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What on earth did the Lord Jesus Christ mean when He told Peter in Matthew 16:19: "And I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven”?
Here is the passage in its context:
First, we need to define terminology.
"The Kingdom of Heaven": a Biblical term found only in the Gospel of Matthew. All other Gospels use only "The Kingdom of God", even in parallel passages. This indicates a special meaning that is restricted only to the Jews, since Matthew was written specifically to the Jews in order to help them see that Jesus Christ was their Messiah, and the Son of David who would inherit the throne of His "father" David (actually Jesus was the step-son of Joseph, not his real son, but this meant that Jesus was the rightful heir of the Davidic throne of Israel by his relationship to Joseph, who was descended from king David). So in consideration of the context in which the term is found, the term "Kingdom of Heaven" refers to the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant.
What made Israel under the Old Covenant "The Kingdom of Heaven"?
1) Jehovah (the only true God in the Universe) dwelt personally on the earth within the Temple in Jerusalem. His presence was both visible and glorious; it was known as the "Shekinah Glory". During Israel's 40-year march through the wilderness toward the Promised Land of Canaan, the Shekinah Glory was seen as a cloud that descended from Heaven and abode upon the Tabernacle tent that accompanied the people of Israel and guided their way. After Solomon's Temple was constructed circa 1000 B.C., the Shekinah Glory was visible at the inauguration of the Temple, and within the Holy of Holies. The Shekinah Glory was removed from the Temple before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and, although the Bible doesn't specifically record the event, it seems clear that the Shekinah Glory returned to the rebuilt Temple about 538 B.C. and remained there until the veil of the Temple was torn in two when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, terminating forever the Aaronic priesthood and the system of animal sacrifices under the Old Covenant. Jesus referred to the presence of Jehovah God in the Temple as a present reality in Matthew 23:21 "And whoso shall swear by the Temple, swears by it, and by Him that dwells in it."
2) Israel was a Kingdom, which should go without saying. It was a special Kingdom among the nations of the world, because it was a nation that had been created by the personal intervenation of Jehovah God Himself. God called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
When the Lord Jesus Christ began to preach, the Gospel of Matthew records Him saying, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12).
Let's think about that for a moment: was He talking about Heaven itself, that the violent were taking Heaven itself by force, and that Heaven was suffering violence? That doesn't make sense, since Heaven is ruled by God Himself, and therefore it cannot be overthrown by either man or fallen angel; and Satan and his demons are only allowed there by God's permission (Job 1:6; Revelation 14:10).
So what are some other alternatives? Does it refer to an "invisible, universal church" that so many Evangelicals believe in today? In other words, is the "Kingdom of Heaven" the same as the "Universal Church" (so-called)? If we assume that this "Universal Church" actually exists (A link for details on why it doesn't exist except in Catholic and Protestant theory is coming soon; haven't had time to prepare it yet), then it might work except for one thing: Jesus spoke these words when the only "church" (i.e. the Assembly) in existence was the group of disciples that He was leading about the land of Judea on foot. And even then, Jesus had not yet ever mentioned "the Assembly" as being a reality since He was still trying to reach Israel with the Gospel of the Kingdom at that point in His ministry. It wasn't until Matthew 16:18 that the Assembly (or the "church") is first mentioned in the Bible, which was some time after Matthew 11:12. So clearly, this reference to the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 11:12 could not refer to the Assembly or the church in any way, no matter whether you accept the idea of a "Universal Church" or not.
The only other alternative which satisfies both the literal meaning of the text and the entire context of Scripture is that the Kingdom of Heaven is referring to Israel or Zion, which at that time was being ruled by Herod, a Gentile vassal king of Rome. And history tells us that the Romans had overthrown the existing government of the Jews by force and violence and had installed a series of iron-fisted rulers over them until that day. This is historical fact. Zion was, in fact, the Kingdom of Heaven, because it was the rule of God on earth in a specific place, in Jerusalem from the Temple. Ideally, of course, the rule of God was exercised by a direct descendent of King David on the throne of Israel, but in those days, there was only the evil and violent Gentile King Herod (in agreement with Jesus' words), and the Bible tells us that there would be no more sons of David ruling in Israel until Jesus comes and takes His rightful throne to Himself (Ezekiel 21:25-27).
