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Archive for March, 2011

Does 2 Thessalonians 2:7 Teach A Rapture Or A Great Apostasy?

Posted by Job on March 30, 2011

This is in response to a most excellent comment. As the reply was getting lengthy, I decided to throw it out as a post.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 is cryptic, and likely purposefully so. My first opinion, based on this website, was that the King James Version’s rendering of  “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way” was wrong, and I favored some of the other translations that had a softer, more passive rendering of ginomai ek (he be taken out of), including the New Living Translation (“steps out of the way”), the English Standard Version (“until he is out of the way”) and the International Standard Version (“gets out of the way”).  Then I saw that the Geneva Bible favored the King James Version’s rendering, and for that matter so does the NASB. Also, some of the Bibles that had alternate renderings, especially the International Standard Version, had problems, including being far too strong in their translating “arti“, translated to be  “he who now”, as “the person who now.”

So, as, I am not a Greek expert, and moreover those who are Greek experts would have fits with coming to a precise meaning of this text because of the ambiguous nature of it in the original language. A major problem is that there does not appear to be other Bible texts that deal with this precise topic, the one who restrains being removed from the way, that would aid us in coming to a more definite interpretation.

The solution is to try to interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:7 with other texts, including 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, and 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22,  1 John 4:3 and 2 John 1:7.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.””Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”

“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

More texts in this general area would be helpful, but other than the references to the abomination of desolation that are more helpful to 2 Thessalonians 2:4 than to this text, I do not know these at this particular time. So, at this time I know of are the Johannine texts, which can be used to say that the mystery of iniquity of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is the spirit of anti-Christ is that which denies Jesus Christ as He is pretended to us in the Bible. So, put 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 with the anti-Christ passages of 1 and 2 John, and you have a heretical movement that denies necessary doctrines concerning Jesus Christ taking over the church, and the anti-Christ appearing soon after.

Regarding said heretical movements, combating those was a major concern of the New Testament epistles, including Jesus Christ’s warning to His church in Revelation 2 and 3, and as the current climate in Protestant Christianity tends to denigrate those who stand for orthodoxy (see here and here, although this is not exactly a totally new problem, as Charles Spurgeon was heavily criticized for taking on heretical movements in his day) and the increasing tendency of Christians to choose “science” over the Bible (not just evolution, but pseudo-science such as the “critical scholarship” that is applied to – and used to attempt to discredit – nearly every New Testament verse that is used as the basis for core doctrines) as well as the willingness of a great many Christians to allow worldly concerns (i.e. politics) to distract them from evangelizing and discipleship, it is not difficult to imagine – from a human perspective anyhow – a wave of heresy sweeping through the church.

Incidentally, the “taken out of the way” of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 does not necessarily mean “removed from the face of the earth”, and it especially does not necessarily mean “taken from the face of the earth immediately and dramatically.” Those seeking to find support for a rapture in the Bible will say that it does, and then apply that text to 1 Corinthians 15:51-52’s “we shall all not sleep but shall be changed.” The irony is that the context of 1 Corinthians 15 is not the endtimes at all, but rather Paul’s rebuking the false doctrine in the Corinthian church that there would be no resurrection of the dead, and that there was no resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now if you juxtapose those texts and their context, it would then 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Thessalonians 2 and 1 John 2 and 4 refer to false teachings concerning Jesus Christ that could cause the great apostasy, after which the anti-Christ appears.

That puts the abomination of desolation predictions of the Bible in a spiritual context. If “the holy place” refers not to a Jewish temple (the first and second temples having been destroyed, and Judaism is now a false religion for a host of reasons that are beyond the scope of this topic, which would make claiming the third temple as “a holy place” – as opposed to a tower of Babel erected in rejection of and defiance against Jesus Christ – very theologically difficult!) but rather than the hearts of Christians which are in this era of grace the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) then perhaps this abomination of desolation refers to the church’s embrace of a false postmodernist Jesus Christ as opposed to the real One of the Bible?

Suppose that the abomination of desolation – the visible church’s embrace of a false Christ – causes a great apostasy among this same visible church. Further, suppose that this occurs after the Great Commission has been fulfilled, or when it is down to its final stretches, when or immediately before right before the fullness of the Gentiles has been reached according to Romans 11:25 (after which the spiritual blindness of the Jews is lifted). Then, it is possible to use those Bible texts to propose that it is then when the anti-Christ will appear. Of course, the visible church will follow the anti-Christ that they have already erected and worshiped in their own hearts just as Old Testament Israel in the time of their apostasy and fall to Babylon during the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah worshiped Baal in her heart. So, the apostate church would then join the anti-Christ in persecuting the remnant, the legitimate church. That would be the time of Jacob’s trouble as prophesied by Jeremiah 30:7 and fulfilled in Revelation 4-19.

But back to the original topic, “he that restrains being taken away”; that cannot refer to either the Holy Spirit or the church. Jesus Christ makes it clear that the church will persevere until He returns for it, and that the Holy Spirit will do the same as the church’s minister and comforter. (There are bigger issues with the Holy Spirit’s being removed from the earth, as the Holy Spirit is the presence of God, and it is the presence of God that sustains creation … without the presence of God, the universe would disintegrate immediately … see Colossians 1.)

So, perhaps instead of “taken away” as in “removed completely”, how about what the translation actually says, which is “taken out of the way”? Think of a dam that holds water breaking, or chains that is holding a prisoner being broken, or a box kept closed by lock and key (or seal!) having the key turned or the seal broken coming open, and its contents allowed to escape. Consider the apocalyptic language of Revelation, where demons and such that are bound in the pit or the river Euphrates (including Satan being bound in the bottomless pit for 1000 years during the millennium) being set free.

So, this passage could refer to one of the seals being broken of Revelation 6. After the 7th seal is broken, then the trumpets sound. The fifth trumpet sounds in Revelation 9 (which unleashes the locusts), the sixth also (which releases the demons bound in Euphrates), and it is between the sounding of the 6th and the 7th trumpet that the anti-Christ and the false prophet appear in Revelation 13.

Again, this is assuming that the KJV and the Geneva Bible (on which the KJV was largely based) are correct in their rendering of 2 Thessalonians 2:7. This website does in fact argue that the plain, literal Greek states that this verse should read “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he comes forth out of the midst” (or my preference, until he comes forth from among the nations.) It is difficult to assert how ginomai was translated “to be taken away” instead of the usual “to be come, to be made or be finished.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7, then, could well read

“For the mystery of iniquity is already at work and will work until it is finished and he (the anti-Christ” comes forth from among the nations.”

Again, I am no Greek expert, just a guy with access to Strong’s Concordance! However, this translation does appear to square with 2 Thessalonians 2:3 regarding “the son of man being revealed” and Revelation 13:1’s “the beast rising out of the sea” (and the sea allegorically is a reference to the nations and peoples of the earth). So, basically, people will deny Jesus Christ until the anti-Christ basically appears, particularly when the visible church denies Jesus Christ and becomes apostate.

Sorry for the jumbled mess that is this effort, as it was written on the fly in response to a user comment, and I did not organize, outline or edit it first, and it deals with two separate issues: the possibility that both the KJV and the Geneva Bible did damage to 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and also the meaning of that text when it is interpreted with scripture. I will say that the rapture teaching requires the KJV/Geneva interpretation, but that applying this text to the great apostasy makes good use of both the KJV/Geneva translation and one that more strictly follows the literal meaning of the Greek words.

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Posted in abomination, anti - Christ, antichrist, apostasy, beast, Bible, Christianity, endtimes, eschatology, Jesus Christ, man of sin, mark of the beast, rapio, rapture, rapture mentioned in bible, religion | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Luke 14:23’s Compel Them To Come In Refers To Irresistible Grace

Posted by Job on March 27, 2011

Luke 14:16-24 reads

And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden , Come ; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse . The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused . And another said , I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said , I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come .So that servant came , and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said , Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded , and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in , that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

As useful as was Augustine in combating the heresy of Pelagius, we must never forget that this fellow in many other respects oft labored to promote the political interests of the Roman Empire and its state religion, including but not limited to laying the groundwork for such endtimes views as preterism, amillennialism and postmillennialism because the Roman Empire wanted Christians to see it as the fulfilment of the kingdom of God, which make Christians far less likely to oppose it. The error of Augustine’s allowing the pulpit to be used to advance a state agenda was exposed when Catholicism later cast aside Augustine’s work against Pelagius and instead adopted what is clearly semi-Pelagianism when it suited its political interests. Contemporary pastors who wish to mix the doctrines of the holy God with the ambitions of the fallen state should take note.

But far more harmful than Augustine’s endtimes doctrines in service to the Roman state was his misappropriation of Luke 14:23. His wicked, evil use of this scripture was employed to justify a state doctrine that over the centuries caused the deaths of untold people by the sword, and kept scores of others in religious darkness with the threat of force. Though there were others before him and after him, it was Augustine who most effectively made the case that it was God’s will for the state to use the threat – and reality – of force to make membership in the state church compulsory. This made the ambitions of the state and the church shared, and allowed one to not only tolerate but promote any amount of corruption and wickedness from the other so long as it advanced the interests of both.

Augustine’s malevolent butchering of Luke 14:23 occurred during the time of the Donatist rebellion. Now history records the Donatists as heretics, a vicious smear which shows just how truthful the proverb “the winners get to write the history book” is. Any idea that the Donatists were heretics motivated primarily by political, nationalistic and ethnic/racial considerations to break from the Roman church in order to pursue strange doctrines was convincingly shattered by Leonard Verduin’s “The Refomers And Their Stepchildren”, and that so many church historians have disseminated Catholic propaganda regarding this sad incident is something that will have to be answered for by them.

The truth is that the Donatists should be considered to be as among the earliest Protestants. While it is true that some of their motivations were not entirely religious, it was clearly superior to what motivated the Anglicans (Episcopalians) to separate from Rome. Also, it is ridiculous to call them heretical based on doctrine because on most points the Donatists beliefs were similar to the Roman church from which they attempted to break, and where there were divergences, the Donatist position must be preferred. So, the only reason why history denounces the Donatists is because the Catholics call them so, and as the Donatist attempt to separate failed where other separatist efforts (the Eastern Catholic churches and the Protestant Reformation) succeeded, the unjust Catholic judgment against them stands.

So, during the time of the Donatist protest, even though the entity known as “the Catholic Church” was not yet fully formed in doctrine and organization, the Roman Empire had already started appointing “priests” for political and other reasons. Cronyism, nepotism, political payoffs and other forms corruption were oft used for the basis for selecting church officers, and this resulted in vain fellows with unsavory backgrounds and behaviour and questionable training – unqualified and unsuitable on many counts – being appointed as priests by the politico-ecclesiastical hegemony all over the empire, and the region of the Donatists (north Africa) was no different. When the practice of elevating unqualified individuals to the priesthood was challenged, the Catholic Church responded that the measure of qualifications of a priest is being ordained and appointed by the church, and not the spiritual or moral state of the church itself. When the sacraments (i.e. baptisms and the rite of communion) offered by priests who were deemed by those in a position to know (the parishioners that they were presiding over) to be unbelieving were challenged, the hierarchy took the position that the legitimacy of the sacraments were not a function of the priest who gave them, but rather of the church that ordained the priest. (This remains the position of the Roman Catholic Church to this day, and is used to retain any number of priests who exhibit severely aberrant doctrines and behaviour.)

The Donatists, then, took the “radical” position that church offices should be held only by those qualified to do so, and that ensuring this required that the officers be chosen by the local churches themselves. The Donatists stated that the baptisms performed by illegitimate priests were illegitimate, and had to be performed again. (Donatists were the original Anabaptists.) Further, Donatists held that the church must be “a church of saints, not sinners.” Now of course, this is not necessarily an unqualified defense of Donatists and Donatism. For example, they were still very much “Catholic” in doctrine and practice, believing in such abominations as a human priesthood, rites of penance, and the Eucharist.

The Roman church responded predictably to the Donatist protest: with brutal military action. They did not succeed in totally eradicating the movement. (That was accomplished by the Muslims in the 7th and 8th century.) But they did persecute the Donatists mightily, and as a result kept their ideas, influence and numbers within the empire to a minimum. So, while they did not succeed in wiping out the Donatists, they did accomplish their primary goal of preventing the widespread challenge of the authority of the Roman church, and please recall that challenging the authority of said church was the same as challenging the authority of the Roman empire.

However, some men of conscience did protest violent action being inflicted on other people who professed to be Christians, and also demanded to know what in the Bible justified compulsory church membership enforced by the state, especially since those who dissented did have strong Bible-based arguments on their side. Make no mistake: the Roman empire was being challenged on one front by the Donatist defection and another by their reaction to the former, and both fronts exposed the Roman church for the spiritual fraud that it was.

