Religious Liberty in the Crosshairs
By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me as we study the signs of the times. God has so much to reveal to us. But since spiritual things are spiritually discerned, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And I thank God for the Holy Spirit that reveals the deep things of God for our times. Today, we will look at the colossal struggle going on over religious liberty in western societies. It is a complex issue that penetrates every level of social life. Never before has there been so much tension over rights and convictions.
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As we begin, let us bow our heads in prayer. Our Father in heaven, thank you for Jesus who has revealed to us all that we need to know in amazing detail about the signs of the times. Everything He told us would happen is happening. Your word gives us so much encouragement as we learn of Your thoughts and how to live in harmony with Your law. Help us today as we study this important issue of religious liberty. It is truly in the crosshairs of Satan’s weapons. Keep us close by Your side and reveal the prophetic secrets of our times. In Jesus name, amen.
Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Matthew 22:16-21. These verses describe what Jesus did to separate church and state. “And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Friends, when Jesus said these words, He was anticipating a change in the way nations were organized. That change would be a long way off. But it would come. He was telling us that there should be a separation between the civil government and the church. The Jews were a theocracy under Moses. Had the Israelites been faithful to the Lord, this system would have worked. But under the priests who were ambitious of power and wealth, the nation had become corrupted and the church became oppressive and even abusive of the personal liberties and rights of the people. Christ could see that under the High Priests there was corruption of the worst kind and it greatly misrepresented the principles of heaven. This system could not continue. He had to start a new church. And eventually He would even establish a group of nations that would recognize this principle.
Under the gospel, Christ knew that there had to be a change to limit to working of unrighteousness in the Church and he used the occasion of the trickery and deception of the Herodians to establish a sweeping principle of the separation of church and state. While it would check wickedness in the church, in ages to come it would also limit the mystery of iniquity in the state. For when the two are mixed together, both become corrupted. In the Christian era, this separation would oppose the power of Rome and provide a key element for the United States Constitution and the constitutions of other nations that would yield freedom of conscience and the economic success of those nations. Religious freedom was to be a cardinal principle of the spiritual success of His church too.
Prior to that time, all nations had been a mixture of some sort of church and state. All pre-Christian, or heathen nations were that way, and even the Jewish nation had used its privileged position under God, in a similar oppressive way.
Quite a few years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist said, “The wall of separation between church and State is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.”
This terrible statement reflects the desire of some, to allow the church to become involved in matters of state and manipulate the state to its own ends. The separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution and other western constitutions was a direct result of the persecutions of the Roman Catholic Church in medieval times when it dominated religious and secular life of the European Holy Roman Empire. The Empire was anything but holy. Nevertheless, there are those today who do not want to acknowledge the abuses of the church during that time. Yet, that is the reason the founding fathers of the United States created the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They saw that religious liberty was the first liberty of al and from there all other liberties extend. They saw that they had to establish some kind of bulwark against the reconstruction of that same principle in the new world.
Since then however, there have been organizations and individuals who have had an extreme reaction and have tried to keep all religion out of public life. They think that the “wall of separation” means that no religion will have access to public institutions and public places. But that was not the intention of the fathers who drafted the U.S. Bill of Rights. They intended that religion should have free access in public expression, but without controlling state leaders, officers or institutions of the state.
Nevertheless, there have been many, some in recent times who do not support the concept of separation of church and state.
For instance, Pat Robertson said, “The “radical left … kept us in submission because they have talked about the separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the Constitution. It’s a lie of the left, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
Well, its true. There are secular organizations, which are usually left leaning, that have taken the principle of separation way beyond what was intended by the authors of the constitution. But Robertson is wrong in saying that it isn’t in there.
Do you see what the enemy does? He gets one side going to extremes, which then provides him the opportunity to push the other side to an opposite extreme. And Pat Robertson, over the years, has demonstrated that he is extreme on the right.
D. James Kennedy, the late pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Coral Ridge, Florida wrote that “for over five decades, the Supreme Court has handed down rulings based on a lie, a grievous deception – the doctrine of a wall of separation between church and state.” He blamed separation of church and state for all sorts of social ills, teenage pregnancy, sexual perversion, intolerable levels of school violence, falling test scores, horrendous illiteracy and dangerous gangs. Amazing, isn’t it? He should have blamed those who have taken the separation to unreasonable ends.
