- Christogenea Saturdays
Does Prosperity Gospel Belong in Christian Identity?
To begin this evening, I am compelled to talk about a topic that I really do not like to talk about at all. But because there always seems to be some sort of controversy swirling around what I do and say at Christogenea, sometimes I am compelled to discuss certain things. I like to think that people choose to support my ministry because they understand that Christian Identity is truth, that it is the only truth, and that it needs to be set on a solid academic foundation from which it can be disseminated to more and more of our White European race, to those for whom the Faith is intended. We undertake that endeavor with the hope that eventually this truth prevails among our people. Supporting my ministry, people are showing their faith in my work, a vote of confidence in my ability to contribute in that endeavor.
Building that academic foundation takes a lot of work in research and writing, and then disseminating the results requires a lot of cost and a lot of labor for websites and servers and related expenses. Christogenea has in excess of a thousand dollars a month in such expenses, although that cost also covers a lot of other Christian Identity and White Nationalist websites. But this is not a fund-raiser, or an appeal for funds. Rather, it is to set the record straight about a few things, because of the divisions we have had within our Christian Identity community over this past year.
Some of our friends – for which reason they are now former friends – have taken to teaching the so-called Prosperity Gospel within Christian Identity, and to us that is a grievous sin. So they are preaching that you can use a so-called “law of attraction” in order to gain material wealth, and that Jesus really wants you to have an “abundant life”. They speak of giving so that you can receive, and ostensibly, if you give to them, you can receive many times more than you gave. One of them has even taken to teaching that you do not need any God in heaven. Rather, he teaches that God is in you and therefore you can create whatever you want for yourself, if only you would just believe. Here we are going to play a two-and-a-half-minute clip of that person speaking. This is "Brother" Ryan Brennan, from a video he posted called Facts vs. Truth, from 11:41 to 14:13. Please suffer through this so that we can address some of his errors.
So here we heard that Ryan Brennan said here “If thou canst believe all things are possible. All things, not some things…” But is that what Christ really said? The first fault with this tale is that Christ is never recorded as having said “all things are possible” in connection with His having quieted the storms during the night that He and His disciples crossed the sea in a small vessel. The event is recorded in Matthew chapter 8, Mark chapter 4, and Luke chapter 8. Christ challenged the faith of His disciples, for thinking that harm would come to them, but this is not where he told them “all things are possible”. So Ryan just takes different parts of Scripture and mashes them together to create his own religion. This is what hucksters do, they take single lines out of Scripture and make up their own stories hoping that you will believe them.
Christ is recorded as having said that “all things are possible” four times in the King James Version of our Bible.
The first occasion where Christ had said that “all things are possible” is found in Mark 9:23. A father is making an appeal to Christ to heal his son, who was possessed with a demon. The man said to Christ “but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” So Christ responded “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” So we must ask, what did Christ ask the man? He asked him “If thou canst believe”. So, “If thou canst believe” what? How about “IF thou canst believe” what the man had already said, which is the context of the statement: “but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” The man believed that Christ could help him, so Christ said “ all things are possible to him that believeth” that Christ could help him! That is the context of the passage, and that is how the words must be interpreted. They certainly cannot be removed from that context and interpreted in a matter which leads anyone to believe that they could get rich because they want to get rich.
The next two occasions where Christ had said that “all things are possible” which we shall mention are actually from the same event, found at Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27. There the subject was a discussion of the difficulty which a rich man would have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and Christ said “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” So a man cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven by his own will or belief, but even a man who seems not to deserve to enter the Kingdom can obtain the mercy of God and enter thereby. But there is nothing here indicating that a belief will make one rich, only that one who is already rich can enter the Kingdom of Heaven even if he had trusted in his riches rather than in God.
When Ryan Brennan said to me, in the presence of Michael Brandenburg and both of our wives, Jessica and Melissa, that we can have anything that we want through faith, I responded to him that through our faith we can have anything which is within the will of Yahweh our God. He scoffed at that statement, and muttered behind my back. I overheard him doing so to the Brandenburgs, but I did not respond. So a short time later, when Ryan made this video from which we just played the extract, in July of 2017, he said “God’s will is your will, and that’s something that upsets so many Christians, and it’s the truth. God is living through you. It’s whatever you believe. If you believe, whatever it is in your daily life, your short-term goals and your long big goals and dreams, whatever you believe about them, and if you believe they’re real, they will happen. They will….”
