Thursday, March 6, 2014

As I see it, if God had not raised up Saul of Tarsus there would not have been a Church today. It is true that St. Peter did an amazing work among the Jews and many thousands were converted to Christ, however, the Jews faded out of the picture to allow the Gentiles to be grafted into the True Vine, Jesus Christ (Romans 11). Just ask yourself, "How many Jews are in the Church of Jesus Christ today? Not very many! God knows the End from the beginning and He knew that the Jewish Nation would reject Messiah Jesus and that the Gentiles would gladly receive Him as their Lord and Savior! That is why He commissioned Saul of Tarsus to reach the Gentiles. O' the wisdom of God is beyond understanding. Praise the Lord forever and forever. - Pastor Max Solbrekken


                    By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
St. Paul: A Prisoner of Jesus Christ
      "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor.4: 5-7)
     After his dramatic conversion and the Lord's personal tutorage, Saul of Tarsus became a theologian of the highest degree, a  great visionary and strategist for the promotion of the Gospel of Christ. And among the most spiritual and humble of men!
     He had been a self promoter and testified that he had, "profited in the Jew's religion above many of my equals in mine own nation."(Gal.1: 14) He had been a proud Pharisee but was brought to his knees in the dust when Jesus Christ arrested him! He wrote: "For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." He was now a servant of Jesus and his fellow believers!
     His life was radically changed and he became consumed by Christ's Gospel. He states that Almighty God Who created the light in the beginning has dispelled the darkness in our hearts by sending Jesus Christ to this sinful world. The revelation of the Mystery of the Gospel that had been hidden in God was revealed to St. Paul!  
     He declared: "Whereof I am made a Minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God: Even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is manifest to His saints. To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this Mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory." (Col.1: 26, 27)
     WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? By faith every believer is baptized into the Body of Christ - which is the Church - by the Holy Spirit. The Bible states: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into the body of Christ, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." (1 Cor.12: 13) Jesus Christ comes and lives in our hearts. He takes up residency in us!

                                                    CALLED AND CHOSEN!
      As God created day and night by dividing the light from the darkness, Jesus Christ has illuminated our beings and forced out the darkness by residing within us through the Holy Spirit. The great Apostle declares, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Regarding Jesus Christ he states: "In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col.2: 3)
     The great 'Warrior of the Cross' reveals the doctrine of the 'Mystery' and his response to it: "I am Crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal.2: 20)                                      
     JESUS made a statement that perfectly fits the life of St. Paul. He stated: "So the last shall be first and the first last, for many be called but few are chosen." (Matt. 20: 16). As an hate-filled enemy of Christ and a religious terrorist, Saul of Tarsus was the most unlikely candidate to spearhead the advance of the Gospel Message among the Gentiles and to effect the unbelievable expansion of the Church  across the known world!
    He made a dramatic entrance onto the scene some time after Jesus had chosen His twelve Apostles and His seventy Disciples, and even after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. He was definitely CALLED and CHOSEN by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to lead the amazing and dramatic charge against the devil and his emissaries.
     The founding of Churches, the organizing and training of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers and Helps along with Bishops, across the Middle East, Asia Minor and Europe was a direct result of his MANDATE to make Christ known among the Gentiles!
                                  ABOVE EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED!
     St. Paul wrote: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
     "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when he raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the Heavenly places;
     "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, Which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." (Eph.1: 17-23)
     He stated: "But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me, is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation (life-style) in  times past in the Jews religion how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it.
  "And profited in the Jew's religion above many of my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But, when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to REVEAL HIS SON IN ME, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
    "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were APOSTLES before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see PETER, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, except JAMES the Lord's brother.
   "Afterwards came I into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith  which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me." (Gal.1: 11-24)

     The key to the importance of St. Paul's Ministry at the very beginning of the Christian Era is found here. He speaks about God 'revealing His Son in me'. When someone tells you about Christ he is revealing Him To you, but when Christ is revealed In you, He comes into you! Here is the huge difference between preachers who only know about Christ and those really KNOW Him intimately!
     This great REVELATION helped to prepare St. Paul for the mammoth task that laid before him. A task that would bring him heartache, pain, beatings, scourging, imprisonment and martyrdom! A dyed-in-the-wool Pharisee who hated believers in Christ and also despised the heathen would become the Leader of the Church composed of mainly Gentiles.
      The THREE YEARS Saul of Tarsus spent in Arabia prepared him for the task of Church building! His theology became Christ-centred as he pored over the Old Testament Scriptures and his spirit was on fire with passion, love and devotion to the Crucified One, whom he had once despised! Without doubt, our Saviour communed with him regularly, sharing with him the amazing Plan and Purposes of  the Church which He had purchased with His own precious BLOOD!
