Bible Lands Unveiled is a series of on-location Bible studies with Amir Tsarfati that will give you a look at the impact of the Gospel around the world. This set was filmed in Rome and includes two messages focused on the book of Romans and the Church of Rome. You can find a written document of this teaching here.…

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Good morning from the City of Rome, and

behind me is the Vatican City. It’s

actually not just a city. It’s a state.

This is the smallest state in the world

by population and by landmass, a hundred

and ten acres only, thousand people are

citizens only, and this is a country that

is not even a sovereign country because

the sovereign of the country is the Holy

See, the Pope himself. This is the only

country on planet earth that it’s

actually not run by a government but by a

church. And that, of course, brings us to

that very large rotunda, that large dome

of the famous St. Peter’s Basilica, a

sacred place for 1.3 billion people

worldwide, making it one of the most


and most visited locations on planet

Earth. This is, by the way, not the first

St. Peter’s Basilica. The original St.

Peter church was built here in the 4th

century by the first Christian Emperor,

Constantine. It took him 30 years to

build a beautiful Basilica-shaped church,

a church that lasted nearly a thousand

years. We’re talking about a church where

all the coronations of the different

popes took place in it, including in the

year 800 A.D. On December 25th, the

coronation of King Charles I, who

was the first king of the Holy Roman

Empire. And I know it sounds strange to

some of you, but when the Roman Empire

disintegrated and when it was gone from

from the map, and for about 500 years, we

don’t hear about it. Then we hear about

it once again in the year 800 when King

Charles unified parts of Italy and

Germany and France and created for the

first time, after the fall of the ancient

Roman Empire, once again the ruling of

one Western European leader to rule over

Western Europe. And thus, the name the

Holy Roman Empire was given because the

coronation was done at the place that the

older Church that was standing here, and

that was of course at the year 880. It

lasted until 1806. Ladies and gentlemen, it

was only Napoleon who abolished the Holy

Roman Empire. Now many of you may not

know that but, the heart of the Holy

Roman Empire was Germany of today, and it

is considered to be the First Reich. The

First Reich; everybody knows that Hitler

started the Third Reich, but nobody

stopped to think, wait a minute, what

about the first or the second? Well the

first one was the one that lasted more

than a thousand years, and it started

here in the City of Rome. And the reason

why it’s important that I mention that

is because in many of my teachings, I’m

talking about the future world leader

that is going to be from the revived

Roman Empire, and is going to be from

Western Europe, from the region of where

I believe even Germany is today. So we’re

definitely in the heart of Western

Europe in a very significant

place. Now this particular church that we

see behind us was built starting from

the mid-1400, and for the next 120 years,

different popes and different architects

and different artists would be engaged

in the construction of one of the most

amazing structures that the world had

known in those days. The first pope that

actually started this, I would say, was

thinking that there has to be a new one,

the old one is falling apart, is Pope

Gregory V. And Gregory V

never lived to see the construction of

this church, but he did live to see the

the creation of the foundation of it. And

now comes a very interesting detail. In

order to get building material — there was

a shortage of — of building material in

Rome in those days — and in order to get

that, he ordered the dismantling of the

Colosseum. And when you visit today the

Colosseum and you see that almost half of it

is gone, it’s because Pope Gregory V

managed to bring across the Tiber 2,500

carts loaded with stones from the

Colosseum. Now it’s very interesting

because when you go to the Colosseum, you

know that it was originally constructed in 72

A.D., it was built from the spoils of war.