So now I must ask, is this really the example which we have from Christ? The fourth and last time that Christ is recorded as having said that “all things are possible” is found in Mark 14:36. Christ is praying very shortly before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsamane, because He knew what was about to befall Him. He being God incarnate prayed as an example to men, and this is what Mark recorded, in part: “34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Luke’s version has that last part to read: “… nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
The fleshly will of Christ reflects the will of man not to suffer in the flesh, in spite of the fact that Christ had told the apostles over the previous days exactly what He was to suffer. So Christ said, and I will repeat it from the Christogenea New Testament, where the updated language is more clear: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You! Set aside this cup from Me! Yet it is not what I desire but what You do!” So here Christ Himself is an example to men, that their own personal desires do not matter, that God’s desires are distinct from those of man, and that it is God’s desires which must prevail.
Again, Ryan said in this clip which we just heard that: “God’s will is your will, and that’s something that upsets so many Christians, and it’s the truth.” But that is not the truth. It is bullshit. It is a lie. If it were true, as we have just seen in Mark Chapter 14, Christ would not have been crucified! Neither would Peter have been called “satan” because he opposed the prophesied suffering of Christ! In Matthew chapter 16 and Mark chapter 8, we see Christ explain that He would be crucified, and Peter rebuked him for it. So Christ said to him, in Matthew 16:23: “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.”
Ryan continued and said: “God is living through you.” That is the trash that clowns like Rick Warren and ten thousand other modern denominational evangelists teach. They cannot properly imagine a Living God, so they claim that God lives through men. In truth, Christians are told by Christ, in John chapter 14, that God would dwell with them if they keep His commandments. But the God of the Scriptures is a separate living entity who does not need man at all. He is the first and the last and the only being which is truly eternal, and we can only live through Him, but He certainly does not need us. The apostle John tells us in his first epistle, in chapter 4, that “God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” John did NOT say “that He might live through us”, which is blasphemy.
Then Ryan continued and said: “It’s whatever you believe. If you believe, whatever it is in your daily life, your short-term goals and your long big goals and dreams, whatever you believe about them, and if you believe they’re real, they will happen. They will…. When you begin to understand and you begin to have a feeling about something, an emotional feeling about something, something at work, something in your daily life, something big in your life, whatever it is, you need to pay attention. Is this from my flesh? Or is this from my spirit? Your spirit’s never wrong, your flesh usually is…”
Now, to show that Ryan Brennan is actually teaching the same Prosperity Gospel being taught in some of the Baal churches of denominational Christianity, we will hear from a Negress who professes the same faith that we have heard Ryan profess. This clip is only 57 seconds long, so please suffer through it.
From here, Ryan often begins to explain his so-called “law of attraction”, which he got from Neville Goddard and which ultimately comes from the Kabbalah. None of this is Christian, and it is the essence of the so-called Prosperity Gospel. Arthur Lee, or Michael Brandenburg, is teaching these same things, only in a much more subtle manner. I may be able to spend an entire podcast proving this wrong from a hundred Scriptures. But here I will only cite one Scripture, from Romans chapter 8: “25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” So Paul explains that we know not what we should pray for ; but at a level which we cannot understand, the spirit within us petitions our God on our behalf. Ryan Brennan is teaching Kabbalistic mysticism, and not Christianity. Later in that same video, he went on to talk about the validity of inspiration found in pagan religions, things which Yahweh the God of the Scriptures absolutely despises.
So to our former friends, faith has become whatever they wish to believe, and on that basis they accuse me of not having faith. But to me, faith is, in part, a belief that Yahweh the God of our fathers and of our Scriptures will accomplish what He desires, and what He has expressly promised in those Scriptures, and He will do that regardless of what I may believe. While there is a little more to our Christian faith than that, that is the most important element.
