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(The Religious “Beast From The Earth,” Rev. 13:11-18.)


Renette Vermeulen 






Pentecostal/Charismatic churches teach that the ‘baptism of fire’ is when they lay hands on people and supposedly ‘baptize them with the Holy Spirit with the ‘evidence’ of speaking in tongues, which is ‘Holy Spirit fire.’ John the Baptist,  however, promised that Jesus, (Who came ‘after’ Him, or Who began His ministry of salvation after John had ‘prepared the way for Jesus’ New Covenant/Testament Gospel’ in the minds of the Old Hebrews,) will ‘baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” (Mt. 3:11-12.)  John was speaking of two completely separate baptisms.  First, when we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit at our spiritual rebirth, and at the moment we sincerely accept Jesus as our Lord and SaviorAnd secondly, another baptism, which is the only real ‘baptism of fire’ under the New Covenant of Christ in Scripture, which John explained as follows in the very next verse, (verse 12.)  “[The reason for Jesus’ baptism of fire will be,] His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will BURN UP the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 

True to Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8, filled with or possessed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who came at the Feast of Pentecost to indwell Jesus’ true believing disciples for the first time in all of history under Jesus’ New [Testament] Covenant, the disciple Peter stood up and raised his voice, saying, ‘These other tongues that you hear is [the sign of] what was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall happen in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh, [all those saved through My Son;] your sons AND your daughters shall prophesy… will see visions… dream dreams.  And on My menservants AND on My maidservants, [both believing males and females,] I will pour out My Spirit and they [meaning both male and female believers] shall prophesy [or preach.]” 

Peter continued in Acts 2:40, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation, [these followers of spiritually dead religion, Judaism.] Repent, [from Judaism, believe the Gospel,] and let every one of you [disciples] be baptized… and you shall receive the [Spirit as a Gift from God – not because you were baptized, but because you have accepted Jesus as the Savior. Mark 16:16; Mt. 28:19; Gal. 4:6.]  Then those who gladly received his word were baptized...  That day about 3000 souls were added…’ to the body of Christ.  This means that each one of these believing disciples personally received Jesus as their Savior, and then they obeyed His example and commandment, and was baptized by immersion.  Jesus Personally gave us the blueprint of this baptism in Mt. 3:13-17.  It is the same baptism which He commanded just before His ascension, (Mt. 28:19, and Mark 16:15-16.)  The disciples of The Way (Acts 9:2) never performed any other baptism than the baptism of believers by immersion, (Rom. 6.)  All other Scriptures that are used to ‘prove’ the opposite were twisted and taken out of context, and that is the truth.  If you truly see the light, you will ‘naturally’ see the water.  The verse that proves this beyond a doubt is Acts 8:37, which was omitted from the NKJV of the Bible. 

In Acts 8:35-38 ‘Philip… preached Jesus to the eunuch…  And as they… came to water, the eunuch said, See, here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?  Then Philip said (v. 37,) if you believe with all your heart, you may…  And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him...’

Scripture continues, ‘And [these born-again, baptized disciples] continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, [G.: ‘koinonia’ – partnership, participation, communion, (spiritual) assembly, or the Holy Spirit’s unity that glues sincere believers together,] in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  Then [Godly, reverent] FEAR came upon every [believing] soul, and many wonders and signs were done through [ordinary disciples: Mark 16:16-17].  All who believed were together, and… sold their [excess] possessions and divided them among all…’ – [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, S.F. Bible.] 

This was, and still is, the spiritually born again ecclesia or assembly of the body of Christ, who were simply called ‘Followers of The Way;’ (Followers of Jesus Christ, Who is The Way;) which Davis and Clark wrote about in their remarkable work, ‘The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy.’ This was never the ‘church,’ which most of us grew up with.  The church, or the secular form of Christian religion, housed in physical buildings, ruled by a hierarchical priesthood of ministers, pastors, priests and so-called ‘elders,’ is a political-religious system modeled on the ‘kings of the Gentiles,’ which Jesus so strictly forbade in Lu.  22:24-27. 



