Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's "The Gospel"?

I watched a good movie called Time Changer this summer. It was stodgy and slow, but I like stodgy and slow. It was set in 1900 and was about a junior seminary professor who writes a book saying that in some cases it is all right to preach living a good life without using Jesus as a moral absolute. A senior professor of the seminary objects to that section in the book and urges the young seminarian to use his secret time machine to go 100 years into the future to see where his beliefs will lead. He arrives in 2000 horrified to experience the cold and pale thing Christianity has become.

What I liked about the end was a scene where he is getting ready to return to the past. He says goodbye to a laundromat caretaker he had met, and gives him a bible. He says the following to the laundromat guy, named Eddie:

"Jesus is coming back soon to set up His earthly kingdom. The requirement, though, to enter this kingdom, is that we must be absolutely perfect, without sin.

Well, that leaves me out of that party.

No one is without sin, Eddie. Not one! All of us face eternal judgment and separation from God. This is why we must accept Jesus Christ into our life as Lord. He is the only one who lived a perfect life, and thus became the substitute for our sins.

For me, too?

Yes, for you too Eddie. He rose from the dead, proving He was God. And He wants to save us from the penalty of our sins, and give us eternal life. But we must first individually receive Him. This is what it means to believe in Jesus.

I never heard it explained so simple, preacher.

God wants us to be reconciled to Himself. So much so that He gave His only so to die for us. It’s all in the bible. I pray that you will consider what I’m saying."

That is the Gospel. Here are some few scriptures that are proof texts for this Gospel:

Jesus and His kingdom: Revelation 20:4, Daniel 7:13-14, Zechariah 14:8-11
Requirements for entry: John 3:5, John 3:3, Titus 3:5
No one is without sin: Romans 3:10
We all face judgment: 2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 9:27, Romans 2:16, Acts 10:42
Jesus is sinless: 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, Hebrews 4:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus is our substitute: Isaiah 53:4-6
He died for all: John 1:29, "The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" and John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." 1 John 2:2, "and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Jesus' resurrection: Acts 13:33, Romans 1:4
Believe and you shall be saved: Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9
It's all in the bible: 2 Timothy 3:16

Why was a sacrifice necessary? Why was it necessary that blood had to have been shed? The Gospel is that we believe Jesus the son of God is fully God and fully man, manifested in the flesh, who came to earth to seek and save the lost. He died on the cross, shedding His blood as the perfect, sinless sacrifice. He was buried and resurrected by the power of God three days later. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

 Leviticus 17:11 says "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ " Hebrews 9:22 says "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

I do not know why God set it up that the blood is the life, and is the mechanism for atonement, but it is so because we are told that by His word. God had to pour out His wrath for sin upon Jesus, whose shed blood was payment for the sins of the world. There had to be a sacrifice and it had to be pure. Jesus is sinless, and was therefore acceptable to God as that sacrifice. Jesus took on all the sins of the world AND all God's wrath for it. He took our place so we do not have to endure God's wrath, unless a person rejects Jesus. Then they are subject to wrath! Forever!!

That's the Gospel. Please believe it. Your soul depends on it.

Mark of the beast is not just possible now, it's here

Even atheists have heard of one of the bible's most deadly and mysterious prophesies, "the Mark of the Beast". This prophecy is found in Revelation 13:16-18. It says that the antichrist, also known as The Beast, will force everyone to worship him. To cement this worship all people on earth must receive a mark on their hand or forehead. If you don't accept this mark, you can't buy or sell (participate in the economy). Also, you will be hunted down and killed. (Rev 20:4).

The Lord gives us the prophecies but He does not fill in every single detail all the time. In this case, we are not told if the mark will be the currency or the mark will be the permission on which someone may buy or sell using their own national currency. Likely the former.

The interesting thing about the prophecy is that it presupposes that the technology available when the conditions are ready for fulfillment will be that every person in the world can be tracked from a central point. For many years during the modern era (after 1920 or so, since electricity and telephones etc) Christians who believe the bible believed the prophecy, but for the life of them could not figure out how it would be fulfilled. Then the space age came and satellites now orbit, and Global Positioning systems reveal just how easy it is to track people and objects.

Even at that, it's hard to think of how a system can come together where every person who shows up at a cash register at some store can be immediately identified as a friend or a foe to the antichrist. It is hard to think of how each of the 7 billion people of the world can be tracked if they have the mark or hunted if they don't.

This essay is not to say that the technology is coming soon, but that it is here and in place.

We don't see technological infrastructure, so we don't know the degree to which the world's more advanced governments have pushed the envelope of personal invasion of privacy. But we are finding out, and quickly.

Michael Snyder wrote on his Economic Collapse blog, "If you live in the United States of America, you live in a giant prison where liberty and freedom are slowly being strangled to death. In this country, the control freaks that run things are obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. Nothing is private anymore. Everything that you do on the Internet is being monitored. All of your phone calls are being monitored. In fact, if law enforcement authorities suspect that you have done something wrong, they will use your cell phone microphone to listen to you even when you think your cell phone is turned off. In many areas of the country, when you get into your car automated license plate readers track you wherever you go, and in many major cities when you are walking on the streets a vast network of security cameras and "smart street lights" are constantly watching you and listening to whatever you say. The TSA is setting up "internal checkpoints" all over the nation, Homeland Security is encouraging all of us to report any "suspicious activity" that our neighbors are involved in and the federal government is rapidly developing "pre-crime" technology that will flag us as "potential terrorists" if we display any signs of nervousness. If you are flagged as a "potential terrorist", the U.S. military can arrest you and detain you for the rest of your life without ever having to charge you with anything. Yes, the United States of America is rapidly being turned into a "Big Brother" prison grid, and most Americans are happily going along with it."

I'm sure you've seen the headlines that match and support the truth of the above. I have. Now there is another headline that today gives me pause. It is actually the basis for writing this piece.

Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything
"The Android developer who raised the ire of a mobile-phone monitoring company last week is on the attack again, producing a video of how the Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone. Though the software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut analyzed its workings, revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience — ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control. But now he’s released a video actually showing the logging of text messages, encrypted web searches and, well, you name it."

It gets worse. More from the article:

"Cringe as the video shows the software logging each number as Eckhart fingers the dialer. “Every button you press in the dialer before you call,” he says on the video, “it already gets sent off to the IQ application.” From there, the data — including the content of text messages — is sent to Carrier IQ’s servers, in secret. By the way, it cannot be turned off without rooting the phone and replacing the operating system. And even if you stop paying for wireless service from your carrier and decide to just use Wi-Fi, your device still reports to Carrier IQ."

Now is it possible to see how quickly the prophecy from Revelation can be fulfilled? One inhibitor to the general populace accepting this was that the general populace rebelled against even the thought. Now we have gotten so used to invasive technology tracking our every move that we don't even murmur when it pushes ever more deeply into our lives. It's obvious that the people don't care if they are tracked, and it is equally obvious that the technology developers and installers have no moral qualms about tracking. So as of this moment, there is means and opportunity, as they say in the crime shows. All that is left is the motive. And with the collapse of Europe and the global financial system likely upon our doorstep, motive will soon appear. Very soon. Jim Cramer of CNBC says that because of what is happening in Europe, the global financial system is at "DEFCON 3, two stages from a financial collapse that is so huge it's hard to get your mind around."