Into this crisis stepped Augustine. Now as a north African and one who so convincingly expounded such positions as justification by faith, one could have well expected Augustine to side with the Donatists. Instead, Augustine sided with those who paid his salary and elevated him to a position of prestige and power. In addition to siding with the imperial position concerning their right to appoint unregenerate officers and the legitimacy of sacraments administered by such officers, Augustine searched the scriptures to find something that would justify using murderous force to eliminate dissenting movements and thereby make church membership universal (save whom the church excommunicates!) with the sword. (Please note: this remains the goal of the Roman Catholic Church to this day … a global institution where everyone is a member … or else. In this way, the rule of Christ over the earth is accomplished through the church, and then Jesus Christ will return for the church.) And Augustine found Luke 14:23’s “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in , that my house may be filled.” Of course, this grotesque misinterpretation and misapplication of a Biblical text was more than good enough for the Roman empire, because it suited the purposes that they already had anyway. It is similar to the true but sad tale of the woman who used Ephesians 4:22-24’s “take off the old man and put on the new man” to justify her desire to un-Biblically divorce her current husband and marry a new one without being considered an adulteress. In her rebellious heart, she had already determined that what she was doing was not only permissble, but the will of God, and merely needed a Bible text to misconstrue to justify it, and would not be deterred, even when her pastor informed her of that text’s correct meaning and application (and of the Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage).

Augustine’s actual interpretation (eisegesis!) of Luke 14:23 is of little consequence, for it was used to arrived at an illegitimate meaning for an illegitimate intent in service to an illegitimate institution. Unless one agrees with – or is willing to in some context defend – the state using the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction to compel membership in a “church” who regularly ordains and retains atheists, homosexuals, occultists and child molesters as its officers, then that could be taken for granted, and therefore there is no need to violate Proverbs 26:4 with regards to it. Instead, let us simply declare Augustine’s efforts to be thoroughly wrong and evil – with its use throughout history to justify many evils (including the magisterial church-state Reformers’ murderous actions against Anabaptists – whom the Reformers ironically politicized as Donatists! – Michael Servetus and others) as evidence of its great error – and move on to a proper interpretation.

In this parable, the “lord” is God the Father and the “servant” is “God the Holy Spirit.” It came to pass God the Father accomplished salvation (through the sending of His Son for atonement), and established the kingdom of heaven. (One does not have to reach far to arrive at this interpretation, because immediately prior to starting the parable, Jesus Christ stated “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God“.) The establishment of the kingdom of heaven is the meaning of the reference to “for all things are now ready.” Now the Bible declares that salvation is for God’s called (or elect) but first the Jew and then the Gentile. (We should also realize that Matthew 20:16 and 22:14 state that “many are called but few are chosen.” While all election of God is unconditional, not all election of God is unto salvation, but rather only the election as “chosen.”) So, the initial call goes out to the original olive tree, the natural seed of Abraham; the Jews of Israel. Due to their faithless condition (as faith comes from God) because of their not at this time being chosen for salvation (the salvation of the Jews will not occur until after the fulness of the Gentiles comes in), the original branch (save a few) demurs and defers.

So, the mission then goes to the Gentiles, who having not known the special revelation of Yahweh because of their not being in the Jewish nation and therefore not having received or lived under the Sinai covenant or benefited from instruction of the law, the writings and the prophets, are spiritually “poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” These may have been the ones who for some reason were aware of their sinful condition and the benefits of the kingdom of heaven (i.e. they are Gentiles who have already attached themselves to Judaism to some degree – such as the God-fearers, the Ethiopian eunuch and the centurion Cornelius – but did not fully convert to Judaism, but were yet “within the city” based on their faith and partial observance) and immediately with gladness believed the gospel of Jesus Christ when they heard it. If one recalls the account of church growth in the early portions of Acts, there was indeed a pattern of angry Jewish rejection on the part of all but a few, but enthusiastic acceptance and rapid growth among the Gentiles that had already been praying to YHWH, fasting, giving alms, attending the synagogues and worshipping in the outer court of the temple.

But after adding the relatively few Jews who had been with Jesus Christ and witnessed His resurrection, the Jews who believed after Pentecost and thereafter, and the Judaism-observant Gentiles who received the gospel with very little effort because of possessing pre-existing faith (some theologians refer to those such as these who lived between the advent and passion of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the temple as “transitional period faithful” akin to Old Testament saints), there was still “room at the table.” That was when this famous case took place. The lord, again in this parable God the Father, told his servant, representing God the Holy Spirit, to go out of the city into the highways and hedges (meaning away from the confines of believing Jews and Gentiles who merely needed to transform their faith from an Old Testament one where Jesus Christ was concealed to a New Testament one where Jesus Christ was revealed) and into the realm of the faithless.

Now the faithless, due to their original sin condition (doctrine of total depravity) these folks were not going to come “to the supper”, or into the kingdom of heaven or participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb with His bride, willingly. Instead, these unwilling people first have to be given faith and converted. Who gives faith? The Holy Spirit, or the servant in this story. Make no mistake: faith does not come from or is not produced by man, but is a gift of the Holy Spirit, see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. After the Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates the sinner, see Titus 3:4-7. Make no mistake: this does not happen because the sinner wants it to. The sinner because of his total depravity is thoroughly unwilling, and thus comes into the kingdom not by way of a free will decision, but by God’s compulsion. God’s sheep, declared so before the foundation of the world, hear the voice of Jesus Christ and come when He calls, but Luke 14:23 reveals that a great many come because the Holy Spirit is the Staff that the Great Shepherd uses to pull them in with Its crook on their necks! This is the doctrine of irresistible grace, and gives support to the theory that the rider of the white horse of Revelation is not the anti-Christ, but instead is the Holy Spirit, and the conquering that the rider on the white horse goes about doing is not the nations, but of those called and chosen by God the Father from out among the nations to be the bride for God the Son.

So, in this parable you see 3 of the “5 points of Calvinism” (total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace) explicitly or nearly explicitly at work. Also, perseverance of the saints is implied, as those brought in by the Holy Spirit remain to fill the house and eat of the marriage supper of the Lamb; they do not fall away. Only limited atonement is missing, and this is only because this parable is not expressly Christological, but instead deals primarily with the decree and election of the God the Father and the work of drawing in  and regenerating of the Holy Spirit. So, in telling this parable, there was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity describing the role of the First and the Third Persons of the Holy Trinity in salvation, to the point that though the Third Person of the Trinity is the servant of the First, the Third Person is still sovereign in salvation because men do not have the option of saying no to the Holy Spirit! Those that the Holy Spirit compels must come, because the Holy Spirit is God, and God is Sovereign! Soli Deo Gloria!

Now the compulsion of the Holy Spirit is by no means limited to Gentiles. Instead, Romans 11 is clear that sometime after the Gentile mission is complete, all Israel will be saved. The Jews are currently “not in the house” or “even in the city” but like the Gentiles are faithless, but at the return of Jesus Christ will be drawn and regenerated by the Holy Spirit according to the election and decree of God the Father, and at that time the olive tree will be complete, with the original branches together with the grafted in formerly wild branches.

So, the compulsion of Luke 14:23 is not the servants of the state forcing church membership with the threat of the sword. Instead, it is the Servant of God conquering those captive to original sin and therefore because of their fallen natures and corrupt wills are unable to come to God, and for that matter do not even have a true desire to. (At the very most, they may have a desire for morals, ethics, religion, cultural conformity, tradition, pleasing the expectations of others, to assuage their guilty consciences, to avoid the lake of fire, or to receive the benefits of heaven. It is those things that man can come to and decide for himself of, and not truly of God, and indeed lest we forget a multitude of false religions offers all those things also.) Jesus Christ has bound the strong man and led his captivity captive, so now the Holy Spirit is free to go and spoil his goods. So against the false teachings and applications of Augustine, this is the true meaning and intent of the passage and in its correct context.

Thus, please know that membership in any church cannot save you (even if it is a legitimate New Testament local congregation headed by Jesus Christ) and neither can being the beneficiary of any sacrament, ordinance or ritual. Instead, only membership in the true church will save you, and membership in that church is only granted to those who are saved by the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ that is granted by that same Holy Spirit. If this does not describe you, then you are currently separated from God, at enmity with God, and the Bible states that all those who are found in that status on judgment day will receive an eternal punishment in the lake of fire. Do not let the doctrines of election, predestination and irresistible grace cause unnecessary confusion. Just as God’s sovereignty in salvation is a truth clearly set forth in the Bible, so is the responsibility of man to believe the gospel and submit Himself to Jesus Christ as his Lord. They are two truths that are not in conflict with each other, but are both true in their own right and work together in ways that are beyond our understanding to give God the glory. God is glorified both by being sovereign over salvation and by seeing those formerly trapped in original sin do what was impossible for them prior become possible with God (see Matthew 19:25-26’s “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed , saying , Who then can be saved ? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”, and over against not only their own sinful natures but also the desires and machinations of Satan.

So make no mistake, those chosen by God have as their duty to make their calling and election sure. If you have not done so, I entreat and implore you to do it, do it quickly, indeed do it today, and moreover right now!

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Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ, Reformed | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Beware Headless Chicken Churches!

Posted by Job on March 26, 2011

Those who have raised and eaten their own chickens are aware of a certain curiosity with this fowl that those who simply acquire the birds from the grocery store may not be aware of. Of course, having to cook a (formerly) live chicken requires having to kill it first so that it can be properly prepared (i.e. feathers and giblets removed). The simplest, most common way for folks who raise their own chickens to dispatch of them is to chop their heads off with an axe. And often, this is when the curiosity begins. Most other animals, when deprived of their head, have the rest of the body immediately go limp, or at the very most does a bit of twitching. Not necessarily though with chickens! They will jump up, run around, and do all sorts of other activities, and in some rare cases, this activity will continue quite awhile! This phenomenon is common enough for the “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” is an idiom, a saying, in some parts.

Now the saying “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” is not in any sense positive, such as a reference to toughness, perseverance, overcoming adversity, or beating the odds. Instead, it speaks of vain, useless, worthless activity, or of going about expending a lot of energy in a chaotic, random, mindless fashion. All the effort spent is wasted or even counterproductive because of the disorganized, frenetic, aimless, undirected nature of it. This cliche’ exists because though the headless chicken is running around, there is no rhyme or reason to its activity because the brain, which gives such purpose and organization to the body, is missing. Further, even if by chance the headless chicken did manage some semblance of useful, productive, logical or sensible activity, it would still be pointless from the chicken’s perspective, because the chicken is dead. It’s brain is gone. The activity is merely the result of nerve endings firing off, causing the body to go through the motions. Even if this goes on for quite awhile (there are stories of such animals lingering in this state for as long as two years!) despite all appearances, in a very real sense the chicken is dead! And it would be absurd for one who witnesses a headless chicken running around and say “that chicken is still alive.” It would be absurdity on top of absurdity to claim that – despite not having a head – this is a normal, healthy chicken with nothing amiss. Maybe it would be permissible if such claims were made by one lacking proper information – such as a small child – who presumes that any animal that is moving is just fine. But for an older person who has the experience (or the coursework in anatomy) to know better to make this claim would be inexcusable.

Yet, the equivalent of this inexcusable absurdity is commonplace in Christianity today. Make no mistake: the Bible declares that the Head of the church is Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 5:23). Jesus Christ said that He was the rock, the foundation stone, and that He would build His church. So, in a church, Jesus Christ is not merely present, such as a spectator. Jesus Christ is not just some advisor or board member. He is not part of a ruling committee or governing council. Jesus Christ is not the “co-pilot.” No, Jesus Christ is the Head. The church is wholly His, built by Him, owned by Him, governed by Him, completely ruled by His Lordship, and totally guided by His Spirit.

Only churches that love Jesus Christ are headed by Jesus Christ, and scripture declares that the only way to love Jesus Christ is to keep His commandments (John 14:15). The church that refuses to attempt to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ or despises the holy scriptures that reveal and contain the commandments of Jesus Christ does not love Jesus Christ and does not have Jesus Christ as its head. Jesus Christ states this in Revelation 2:5, when He says that churches that do not repent and return to Him in obedience will lose His presence. Of them, they are Ichabod, God’s grace having been departed.

Now if a church is the body (or at least a portion thereof in a local congregation sense) and Jesus Christ is the Head, and the Head is removed, what does that mean for the body? The only answer is that in a real sense, the body is dead. A church that does not have Jesus Christ at the head of it is a dead church. Whether your basis for believing this truth is the Bible, biology, experience or common sense, it is still a truth. Remove the head, and the body is dead. That which gives the body is ability to reason, its capacity to organize, its sense of focus, its knowledge of its reason for existence, its purpose and destiny, is gone. All that is left is a dumb, brutish stump. Now this dumb, brutish stump may continue to exist for quite awhile. That does nothing to alter the fact that a dumb, brutish stump is all that it is.

