Posts Tagged ‘idolatry’

“The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil”

June 26, 2017

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“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6v10)

Other versions such as the NIV translate this as: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” or “the root of all kinds of evil.” However, I stand by the King James Version and its translation. Ultimately, this verse makes it clear that all evil, although it may not be immediately apparent, can be traced back to this evil root: mankind’s love of money. Today my Bible study brought to mind the specific evil of idolatry…

I have been reading of Paul’s fascinating journeys in territory which would be highly dangerous to travel through in today’s world. Nevertheless, in those days before the advent of Islam, there was the “great goddess Diana whom all the world worshipped” (Acts 19) and who “brought no small gain unto the craftsmen,” (V24). Back then anyone who preached the gospel would have been in danger, just as Paul was. The reason for this was obvious: great profits were to be made from the sale of silver shrines of “Diana” and no craftsman likes to see his livelihood in peril! In fact today, as then, the love of money in itself can be a source of idolatry.

“Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone in Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” (Acts 19v26&27)

It is interesting to make the comparison with idolatry then and Roman Catholicism today. I see that the Pope wishes to visit Ireland next year (2018) and I believe that there are many reasons for this, not least a report that there is great disillusionment here with the Roman Catholic Church, with numbers of people leaving it faster than ever before. But superstition still abounds. Take for example the village of Ballinspittle in Cork where “the moving statues” phenomenon has brought in tourism and prospered small businesses since 1985 when so called “moving statues of the Virgin Mary” were first observed. Imagine what the “fall of Roman Catholicism” would mean for just one small village – and if it happened all across the world what it would mean for the Vatican in financial terms!

Silversmiths like Demetrius in Acts 19v24, statue- makers and those travelling with “relics” of saints would be at a financial loss, while locations all over the world from Medjugorje in Bosnia to Tapao in Vietnam would lose out on tourism, if crowds no longer travelled to see places where there was supposed to be “apparitions” of the Virgin Mary etc. Shrines and statues as objects of worship would be no more, if many turned to the living God as in Paul’s day, when “mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19v20)

“Sirs,” said Demetrius the silversmith to his colleagues in business, “ye know that by this craft we have made our wealth.” Demetrius, as with all who think only on the affairs of this world, clearly had no concept of this truth: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8v36&37)

Later we read of another “Demetrius” in 3John 1v12 and this Demetrius was a disciple. I would like to think that this Demetrius was the same one, this time, converted – but unfortunately there is no evidence for this either way. Eternity will reveal many things and perhaps, too, many pleasant surprises…

There is nothing more precious in this world than the value of your soul; perhaps it needs attention today, whatever your standing in society, or your church or denomination. It may not be well with your wealth or even, worryingly, with your health – but is it “well with your soul?”

As Paul travelled, contending with dangerous “crowd mentality,” vicious opposition, beatings, persecution, imprisonment – and eventually death (although we are not told the manner of his death), he said: “neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy…” Acts 20v24. When his fellow believers feared for his safety, they “besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21v12) But Paul answered: “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (V.13)

The proposed visit of the Pope next year should be viewed by those who have been born again as an opportunity. There may be many protests from ex-Catholics who are angry about child abuse and other issues, while pious clergy, church dignitaries and ordinary people will line the streets but this is an opportunity for tract distribution and outreach as the Lord leads, so that eyes would be opened, just as Paul’s were, after acknowledging blindness on the Damascus Road. If the Lord can work in the life of Paul, transforming him from being a persecutor of the church – to someone who was an outstanding apostle, He can perform this same miracle in many lives.

Oh that the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ Saviour today would be able to say with the apostle Paul: “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men” (Acts 20v26)

The believer must aspire to nothing less than these words of Paul (for whom material possessions and riches meant nothing)…. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Philippians 3v8)

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On a Stolen Heart, Idolatry and Roman Catholicism’s Omission of the Second Commandment

March 8, 2012

I was struck by these amusing newspaper headlines recently… “Somewhere in Ireland a Burglar has the Heart of a Saint.” The heart in question was reported to have belonged to Laurence O’Toole, “patron saint of Dublin” who was canonized in 1225 by Pope Honorius 111. Laurence O’Toole’s preserved heart had been displayed in Christ Church Cathedral since the 13th Century and it appeared that whoever had stolen it had no interest in financial gain since they had ignored other artefacts made of gold in the vicinity. The cathedral’s director of operations described the recent theft as “completely bizarre.” Why, indeed, should anyone want the ancient remains of another human being?