ANd one more item, also from Michael Snyder, about a new bill in the US Congress. "A new bill that is going through the U.S. Senate would allow the U.S. military to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without trial. This new law was recently discussed in an article posted on the website of the New American....In what may be a tale too bizarre to be believed by millions of Americans, the U.S. Senate appears ready to pass a bill that will designate the entire earth, including the United States and its territories, one all-encompassing “battlefield” in the global “war on terror” and authorize the detention of Americans suspected of terrorist ties indefinitely and without trial or even charges being filed that would necessitate a trial."

So the world is a battlefield in which technology can and should be used to track people. They want to track Americans now but that could and soon will change to tracking everyone. How do I know this? The bible tells us. Revelation 13 and it is called The Mark of the Beast. It is here.

Means & Motive exist. Opportunity is knocking as we speak. The most sinful, evil person in the entire world will soon appear on the scene and soon after that, he will implement the Mark. Are you ready? You will have to ready yourself for that fateful decision, if you are not one of Jesus' children right now, and among those therefore who will be raptured out of the world before all this begins. Repent of your sins, meaning, are you sorry for the sinful person that you are? If you believe you are a sinner and that Jesus came to earth in a body, lived a sinless life, died to become sin and take the wrath of God, and rose to life on the third day, then you are a believer in the Gospel. That's the Gospel. That is what you need to escape all these things and be reconciled to Jesus forever. Consider it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wow the headlines are just so gripping!

I look at how the world is descending into chaos and I am simply amazed. The headlines today are so prophetic, and so cautionary.

The Economist today: "The euro: Beware of falling masonry"
"The crisis in the euro area is turning into a panic and dragging the zone into recession. The risk that the currency disintegrates within weeks is alarmingly high"

Weeks! The antichrist is prophesied to emerge from the revived Roman empire (Dan 9:26) and eventually install an economic dictatorship involving a mark without which no one may buy or sell. (Rev 13:16-17). That the currency of a swathe of nations who'd combined financially, comprising the a huge portion of the old Roman Empire, can't be ignored in the face of prophetic economic and financial things to come.

Report: Explosion rocks Iran city of Isfahan, home to key nuclear facility
"Semi-official Fars news agency says blast heard distinctly in several parts of the western Iran city; a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan went online in 2004. An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city. ... The reported incident occurred about two weeks after Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other Guard members Nov. 12 at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran."

ABC reported of the explosion, "A major Iranian nuclear research centre is located near Isfahan city, although none of the Iranian reports of the blast said whether the explosion was near it. "In the afternoon, there was a noise like an explosion, but we don't have any information from security forces on the source of the noise," judiciary head Gholamreza Ansari was quoted as saying.Iranian media provided contradictory information about the incident, which came less that three weeks after a massive explosion at a military base near Tehran that killed at least 17 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including the head of its missile forces."

Hmmm, the second mysterious explosion heard near an Iranian nuke facility in as many weeks.

NATO supply route through Pakistan stopped permanently
"Supply trucks for American-led forces in Afghanistan backed up on Pakistani roads near the border after Pakistan closed the routes following a NATO air strike that killed 24 of its troops."

Pakistan is furious, actually. It seems that each nation is moving into the final geo-political positions...east against west, Muslim against Christian, Tribulation nations allied as per Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38, world against Jerusalem...

In 2010 I wrote about how the lens through which God sees thew world is through Israel. We know this because in Genesis 12:3 God said to Abraham- "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Israel is the lens through which God judges nations. What happens to Israel affects the entire world. In that essay I included come ancient map images. Ancient cartography depicted Jerusalem as the belly button of the world, and Israel was always dead center on the map.

The net is drawing tight, and all things are almost in place. I hope you are born again, saved by faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. If not, think about it now.

What does it mean to be born again?

I came to faith in Jesus at age 43. In my youth and in adult life I never was exposed much to church or Born Again believers or the things of Jesus. A few minimal run-ins, a week or two at a bible camp in some dank church basement here or there and that's about it. As an adult in New England, which is rife with false religions and atheists, I never bumped elbows with "Jesus freaks" as they are known up there.

That said, there is a vocabulary associated with Christianity that a person hears at some point in their lives just from listening to news clips or seeing movies or television. "You have to be born again," or "He's saved" are examples. I never knew what they meant. I do now. I'll do my best to explain them.

According to the definition using scriptures at Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry, "Born Again" means "The term Born Again refers to new birth enjoyed by Christians upon conversion and regeneration. It is a work of the Holy Spirit within a believer. It is related to faith in Christ and Him crucified (John 3:3-5). It means that the person is no longer dead in sins (Eph. 2:1), no longer spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), and is now a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17)."

Why do we need to have a new birth in Christ? Well, we're all sinners. Sinning means we all do, think, and say wrong things. No one likes to hear that they are born sinful. They say, "I've done nothing wrong. I am not a murderer. I'm not like Hitler! I live a good life. Babies aren't sinners!" But the fact is, we are born with a nature that is permeated with badness. If you ever saw a child willfully throw their peas to the floor you are witnessing sin. If you ever had a two year old throw a tantrum because they didn't get their way, you are witnessing sin.

This was brought home to me in this video. In it, a small child is shown to be throwing a tantrum. Now, most people think that children do this simply because they are too young to control their emotions and their internal desires get the better of them. And that is true! But the video also shows by example that children even as young as this one know what they are doing when they rebel. He has his tantrum only when his mother is in eye view, he cries only when his mother is in sight, and he repeatedly positions himself to rebel purposely and for maximum effect.

We have a sin nature. From birth.

Now, Jesus came to take the penalty for God's wrath for all this sin. He is Holy and the Judge. If we commit crimes against Him, he can't just let it go, can He? A judge in a court on earth would not do that. You do the crime, you pay.

Being born again happens when a person recognizes their sin nature, that they are a sinner, and that this sin is separating them from God. It is very, very, very hard to do this, because our sin blinds us to this fact. You might ask, if sin is so pervasive and blinds us to the degree of our own position before God, what hope is there to ever get out of it?

Jesus! And the Holy Spirit! And God! John 6:44 says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 12:32: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

It's the Holy Spirit that brings understanding of our position before God as sinners, through the reading and hearing of God's Word, being burdened with thoughts and guilt of the bad things we do, hearing the Gospel and His free pardon to us. He enlightens us and reveals to us who Jesus really is and what He has done for all mankind. We may know about Him, as I did for 43 years, but we will not know Him and His lovingkindness toward us unless we first understand that we sin.

Once we are born again, a one-time event, He then sends the Spirit inside us to help us grow away from our sinful nature and become more Christlike. We will never be completely away from our sinful nature until we are in heaven. At that time the transformation process of cleansing sin from our literal body, begun at the new birth, is completed. He gives us a new body! No more sin! And we can finally be with Him, the Sinless and Holy One, in heaven.

It is really simple. We do bad things, and they aren't just murders and rapes and robberies, but even gossip and slander and lust in the heart or lust through the eyes is sin. Everyone who was ever born on earth is a sinner- except Jesus. So by definition no one on earth can go to heaven. Here is what Jesus said on the matter:

"The New Birth

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

"Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. " (John 3:1-17).

That's kind of hard to understand, and impossible to understand if you are not a Chrisitan saved by Jesus. But essentially it means, we're born sinners, we won't go to heaven when we die, we'll go to hell. To save us from hell, Jesus died on the cross as the sacrifice required to pay the price of His wrath for sin. Jesus was resurrected on the third day and ascended to heaven. Anyone who believes this Gospel by faith will be born again. He sends the Spirit into you and the Spirit changes you from the inside out. You're a new creation! Born again!