Now this dumb, brutish stump may deceive many. Why? Because the dead chicken while it is running around “seems” alive. It may have a pastor that delivers compelling, erudite and passionate sermons. (But he’s an expository preacher who expounds Reformed theology in a manner that makes it come alive!) It may have a very skilled and captivating choir (they sing the traditional hymns!), a moving worship (no flesh pleasing “relevant” faddish contemporary worship!) and a congregation that is very friendly, engaging, inviting and compassionate. This church may offer a strong menu of programs and activities (a Christian academy that provides excellent academic, moral and religious instruction!), immaculate facilities, outstanding amenities, a hard-working and professional staff, and experienced dignified deacons and ministers. It may steadily grow with a lot of baptisms, and do great works in the Name of Jesus Christ, including casting out demons and faith-healing. It may do all these things and still more, and to a great many people appear to be a lively, thriving, vibrant successful church. Yet, if Jesus Christ is not the Head of this church,  it is still but a chicken without a head.

If Jesus Christ is not the Head because the church is not obeying His commandments, on judgment day they will be counted as goats and not sheep and therefore rejected and cast into the outer darkness. 1 Corinthians 13 compares such great works and achievements to “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals”, and gives lack of charity, or love, as the reason that it is so. Well, true love begins with the love of Jesus Christ, and we cannot love Jesus Christ without keeping His commandments. The church that is not in obedience to Christ is not headed by Christ, and despite all of its appearances, is one that is dead. Yet despite their dead condition, many headless chickens are quite popular and held in much esteem because of their ability to continue for quite a time running around aimlessly. That is enough to fool and please a great many people, for apparently that is all these people are looking for to begin with: a church that has a good reputation, is entertaining on some level, and activities to occupy them. Vanity is what these people seek, and vanity is what they will find. However, the Bible says that all things that are vanity will come to ruin on judgment day, so beware such vain things and flee them!

Of course, this is not to say that churches are going to be perfect. There are no perfect churches because there are no perfect people to lead or attend them. Further, Satan and his evil kingdom is going to rise up against and attempt to thwart and destroy the people of God and their works, including work to cast many snares and stumblingblocks in the way of the faithful, and to try to cause tension and division: to create problems where there are none, and to magnify and exacerbate the problems that do exist. However, there is a difference between unavoidable imperfection and a church that is making absolutely no attempt to comply with the clear imperatives of the Bible on many serious fronts. The former is a church that is alive despite its flaws, the latter is a church that is dead in spite of its seeming virtues. Blessed is the Christian that perseveres in the former, and woe unto the man that is found in the latter when it falls, for this man will share in its sins and receive its plagues (Revelation 18:4).

This is not to deny all of the things that these churches do. This includes the ability of a great many of these churches to legitimately present the gospel, and for people to be saved, born again in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit as a result. Instead, our first and ultimate fidelity must be to Jesus Christ through His word. We cannot use good works, including those from which we personally benefited, to excuse our disobedience. If we do, we are elevating good works over the One for whom these works are supposed to glorify. In doing so, rather than worshiping God, we are making an idol of the works instead.

This issue is also not an excuse for neglecting fellowship, for the Bible clearly tells us not to forsake fellowship with other Christians. Instead, it is the duty of a Christian to submit to and obey God’s leading Him to a church headed by Jesus Christ, and to remain in that church as long as God suffers Him to do so. Anything less is disobedience. Anything less is being a goat rather than a sheep. Anything less is being akin to a chicken without a head that running around the backyard. Do not let that be you.

In conclusion, let it be known that being a member of a church that Jesus Christ is the head of will not save you. Instead, only being united with Jesus Christ so that your sins are forgiven and Jesus Christ thereby becoming your head with you being part of the body of Christ will save you. On judgment day, Jesus Christ will not confess you as being His based on your church membership. Instead, He will only do so if you are His; if you have responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ with faith, repentance, and submission to His Lordship. If you have not done so, please do so, and today. Otherwise, all of  your works will be in vain, rejected just as was the faithless sacrifice of Cain, whose faithless, depraved and unregenerate condition was put on display when sin became his master and he slew Abel. Now is the time for your salvation! So if you are not born again in Jesus Christ, then please:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, Christianity, devotional, discernment, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ, religion | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Regarding Japan: Where Is God When Disaster Strikes?

Posted by Job on March 25, 2011

The recent disaster in Japan is provoking a lot of the usual questions when such calamities happen that revolve around the same general theme: what is the role of God in this? This theme can manifest in such questions as “Did God cause this to happen, and if so why?” “If God did not cause this to happen, why did not He prevent it? Is it because He could not, or did not choose to?” These questions and its answers are for the purpose of attempting to discern the nature of God and our response to Him based on it. Of course, the answers to such questions are contained in the only authoritative record of God’s self-disclosure to mankind, the canon of scripture, the Bible. Of course, if one rejects the Bible as the final source of truth and authority, or if one does not take the time to study and understand the Bible, or to seek out a qualified source who has (i.e. a pastor with a high view of scripture) then a variety of answers to these and other questions will abound, almost all of them having a varying degree of untruth or some other deficiency. Let us be faithful – and thankful – that the Bible does provide the answers. What follows is a Bible-based attempt to provide some of them.

1. God Can And Does Act According To Creation As He Pleases

This is the first and most important presupposition. Tragically, even among most Christians, including evangelical and other theologically conservative/traditional/orthodox Christians, this fact that is not only clearly, repeatedly set forth in the Bible but is also obvious due to logic and common sense is oft rejected. The issue is not that most people who acknowledge the existence of God in some sense deny His sovereignty. Instead, the real problem is that most people who claim to believe in the sovereignty of God really do not. As a result, they fail to accurately convey the meaning and implications of God’s total, utter sovereignty over creation to the larger culture.

Make no mistake: there is only one God. God has no equal and no rival. God fears no one, answers to no one, and judges no one. There  is no other entity – or group of entities – capable of judging God with unrighteousness. Even if they attempted, it would be utter madness of the highest degree, because there is no way to enforce the verdict. God not only created all things that exist, but all things that exist are sustained by God’s power! These facts give God not only the might but also the right to behave towards His creation however He chooses. Now God does choose to behave towards His creation in a fair, just and loving way. He does so in order to be consistent with His own nature. Indeed, God is incapable of acting any other way … He is incapable of acting in an unjust, cruel, irrational or arbitrary manner. But being the self-existing deity who solely created and solely owns all else that ever was, is or shall be, fairness, justice, love, order, rationality etc. are all defined by God Himself. There is a proverb popularized by William Shakespeare: “to thine own self be true.” Well, God is the only entity for whom this proverb can possibly apply, for everything else that exists has a Maker, Ruler and Judge. God is in debt to no one. He exists in fear of no one. God is only responsible for answering to Himself. Man’s only option is to accept this fact. The refusal or inability to do so can only at best be called a self-delusion of the highest order. One certainly has the prerogative to claim all he pleases that because he does not like the facts of life that he rejects either the existence of God or of a final judgment by God, but it is sheer madness for this person to actually believe that his mere opinion actually has some bearing – some influence – over whether there actually is a God, there will actually be a judgment day, and the Bible is actually true or not. Since we are but creatures, we have no more say in or power over these matters than we did in our own creation!

So even if God did strike Japan and cause all of the carnage, destruction and loss of life, it was well within His prerogative to do so, because God created Japan, God sustains Japan, God owns Japan, and therefore Japan and all the people therein are the exclusive domain of God to do with as He pleases whenever He pleases. Even according to human logic with the things that we “create” or “buy” (it is mine; I can do with it whatever I want!) this is truth, and our failure to acknowledge this is merely evidence of just how narcissistic we are. It is reminiscent of how Satan demanded that Jesus Christ, the very One who not only created Satan but sustains Satan’s existence, demanded that Jesus Christ bow down and worship HIM! Obviously, Satan was no threat to Jesus Christ in any way, because all Jesus Christ has to do to remove even a theoretical threat is to stop sustaining the existence of said threat!

Satan’s lack of reason and rationality due to the madness caused by his fallen condition caused him to be so presumptuous as to ask a thing of the one responsible for his own original and continued existence, and it is the same madness that causes humans to deny that God has no less than the same absolute dominion over us than we have over some plastic toy that we buy from a discount store. This exists only because we believe that our own relative worth in comparison to God’s worth is so much greater than the relative worth of that cheap plastic toy as compared to us. This is total folly and an utter offense, and is so because we both greatly diminish God’s importance while inflating our own. This is nothing but the sin of pride, the sin of vanity, the very same which caused Satan’s fall from his own exalted position to begin with.

2. There Are No Innocent People

You might make a mental assent to the first point and say “OK, God is great, but that does not make Him good, and as a moral agent I am well within my rights to dispute God’s goodness if He is responsible for the deaths of so many good and innocent people, including babies.” Now while from a cosmic level this argument is still useless (you can call God unjust all you want and you still can’t make Him listen), it must be acknowledged that this argument can be used to challenge the authority of the Bible. For instance, if the Bible declares God to be just, and it can be shown that God is not just, then rather than necessarily being an indictment on God, it is instead an indictment on the Bible that Christians claim is God’s authoritative and inerrant self-revelation to man. So, convicting God as unrighteous is more useful as an argument for, say, deism, than for actually putting God on trial.

The problem is that the Bible definitively removes this argument with its doctrines of original sin and federal headship. When Adam sinned, the effects were not limited to Adam himself. No, God made Adam the representative of the human race and the steward of creation. So, the result of Adam’s misdeed was the fall of the entire human race and all of creation. God did not create evil. When God finished creation, it was, according to the declaration of a just, holy and righteous God, “very good”, which means that there was no evil in it (for God cannot and will not declare anything that has evil present in it “very good”). When Adam sinned, not just Adam but all of creation was no longer “very good.” This means that all of creation was no longer acceptable in God’s sight. All of creation no longer met God’s standard, which is total holiness; complete sinlessness; absolute perfection; peerless harmony with God and His nature. “In Adam all die” indeed!

Now with creation no longer meeting God’s standard, God was well within His right to destroy it all. Not just destroy Adam. Not just destroy the human race. Not just destroy planet Earth. God had the perfect right and a very good reason and motivation to destroy the entire creation, because thanks to Adam, the entire creation was now sinful! Like a little drop of ink on a huge white piece of paper or cloth, that one little blot means that it is no longer totally, completely perfectly white anymore! Instead, it is only “mostly white”, and by God’s standard, “mostly white” isn’t good enough.

But God didn’t destroy creation. Why? Because He loves His creation. It is the work of His hands and it is precious to Him. So even though He had no obligation to and had every reason not to, God so loved His creation that He sent His only begotten Son to preserve some of it for eternity. (That is the true meaning of John 3:16). So, it is only by God’s grace, God’s love, that ANY of creation continued to exist for even an instant after Adam sinned. Because all of creation is sinful, all things and all people, God is not under obligation to save any thing or any one. Instead of charging God with cruelty, incompetence, aloofness or injustice for not intervening to save everyone, the opposite is true: it is only because of God’s grace and love that He saves anyone. All deserve God’s wrath; all deserve death and destruction. It is only because of God’s great love, because of God’s willingness to suffer the continued existence of a creation that is an abomination in His sight because of its fallen condition, that ANY person is able to experience the great privilege of living, existing, and getting to know the benefits of God’s love and grace even for a single second, because even that single second is more of God’s love and grace than any of us deserve. (For more on this topic, see How Can A Loving God Send People To Hell? Answering Requires Knowing What Love Is).

3. There Is No Evidence That God Causes Most Calamities

Now allow me to preface this with the caveat that the doctrine of providence means that God ultimately controls and is responsible for everything and uses all events to accomplish His purposes. This is indeed true, for denying it in any part results in establishing deism in an equal part. Still – and continuing to tread very carefully (and please realize that I am not a trained or professional theologian, so suffer my limitations) – please strongly consider the notion that God does not have to act to cause a calamity or a “bad thing” because they would happen anyway. Remember: creation in its original state was perfect, in complete harmony, so much so that the Bible even declared it self-sustaining after a manner of speaking (i.e. the plants and animals reproduced themselves). Adam’s fall introduced sin, or imperfection, which disrupted this disharmony. With Adam’s sin, death entered the world. So, because of Adam’s sin, things like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions (not to mention disease, wars and famines) are going to naturally happen simply due to the marred, flawed corrupted state of creation itself.