The Kingdom of Zion (Judea) itself was in tatters, being ruled by a regime of evil priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees in Jerusalem. The only genuine prophet of the day (outside of Christ Himself) was John the Baptist. The people of God were oppressed by both a foreign occupying power and their own rulers, and were longing for the coming of the Son of David promised in the Old Covenant Scriptures. The Kingdom of Zion was still in existence, because Jesus Himself said that God was still dwelling in the Temple in Jerusalem: "And whoso shall swear by the Temple, swears by it, and by him that dwells in it." (Matthew 23:21). Logically, if Jehovah God was still dwelling in the Temple at the time Jesus said that, it makes sense that the Old Covenant with the Jews was still in effect, at least, until the Crucifixion of Christ put it out of business forever. After that, God the Father could only be accessed by faith in the crucified and risen Christ and His shed Blood, and God no longer dwelt in the Temple.
Ok, so back to Matthew 16:19: what did the "keys of the Kingdom of Heaven mean"? Let's read the text closely, and it will yield the answer very clearly: Jesus said "the keys OF the Kingdom of Heaven", not "the keys TO" the Kingdom of Heaven. The case of the Greek noun "Kingdom" is genitive, meaning the keys "OF" or "BELONGING TO" the Kingdom. You could translate it literally as "I will give unto you the keys belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven". In other words, the Lord Jesus was not planning on handing over to Peter "keys" that gave him the right to decide who would go to Heaven and who would not. This is what the Popes of Rome claim, and those claims are absolutely false.
In fact, no one on the face of the earth has any right to deny another person the right to call upon God for salvation, just because that other person may not belong to their church or group. Salvation is not found in a church or group of any kind; it is only found in the Person and shed Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for all mankind, amen!
Now here is where it gets good, my friends. Again, let's think about this carefully: Israel (or Judah), as the Kingdom of Heaven/Zion, was the only nation on earth that had the right to claim to worship the only True God Jehovah, who literally dwelled in the Temple in Jerusalem; no other nation had that honor and privilege. And, as such, they had "the keys OF the Kingdom of Heaven", which meant that Israel had the right as a nation to bind and loose others in the name of God Almighty and with God's approval, because God had delegated His authority to them. This is a difficult concept for people in the 21st Century to comprehend, because we like to think in terms of many cultures and democracy where all religions and beliefs can compete in a marketplace of ideas without fear of persecution (I'm speaking mainly of the United States here). But in the Israel of the Old Covenant, only worship of the One True God Jehovah was allowed, and any competitors could lawfully be put to death; indeed, God had commanded in the Law of Moses that such should be done in His Name and with His authority.
"Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written; this honor have all his saints." (Psalm 149:5-9)
Don't those words make a lot more sense to you now that you understand what the Zion of the Old Covenant really represented? The Old Covenant Zion (Israel) was literally the Kingdom of God on earth (The Kingdom of Heaven, or God's rule reestablished over the earth in one small place). As such, they had to use the force of military arms to defend it from "the heathen" who were their enemies, and who also worshipped other "gods" (who were really demons). But that context has not existed since the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ when the Old Covenant was done away with and the preaching of the Kingdom of God (as opposed to the Kingdom of Heaven which only existed under the Old Covenant) was inaugurated at Pentecost. There is no "Kingdom of Zion" on the earth today, not even in the nation called Israel, because it is a democracy, not a Kingdom, and also rejects completely any notion of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
The Old Covenant Kingdom of Zion exercised both SPIRITUAL, MILITARY, and LEGAL authority over the people of God, the Jews. After the Babylonian Exile, the MILITARY and LEGAL authority (exercised by a King) over the Kingdom of Zion passed to foreign occupying powers, such as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, but the SPIRITUAL authority over the people of God (exercised by the Priesthood of Levi) remained in place.