Do I have material wealth? I have been blessed with a few things. I have two Jeeps, but I bought both of them used. I hope to travel a lot, and I have traveled a lot, in connection with my ministry and related endeavors, and for that I need dependable transportation. But these are Jeeps. Look them up. Prices for brand-new four-door Jeeps start at $27,000. But new Chevy Tahoe prices start at $47,000. Cadillac Escalade prices start at $74,000. I am not being extravagant. I only have what I need, including a few good computers, but I have few other worldly belongings. No jewelry, no fine watches, not one suit or tie, no fancy leather dress shoes. No toys, like boats, ATVs or motorcycles. I do not need any of that, and I won’t have any of that. Any such worldly trappings are not my desire because they are not useful to the conduct of my ministry. But on the other hand, I certainly cannot claim to be impoverished, as we are blessed with our daily bread, and the bills are already paid for this month. We are happy with what we have, as the Scripture insists that we should be.
So what is my point? If my readers and listeners, those who appreciate my work, choose to support me so that I can continue in my endeavors and so that Christogenea can remain active, it must not be for their own personal gain. You will not be blessed with material riches for supporting me, and you may even be persecuted instead. Supporting Christogenea, or laboring in any other way to advance our message and our cause, is an act of sacrifice, and it cannot be done with any expectation of economic return. Some may not believe it, but my own work is an act of sacrifice, because before I started this nearly ten years ago, it would have been much more lucrative for me to use my skills in other ways, and I made a purposeful choice not to do so.
The so-called Prosperity Gospel is a lie, a deception, by which men tickle the ears of their followers with empty promises of an “abundant life” and impending riches, but in reality they are only hoping to enrich themselves. If any preacher or so-called teacher is telling you that Jesus wants you to have an “abundant life” in a material sense, he is a liar and a fraud who is attempting to deceive you. He is exploiting any greed which you may have for his own profit. If anyone is telling you that you can have material wealth simply if you believe that you will have material wealth, he is a false prophet and a devil. Christian faith is NOT whatever you believe you may do, or whatever you believe you may acquire for yourself. The Christian faith is what you believe that God can do to keep what He has already promised.
Christians cannot expect to be enriched materially. As we recently explained here from Ecclesiastes and other Scriptures, Christians can only hope to enjoy the fruits of their own labors, and that is a blessing from God. Christians should not be covetous for their own material gain. Christians should only hope to store treasure in heaven by advancing the Kingdom of Heaven and subjecting themselves to the will of Yahweh their God here on earth.
This is the essence of the divisions in our community which we have recently experienced. But we do not care for numbers and popularity: we will have no part in Prosperity Gospel, because it is evil. We feel badly that some of our brethren have been led astray by these charlatans, but their faith could not have been well-established in the first place, to accept such lies as these.
From Jeremiah chapter 23: “26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. 28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. 32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
The Prosperity Gospel teachers love John 10:10, but they miss the entire point of it, because the words of Christ in that passage actually rebuke them. The King James Version reads: “10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Now, when I translated the Christogenea New Testament, I had no idea that the passage was commonly abused by such hucksters, so I wrote in part “I have come in order that they would have life and they would have abundance!” It is impossible to render the passage in English without adding some word, so literally it would be better read “I have come in order that they would have life and they would have abundantly!” That is because the Greek word is an adjective, and not a noun, even though it is the object of a verb. So I chose to render it as a noun, but it would have been better if I added a pronoun instead: “I have come in order that they would have life and they would have it abundantly!” At least that way the verse is less susceptible to be twisted by the Prosperity hucksters.
In any event, in John 10:10 Christ is not telling His disciples that through Him they would have an abundance of material wealth in life. Rather, He is telling them that through Him they would have an abundance of life itself. There is more to life than riches, as we may read in Luke chapter 12: “13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” Therefore the abundance of John 10:10 is certainly not an abundance of things. In spite of this, one of our former friends used the phrase “abundant life” in eight of his sermons from October through December of 2017. In the same period he used the phrase “abundant blessings”, explicitly in relation to material blessings, seven times.
[Note: While I did not make this observation in the podcast, Michael did not use these phrases in any of his earlier sermons from the time he began to write at Identity Struggle on May 9th of 2016. He only started to use them, and use them frequently, from October of 2017. So in his own sermons his sudden change of direction is quite obvious.]