God does not have to act in order to cause a “bad thing” to happen, and it certainly does not have to be the result of a specific punishment for a specific sin. Quite the contrary, the bad things that happen are just the result of flawed machinery (with the flaw being due to sin) exhibiting its lack of perfection. It is analogous to how a poorly tuned automobile will still sputter, make bad noises and get poor fuel economy even if the driver commits no error in operating it.

Now it is true that the Bible does record various instances of God’s unleashing natural disasters and other widespread calamities to punish sin and wickedness. Examples include Sodom and Gomorrah, the flood of Noah, the woes against peoples and nations given by the Old Testament prophets, and the things spoken of in Revelation. They also include the famines, plagues, lost wars etc. experienced by Israel during her times of infidelity to her heavenly King. It is based on this that whenever there is a natural disaster, invariably certain Christians will suggest that it was a punishment meted out by God for wickedness, such as the infamous statements of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blaming abortion, homosexuality and other right wing culture war hot button issues for one calamity or another. Curious that these folks never seem to blame such things on injustice to the poor or minorities, a failure to take care of orphans and widows, corporate greed, or waging unjust wars despite God’s prophets in the Old Testament – and Jesus Christ in the New Testament! – also listing those as reasons for God’s judgments.

With the former, while these events certainly do seem to occur with some degree of frequency in the Bible, realize that they occurred over the course of thousands of years (yes, I am a young earth creationist) of Biblical history, and that their inclusion in the Biblical text is precisely because they were so rare. (It stretches credulity, for instance, to claim that the total destruction of the entire population of a large city in a natural disaster, as happened with Sodom and Gomorrah, is anything approaching a routine occurrence.) And in the case of Israel, please realize that they were a unique case: the nation created and called out by God among all the nations to serve His unique purposes. As part of Israel’s election, God gave them the Sinai covenant, which contained blessings if Israel was faithful and curses if they were not. When Israel failed to keep the covenant, then God did act to punish them for their sinfulness. But it is theologically wrong – and dangerous – to claim that God does the same with other nations with whom He did not establish a blessings and cursings covenant. Sadly, not a few religious leaders do exactly that because of either covenant theology, or even more cynically, religious right politics, which causes them to assert the existence of “Christian nations” that are products of God’s providence and therefore subject to God’s blessings if the populace is faithful to Him, and God’s curses if it is not. These claims simply cannot be supported by scripture and should be rejected, along with the notion that any contemporary nation, including America, is “a Christian nation created by God as part of His special plan.”

As for Revelation (and similar prophecies elsewhere such as the Olivet discourse) there is the belief that widespread disasters are increasing in frequency and severity because we are in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ. That is more legitimate theologically, but even there we have to be careful: people have used calamities and misfortunes in their time to claim that Jesus Christ’s return is nigh upon us for centuries. Also, while certain things – especially wars – have gotten particularly severe in the past 100 years, let us not forget that Black Death nearly wiped out Europe, and in the 6th and 7th centuries Islam nearly succeeded in conquering the known world.

Further, it may not even necessarily take specific judgments of God to result in the increasing frequency and severity of disasters, but instead it might simply be fallen creation exhibiting more and worse dysfunction as time goes on, similar to the problems that a house built on a warped, cracked foundation would have as the years go by. And for those with premillennial eschatology in particular, there is little evidence to support natural disasters oft or usually occurring as the result of specific judgments from God until the seven years of the great tribulation. Of course, those with different endtimes views, especially the historicist viewpoint that holds that the various judgments of Revelation have been occurring throughout the history of the church, see things differently.

Even so, it is far more likely that God has worked to graciously and mercifully prevent more natural disasters – and has limited the severity of and the loss of life from the disasters that do occur – than He has caused to happen because of judgments. So, just as it is with popular misconceptions of God’s sovereignty, a lot of the “God caused this to happen to punish those people for their sins!” talk is actually backwards. The Biblical evidence suggests that ever since the flood of Noah, God has sought to act mercifully and graciously to limit having to mete out such punishments. An example was the Tower of Babel, where God intervened to prevent mankind from accomplishing a great evil, which would have provoked God’s wrath in response.

Conclusion

Understanding great tragedies such as Japan and the even more devastating tsunami of 2004 (killing 230,000 people in 14 countries) requires beginning with an appropriate view of God, then a correct measure of man (and the rest of creation) in relationship to God, and next an attempt to grasp the true, severe, devastating cosmic consequences of the fall of Adam. Often, we only view Adam’s fall in soteriological terms: because of his actions men are doomed to an eternity in the lake of fire unless they are saved through Jesus Christ. While that is certainly true, it is unhelpful to limit Adam’s actions only to that sense, as if the eternal fate of humanity is all that truly matters. Such is man-centered thinking. Instead, we must realize that all of God’s creation is very special to and loved by Him, and that it was all of God’s creation that was made unacceptable to God as a result of Adam’s actions. As much as it pains us to see the death and misery due to these natural disasters, we must realize that it hurts God even more. Not only does God love each and every person that perished in that earthquake and tsunami, God also loves the planet itself that cracked and moaned that tragic day. (For example, imagine your own distress were a favorite and valuable piece of china passed down to you from a beloved family member were to badly chip or crack, and multiply that by a great many times.) This is why environmentalists who tell us to “love the earth” are so misguided … far better to love the God who loves the earth more than we ever could! God loves His creation, and it pains God to see the condition of disrepair that His beloved treasure that He created and sustains has come to because of Adam’s actions.

But there is good news: this marred, groaning crumbling creation will not exist forever. Quite the contrary: its time is limited. At the time appointed by God the Father, this current creation will pass away – be destroyed by fire – and replaced with a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth. A mere man will not be the head of the kosmos to come as Adam was of this kosmos! Instead, the head of the kosmos to come is Jesus Christ, who being God will not fall and plunge it into sin (ignore the doctrines of the heretic Origen who claims otherwise). Also, the people united with Jesus Christ? Well, they are the part of the prior kosmos that God will preserve for an eternity in the new kosmos, as a “keepsake” of the old kosmos. Why will God preserve some of the old kosmos when it is sinful and unacceptable? Because He so loved it! John 3:16! (Kosmos means “world”.) And by uniting the remnant of the former kosmos with Jesus Christ, the keepsake from the former kosmos will have its sinful status expunged, purged, extinguished, never to be remembered, spoken of or thought of before. So, God will have a reminder of His original work AND a new work that will be preserved forever by His Son: the best of both worlds! Does the God of the universe deserve anything less? Soli Deo Gloria!

But in order for this to be good news for you, you must be part of the kosmos that is united with Jesus Christ and thereby preserved. Otherwise, you will be in the portion of the marrred, unsuitable kosmos that will be rejected by the holy, perfect God and destroyed by fire … or more accurately the lake of fire. And against the doctrine of annihilationism, as time does not exist in eternity, the old creation’s being cast into the lake of fire will be just as eternal as the joy of the saints in heaven (cf Revelation 14:11). So in order to be the part of this world that is preserved forever instead of destroyed forever, you must obey Acts 2:38, which reads (in part) “Repent , and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” For more detail on how this is done, I urge you to immediately read and heed:

The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in abomination, abortion, Bible, Christianity, false religion, false teachers, false teaching, global warming, Jesus Christ, religion, religious right, Theodicy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Judah Falls … And Then Gets Up!

Posted by Job on March 25, 2011

Though little information about him is recorded in the Bible, Judah is an interesting fellow. The messianic blessing was given to Abraham, and this blessing was fulfilled through the line of Judah. However, this was not due to any special righteousness on the part of Judah. Quite the contrary, the most righteous of Jacob’s son was Joseph. Instead, the blessing on Judah’s line seems to have come almost “by default.” Consider the prophetic blessings of Abraham on his sons in Genesis 49. Reuben, the firstborn, disqualified himself by committing fornication with Jacob’s wife Bilhah. (When you consider the circumstances, the fierce rivalry between Leah and Rachel provoked by Jacob’s severe, blatant sinful mistreatment of Reuben’s mother in favor of Rachel, Reuben likely did so in order to humiliate Rachel, and the act may not have even been consensual on Bilhah’s part … compare this with how Absalom forced himself on David’s concubines – and did so in public – in order to humiliate his father.)

Simeon and Levi, next in line, both disqualified themselves by murdering all the males from the tribe of the prince that forced himself on their sister Dinah. Although their actions ironically prevented Jacob’s faithless and horrible decision to intermarry his clan with this pagan tribe (and the result would have been Jacob’s line becoming pagans and not the other way around, see Genesis 34:20-24) they were judged by the Holy Spirit speaking through Jacob as “instruments of cruelty”, murderers, possessing “selfwill”, and cursed their “anger” and “wrath” because it was “cruel.” Apparently, though it was right of Simeon and Levi to seek justice for their sister’s rape (justice that their father, still acting fearfully and trying to exploit situations by cutting business deals at this time because of a lack of faith, pointedly refused to seek) and to scuttle Jacob’s intentions to disobey the wishes passed down to him by his father Isaac by joining his line with an evil pagan tribe, their taking vengeance on people who had nothing to do with the act – and doing so without consulting YHWH for permission or advice first – is what brought this curse upon them.

So, the blessings of Abraham passed to Judah. Again, it is not because Judah was the most virtuous of Abraham’s sons. Instead, though he was not firstborn, he was the first one born who did not disqualify himself with extremely serious abominations. Yes, Judah committed sexual immorality, but that is not the same as having sex with – and possibly raping – his father’s wife, and it is also not the same as mass murder. The acts of Reuben, Simeon and Levi were particularly offensive in the sight of God, and resulted in their being cursed (Jacob, empowered by the Holy Spirit, said of Reuben “you are unstable as water, and you will not excel”). This should be instructive to the homosexual lobby and their enablers among emergent and theologically liberal “Christians” who falsely claim that “all sins are equal.” That Reuben, Simeon and Levi were disqualified for their sins and Judah was not for his proves that Westminster’s Shorter Catechism is correct in their question and answer 83: “Are all transgression of the law equally heinous?” “Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations are more heinous in the sight of God than others.”

Now make no mistake, though it was not like the transgressions of Reuben, Simeon and Levi, Judah did fall! Yet, the grace of God and the evidence of God’s election, God’s calling of him and his line, were evident when he got up again. So by examining this, Christians can learn a few things about our own Christian living.

1. The Leah contrast.

Why did Judah fall? It honestly looks as if he couldn’t take the pressure. When the heat was on, Judah melted. When the going got rough and tough, Judah crumbled.  Understand this important fact of background context: Jacob obviously, sinfully favored Rachel and her children over Leah and her children. Example: when Jacob feared that Esau was going to kill him and his family, he sent Leah and her kids first so that if Esau killed them, Rachel and her kids would have a chance to escape! Jacob was obviously, indefensibly wrong, and it was horrible for Jacob to have his wives and children live in turmoil because of his own behavior, because of his placing his own interests and desires above that of his family, his duty to YHWH, and simply being just. However, as Christians, we must realize that our own situations, whether our family lives, finances, employment situations, churches, and political conditions are not always going to be “good” or “fair.” There are going to be problems in our families. There are going to be financial problems exacerbated by bad jobs and worse bosses and coworkers. There is going to be political oppression and repression, as well as social ostracism, because of our faith. And in our churches, there are going to be Christians who do not act like Christians, as well as actual non-Christians.

The way to respond is not the way that Reuben did, with a form of incest that might have been rape as well. It is not the way that Simeon and Levi did; mass murder. It is not the way that Rachel did, who rather than having compassion on her older sister and working to get Jacob to show love to her sister and ease her heartbreak, actually enjoyed possessing a favored status at her own sister’s expense, and tried to preserve it by giving Bilhah to Abraham in the first place. Instead, it is the way that Leah did, which is to seek God in submission and prayer, and do your best to persevere in a bad situation with grace and upright behavior.

Leah could have responded to Jacob’s grotesque, long-standing mistreatment of her in kind, by becoming a manipulative backstabbing schemer who sought to get back at him and undermine him any way that she could; by taking up the character of the two men in her life that despite being the closest to her and responsible for caring for, loving and protecting her (her father Laban and her husband Jacob), instead neglected, exploited and mistreated her. Laban married her off to increase his own wealth and then stole her dowry; Jacob only put up with her because he was stuck with her because of Laban’s machinations, yet was more than willing to use her as a baby machine to produce heirs for him.

Leah would have been more than justified in a worldly sense for giving Jacob exactly what he deserved, for treating him exactly as he treated her. Instead, Leah responded to the pressure by going to God, oft giving God the praise (Judah means “praise”, and Leah so named him saying “Now I will praise the YHWH” at his birth) and being the wife that God wanted her to be in spite of her low estate in the eyes of her husband and the turmoil that Jacob inflicted on his family; in spite of her circumstances. Leah sought YHWH often in petitions, prayer and praise, so she withstood the pressure. Judah did neither, so he fell. Twice.