John promised that Jesus, will ‘baptize them with the Holy Spirit AND with fire,” Mt. 3:11-12, “[and the reason of this baptism will be, because] His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 

In Jesus’ baptism with fire, just as with His baptism in water, Jesus set the example for all the sincere members of His body, and announced, ‘I have a baptism to be baptized with, (the suffering of the cross,) and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!’  He also promised the baptism of fire, or persecution for the sake of His truth, for all those believers who would truly accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior, because fire either purifies or destroys — and certainly proves the sincerely (or the lack thereof) in the hearts, minds and lives of those who confess Jesus as Lord, (Mt. 3:11-12; Lu. 12:50.)     

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He prepared His disciples for this baptism that was to come, so that they would not ‘think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try them, as though some strange thing happened to them.  They were to rejoice to the extent that they would gladly partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, they may also be glad with exceeding joy.’  - 1 Pet. 4:12. 

Jesus said, ‘Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth… but the sword.’  The Kingdom of God, manifested in the hearts of sincere believers, and extended by their obedience to Jesus’ commission to ‘go into all the world…’ did not and would not bring outward peace to this physical planet earth, but the greatest of distress. - Mt. 10:34-39. 

However, Jesus did not bring the sword of war, torture, death, and division - that is the work of the devil, ‘who does not come accept to steal, kill, and destroy.’ Jesus brought the ‘word of God, which is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even dividing soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’  Confronted with this sword ‘there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.’ – Heb. 4:12-13.   

Every time Jesus’ believers declare the Truth of His Gospel, they unsheathe the Sword of Light against the ‘gates of hell;’ the very forces of darkness in the spirit world, as well as those spirits that are in control of the hearts and minds of men.  The result was, is, and always will be a full-scale war that will last until Jesus’ return. – 2 Cor. 10:4. 

Jesus’ warning and instruction concerning persecution still stands, ‘I send you out [into the political-religious world] as sheep in the midst of wolves…  They will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues [and churches.]  You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake…  Brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child, and children will raise up against parents…  BUT HE WHO ENDURES TO THE END will be saved… He who loves [his family or anyone else] more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who does NOT take up his cross, [standing in My truth, declaring the Gospel,] and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who finds his life [through the world’s acceptance,] will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it [for all eternity…]  

‘When they persecute you in this city, flee to another… You will not have gone through the cities… before the Son of Man [returns.]’ 

This is why the writer of Hebrews could say, ‘[You should] recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings, partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated…  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise [of everlasting life...] – Heb. 10:32-39. 

When James and John asked Jesus to give them places of great authority in His Kingdom, He answered, ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I Am baptized with…  You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I Am baptized with, you will be baptized… You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them…  Yet it shall not be so among you.  Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be SERVANT to all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many,’ (Lu. 12:50; Mark 10:38-45; Mt. 20:20.)  James and John were thoroughly polluted by the Kingdom-Now theology.  As many others, they ‘have also been led into a snare by false notions of Christ’s Kingdom, as if it were of this world, and like the kingdoms of the rulers of this world.  They conclude, If Christ rises again, He must be a King, and if He is a King, His disciples must be peers, and one of these would be the first peer of the realm, and the other next to him, like Joseph in Pharaoh’s court.  Our weakness and shortsightedness appear as much in our prayers as in anything.  We cannot order our speech, when we speak to God, by reason of darkness, both concerning Him and concerning ourselves.  It is folly to prescribe to God, and wisdom to subscribe.  It is the will of Christ that we should prepare for sufferings, and leave it to Him to recompense us for them… He that exalts himself shall be abased…  The Son of man submitted first to the greatest hardships and hazards, and then entered into His glory, and can we expect to come to it any other way; or to have more ease and honor than He has?’ – [M.H. Commentary.] 

The cup or baptism of Mt. 20:20 refers to Jesus’ death, and His judgment against the sin of pride and unbridled ambition. 