Born a second time, from sinner to believer growing in Christlikeness. You're qualified for heaven, and will be with Jesus for all eternity instead of your default destination: hell.

Being born again is wonderful. I'm just sorry I wasted all the prior years, but Jesus' timing is perfect and His plans are accomplished right on schedule.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Testament

This is what the Lord has done this week for me and with me:

He used me for His glory and for His name. It is a hard thing to be used so well by the Holy Spirit while it is happening, but the reward is great: a closer walk with the King and a greater humility when it is over that I could be used for His name.

He gave me crystal clarity to a situation. He didn't have to do that, but He did. I praise His name in the highest!

Another result I received a greater faith in His word, and what a blessing that is. He is steady and true, and He is with me always.

He gave me understanding of an overlooked sin, and forgave me when I repented of it.

He showed me why I am the way I am. I learned last summer that I am a high functioning autistic/adult Asperger's, and though it answered many questions in my mind about why I think and feel about things the way I do and why I connect with the world in a different way than everyone else, I wasn't settled about it. But this week He showed me how He could use me because He made me this way.

He gave me His felt presence in a fervent prayer session and I came away with tears, knowing that His word does not go out and come back void. He works all things for the good for those who love Him. Before, I knew it, today I know it.

He answered prayer. I had asked for provision. He gave it. No, I don't have a bigger bank account. He delivered treasures galore: peace, conviction, understanding, nearness to Him, and joy. I'm rich!

Most of all, He ministered to me an even better understanding of His mercy, His greatness and His love. What a tremendous, tremendous God we have. Jesus is so High, yet came low for us. He will return to gather His bride, and I'm so happy for this. Until then, I seek His face always.

"For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD." (Jer 1:7b-8)

Do not be afraid to step out in faith and do what the Lord commands. He is with us.

Follow the money! To Bankruptcy, that is

When we think of bankruptcy we always think of material bankruptcy. Someone went broke. Someone had money, and they don't any more. Bankrupt.

What we never think of is spiritual bankruptcy. We never ponder that we are all bankrupt. "What?" You ask? "I have money in my bank account and my bills are paid." No, we are born sinners, bankrupt of the spirit that we need to come into alignment with Jesus, which is the spirit of repentance for our sins.

His glory is that men respond to His call for repentance and come out of spiritual bankruptcy because of His grace and mercy. It is the highest act of a Holy God to redeem men.

Sadly, we live in a time when there is much material bankruptcy but also much spiritual bankruptcy. There is spiritual bankruptcy in the church. The Prosperity Gospel, also known as Name it-Claim it, the Health-Wealth Gospel or the Word of Faith Gospel, permeate today's Laodicean Church of America. The Prosperity Gospel is spiritually bankrupt.

I wrote a blistering essay on the view Jesus holds of the last church in the Church Age. We are in that phase now, and it is called the Laodicean Church. I wrote about what Jesus says of this church, here.

Jesus said of this last church they will say "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’" This is a direct quote of what Jesus said the last church will say of themselves. He abhors this church. He vomits it out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:14-22). How did we get here? What happened?

False philosophies don't just appear, they have always existed, since the Garden when satan exhibited pride and sought to diminish God before men. All philosophies stem from this, in various iterations. As far back as 1860 (or so) Charles Spurgeon preached:

"I believe that it is anti-Christian and unholy for any Christian to live with the object of accumulating wealth. You will say, “Are we not to strive all we can to get all the money we can?” You may do so. I cannot doubt but what, in so doing, you may do service to the cause of God. But what I said was that to live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian."

Even further back, Jonathan Edwards preached in the 1700s, that "On judgment day even the condemned will testify against unfaithful ministers for their failure to seek the salvation of souls. Such ministers neglect the proper work of the ministry and attend chiefly to accumulating wealth. "They will face a dreadful Judgment." "Those precious souls who were committed to our care lost through neglect will rise up in judgment against us and shall declare how we neglected their souls." (source, book "The salvation of souls: nine previously unpublished sermons on the call of ministry and the Gospel" by Jonathan Edwards.)

Prosperity Gospel is nothing new. But our response to it, is.

Hearken to a warning from even further back. Jesus' warning of the Laodicean Church was not only condemning a general attitude of the last church in the Church Age, but was a letter to an actual church in 90AD. It was read at the church in Laodicea. It is real. Jesus warned the actual Laodicean Church that accumulating wealth for wealth's sake will lead to them being blind, poor, naked and unrighteous. By poor, I believe He meant poor in not having the treasure of Jesus as the primary consideration of their heart.

We receive other biblical warnings about the gangrenous effect of replacing the treasure of Jesus with the idol of money.

"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you." (James 5:1-6)

The Holy Spirit causes James to write that the rich will weep. There is no getting around that. The rich will weep. They will howl. They will be miserable. Not that money is bad, but look what the verse goes on to say they did with it: they accumulated it in the last days. They defrauded. They cheated honest workers. Do we see these conditions now? Yes.

So that is the second verse that shames and condemns the church that trades spiritual treasures for material wealth. Revelation 3:14-22 tells us, James 5:1-6 tells us. And now Jesus tells us in Matthew the same warnings. In Matthew 13:22, Jesus explains the parable of the sower. He says, "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful."

The deceitfulness of riches chokes the Word.

In Matthew 6:19 Jesus warns, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:"

Paul warns Timothy, in 1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Focusing on wealth makes us stray. It chokes the word. It makes us howl. It produces misery. And if we pursue material wealth at the expense of Jesus and to the exclusion of Jesus, we will be vomited out His mouth.

Do we take heed?

Money is good and useful for advancing the Kingdom of God. It is great for showing the love of Jesus through giving to our neighbor. But if we accumulate it, hoard it, gain it by deceptive means, we succumb to its inherent evil, because then money has been separated from its intent: to show the glory of Jesus. Be warned.

Revelation 18:4-5 is the end of the end of the prosperity gospel. It is last chance Texaco, the bitter end of the sin of riches come to full fruition. See, even as the harlot economic Babylon is almost at her final moment, in His mercy He still calls us out of the deceitfulness of her riches!

"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." (Revelation 18:4-5)

But then the damnation comes. It is where this has all been leading since the American Prosperity Gospel polluted the American church in the twentieth century, since Charles Spurgeon warned us not to accumulate riches in the nineteenth century, since Jonathan Edwards preached against ministers accumulating wealth at the expense of their charge of lost souls, since satan in the garden tempted man with the notion that satan has more to offer than God does, we have been chugging down this road. It all ends in Revelation 18.

"In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her." (Rev 18:4-5, 7-8).

Use your money for the Glory of God. Check your motivations for accumulating it. And combat the Prosperity Gospel as the evil daughter of the Harlot Babylon that it is. Don't be spiritually bankrupt. Work, labor, be paid, and give back joyfully. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sobering thoughts: the prophecy of our Laodicean church

The Tribulation will be a time of devastation and woe like no other in human history. That is not a possibility, it is a promise from Jesus. He said in Mt 24:21-22 "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened."

