WHAT PART DID CONSTANTINE HAVE IN CHRISTIANITY, DIDN”T HE HAVE CHRISTIANS MURDERED?

Constantine legalized Christianity and made it the favored, though not yet official, religion of the Empire. When Constantine was fighting for mastery of the Roman Empire he gathered his army in Gaul and crossed the Alps and returned to Italy and moved on Rome, the capital of his enemy Maxentius. The two armies met at the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. On the eve of the battle Constantine said he saw a vision in the sky of a cross, with the words, “in this you shall conquer”. Then that night he had a dream in which he was commanded to place a Christian symbol on his soldiers shields and Standard.

Constantine ordered his soldiers to place on their shields and their Standard a Christian symbol. The battle was won by Constantine, and Maxentius fell into the river and drowned and Constantine became the lone master of the entire western half of the Roman Empire. After further battles with Licinius, Constantine emerged as the supreme ruler of the entire Roman Empire.

Out of this relationship between the church and emperor grew the church and state entanglement of the later Roman Empire. Constantine kept the title of the pagan high priest, PONTIFEX MAXIMUS; and his coins still featured some of the pagan gods, notably the Unconquered Sun, from his previous religion. These were

 

 

maintained for a decade after his “conversion”.

The Roman church adopted many pagan beliefs and images. December 25 was the birthday of the Sun and SATURNALIA, the Roman winter festival of December 17-21 celebrated the festivities of the giving of gifts and candles and incense of later Christmases.

Many other pagan symbols were Christianized. Many associated Mary with Isis, the Egyptian goddess whose worship had spread throughout the Empire. Isis became identified with many other goddesses of other nations, and was the universal “mother” of later pagan religions.

Isis was called the “Great Virgin” and “Mother of the God” and was naturally identified with Mary. Some surviving images of Isis holding the child Horus are in a pose remarkably like some of the early Christian Madonnas.

In many places saints took the place of pagan gods. While the church never went so far as to say that saints were to be worshipped, it was said that they were in a favored position of influence to hear prayer and present them directly to God.   Eventually relics were said to have miraculous powers. Constantine’s mother, Empress Helena, gave momentum to this, when on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she claimed to have discovered the very cross on which Christ was crucified. Soon the cross was said to have miraculous powers, and pieces of wood from it were found all over the Roman Empire!

Until Constantine Christian worship had been simple and humble. At first they worshipped in private homes. After Constantine’s conversion, Christian worship began to be influenced by imperial splendor. Ministers who had worn everyday clothes began to dress in luxurious garments. Churches built in the time of Constantine were kingly palaces in contrast. And instead of simple preaching by a pastor, the church took the form of a hierarchy of priests, bishops and archbishops, etc.

The day of worship was the “first day of the week”. The day of Christ’s resurrection, and is distinct from the Jewish Sabbath under the Law, according to the gospels, which was a “day of rest”. But under Constantine Sunday was recognized as the “Sabbath” and was decreed as “a day of rest” looking back to the Old Testament, in A.D. 321. Jews were legally discriminated against as evil haters of good.

The Da Vinci code says that the emperor Constantine stopped goddess worship, changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, made Jesus divine, and established the biblical canon at the council of Nicaea in the early fourth century.

But the council of Nicaea did none of these. Goddess worship was never a part of the early church. Sunday— “the first day of the week was recognized as the day of worship from the time of Jesus resurrection. The deity of Christ had been affirmed for almost three hundred years by the time of Nicaea on May 20th 325. Jesus was worshipped and confessed as universal Lord. This was the stance of the Church from the beginning, as we can see from the writings of Paul, the four gospels, and other New Testament writings.

The Biblical canon had already been established. By the second century, the church leaders had already quoted the four gospels, and only them, thousands of times in their writings, and the present New Testament was cited more the 36,000 times.

Sunday was the established day of worship from the very beginning. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the beginning of a new dispensation, from the law to grace. The Sabbath was never changed but rather it was fulfilled and done away with by Christ.

PLEASE EXPLAIN DANIEL’S 70 WEEKS

This is found in Daniel 9:24-27: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people   and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.

Know and understand this: from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’, it will b rebuilt with streets and a trench, built in times of trouble.

