Additional Photos after Testimony
4712 cdd Conquer by This
Volume 19 Number 221
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:18
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” NKJV
Hello, my name is Jonathon. I have lived in the Holy Land all my life except for short periods of continuing education. My life has been an interesting walk with the Lord as a Biblical Scholar, Biblical Tour Guide, Professor of Christian Theology and now a Holy Land Cross planter working for you with Pastors Bill and Carol.
This is my Cross Testimony for the Rukhad El Athra Church dating back to 326 AD. It is considered by most to be the third Christian Church built in the Holy Land. The first Christian Church built in the Holy Land is The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the second Christian Church built is the Church of the Holy Sculpture in Jerusalem.
This testimony begins in the year 306 when Constantine was selected as Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, reaching from England to Greece. Constantine was the General of the Roman army engaged against the Anglo-Saxons in Briton as this testimony unfolds.
The Roman Empire was in chaos when Constantine’s processor raised taxes. This incited riots and he was replaced. Constantine was then chosen as Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. The distance from Rome to England is about 1,000 miles as the crow flies and twice that by sea. Back in 306 it took a vast amount of time to traverse that kind of distance. When Constantine received word he was selected Emperor he had to first win the battle he was in, and then return to Rome with his army to sit on the throne. This took six years.
In his absence Maxentius stepped up and usurped the power installing himself as Emperor. He ruled for six years until Constantine returned to Rome to do battle for the right to be Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.
Constantine knew when he returned to Rome he would be in for the battle of his life. His army had been depleted by war in Briton and he knew that Maxentius would have more men and be better equipped. Reports had also reached Constantine that Maxentius was a master of magical arts which he used to his advantage.
Constantine was not a Christian, although he had persecuted many, during his early military years. He was moved to pray to the “Supreme God” for help in the upcoming battle with Maxentius.
Constantine then saw a Cross in the noonday sky “above the sun” and with it were written in the sky the words, “Conquer by this.” That same night Constantine had a dream of Christ who told him to use the sign of the Chi (“C”) and the Rho (“R”) (the “ch” and the “r” of the name Christ).
Thursday October 28, 312, Constantine and Maxentius met for battle at the Tiber River on the Milvan Bridge, in Italy. Maxentius drowned in the river during the battle and Constantine won the victory. Within a few years Constantine would merge the East and West Empires and usher in a Golden age in Roman History that would last 25 years. He was the second longest ruling emperor of the Roman Empire.
His dream about Christ and his answered prayer of victory through the vision in the sky led Constantine to embrace the Christian Religion. In February 313, Constantine met in Millan, Italy, with his brother Licinius who was chosen as the Emperor over the Eastern half of the Roman Empire. Together they issued the Edict of Milan legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire and returning any land or funds taken from Christians over the years. Rome was on the way to becoming a Christian Empire.
Soon after Constantine became Emperor in the West he reinstated his mother Helena to the Imperial Court. She had been married to the Roman Emperor Constantius and gave birth to Constantine. Later they divorced, and Helena was removed. Constantine returned her to the Imperial Court. When Helena began practicing Christianity is a point of debate, but it was clear when she returned to the Imperial Court she embraced all things Christian.
In the year 326, nearing the age of 80, Helena undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She wanted to identify where Christ was born, where He had been Crucified and establish Christian churches to commemorate His life.
Christian traditions vary from writer to writer, but it appears most will agree that Helena identified where Christ was born, where He had been Crucified and her story of the Cross of Christ has with stood the test of time.
Helena reached Jerusalem and found that a pagan temple had been constructed on the site of the Crucifixion of Jesus. Constantine had given her access to the entire treasury of Rome to complete her mission, so she ordered the pagan temple demolished. As they dug beneath the site three Crosses were located. Unable to determine which one held Christ Helena called for a sick lady to come forward. She asked the lady to touch each Cross. When the lady touched the first two Crosses her condition remained unchanged.
When the lady touched the third Cross she was immediately healed. Helena declared this as the Cross of Christ. When word reached Constantine he immediately approved construction of what is now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem which is shared by seven Christian denominations.
Church tradition tells us that Helena returned to Rome with additional evidence of the Crucifixion of Christ which included part of the Cross, the nails of the Crucifixion and the Tunic of Jesus.
Which brings us full circle back to the Rukhad El Athra Church in Aboud, Palestine in the Holy Land. Today we placed a Cross at this church which tradition tells us is the third Christian Church built in the Holy Land, in 326 AD. At the same time as the Church of the Nativity was being built, Rukhad El Athra Church was authorized by Helena and Constantine as a church of rest for coming and going, at the half-way point from the sea to Jerusalem.
My favorite Bible verse is Hebrews 13:8.”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” NKJV
The Cross to me is a symbol of The Power of God unto salvation of all mankind. That Jesus Christ died, rose from the grave and lives for you and me.
I desire this Cross planted will be a beacon of Light unto all who pass by that Jesus Christ lives and here you will find Him.
Prayer: Father thank you for the Cross. There is no man, position, symbol, representation or sign that is known to mankind that opens the doors to eternal life like the Cross of Jesus Christ. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
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