How bad? Half the people alive when the Tribulation begins will be dead before the Tribulation is half over. Rev. 6:8 says given to the horseman to kill a fourth part of the earth by sword, famine, pestilence and beasts. When the 1st judgments (seal judgments) are over, a quarter of the world will be dead. After the Seal Judgments are the Trumpet Judgments. Rev. (9:15). A third of the world is killed through those. There is no number given as for how many are killed in the Bowl Judgments that occur in the second half, but Jesus did say that if He had kept it going longer all flesh would be dead by the end.

There was recently much ballyhoo made over the 7 billionth baby. Our global population is at this moment, 7 billion. Half the population dead in the first half of the Trib means 3.5 billion people dead in 3.5 years. That is a billion people a year. That is 83 million people a month. That's 27 million people a week. That's like saying the entire population of Tokyo, dead this week. Seoul SK, next week. Mexico City, the week after, and on and on and on with the death. More will die in the second half.

So why do I dwell on this if I want to encourage? Well, I do want to encourage, but I want to focus for a moment on God and His holiness. He is perfect, holy, sinless, and glory itself. He hates sin, and He punishes for sin. His wrath is great! "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Rev 6:16). This apostate church in America focuses on love, and unity and tolerance, wealth-health, they fail at church discipline because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings. Well, allowing false teachings into the church because you don't want to hurt feelings is saying you allow offense to Jesus because you don't want to hurt satan's feelings! We have Joel Osteen speaking in the name of God saying we can get our best life now, AND a good parking place at the mall, too, if we follow his 7 steps for finding our full potential....

Preacher and missionary Paul Washer said he'd like to create a book cover with himself on it, standing like Osteen, with the title "Your Worst Life Now: why you have no potential for anything and you're completely depraved". I laughed, as did the video audience, but he has a point. We forget the power of God with all this talk of being radical and purpose driven. Gradually, we have made God in OUR image.

We have Jentezen Franklin urging us to fast and that our fast is the key that will unlock heaven and shut the gates of hell. It is statements like that, against a HOLY AND JUST GOD, who alone has the key to heaven and hell, indicating a grievous spiritual-heart condition that make Him so wrathful! This isn't a partnership, and Jesus is not our psychologist. He is not our bank account. He is not our grocery store. He is not to be mocked, spoken of in vain, nor ignored.

So at the Tribulation, He will be impossible to ignore.

I am not reveling in all this death. But I revel in a holy God. I understand my position before Him and I know it is only His power and grace that lifted me out and not my own effort, merit, thoughts, 7 steps, or fasts. It is Him and Him alone in charge. The Tribulation is a time when He will remind everyone of that. As a culture, we have forgotten how terrible sin is, our sin. I understand the justice required for our Holy God to punish the wicked. My gratitude extends to Him every day in relief and wonder that He saved me. Not because I have a low opinion of me, but because I have a high opinion of Him. Because I have an understanding of my depraved sinful condition, and I am amazed that He even would want to have anything to do with me in that condition! "what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:1

But He did, He picked me out of the mud of my own depravity and He washed me, lovingly. And He did that for the American Christians who now set Him aside on their way to buy Jentezen Franklin's newest book about "recovering your passion, recapturing your dream, restoring your joy." What about God's passion? Jesus's joy?

The Book of Revelation opens with letters to 7 churches authored by Jesus. At the time John recorded them, there actually were 7 churches named The Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7); The Church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11); The Church at Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17); The Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29); The Church at Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6); The Church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13); The Church at Laodicea. Laodicea is the only church in which Jesus had nothing good to say.

It is thought that in addition to the 7 churches being real churches in John's time, the churches also represent the church age, and that Laodicea represents the last phase of the church on earth and the coming of Jesus, in other words, us. Lamentably, He stands outside the door and knocks, an uninvited and unwanted guest to the very church He died for. (Rev 3:20). He may be reading the sign we pinned there, "Gone to the Mall".

The prophecy of the Laodicean Church is found in Revelation 3:14-22. The Laocidean Church is known as "The Dead Church".

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:   “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—   I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Laodicea is charged with being so spiritually blind they bask in their wealth (Rev 3:17), needing Jesus for nothing and unaware of their condition. In that verse Jesus quotes the church as saying, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." Does that sound like today's prosperity gospel-laden churches, or what?!

"Your Best Life Now"
"It's Your Time"
"How to be Happier 7 Days a Week"
"Become A Better You"

Where is Jesus? Outside the church, knocking to get in. (Rev 3:20)

 This church was also spiritually arrogant in its self-satisfaction. Jesus charges them with being naked, a symbol of worthlessness and shame, having no garment of righteousness on them to cover themselves! They are charged with being lukewarm, apostate, naked, worthless, unrighteous, rich, so rich they exclude the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit! This spiritual condition is an abomination to a holy God.

Serious, serious stuff. Before you embark on the latest fad infiltrating your church, before you buy a book telling you Jesus will make you rich, before you accept a jet setting preacher's words in the latest book saying if you 'give big, you get big', before you cut back on missions giving in favor of a new children's playground or a church van, THINK! This church is us. It is an unsaved church, proud and about to receive a blistering rebuke from a Holy God.

Our holy God will vomit this church out of His mouth. Read Rev 3! We're almost there. *I* feel like vomiting our church out of my mouth! Imagine how Jesus feels! For these sins and for all the sins of the world done in His name and out of His name, the world will be judged. If you mourn the Tribulation deaths, good. If you are unwilling to let your mind think on it for a moment, good. But think on this: our position before a holy God is low, He raised us up with His blood. Honor that blood, honor that cross, fight for your church! Fight for your faith!

Principles in pictures

I like pictures. Regular pictures to illustrate a point, or word-pictures to show my thinking. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Here are some pictures that illustrate what I have been thinking about lately. Maybe they will click with you, maybe not...

Christians saved by the blood of Christ and faith in His work upon the cross are released from bondage. Galatians 4 is a great essay on the liberation from the bondage of the Law and to sin, which the people were in early on, to the release from that bondage by Christ on the cross. Matthew Henry's commentary explains,

"He [Paul] acquaints us with the state of the Old-Testament church: it was like a child under age, and it was used accordingly, being kept in a state of darkness and bondage, in comparison of the greater light and liberty which we enjoy under the gospel. That was indeed a dispensation of grace, and yet it was comparatively a dispensation of darkness; for as the heir, in his minority, is under tutors and governors till the time appointed of his father, by whom he is educated and instructed in those things which at present he knows little of the meaning of, though afterwards they are likely to be of great use to him; so it was with the Old-Testament church-the Mosaic economy, which they were under, was what they could not fully understand the meaning of; for, as the apostle says (2 Co. 3:13), They could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished."

"But to the church, when grown up to maturity, in gospel days, it becomes of great use. And as that was a dispensation of darkness, so of bondage too; for they were in bondage under the elements of the world, being tied to a great number of burdensome rites and observances, by which, as by a kind of first rudiments, they were taught and instructed, and whereby they were kept in a state of subjection, like a child under tutors and governors. The church then lay more under the character of a servant, being obliged to do every thing according to the command of God, without being fully acquainted with the reason of it; but the service under the gospel appears to be more reasonable than that was. The time appointed of the Father having come, when the church was to arrive at its full age, the darkness and bondage under which it before lay are removed, and we are under a dispensation of greater light and liberty."

In other words, we are not in a pit. We are not in bondage. Sin is bondage. If we are born again and have the Spirit in us we have been released from the pit. But Beth Moore always talks about being in the pit. Being in bondage. And of using man-made methods to get out. Listening to her depresses me. There are so many pits and strongholds and bondages in Moore's mind the only solace is thinking that well, at least everyone else is in bondage too. Hey, misery loves company! In Beth Moore's world, we live not as co-heirs to Christ, as salt and light for His glory, we live in Prairie Dog Town. We're ALL in a pit!

