. If they betrayed you by pointing the Nazis to your house, they made good money. Once those kinds of sides had formed, the real danger started: the Underground against the informers.

The Germans continued to say, “You are not allowed to do this, and you are not allowed to do that.” They made prohibitory laws against just about everything, and they reported the news in such a crooked way that everyone assumed what we heard was just plain wrong. So we knew the BBC on the radio was our only source of reliable news. Those of us who met to discuss what could be done were a very few people then, very few. Because many people were intimidated by the Germans and did hand in their radios, we knew that few of those people were hearing the real news of the war, the news from England. Thus, our first act of disobedience was listening to the BBC, taking down the real news in shorthand, typing it out, and spreading it around. That was the beginning of most Resistance groups. If you were caught doing that, of course, you went to prison. But we did it anyway.

In The Hague, we were surrounded by Germans immediately. They were everywhere, marching and just standing around on street corners. Even where you worked, you had to be careful about what you said because a lot of people in the office were pro-German, some of whom you never would have suspected.

My heart nearly broke because my two dear girlfriends, Rie and Jet, the friends, my age, with whom I went jumping sloten and climbing trees and had so much in common—these best friends wouldn’t think for a moment about resistance. As a matter of fact, my brother Albert had a crush on Jet, so those girls were always in our house. Albert and Jet were friends, and I was dating Hein; Rie’s boyfriend, Paul, lived on our street, and his sister Jopie came along too. We were all the same age, and we formed a club called the Malakka Club, because we lived on Malakka Street, named after a part of Malaysia. We were always together on Saturdays, and it was quite a mixture: Jet, Rie, and Daniel were Christian, as were Albert and I and Gerald, another friend; but all the rest of the kids were of different faiths. There were even two brothers of a family who had no religion, Stan and Henk van Eekelen. Of the two, one became a fanatical communist, the other one a fanatical Nazi, of all things; two brothers in the same house, two completely different views of the world!

Even before the war, my parents would often have Dutch soldiers over on Sunday. We lived beside an armory, and we would have several soldiers come to the house for dinner and to play the organ and sing. My parents thought that was one way to support our boys.

Jet’s family didn’t invite boys from the armory into their home. Her family belonged to our church, but they had six kids, and they would say, “Yeah, yeah, our family is too busy. We can’t do that.” We accepted their decision. But they were really the same kind of people we were: they attended the same church and had the same basic beliefs. In fact, their father did the same work as my father did; they were sort of competitors. After church on Sundays, the girls would come to my house, and we would play Ping-Pong or sjoelbak (shuffleboard), or we would play four-handed piano.

But one Sunday, just a few weeks after the war broke out, I entered their house, and there above the piano hung a portrait of Hitler! In addition, German soldiers were in their house that night. Jet’s family was doing for German soldiers what we had done for the Dutch boys before the war. Now, after the Occupation had begun, they could do it for the enemy.

Soon after that, something else happened that hurt me very much. I had decorated my bicycle at that time by putting a little patriotic red-white-and-blue flag on it. Every night I rode home from the center of the city on my bike with the flag waving. One day Jet’s brother Daniel ripped the flag off my bike. I was so deeply hurt that I wrote them a letter. “Until that picture is gone”—I meant that picture of Hitler—“I’ll never set foot in your house again,” I told them. I said I was angry, “because you had no place for the Dutch soldiers who gave their lives for our country, and now you treat the guys who have come into this country, totally uninvited, with hospitality.”

July 1941

Dear Rie and Jet: Sometimes I would so very much like to know how you are doing. Sometimes I long so much for both of you. Especially when I look at our vacation photos. Then I can barely take it that things are now the way they are. You had such a large place in my heart, and I loved you both, more than even Fanny. You probably are playing a lot of piano, eh, Jet? And what is Rie doing? I have the feeling that I barely know you anymore. Nel, Bram’s girlfriend, sometimes laughs and makes movements, and then I am thinking: “Who does she remind me of?—somebody does it just the same.” And now I know it, Rie—it is you. When you were teasing someone, you laughed just like Nel does.

Did I do wrong in breaking with you? Would it have been my task to still try to keep you? Was it wrong that I did not want to come to your house any longer? Also not to be considered a traitor? I spoke to Taverne, [a man I helped] and he said, “The light may not be in communion with the dark forces.”

I wish I was a light, but I am only a little flickering flame. I am so happy that Nel now came into my life; I still don’t know her, but I feel that she will be able to replace something that I lost when I lost you. (from the diary of Diet Eman)

To this day, I don’t understand their way of thinking. That family was so similar to ours in beliefs—same church, same profession, and same standard of living. Maybe I never knew what those people were really like. When we were younger, maybe we were just having too much fun. We never talked about important things, about politics; we never talked about serious things at all. We just had fun. I never knew them inside, I suppose. But maybe there was more to all of it. Those girls were my best friends, so I’ve often thought about what happened.