After the sixty-two ‘sevens’, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’. In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”.

We must first understand that this prophecy has to do with the Jews and the city of Jerusalem: Daniel’s people and their holy city of Jerusalem.

“Seventy sevens” means seventy unites, here it mean “seventy WEEKS”. It means week of years. Israel had a calendar week of SEVEN DAYS: “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work” (Exodus 23:12). And also a week of SEVEN YEARS: “For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather your crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the Lord” (Leviticus 25:3-4).

This is made clear in Scripture. In Genesis 29:26-28 we read: “Laban replied, ‘It is not our custom here to give our younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal WEEK. Then we will give you the younger one also, in return for ANOTHER SEVEN YEARS of work”. And Jacob did so. He finished the WEEK with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife”.

This is seen in the seventy-year captivity that was the result of Israel’s disobedience. They were to allow the land to remain idle every seventh year. But they disobeyed. After 490 years they had failed to keep 70 yearly Sabbaths, which lead to 70 years of captivity: “The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested UNTIL THE SEVENTY YEARS were completed in fulfillment of the word spoken by Jeremiah” (II Chronicles 36:21).

Daniel would have been familiar with the “week of years” because of the seventy years of captivity that Israel was going through at the rime. Around 6oo B. C. Daniel himself was taken as one of the captives to Babylon. Daniel would have understood when he was told that it would be another period similar in length to the Babylonian exile.

This is the context that led to the seventy year Babylonian captivity. Israel had not kept the yearly Sabbaths for 490 years, which would equal 70 Sabbaths they had to make up for—thus the 70-year captivity.

This means that there were 490 years (70 years times 7 weeks) decreed for Daniel’s people. It must be kept in mind that these years are Jewish in context and are 360 days each rather that our years of 365 days.

Daniel 9:24 goes on to list 6 things that will be accomplished during this period concerning God’s program for Israel (“For your people and your holy city”).

  1. Finish the transgression.
  2. Make an end of sin.
  3. Make reconciliation for iniquity.
  4. Bring in everlasting righteousness.
  5. Seal up vision and prophesy.
  6. Anoint the Most Holy.

These last three will be fulfilled at Christ’s second coming

Verses 25-26 w are told that from the issuing the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (Messiah) was to be 69 weeks (7 plus 62) sevens or 483 years). The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus who commissioned Ezra to return to Jerusalem in 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:11-26). He commanded the rebuilding of Jerusalem in 445 B.C..

Using the Jewish year of 360 days, we can determine the exact time of Messiah” the Anointed One. We can therefore determine the total amount of days in 69 weeks. 69 weeks of years totals 483 years. Then multiply this number by 360 days for each year. This totals exactly 173, 880 until the coming Anointed Messiah. This brings us to Passover on April 6th 32 A.D.. The day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Zechariah wrote that the Messiah, the king would make Himself known to Israel by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, you King comes to you riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (9:9).

Today this is known as Palm Sunday. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Donkeys were ridden by kings of Israel. Jesus was publicly presenting Himself as Messiah with full knowledge that this would lead Him to the cross. The crowd shouted: “Blessed be the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna means “save now”, while the terms “Son of David” and “He who comes in the name of the Lord” were both strong Messianic terms. This was a Jewish royal entry.

Luke 19:41-44 tells us, “As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known ON THIS DAY what would bring you peace—but now it is hid from your eyes”. Then He went on to predict the destruction of Jerusalem. “They will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you. Here He refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., about 40 years after His crucifixion.

Daniel 9:26 states that after 69 weeks, the Messiah would be “cut off” or killed. This ties in with the preceding part of the prophecy concerning the “making reconciliation for iniquity”. That sin must be dealt with is the underlying reason for his being “cut off”. He was cut off for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53: 5-6).

Then we are told in Daniel 9:26,   .   .”The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary”, This happened 43 years later when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in putting down the Jewish revolt in 70 A.D.

The point of Daniel’s prophecy is that 490 years were determined to deal with the question of sin by the Messiah, who would be “cut off” (killed violently) after which Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed (70 A.D.). And the Jewish people were driven among the nations.