This baptism speaks of being immersed in divinely appointed suffering’ - for the purpose to teach us humility, complete dependence upon God, and unselfish service.  Jesus Is the High Priest ‘forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek, Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him Who was able to save Him from death… though He was the Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  And having been perfected, He became the Author of eternal salvation to ALL who OBEY Him.’ – [Heb. 5:6-9 – S.F. Bible.] 

God had promised, [on ALL My believers,] ‘and on My men AND maidservants, [or men and woman servants,] I will pour out My Spirit and they shall prophesy.’ God’s men and woman servants should be willing spiritual ‘slaves,’ who, by His true Word and personal example, teach and warn Jesus’ body of believers to follow the example [and Way] of their Lord. - [Strong’s Concordance, no. 5650 and 8198.] 

True believers will indeed experience Jesus’ baptism with fire, just as He Himself did.  Of course, just as our choice to either accept or reject Jesus as our Christ, we may also shy away from the baptism of fire and remain lukewarm church members — or we can choose to rise to the challenge to prove, in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is our Highest and First Love, and we will always remain totally committed to Him above all else.  So, the author of Acts 14:22 concluded, ‘We must through many tribulations enter, [and of course, extend] the Kingdom of God [in the hearts or born again spirits and renewed minds of sincere believing disciples of Christ.]’   Paul and other servants of the body of Christ “not only taught the joy and peace of the Kingdom, (Rom. 14:17,) it’s power, (1 Cor. 4:20,) and its present authority to cause the believer to triumph over evil, (2 Tim. 4:18; Rom. 16:20,) they also taught that [sincere believers will and do] experience trial, suffering, and not always an instant victory, (2 Ths. 1:4-5.)  God did not promise life without struggle.  Victory only comes through battle, and triumph only follows trial…” – [S.F. Bible.] 



The Jewish chief priests, the Sanhedrin, who insisted on Jesus’ crucifixion, were actually the last, God-recognized members of the Old Testament/Covenant, physical, Levitical priesthood.  At Calvary, when Jesus died and rose from the grave, He inaugurated a completely New, Spiritual priesthood after the spiritual Order of Melchizedek, of which He Himself is High Priest forever more, (read Hebrews Chapters 7-10.) 

Still, Satan, through the Jewish Sanhedrin of Pharisaical leaders, planned to parade Jesus in public as a conquered human king.  However, sacrificing the Savior of the whole world on the cross, (Jn. 3:16,) this ousted priesthood of the Old Covenant that was annulled on Golgotha, (Heb. 8:13,) without knowing how God would turn their evil into all-good, actually inaugurated Jesus’ living, Holy-Spirit indwelt, New Testament/Covenant Kingdom, and spiritual temple of sincere believers here on earth.  (In fact, Jesus willingly became the Sacrificial Lamb of God, and allowed them to murder Him as atonement for all the sin, cursedness, and bondage of the whole world, so that all those who choose to believe in Him and personally accept Him as their Lord and Savior, can freely inherit eternal live, a state of blessedness, and spiritual freedom or redemption in Him, Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 3:10-14.)

Completely possessed by the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Followers of The Way, the born again body of Christ, became so drenched in love for their King; so on fire for His cause; so empowered by His Spirit; so completely provided for by their Father – Satan had to tremble as he realized that even though he may torture, maim, and kill every citizen of Jesus’ Spiritual Kingdom, the Gospel would still march on - [Acts 9:2.]

Foxe wrote in his ‘Book of Martyrs,’ “Christ, hearing the confession of Peter, who first openly acknowledged Him as the Son of God… built His [body of sincere believers, not the “church,”] so strong that the gates of Hades (not hell: Mt. 16:18 — Hades is the grave, in this case, of the spiritually dead without Christ) would not prevail against [her, the bride or body of Christ.]  Three things are to be noted.  First, that Christ will have a [Spiritual Kingdom through His believing body or bride] in this world.  Secondly, that the same [ecclesia  or assembly of believers] should mightily impact not only by the [religious] world, but also the powers of [Hades or spiritual death and] hell.  Thirdly, that the same [body of believers,] notwithstanding the efforts Satan, should continue [in the truth of Jesus’ Word] until the return of Christ.’  (Mt. 16:17-19.) 