Hein and I and the group that met at Platteel’s felt very strongly that what we were doing was right, both with our consciences and with God. What we were certain of was that there were things happening in our country that were wrong. But it was so difficult to know what to do. At first, we didn’t know where to start. At that time, the Germans had not yet started persecuting the Jews. What had aroused us was other things: laws against radios; rules about what we could listen to; laws forcing us to hand in copper, brass, and other metals; laws against everything. We the people of the Netherlands were accustomed to being free.

July 7, 1941

Did not write in a long time and much has happened during that time. Two weeks ago, Russia joined. All metal has to be handed in. Political parties have to be dissolved. Their monies have to be handed in. Many arrests among the Roman Catholics. And we are getting accustomed to this—that is the very worst of all. And also, I forget to see this all happens with God’s permission.

I keep looking at the injustice—so this man rang the doorbell at the home; our country and people are suffering, but I forget that You allow trials on this earth.

Teach me to see that this too is You, who carries everything in Your strong hands. Then I can even be happy knowing that You are fulfilling Your plans. Keep me from saying so many things, which are not pleasing to You. Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, and keep watch over the door of my lips. (from the diary of Diet Eman)

The Germans would print rules in the newspaper and broadcast them over the radio. They put up little signs on trains: “Be careful what you say.” That’s always what the Germans told each other: “Be careful with your conversations. The enemy is listening in.” Of course, we were the enemy, and they were reminding their military that they should not talk about military things, because we would hear it. Then they began designating certain cars on the trains as belonging only to them. At that time in the Netherlands, only the very rich had automobiles, and there was no gas. So the trains were a vital means of transportation. Everyone had bicycles, of course, but if you needed to go some distance, you usually took the train. What they did was this: if it was a train of six cars, say, they would take two cars for themselves. They would put big signs on those cars: Nur für Wehrmacht (“Only for the German army”).

When the Germans marked specific cars, those cars would almost always be empty, and the Dutch people had to stuff themselves into the one or two cars left for them. One time I fainted on the train, and I could not fall to the floor: there were too many people. I hung there, even though I had fainted dead away. Hein saw that I had fainted, but he was standing so far away from me that he could not get through the crowd. You were simply happy if you got on the train at all, never mind if you stayed together. We were already doing Underground work and were heading to Nijkerk on that day, and I fainted shortly after we left The Hague.

The train stopped in Voorburg for two minutes, and the people around me saw me hanging there, green probably; and when the doors opened, they shoved me onto the platform. The doors closed, and the train simply left without me! Hein could not get to me. He had seen me lying there on the platform, but he was caught in his car because everyone was so cramped in. The train went all the way to Utrecht with him on it and me lying on the platform at Voorburg.

The way the Germans abused the railroad made me very angry, especially later, when I had to do so much traveling on those packed trains for the Resistance. So one time I walked right into one of those empty cars where the paper message (written in both German and Dutch) Nur fur Wehrmacht/Gereserveerd voor Duitsche Weermacht was stuck on the windows. I stood there with my back against the window, and behind my back, I ripped the message off completely. Immediately, of course, the whole car filled up with Dutch people. That time, at least, the Dutch people had one extra car on their own train.

The Inevitable Answer Comes
An officer at the bank I worked at by the name of Gitz used to give me occasional hints: “I have heard some people are actually taking these Jews and hiding them,” he said to me one day, as if it was an incredible shock that such a thing was being done. At that date, to be sure, it wasn’t really done often. There were onderduikers already by that time, people who “dove under,” went into hiding under a false name. But even hiding onderduikers was all very new then. Gitz was a man with whom I had a lot to do at the bank. “Have you heard of people who are in the Resistance and who then have to go into hiding?” he asked me in a rather casual way.

“Ja, I’ve heard about that,” I said, also very casually.

He often attempted to read my own feelings about the whole situation in that way, and I always was wary of him and his interest, even though, later on, he gave me more tips on people who were in the Underground and in other organizations. So Gitz helped me to get started, but always in a very guarded way. It wasn’t easy to bring these things up with people you didn’t know well: the price for being wrong about who could be trusted was very, very high.

Working together was absolutely required if our movement was going to grow. One of my uncles, my mother’s brother, lived in The Hague and was doing important work for the Resistance when he showed interest in us. He worked for a printing outfit, which was ideal because he could secretly print the things we needed badly. He had his own contacts, so our circle grew because of our contact with him and his printing press.

When we started the dangerous work of trying to hide Jews, Herman, a Jewish man I worked with at the bank, told me about his Uncle Frits, who was doing all kinds of things for the Resistance. “Would you like to meet him?” he asked.

This Uncle Frits was not Jewish, but he had married Lena, Herman’s mother’s sister. Because his wife, his whole family, and all his relatives on his wife’s side were in danger—being Jewish—he began to work hard for the Resistance. Uncle Frits had a strong sense of what was right and wrong.