2. Judah’s Two Falls

In this context enters Joseph. Now Joseph was not responsible for the evil situation that Jacob created, and was powerless to remedy it. Instead, virtuous Joseph was caught in the middle. He was the eldest son of Jacob’s favorite wife, and was treated as you might expect Jacob to: with a blatant, unjustifiable favoritism that was based solely on pleasing Jacob’s own emotions (Jacob treated Joseph so favorably not because it was in Joseph’s own interests or benefit, but because it gave Jacob pleasure and made him feel good) and not because it was in the best interests of anyone else, whether that someone else was YHWH, Jacob’s other sons and wives, or even Joseph himself.

Instead of going to God over the ill treatment from his earthly father and thereby gaining the strength to stand against the evil influences of his own mistreatment, his own emotions that resulted from this lifetime of mistreatment, and the negative influences of his brothers, Judah went along with the crowd. He allowed his anger, bitterness, envy and jealousy against Joseph (and also his father) to build into a hateful, murderous rage. Judah went along with the other 9 brothers with the initial plot to kill Joseph. This plot was foiled only by Reuben, the oldest and the wisest, who to preserve his brother’s life suggested that they throw him in a pit instead (so that he could later get him out and return him to the protection of Jacob). After the decision not to kill Joseph was already made, Judah then has the idea that profiting off the plot to get rid of Joseph by selling him into slavery was better than murdering him anyway!

So, this is how depraved Judah became. He was willing to murder his own brother and then sell his brother to some unknown fate as a slave. He did not stand up and speak up for righteousness; that was Reuben. It was Reuben who suppressed his own loss at being usurped of his firstborn status – Reuben at this point had lost more to Joseph than had Judah – who stood up and tried to do the right thing. Judah, meanwhile, not only went along with the crowd, went along with the sinful passions of his flesh, but in coming up with the plot to sell Joseph, he was one of the ringleaders! In his dealing with Joseph, he was one of the chief of sinners! And when Judah had a final chance to stand up and do the right thing, to be a just and honest man with regards to this incident, he went along with the cover-up to Jacob in order to escape the consequences of his actions. And that was the first fall.

The second fall was when Judah could no longer deal with his brothers’ conniving and malice – and his own guilt from the consequences over his own actions. Now Judah could have submitted to God, repented of his sins, and told his father the truth. Instead, Judah dealt with his problems by running away from them. How many Christians deal with marital problems that do not rise to the level of sexual immorality (or according to my own belief, domestic violence against spouse and/or children, which justifies at the very least separation for one’s own safety) by simply leaving despite knowing full well that God hates divorce? How many Christians abandon what they know are good churches and ministries simply because they face opposition (despite knowing full well that Satan will oppose such things precisely because he desires to destroy the good ministries, see the bad and un-Biblical ministries prosper, and drive Christians away from good fellowship)? Well, the Christians who pick up and run away from their adversity, from their troubles, lack the virtues of Leah. Instead, they are no better than Judah.

Now when Judah left his father’s house, he rather unsurprisingly fell into a common temptation for males: sexual immorality. Now in one sense, we have to put Judah’s sexual sin into context, because the law of Moses regulating sexual behavior (i.e. no adultery or fornication) was not yet given. Still, Paul told us in Romans that in the absence of the law, because of common grace at the very minimum, people have “a law unto themselves (Romans 2:14-15) that should instruct us concerning righteousness. Note how the pharaoh of Egypt and Abimelech of the Philistines respected the marriages of Abraham and Isaac to Sarah and Rebekah by returning those women to their husbands without touching them. A better comparison: how Joseph, raised in Judah’s own house as his brother, resisted the multiple temptations of sexual immorality by Potiphar’s wife. So, even without the law of Moses, Judah was without excuse.

Judah fell into the common practice of allowing the pressures of life – and the pressures that we face are real – to get him ensnared into sexual sin. (In this way, he was similar to Reuben’s responding to family pressures by resorting to sexual sin, save Reuben’s act exceeding that of Judah because of Reuben’s sinning with his father’s wife.) First, he had a child with a woman of Canaan, Shuah. Then his sons Er and Onan turned out wicked, reflecting the immorality of their father during this period. Next, Judah breaks his promise to the widow of Er, Tamar, by refusing to give her to his son Shelah as a wife. Even when a third child of Judah dies, his daughter, Judah did not consider his own wickedness and turn to YHWH in repentance. Instead, he blamed Tamar, as if she was some bad luck or cursed woman who had brought death to his 2 sons!

So what does Judah do when under the pressure of life? Despite being MARRIED, he goes and gets himself a prostitute (or so he thought, not knowing that it was his daughter-in-law Tamar)! Finally, when finding out that his daughter-in-law was pregnant by him does he (partially) acknowledge the depths of his depravity! Before she showed him his staff and signet ring, he was going to have her executed because of what he believed to be her sexual immorality! Judah was exposed: the sexual morality of a pagan Canaanite woman EXCEEDED that of the son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac, the great-grandson of Abraham, the line chosen and set apart by YHWH!

And we Christians, who like Judah are also children of Abraham in a spiritual sense, often do the same: fall into sexual sin in response to the pressures of life, and there are an abundance of statistics concerning our involvement in un-Biblical divorce and remarriage, pornography, adultery, abortion, fornication etc. that proves it. And even those of us who do not respond to the pressures of life through sexual sin have other “outlets.” Maybe it is gossip. Maybe it is gambling. Maybe it is excess alcohol or gluttony. Maybe it is an excessive, unhealthy attachment to politics and sports. Maybe we dabble in astrology, yoga, or other “harmless” activities from other religions. Maybe we listen to foul-mouthed comedians or watch movies with all sorts of vile content, deriving pleasure in the sinful speech and acts of others (Romans 1:32). Just like Judah, so many Christians allow the pressures of live to drive them into sin! Now that is the bad news.

The good news: if we confess our sin, God can be counted on to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). All Christians sin. 1 John 1 makes that clear. The problem is our tendencies to wallow in our sins like Judah – who was in this state of affairs for a long time, long enough for him to have at least three children and raise them to adulthood – without repenting. Now I am certainly not apologist for Roman Catholicism, considering it to not be legitimate Christianity, but Catholics do have in their system regular confessions of sin. Of course, their problem (among many others) is that they confess their sins to priests because they reject the doctrine that Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, the truth that Jesus Christ stated Himself as recorded in the Gospel of John and was enlarged by the inspired writer of the epistle to the Hebrews.

But Christians need to confess our sins to God and ask God for forgiveness for our sins and turn away from those sins on a regular basis. For Christians who have a particularly persistent, troublesome area of sin or temptation, well the frequency, urgency and sincerity of the petitions to God in confession, forgiveness and repentance in the Name of Jesus Christ should match the seriousness of the problem! We should not harden our hearts, grieve the Holy Spirit, and let ourselves become so dull, distorted and cold of spirit that it will take something as dramatic and grotesque as Judah’s being confronted by the daughter-in-law that he impregnated to shake us out of our sin stupor! Instead, as Christians, when we fall, we should respond with confession and repentance in the manner described in 1 John as soon as the Holy Spirit convicts us to do so. We should not fall into the temptation of getting too prideful or fearful to do so, that God does not care and will overlook it, or that we need to perform some good works or deeds on our own in order to “make penance” and “get right with God first” before we repent. Instead, we are to turn to God in repentance at the first opportunity that the Holy Spirit gives us!

Please understand: God loves us. God hates sin. Add those two together and you come to this conclusion: God does not want His children, the redeemed bought by His own Son’s precious blood, to remain in sin. Not only does God not want it, He will not allow it. God will not allow you to keep lying in some gutter or alley drenched in urine and vomit. Instead, see Ezekiel 16:6 – “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live ; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” Because He so loves us, and also for the same of His own Name and His own zeal for justice and righteousness, God will bring His elect to righteousness!

What is simply amazing is that just as the pressures of life causes us to sin, God can, will and does use those same pressures of life to drive His children back to Him! Example: Jonah. Being in the belly of that whale three days drove a man filled with self-righteousness, pride, rebellion and vindictiveness to repent, didn’t it? The only surprise is that IT TOOK THREE DAYS! (We should never kid ourselves about the depths of our own sinfulness or the breadth of God’s grace in response.) So God did not allow the partially repentant Judah to stay where he was, which while was an improvement, still wasn’t good enough. Instead, Judah was restored. And it was not because of any virtue or good character within Judah. Quite the contrary: it has been demonstrated that Judah’s main “virtues” were not being as bad a sinner as was Reuben, Simeon and Levi (and even this was only because God prevented him from falling that far into sin!) and being born before the more righteous Joseph! But instead, Judah was restored only because He was God’s elect, and thus it was God’s will for him to be so. How did it happen? Well, God applied the pressure, and then God put righteousness in Judah’s heart.

3. Judah Gets Up

First: the famine. Judah left his father’s house because he could no longer deal with the guilt from his own actions, he could no longer put up with brothers that were just as bad as was he or even worse, and perhaps also because Jacob merely transferred his favoritism to Benjamin, the other child of Rachel. So, Judah went off, left his father’s house, and “became his own man”, and clearly not much of one. In doing this, Judah became the patriarch, and was responsible for providing for his own house: his wives, children, servants and flocks. Just as happened in the parable of the prodigal son as told by Jesus Christ, a famine came, which made Judah unable to care for himself and his house! So this Judah, this prodigal, ended the charade of being “his own man”, ended the mess that he was making of his life and of those around him, and returned home. The threat of starvation made Judah stop playing games. But yet, it wasn’t enough. Why? Because Judah’s father couldn’t feed him either. So, Judah had to go to Egypt to buy grain to save himself and his father.

Once in Egypt, the pressure increases. Joseph deals harshly with them, accusing them of being spies, keeping Simeon while sending the rest back with the demand that they bring Benjamin. Then, having returned from Egypt, the pressure increases still more. Already burdened with the guilt of losing one brother, they have to go back to their father without a second, and demanding that they bring a third, his father’s remaining favorite! Plus, what was the money that they paid for the grain doing in their sacks! And that is when Judah begins to step up. He, of all his brothers, including Reuben the firstborn, promises his own fate as a guarantor for the safety of Benjamin. He had to do this, because otherwise he, his father, his brothers, and his own family would have starved to death. Now this only happened because of God’s Spirit dealing with Judah, but make no mistake: it happened with the threat of death hanging over his head!

Back in Egypt, God turns up the pressure still more. This time, in contrast with the rough treatment that Joseph gave them before – and they were expecting again – he switches tactics. He welcomes them. He throws them a party! He tells them that it was he who put the money in their sacks! He loads them up with food and sends them on their way. Everything is merry! Or so they think. Then, Joseph’s silver cup is found … with Benjamin. The one that Judah pledged his own life and fate for. Now Judah had every right to say “this is a deal-breaker.” He would have been within his right to say “I do not have to go be executed by the king or become his slave because my foolish brother stole a cup! I have nothing to do with this! I am just going to explain what happened to my father, and if he doesn’t understand, then so be it!”

But no. Judah fulfills the promise that he made to his father! He goes back to Joseph, and offers to take the punishment in the place of Benjamin, whom he thought was guilty! And keep in mind: Jesus Christ is the lion of Judah, the descendant of Judah’s line. So just as Jesus Christ took the punishment in the place of God’s elect because it was the will of God the Father (and suffered many things, was tempted at all points just as are we, in the course of doing so in order to remain true to His Father), Judah offered to take the punishment in the place of Benjamin because in order to keep his promise to Jacob! Now it would be a theological stretch to call Judah a type of Jesus Christ, but his actions, stepping up to take the punishment for the (apparently) guilty Benjamin for the sake of his father, certainly strongly parallels and reminds us of what Jesus Christ did for the elect for the sake of His Father!

Now in doing this, Judah prefigured what his descendant, Jesus Christ, would do. But this happened only because God turned up the pressure on Judah. And it happened only because God’s grace was with Judah. God put Judah to the test, and Judah was able to pass it only because God was with Judah and would not let him fall! Why? Because it was God’s will. Judah was God’s chosen. Judah’s getting up from his depravity and stepping into righteousness was God’s doing. Make no mistake: it was the will of God to the glory of God. And just as it was with Judah, so is it with Christians. Salvation is of the Lord. Restoration of backsliders is of the Lord. And the perseverance of the saints until our time of perfection is of the Lord. Just as God keeps His elect angels from falling (1 Timothy 5:21) so He keeps us from staying down, from remaining in sin, when we fall!