During the earthly lifetime of Jesus Christ, as the rightful Son of David, He exercised His own LEGAL authority over the Kingdom of Zion by passing the SPIRITUAL authority of the Kingdom of Zion to the head of the first Assembly of Believers, Peter. Subsequent leaders of the same Assembly, starting with the half-brother of Jesus (James), received the same SPIRITUAL authority as Pastor of the Assembly in Jerusalem. And every God-called Pastor of every Biblical Assembly of Christ in the world today exercises this same SPIRITUAL (not MILITARY or LEGAL) authority over their individual flocks of God as God's Spokesman to them.
(And it should go without saying that Muslim claims to be or have a Kingdom like the Old Covenant Israel (they call it a Universal Caliphate) are completely preposterous and false. Muslims are total slaves to the demonic doctrines of Mohammed their false prophet. May God deliver them in His great mercy from their complete captivity to Satan and his demons. Islam has no basis whatsoever in the Old or New Covenants in the Bible, because they believe the lie of Mohammed that someone else died on the cross instead of Jesus Christ, and that Christ was only a prophet and not the Son of God. The murderous Islamic suicide bombers did NOT go to Heaven, my friends, or meet with 72 eternal virgins as a reward for their evil murderous acts. Only Satan could dream up such an evil religion that would promote such lies.)
So, the "keys" of the Kingdom of Heaven symbolized the spiritual authority that up to that time had been lawfully exercised by the leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem. But now, the Lord Jesus (as the lawful King of Zion) transferred to Peter, as the leading Apostle of the Twelve, the spiritual authority that had previously belonged to the Old Covenant nation of Israel. Why? The context and the Themes of the Gospel of Matthew give us the answer: Part One (Matthew 1:1-16:12) is the story of how Jesus, the Son of David, came to offer the promised Millennial Kingdom of Zion to the Jews, but which the leadership of the Jews (Pharisees and Sadducees) flat-out rejected.
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force: for all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive [the offer of the Millennial Kingdom of Heaven/Zion], this is Elijah, the one who was planned to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11:12-15)
After the Jews had rejected His offer of the Kingdom of Heaven/Zion, now Jesus comes to Peter with the announcement that He was transferring the spiritual (not earthly) authority of Old Covenant Israel to His newly-founded Assembly (or church), of which Peter was the leading Apostle (Matthew 16:18-19).
Some might ask, why only spiritual authority, and not earthly also? The reason is clear in light of the entire Bible: the Assembly (or church) was not invested with earthly authority in the sense of setting up a government that ruled with force over the people who lived within its borders. No, the opposite is the case: the Assembly (or church) is to be a place where anyone of any race who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and professes this fact with their mouths, and has also been baptized in deep water, can come to a special place (a building or even somewhere in the woods) to listen to songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord of all), and preach the Gospel freely to all who will believe and receive Him as Lord and Savior. These Believers are "called out of the world to Assemble" (the literal meaning of Ecclesia, translated as the Assembly or "church" (I prefer Assembly)). That, my friends, is a true Biblical Assembly of Jesus Christ. There are many Assemblies/churches of Jesus Christ around the world in every nation who may disagree over some things, but the true churches of Jesus Christ all agree with the things I just listed. Of course, there are several "Fundamental" doctrines that explain fully what it means to be a real Christian, but I will not take the time to list them here; I'm just trying to keep the article as small as possible and yet also cover the subject as fully as possible!
In fact, the Greek word commonly translated as "church" or "Assembly" is Ecclesia, which simply means "called out (from the world) to assemble (in one place)". Christians are "called out" from the world to assemble regularly for worship, praise, and spiritual education/edification (commonly called church services, Sunday School, Preaching times, etc). The "Assembly" is a singular place on the earth (one of many) where the authority and Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed and honored; whereas the world in general rejects and despises the authority and Gospel of Christ, because the world remains (for now) under the sway and influence of Satan, being his "kingdom" that he stole from Adam so long ago. But the Assembly does not belong to a single nation, like Israel, but rather to ALL NATIONS. Each Biblical Assembly is a copy (ideally speaking) of the Design of the Assembly found in Scripture. True, probably all Assemblies/churches fall far short of the Biblical standard, but we are talking about theology here, not practical short-comings. And I want also to add that I am thoroughly convinced that Fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist or Baptistic-type Assemblies are the closest in both theology and practice to the Apostles today. The Protestants (Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, etc) came out of Rome and most are returning there as fast as they can. The cults like the Mormons, the Way, God's Children, etc. came out of Hell and are growing like a cancer, but have little in common with the Bible. The Charismatics have largely rejected the final authority of Scripture, and are making it up as they go with "holy laughter", speaking in "tongues" (they claim), women "pastors" (explicitly banned by the inspired teachings of the Apostle Paul), and they also are flocking to return to the embrace of the Popes of Rome through the ecumenical movement (for clear examples of the ecumenical movement google "ecumenical Billy Graham" and "ecumenical Pat Robertson"). Even the denomination-like Southern Baptist Convention has grown into a huge man-made creation with no biblical authority to support it.