He started doing all sorts of things with us. He came to the meetings at Platteel’s, and, of course, he had even more contacts, including an accountant and his wife, Jenny, who was a housewife and very active and eager to work in the Underground. So at one point we had a big group of resisters in The Hague, and soon there were many things we could do.

This is what happened: when it became apparent that the Nazis were really starting to go after Jewish people, we saw our task. Up until that time we had been groping around with the constant question, “What can we do?” But after the seizure of Jews became clear, that was simply not a question anymore. Our objective became very clear: to find places for Jews wherever we could.

When we formed ourselves into a Resistance group, we called ourselves “Group HEIN”; but the name had nothing to do with my fiancé’s name. It was an acronym formed from the first letters of Help Elkander in Nood, which means “helping each other in need.” Hein was one of the two leaders; the other was Ab van Meerveld, an old friend of his from The Veluwe, the part of the country where Hein had been raised and where his family still lived.

Our first activities consisted of spreading reliable news and trying to get people to England. Such efforts seemed to be so small, and we were such ordinary people. But then our work started growing. And other small groups started to form in those early months. The Resistance was simply made up of people who were opposed to what was happening in the Occupation.

Distrust and suspicion surrounded us all the time. Young men could be stopped at any time on the streets and conscripted by the Germans. Germany was so short on manpower, their men spread over the whole of Europe as Occupation forces, that at home they had only young kids under fourteen and very old men. So they made it a rule that young able-bodied men of the countries they occupied had to go work in Germany. First, it was an invitation; later, it was forced labor. Those men were placed in factories, which became dangerous places when the Allies got involved, because they would often drop their bombs on those factories. Few Dutch men wanted to go to Germany to help the enemy; so our work began as an effort to hide not only Jews but also the onderduikers, Dutch men hiding for other reasons, such as to escape having to go work in Germany. The necessity of that effort had become very clear to us.

The razzias (the Gestapo raids) began to take place after the Germans were already coming after the Jews; but our trying to help the onderduikers really started at about the same time that we started hiding Jews. When the Germans started taking other people too—not just Jewish men for forced labor camps—then the queen, in a radio broadcast, made it very clear to us that Dutch men should not go to Germany. Once again, just as with the confiscation of radios, Dutch people had to make a difficult choice. I realize now that a lot of people were simply very afraid; and many just obeyed all those crazy German rules.

Many men did go to Germany, but many others went into hiding. They worked on farms or did what they could in hiding; some worked in the Underground. No one had any inkling that the war would last for five years. At first, we really thought it would last only a year. We thought, “These are modern times, after all, and this horrible barbarism will be defeated quickly.”

I don’t believe the Germans ever really understood the Dutch people. As small as the Netherlands is, it has many different small religious denominations, for example. For centuries the Dutch have said, “If we don’t agree with what you preach, then we’ll start our own church.” Some people, even in the Netherlands, think of such splintering in the church as wrong. But it also means that the Dutch have a long tradition of thinking for themselves, not just swallowing what officials tell them. They have a tradition of not being merely followers, as the Germans seemed to me to be. Our not following orders made life difficult for the Germans, more difficult than they had thought it would be. They had to treat us as if they were balancing on a tightrope. A German named Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi in charge of the Netherlands, tried to convince us that we belonged to the great Aryan race and that we should be overjoyed that we’d been accepted. But, quite simply, many Dutch people never followed orders.

Editor’s Note: Diet Eman was part of the Christian resistance movement in Holland until the war ended in 1945. Her decision to resist the Nazis persecution of the Jewish people held a high price. During the Occupation, Diet was imprisoned, and before the war ended most of the young men in Group HEIN died. Today, now in her nineties, Diet continues to testify of what she witnessed during World War II, speaking of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of tragedy. And though the price to hide Jews to shield them from Hitler’s final solution was dear for her and her friends, Diet knew it was the right thing to do.

 

The Jews: Beloved by God, Hated by Many

By Tony Pearce

Sadly for millions of Jewish people the idea that Jesus could be the one to bring peace and reconciliation seems ridiculous and offensive.

I used to visit a Jewish lady who was born around the beginning of the 20th century and brought up in a small town in Poland. Her first memory of the name of Jesus was when her parents told her to hide in a cupboard in their home because it was “Good Friday,” and on that day, the Roman Catholics would come out of their church services into the Jewish quarter to throw stones at the Jews “to avenge the death of Jesus.” Not surprisingly, it was hard for her to see Jesus as anyone who had an answer to anything. As far as she was concerned, Jesus was “someone who hated us and is responsible for our misery.”

The roots of this hatred go back a long way. John Chrysostom, considered a saint and church father who lived in the 4th century, wrote:

The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy and rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ. The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance and the Jews must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is incumbent upon Christians to hate Jews.1

When Constantine established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 312, he issued many anti-Jewish laws. Jews were forbidden to accept converts, while every enticement was used to make them forsake Judaism. At the Council of Nicea in 325, he said, “It is right to demand what our reason approves and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews.”