That’s what Caesar Titus himself

acknowledged — from the spoils of war — and

the — the war that he had just about a

year and a half earlier was the war

against the Jewish people in Jerusalem,

in which he not only destroyed their

temple, but also took all of their

treasures. And he managed to make it very

clear to the whole world that he did so

by placing the arch of victory, Arch of Titus

just across from the Coliseum. And it’s

interesting because in the inner part of

that arch, the entire procession of

Jewish slaves

carrying the treasures of the temple

were taken to the Colosseum. What I’m

trying to say is this: the Colosseum was

built from the sack or from the spoils

of — of war in Jerusalem. And later on,

believe it or not, nearly 1400 years

later, the Vatican’s Basilica is

constructed from stones taken from the

Colosseum. My point is clear: you can even

find a direct line between the fall of

Jerusalem and the rise of this

particular Basilica just by ways of, you

know, the building material itself. Now I

want you to understand that what we’re

looking at right here is an amazing

structure that is situated right across

from another amazing structure that used

to be the tallest building of Rome until

Saint Peter’s Basilica used to stand, and

that is of course St. San Angelo, which

is this, the Holy Angel, basically. We’re

talking about the Archangel Michael

whose statue was situated on top, the

bronze statue was situated in the 1700s

in memory of — of Pope Gregory, who in

in the fifth century had a vision that

the Archangel Michael is the one who put

an end to a very severe plague that

afflicted Rome and killed many. And you

can see that that angel over there is

sheathing his sword as — as if I just

finished putting an end to that plague

right now. In — in memory of that vision,

that angel is there, but originally this

whole structure is actually a structure

from the second century, from the second

century. And this is the mausoleum of the


who destroyed Jerusalem

in the second century. Once again, you see

the destruction of Jerusalem somehow

connected even to this structure. Caesar

Adrian who reigned in the middle of the

second century is the one who leveled

Jerusalem. Now he’s not the one who

destroyed the temple. The temple is

destroyed in 70 A.D. by Titus, but he’s the

one who destroyed the City of Jerusalem,

leveled it to the ground, and built on

top a city called Aelia Capitolina. And

Caesar Adrian is the one who even coined

the name Palestine. The name Palestine

was not any name that anybody ever used,

but the land of the Philistines

used in the Old Testament to describe

the Philistines. It is Adrian who decided

to name the Land of Israel after the Old

Testament foes of the Jews in order to

humiliate the Jews because the Jews

somehow dared to rebel against him

between 132 and 135 A.D. In fact, this

particular coin that I’m wearing on my

necklace is a coin that has the palm

tree on it. This is a coin minted by the

Jewish rebels in the second century

rebellion against Caesar Adrian. And so

you can clearly see that not only that

we know that there was a rebellion, not only

that we know that Caesar Adrian quenched

it, but we are even having today

tons of artifacts from that time. And Adrian

himself, his ashes are buried right

here, the ashes of his wife and of his

adopted son and, of course, of other

Caesars that came after that including

Caesar Caracalla, who is the one, by the

way, to build the largest bathhouse in

Rome of those days, a bathhouse, by the

way, that inspired the architect of Penn

Station in

New York City. And I’m talking about

the old Penn Station that was destroyed

in 1963. So we’re talking about a very

significant building that later on, once

this particular building was erected in

the 14 — 1500s, it changed into a castle

and also a refuge place for popes. And

how will a pope in a time of trouble get

from St. Peter to San Angelo?

There was the Passetto, the 800-meter-long

passage. The Passetto

at least on two occasions served as an

escape route for popes in danger. Pope

Alexander VI crossed it in 1494

when Charles VIII invaded the city

and the Pope’s life were in peril. But

the more famous one is, of course, Clement

VII that escaped to safety

through this passage during the sack of

Rome in 1527 when troops of the Holy

Roman Emperor, the one that originally

was crowned here in 800 A.D., but this time

it was Charles V massacred

almost the entire Swiss Guard on the

steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. So we

understand that this — these two buildings

carry a very significant role in the

history of the Holy See here in Rome. And

we — we understand that they are connected

with that

Passetto, which stands up until today. Now

today, we didn’t come to talk just about

the Vatican or San Angelo or the passage

between the two; we came to talk about

the fact that over 1.3 billion people

belong to a religion that claims to be

the real true Christian Church. We’re

talking about a religion that claims

that it’s leaders

are the descendants and the successors

of the Apostles, and its top leader is

the successor of Peter himself. And that,

of course, is why we call the church St.