Jesus’ metaphor, “the gates of Hades (not ‘hell’) shall not prevail against [her,]” explains the constant, fearless, Holy-Spirit guided advancement of His born again assembly of believers on the forces and fortresses of evil that demons built in the thoughts (or minds) of the deceived.  This advancement is the fulfillment of Jesus’ commission to preach His  true Gospel throughout the whole world, (Mt. 28:19-20.) 

In Jesus’ time, a battle was fought at the gate of a city to gain entrance to the city.  Therefore, Jesus commissioned His followers to continually advance against the spiritual, fortified ‘cities,’ [the deceived minds or thoughts of men under control of the kingdom of darkness,] with prayer and the True Gospel of Light, in the power and leading of the Spirit, and under the protection of His mighty angels – (2 Cor. 10:4.)  - [‘Early Church Video Series,’ by Zondervan.] 

As the servants of this newborn body of Christ (after Pentecost) were (and still are) at the forefront of their advancement against the ‘gates of Hades’ or spiritual death, logically then, they would also be the first to be butchered for the Truth: the Spiritual Kingdom and Name of Christ, (Mt. 20:26; 16:18.) 

Jesus promised in Mark 16:16-17, “He who believes and [allows himself to be] baptized will be saved…  And these signs [or Holy Spirit gifts] will follow [these sincere believers.]  In My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents, [or do spiritual battle with demons, Eph. 6:10-18,] and if they [accidentally or without their knowledge] drink [or be attacked by] anything deadly, it will not harm them; [see: Acts 28:3-5.]  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ 

Jesus’ promise of spiritual authority and power became an immediate reality, that day when the Holy Spirit founded the body of Christ, which was inaugurated at the cross, at Pentecost.  After God used Peter’s sermon to save 3,000 souls, He healed a lame man through Peter and John, and as they “spoke boldly to the people [and] the priests… the Sadducees came upon them.”  The Sadducees was a Hebrew sect of the Sanhedrin who did not believe in the resurrection.  Therefore, “they were greatly disturbed that the [disciples] taught the people and preached Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.” 

These religious chiefs of the Sanhedrin promptly arrested Peter and John.  It was already evening and they put them in prison until the next day. 

‘But many of those who heard the Word believed; and the number of believers came to be about five thousand.’ 

The Holy Spirit, through the obedience of the believing body of Christ, already made eight thousand born again Followers of The Way since He indwelt His disciples at the Feast of Pentecost!   


This greatly infuriated the Sanhedrin, as they were now losing the members of their spiritually dead religion Judaism in massive numbers to that Man Jesus Christ, Whom they had horrifically tortured and publicly killed on the cross!  The next day, ‘their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest and Caiaphas’ – [the same two evil religionists who headed Jesus’ all-night trial and crucifixion] – as well as the family of the high priest, confronted Peter and John, demanding, ‘By what power or by what name, [ who’s authority,] have you done this?’ 

These rulers were oblivious to the fact that, in God’s infinite wisdom and mercy, they had not real power over the disciples.  Jesus only allowed them to persecute His followers so that He could declare His New Testament/Covenant Gospel to them as well.  But the willing Peter made full use of this wonderful opportunity to minister to the enemies of Jesus and the body of Christ. 

‘Let it be known to you all…’ he said out loud, ‘that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, by Him the man, [whom Jesus had healed through our hands] stands here before you whole…  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’  - Acts 4. 

When the Sanhedrin ‘saw the boldness of Peter and John…  they realized that [the disciples] had been with Jesus. [These Jews knew that Jesus had risen from the dead, although they made every effort to convince the people that His resurrection was a deception.]  And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.’ 

So they ‘commanded Peter and John to leave the council, and conferred among themselves, saying, What shall we do to them?  That a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwells in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.  But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no one in this Name.’

However, their threats (of death by crucifixion, no less,) left Peter and John undeterred. 

The Followers of The Way faced the Sanhedrin in the same calm and fearless manner as their Master did. 

‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you must judge,’ they answered, ‘For we cannot but speak the things which we have SEEN and HEARD.’ 