After the 69th week an interval between the 69th and 70th week of Israel’s history began, while Israel was out of the land. The 70 “sevens” that were determined on Daniel’s people were interrupted after the 69th ‘seven’ while Israel was out of the land and Israel was set aside, until the completion of the Church age, which began at Pentecost and will end at the rapture of the Christ, then God will again take up Israel and complete the 70th ‘seven’ which is also know as the tribulation period.

God is now working through the Church until the Church is taken out at the rapture, then God will begin again dealing with Israel during the tribulation period (“a time of trouble for Jacob” (Israel) which will culminate at Christ’s return to rescue Israel.

God’s Care for his People

God’s care for His people

Job 14:1 tells us: “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble”, and Job 5:7 says: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward”. One of the reasons Jesus came was to give rest to burdened humanity: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11: 28-30).

Jesus offers to exchange burdens with us: He will take our cares and burdens and give us rest while giving us His yoke which is easy and His burden which is light because He is carrying it with us.

We are wandering sheep and we need Him as our good and faithful Shepherd. We are sinners and need His righteousness. We are naked and need His holiness as a covering. We are ignorant and need His teaching. We are foolish and need His guidance. We are frightened and need His presence. We are doubtful and need His assurance. We are poor and He is rich. When we are accused by Satan, He is our defense attorney. When we are in trouble He is our help. When we are forsaken He is our supporter. When we are persecuted He is our reward. When we die He is our Life. When we are worn out and cannot go on, He is our strength. When we are discouraged He is our Encouragement.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

As believer’s we are “In Christ”. Before we were saved we were “in Adam” sharing in everything with the fallen creation and under condemnation with the rest of the world. When we believed in Christ, God removed us from our position “in Adam” and placed us into a new position “in Christ” sharing in everything with Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (II Cor. 5: 17).

The believer is identified with Christ: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). His Father is our Father. We share the same life. He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit and we are one with Him in life, related to Him as the branch is to the vine (John 15: 5). From the moment of the new birth we have new life, spiritual life, the life of Christ. God the Father looks upon the believer as one with His Son.

“Near, so very near to God, nearer I cannot be,

For in the person of His Son, I’m just as near as He.

Dear, so very dear to God, dearer I cannot be,

For in the Person of His Son, I’m just as dear as He”.

Our identification with Christ leads to great privileges, but also to great responsibilities. Christ, God’s only begotten Son is heir to all the father’s possessions, and we, being one with Christ, are joint heirs with Him. We shall also inherit His future glory: “Dear friends now are we the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).

Our identification with Christ also brings great responsibilities. In II Cor. 5:17-21 we read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’.

Here we are told that all those who are “in Christ” are new creations with a new relationship to God. Things concerning the believer’s old life before he was saved are passed away. All his old relationships to Adam and the world are gone as all things are made new. All his new relationships are now from God who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Part of these new things is a new purpose in life, it is the “ministry of reconciliation”, the message of which is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and that God is not counting men’s sins against them who will trust in Christ.

So all believers are born again and are new creations and have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Those who have been reconciled to God have been given the ministry of reconciling others to God. We are Christ’s Ambassadors and God is using us to make His appeal to the unsaved to be reconciled to God.

As believers in Christ we are to begin immediately some form of ministry to our unsaved family members, friends and neighbors. It may be to invite them to church or Bible study, or perhaps to watch a Christian video. We should have a prayer list of family members and friends we want to reach for Christ. We should pray for our churches and pastors and other ministries as well as missionaries. We should all have those we pray for regularly. Then we must witness to those in our sphere of influence. This is our calling as Christians. Even as shut-ins and bedridden believers we can have an important ministry for Christ. It is not our inabilities that God looks at, but what abilities we do have. We must never think that our sphere of influence is not important to God. There are those in our sphere of influence that no one else can reach but us.

By praying for ministers, missionaries and evangelists, we can have a far- reaching impact for Christ. We are exhorted in Scripture to: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things we be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

As God’s children we also have the privilege of bringing all our needs to God. In Phil.4: 4-7 we are exhorted: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Here the Greek word for “Gentleness” Means “self-control”—not falling apart from worrying about our circumstances. The reason for this peace is that: “the Lord is near”, and is waiting for us to call on Him in prayer. The Children of God are not to be anxious about anything. This does not mean that we are not to care about anything, for the believer is to care about the things that God cares about. It does not forbid our being concerned, for we are to be concerned about many things in the Christian life. What is forbidden is the fearful anxiety that robs us of our peace in the Lord.