Peter , and in the inner part of the

rotunda — the Verse is from Matthew 16 You

are Peter, and upon this rock, I will

build my church. They took that literally

as if Peter is the — the rock, and upon

Peter, the church will be built, and of


this church marking the place. A very

important detail is that the Vatican

today is situated in the area known as

Trastevere, which is across the Tiber, and

in — in the ancient times, this would be

the poorer side, and in many cases,

outside of the the Aurelian City Walls, which

means it’s outside of ancient Rome and

away from the center of government of

Rome at the time of the Republic. And

it’s interesting because if you go back

to the first century, the Vatican never

existed. Catholicism did not even exist.

There was no Catholic Church. If anything,

we know there were roughly five

synagogues in this area. There was a

great Jewish community living in Rome,

and at the time, that would be the area

where they lived.

Trastevere, across the Tiber, in that

area. So when we come to talk about the

letter of Paul to the Roman, you need to

keep in mind he is not talking to a

church that was something that evolved,

or something that was the root of the

Catholic Church. He’s actually talking to


that have the knowledge of the law, the

Law of Moses. In fact, in Romans Chapter 7,

Verse 1, Paul says, Or do you not know,

brethren (for I speak to those who know

the law) that the law has dominion over a

man as long as he lives?

Paul talks to the people of Rome, to the

Church of Rome with the understanding

that the Church of Rome is actually made

of predominantly Jewish people who

became believers in Jesus as Messiah as

a result of the exposure to the gospel,

and these particular people know the law.

They understand the Law of Moses. Bear in

mind Gentile pagans did not have a clue

about the Law of Moses, and bear in mind

for them in those days — and we’re gonna

touch that probably when we talk about

the unknown god of the pagans in Athens —

for them, there is no one God, for

them, the world there is no creation;

there is evolution, and for them — and if

there are any gods, they’re far, remote,

and they are not in any direct contact

with us human beings. So my point is this:

throughout the entire letter of Paul to

the Romans, we must keep in mind there

was no St. Peter here. There was no St.

Angelo here.

There were synagogues in this area. There

was a Jewish community in this area. And

Paul makes it very, very clear that he

wants them to understand the message of

the Messiah. It’s as clear as it can be.

And Paul had a big problem with religion.

The title of the message this morning is

It is not about religion, brother. And — and

it’s because Paul, who came out of the

Jewish religion, who was a Pharisee, who

was someone who

persecuted, who who the Bible says he created

havoc, he had a problem with religion. Why

is it? By the way — the word religion, just

so we understand, does not appear in the

Bible, not at all.

Religion is a man-made thing. It’s a way

that man created to somehow express his

faith or his belief in a higher entity,

but that word does not exist in the Old

Testament at all. So there was no Jewish

religion at the time, and — and — and of

course, Christianity was never meant to

be a religion also, but rather a way of

life. In fact, the Bible says in Acts

Chapter 9, Verse 1 and 2, Then Saul still

breathing threats and murder against the

disciples of the Lord went to the high

priest and asked letters from him to the

synagogues of Damascus so that if he

found any who were of the Way, whether man

or woman, he might bring them bound to

Jerusalem. It wasn’t a religion; it was a

Way. They were called the Way. He could

have had — he could have mentioned if

anyone who belonged to the newly founded

world religion Christianity, then get

them bound to Jerusalem. But no, it wasn’t

so. In fact, they didn’t even talk to them

as if there are no longer Jews. They are

Jews who now are taking the Way. That’s

interesting because now we may

understand why Jesus said, I am the way,

the truth, and life — he didn’t say, I’m the

founder of a new religion; believe in me.

Now I’m the new thing. No. I’m The Way, The

Truth, and The Life. And when Paul is

writing to the Romans, in Romans Chapter

3, he’s telling to the Romans, What

advantage, then has the Jew? Why would

Paul talk to the Romans about the Jews?

Or what is the profit of circumcision?

Much in every way! Chiefly because to

them were committed the Oracles of God

For what if some did not believe? Will

their unbelief make the faithfulness of

God without effect?

Certainly not! Paul is telling the Romans,

listen, you must understand that the

Jewish people are not to be replaced, nor

to be ignored. They do have great

advantage by ways of to them were

committed the Oracles of God. And I was

wondering what is it, the Oracles of God?