But, I used to wonder how the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights would be undermined to the point where it would be possible to establish a universal Sunday law. I knew that the protections against the establishment of religion would be undermined one day and that a set of worship laws would be enacted. God’s word reveals that there will be persecution for those who do not worship the beast or his image. That’s in Revelation 13:15-17.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, I noticed a lot of things that would undermine the U.S. Constitution. There was the freezing of terrorist assets by the U.S. government and other governments. Freezing assets is essentially a “no-buy-no-sell” law. We also saw torture in secret prisons, indefinite detention, assumption of guilt, trial by tribunal instead of trial by jury, extra judicial killing especially by drones (which is really government assassination with no due process of law) and many other violations of the constitution. This was not just for foreigners, but for U.S. citizens. The interesting thing to me was that the targets of all these changes were “religious extremists.” I began to realize that the citizens of western nations are being conditioned to fear and hate anyone who is labeled a religious extremist whether they are or not. “Could there come a time,” I asked myself, “when others who are simply following the Bible and giving the last warning message against Babylon be considered religious extremists?”
But I still wondered how religious liberty would be attacked. I used to think that Sunday worship would be the main thrust of the assault on religious liberty. But I began to notice something of a pattern in undermining the liberties in other arenas. The way that governments went about it was by gradual encroachment. They would publically deny their ultimate intentions, but they would pass the laws that would remove long-held freedoms and liberties.
I came to the conclusion, as I was watching these developments, that religious liberty is the crown jewel of all liberties. Without it, you really don’t have the others. The other liberties we enjoy are designed to protect religious liberty.
Religious liberty is like the hub of a bicycle wheel. The spokes are like the inalienable rights we enjoy in other areas. And the outer rim is like the laws that are a result of those rights. If you take away the rights, eventually the whole thing will collapse and religious liberty will be left without any support.
I realized that religious liberty was becoming imperiled by the removal of the other rights and that soon religious liberty would come under assault too. But for years I watched and waited.
Then suddenly, in the last few years, religious liberty issues have erupted. But they are not directly dealing with worship laws. The USA has to first tear down its wall of separation and its protections for religious convictions. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in the USA, a major line was crossed and Christians with certain convictions were thrust into conflict with the U.S. government over contraceptives and abortion. The law requires businesses and organizations with over 50 employees to provide insurance coverage for their employees that includes contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. In essence, this is socialized medicine and is in harmony with globalism’s primary objectives. Yet, it conflicts with the religious convictions of many individuals and the organizations they run.
The Obama administration strongly resisted pressure to provide religious exemptions for even religious institutions. Never before has an American president so openly and so wantonly trampled on the conscientious convictions of so many. Though the Roman Catholic Church supported the overall intent of the Affordable Care Act, it opposed the requirements to provide insurance for abortions and contraceptive products and services. Evangelicals and many others objected to the provisions requiring them to violate their conscience in the name of health care. The Obama administration eventually exempted religious non-profit organizations from the contraceptive mandate.
After many twists and turns in dealing with objections from for-profit businesses, eventually the Hobby Lobby chain store lawsuit reached the Supreme Court. In its decision the Supreme Court permitted Hobby Lobby an exemption for religious reasons from providing contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act. It essentially struck down the Obamacare contraceptive mandate for closely held for-profit businesses whose owners have religious convictions. “Closely held” basically means family run business.
But the Affordable Care Act was only the beginning of the assault on the religious liberties of Americans. There was much more to come. During the 2011 presidential campaign, President Obama, under pressure from gay and lesbian financial supporters, told the American public that after he had spoken to his daughters, he changed his mind that it is ok for homosexuals to marry.
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient,” Mr. Obama said. “For me personally it is important for me to affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Referring to his daughters, he added “It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.” Insiders also said that Michelle Obama had a large part in helping the president change his mind.
The day after making the statement, the Obama campaign raised millions of dollars at a Hollywood gathering. Obviously, the entertainment industry is in favor of changing American society to become supportive of the gay lifestyle.
The same-sex marriage issue has galvanized and dominated the social conversation in the news and other media in recent times and has created legal problems for those with religious convictions. No doubt it will be part of the President’s earthly legacy. But, my friends imagine the legacy on the books of heaven as a result.
Are you aware that if you vote for an individual for office, that you are a partaker in the sins which they will commit while in office? Let me read it to you.