I got out of my pit when I trusted the power of a risen Christ to release me from the power of sin.
On to termites. Have you ever seen those really big termite mounds in Africa or Australia? The termites, left untouched, make an underground city as large as London, relative to their size. Now, false teaching can be like a termite mound. The Way to heaven is narrow and the gate to get in is small, Jesus said. (Matthew 7:14) It is Jesus only. But false teaching will try to put you off the path.

If the false teaching of the termites is left alone, it grows to monstrous proportions. You try to enlarge the way around it to move forward, which puts you off the narrow path. The best thing to do is crush the termites when they are small and dig out the mound from the path so all who follow behind you can continue unimpeded.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hello, Holy Spirit!!

I'd mentioned that I had wanted to get back to basics and do some blog entries on the foundational things. The Holy Spirit is near and dear to me, and I pray to Him daily. But He is often overlooked in the Trinity, in favor of prayers to Almighty God and to Lord Jesus. But the Holy Spirit has an important ministry we'll take a look at in this essay. We'll also see how He is prophesied to minister in the last of the last days and in the Tribulation.

The last days are the entire Church Age. They began at Pentecost and they will end at the Rapture. So Paul was in the last days. Martin Luther was in the last days. Charles Spurgeon was in the last days. We are in the last days. But I believe we are in the last of the last days, the moments remaining perhaps but few. However the ministry of the Holy Spirit has been with us since Genesis 1:2 where we're told "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." Don't you visualize Him as a dove, his wings outstretched and fluttering over the waters almost hugging the world as it was being formed? He is referred to again in Genesis 1:26 when God said "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..." Therefore we can conclude the Holy Spirit is God.

He has a personality. In Genesis 1:2 and Job 33:4 we read that He creates life. He directs where to preach and where not to preach. Remember Paul's seeking of direction for where to go next in his mission fields? The Spirit stopped him from going north, then south, and eventually directed Paul to go to Greece, blessedly bringing the Gospel from the Middle East to Europe. (Acts 8:29; Acts 10:19-20; Acts 16:6-7).

He comforts (Acts 9:31) and He teaches (John 14:26). He imparts the love of God to the saints and joy too. He maintains the church in edification (Acts 9:31). There is so much more I could write about the Spirit, books have been written, but turn to this one,

"Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." (Proverbs 1:23). He is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding! (Isaiah 11:2). And we need Him for that, desperately. Without Him we cannot understand the Word.

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Without Him we cannot understand the Word.

God reveals the things God wants us to know and to have by His Spirit. That is huge. God revealed Himself to us in creation, then He revealed Himself to us in Jesus on earth as His Son, now He reveals Himself to us through His Spirit bringing understanding of the Word, which is Jesus. Kind of circular, you say? Yes, that is the Trinity. They are God but they each are a Person distinct from the other, with different ministries, which are harmonized perfectly and completely in holiness in One. If you don't understand that, it's OK, I don't either! It is one of the mysteries of God that He can be three in one...

His ministry in some ways remains the same and some ways changes throughout the course of the covenants. In most cases in the Old Testament, the Spirit "came upon", He did not indwell. John the Baptist is an exception. John the Baptist is considered an Old Testament prophet because he died before the cross. Nevertheless, John was filled with the Spirit in the womb. Another example of God filling someone with the Spirit prior to the cross is Exodus 31:1-2, filling Bezalel to know how to build the temple. But normally, the Spirit came upon them for the period necessary to fulfill the task set before them (2 Chron 24:20, Judges 3:24).

God could and did take away the Spirit. The Spirit came upon Saul as King (1 Sam 10:6) but God removed it when Saul rebelled (1 Sam 16:14). David begged God not to take away the Spirit in his rebellion with Bathsheba. (Psalm 51:11).

When Jesus told the Disciples that He was going away but He would send a Comforter, it was the Spirit He was referring to. The Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost, filling them. (Acts 2). However that portion of the Spirit's ministry changed, He now indwells us permanently. He is the deposit of guarantee of our inheritance and His seal of ownership on us. (Ephesians 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22). If we confess our sins and believe by faith Jesus is Lord, He sends the Spirit into us and we can never lose Him (John 10:29). This doctrine is called "Once Saved, Always Saved" and I believe in it. If we could lose the Spirit as in OT days then there would be no guarantee, would there? If God sends the Spirit to indwell but takes it away, He breaks His own seal, doesn't He? No, it cannot be so!

But remember the Tribulation is actually a return to the Old Testament days, finishing up those last decreed 7 years as punishment of the Jews and the world for unrighteousness (Daniel 9:24). Therefore the way I read it, the Spirit will return to the ministry of 'coming upon' but not indwelling. It is why they will sacrifice in the Tribulation, also.

Jack Kelley explained it this way:

"The only passage that describes the requirements of Tribulation believers is that they obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (Rev. 14:12). It means they will have to keep the commandments as best as they can, trusting the blood of Jesus to cover them when they fall short. Old Testament standards were essentially the same, except they didn’t know the name of their Savior. Except for taking the mark of the Beast, the Bible doesn’t identify any red lines beyond which salvation would be revoked, but based on what it does say more weight will be given to maintaining their faith than anything else."

One ministry the Spirit inhabits is the restraining ministry, and it is that one that I'll finish with. In Genesis 6 we read that God tell us that "My spirit will not strive with man forever..." This is the chapter of the conditions leading up to the worldwide judgment of the Flood. It seems to be telling us that at a certain point, He removes the restraining ministry from man when sin has reached a certain point, or that he removes Him prior to a worldwide judgment. However, He never removes His Spirit from the earth completely because how would we be drawn to the cross, otherwise? The verse goes on to say 'nevertheness his days are 120 years'.

We know He is the restrainer of lawlessness because Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8.

"And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming."

He restrains Lawlessness. The Greek word is defined "lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience, sin". He restrains sin.

Doesn't it seem like things are getting worse and worse in terms of morality, crime, greed, apostasy? I'm 51 years old (well, I will be in three weeks :) and I look back and think on the formative images I saw on the news during the 1960s and 1970s. I saw the riots, the homosexual agenda, political upheaval, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Viet Nam war. Women's rights and abortion and Planned Parenthood and the Pill came in too. When I saw the Democratic National Convention riots, I thought the world was coming to an end, literally. It seemed to my young eyes and heart that everything was crashing down. It looks to me now from the vantage point of half a century on earth, that each new generation was exponentially worse than the previous one, and that lawlessness is compounding.

I believe America in the early to mid 1960s there was an influx of demonic activity. I believe that was allowed to happen because the Restrainer was slowly lifting His hand.

Now, this idea of the Restrainer being removed is biblical, Gen 6 and 2 Thess speaks of it. But I have no clue if He is lifting His hand fast or slow. I do not know at what rate the restraint is being removed. But my opinion is that the sudden change in society in the 1960s is evidence that He had lifted it some, because such a flood of lawlessness came in all at once. I believe that 9/11 was another indicator that He had lifted His hand some more. And in the last year, the cravenness of apostasy and false doctrine in the church is another indicator to me that His hand is going up, faster and faster now. Just look at the headlines on Drudge this Black Friday morning:

Woman pepper sprays other Black Friday shoppers 'to gain an upper hand'...
'Competitive shopping' turns into chaos...
VIDEO: Mayhem over $2 waffle maker...
Woman shot, robbed in SC after midnight shopping trip to WALMART...
NC police use pepper spray to break up melee...