In his sermon The Unseen Realm of Faith 4: Your Inheritance, Michael Brandenburg said “For He then goes on to give a guarantee of abundant material blessings- "an hundredfold NOW IN THIS TIME" promised to any of His children who has given their all, for the sake of the Gospel, why? Because they are not trusting in riches but only trusting in God.” With this, Michael evidently claims that if you trust in riches, you have no guarantee of material blessings, but if you trust in God, you do have a guarantee of material blessings. A little further on, Brandenburg wrote “Christ promises to freely bestow abundant material blessings ‘now in this time’ upon those who prove their faithfulness to the Gospel ministry, which is total dependency upon God.” But is that what Yahshua Christ really meant?
Let’s have a look at Mark 10:29-30, which is actually a very popular passage amongst Prosperity Gospel hucksters: “29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” What Christ means is that with the persecution of Christians, when we lose our own families on account of divisions, we should be able to rely on one another for our sustenance. So a son can be ejected from his father’s house on account of the truth, or a man may lose his house to the government on account of persecutions, and he can rely on the entire body of Christians for a place to stay and for sustenance in time of need. The brethren which he gains a hundredfold are the entire body of Christians who should be willing to help him in his time of persecution, and make their houses his houses, and their sustenance his sustenance. White Christians become one large family willing to sacrifice some of their own material wealth on behalf of one another in order to help one another out in the time of need. That is the message of Mark 10:30.
So a man may have a hundred homes to which he can resort when he is cast out of his own home. That does not mean that a man can expect to own a hundred houses. Christ had spoken these words in response to Peter who had said, in Mark 10:28, “Look, we have left all things and have followed You!” Yet there is no record of Peter ever having owned a hundred houses, even though he did have a house at one time (Matthew 8:14). In fact, a few verses prior to this, in Mark 10:23, Christ had already explained “How difficultly those having money enter into the Kingdom of Yahweh!” So Michael Brandenburg has become yet another Prosperity huckster.
Prosperity preachers usually teach their listeners that if they give, meaning that if they make donations to them, they will receive many times more wealth in return. For this, they quote Luke 6:38. So we shall read from two verses before that so that we can see the broader context of one of their favorite passages: “36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” The context of the giving in Luke 6:38 is judgment and mercy. Therefore Christ explains that if one judges his brethren with mercy, he in turn shall receive manifold times more mercy from God. But this cannot be taken out of this context and applied to money, or houses, or anything else of material wealth.
There is no point in a man having a hundred houses, as Christ explained in Matthew chapter 6: “19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Commenting on James 4:2, another favorite of the Prosperity hucksters, the Negro preacher named Creflo Dollar is quoted as having said: “When we pray, believing that we have already received what we are praying, God has no choice but to make our prayers come to pass.” This sounds very much like Ryan Brennan.
So let’s read James 4:1-6, to see if this rings true: “1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
James is clearly teaching that we should not seek material wealth, that we should not ask of God from the lusts of our own hearts. Then he said something which soundly refutes Ryan Brennan. We heard Ryan say earlier that “When you begin to understand and you begin to have a feeling about something, an emotional feeling about something, something at work, something in your daily life, something big in your life, whatever it is, you need to pay attention. Is this from my flesh? Or is this from my spirit? Your spirit’s never wrong, your flesh usually is…” Yet here James says “5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” Envy certainly is wrong, and here we see the spirit of man is capable of envy. If we accept James, we must reject Ryan Brennan. Seeking material wealth, we make ourselves friends of the world, and that is the context in which James issues that warning here. So if we accept James, we must also reject Michael Brandenburg and his “abundant blessings” hoax.
Paul of Tarsus admonishes his readers in Hebrews chapter 13 to “5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” But he best answers the treachery of Brennan and Brandenburg in 1 Timothy chapter 6 where he warns of the “5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 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. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Finally, we will address one last favorite of the Prosperity hucksters, which is John 14:14, where Christ had said: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” They love to point out this passage and demand material blessings from Yahweh. But let us read from verse 12 of the chapter: “12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
Now we must ask, where did the apostles ever request material wealth? Where did they ever acquire material wealth? Paul was shipwrecked three times, and never owned his own yacht. The apostles in Jerusalem were poor and could not even work to support themselves, so Paul took up a collection among the Christian assemblies of the Greeks on their behalf! Why didn’t they just ask Jesus for some cash? Rather, Christ said “the works that I do shall he do also”, and that is what He meant by “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” When did Christ ever give a new chariot or a team of horses or a mansion or a farm to anyone during His ministry? What about a house on the beach in Galilee, or a new pair of Roman-style Birkenstocks for each of the kids?