It’s from Fundamentals of Education, page 475 “We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political schemes. We cannot labor to please men who will use their influence to repress religious liberty, and to set in operation oppressive measures to lead or compel their fellow men to keep Sunday as the Sabbath… The people of God are not to vote to place such men in office; for when they do this, they are partakers with them of the sins, which they commit while in office.”
Now days, my friends, the office of President of the United States carries a lot of weight of sin with it. Presidents have to do many things that violate the Ten Commandments. Often they must lie to protect their agenda or their people. They have to sometimes authorize killing, not only in war zones, but also by drones and in other ways in other places. They are pressured to promote things God has forbidden. They often have to sign legislation that violates the law of God or the consciences of their citizens. Often they renege on their campaign promises. Politicians these days are not typically moral men or women, even if they claim to be Christians. That too, can be done for political reasons.
Religious liberty is under stress world wide, but especially in America, the land that led in establishing religious liberty and freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state in the first place more than 200 years ago. And it will lead the world in reversing this principle and eventually establishing religious worship laws.
Here are a few examples of the impact of anti-discrimination laws, which have recently been amended to include discrimination for sexual orientation.
According to USAToday, Brian Klawiter, owner of Dieseltec of Grandville, MI said on Facebook that he would not hesitate to deny service to openly gay customers. His business was targeted for vandalism.
“What started out with ‘mere’ death threats against myself and my family and homosexuals spamming my Facebook page with gay porn shots, has escalated to physical violence,” he wrote. He said slogans were spray-painted on his business, on his pickup truck, on a garage door and a rock was thrown through a window.
“We’re not intimidated by it,” said Klawiter. “I think it’s childish behavior. I think for a community of people that want to display tolerance, I don’t think that’s the right way to do it.”
Thomas Holland and Gilbert Breedlove, two magistrates in North Carolina were ordered to perform same-sex “weddings” or resign. They are suing their state over the violation of their constitutional rights and to get their jobs back.
Kevin O’Connor and his daughter Christie, owners of Memories Pizza, were interviewed on television shortly after Indiana passed its religious freedom restoration law and said that though her restaurant serves gays, because of her Christian faith she would not cater gay weddings.
The restaurant immediately became the focus of death threats, and property destruction, causing the owners to shut down their business temporarily. An Internet campaign however, raised $840,000 for the family in just a few days. It appears that there is more support for traditional views of marriage than homosexuals might think.
The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association was established in 1869 and has been a popular place for Christian meetings and assemblies. Famous speakers such as Billy Graham, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, Billy Sunday, D. James Kennedy and Charles Stanley all spoke there at one time or another.
But the camp no longer permits weddings after a complaint was filed with the state because the association denied permission for a same-sex couple to marry there. A judge determined that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association breached its agreement to make the pavilion available to the public on an equal basis.
Cynthia and Robert Gifford, Christian owners of a farm in upstate New York, were recently find $10,000 and assessed damages of $3,000 for refusing to let their farm be used for a same sex wedding because of their religious beliefs. They have rented the farm for functions including weddings in the past, so the administrative law judge declared that it was a public business and a place of public accommodation, therefore, it was subject to the non-discrimination laws of the state of New York. The couple’s religious beliefs were of no account.
Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who had refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, was ordered by the Colorado Human Rights Commission to make the cake even though it was against his religious convictions. His case is on appeal.
Likening Christians to slave owners and Nazis, state commissioner Diann Rice said, “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”
Those kinds of statements are, of course, hyping the cause of homosexual liberation. Never mind that other bakeries were willing to bake a cake for the wedding. The Colorado Human Rights Commission was not willing to recognize any sort of accommodation for a Christian with convictions. It appears that homosexual activists are targeting Christian businesses and individuals so that they can make public examples of them.
Florist Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Washington State was penalized with a $1,001 fine for refusing to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding. A judge even ruled that her savings, personal possessions and even her home could be taken in damages claims.
The fine is not very large, but the principle is the problem. Fining someone for exercising his or her religious convictions could easily set precedence that would place an intolerable burden on the Christian faith in society and would amount to persecution.
But making assets subject to damage lawsuits would even take it further. The message being sent by the Washington judge is “Surrender your religious liberty and free speech rights, or face personal and professional ruin.”
The judge in the case, ruled that the “defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and those persons in active concert or participation with them … are permanently enjoined and restrained from violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination.”
