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Summary: The influence of Babylon turns the simple organization of Jesus into a world power that does untold damage to its surroundings. The true church survives and is persecuted.

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SEVENTEEN: THE GREATEST DECEPTION of the AGES

(so far)

c. 300 A.D.

Pagan Rome rises and falls. Its history is clearly heralded by many. And as a true child of Babylon it plays its part well. Its hatred of and persecution of both Jews and Christians is well documented. Rome's mysteries I have already mentioned. They coincide with those of the beginner of all the mysteries, ancient Babylon.

Satan has had an unbroken chain of success in deceiving mankind. But even with all of his force, his intoxicating doctrines, his confusion, he sees that instead of defeating the purposes of God, the people on God's side continue to multiply. Through the resurrection of the Christ that Satan tried to avert has come a veritable shower of life, claiming many of Lucifer's followers.

The Roman Empire, aptly described by Daniel(chapters 2 and 7) in the most horrific of terms, has not scared off God's people after all. Quite the opposite, as there is unparalleled growth of the Kingdom of God.

Serious problem here. When you've given it your best shot and you're failing, what next? Shoot again. But with what? If the Empire cannot crush the fledgling church, what can? There is a sinister smile on Satan's face as he decides on a totally different tactic for the Christians: acceptance.

The higher the authority that accepts a human, the better that person feels about himself, and the more beholden he becomes. If Satan's bunch actually "accept" the church, will she yield to those pressures, when the threat of violence and death made no dent at all?

To help answer that question, I introduce now the next player in this drama, would-be Emperor Constantine.

Here again I need your undivided attention. Listen to this scheme of all schemes with the horror due it.

After more than 300 years of burning, torturing, demeaning Christians, there is a lull in history. Constantine allegedly sees a vision of a cross, and is told that he must now conquer in that sign. I say "allegedly" because I was not there, and the witnesses are not of the caliber of Spirit-inspired Bible-writers. I trust you will forgive my hesitancy to accept the standard story.

In fact historians have debated as to

1) whether he even saw a vision

2) exactly what he saw

3) who gave the supposed vision

It's an interesting question, the answer to which has absolutely nothing to do with what follows. What did the vision produce?

Facts agreed upon:

1) After the "vision," the soldiers of Constantine had an emblem that they took to stand for Christ placed on their shields, and with these shields facing their enemy( another would-be emperor) they won.

2) Constantine prayed to his sun-god, Mithras, before the battle.

3) He in fact prayed to that god until the day of his death, on which day he is alleged to have received "baptism".

So, Constantine, a Caesar, pro-Christ but not of-Christ, lifts the church from its obscure dungeons, and brings it to the light of day, at least the Babylonian day of Pagan Rome.

Freedom is sweet to the persecuted church. Had you and I been there, we would have done what that early church now does: honor the man who brings you out of suffering.

Honor and attention are what Constantine thrives on. Many of his subjects are Christians, and the vision is well-timed, whatever its origin. As Pharaoh of Egypt, he does the "smart" thing and averts a potential revolution of a growing people.

And Constantine's bondage of servitude is of a kinder, nobler sort. All he wants for rescuing the Christians from persecution, death, and the other things that the early church has come to accept as normal (after all, didn't Jesus promise all this?), all he wants, I say, is complete control of the church.

It is tempting to say nice things about Constantine. All the books do, you know. He was a great man, after all. He did, like Lincoln, "free the slaves." Oh, our flesh loves him. I mean, can we imagine the great burden of stinking prisons, bloodshed, unequaled torture suddenly removed? Can we not weep with joy with the early believers, as their chains fall off, and say, "THANKS, Constantine "?

Consider, from our present vantage point, what has really happened. Constantine, you have unwittingly wedded your Babylon to the Bride of Christ, purified by hundreds of years of fire. The ultimate act of prostitution is here committed by the Pimp of the ages, Lucifer.

Oh, Satan! Kings and princes of all times you have deceived and lured into your bed, but the Virgin of Christ! How low can your adulterous mind bring you?

Through Constantine, the mother of harlots conceives and bears yet another loathsome offspring. The seed of Satan penetrates the womb of the young church yet again, in a far more harmful way than the false teachers who were, in the main, recognized and expelled. In Constantine, a benefactor, the church is caught unawares, and settles down to be raped.

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