No sleepless, fearful fretting, as though the Lord were not nearby and promised to answer prayer. This is the secret of having the peace of God that is beyond all understanding. God is always at hand in time of need. Before He left to return to the Father, Jesus left us His peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14: 27). Notice that the peace He gives is not like the peace the world gives. It is His own peace that He gives us” “My peace I give you”. Therefore we are not to be troubled or afraid.

This is what Jesus promised His anxious disciples as He was about to leave them and go back to the Father: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). HE promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”. The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?” (Heb.13: 5-6).

It is sad how many Christians are constantly burdened with care and anxiety. They worry about tomorrow as though they have no heavenly Father who loves them and promised to care for them. We should not have any trouble trusting God about anything else after He has already given us salvation: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8: 31-32).

Here, God assures us, by giving us the greater thing that He will not neglect the lesser things! He has given His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest gift that even God can, so how can we doubt that He will also give us all things.

Many Christians are like the man who was trudging down the road carrying a heavy load on his back. Someone in a pick up truck stops and offers him a ride. So he climbs in the back still carrying his heavy load on his back. He foolishly carries his load on his back, when the driver was graciously willing to carry, not only the man but his burden as well.

God has freely given us eternal life through the death and resurrection of His Son. Saving us from hell and carrying us on to heaven, riding freely by His grace. He wants not only to carry us but also our burdens! We are urged in I Peter 5:7 to: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”.

Notice two words in PHIL.4:6: “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God”. There are no circumstances where God cannot meet every need. Everything that can cause fear and anxiety can be conquered by God’s promise to answer prayer, the little things as well as the big things that bother us. If they are big enough to worry about they are big enough to pray about.

Christ is the answer to every need of the Christian. He is greater than all the troubles of this world. He said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33).

The one thing in the world the child of God should grieve about is sin. Sin grieves the heart of God and hinders the Holy Spirit in our lives and blocks the believer’s fruit-bearing for God. Sin in the believer’s life is the worst form of trouble. But the child of God need not be weighed down from grieving the Holy Spirit and bitter defeat.

Christ is the remedy for the anxiety and sorrow caused by sin. The Holy Spirit will not allow the believer to forget that he belongs to God and will cause you bitter grief over your sin. But God has not forgotten you and says to you “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20). And God’s overflowing grace will cover confessed and forsaken sin. He will forgive it and blot it out.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (I John 2:1).

Our all-wise, loving heavenly Father longs for us to simply trust Him. He wants us to bring all our burdens and fears and concerns to Him, and commit our lives to His care.

In Isaiah 40:28-31 says: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They shall soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

There is a way for weak Christians to be strong; the tired, discouraged and defeated Christian to be victorious every day. God has placed infinite resources at the disposal of every child of God. God’s people can, if they will trust in the Lord, and bring all their needs to Him in trusting prayer, renew their strength. They can soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint”.

Without this source of supernatural strength we could only have defeat and failure, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

We were not created to succeed on our own. God wanted a relationship of love and dependence on Him with His creation. We do not have to fret and worry. We have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants to show Himself strong in our behalf. He knows each one of His blood-bought people and their needs. He watches over us so closely that “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30).

We are told in Prov. 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”.

The believer is to follow God’s leading in His word, and if it contradicts our way of thinking we are to trust in His word rather than our own understanding. In every area of our lives we are to give heed to what He says in His Word.

It can be compared to a pilot following the instruments in his plane, which is vital. Sometimes a pilot will get disoriented and become confused because his instruments seem to contradict all his experience as a pilot. Some pilots have followed their own instincts and disregarded the planes instruments which can lead to disaster. This is also true of believers who think they can disregard the instructions of the Bible and lean on their own understanding.

We can entrust our lives to Him. Storms will come and Satan will oppose us, circumstances may seem impossible, but God will bring us through. God does not promise us an easy life. He said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).