The plaintiff in the Arlene’s Flowers case was referred to several other florists who were willing to provide flowers and was even offered free flowers. The lawsuit reveals that true agenda of homosexuals in targeting those who have religious beliefs. For all the talk about tolerating gays, they are unwilling to tolerate the views and opinions of others and would even put them out of business if they can.
This all sounds something surreal, like the men of Sodom threatened to do to Lot when they surrounded his house. They put so much pressure on him that they were going to kill him for refusing to accommodate their lusts by letting them have the two angels that were with him. He even offered them an alternative, shocking though it was, of having his two virgin daughters instead. But they were not interested in them. I’m sure his daughters were greatly relieved to learn that.
Genesis 19:9 tells us that after they had surrounded Lot’s house and he had come out and remonstrated with them not to act wickedly, “they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.”
Listen to what they would have done to Lot had not the angels intervened. This is from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 159. “They rushed upon him, and would have torn him in pieces had he not been rescued by the angels of God.”
Here is another recent case.
Jason and David Benham were going to have a new HGTV real estate show. But when homosexual activists complained that they believed in biblical marriage the network cancelled their show.
The Benham brothers had put a video online that explained the true principles of religious liberty. It said, “So [Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act] is a shield, not a sword. It doesn’t get offensive and promote ‘hate’ as the hype said. But it’s a shield to protect companies, like, for instance, a Jewish-owned jewelry [company]. It keeps the state from forcing him to create rings with the Nazi symbol on it. Or a Muslim-owned apparel company. It prevents the state from forcing him to maybe make T-shirts with the cross over the crescent. Or even a gay-owned apparel company from creating T-shirts that say “Leviticus 18:22. Homosexuality is a sin.” Very simply, “the state should never force business owners to promote a message or an idea that conflicts with their beliefs,” David Benham said.
One of the more famous cases is Elane’s Photography in New Mexico. The court ordered that the Elaine Huguenin could not refuse to provide services for a same-sex wedding. The plaintiff found another photographer, but still filed a complaint against Elaine and her husband Jonathan under New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law. The state Supreme Court ruled that she had no right not to be forced to violate her Christian beliefs and that giving up her rights was “the price of citizenship.”
The price of citizenship? The United States is a country that exalted religious liberty and its constitution protects its citizens from any undue burden placed on their religious convictions. If there are other providers willing to provide the same services, there should be no conflict.
Homosexuals once upon a time were pleading for tolerance. Now many of them have morphed into intolerant ideologues who demand that everyone in society serve their interests even if they do not agree with their lifestyle.
What has America come to? Through liberal leaders and judges, and through human rights commissions, the nation has descended to the same kind of principles on which Sodom was based.
The Aloha Bed & Breakfast in Hawaii was forced to “accommodate” two Southern California lesbians after a judge ruled the B&B violated state law when the owner told the lesbians she wasn’t comfortable having them stay together in her home due to her religious beliefs. Aloha has since been ordered by the state “to provide a room to any same-sex couple that wishes to stay there.”
Jim and Beth Walder, who own a bed and breakfast in Illinois, are being sued by a gay man who demands monetary damages, attorneys’ fees and “an order directing the defendant to stop violating the state’s Human Rights Act, because of his religious beliefs.”
Wildflower Inn, a Vermont business that held wedding receptions, was forced to pay a $10,000 civil penalty for discrimination against two lesbians and another $20,000 in a charitable trust for the lesbians because they refused to let their facilities be used for a same-sex wedding reception.
Another famous case involved Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham Oregon. Aaron and Melissa Klein were forced to close their storefront in 2013 after a lesbian couple filed a complaint against them for declining to bake a cake for their same-sex wedding because of their religious beliefs. Same-sex marriage wasn’t even legal in Oregon at the time.
The Kleins were ordered to pay $135,000 in fines to the lesbian couple for “emotional, mental, and physical suffering.” The ruling was intended to “rehabilitate” and “re-educate” Christian businesses.
The owners of “Just Cookies” were accused of discrimination in Indianapolis, Indiana for refusing to fill a special order of “rainbow cookies” for an LGBT group.
Another quite famous case is that of Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the Duck Dynasty show on A&E. After giving an interview to GQ magazine in which he said he believed homosexual acts are sin, a firestorm of protest erupted and the show suspended him indefinitely. After a massive public backlash, the network reinstated him.