As Christianity in its Roman Catholic form became the dominant religion of Europe, those who rejected it became the forces of anti-Christ. The main group of rejecters was the Jewish people who therefore were considered by the church to be the “anti-Christ” suffering continual persecution. In Spain in 613, all Jews who refused to be baptized had to leave the country. A few years later the remaining Jews were dispossessed and given to wealthy “pious” Christians as slaves.

The first Crusade in 1096 saw fierce persecution of Jewish communities as the Crusaders began their journeys to the “Holy Land” to “liberate” it from the Muslims. They said, “We are going to fight Christ’s enemies in Palestine (i.e. the Muslims), but should we forget his enemies in our midst (i.e. the Jews)?” 12,000 Jews were killed in the cities along the River Rhine alone. When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, they massacred all the Jews and Muslims they could find.

In 1215, Pope Innocent III condemned the Jews to eternal slavery by decreeing:

The Jews against whom the blood of Jesus Christ calls out, although they ought not to be killed, lest the Christian people forget the Divine Law, yet as wanderers ought they remain upon the earth until their countenance be filled with shame. (Epistle to the Count of Nevers)

The first ritual murder charge against the Jewish community was in Norwich in 1144 when the Jews were accused of killing a Christian child at Passover time to drain his blood in order to make Passover matzos. This hideous and ridiculous charge has resurfaced time and again, most recently in the Muslim world, leading to massacres of the Jews. In 1290, King Edward I expelled all Jews from England.

In 1478, the Spanish Inquisition was directed against heretics—Jews and non-Catholic Christians. In 1492, Jews were given the choice of forced baptism or expulsion from Spain. 300,000 left penniless.

Martin Luther hoped initially he would attract Jews to his Protestant faith, understanding that they could not accept the superstitions and persecutions of Rome. But when they rejected his attempts to convert them, he turned on them and uttered words of hatred used word for word by the Nazis in their propaganda:

What shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of the Jews? First their synagogues should be set on fire. Secondly their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. Thirdly they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds. Fourthly their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more. Fifthly passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. Sixthly they ought to be stopped from usury. Seventhly let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the axe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses. To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one, so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden—the Jews.2

In the late 19th century, the Russian Orthodox Church instigated the pogroms, violent attacks on Jewish communities of the kind portrayed in the film Fiddler on the Roof. They devised a solution to the “Jewish problem”—one third extermination, one third forcible conversion to Christianity, and one third expulsion.

Russian anti-Semites produced the libelous pamphlet, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion alleging a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. This fiction was treated as a proven fact by the Nazis and was part of their propaganda effort to prepare people for the “Final Solution,” the extermination of six million members of European Jewry in the ovens of the Holocaust. Today the same libel is being peddled in the Muslim world to whip up hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.

This brief history of Jewish suffering shows the terrible truth that most of it has been instigated by people who claimed to be Christians. The main accusation that has been brought against the Jewish people by the professing church is that “the Jews killed Jesus.”

Who says the Jews killed Jesus?
Back in 1978, I was working as a French teacher at the Hasmonean School, an Orthodox Jewish grammar school in north London. One day I was covering for an absent teacher, minding my own business while the class got on with their work. One of the boys put his hand up and said, “Please sir, I want to ask you something. You’re a Christian. Why do you Christians say we killed Jesus?”

I answered him as best I could, saying that I personally did not say this, but agreed that much of the professing church had done so because they did not really understand the faith they claimed to represent or who Jesus really was. This let loose an outburst of questions and comments from the boys on what was obviously an explosive issue to them. News of this discussion got back to the Rabbis in the school, and the next day one of them came to me and said, “Mr. Pearce, we know you are a sincere Christian and are friendly to our people, but please do not mention the founder of Christianity again in this school.”

As I prayed about it afterwards, I realized how much hurt there is in the hearts of Jewish people over the way they have been persecuted in the name of Jesus. I also became aware of how much deeper is Jesus’ own hurt over the cruel misrepresentation which has been given to the Jewish people by His supposed followers down through the centuries, leading to a massive wall coming between Him and His own people.

The very first verse of the New Testament tells us of the genealogy of “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Throughout the New Testament, His Jewish identity is stressed. He was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21), brought up in an observant Jewish home (Luke 2:41) and learned the Torah3 from His youth (Luke 2:46-49).

He told a Samaritan woman that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), and He kept the Jewish feasts (John 7:2, John 10:22). He told His disciples in their first preaching mission not to go to the Gentiles but “rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). Sure, He had fierce controversies with the religious leaders of His day, but so did the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and others.

Concerning the crucifixion, the New Testament does not put the blame on “the Jews” and certainly never even hints that succeeding generations of Jews should be persecuted on account of it. There is a problem with John’s Gospel in its use of the term “the Jews” to describe the opposition to Jesus, but an intelligent reading of the text shows that John is talking of the Jewish religious leadership, not the entire Jewish people.