So when they ‘had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.’ 

No sooner had the Sanhedrin ‘dealt’ with the ‘problem’ of the Hebrew Christ through false accusation and death by crucifixion, or the council had to face the same dilemma again – only this time, it had multiplied 8,000 times!  Their evil hearts still burned with hatred.  Their bloodstained hands itched to grab hold of Peter and John, but once again, they had the multitudes to consider.  They realized that, if they were to crush the newfound zeal of Jesus’ followers, they had to bide their time while slyly and stealthily campaigning against the assemblies of The Way.  They knew they were warring against the Highest God Himself, but they did not lose heart, for they have done it all before — and thought they had succeeded. 

Once again, they would draw upon the dark forces of their religious father the devil to change the mind of the multitudes, and to incite them to public, mob-murder: Jn. 8:44. 

What they did not know was that The Followers of the Way, calling upon their omnipotent God, Who now dwelt inside every one of them through His Holy Spirit, ‘raised their voices with one accord, praying, Lord, You are God…  Who…  have said: Why did the nations rage and the people plot vain things [against Your spiritual kings and priests? – Rev. 5:10.]  Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness [and without fear] they may speak Your Word…’ 

Jesus, the High Priest of the body of Christ, interceded on their behalf as He had promised, and God the Father answered their request, so that ‘believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of men and women.  And they brought the sick out into the streets…  Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem… so that [even when] the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them… those who were tormented [not indwelt] by unclean spirits…  were all healed.’ – Acts 5:15; Heb. 4:14-15.

God used even the shadow of Peter to show Himself to the people!  – Jn. 14:12. 

What a day of Divine revelation had broken upon this world; what a time of incomprehensible grace! 

How their prayers, petitions, and persistence must have infuriated the devil and his evil companions the Jewish Sanhedrin!  By now, the Sanhedrin had to know that the Risen Christ was, is, and always will be an awesome reality in the lives of all true believers; yet even His omnipotent presence among His followers did not daunt their plots to crush His blood-bought believers and stunt His Gospel Truth! 

‘Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him.  Filled with indignation, they laid their hands on the apostles and put them in prison. 

‘But that night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, [sending them straight back to the temple, commanding,] Go, stand in the temple and speak all the words of life!’ 

God did not send them back to the Old Testament/Covenant temple to worship there or to fellowship with those evil adherents of religion.  God the Father sent them back to assault the ‘gates of hell’ with the truth of His Gospel:  the spiritual strongholds of the Kingdom-Now religion in the minds or thoughts of men, which kept His dear Hebrew people in bondagel. 

As a result, they openly and even more fearlessly declared the Real Gospel of Christ, ending their sermon with these words, ‘We are His witnesses to these things, [as it all happened right before our eyes.]  And so also is the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to those who OBEY Him.’ – Acts 5:32. 

What followed was a deadly consequence of their advancement on Satan’s strongholds of deception in the deluded minds of the Hebrews. 

The Sanhedrin became ‘furious and plotted to kill them.  But a Pharisee named Gamaliel [contended for their lives, saying,] ‘Let them alone, for if this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – less you even be found to fight against God.’ 



After the Sanhedrin ‘released the apostles, the Word of God spread.  The number of [Followers] multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and [even] a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. 

‘Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.  Some arose from the Synagogue of the Freedmen, disputing with him, but they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which Stephen spoke.’

Most Bible scholars believe that these Freedmen were ‘such of the Jews as had obtained the Roman freedom, or citizenship, as Saul had, (Acts 22:27-28.)  It is probable that Saul, [who became Paul,] was the most forward man of this synagogue of the Freedmen in disputing with Stephen, and engaged others in the dispute, for we find him busy in the stoning of Stephen, and consenting to his death.’  – [M.H. Commentary.] 

Then the Sadducee-sect of the Sanhedrin, true to the sly character of this evil fraternity, stirred up another religious revolt among ‘the people, the elders, and the scribes.’  Clandestinely, they infiltrated the people with secret agents to spread the lie that they ‘have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses, [the Old Testament Law,] and God.’