Fox Sports Southwest broadcaster Craig James was fired after a tape of a Republican debate surfaced in which he expressed Christian beliefs in opposition to “homosexual marriage.”
And there are more such incidents. The fight is intense. There will probably be a lot more conflicts in the future as well.
And a reaction is developing among conservatives. Many of them have wrongly concluded that separation of church and state should be eliminated. And while we can sympathize with them on the extreme interpretations and ends to which it has been taken in many cases, we do not want the other extreme where religion dominates and controls the state and imposes religious laws. But, that is what is coming according to prophecy.
At least five times in Revelation 13, we are told that worship of the beast or his image is the central issue in the last great conflict.
Verse four has it twice. “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”
Verse eight says, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Verse 12 says it again, “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
And verse 15 says it a fifth time, “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”
But notice verses 16 and 17, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
What this is saying is that there will be economic sanctions place upon those who faithfully obey the fourth commandment, which is the only commandment about worship.
Who are you going to worship? You are either under the one unseen ruler or the other. You cannot be under neither and you cannot be under both.
Satan and his earthly agents, including the Papacy (which is the throne from where the mystery of iniquity rules), the United States (which is already starting to speak like a dragon by restricting religious liberty), and Protestantism (the false prophet), which is already starting to “prophesy” that churches should united around the Papacy, are all working to restrict your religious freedom. Some of them may not even realize what they are doing, but they are working to eventually force you to worship according to their laws and dictates.
But there is another issue that is threatening religious liberty and many of God’s people do not understand it properly because it is so deceptive. As the nations are uniting under globalization, it is important to also note that the churches are uniting globally under Rome. And Rome’s underlying aim is to use these churches to collaborate with her in getting the nations to enact Sunday laws and restrict conscience and religious liberty.
Pope Francis has been working furiously to bring the churches together in ecumenical collaboration. Perhaps he realizes that he only has a short time. Since the beginning of his pontificate, he has brought Pentecostals to Rome with the help of Tony Palmer. He has also brought Evangelicals to Rome to speak at a colloquium about marriage, including Rick Warren, of “purpose driven,” fame, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and others. Catholic News Service published a video of Rick Warren saying that, though there are a few doctrinal differences, we have to unite with Rome on the issues that face our times. The pope has aggressively reached out to Jews, and he has even reached out to the Waldenses, uniting with them in an ecumenical meeting in one of their own churches in Turin.
Eugenio Bernardini, the moderator of the Waldensian Board, said that by his actions, the pope has opened “a new ecumenical season.”
The pope has penetrated even the Waldensian church, which was fiercely persecuted by the papal church. Do you think the pope will come after your faith and be very friendly and ecumenical? Of course he will. There is only one church that stands between Satan and the takeover of the whole world, and that is the remnant church mentioned in the Bible in Revelation 12:17.
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
So, these are the ones who keep all of the commandments because of their love for Christ and they keep His faith in their hearts. And that’s why the enemy is so upset with them. With them on the planet, he doesn’t rule over everyone. He has to get rid of them to consolidate his rule. Friends, these churches don’t realize that Rome will use them for her own ends.
The ecumenical movement is uniting all the churches. What happens when there is only one church left, one group of people isolated from all the others? They will be considered to be religious extremists because they don’t join in with Rome.
Why are they going to do this? The Bible describes this time.
Turn to Psalm 2:1–3, if you can, it says “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves…” My friends, they are determined. “And the rulers take counsel together…” That’s a conspiracy, because it is “against the LORD, and against his anointed…”
Who is the Lord’s anointed? That’s often, rightly, referring to Christ. The heathen are those that don’t follow God, even if they call themselves Christians. And the wicked were certainly angry with Christ. But the anointed today, are God’s people who truly follow Christ and who live the Ten Commandments in His power. Now notice the last part “saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
Ok, so, they want to break their bands asunder. God’s true people are united in truth. And they want to break that unity. By the way, it is not unity in policy that makes the heathen angry, it is the unity of God’s people in truth. You cannot create true unity in policy. The more a church moves away from God’s word and His truth, the more policy takes its place. We want the word, my friends, not policy as the basis of our unity. Those who focus on policy will always compromise when the pressure is on. And that focus on policy instead of truth always leads them away from truth eventually.