John 5:18 states, “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” Since the Gospel makes it clear that Jesus Himself (John 4:9) and the disciples are Jewish, the use of the term “the Jews” in John 5:18 and elsewhere in the Gospel cannot possibly mean the entire Jewish people. It means the Jewish religious leadership.

In many ways, John is the most Jewish of the Gospels showing the connection between Jesus’ teaching and Jewish festivals and customs. In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear who is responsible for His death:

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17-18)

The implication of this is clear. Jesus Himself takes responsibility for His own death. It happens at the time and manner of His choosing, in order that He might fulfill the Father’s will by dying as the sacrifice for the sins of the world and rising again from the dead to give eternal life to those who receive Him. No human being, Jewish or Gentile, has the right or the power to take Jesus’ life from Him against His will.

This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 53, which states concerning the sufferings of the Messiah, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10). In chapter six of my book, The Messiah Factor, we look at the different arguments about this prophecy, but taking the view that it is about the sacrificial death of the Messiah fulfilled in Jesus, the responsibility for the Messiah’s sufferings is placed on God Himself. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him” means that Jesus was put to death to fulfill the will of God.

The Gospels take up this idea as we see Jesus submitting Himself to the will of God in order to redeem the world. He prayed in Gethsemane:

O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39)

“This cup” refers to the suffering which He knew lay ahead. It was necessary for Him to go through this suffering in order that He might be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

According to the Book of Hebrews, those who believe come to “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). The blood of Abel spoke of vengeance for Cain’s sin of murder (Genesis 4), but the blood of Jesus speaks of mercy and forgiveness.

Wrong church teaching however has turned this on its head and used the verse in Matthew’s Gospel, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25), to claim that the suffering of the Jewish people is the result of a self-inflicted curse and even that Christians are therefore justified in persecuting the Jewish people in Jesus’ name.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus Himself prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), thus expressing God’s will that even those responsible for the death of Jesus, whether Jewish or Gentile, should find forgiveness through His name. Do we base our theology on the words of an enraged crowd or on the words of the Lord Jesus?

The answer to Jesus’ prayer was to be found not long afterwards through the preaching of the Apostles. Peter did place human responsibility for the death of Jesus on those who had called for Him to be crucified:

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (Acts 3:13-15)

This was not to say that every Jew alive was responsible, because Peter himself was Jewish as were all the followers of Jesus at that time. It was certainly not to say that subsequent generations of Jews who had no connection with the decision to call for Jesus’ death were responsible. It was to say that there were people alive, who were actually listening to Peter speak at that very moment, who were responsible.

But even to them there was a message of hope and forgiveness. Explaining the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Peter said:

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. (Acts 3:17-19)

The people who called for the death of Jesus were responsible for the miscarriage of justice that took place. However, they were ignorant of the spiritual meaning of it, hence Jesus’ words, “They know not what they do.” The purpose of the preaching of the Apostles was to tell them why Jesus died and rose again and to show them how they too could find forgiveness and eternal salvation by repenting of their sin and believing in His name.

As all the people hearing this message and the many thousands who responded to it in the early chapters of Acts were Jews, Jesus’ prayer for the forgiveness of those who had Him crucified was being answered. It is clear that the message of the Gospel was from the beginning intended to be “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Gentile]” (Romans 1:16).

Both Jews and Gentiles had to make a choice, whether to believe in the salvation offered by the Messiah or to reject it. Of course, many Jewish people did reject the apostles’ message, exactly as happens when the same message is presented to people around the world, to whichever race they belong. There was a division amongst the Jews of Jesus’ day about Him between those who were for Him and those who were against Him. Exactly the same division takes place today among all people of the world wherever the Gospel is preached.

The statement that really tells us who was responsible for the death of Jesus is to be found in Acts 4:24-28:
[The apostles] lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

In this prayer all categories of people are implicated, Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. The Gentiles are actually mentioned before the people of Israel, therefore they have no right to claim any superiority or judgmental attitude towards the Jews. It is clear that the physical act of crucifying Jesus was carried out on the orders of the Roman governor, by Roman soldiers in the Roman way. Strangely, no one has ever suggested that the Italians killed Jesus and should be placed under a curse because of this!

All this happened “to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done,” in other words to fulfill the predetermined plan of God. So again, the ultimate responsibility for the death of Jesus rests with God Himself in order to fulfill His purposes.

Any persecution of the Jews by the churches is a terrible distortion of the truth and a betrayal of the real Messiah Jesus. Unfortunately, the church did the exact opposite of what Paul taught in his letter to the Romans, where he spoke of Israel and the Jewish people being the root, which supports the “olive tree.” By this he meant that the Christian faith is based on the revelation given to the world through the Jewish people in the Jewish Bible and fulfilled in the Jewish Messiah. His message has been communicated to the Gentiles by His Jewish disciples who wrote the New Testament. Therefore, if Christians want to have true spiritual life, it is essential to acknowledge the debt they have to Israel and to repay that debt with love for the Jewish people.