    St. Paul writes: "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God which is given me for you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the MYSTERY (as I wrote afore in few words. Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the Mystery of Christ)
                                        THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD!
    "Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of  His promise in Christ by the Gospel, whereof I am made a Minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.
     "Unto me who am less, than the least of all saints, is this GRACE given, that I should preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the MYSTERY, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God Who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in Heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God,
      "According to the ETERNAL PURPOSE which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by faith of Him...For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in Heaven and earth are named.
     "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by might in the inner man; That CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS BY FAITH that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the LOVE OF Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the  fullness of God.
   "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Unto Him be GLORY in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Eph.3: 2-21)

    Our Lord had said to Ananias: "Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things HE MUST SUFFER for My Name's sake." (Acts 9: 15, 16). And testifying before the Jews in Jerusalem, St. Paul stated: "And it came to pass, that, as  made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from Heaven a great light round about me.
     "And I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest Me? And I answered, Who art Thou, Lord? And He said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth Whom thou persecutest... And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all the things which are appointed for thee to do.
      "And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me:
       "Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou should KNOW His will and SEE that Just One, and should HEAR the Voice of His mouth. For thou shall be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now, why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22: 6-16)       
     St. Paul was carried into the third Heaven and saw and heard such wonderful words that human tongue cannot articulate. (2 Cor.12: 1-5). Not only was he given the amazing secret of God that had been hid from generations and ages, called the "Mystery of God", but the Lord gave him the great truth of the RAPTURE of the Church!
     He writes: "But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.
   "For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Cor.4:12-18)
     In His great wisdom the risen Lord Jesus Christ chose Saul of Tarsus, a Jewish Pharisee and Roman Citizen, who was a brilliant theologian trained under Gamaliel, to build His Church under the supervision of the Blessed Holy Spirit! He wrote: "For through Him (Jesus Christ) we both (Jews and Greeks) have access by one Spirit (Holy Spirit)  unto the Father.
    "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the Household of God: and are BUILT upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, JESUS CHRIST Himself being the CHIEF CORNERSTONE; In Whom all the building (Church) fitly framed together groweth unto an Holy Temple in the Lord. In Whom ye are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph.2: 18-22)
    ST. PAUL again sets the record straight concerning the Foundation upon which Christ's Church is built: "I have laid the FOUNDATION, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST.
    "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire. And the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
   "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is Holy, which temple ye are." (1 Cor.3: 9-17)
                                    ST. PAUL WAS CALLED AND CHOSEN!
  Studying the strategic moves of St. Paul's adventurous life and missionary journeys, reveals the amazing wisdom of this rugged man as well as the deliberate hand of God leading and directing him to the right places and the Holy Spirit stopping and redirecting him, at other times!
    In his studies under Gamaliel, his rise to prominence as a Pharisee and a devout persecutor of believers in Jesus Christ, Saul of Tarsus had been totally loyal to the rulers of Israel and the leaders of the Sanhedrin. When he was arrested by the Glorified Christ  in the blinding light on the Damascus Road, he called Him LORD and immediately asked two questions! They were: "Who are you, Lord?" and, "What do you want me to do?"
     "And I said, What shall I do, Lord: And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do." (Acts 22: 10)
    The amazing confrontation with Jesus Christ, the revelation of Who Jesus of Nazareth really is and the three days of blindness, fasting and soul searching that Saul experienced prepared him for life in the Holy Spirit and the Christian Faith.
    Some time during those three days and nights Saul of Tarsus received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and never looked back! Here are the words of Holy Scripture on this matter:
     "And the Lord said unto him (Ananias), rise and go into the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for, behold, he prayeth. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias, coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
      "And Ananias...said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even JESUS, that appeared unto thee on the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
   "And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then, was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
    "And all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?
   "But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt sat Damascus, proving This is VERY CHRIST. And after many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him. But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
     "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of JESUS.
    "And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spoke boldly in the name of the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians, but they went about to SLAY him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
    "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied." (Acts 9: 11-31)
                                     WHERE CHRIST WAS NOT NAMED!
     He wrote: "I will not dare to speak of those things which Christ has not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word or deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.
    "Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand." (Rom. 15: 18-21)
     The 'APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES' writes: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. And that He was buried, and that He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures:
    "And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren, at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that He was seen of James, then  of all the apostles.
     "And last of all He was seen of me, also, as one born out of due time. For I am the LEAST OF THE APOSTLES, that am not meet (qualified)  to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God, But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I LABOURED MORE ABUNDANTLY than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I, or they, so we preach, and so you believed." (1 Cor.15: 3-11)
                                JESUS FORETOLD PAUL'S SUFFERINGS!