These verses are talking about the last days and they are talking about a specific group of people, even without naming them. They are talking about the people who proclaim the truth and who stand in opposition to Rome. Their influence is powerful because they come under the control of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. And this makes the children of unrighteousness angry.
Notice that they want to “cast away their cords.” The faithful souls are a testimony against the wicked, who do not want to come under the principles of heaven. They do not want to keep God’s law and they keep making excuses for not doing what He says. They keep justifying Sunday worship as if it is their darling doctrine.
But the influence of the righteous continues to plague them. It is as if the testimony of the righteous is a barrier to their aims and their sins, continually reproving them for their wickedness. The cords hold them and keep them from rapidly advancing in sin. So, they want to remove the voice of reproof and warning and they are in a conspiracy to destroy God’s people.
Friends, no wonder the enemy wants to get us off the platform of truth. He wants to remove your influence. That means we need more dedication to the truth, not less. We need more witnesses to the truth, not less. Do you realize we are in a war for the souls of men?
The ecumenical movement has removed most of the objections to Rome’s doctrine and practices. More and more churches are aligning themselves with the ecumenical movement.
Listen to this statement from Great Controversy, page 445, “When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.”
This is talking about the ecumenical movement. And it indicates that there are massive changes coming in the attitudes of the people concerning their liberties and religious liberty in particular.
Again from the book Great Controversy, page 592, “The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected.”
How would this massive change in American attitudes and political life take place? It seems impossible in a nation with strong free speech and strong religious liberty issues. But inspiration says it will happen.
And on September 11, 2001, I began to realize how these things would change. Terrorism provided the perfect excuse to make changes to constitutions that would roll back the clock, so to speak, right to medieval times.
I could hardly believe my ears when I heard George W. Bush announce that he was freezing the assets of the terrorists. I immediately thought of Revelation 13:17, which says that no man will be able to buy or sell, unless they have the mark of the beast. Freezing assets would make it impossible to do business. God’s people would be reduced to the barter system.
I was also astonished at how quickly other elements of the U.S. Constitution came under assault as the Bush administration authorized torture in secret prisons, indefinite detentions, trial by tribunal, assumption of guilt, and even extra-judicial killing (assassinations), and on and on it went.
I was stunned as I realized that these things were not just happening to foreign fighters, which is bad enough, but to U.S. citizens and citizens of other western countries. I realized that we have crossed a prophetic line, a line that could never be recovered. It has reached a tipping point.
Then I noticed something even more incredible. I saw how friendly George W. Bush was to the Roman Catholic hierarchy. President Bush was snuggling up to the Catholic Church all throughout this period. For instance, President Bush had surrounded himself with Catholic intellectuals, speechwriters, advisors, priests, bishops and politicians.
One of them said later: “I used to say that there are more Catholics on President Bush’s speechwriting team than any Notre Dame starting lineup in the past half-century.”
Religious News Service said, “These Catholics — and thus Catholic social teaching — have for the past eight years been shaping Bush’s speeches, policies and legacy to a degree perhaps unprecedented in U.S. history.”
President Bush’s first public outing as president was to have dinner with Washington’s Archbishop Theodore McCarrick who was already familiar with the halls of power in Washington. Within a few months after being elected, he asked a priest to come and bless the White House. He was acting so much like a medieval potentate that I began to realize that the changes in the application of the U.S. Constitution were not by accident. Not one word of it was changed, but they circumvented it by executive orders, legislative action and judicial activism.
No wonder we are told that the United States will “repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and Republican government,” and as a consequence it will open the way to “make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions…” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 451
There is a constellation of issues that are converging and pushing toward prophetic fulfillment of the aims of the New World Order, which will especially target God’s people and their religious liberty.
Religious liberty is the crown jewel of rights. All the other rights protect it. As the rights have been gradually removed, religious liberty has become increasingly vulnerable.
There are none left that are being defended today. And on top of that, the Roman Catholic Church has taken over the fight for religious liberty from others who once championed it, like Baptists, Adventists, etc. And it all happened in about 14 years. It doesn’t feel like we’ve lost them because we go about our lives in a normal way. But we have seen demonstrated the loss of those rights in many cases over the last few years as governments have become more and more controlling.
Friends, do you see what is coming upon the world? Do you see what is coming upon God’s people? Our freedoms have been gutted almost without a whimper.
But, don’t forget that what happens in America happens in other countries. I have watched similar rights evaporate in other countries either as they deliberately take similar actions or by their cooperation with the United States.