So, it is not that just as Judah got up, we can get up. That thinking glorifies man, depicting our restoration as our own good works. Instead, it is that just as Judah got up, we will get up. We will get up because it is God who will get us up, and God will do this for us on our behalf because of His great love for us, and because by doing so He is glorified! Those people who do not get up, who do not endure until the end? They were never God’s elect to begin with. They are the goats that Jesus Christ spoke of in Matthew 25:32-40. They are the seeds that did not fall into good soil that Jesus Christ spoke of in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-23). Do not be deceived. We do not have the ability to save ourselves. We do not have the ability to keep ourselves in the faith. We do not have the ability to restore ourselves when we fall. It is only God who can do these things, and it is only by God’s grace according to His eternal purpose of election and predestination decreed from before the foundation of the world that these things do happen!

So Christian, when you fall like Judah, and when you get up like Judah, know that it is God who gives you the ability to do so, and in this you should rejoice in that same God! Glory be to God for His mercy, His grace and awesome power and love, for He is indeed worthy to be praised! So backslider, restoration is available to you! Soli Deo Gloria!

And to the non-Christian, allow me to ask of you: how long will you continue to despise such a great salvation given by a God who spared not even His own Son for the sake of His elect? Such a gracious loving God who is patient, loving, forgiving and is willing to restore even His Christians who fall into sin? God knows that we are but flesh and during this time of grace is not at war with us (Genesis 6:3) but instead is desiring that we come to repentance in (2 Peter 3:8-9) accordance with His plan and terms. In order to benefit from this great a salvation, one cannot “meet God halfway.” Instead, one can only come to God on God’s terms, and there is no way to God the Father except through God the Son, and there is no salvation other than that worked by God the Spirit. If this is not the case for you, I urge and entreat you to immediately:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in abomination, Bible, Christianity, devotional, Jesus Christ, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

VeggieTales Versus Rob Bell: Not That Much Difference!

Posted by Job on March 24, 2011

First, let me say that I haven’t read Rob Bell’s book and I do not plan to ever to. The reason is that my bookshelf is so stacked with great items from legitimate Christian writers that it will take me years to go through them all, and I am yet in the process of trying to acquire more (I want a good commentary on the book of Daniel and on the gospel of Luke; I am accepting recommendations towards that end). So I don’t have the time – or the inclination – to read prattle from a known false teacher. Further, the doctrines that Bell are spreading are not new, but instead are the same abominable heresies that the church has been contending against since nearly the beginning, and then just as now are  the result of reading humanistic and pagan ideas into the Bible text. So, if you want a review of Bell’s “Love Wins”, I suggest Albert Mohler, Ken Silva (from whom I first learned of Bell and the movement that he represents), Phil Johnson, Tim Challies, The Gospel Coalition, and a host of Christian thinkers far more capable of that sort of thing than I. Meanwhile, I will continue to spend my free time reading books that actually contain truth from the likes of Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, George Whitefield and John Eadie.

Still, it is curious to note a curiosity or two. First, the postmodern hermeneutics employed by Bell, Brian McLaren, and similar are by no means new. Quite the contrary, it is reminiscent of allegorical and other techniques that have used to either ignore or alter the meaning of “inconvenient” Bible texts for hundreds of years. I won’t go into the various doctrines that these methods have been used to support or reject, but it goes without saying that using his interpretative method when it suits your own purposes makes it a lot harder to stand in the face of a blasphemer that is using it for his.

Second, it is even more difficult to hold figures like C.S. Lewis in high esteem (and for that matter Billy Graham) when Lewis, Graham, and many other giants of evangelical Christianity hold the same basic views as does Bell! Any number of evangelical Christian leaders encourage us to run out and take our children to see the “Narnia” movies because “it is oh so important to support Christian efforts in Hollywood and the mainstream culture.” As for Billy Graham, well, their “Gideon: The Tuba Warrior” episode saw fit to depict Graham (of all the preachers in history) as one raised up by God despite Graham’s publicly stating beliefs similar to those of Bell.

Speaking of VeggieTales, I recall reading the line “The evangelical “Veggie Tales” cartoons—animated Bible stories featuring talking cucumbers and tomatoes—probably shape more children in their view of scripture than any … catechism does” in the Wall Street Journal. (Note: here is a good catechism for children.) They are not alone. Quite the contrary, you are more likely to encounter an actual Biblical theme in VeggieTales than you will in any “Christian” children’s programming in your local Christian video store, or on Christian broadcasting. But evangelical and many fundamentalist parents buy things like Veggie Tales, The Horned Avenger, On The Farm, Hermie The Caterpillar, Adventures In Odyssey etc. despite the clear fact that A) most of them offer a “Christless” Christianity focused more on ethics, morals, virtues, so-called family values, than the gospel. Phil Vischer specifically stated that this is done to increase sales and make more money from Christians, and has the motto “the more you preach, the fewer you reach.” So, all of that Jesus Christ talk will mean not selling videos because Christians won’t buy it! And they know of what they speak … consider that Good Times Entertainment, whose products were often about Jesus Christ (consider the Bible series featuring Charlton Heston), went bankrupt in 2005. An example of what leaving Jesus Christ out results in? Their “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” movie allegorically depicting Satan as the brother of Jesus Christ. Another example? Teaching works-righteousness in “Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah’s Umbrella“, when the lead female character tells the lead male character (who in true feminist fashion – yes feminism has made real inroads in evangelical Christianity – in an incompetent idiot) that “Do you know what those who do the right thing are called? Righteous.” Actually, the New Testament says that righteousness comes by being imputed through Jesus Christ, and that it is impossible to be considered righteous apart from Jesus Christ. So the need to omit Jesus Christ in order to sell more DVDs results in teaching the exact opposite of what Jesus Christ taught and denying the reason for Jesus Christ’s ministry and work! As no one raised a peep about VeggieTales’ essentially endorsing Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, modern Judaism, and every other false works-based religion, how can we be surprised when Rob Bell has such a huge audience? Bell is only reaping the fruit that that was planted and watered by others in fields that were plowed by others.

Now granted, VeggieTales does get around to mentioning Jesus Christ and even His atonement occasionally (see their Easter episodes, though typical of modern Christianity, they give Christmas much more attention than Easter, including promoting the very destructive Santa Claus works religion in two of them … telling kids that there’s no Santa Claus means not selling any DVDs though!), they and the other “Christian” entertainment rarely – if ever – mentions the other side. They will tell you “accept Jesus Christ and go to heaven.” They will not say “if you do not, you will go to hell.” Indeed, even mentions of hell are rare, and this is the case in Christian children’s entertainment, contemporary Christian and gospel music, Christian movies, Christian books, and most Christian evangelism and preaching. So, since we are in a Christian culture that leaves out this important detail, what is the basis, the justification, for getting angry when Rob Bell comes in and fills in the blanks for us?

A lot of Christians are angry at Bell for not believing orthodoxy, but the real problem is that those who believe orthodoxy will not preach orthodoxy.  Challies mentions a new book that discusses “issues pertinent to the church today” which a lot of popular contemporary writers contributed to. According to Challies, there is no chapter on hell, and there are only two references to it in the index! That is no surprise. Clark Pinnock, the Rob Bell of his day, related that when a major Christian publishing company solicited prominent evangelicals to represent the traditional, Protestant view in Four Views On Hell (which is a theological debate in published form) they found no one wanting to take the job! (Ultimately, dispensational pastor and theologian John Walvoord took the challenge.) Pinnock – and again this is nearly 20 years ago – defended his position at the time, annihilationism (this was before Pinnock discarded any remaining pretense of adhering to inerrancy and adopted views similar to Bell’s) by stating that due to the increasing unwillingness of evangelicals to preach about and defend the doctrine of hell, the result would be a widespread embrace of universalism. (Pinnock was not well versed on pluralism at the time, but after learning more about purgatory from the Roman Catholic contributor to the project, Zachary Hayes, he ultimately adopted it as his own position.)

So, Veggie Tales and its effects on children is merely symbolic for the larger Christian scene itself, whether an unwillingness to oft preach and share the whole gospel because it is not acceptable in modern humanist culture – we Christians have to keep our place in the mainstream! – or an unwillingness to confront, condemn and separate from those who preach false doctrines. Quite the contrary, Christianity Today, long the evangelical standard, published a missive aimed at Christians appropriately denouncing Bell, claiming among other things that they lacked the necessary qualifications and standing to do so, and that their actions reflected a lack of various Christian virtues. The writer calls (indirectly but very intentionally) those attacking Bell “meain-spirited”, directly accuses them of “lacking self-restraint”, and pines for the days when such debates were the exclusive domains of people like Plato and “Saint” Thomas Aquinas – in addition to Moses and Augustine – “who gained respect through a lifetime of scholarship.”

Well the respect of the world earned by “Saint” Aquinas for advancing popery and of the pagan Plato is not what we should be after in the first place. Instead, we should seek the grace given through Jesus Christ. That so many of us want the respect of those in whom the truth is not present is precisely why this great vacuum on teachings about hell exists. The problem is not that Rob Bell stepped up to fill it, for there have always been and will always be until Jesus Christ returns false teachers. No, the problem is the carnality caused by the love of this present world in the church that allows this void to exist to begin with.

The result of this void caused by the worldliness is that as many as 59% of evangelical Christians believe that salvation can be obtained outside of Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, 59% of evangelicals also have “dealing with moral breakdown” as a forefront issue; apparently the great commission can wait for another day. Again, and this should surprise who? Did you think that it was secular humanists being raised on VeggieTales, Hermie The Caterpillar, Focus On The Family etc. and buying them for their kids? Or that atheists are the ones buying Christian and gospel music that does a great job of emulating secular music (or maybe not) but oft neglects the gospel? That theological liberals are the ones heading to Christian bookstores and loading up on “devotionals” that are increasingly just Christianized pop psychology and motivational writings?

The issue is not Rob Bell. The issue is the church and its dereliction of its duty while chasing after worldly pleasures. And let Revelation 2 and 3 remind you: the church is where judgment begins. To more that is given, more is required, and the parables of Jesus Christ tell us that to those to whom more is given, more is required, and further if we are not faithful with what we have been given, then what we have will be taken from us and given to those who have been faithful. We Christians have been given the gospel, and we must avoid allowing the love of this world to prevent us from proclaiming it in its entirety.

In closing, it must be said that if you are a not a Christian, do not take comfort in the lies of the pluralists and others who claim that there is salvation outside of Jesus Christ. Yes, the Bible does declare that love wins, but it will be love of holiness, justice, righteousness, and the only way to have those attributes is by imputation through identification with One who has those attributes, which is Jesus Christ. Unless you live in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ lives in you, there is no life and victory, but only eternal torment. So, I urge you to repent of your sins and join with Jesus Christ immediately.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, child evangelism, Christian hypocrisy, christian worldliness, Christianity, church hypocrisy, church worldliness, false doctrine, false religion, false teaching, Jesus Christ, religion, religious left, religious right, universalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Hollywood’s False Messiahs: Conditioning The People For The Anti-Christ?

Posted by Job on March 22, 2011

Not so long ago, I shared in the evangelical notion that “Christians need to be represented in Hollywood so that we can be part of the mainstream and use it as a vehicle to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and be salt and light in the culture.” But that was before discovering on websites like Vigilant Citizen, Secret Sun and others what a freak show that industry is. (Babylon? Mystery? The great harlot? It’s all there!) Do not be naive … the Christian powerbrokers that are always whining about not being part of “the in crowd” and want a piece of the entertainment industry action for themselves know this stuff already and have always known. Yet, they demand to be included in this great evil, and even claim that it discriminates against them! And of course, they withhold from their followers – Christian followers – the truth of what this industry is actually about. As a matter of fact, they denounce Christians who do their level best to separate from this stuff and minimize its negative effects as small-minded, anti-intellectual dangerous extremists incapable of effectively conducting ministry “in the real world.” Well, is this the real world? What about this? And yes, this does include a ton of prominent gospel/Christian music artists and prominent preachers, who work with and are intertwined with Hollywood and media, especially behind the scenes.

The fact that mainstream evangelical Christianity would rather join with Hollywood than oppose it notwithstanding, there is one theme in major Hollywood films that seems to be curious: the false messiah. Please recall John 5:43, where Jesus Christ says “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” This refers to Jesus Christ’s rejection by the world as its true Messiah and Saviour, and the same world’s willingness to embrace false messiahs in His place. In the immediate term, Jesus Christ was predicting that Israel would reject Him and follow after such false messiahs who promised political liberation and a human kingdom as Simeon bar Kochba. Those false messiahs, claiming to have been sent by God and having God on their side, provoked the Roman Empire into destroying the temple and much of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and then to burn the entire city to the ground some 65 years later. Long term, however, Jesus Christ was referencing a series of false messiahs to come, culminating in the beast, the man of sin, commonly called the anti-Christ. How fascinating it is that Hollywood is using movies to prepare the way for the man of sin by releasing “entertainment” that conditions its audience for following him. Consider some examples.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader of the Star Wars films.