My mind travelled back a few years to the time when the ‘relics of St. Theresa’ had been brought around Ireland and somehow I felt that I knew a possible answer to that question. I believe that many people have a desire to possess something that they superstitiously believe may bring them ‘good luck’ – yes, even if they have been stolen! While giving out tracts of a former priest’s testimony at the viewing of these ‘relics of St. Theresa,’ I was awed by the large crowds of local people who had eagerly been queuing for some time to see the relics.

Wikipedia’s definition of a relic is as follows: “In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Shamanism, and many other religions. With regard to veneration, I learn that… “Roman Catholicism practices ‘the veneration of relics,’ which is often shown by bowing or making the sign of the cross before a saint’s icon, relic or statue.”

Surely the holding of any part of a person’s remains for the purpose of veneration is tantamount to idolatry? This brings us to the matter of Roman Catholicism’s desecration of the Second Commandment…

This second commandment is as follows: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20v4-6)

Few Roman Catholics are aware of the fact that this commandment has been omitted from their catechism, while the tenth commandment has been split into two in order to make up the ten…

(9) “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.

(10) “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods.”

As we read God’s Word in both the Old and New Testaments we are left in no doubt that He hates idolatry. To ignore such a large portion of scripture, one that commands that we shun idolatry, is a very serious matter indeed.

In Revelation 22v19 we discover the gravity of tampering with God’s Word… “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Every one of God’s Ten Commandments are as valid today as they were when they were given thousands of years ago and my prayer is that dear souls for whom Jesus shed His precious blood would have their eyes opened to the great sin of idolatry, amongst others that are condoned by Roman Catholicism.

The Lovely Greek Island of Corfu

August 9, 2010

It is true that Corfu became the first Greek island to be introduced to tourism in a big way but today it is still possible to find a secluded beach, or a quiet little village unspoilt by time. “Come ye apart and rest awhile” Jesus said to His disciples and today, as then, sometimes as Christians we need to draw apart and rest awhile. Yet even in our resting moments, we are still His ambassadors, ever showing our love for the souls who briefly touch our lives. I have always enjoyed trips to Greece and its islands, having a special affinity with the Greek people and would have to say that I have been impressed, for the most part, by their honesty and integrity as a nation.

Once when I was very young and travelling alone with a rucksack on my back across mainland Greece, I became ill from sunstroke. I don’t remember how I came to be in a dark room, lying on a bed of clean cool linen sheets, or how I had came into contact with the old lady who carried me glasses of cold fresh water and looked after me. The curtains were drawn for what seemed like days; I had lost all count of time. I only recall feeling extremely sick and thirsty and having no wish to even look at the sun for a very long time. As I lay there in the darkness, she hovered around anxiously trying to communicate with me, although she spoke no English and my knowledge of Greek was practically non-existent. Eventually I recovered and I vaguely remembered thanking her and leaving her little dwelling for the journey to Athens. But I will never forget her; like others I had met on my travels, she touched my life in a very special way, that old lady.

St. Paul journeyed to many parts of Greece and its islands, although it is not recorded that he ever visited the island of Corfu. Today religion lives on in Greece but sadly Evangelical Christians are few and far between here. I entered a tiny Byzantine church on Mouse Island (aptly named because of its shape) off Corfu. There many candles had been lit by visiting tourists, but my attention was drawn to the many young people entering the church to kiss the pictures of the saints that hung on the walls. Superstition and idolatry are probably as widespread today as they were in the days when St. Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens. (Acts 17v22-34) Added to this is the fact that many Greeks have become disenchanted with the traditional Greek Orthodox Church, embracing instead erroneous cults which deny fundamental Christian doctrines such as the trinity.

The green island of Corfu is just 583 square kilometres in area, but has a population of around 116,000. How these beautiful islands and the mainland of Greece need to be reached with gospel! From the Ionian Islands to the large island of Crete, many souls have never heard of their need of salvation. And there are tiny remote islands which have probably never even been reached at all. From the busy, bustling and cosmopolitan city of Athens to the smallest medieval village in the mountainous area of a Greek island, they need to hear the message of salvation. Yes, “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”… “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest…” (Matthew 9v37&38)