Other people see it too. And some of them make public statements about it. Michelle Bachmann, a former U.S. Congresswoman recently said, “We, in our lifetimes potentially could see Jesus Christ returning to earth and the rapture of the church.”
Bachmann was accusing the Obama administration of supporting radical Islam along with abortion and gay marriage. She argued that God is punishing the United States for “embracing a pagan view.”
But then she said something else that especially caught my eye. “We are literally watching, month by month, the speed move up to a level we’ve never seen before with these events,” she added. Do you think that Michelle Bachmann understands that the “final movements will be rapid ones?” I doubt she has ever heard that before, but she has sensed it anyway.
Friends, this is the time to prepare for serious issues. Our liberties have been eroded while we’ve been looking the other way. We haven’t put it all together and seen the big picture. But things have changed dramatically in many parts of the world.
Jesus said we are to watch the signs of the times. We are to pay attention to what is happening so that we can see the larger spiritual issues that we need to deal with in our lives. Friends, let us put out of our lives anything that is not in harmony with what we know is God’s will. Let us not make excuses for things we do that violate his law or his principles of righteous living.
Oh friends, religious liberty is in the crosshairs of the enemy now. Recently, the attacks in Paris on a secular and sacrilegious magazine called Charlie Hebdo have ignited a raging debate on freedom of speech. Muslim extremists attacked the magazine because they published pictures and satire of the prophet Mohammed. The headlines have faded, but don’t think that the issue is dead.
Freedom of speech is a right that is symbiotic with religious liberty. If you take away freedom of speech, you lose your religious liberty too. Even the pope said there are limits to freedom of speech. And while there have always been some limits of freedoms, particularly when the expression of those freedoms conflicts with another person’s rights and freedoms. But now the definition of freedom of speech is likely to be narrowed. If we lose the ability to speak about another religion even in kind and gracious ways, how will we ever give the message of Revelation 14 and 18 which describes the sins of Babylon and gives the call to come out of her.
Will you be accused of hate speech when you give those messages? Will you be accused of violating limits on free speech when you have to identify the beast power and the whore of Revelation 17?
Friends, we must work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work, John 9:4.
Friends, please make you calling and election sure. Make sure you are in Christ. Some people don’t like to talk about the bad things that are going to happen to God’s people. They say they are scared to think about it. But friends, if you don’t think about what is coming upon the world, and upon God’s people, it will surely come upon you as an overwhelming surprise. You need to think about it, so that you can develop your mind concerning what you are going to do when that time comes to make a decision. That’s what Daniel and his three friends did on their way to Babylon, probably. They thought through what they were going to do when they were confronted with pressure to compromise.
But the good news is that you don’t need to fear. If you are in Christ, and you are living by His principles, including His law, you will be under His protection. Then, anything that happens to you will be directly for your benefit and for your eternal good.
Friends, Luke records something that Jesus said concerning the second coming. By this verse He told us to watch the signs of the times. Here is what he said in Luke 21:28, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Most people cannot see. They do not understand the spiritual implications of what goes on around them. They have not developed a prophetic mind set, so they are blind, really. They cannot see that we are near the end. And yet they live their lives, unmindful that while moments and hours and days pass into eternity, they are preparing to be deceived and overwhelmed by the coming worship crisis.
Let us not be indolent brothers and sisters. Let us live for Jesus. Let us give Him our whole heart and let Him remove anything that offends Him. Please watch the signs of the times. If you are not a subscriber to Keep the Faith Ministry’s monthly updates, please contact our office for a subscription. The U.S. phone number is 540-672-3553. Leave your name and address for a new subscription if it is not during normal business hours. Or go to our website at KTFNews.com and sign up there. All of our subscriptions are free and we will keep you informed on important issues as they develop. After prayer there will be some music, and then I’ll share a few Prophetic Intelligence Briefings with you.
God bless you. Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, the Bible gives us so much detail about what will happen in the last days. We are so grateful for all You have done and we pray that we will be alert to the signs of the times and to the precious promises of Jesus to sustain His true people through those times. We long to see Jesus coming in the clouds of glory. We can see the erosion of religious liberty as a key indicator that His coming is near. Please help us to be faithful. Help us surrender our lives to Christ and His word, the holy Bible. And most of all, save us in thy kingdom we pray, in Jesus name, amen.