And these persistent commercials of the blond woman training for Black Friday are off the charts gross.

I think the worldwide judgment is very close, and one of the reasons I believe so is that the lawlessness (sin) has increased to such a degree, and that is because the Restrainer is restraining less and less until the moment in 2 Thessalonians He does not restrain at all. The Thessalonians verse says the antichrist will not be revealed until the Restrainer is removed, and that is in the middle of the Tribulation, but if things are this bad now, you can get a clue as to how much worse they will be then.

And also, this shows us how bad and destructive sin is. One little sin is the first gangrenous cell in your body desiring to contaminate every other cell near it and march up every limb you have and turn it black from putrefaction. That is how the world will be at the revealing of the antichrist, iniquity having been made full. (Dan 9:24). You can avoid being on earth, and be purified and refreshed if you appeal to Jesus. It is the Spirit that brought you here to read this, He draws one and all to the cross, and then convicts you of your sins. Read Galatians 3:1-5, and this commentary says of it, "The two are linked: the cross opens the door for the Spirit, and the experience of the Spirit is the result of faith in the message of the cross of Christ." Kind of circular you say? That's the Trinity, of which the Spirit is a part!

If you are an unbeliever, appeal to Jesus for your sins to be forgiven. This is repentance. You're sorry for your wrong things you do and you understand that they are crimes against Jesus. He will forgive you if you are sincere, and then He will send the Spirit to come inside you and help you resist more sinning. This is called regeneration, literally being born again as a new creation.

You can never escape sinning but when you do (and we all do, Christians too) appeal to the Spirit for help resisting them and apologize to Jesus for them. We repent after we are saved, too. As you submit more deeply to the Holy Spirit's ministry, though, you will find that you want to sin less and less. The Spirit is making you a new creation, in His likeness and in holiness. This is sanctification.

So when you share all this with someone and they say, "Man, you're not crazy, you're possessed!" you can proudly say yes, "I boast in the Spirit that is in me! Praise Jesus!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Intense ‘Twilight’ Birthing Scene Triggers Seizure Reports

This report is hitting the wires tonight:

"A local man says the latest movie in the popular ‘Twilight’ franchise triggered a seizure, and similar incidents have been reported in theaters around the country. Brandon Gephart and Kelly Bauman said they were watching “Breaking Dawn: Part One” at a theater Friday night when Brandon sudden began convulsing during a graphic birthing scene. Brandon said he doesn’t remember anything until he woke up on the theater floor, but Kelly said he was, “convulsing, snorting, trying to breathe.” “He scared me big time,” she added. Paramedics transported the man to the emergency room and the theater had to cancel the rest of the movie for that showing."

More at link.

Well. That was interesting... The intense scene they are talking about is the scene of the birth of the hybrid being created when the human woman and the demonic vampire procreated. My concerns of this movie's penetration into American cultural consciousness have been explored at depth already, here "Are vampire babies even possible". This situation reminds me of several prophetic verses which seem to match what is prophesied to come at the end time. These verses speak of conditions at or very near the Tribulation, which we are not in now, but may be close to beginning. The fullness of the conditions of what the verses speak of will come to perfect fruition at that time. What we are seeing now is just the whiff of the beginning, in my opinion. What we DO know is that time will be a long horror show that doesn't end when the credits roll...

"As it was in the Days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man." (Matthew 24:37.) So, what was it like in the days of Noah?

"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:1-4).

This set of verses reports a situation where the fallen angels (sons of God) took women (daughters of men) and mated with them, producing a hybrid race of half human, half demonic beings that were giants. Og, King of Bashan was a giant, as were Goliath and his four brothers. These giants were what the spies saw, who were carrying man-sized grapes at the entry to the Promised Land (Numbers 13:32-33). I can't imagine what it was like for those women in the days of Noah who gave birth to these hybrids... I suspect that the scenes from Twilight are very close to reality depicting what it may have been like at that last time and is prophesied to happen in real life again.

The days of Noah were also close to being like the culture we live in today: "The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." (Genesis 6:5).

The words in the verse indicate a total permeation of evil: "every inclination", "all the time." There was no good in them at all.

Last, this verse also comes to mind though it may not be as applicable, or maybe it is: "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken." (Luke 21:26).

Back to basics

I've been mulling over some things about apostasy. This is because in the course of my online and real life discernment and apologetics ministry, I have lately been shown by the grace of the Holy Spirit that the essential doctrines of our faith not only are being eroded "out there", but also "in here", in places and in people close to me. I am horrified at the depth and breadth of the erosion of what I believed were the obvious givens. I am grieving over the adherence to some of the more destructive heresies uncovered of late.

In my mind, the "obvious givens" start with the the Gospel. That Sovereign Jesus lived as fully man on earth, was sinless, died on the cross, bore the wrath of God for payment of our sins,was buried and resurrected by the power of God on the third day. That's the Gospel. One must believe those essentials in order to be saved. But even this basic tenet, the one that distinguishes us from ALL other philosophies, doctrines, faiths and assertions, is being corrupted daily. I had known it was bad in our faith. I had believed the prophesies about how bad it would get. I hadn't realized how bad the foundations had been eroded, or how many people are affected.

I worry strongly for the mature in the faith who are being drawn away by doctrines of devils, seducing spirits,  empty philosophies that are said to come. (1 Titus 4:1, Colossians 2:8). Worse, "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible." (Matthew 24:24). This means that if you can be deceived, you will be.

I'm worried for the new believers in our faith who watch the way mature believers act and listen to what the mature believers say as they get carried away with seducing spirits and the new ones are being carried away too. I want to protect the vulnerable.

I had been mulling about writing on the Ten Kings from Daniel and Revelation, about Ezekiel 38, about whether the US is in prophecy, what is Babylon and metaphorical Egypt and Sodom, and I'll likely get to those, but I'm shifting my focus at the prompting of the Spirit to explain simply what the basics are. There are people out there who believe we can be saved if we dream of Jesus in a jungle or that God is so big He could justly accept people into heaven who have not been born again by faith in ALL the Gospel... Our brethren are at risk!

So for a while I'm going to go back to the basics in apologetics (defending and explaining the faith) rather than continue in increasingly complex eschatology. Not that I will go away from eschatology. This whole week has been about the Spirit focusing me on end time prophesies of deception and false teaching, false doctrines, false prophets and false church culture. We have to look at these things through an end time lens, well, because we are in the end time. As a matter of fact, the end time deceptions are simply exploding right now, at a pace that faints my heart. I want to do this because when we're gone, and it seems that we will be soon, the people who are left behind and need to convert will need milk.

Jesus is tantamount. His Word has got to be adhered to strictly. Jesus finished His Sermon on the Mount, a lengthy discourse on how to live as a follower of Him. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:26-27).

The Word of God is our rock. It will never fall. Let's begin...