Sad to say, even many Assemblies who identify themselves as "Fundamental, Independent, and Baptist" have become much like Denominations in that they identify with some man-made "camp", like "Bob Jones", "FBF", "Jack Hyles", or "Ruckman". If you don't identify with their "camp", well you can forget about ever preaching in their churches, my friend! And if you don't dot every "i" and cross every "t" exactly the same way they do, then you are certainly some kind of "loose cannon" to be avoided at all costs! Would to God that we could return to following the Lord Jesus Christ ALONE and the Word of God as our FINAL AUTHORITY rather than the ever-changing guideposts of sinful and fallible men! How about just following Christ no matter what and quit worrying about whether anyone is following you or not? How refreshing that would be!
The point I'm driving at here is that the Lord Jesus Christ transferred only spiritual authority to individual Assemblies, so that they have the right to not only preach the Gospel of Christ in His Name, but also to remove sinning church members from their ranks, and rebuke local and national authorities when they openly do things against the Word of God. In short, the Pastor (all true pastors) speaks for God and with the authority of God in his church (he is invested with the Spiritual Keys which once belonged to Old Covenant Israel), but not outside of his flock except as a Spokesman for God (like any other Christian).
The Bible says in Revelation 1: 6-20 (focus on the highlighted text):
Notice that Jesus held the "messengers" (the pastors) of the seven Assemblies (or churches) in His right hand (symbolic of power and authority). Christ gives his complete authority to conduct His business on earth (Go, Win, Train, and Send) to the pastors of each Assembly; and not one of them was "more equal" (as Rome claims that it is to other "branches" of Christendom-so called) to any other pastor or Assembly. This is extremely important Biblical theology that has been rejected by Protestants, Catholics, and even Conventions because they do not believe in truly Independent Biblical Congregations with the authority to do as God bids them without regard to some human "President", "Elder", or "Pope" who is not part of that particular Assembly.
Therefore, if you as a church member rebel against the authority of your pastor, you had better be right or you are in trouble with God! Better yet, if you feel that your pastor is not right with God, the best thing to do is not to rebel against him, but simply to leave and join another church that IS more obedient to the Word of God. Or, if there are no other churches in your area to fellowship with, then ask God to use you to start your own church or help someone else start a new Bible-preaching, Fundamental Assembly.
Well, the question then remains: "Will Israel (or the Kingdom of Heaven/Zion) ever get the Keys back again?" The answer is absolutely, praise God, YES! The Bible clearly teaches that when Jesus Christ returns to claim His rightful throne as the King of Zion, then He will retrieve those keys from the Assemblies and His Kingdom will extend over the whole of the earth from Jerusalem, in both a political and a religious sense; UNLIKE the churches of today, which exercise authority only in the spiritual realm. Also, the "keys" were always symbolic, although they did represent real authority; and EVERY true, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching Assembly in any part of the earth today exercises that authority, but ONLY within the bounds of their own local church and never over another Assembly/church. Stick with the Bible and you'll not go wrong; start making up your own religion and before long you're doing the devil's work and not God's.