This is the core of the recent divisions which we have experienced, but we wish well to all those who departed from our fellowship to follow after mammon, praying that they repent. They are not betraying me, or even us, but rather they are betraying Christ Himself in their pursuit of mammon.
Now I would like to discuss a particular passage from Luke chapter 10.
This passage has recently been a point of contention among some of our brethren, and we already commented upon it at the Christogenea Forum, but I though to elaborate on it further here. In the opening verse of the chapter we read: “1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come…” Then Christ gave these seventy men specific instructions not to take anything with them on their journey and as to what to do as they traveled. They were to live from the goodness of the people they encountered, and they were to spread the Gospel concerning Christ as they healed the sick wherever they found any kindness, and curse and warn the inhabitants wherever they did not find kindness. With that, Christ made examples of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, places where He Himself found no kindness. Then we read “17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
Here Christ reveals the nature and origin of the devils which were subject to the apostles, as demons which resulted from the rebellion of the fallen angels. This corroborates the Enoch literature and the accounts of the origin of demons found there. But Christ also warns the apostles not to rejoice merely because the demons are subject to them. But he also said “I send you forth as lambs among wolves” and “I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy”, statements which are certainly references to embodied demons, and not only to spirits. There certainly is evidence of embodied demons in John 6:70, where Christ refers to Judas Iscariot as a devil, and in 1 Peter 5:8 and 1 John 4:1-3.
So ostensibly, the seventy were able to preach the gospel in the face of adversity from wolves, serpents and scorpions, yet they were happy that demons were subject to them – evidently because they were able to heal the sick and do other like things.
But some of our brethren want to interpret the treading on serpents and scorpions differently, imagining that it gives them license to overcome the enemies of God in these modern times. So we must ask: How do we tread on serpents and scorpions? And: Does that one line give Christians permission to neglect all of the Scriptures which inform them that vengeance belongs to Yahweh, and that we should wait on the Lord? And then we must ask further: Or do we overcome serpents and scorpions by keeping the Law and the Gospel and submitting ourselves in obedience to Yahweh? The apostles who received this commission did not use it to overthrow Rome, or to clear the Jews out of the temple, or to change the current world order. So how could we think that we can take those words to do such things?
Notice that the seventy apostles did not even destroy the people of the towns which did not accept them, but were rather told only: “10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.” So the vengeance of Yahweh was not placed into the hands of the apostles, and neither can we imagine this passage concerning treading on serpents and scorpions to be placing that vengeance into our hands.
As we said in the Christogenea Forum, It is pretty clear in the Book of Acts, that long after Christ had told the apostles that they had the power to tread on serpents and scorpions, that they had rejoiced when they were found worthy TO BE PERSECUTED. So after the wise Gamaliel had given counsel to the Sadducees and Pharisees not to slay the apostles of Christ, we read: “40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” But even with that, they would not obey the Jews, and in the next verse it says “42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” So that is how they overcame their enemies, because vengeance against them is forestalled until Yahweh God raises His Own hand, as we are informed by the Scriptures.
How did Paul overcome Nero? Nero had Paul executed. How did the elder James overcome the Sadducees? In 61 AD, the Sadducees stoned James to death. How did the lesser James, the brother of John, overcome Herod Agrippa I? In Acts chapter 12, Herod had him killed with the sword. In relation to devils of this sort, Peter warned in chapter 5 of his first epistle: “8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” So Christians should expect to be persecuted, but they must nevertheless hold onto their faith and their Christian profession to the very end, and that is how they overcome the enemies of Yahweh their God. This Paul says in Hebrews chapter 3: “14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end”, and again in 2 Corinthians chapter 1: “6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.”
That is the Christian challenge, to endure suffering in the face of adversity, and to maintain the testimony of the Gospel without fail. So Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”, and again in chapter 16: “13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” Then in 1 Thessalonians chapter 3: “7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord”, and finally, in Ephesians chapter 6: “11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Maintaining the truth of God in the face of His enemies, regardless of what they do to us, that is how Christians overcome, treading on serpents and scorpions. That was the challenge of the early apostles, and that is our challenge today.