Syria's Permanent Arab Spring at the close of the Church Age

In the early parts of this year, actually beginning in mid-December 2010 in Tunisia, protests and violence sprang up in many Middle East nations, so much so that the the protests veered to revolutions and dictators were toppled. It has become known as the Arab Spring. Egypt and Libya's dictators were toppled, Algeria, Iraq, Golan Heights, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Sudan's governments were affected one way or another. But the longest-lasting violence has been in Syria. It began last March and the violence is ongoing, and is getting worse. Many nations, even the allies of Syria in the Arab League have all expressed frustration with the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and called for him to stop killing his citizens. Bashad has been seemingly impervious to resolutions, diplomatic entreaties, threats of sanctions or even heavily veiled military nudges from neighbor Turkey.

Even Moscow is getting impatient now. While Russia blocked a resolution against Syria at the UN in October, they now are calling for the government to engage in talks between the government and its opposition.

As a result of all this, tensions are at a critical height. There is talk of attack. There is talk of military intervention, all-out civil war. Israel has been very busy getting Iron Dome deployed and other military preparations, some say, for a strike on Iran. I'm not so sure.

In any case, the US has now sent the Aircraft Carrier Bush to Mediterranean waters just off Syria. No explanation is given for this action. A no-fly zone is on the verge of being instituted over Syria as Syrian airspace closes. American citizens are warned to leave Syria immediately, as "while commercial flights are still available."


It feels like the noose is tightening, doesn't it? That all things are drawing together. And you have to suspect that these overt military actions are being accompanied by many other actions happening covertly. I'm not a military analyst but when the United States deploys an aircraft carrier to an area near the prophetic epicenter without explanation, but that area is in the bulls-eye of prophecy at the close of the church age, I pay attention. That Syria's violence is causing the most tension of all the nations mentioned above, and that Syria (Damascus) is dead center of the most clearly unfulfilled end of days military prophecy ever, then I really pay attention.

The Isaiah 17 prophecy against Damascus, that Damascus will be destroyed, razed to the ground and removed from being a city, seems like it could occur any day. The prophecy is in the passive tense, meaning, it doesn't declare who causes the city to be destroyed, only that it will be. It could be destroyed by Israel, the US, an accidental conflagration set off by Syrians themselves as their chemical, biological, and/or nuclear stockpile gets grabbed by the revolutionaries, by God directly, or by another way we do not suspect. But Damascus will be destroyed, and the prophecy goes on to say it will happen overnight, "Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more." (Isaiah 17:14)

"I observe a simmering threat in the region based on a Sunni-Shiite divide," Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Wednesday. "It ... has the potential to move the Muslim world from the 21st century into the darkness of the Middle Ages."

President Gul speaks truer words than he knows...war is going to come to the Middle East (Is 17, Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38, 39,) and then to all of us (Matthew 24:6, Revelation 6:3-4). And with that, comes the rapture.

We are stunningly close to the rapture. This is the long-awaited event which closes the church age and brings Jesus's church to his bosom (2 Thessalonians 2:1). All people since the cross who have believed on Jesus as the ONLY way to heaven by repenting of their sins to the ONLY One who can forgive them, will be gathered alive and transformed, or resurrected and transformed, and brought bodily up to meet Him in the air. (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). He will lead us to the place to which He has been preparing for us. (John 14:3). This is for the purpose of removing and protecting His bride throughout the Tribulation to come. (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Isaiah 26:20).

It will happen suddenly and without warning. Jesus will interrupt the normal flow of life on earth and poke His head in. Not a representative, He isn't sending Gabriel, He Himself is coming Literally there will be a shout, (1 Thessalonians 4:19).

About that shout...not that the Lord will shout, but in the commentaries I read, they seem to agree that the translation of that word shout means "the word here used is observed by many to signify such a noise or shout as is made either by mariners, when they pull and row together; and shout to direct and encourage one another; or to an army with the general at the head of it, when about to undertake some considerable action, to enter on a battle, and make the onset; Christ will now appear as the King of kings, and Lord of lords, as the Judge of the whole earth, attended with the host, or armies of heaven, and the shout of a king will be among them: perhaps the same is intended, as by the voice of a great multitude."

Wow! Get ready. If you are saved, then your readiness by now should be in prayer, closely walking with the Lord, and growing daily in His ways by reading and being refreshed by the Word. If you are not saved then getting ready means repenting of your sins. He will not allow an unrighteous person into His kingdom, and since we are all unrighteous (Romans 3:10) the only way to be included is to have asked Him to clean your sins and make you righteous by His forgiveness. Repent now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a time when we traditionally celebrate the blessings we enjoy in life. Many families have a tradition of sitting around their table and each guest or family member saying what they are thankful for.

I'm thankful for my salvation. For that to be possible I am thankful for the Holy Spirit drawing me to Jesus. For that to be possible I am thankful to Jesus for obeying the Father and dying on the cross. For that to be possible I am thankful for God who created all the world and who is so Holy that His son obeyed Him and took all the wrath that was destined for me on that cross. I am thankful He revealed Himself to us and that  we have the privilege of prayer, the Word, the gifts, the fruits, and eternal life. I am thankful for the promises of prospering us in the regenerative process of growing in Christlikeness, for treasures and rewards in heaven, for the promise of rest and peace.

When we attend the marriage supper of the Lamb, sitting at the banquet table, we will be rejoicing. Now, the time after the rapture when we are presented as a bride, and the time of the Tribulation when we are having our purification and our rewards at the Bema Seat, and the time of the Millennial Kingdom when the marriage supper continues...and the final huge celebration at the New Heavens and the New earth after the old one is melted in a fervent heat...I don't know if there will be actual food and actual table. I think there will be but I don't know. So we go forward thinking of this as a celebratory rejoicing in heaven in our real, glorified bodies but unsure of if there will be food actually.

So when we are rejoicing in the Spotless Lamb after the rapture at the Marriage Supper, we will be thankful for His blood-bought purchase of us, for sure. We can personally thank our ministering angels. We can shake the hand of the saints from the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Esther, John the Baptist, David, Jeremiah... we can see God and live! What gratitude we will feel, for He created every good thing. Gratitude is a good thing and we will be experiencing it perfectly and fully!

Why we name false teachers

Christians are called to love one another. However foremost and primarily we are called to live in truth and protect the truth. So many times John rejoices over the new Christians walking in the truth, in 1 John, 2 John, 3 John... Do not mix up loving the brethren with remaining silent when false teaching comes for the sake of peace. If you love them you will speak up.

The Word is a precious gift, bought with the blood of our own Savior so that it could be inspired by the Spirit to men whom God loves so dearly. It is God's own revelation of Himself to us for Godly living and proper worship. 2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to --

"preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."

I submit to you that the Word is out of season at this present time. It is very hard today to cut through the accumulated baggage that is American Christianity. There are fads, books, ridiculous doctrines, liberalism, and attacks on the very foundations of the most basic truths of the faith. Under most attack today are the notions of hell as a place for eternal punishment of the unrighteous, that Jesus died for sins and rose again on the third day, and that Jesus is the only way to heaven. One out of season approach to the Word that particularly grieves me is when people say "take God out of the box" we have put Him in and they stay away from conviction of their convictions. No, God is not in a box, He is infinite. But He purposely revealed  Himself in the 66 books of the bible and that is the God He wants us to know at this time. He didn't make Himself uninterpretable and He didn't make Himself unclear in that revelation. There is more to God, but for now, we work with what we have, and that is the God in the bible. Which ironically often comes in a box.

Paul warned that a major end times sign is that they will not endure sound doctrine. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires:" (2 Timothy 4:3).  It doesn't say that they will not endure doctrine, but sound doctrine. The Greek word "sound" in the part of the verse 'sound doctrine' means healthy, pure, well as in not-sick. It means as opposed to a debilitating sickness. And that is what unsound doctrine is, sickness.