By the way, the Greek word is the logia,

which means from the logos, the Word of

God, the Word of God. And it’s interesting

because the Oracles of God are the Word

of God, and they appear in Acts 7:38, in

Hebrews 5:12, in 1st Peter 4:11, in Romans

3:2, what we — we just talked about — in

Deuteronomy 4:7 and 8, and in Psalm 147

Verses 19 and 20. In fact, allow me to

read from the Book of Psalms, Psalm 147

Verses 19 and 20. The Bible says, He

declares His word to Jacob, His statues,

and His judgments to Israel. He has not

dealt thus with any nation and is far. And

as for His judgment, they have not known

them. In other words, no other nation on

planet Earth received the Word of God to

keep, and then it later on to deliver. It

was one of the roles of Israel, for which

Israel was chosen. And it’s interesting

because the entire focus

is not about religion; it’s about the

Word of God. The question is: what is it

that you are doing with the Word of God?

Not — it not — it’s not about what is it

that you’re doing with your tradition,

what is it that you’re doing with your

thing? What is it that you’re doing with

the Word of God? Now isn’t any

interesting that when you not only know

the Word, but also understand it, that’s

when everything makes sense. But the

question is do you really know and

understand it? Throughout the entire

Bible, God,

on one hand, gave the people of Israel

Oracles, His Word, His commandments, but

at the same time, He kept telling them

obedience is better than sacrifice,

obedience is better than sacrifice. God

is telling the people of Israel then, as

much as he is telling to the world today,

sacrifice means nothing when our heart

is not right. Isaiah Chapter 1, Verse 11

all the way to 15, the prophet Isaiah

is telling the people of Israel — he sent

him To what purpose is the multitude of

your sacrifices to Me? I have, says the

Lord, I have enough of burnt offerings of

rams and the fat of the fed cattle. I do

not delight in the blood of bulls, or of

lambs or goats. When you come to appear

before Me, who has requested this from

your hands, to trample my courts? Bring no

more futile sacrifices; incense is an

abomination to Me. The New Moons, the

Sabbaths, and the calling of the

assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and

the sacred meetings. Your New Moons and

your appointed feasts My soul hates. Can

you imagine as a Jewish person going to

synagogue every Saturday or every

holiday; for me, when I read Isaiah for

the first time — in Isaiah Chapter 1, to

that God says to the people of Israel, I

hate your Sabbaths, your New Moons, your

festivals. Wait a minute; what do you mean

You hate — you give it to us! You’re the

one who said, I want you to keep the

Sabbath; I want you to keep the holidays.

So what is it that You hate? God says,

well, you guys, you understand I do not

delight in this: When your hands are full

of blood, he said, I don’t need all of

this. God is not a God that sits on the

throne and needs some sacrifices all day

long from people that their heart is not

right before Him. And with all due

respect, you see that in Judaism of those

days, as much as you see that in Judaism

of today, as much as you see that in

Catholicism of today, as much as you can

see that also in any other religion of

today. Corruption is everywhere. When the

people do not follow not only the Word

of God, but they don’t know God

personally. And it’s interesting because

God says to the people of God whom He

chose, I do not want you to celebrate

those things when your heart is not

there. He says to them, Your New Moons,

your appointed feasts My soul hates. You

are trouble to Me. I am weary of bearing

them. I’m weary of when you spread out

your hands. I will hide My eyes from you.

Even though you make many prayers, I will

not hear; your hands are full of blood.

Wow! God is telling the people of the

world even today — going to church will

not make you a Christian just as much as

standing in your parking lot will not

making you a car, or — or — or being in a, you

know, a chicken house, will not turn you

into a chicken. You know it’s not about

where you go and what you say and how

you behave. Everyone can act; people are

actors nowadays. On social media

everybody is his own director and actor

at the same time. Ladies and gentlemen,

God told His people, I’m a God; unlike men,

I don’t look at the outer appearance. I

look at the heart. When

He sent Samuel to anoint a new king to

Israel, and Samuel, of course, goes to all

the brothers of David, he doesn’t even

think for a second that David is the one.

And God says to Samuel, Samuel, stop

looking at them by the way they look. I’m

not — this is not me. The people chose Saul

as king because he’s tall and handsome.

I’m looking at the heart, and as far as

I’m concerned, David, that little boy who

is a shepherd — nobody likes shepherds in

those days — they stunk. I mean, he is the

one; he has a heart that I like and — and

in David, him I know. I know David — by all

David would have been condemned by
means —

religious people today. David would have

been stoned to death for what he did by

religious people today. But God

understands that it’s not about perfect

people. God, by the way, never looked for

perfect people because there’s none, and

the Bible says, the Lord looks from

heaven — look down at – at –at men, at the

sons of men. Is there anyone who is

righteous? Not even one. So God already

understands from Genesis Chapter 2 and 3

that men are fallen creatures and they

need they need salvation, they need

redemption obviously. And David, what made

him so great is not that he was perfect,

it is the fact that he understood and

acknowledged his imperfect nature in the

understanding that he needs the Spirit

of God not to leave him, that he needs

God, that he wants the intimacy with God

more than anything else.

Psalm 51 David acknowledges his sinful

nature. He says, Behold, I was brought

forth in iniquity. And in sin my mother

conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in

the inward parts, and in the hidden parts,

You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me

with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me,

and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear joy and gladness, that the

bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide

Your face from my sins and blot out all

my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart,

O God, and renew a steadfast spirit

within me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence,

and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation

and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Your

ways, and sinners shall be converted to

You. Deliver me from the guilt of

bloodshed, O God, the God of my

salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud

of your righteousness. And David concluded

this song by saying, Then you shall be

pleased with the sacrifices of

righteousness, with burnt offerings and

whole burnt offerings; then they shall offer

bulls on Your altar. Only once our

conscience is clean. Only once we — we

acknowledge our sinful nature. Only once

we repented, and only once we — we received

the Holy Spirit, and we are enjoying the

joy of His salvation. Only then God will

accept our sacrifices. And it’s very

interesting because you know I’ve seen a

lot of churches across the world, and

I’ve seen a lot of, you know, big

structures, millions of U.S. dollars were

poured in construction of church

buildings, and, you know, nice bands and

nice, you know,

but somewhere, at some point, you see that

a building will not necessarily have the

Spirit of God in it. God was okay with the

Jewish people building a temple. He never

asked them to, by the way, but He said, Okay,

David, do you want to build a house for Me?

You can’t do it, but your son can, and

Solomon immediately did that. But did you

know that shortly after, the Bible says

in the Book of Ezekiel that the Spirit

of God departed from the house

of God. They kept serving God. They kept

slaughtering animals and sacrificing

animals. They kept doing all that the

rituals every year, every month, every

week; God was not there. God left the

house of God. Structures such as this,

such as the one in Jerusalem are not

impressive to God if the people inside

do not worship Him in spirit and in

truth. They could be still standing, yet

the Spirit of God is not going to be

there because it’s not about religion.

It’s not about sacrifices. God says when

you bring all of these things and your

heart is not right, I’m gonna hide My

face from you. I’m not gonna be there. I’m

not gonna listen to your prayers. I’m not

gonna look at you even. This is not what

I want. I want something completely

different. In Romans Chapter 3 verses 21

– 31, Paul is telling the people: after

he said that the Jews have an advantage

by having the Word of God, the Oracles of

God, he says, But now. Can you say that — but

now ( But now ) In other words, Christ came

to the world, and now the righteousness

of God apart from the law is revealed,

being witnessed by the Law and the

Prophets, even the righteousness of God,

through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and

on all who believe. For there is no

difference; for all have sinned and fall

short of the glory of God, being

justified freely by His grace through

the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

whom God set forth as propitiation by

His blood, through faith, to demonstrate

His righteousness, because in His

forbearance God had passed over — we just

celebrated Passover — God had passed over

the sins that were previously committed,


and straight at the present time His

righteousness, that He might be just and

the justifier of the one who has faith

in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is

excluded. By what law? Of works? No,

but by the law of faith. Therefore we

conclude that a man is justified by

faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Nothing that religion will tell you that

lead you to to — to — to salvation is going

to ever save you. Salvation is a free

thing that can only come by faith and

faith alone. By what? Faith in the

finished work on the cross 2,000 years

ago. You cannot cause God to love you

more than He already loved you when He

sent His only begotten Son to die so you

will not die. And the Bible says, Since

there is one God who will justify the

circumcised by faith and the

uncircumcised through faith, do we then

make void the law through faith?

Certainly not! On the contrary, we

establish the law. What Paul says is this:

I’m not giving you a new thing. The Word

of God is the same yesterday, today, and


I’m just explaining to you what it meant

all along, and you missed it out. The law

was never meant to be fulfilled by men.

We are unable to fulfill the law. It’s

impossible to fulfill the law. Christ

came to fulfill the law so we will not

be standing guilty anymore because He

already did it. He already took the blame

and took all of our sins on him so we

will not be blamed. We are now blameless.

He presents us blameless before God as

He sits at the right hand of God the

Father. Now the Jewish people who lived

in Rome or in Jerusalem at the time, as

much as they are today,

the Bible says that they are blinded,

blinded by — by the way — by who? Blinded by

God. Why? Because they hardened their

hearts. They didn’t want to believe at

the time, as much as today, by the way, and

so God is the one the Bible says in

Romans Chapter 11 who give them, or gave

them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot —

they cannot see, and ears that they cannot

hear. So blindness, in part, has happened

to Israel, the Bible says, but the

question is: Can a Christian be blind as

well? Well, I believe so. The Bible says in

1 John 2:11,

Who he who hates his brother is in

darkness and walks in darkness, and does

not know where he’s going because the

darkness has blinded his eyes. In other

words, you cannot call yourself a

believer in the Word of God and yet be

contrary to the Word of God of loving

one another. In other words, that

blindness is, of course, from the enemy,

and that hatred is, of course, from the

enemy. I would like to direct your

attention to the Epistle to the

Colossians. In Chapter 2, Colossians is

telling us something very interesting in

regards to justification and legalism.

Colossians Chapter 2 the Bible says this,

and remember religion is all about do

not eat this, do not eat that, do not do

that, do not do that. Look what it says. He

says this: Let no one judge you in food

or in drink, or regarding a festival or a

New Moon or sabbaths, which are what? A

shadow of things to come. But the

substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat

you of your reward, taking the light in

false humility and worship of angels,

intruding into those things which

he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his

fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the

Head, from whom all the body, nourished

and knit together by joints and

ligaments, grows with the increase that

is from God.

Therefore if you died with Christ from

the basic principles of the world, why as

though living in the world do you

subject yourself to regulations? You see?

It’s all about against religion and

religious spirits. Do not touch, do not

taste, do not handle, which all concerns

things which perish with the using —

according to the commandment and

doctrines of men? These things indeed

have an appearance of wisdom in

self-imposed religion, false humility, and

neglect of the body, but are of no value

against the indulgence of the flesh. So

we understand religion is certainly not

the answer. And back to the Vatican; is

that what Jesus had in mind when He sent

the Apostles? Walk into the — the Basilica.

You’re gonna see the throne of Peter.

Last time I checked, Peter was a

fisherman in Galilee. Last time I checked,

the minute he walked into the house of

Cornelius in Caesarea and everybody

bowed down before him, he said, Please

don’t! Stand up! I’m not God! Don’t do it!

Do not worship people; worship God! So you

see the worship of Mary and the worship

of Peter and in — in — in — in so many rules

and regulations and traditions that

crawled into, all is that exactly what

Jesus had in mind when He preached the

good news. So let’s conclude the message.

It’s all about the Word of God, and the

Word of God came to this world and

became flesh and dwelt among us. And He

came and gave the good news of salvation,

and whoever believes in Him,

receives the free gift of the Holy

Spirit. And when you have the Holy Spirit,

the Spirit of God inside of you, then you

understand the Word of God and the

nature of God, then you receive a new

heart and you become a new creation. It’s

not about religion, brother. It is about


You need the Holy Spirit.

You need to be born again, and you need

to become a new creation

in Christ Jesus, amen.