     St. Paul wrote: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken. Cast down but not destroyed. Always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
    "For we which live are always delivered up to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." (2 Cor.4: 8-11)
   Just before his martyrdom St. Paul wrote to Timothy with this solemn charge: "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ; Preach the WORD, be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
    "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy Ministry.
      "For I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Tim.4: 1-8)
      Since St. Paul was commissioned by the Glorified Christ to build His Church among the Gentiles, who was Simon Peter? A mighty man of God, indeed! St. Paul refers to him as one of the pillars in the Church in Jerusalem together with James and John:
     "But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: but contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed to me, as the gospel of circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter; (For He that wrought effectively in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.
    "And when JAMES, CEPHAS (Peter), and JOHN, who seemed to be PILLARS, perceived the grace that was given to me, THEY gave me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision...But when PETER was come to Antioch, I WITHSTOOD HIM to the face because he was to be blamed."
                               ST. PAUL CORRECTED PETER OPENLY!
    "For before that came from JAMES (Pastor of Jerusalem Church), he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, FEARING them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
    "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the TRUTH of the GOSPEL, I said unto PETER before them all, If thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentile, and not do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
   "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. " (Gal.2: 6-16)
    The Book of Acts records that St. Peter (Simon the son of Jonas) became the leading spokesman after the Holy Spirit fell in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. He was an outstanding 'Man of God' that brought the powerful message on the Day of Pentecost that brought 3,000 souls to Christ. (Acts 2: 14)
    In Christ's name, Peter and John healed the crippled man in front of the Beautiful Gate at the Temple, bringing 5,000 men to Christ Jesus! (Acts 3:1) The Holy Spirit used Peter's shadow to bring healing to the sick as he prayed for multitudes on Jerusalem's streets! (Acts 5: 15)
    Calling him a pope is a shameful characterization of such a 'Man of God' as Simon, the son of Jonas! He would be the first person to accuse Rome of  misrepresenting him and teaching a 'Alice in Wonderland' theology!
    St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, preached in Rome for two years and wrote from Rome to a number of Churches, and not once is Peter's name even mentioned. That he was the Bishop of Rome is utter nonsense and a Roman Catholic invention, a total misrepresentation of  the truth and a callous non fact.
     St. Peter was an uneducated Jewish fisherman who spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. He was sent to the Jews, while St. Paul who spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Roman was the man God used to build His Church among the non-Jewish Gentiles!
     As I see it, if God had not raised up Saul of Tarsus there would not have been a Church today. It is true that St. Peter did an amazing work among the Jews and many thousands were converted to Christ, however, the Jews faded out of the picture to allow the Gentiles to be grafted in to the True Vine, Jesus Christ (Romans 11).
      Just ask yourself, "How many Jews are in the Church of Jesus Christ today? Not very many! God knows the End from the Beginning! He knew that the Jewish Nation would reject Messiah Jesus and that is why He raised up Saul of Tarsus to the reach the Gentiles, who would gladly receive Him as their Lord and Saviour! O' the Wisdom of God that is beyond understanding! Praise the Lord forever and ever!
   If the Pope, Cardinals and other Clergy would live by St. Peter's teaching about Christ the Foundation of the Church and the Chief Corner Stone, and the holiness God requires, they wouldn't have had a culture of sexual child abuse and cover up of such gross behaviour for decades, as charged by the United Nations!
    St. Peter wrote: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
      "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth and the flower thereof falleth away: But the Word of the Lord abideth forever. And this is the Word  which by the Gospel is preached unto you." (1 Peter 1: 22-25)
                                          JESUS CHRIST IS THE ROCK!
     St. Peter writes: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby: If so be that the Lord is gracious; To Whom coming as unto a LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also as Lively Stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual  sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
    "Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Sion, a CHIEF CORNERSTONE, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be offended. Unto you therefore He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the Corner, and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient, whereunto they also were appointed.
    "But ye are a Chosen generation, a Royal priesthood, an Holy nation, a peculiar (purchased) people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." (1Peter 2: 9)
     The Bible says: "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, "But whom saith ye that I am?
     "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven.
     "And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter (gr. petros), and upon this ROCK (gr. petra) I will build My Church: and the gates of Hell shall not   prevail against it." (Matt.16: 13-18)
   The Holy Scripture states: "From that time forth Jesus began to show His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again on the third day.
     "Then Peter took Him, and began to REBUKE HIM, saying, Be it far from Thee Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, SATAN: thou art an OFFENCE unto Me: for thou savourest NOT the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matt. 16: 21-24)
      Immediately after our Lord Jesus commended Simon for declaring the revelation God the Father had given him about JESUS, He was overtaken by a spirit of pride. He actually took a hold of Jesus as you would an unruly child and REBUKED him, saying that He didn't need to go to the cross!
    Would Jesus build His Church upon a human being whom he called SATAN and was an OFFENCE unto Him. I don't think so! Jesus used similar words addressing Satan in person after defeating him in the Wilderness temptation. Here is the Holy Record on that:
   "Then saith Jesus unto him, GET THEE HENCE, SATAN" for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Matt. 4: 10)
     St. Peter had an inherent weakness that was not found in St. Paul or St. John. Jesus said, "You don't understand spiritual things!" We see it where he wielded the sword in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Luke 22: 50,51). His greatest weakness was cowardice, when He cursed and swore denying that he even knew our Saviour!
      "And as Peter was beneath the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also was with Jesus of Nazareth. But denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
     "And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of the: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
                                      PETER BEGAN TO CURSE & SWEAR!
   "But he began to CURSE and to SWEAR, saying, I know not this man of whom you speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, you will deny Me thrice. And when he thought thereon he wept."  (Mark 14: 66-72; John 18: 15-27)
     St. Luke adds a very important aspect to this tragic story: "And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake the cock crew. And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him. Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out and WEPT BITTERLY. " (Luke 22: 60-62)
     I believe that had not JESUS turned and looked at Peter, he may have very well gone out into the night in such remorse and guilt and  looked for a tree like Judas to commit suicide! Thank God for JESUS and the great compassion in His heart for us all, regardless of the mistakes we all make in life!
      Jesus had warned Simon the son of Jonas earlier: "And the Lord said, SIMON, SIMON, Behold Satan hath desired  to have you, that he may sift you as wheat But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22: 31,32) Not as a  Pope but a Brother to his Brethren!
                                               PETER WAS NOT A POPE!
   The Roman Catholic Church claims that St. Peter was the first pope. That is scandalous. He did commit a serious sin in denying Christ, but to compare him to some of the Popes down through history is a stain on his person! When he repented and received the Holy Spirit he became a mighty man of God!
    In His warning to Peter, Jesus addressed him as SIMON! The same is true after his restoration while appearing on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias:          
    "This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciple, after that He was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus said to Peter, SIMON, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, feed My lambs.
   "He saith unto him the second time, SIMON, thou son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him; Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I live Thee.  He saith unto him, Feed My sheep.
   "He saith unto him the third time, SIMON, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He saith unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that  love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep." (John 21: 12-17)
   PETER had denied his Lord three times and now JESUS asks him three times if he really loved Him. He did not call him Peter. Three times He called him by his given name SIMON!
    Roman Catholic Historian and Theologian, Peter DeRosa states: “It may jolt them to hear that the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between it (Matt.16:18) and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter.
  "One after another they analyse it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys. This is staggering to Catholics...The surprises do not stop there. For the Fathers, it is Peter’s faith — or the Lord in whom Peter has faithwhich is called the Rock, not Peter (Vicars of Christ, DeRosa, 24).
      In Matthew 16:18, Jesus used two words for "Rock" in the original Greek. This reveals that Jesus is NOT building His church on the "large rock" of Peter, but on the "Rock as big as Gibralter" (Jesus Himself).
    "And I tell you, you are Peter (Greek, Petros--a large piece of rock), and on this rock (Greek, petra--a huge rock like Gibraltar) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades, the powers of the infernal region shall not overpower it, or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it." (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary)
    Roman Catholic Historian and Theologian Peter DeRosa states: “We already noted that not a single Father can find any hint of a Petrine office in the great biblical texts that refer to Peter. Papal supremacy and infallibility, so central to the Catholic church today, are simply not mentioned. Not a single creed, nor confession of faith, nor catechism, nor passage in patristic writings contains one syllable about the pope, still less about faith and doctrine being derived from him” (Vicars of Christ, DeRosa, 206).
                                         YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH!
     JESUS SAID: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8: 32, 36); "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE and no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (John 14: 6);
     JESUS SAID: "Come unto Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11: 28); "I am the DOOR: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and go in and out and find pasture. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that that the might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10: 9,10);
    JESUS SAID: "I am the GOOD SHEPHERD: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." (John 10:11); "I am the RESURRECTION, and the LIFE: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." (John 11: 25,26)
    JESUS SAID: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him and sup with him and he with Me." (Rev. 3: 20).
   Dear Friend, Call upon the Name of the Lord today and you will be saved for time and eternity! Amen.