It reminds me of the verse in 2 Timothy 2:17. Paul urged the workers in the faith to remain strong, refuting the words of false teachers such as Hymenaeus and Philetus, and Paul said something interesting here. He said that their teachings will spread like gangrene. The Greek word used here gangraina means gangrene, just as we know it today. A cankerous, spreading, oozing sore sickness. The US National Library of Medicine defines gangrene as "the death of tissue in part of the body." The church is the body of Christ. Does that resonate with you, or what?

Paul is saying that false teachings kill off parts of  the body in oozing, putrid, destructive manner. Worse, the method of death of this tissue is defined as happening "when a body part loses its blood supply." Jesus paid for the body with His blood so when we are cut off from the blood of Jesus by false teachings we are in very severe danger! That is what false teaching does, causes destruction to a part of the Body. The Holy Spirit was so apt in using gangrene as a metaphor! How wonderful He is!

So how do doctors treat gangrene? If it is caught before the infection goes too far, it is removed through a medical term called debridement, a medical word meaning the precise removal in an exact surgical procedure excising just the infected tissue. (I don't want to get carried away with stretching metaphors too widely, but the body of the church is called the Bride...) However, if gangrene is left untreated for too long, a larger part of the body may need to be amputated. Finally, if left untreated for too, too long, the whole organism dies.

As far as the Word goes, I submit to you that failure to correct false teaching in firm manner over the last few decades has led us to the very brink of this apostate time, when Jesus said asked if, when He returns in His second coming, will He find faith upon the earth? (Luke 18:8.) One can almost imagine the gangrenous, disgusting thing that religion will have become by then, left untreated. And the pure parts that are left will have been amputated do deeply there may only be one finger or one toe remaining in light and in truth. Sorry for the gross images, but Paul started it!

So what are we to do when coming across a false teaching? Now I admit it is easier to point to a false teaching when finding a false teaching like Jentezen Franklin or Joel Osteen, or Beth Moore or Billy Graham because they are far away and we can simply turn the channel, walk by their table at the book store without purchasing, or say no to taking up their simulcast. But what happens when the false teaching comes to your church and you have to endure it week after week? Now there is a problem and I tell you up front is the hardest thing in the world to handle. Many, many people won't, can't, or don't. And that is why we are in this apostate situation. Brothers and Sisters, you have to point it out!

But before you do, make sure that you have prayed, loved, walked, studied, waited, watched, and prayed some more. Then and only then when the Spirit assures you the time is right, go public. Be ready for blowback of satanic proportions!

People will question your authority to point out a false teaching, especially if your pastor is promoting it. This is very good, we should be questioned when we say a church leader or pastor is promoting a false teaching. (That is why you have to be very sure that the Spirit led you to the right conclusion). Read these following verses but be sure to read them in the context of the chapters later so you have a thorough understanding of the mandate and burden to publicly exhort against a false teaching.

1 Timothy 5:20: Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

Titus 1:13: This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith

Titus 2:15: These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

But am I sure we are to do this to a brother? Yes. When Peter went off the rails in Antioch, Paul opposed Peter to his face. "But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned." (Galatians 2:11-14). What? Wasn't Peter saved? Not condemned? Well John 3:18 says we condemn ourselves by what we believe and Peter had condemned himself by accepting a false teaching. It also could mean that the Gentile believers at Antioch were condemning Peter already. There was a ruckus and it was known that a division was happening in the church there because of the divisive nature of the Judaizers' false teaching.

It was particularly hard because the co-pastor at Antioch, Barnabas, Paul's beloved Barnabas! was now also being carried away too. Gangrene spreads, and Paul must have been grieved to see he was losing Barnabas to the hypocrisy dividing the church there. Peter was the most highly thought of in all of Christendom. But that didn't stop Paul, because Jesus is even higher than that and it is His name we defend. He got to the point in Gal 2:14 where when he "saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the Gospel." Paul waded in, knowing that the truth was more important than keeping peace. He opposed Peter to his face. The Spirit saw fit to include that in the record so we must use that as a pattern for today. When public sin against the Gospel encroaches on the church, there must be immediate and unequivocal church discipline to rectify it. Otherwise when we preach holiness and purity but don't get rid of unholiness and impurity, we destroy our own credibility.

Now to the other point. Many people say not to name names. However, throughout the New Testament, we are told who was sinning and why. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, Saducees, Scribes and Herodians. (Matthew 16:6-12 and Matthew 23:15). Paul rebuked Peter in Gal 2. Paul dealt with Hymenaeus, Philetus (1 Tim 1:20), and Demas (2 Tim 4:9-10). Peter dealt with Simon the Sorcerer and Ananaias/Sapphira (though these last two were not false teachers bringing false doctrine, but liars bringing hypocrisy to the tithe or grieving the Spirit). Names were named.

We know the names of the false doctrines too, not just the people perpretrating them. There were the  Judaizers/Legalists, (Acts 15:1), Gnosticism (1 Timothy 6:20-21, and likely was what Paul was dealing with in 1 Cor 8),  Asceticism (Colossians 2:18-23), Antinomianism (2 Timothy 3:2-9). There are other false doctrines, but suffice to say, why do we know the names of these false doctrines now? Names were named.

Most of these false doctrines are still around today, and indeed it is a blessing that they were named, so we can identify them and combat them in same manner as the forefathers of the faith did.

I have tried to show you that false doctrines and teachings are a gangrenous cancer that must be opposed and excised. It is uncomfortable to do this and it seems excessive to name names. But let me put it to you this way. Knowing now that false teaching kills the body, let us think of false teaching as a runaway train hurtling toward your town and potentially crashing into the houses and businesses lining the track.

The first thing to decide is, IS there a runaway train, and is it on our track? Have we heard the report correctly? Paul saw that they were not straighforward, and to me this means he had examined the issue up close and had proof. It doesn't say "Paul heard..." or, "Paul wondered..."If it is a true report of a runaway train, would you stand by and say nothing? Would you say, "Well, the people in the houses are asleep, they will get mad at me if I call them at this hour. I better stay quiet for the sake of peace." Of course not! But that is what people expect us to do when we spot a false teaching.

Secondly, do you make the call to the house owners in the path of destruction and say this:

"Get out! there is a runaway train coming!"
"Where is it?"
"I can't tell you that."
Well, from what direction is it coming?"
"I can't tell you that either."
"What is the name of the train? Which train?"
"Sorry, I can't tell you."
"What time will it get here?"
"I can't tell you that as well."
"Why can't you tell me the specifics???"
"Because I don't want to offend the train."

What good is sounding the alarm if you won't go into specifics? Failure to be specific on behalf of not wanting to cause trouble for the perpetrators of false teaching is actually saying you prefer to besmirch the name of Jesus because you don't want to offend satan!

It is not easy to do this though. It is not easy to discern false teaching, it takes prayer and study. It is not easy to stand up to the spiritual leaders and say they are wrong. It is not easy to maintain your convictions in the face of blowback. They will make you quail and they will make you doubt.

But look at our gracious God:

Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:7). He was true to Jeremiah and He will be with you as well,

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to go forth teaching and protecting the sound doctrines of the Gospel in the disciples and He will be with us to the end.

Prata's Place / Graceful Garlands: Gradual Growth

My title comes from Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland ...