Dear Associates, Students and Friends:Religion suppresses people and is a form of voluntary enslavement. The most complete form of slavery will come at the end of this age. Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote, “The essence of religion consists in the feeling of an absolute dependence.” The proper feeling should be absolute dependence on God, not on man or any intermediary between God and man, except the man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). A dependent feeling causes people to desire to “do” things to please the one they depend upon. It is a form of social and moral control encouraged by leaders in society and even from our friends, neighbors, and families. The result is as H. L. Mencken said, "I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind."
Religion is the topic of both this month’s articles by Dr. Ernest L. Martin, “Religion Is Slavery, Christianity Is Freedom” and “Mystery Babylon the Great.” You will gain much if you read these two articles together in the order presented. Religion is the antithesis of Christianity. The term “religion” (translated from threskeia in Greek) is used 6 times in its noun form. In fact, as Paul told the Colossians, there is even a religion of angels,
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping [threskeia, religion] of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”
While five times the King James Version translated threskeia as “religion” it used the word “worshipping” in Colossians 2:18, when “religion” would have been consistent and express better the meaning.
This does not mean that the angels are worshipping God (the subject of their worship is expressed elsewhere in Scripture), or even that the angels themselves are worshipped (although this occurs in much idol worship). What Paul means is that the angels have a religion, a set of beliefs and actions, which they pawn off as Christianity to mankind. It is the “religion of angels.” The angels influence humans to produce laws, rules and regulations to churches and church bodies in much the same way they gave them to ancient Israel (Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19).
James explains the nature of true religion,
“If any man among you seem to be religious [threskos, the verb form of threskeia], and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion [threskeia] is vain. Pure religion [threskeia] and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
The apostle Paul before he met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus practiced a strict religion,
“My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion [threskeia] I lived a Pharisee.”
Paul confirmed this again in his epistle to the Galatians,
“For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion [threskeia], how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion [threskeia] above many my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
Religion is a great evil. Dr. Martin’s article explains why this is so. Religion binds people to rules, regulations, and to the control and opinions of others. Christianity on the other hand makes people free.
Religion in its ultimate expression as practiced by humankind and its enemies, all directed against God will be revealed in the rise of Mystery Babylon. Mystery Babylon has nothing to do with true Christianity. Mystery Babylon is the final religious expression of Babylon that currently rules the world as a general economic and governmental system. It will be centered in Jerusalem.
As with much religion today, Mystery Babylon will be established and maintained for its short life through lies as the basis of its existence. Lies that the Beast is God and that the False Prophet is the Elijah to come are at the heart of its control, authority and power of humans at the end of the age. Though the life of Mystery Babylon will be short, just a matter of years, the build up to its revealing will be long and continuously growing.
We shall shortly put up on the ASK Website — chapter by chapter — Dr. Martin’s seminal book, The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World (Second Edition, ASK Publications, 1996). This information was originally published in 1978 and updated to this latest Second Edition. This will begin shortly after you receive this Newsletter and Commentary. Remember that you can listen to Dr. Martin’s radio presentation on the Jeff Rense Radio Show about the Star of Bethlehem at Part 9 (and Download 9) at the ASK webpage, http://askelm.com/audio/index.htm. The Star of Bethlehem portion of the program will be highlighted on the page.
Finally, your prayers and encouragement mean much to us. They sustain us and we wish we could fully acknowledge the expressions of love, affection and support that so many of you give. We understand that many of you appreciate what you have been given through Dr. Martin’s work, but you have not been able to express it. That is fine.
I also want to thank you again for your continued financial support and back-up for the work we do at A.S.K. The material by Dr. Ernest L. Martin to make clear the Holy Bible is so desperately needed by people around the world. This information is going to a wider and wider audience all the time, and you make it possible. You understand the quality of Dr. Martin’s writings and work. You can understand the joy that newcomers to ASK express when they first discover the freedom they have in Christ and realize their position relative to God and Christ. We are dependant upon your contributions (and the buying of our books) to continue operating. Thank you for your continued financial support for the work of A.S.K., and to forward the legacy of Dr. Martin, so that the truth of God may be spread widely. It is the “knowledgeable” brothers and sisters in the Family of God (who understand that they have no superiority compared to other people) who are able to give and keep us going. Thank you.
David W. Sielaff
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