“Star Wars” is the product of George Lucas, who apparently is an adherent to the theosophy belief system (which is a combination of religious philosophy and mysticism). Anakin Skywalker was born to a virgin slave woman, was prophesied as “the one who would bring balance to ‘the force'” (a dualistic non-personal energy), and after a period of “temptation” by “the dark side of the force” experienced a sacrificial death to secure the triumph of good over evil, and had a sort of “spiritual resurrection.” He also had a forerunner, a John the Baptist sort of herald who preceded him in a death by martyrdom in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Neo from “The Matrix” films.

“The Matrix” is a product of a worldview that is a combination of postmodernism, Marxism, liberation theology, eastern religions and gnosticism given to us by what used to be “The Wachowski Brothers”, but now consists of one Wachowski brother and another who underwent a sex change operation. (It’s like a freak show in your neighborhood! Freak show baby!) Neo saves mankind from an oppressive world order of machines (which stands for white people, technology, western culture, Christianity and capitalism) to bring in a new bohemian order. The coming of this “Neo” was prophesied by “the oracle”, who is a “goddess” figure that created him as an “incarnation” of herself to help her overthrow the (ultimately secondary) antagonist, “the architect”, a malevolent “god” figure.  The “god”, the “goddess” and the “messiah” wind up having to join forces in order to defeat their common threat, “Agent Smith”, a creation of the “god” who has become rogue, turned on his creator and become “Satan”, who wishes to create his own self-styled world order. This “Neo” was specifically not the product of human conception, but instead his physical body was the work of the machine order (“god”), and his mind/spirit, or soul, was the work of “the goddess.” In other words, Neo was “the goddess made flesh.” Morpheus served as the “John the Baptist” figure who paves the way for Neo. Neo dies and rises again (in the first movie), goes to a sideways underworld/hell (the second movie) and makes a final sacrifice of his life that secures the defeat of Agent Smith and a truce between the god and goddess (the last movie).

Sully from Avatar.

This is the product of the atheist environmentalist James Cameron, who saw fit to produce a movie that claimed to prove that Jesus Christ never rose from the dead. It combines Viet Nam and Iraq War allegories with promoting a generic synthesis of eastern, New Age and tribal animistic beliefs. In Hinduism, an avatar is the descent of a deity from heaven to earth, although it is more like an appearance or manifestation than a true incarnation, more akin to the theophanies of the Old Testament than Jesus Christ. However, since the introduction of Christianity into India, many Hindus have concluded that Jesus Christ was an avatar from their religion who appeared in Israel to provide spiritual and moral instruction and enlightenment, essentially assimilating Jesus Christ into their own religion. (In a more modern, secular sense, an avatar is a physical representation of an idea or personality. Note that many websites call the personalized picture that accompanies a username/account an “avatar.”) In this movie, the “soul” (mind/spirit) of Marine Jake Sully is placed inside a soulless alien body (which was created using genetic engineering in a laboratory, making the messianic figure not the product of natural conception) which “dies” (in a sense) when the soul of Jake leaves it but “lives” (or “resurrects” so to speak) when the soul of Jake returns to inhabits it. Sent on this mission to convince the (noble and enlightened) tribal aliens to abandon a tree that grows on top of energy deposits that just happens to be vital to the tribe’s Gaia-like cult, Sully instead converts to the religion, joins the tribe, makes his temporary and laboratory controlled “incarnations” permanent, and leads the tribe in an overthrow of the military-industrial complex invaders (who similar to “The Matrix” represent western, capitalist interests, our existing world order).

Aang from The Last Airbender.

Unlike the director of the other movies,  M. Night Shyamalan has a more traditional worldview and is old-fashioned by Hollywood standards in that he actually respects Christianity on some level (see Signs), has a negative view of the occult (see Unbreakable) and rejects postmodernism as it relates to evil (see The Village). Still, Shyamalan jumped at the chance to write and direct a movie that not only presents a false messianic figure, but aims its worldview at impressionable children. Adapted from a very popular Nickelodeon cartoon (and Nickelodeon was created and is owned by MTV Networks) it is an amalgamation of various eastern religions and philosophies, and depicts a world inhabited by humans, animals very similar to creatures described in various mythologies and religions, and spirits. Aang, the messianic figure, is an incarnation of the planet’s spirit component (i.e. an incarnation of Gaia). This Aang discovers that he is the prophesied avatar, and – reminiscent of the prophet Jonah – flees his spiritual calling and as a result winds up in the ocean during a storm. Aang “dies” when he is frozen in ice, is “resurrected” 100 years later, and as the last (or unique) representative of the “air nation” (analogous to  heaven) then defeats a penultimate evil threat: the lord of the “fire nation” (analogous to Satan and hell). Aang’s role is to ensure peace, harmony and world order, and as a human incarnation of spirit, he is a link or bridge to both.

It is amazing that these four films (or series of films), despite being made over the course of 30+ years by such diverse personalities and representing rather diverse genres can have so many common threads. It is rather difficult to imagine this being a coincidence.

  • All the films embrace eastern religions and philosophies.
  • All the films reject monotheism and organized religion in favor of a type of spirituality.
  • All the films heavily emphasize martial arts (i.e. karate, kung fu, judo, tai chi) including but not limited to swordsmanship. Make no mistake, just as Albert Mohler (and this own site) says about yoga, eastern practices like martial arts are part of the religion. So, the use of martial arts – often combined with other forms of weaponry and warfare, whether lasers in Star Wars or guns in The Matrix – makes the violent aggression in these messianic films entirely religious in nature, religio-military propaganda after the manner used to justify the Crusades, or in a more recent era the same religious-military propaganda used by axis powers of World War II (which included not only the occult militaristic religion of Nazi Germany, but also the state shinto religion of Japan) and the religious fervor whipped up by the George W. Bush regime and his enablers (no, it’s not just the Muslims who do it, not by a long shot!) during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
  • All either reject – or fail to depict – capitalism in favor of socialism, communalism, bohemianism, tribalism etc. (Star Wars, The Matrix and Avatar are particularly vicious towards capitalism.)
  • All heavily rely on receiving enlightenment, or some form of “secret knowledge” as opposed to relying on authoritative revelation.
  • All on some level contain elements of there existing some common, shared or “connected” mind or spirit among humanity.
  • NONE of these films are anti-war or pacifist in any sense, but quite the contrary. More on that later.
  • Despite the lack of theism or organized religion, faith plays a huge role, especially among the protagonists.
  • The films go out of their way to depict racial and cultural diversity and “gender equality” (and this was rather striking in the 1970s when Star Wars was made) among the protagonists (who represent the new world order) while – with the exception of “The Last Airbender” generally depicting the antagonists as white males (representing the existing world order).
  • In each, the antagonist represents or at least bears a striking resemblance to our existing world order, and the protagonist represents a new world order (that again, shares the common points mentioned). This is the case whether the antagonist is the existing authority that gets overthrown (i.e. the empire in “Star Wars” and the machines in “The Matrix”) or is acting as a usurper (i.e. the fire nation in “Airbender” and the militarized energy company in “Avatar”).

Please note: I am not a Eurocentrist, capitalism/big business/war (Viet Nam or otherwise) apologist, or conservative of any sort. Instead, these are simply common threads that unite these movies. Is this the shape of the common, collectivist based (in religious, economic, social and political terms) society to come? If it is, then Christians might have to consider the possibility that reordering global society to fit this worldview would be a massive undertaking that may take quite awhile to pull off. Be that as it may, these films – and others like them – are most definitely laying the groundwork!

But back to the main point: consider a key difference between the false messiahs in these movies and the true Messiah, Jesus Christ: where the real Messiah is the Prince of Peace, the false messiahs are gods of war. Consider what Daniel 11:38 says of the anti-Christ: that he represents the god of forces. With false messiahs, this has to be the case. The reason is that the real Messiah came to provide spiritual salvation; to save people from their sins by dying on the cross. Jesus Christ didn’t have to pick up a sword and kill anybody to accomplish His mission, because His sinless life in fulfillment of the requirements of the law, His death on the cross to pay for sins, and His resurrection from the dead defeated death itself!

Unfortunately, the world rejects this successful mission on the part of Jesus Christ because the world rejects the idea that it is sinful; that it stands inherently guilty before a holy sovereign God that is Ruler and Judge. To it, the Biblical concept of sin does not exist (a la Buddhism and new age) or one can earn salvation from whatever idea that they do have of sin through works (Hinduism and some forms of shintoism). Either way, it does not recognize a need for a Saviour from sins, and therefore the Person and work of Jesus Christ is irrelevant to its concerns and a foolish offense to its desires.

So, the messiah, deliverer, or cosmic superhero must play another role, which is to save people from their earthly situation as opposed to their earthly condition, and this condition is generally that of oppression, poverty, war, etc. Of course, the root cause for the situation is the same as is the condition: sin. But the refusal to acknowledge that the root cause of political oppression, economic exploitation, discrimination, wars etc. is the sinful condition of humanity requires the one promising temporal deliverance to do so by picking up the sword, taking the fight to and overcoming “the other side”; the oppressors that are perceived to be responsible for all the evil. And make no mistake: Revelation tells us that the anti-Christ will identify the church (and possibly the Jews) as “the other side” that is at least partially responsible for all the world’s ills (just as the early church was blamed for political, economic and social problems in the Roman Empire) and it will be given to this anti-Christ to make war against the saints and to overcome them. Christians will be the evil empire in Star Wars, the machines in The Matrix, the energy company in Avatar, and the fire nation in The Last Airbender and as such will be the targets of the beast’s murderous military, economic, political and religious aggression. This will be to the delight of the citizens of the earth, who will be cheering the anti-Christ on just as did movie theatre attendants at the exploits of Luke Skywalker.

This will be because the church (and perhaps also the Jews) will represent the old world order. It will also be because of the church’s witness! During this time, the remnant will bear witness that the anti-Christ is no true deliverer but a fraud, and that the real solutions are not his program, but rather turning away from sins in true repentance and submission to the true Messiah who is Jesus Christ. Needless to say, it will not be a message that the world wants to hear. Similar to the early Christians who were persecuted often to death for refusing to worship the Roman emperor, such ideas will be considered “unpatriotic” (a fact which should strike contemporary Christians that are politically conservative with no small amount of irony) in the anti-Christ’s regime.

It honestly does appear that with these sorts of movies, Hollywood is providing a picture of the man of sin, and paving the way for his appearance in the process. The good news is that though the church will endure the great tribulation at his hands when he does appear, Jesus Christ will return to cut short the days of the tribulation, defeat the anti-Christ and those who support him, and rescue and vindicate His church, and an army of His saints will return with Him. If you are saved through Jesus Christ, you will be a partaker in this great victory. If you are not, then your only portion will be defeat and joining the anti-Christ in the lake of fire, the second death. Abandon all hope in false messiahs, repent of your sins, and join yourself to the only one true Messiah today!

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Posted in abomination, anti - Christ, antichrist, apostasy, atheism, beast, Bible, big business, blasphemy, capitalism, Christianity, false religion, gnosticism, great tribulation, Hinduism, Jesus Christ, liberalism, liberation theology, man of sin, mark of the beast, media conspiracy | 3 Comments »

Joseph And The Pharoah: The Butler Was Loved But The Baker Was Hated! Genesis 40

Posted by Job on March 16, 2011

Genesis 40 provides an amazing story that illustrates the Biblical doctrine of election, that being God choosing to to save and who not save, who to favor and who to disfavor. Now actually, the text is much stronger than that; as the story of Joseph, the pharaoh, the butler and the baker can be used to illustrate Romans 9:13, which reads “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” The parallels are so strong that it can as an allegory to describe first God choosing Israel of all nations to be His elect nation, and then the church from all peoples to be His elect people.

First the story itself: Joseph is cast into a pit by his wickedly jealous brothers, who first plan to kill him and then decide to sell him into slavery. This was specifically done in order to prevent the dreams that God gave Joseph from coming to pass (Genesis 37:20) and by all appearances was the result of evil spirits – using human jealously and anger as a vehicle, agent and lubricant – attempting to stop God’s purposes from coming to fruition with regards to the descendants of Abraham and the recipients of his promise and covenant. Instead, while they took a break from their evil deeds to eat lunch (not exactly the brightest or most focused or self-disciplined bunch of miscreants were they?) Midianites and Ishmaelites come, get Joseph out of the pit, and sell him to slavery in Egypt to Potiphar.