The final point that needs to be made is that the Assemblies (or churches) of this Age are not preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The term "Kingdom of Heaven" only occurs in the Gospel of Matthew, which is addressed only to the Jews. Luke, Mark, John, and Acts use the term "Kingdom of God" because these Gospels concern Believers in the Assembly of both Jew and Gentile, NOT the nation of Israel or Zion. If you look carefully at the passages in Matthew which talk about the Kingdom of Heaven, and understand that term as I have defined it here, as the Kingdom of Israel in Jesus' day which was both an earthly and religious Kingdom that had the One True God dwelling in the Temple in Jerusalem until the crucifixion, then it makes much more sense. Also, some passages refer to the Kingdom of Heaven in the context of ALL Scripture and view the Kingdom as including the present and the Last Days when God roots up the wicked out of His Kingdom (see Jesus' parables for details-I will not discuss them here to save space).
I will only cite one passage, but use a search engine such as www.biblegateway.com to look up all the passages in the Bible that use the term "the Kingdom of God" vs. "the Kingdom of Heaven" and my point will be proven immediately. Since the Kingdom Bible version is not available on that website, I recommend that you use only the KJV on that search engine; I cannot in good conscience recommend any of the others, although the New King James and similar Versions are probably the least dangerous among them.
There is much, much more that could be said, but I will stop here. I hope it was helpful and a blessing to you. Please do not hesitate to send any questions or comments to me (email@example.com).
Max Day, BBE & MBE (Bible and Theology), AS & BS (Computer Science)
P.S. As additional support for the doctrines that I have tried to explain above, I will take the liberty to quote extensively from the Radio Bible Class website, which addresses this same exact question and gives the same answer I did, although not with so much detail. The RBC, to my knowledge, does not understand the Kingdom Bible version and may not even know anything about this website. I personally do not endorse all of the positions nor all of the affiliations of this ministry. However, they are basically Evangelical in their theology (I wouldn't call them "Fundamentalist"), and so there is enough agreement so that I feel comfortable quoting their words at least on this subject, because I think they said it well.
"What did Jesus mean when He told Peter He was giving him the "keys of the Kingdom of Heaven"?
After Jesus had declared that He would build His church on the truth of Peter's noble confession, He went on to say, "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" ( Matthew 16:19 ). Later, addressing all the disciples, our Lord repeated the words, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" ( Matthew 18:18 ).
Jesus gave Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," not the keys to heaven. A key was a badge of authority ( Luke 11:52 ), and then as now was used to open doors. Peter used the keys Christ gave him to open the door to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost ( Acts 2 ), to the Samaritans after the preaching of Philip ( Acts 8:14-17 ), and to the Gentiles after the Lord had sent him a vision and an appeal from Cornelius ( Acts 10 ).
The concept of "binding and loosing" found in Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 was commonly used among the Jewish people in relation to the authority of the rabbis to forbid and permit certain practices. Jesus gave Peter and the apostles authority over both the doctrine and practices of the first-century church. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, they would be given wisdom to know what to forbid and what to permit.
This authority, not on exactly the same level as during the apostolic era, still resides in the leaders of the local church. They may not receive the same kind of supernatural guidance as the apostles did, but they possess the entire New Testament along with the direction of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when church leaders discipline a church member who promotes incorrect doctrine or is involved in evil behavior, they act with divine approval. They are carrying out God's will, and what they do is ratified in heaven. Since their authority is not ultimately derived from their personal qualities or their office but from Scripture and the instruction of the Holy Spirit, they should exercise it humbly and prayerfully."
The only part that I might disagree with (apart from using the false term "New Testament"-there is clearly a New Covenant, but no "New Testament" in the Bible-see the main page) would be that the keys were not given only to Peter, but to the entire Assembly, of which Peter at that time was the leader under Christ. Of course, the Assembly had just come into being a few moments before on that day, and it is good to understand that all of the things that we think of when we think of an Assembly of people who worship Christ, including a Pastor, deacons, choir etc, had not been revealed to the disciples yet. Nonetheless, the Lord Jesus considered Peter the under-shepherd of His first Assembly (whose location varied from day to day!), and so as the leader, it was natural for Christ to give the symbolic keys of authority to Peter.
But, Peter soon became involved in other ministries after Christ returned to Heaven, and James (the half-brother of Christ) soon assumed the pastoral role over the Assembly in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-21), and so James was then exercising the keys of authority over that church; and other pastors in other Assemblies were also exercising similar authority over their church members. In other words, the keys of authority were never intended to be given only to Peter, and the RBC article seems to imply that the act of opening the door of the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, to the Gentiles, and the Samaritans, was the only function of the keys. I disagree; I believe that the keys really had little or nothing to do with the act of "opening the door of the Gospel" to a particular group of people. And even if it did, it was only a one-time event, whereas the pastoral authority of the keys extend to every church and every pastor until Jesus returns to reestablish the Kingdom of Zion with Himself as King. Then He will reclaim the Keys of spiritual authority and add temporal authority to rule the entire globe from Jerusalem by divine decree (Psalm 2), Amen.
PSS: I've repeated myself a number of times in this posting, but it is important for everyone to really get grounded in the Biblical meaning of the terms "Kingdom", "Zion", "Kingdom of Heaven", "Kingdom of God", and so on. Repetition is a great way to teach, so I've done a lot of it (hopefully not too much). There are many people saying many different things about these terms, so I hope that I've been able to help you understand them more clearly than before. Beware of the Cults, such as the so-called "Jehovah's Witnesses", who are no such thing, or the Mormons, or the Muslims, or any of the thousands of false prophets that daily knock on people's doors to spread their soul-damning doctrines. Read the Bible 100 times before reading what anyone (including me) says about the Bible, and you will be far better able to detect false doctrines than someone who only listens to their pastor and rarely reads the Bible.
I only recommend Bible-believing, Independent Baptist Churches to people who seek to know God and His Word better. Stay away from so-called "Evangelical" churches who allow rock music and/or rock bands in their churches, and especially their youth groups. Rock music and its syncopated drumbeat is from Satan, no matter if they are saying words that sound Christian. When I was born-again in 1982, God forced me to throw out all of my rock music, because I immediately recognized that the master of the rock beat was Satan. It wasn't just the words; it was the music itself. The driving, pounding drums mimic the sex act and does nothing except excite the flesh; and the flesh and the Spirit of God are irreconcilable enemies. Listen to music that is in harmony with the fruits of the Spirit, and it will help you grow strong in the Lord. Listen to music that is in harmony with the works of the flesh, and you will find yourself under constant Satanic attack, and be unable to resist sinning against God.
(Galatians 5:16-24): "This I say then: walk in obedience to the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh: for the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you wish. But if you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control: against such there is no Law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
NOTE: Why do I use the term "Roman Catholic Religion" instead of Roman Catholic 'Church"? Very simple, my friends: the system of religion that is called the Roman Catholic "Church" only faintly resembles the Apostolic New Covenant Faith of Jesus Christ taught by Paul and the other Apostles of Christ. Beyond the common use of the terms "Trinity", Jesus Christ, God the Father, Holy Spirit and a few others, the great gulf that is fixed between the Roman Catholic Religion and True Biblical Christianity is so vast that I am continually stunned by the readiness of many so-called "Evangelicals" and Charismatics to yoke themselves together with Rome in an ungodly alliance that is certain to result in their own destruction. You are a fool if you think that Roman Catholicism is only a different "version" of the Christian Faith. The truth is that the origins of Catholicism are rooted in Babylonian religion and not in the Bible. I urge you to read "The Two Babylons" by Alexander Hislop. Some have criticized it for making connections where none exist, but even if there may be some inaccuracies in the book, I believe that it contains much valuable information that every Christian should know and understand. I don't need Hislop's book to prove that Catholicism is rooted in Babylonian religion; all I need is the Bible itself. Nevertheless, I believe it is a valuable adjunct to the witness in Scripture that will help link the past with the present in shedding light on this very dark, ungodly, and evil religion that is called Christian.
Another source of information on Roman Catholicism that I recommend to you is the series of comic books written by Jack Chick with the help of the ex-Jesuit Priest Alberto Rivera. The comic-book format is very useful in helping illustrate the content, so don't let that put you off. While I don't agree with the Ruckman-like stand of Jack Chick on the KJV issue, nonetheless, I commend his extensive soul-winning and teaching ministry through his tracts and comic books. I have used his tracts and books for over 25 years, and found them to be powerful tools for soul-winning and edification. You can review and purchase his material on his website at http://www.chick.com/default.asp. (JHS Publishing is not affiliated or allied with Chick Publications.)