In Romans 11, Paul makes it clear that whether the Jewish people accept Jesus or not, they are still “beloved for the father’s sakes” (i.e. the patriarchs of Israel and the covenant God made with them). He goes on to say that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [irrevocable]” (Romans 11:28-29). On this basis, Christians have a responsibility to love the Jewish people and treat them with justice and kindness, no matter what they believe about Jesus. Significantly, Paul wrote this letter to Christians living in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire and the city that was to dominate Christendom in the following centuries.

What went wrong? As the church became dominated by large numbers of Gentiles joining it, Jewish believers in Jesus became a minority. The Christians began to move away from the pattern of living given them by Jesus and the Apostles, forming a religious institution which bore little resemblance to the original model given in the New Testament. They also wanted to ingratiate themselves with the Roman authorities who were hostile to the Jewish people following the failed Jewish revolts against Rome in 70 and 135. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman Catholicism emerged as the dominant force in Europe, and the Bishop of Rome became the Pope, taking on much of the power and character of the Roman Emperor (even one of his titles—Pontifex Maximus). This produced a tragic distortion of the Christian message dominated by a corrupted clergy with vast wealth at its disposal, exploiting and corrupting the people of Europe in the name of Christianity.

How different it would have been if the Roman church had paid attention to the letter to the Romans! As the church lost its understanding of the Jewish people, it became cut off from its roots. Therefore the fruit it produced was not the fruit of the Holy Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23)—but the works of the flesh manifested in the cruel and corrupt church of the Middle Ages and beyond.

When I was a student, I remember seeing a film of Bernard Malamud’s book, The Fixer, which made a great impression on me. In this story, Yakov Bok, a Jew living in Tsarist Russia is wrongly accused of murder and imprisoned. The case is a typical example of the anti-Semitism rife in Russia at the end of the 19th century. The authorities involve the Russian Orthodox Church in their interrogations of Bok, by trying to force him to convert to Christianity. They give him a New Testament to read, which he does. When the Russian Orthodox priest comes to interrogate Yakov to find out what he has learned from the New Testament, he states simply, “Jesus is Jewish. So whoever hates the Jew hates Jesus.” This is absolutely true, and hatred for the Jews demonstrates a spirit of force, tyranny, and prejudice which is the absolute opposite of the true spirit of Jesus the Messiah.

Endnotes:
1. John Chrysostom (c307-407), “Homilae Adversus Iudaeos.”
2. Martin Luther, (1483-1546), the founder of the German Reformation, Concerning the Jews and Their Lies.
3. Torah—the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Pentateuch. Considered by Judaism to be the most important section of the Bible and read in its entirety in the Synagogue every year.

This article is an extract of Tony Pearce’s book, The Messiah Factor. It can also be purchased in booklet format. Tony Pearce is the director of a ministry in the U.K. called Light for the Last Days. There are two ministry websites you may wish to visit: http://www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk and http://messiahfactor.com, both of which have many articles, book extracts, and much valuable information. Also, his Light for the Last Days website is available in several different languages. You may e-mail Tony at enquiries@lightforthelastdays.co.uk.

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Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute
By David Dombrowski

If I were to say to you that much of the church today has set aside the power of God, would you be shocked? After all, we live in a time where having the power of God in your life is a major theme preached from pulpits across the country. And book after book, sold in massive quantities, pour off the presses promising a special connection or intimacy with God that will revolutionize your life and make it more dynamic. Yet, I believe I can prove that, in fact, the power of God is being laid aside, and I will tell you how.

Back in the late 1990s, our family was visiting various churches in search of a new home church, and we noticed how many pastors would begin their messages with a Scripture but then launch into a lengthy talk that can best be described as a teaching based on behavioral psychology. For many sitting in the pews, this type of message had much appeal as the seeker-friendly movement was really taking off, and teachings about building relationships seemed more paramount than building a relationship with God based on the Word of God. At any rate, the preaching of the Gospel seemed to be held in second place, thereby creating a condition in the church where conviction of sin and the preaching of the Cross waned, while teachings appealing to the masses became more palatable and popular. Increasingly, it became a capital sin to offend your audience in a seeker-friendly church, and seeing as the preaching of the Cross is an offense to those who are perishing, the Gospel was seldom heard in these churches that were increasing in numbers—many of which were still unsaved. A case in point that illustrates this is a couple who attended Saddleback Church for years, but the wife was troubled by the fact that her husband did not know the Lord during that entire time. Then they started attending a church that preached the Gospel and taught the Word on a regular basis, and the husband got saved in the first two weeks. Yet Saddleback and the Purpose Driven movement have grown exponentially over the years. Ironically, for that couple, hearing the Gospel for two weeks, beyond saving the soul of that husband, did more to enhance their marriage relationship than hearing a social gospel for years. Suffice it to say, there is an unusual power to transform lives for the better when the Cross is preached and the doctrines of repentance, justification by grace through faith, and being born and renewed of the Holy Spirit are expounded upon. But, then again, the preaching of the Cross is offensive to those who are perishing.

The Uniqueness of Christianity
Let us pause for a moment and think about what makes Christianity uniquely different from the world’s religions. Christianity teaches that man is sinful and God is holy; consequently, man is unable to save himself. Heaping up good deeds does not atone for the fact that man’s sin has separated him from God. Then Jesus came as a sin offering to atone for sin, thereby eliminating our separation from God. As we receive Him by faith as our Savior, our sins are forgiven and the Holy Spirit indwells and transforms us where we can rightfully say we have been born again. Jesus then is Lord of our lives as we continue to trust and yield our lives to Him (we will say more about that later). But the religions of the world all teach the opposite—that man is basically good and has the power within himself to live a life pleasing to God, and thereby through his good works is able to save his own soul. Unfortunately, when the preaching of the Gospel was set aside in favor of a more seeker-friendly social gospel, it seems that the armor of the church was also laid down, and much of the false teaching of the world’s religions crept in.

Whatever happened to the Christian church? Those who are old enough to remember can recall the unrest of the 1960s including the Viet Nam War and the Hippie movement. It was an era of a lot of experimentation not only with drugs but with eastern religions and varied lifestyles. Then came the “Jesus Movement” where many lives were transformed under the preaching of the Gospel. Many people forsook their old lives and habits. All over the land, the phrase “praise the Lord” could be heard, and Bible prophecy was so popular back then as countless numbers were considering that we could be in the last days. Yet, over time, the joy and excitement of that new era waned, but I have not heard an explanation why. Most likely, the answer does not lie in any one thing, but one thing in particular happened, and that again is the laying aside of the Gospel. Perhaps multitudes of believers, in the exhilaration of the times, had a sense that their needs and expectations would be met by the Lord.

Didn’t the Gospel Work?
But then stories of woe began to emerge at the tail end of the Jesus Movement. Many who had come to the Lord began to return to their old ways and habits. Some went back to drugs, others to deviant lifestyles. Others, who thought they would find sure victory in the Lord, found that they lacked the power within to overcome their life-controlling and destructive habits. Also, you would hear stories . . . like the one where a trusted Sunday-school teacher had been molesting kids. And, those bound by pornography never forsook it, or they returned to it.

Now the question is, if all of these negative things were happening or beginning to happen again, who or what was to blame? It seemed that multitudes had given the Gospel a good shot, but for many it was not working.

Let me tell you, there is a great undoing effect to those who try to live as Christians but find they are living in defeat. Then, too, hearing story after story of Christians, many of whom you may have known personally, falling to a defeated lifestyle is also most disconcerting. In either case, the conclusion for many must have been that the Gospel was not working—that it was powerless to transform lives. Hence, the preaching of the Cross has been stilled. It has been estimated that at least fifty percent of American pastors view pornography (largely on the Internet) on a regular basis. These estimates may in fact be quite conservative when we consider how many are probably too ashamed or afraid to admit their addiction. Pastors with life-controlling habits such as this are also often faced with a dilemma of who to look up to for help as they are supposedly at the top rung of the ladder and expected to live flawless lives. Then, when they go to preach on Sunday morning on the power of the Cross, they find that they cannot because they know their lives are marred by defeat. Likewise, the wives of these pastors go through incredible agony as they feel both challenged and insulted by something that has now robbed them of their husbands’ affection and devotion. One thing I might say in passing is that years ago I heard there was an agenda among the communist party to destroy our nation, not by warfare, but from within by corrupting our morals largely through pornography. Now if the communist party has not attempted this, then Satan certainly has, knowing that the husband is a key figure and a prime target in destroying the family unit.

What we find then is that the Gospel, both for pastors and their congregations, seemingly is not working. The natural recourse for this would be to blame God, but rather than do this, other avenues of finding victory in God are being explored. The fact of the matter is that once the Gospel has been determined to be powerless, there is a scrambling for answers and new teachings. Hence, with this in mind, one can see why such a flood of new teachings has cropped up today—whether it be practicing eastern mysticism via contemplative prayer, the re-emergence of the spiritual disciplines of the Desert Fathers, or the varied teachings of the emerging church.

Brian McLaren, in his endorsement on the back cover of Alan Jones’ book, Reimagining Christianity, has this to say:

It used to be that Christian institutions and systems of dogma sustained the spiritual life of Christians. Increasingly, spirituality itself is what sustains everything else. Alan Jones is a pioneer in reimagining a Christian faith that emerges from authentic spirituality.

These are the words of an emerging leader pointing to the work of another emerging leader and, in a nutshell, telling us that the power of the Gospel is dead, and we need to explore other options. And the options most commonly turned to are New Age and eastern meditative practices. What you get from these teachings is that in the core of every human being is a “divine center” (i.e., God himself), and if you tap into that through meditation, you will find your own divinity and have limitless power. Sadly, what Brian McLaren has to say in the above quote has become the running orders of many Christians who have forsaken dogma (doctrine) for experience. Rather than seeking the sound teaching of God’s Word, they seek an experience or “anointing” that works for them and empowers their lives. But, all the while, as they are engaging in experience-based “Christianity,” they are becoming further removed from the truth of Scripture.

There Is Power!
The Bible affirms that there is power for the believer. David sang these words after being delivered from the hand of Saul: “God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect” (2 Samuel 22:33). In Psalm 62, David sings, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God” (Psalm 62:11). Then in Psalm 68, David says, “O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people” (Psalm 68:35). Without question, Scripture
declares overcoming power to God’s people; but then why are God’s people lacking it and looking for it now?

We don’t need to search very far for the answer to that question, for the answer can be found in the words of Paul:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Then in his Gospel, John says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). From both of these Scriptures, it is clear that God gives power to the believer for holy living—but that power is found in the Gospel to those who believe it.

Apparently, what has happened in the church is that there has been so much failure that believers have reckoned the Gospel to be power­less and have looked essentially to “other gods” for help. Jeremiah speaks of our day when he says:

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. (Jeremiah 7:23–24)

Regardless of what our natural instincts may tell us, God has declared that His overcoming power is to be found in the Gospel. Yes, a struggle may ensue for a period of time, but that is all the more reason to hold fast to the Gospel because only in it can true and lasting victory be found.

In Romans chapters 7 and 8, Paul describes the inner turmoil that may ensue in a person’s life as he struggles with sin. Theologians speculate if Paul was speaking of his own struggles, and if so, before or after his conversion. I believe that Paul was writing of both our struggles and his own struggles both before and after conversion. And the lesson learned is that once we become believers, we cannot go back to trying to live in victory in the flesh; just as it did not work before conversion, it will not work now. This is what is happening in the church today, and it will fail because victory can only be found in the power of the Gospel. We can never live an overcoming life in the flesh (i.e., our own strength). Our power and might is found in the Lord, and that is why Paul directs us in Romans to live in the Spirit:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

And this is all a part of the Gospel message because when we receive Christ at conversion by trusting in His atoning work as a free gift, God imparts His Holy Spirit to us (Romans 8:9), and we are born again or “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6). The life of the Christian means death to self (the flesh) but also new life in the Spirit that enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Have you ever wondered how you can bear the fruit of the Spirit if your life is not em­powered and directed by the Spirit? Each day we need to allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives—and that means that just as we trusted Jesus to save us on the day we came to Him, we need to trust Him to guide our steps as we commit our way to Him. In other words, just as we trusted Christ to save us on the day we received Him, we need to continue to trust Christ to complete His work in us. Remember that we were purchased by God through the death of His Son, so our lives are no longer our own, but we belong to Him.

Cling to the Gospel
If you are a Christian and your life is full of struggle, do not forsake the Gospel, but cling to it more fully knowing that you are not strong, but God is strong. Whether it be facing temptation or being chased by life’s circumstances (as David was chased by Saul), our power and victory is found in the Lord only and not in ourselves. Do not ask the Lord to help you live the Christian life, but allow Him to live the Christian life in and through you. Eastern mysticism and the New Age teach that in the center of our being we will find God (and become God-like or Christ-like); Christianity teaches that in the center of our being we find a heart that is utterly wicked and deceitful. Have no dealings with the old nature, but be renewed in the Holy Spirit. Remember that God promised to make a new covenant with us, not written on stony tablets but engraved on our minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:10). This New Covenant has the power to transform the human heart. Before Jesus went to the Cross, He spoke of this when He said, “this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). In other words, Jesus was leaving a testament or will that would take effect after His death—with His own blood serving as the stamp or seal validating that will. It is interesting to note that if you take your Strong’s Concordance and look up the Greek word for “covenant” (like the one used in Hebrews 8:10 above) and compare it with the Greek word for “testament” (like the one just used by Jesus), it is exactly the same Greek word. Jesus’ death on the Cross was not only that perfect sacrifice for sin, but it also sealed the covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31 and repeated in Hebrews 8:10 that God would write His laws on our minds and hearts. This is the marvelous transformation that so many people are looking for but think the Gospel is too weak to provide; yet it is the only sure and true way to holy living. The Gospel is that new covenant, and it is available to us when we acknowledge that apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus said:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

So, if we abide in the Vine (Jesus) we will be victorious in our quest to live the Christian life. Have nothing to do with substitutes to the Gospel message. God saves and transforms people His way and not our way. Any other way is futility and idolatry.

We are living in a time of mass deception and delusion. If you were to fall off a cliff and only had a rope to hold you, would you not hold onto that rope more tightly? That is what we must do with the Gospel. Jesus’ death on the Cross purchased our salvation; we have also been bought by His blood, sealed in a new covenant, and His indwelling presence empowers us to live the Christian life. There is no other power to save!

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18)

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come. (Psalm 71:18)

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(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

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