While in slavery in Egypt, Joseph faithfully serves his master and for this is rewarded by God (in keeping with 1 Peter 2:18; please reject the false modern humanistic doctrines and instead heed what the Bible says when confronted with injustice and oppression). Evil spirits act yet again to provoke Potiphar’s wife into attempting to seduce Joseph, and in contrast with the sexual immorality of Reuben and Judah, Joseph resists even to the point of 1 Corinthians 6:18’s command to “flee fornication.” That gives the evil spirits acting through the lust and pride of Potiphar’s wife the opportunity to cast Joseph into prison. (Realize that God was with Joseph, for the offense that he was accused of should have resulted in his summary execution.) In prison, Joseph yet again keeps such doctrines as 1 Peter 2:18 and Romans 13:1-4, and rather than protesting the injustice that he is subjected to, he behaves in an exemplary fashion and is blessed by God for it, who also causes the blessings of man – the prison keeper – to fall upon him.

With that out of the way, here is where the allegory – if you will – begins in earnest. First, let us start with pharoah. As emperor of Egypt, pharoah had unquestioned power over the people in his political domain. He had absolute power over his subjects. In that culture, far removed from the west and long before the Enlightenment, there was no concept of human or civil rights. Also, the law of Moses, which limited the rights and prerogatives of Israeli monarchs and gave citizens human and civil rights, did not exist in Egypt. Instead, just as Joseph was a slave to Potiphar, all of pharoah’s subjects were his slaves. As  emperor of Egypt, his subjects were his people to do with as he pleased: to sell to other nations as slaves (a practice not uncommon in that era), to conscript for his own military or economic service (again, a common practice), to reward with riches and favor, or to kill and take all that was theirs (again, a common practice). So, it is no accident that God in His revelation used royal language (king, emperor, lord etc.) to describe His relationship to Israel, all nations and people of the earth, and all of creation itself because in that time and place, everyone would have immediately known and presumed His complete ownership and rule according to it in a manner that we cannot even conceive in modern times due to Enlightenment thinking.

But it is precisely because of this mindset, one where a monarch had complete authority over his kingdom (and also a patriarch had complete authority over his household, including wife, children, younger brothers and sisters and their spouses and children, servants etc.) and is the representative symbol of all that is his, all that is “called by his name” (whether a nation for a ruler, a tribe for a chief or a household for a patriarch) that doctrines like federal headship (i.e. of Adam and Jesus Christ) work. Start applying such notion as individual rights and individual agency, which again did not apply in those days in a political context unless granted by the king himself, and ideas like federal headship (and things that proceed from it like original sin) break down. So make no mistake, just as God is Lord of creation, pharoah was lord over Egypt! (As a matter of fact, the same Hebrew words for lord were used for both Yahweh and human rulers, and human rulers were also called “god” in that day, including at times in the Bible, see the “ye are gods” passage of Psalm 82:6, the one notoriously abused by the Word of Faith teachers for their false doctrines.) And now you see why it was such a serious, grievous error when the children of Israel rejected God as their Lord and King and instead demanded a human lord and king.

So pharaoh, in every earthly sense “lord” and “god” over Egypt, becomes angry with two of his subjects; the chief butler and the chief baker. The nature of his anger is this: the text says that he was “wroth.” The Hebrew root word used was qatsaph which can mean “to put oneself in a rage.” The same word was used to describe the anger of YHWH at the children of Israel over idolatry, disobedience and other sins in Leviticus 10:6, Deuteronomy 9:7-8, Deuteronomy 9:22, and Zechariah 8:14. What was it that caused the wrath of pharaoh against his subjects? The text does not say. So, using this “argument from silence” (a common tactic of Jewish theologians that was used extensively regarding Mechizedek in Hebrews 7), we can extend this allegory, metaphor or what have you to symbolize the wrath of God against all mankind, one that exists not solely because of any sins on the part of the individual, but rather because of our universal fallen sinful condition, our original sin, because of being in Adam. As Adam is the federal head of all men (indeed, the word “Adam” means” mankind, and the English word is actually the transliteration of the Hebrew word and not a translation), he represents his sinful nation – it is called by his name – just as pharaoh represents the Egyptian nation. So, because all men are called by the name of Adam, Adam’s sinfulness is imputed to all men. (Recall also that Adam named his wife Eve, which is the Hebrew word “chavvah “, which means “living”, according to her being the mother of all humanity.) Because of this, God is at war with the sinful nation that Adam is the head of just as America not so long ago was at war with the Iraq nation that Saddam Hussein ruled.

So pharaoh represents God, and the butler and baker represent humanity, and pharaoh’s anger at them for the unstated reason represents God’s anger at humanity over our original sin. What does pharaoh do? He casts the butler and the baker in prison, and away from their prior positions of serving him. This represents our alienation from God and our absence from His presence because of our sin. God is holy, therefore that which is sinful cannot stand before His presence! This recalls how Adam was cast from his position from serving God as caretaker of the garden of Eden because of his sin (Genesis 3:24) and also how Satan and the demons were cast from their first estates of serving God due to their rebellion (Jude 1:6).

Now just like YHWH, it was well within the rights of pharaoh due to the privileges, power and authority contained within his position and rank to kill the butler and baker, and the fact that the butler and baker caused the lord of Egypt such grievous offense made this fact even more so. Yet pharaoh used his kingly prerogative to spare the life of the butler and execute the baker. The butler was loved, the baker was hated. Why was the butler chosen over the baker? Well, do not believe the many Hollywood depictions of this story – and even some depictions by any number of Christian efforts i.e. children’s videos – that favor the character of the butler over that of the baker (such as the 1995 miniseries starring Ben Kingsley and a cartoon movie starring Ben Affleck that depicts the baker as violently assaulting Jacob) – because these movies, made according to modernistic humanistic tendencies and ideas of fairness, are not justified in the Biblical text. Instead, pharaoh chose the butler over the baker during a feast of merriment for all his servants (reminds one of the marriage supper of the Lamb and the bride of Christ that will be witnessed by the angels!) and therefore did it because it was for his pleasure! Though the king could have killed both, for his pleasure and his own sake he graciously spared one! Just as God’s choosing Jacob over Esau had nothing to do with Jacob’s character, for Jacob was a usurper, thief, manipulator, liar and con artist. Witness, for example, the way that Jacob mistreated his wife Leah, and how he blatantly favored the children of Rachel over the children of Leah and the concubines (sending the latter group first so that if Esau and his army started killing people, Leah, the concubines and their kids would have almost no chance to escape, but Rachel’s would have a chance!). Jacob was just as bad as was Esau, if not worse. Yet God chose him!

It was all according to the wishes, the desire, the pleasure of the pharaoh. Please note that the nowhere does the Bible call the pharaoh wicked for exercising his prerogative in this manner. Quite the contrary, the Bible accounts this pharaoh as being wise for recognizing the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, living within Joseph (Genesis 41:38) and making him ruler of Egypt based on it. He is a clear contrast between the pharaoh of Moses, who resisted this same Holy Spirit due to God’s hardening his heart.

Note that the butler and the baker had no say in this matter. The baker did not reject the grace of pharoah; indeed no such opportunity to accept or reject it. And the butler had no say in this matter either. The butler had no opportunity to call the pharaoh unfair for imprisoning him in the first place. He had no space to reject the grace given to him because he felt that it was unfair that he was saved while the baker was not, and while many other people (including Joseph) remained in prison. The baker could not accept the grace of the pharaoh because no such “free will choice” to do so was given to him. And the baker could not reject the grace of the pharaoh, because as the subject of a potentate with absolute power, authority and dominion over him (if only in a temporal sense, and please recall according to Jesus Christ that the power of the pharaoh over the butler and the baker were given to them by God, see John 19:11 … so yes, as frightening as it is to believe, George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama … oh never mind) he lacked the power and authority because of his own low estate – his lack of power, authority, rank and dominion -with respect to the pharaoh. (See what Psalm 136:26, Luke 1:48 and Romans 12:16 about God’s gracious dealing with His people despite our low estate.)

So, for the butler, the grace of pharaoh was irresistible! So is it with the grace of God towards His sheep; His Son’s bride. The bride cannot say no, because if all members of the bride do say no (not merely a theoretical possibility, especially when both the effects of sin and the nefarious plotting of Satan are involved!) then God’s Son has no bride, and the purposes of God are thwarted. God forbid that such a thing would happen! Make no mistake, just as the “god of Egypt” in this incident had the power to love the butler and hate the baker and exercised it accordingly, God of all creation has the same prerogative – indeed even a greater prerogative for God is greater than the pharaoh – to do with Jacob (all those in Jesus Christ) and Esau (all those in Adam) and has exercised it accordingly before foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), since before Genesis 1:1!

And when did this happen? Genesis 40:20 says that it occurred the third day after Joseph interpreted the dreams of the butler (the dream that he would receive salvation of his live through grace) and the baker (the dream that he would receive neither this salvation or the grace that makes it possible). Now how long was our Lord and Savior in the grave after His death for the sins of His bride on the cross? Three days. Now nothing is in the Bible by coincidence; in it are no superfluous facts. So, the fact that three days after the prophecy, the promise of grace, came by the butler from Holy Spirit of Elohim (the Name that Joseph used to the butler in Genesis 40:8) to the butler was this promise of grace consummated by the butler’s release from bondage (which the Bible often uses with reference to sin) is a clear reference to the work of Jesus Christ. That allows us to elevate this episode from being mere metaphor, symbolism and allegory to typology. In this episode, the pharaoh, in loving the butler (Jacob) and hating the baker (Esau) was a type of the Ancient of Days, God the Father. Joseph is commonly regarded to be a type of Jesus Christ. And of course, the Holy Spirit was within Joseph. So in this story, the Trinity is together and in agreement, whether in actuality (the Holy Spirit in Joseph) or typology (pharaoh as God the Father, Joseph as God the Son).

Keep in mind that just as the butler was saved on the third day, the baker was executed on the third day. So, just as Jesus Christ delivered salvation to the elect with His ministry, Jesus Christ will return again to punish the non-elect on the Day of the Lord and will also serve as Judge of the non-elect before their punishment in the lake of fire (read the book of Revelation). So, the purpose of Genesis 40 is not to be fascinated with metaphor, symbolism, typology and allegory. Instead, it should be used to instruct one of the fact that those in Jesus Christ will be saved (the butler) and those not in Christ will perish in eternal punishment of flame (the baker). In light of that fact, one must make His calling and election sure in accordance with the scriptures (2 Peter 1:10). Repent of your sins (Acts 2:38), confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord who died for your sins and is whom God raised from the dead (Romans 10:9) and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38) or in the Name of Jesus Christ and in God the Father and God the Son (Matthew 28:19) who indwell Jesus Christ.

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Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christian salvation, Christianity, Egypt, election, evangelism, irresistible grace, Reformed, religion, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Should Christians Practice Lent?

Posted by Job on March 15, 2011

This is in response to a question received in the comments area.

It appears that as the ecumenical tendencies of evangelical churches increase, they are adopting more practices associated with Catholicism. While that is a worrisome trend in general, with regards to Lent in particular I cannot find anything with this tradition that transgresses New Testament teaching. It is also true that some Protestant groups have long had this ritual in their backgrounds. Anglicans, for instance, have traditionally celebrated Lent, as have Methodists and Lutherans. Presbyterians, by contrast, generally did not until recently precisely because of its Catholic origins. Other groups and traditions (i.e. Baptists) haven’t, but more so because they aren’t liturgical than because of its origins.

The question is whether the practice of Lent can be separated from the Roman Catholic doctrine of Lent. That is the same question being asked about whether a Christian should practice yoga or other traditions that come from other religions. Apart from the Catholic doctrines, Lent is simply fasting, and moreover fasting in honor of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Certainly, there can be no law against such a thing! I have practiced fasting myself in the past, and will start back in the future, sometime later this year

However, my issue is this: if you want to fast, just fast. (And fast the way that Jesus Christ instructed us to in the gospels!) And if it is to be a corporate fast initiated by the pastor of a local congregation, and the members of that congregation touch and agree on it, even better still. Or if a group of Christians from one congregation or several congregations decide that they want to come together and devote themselves to a time of fasting and prayer without being led to do so by their pastor, again, against such thing there is no law. Indeed, such good works are praiseworthy. And we certainly should not avoid fasting during this time of year just because the Catholics are fasting.

However, in addition to avoiding Catholic doctrines regarding this ritual of theirs, what is the purpose of calling it “Lent”? Why not just call it a fast? If the reason is merely to emulate or show some sort of solidarity with Catholicism, then in my opinion, that is extremely problematic. The Bible verse that I would use is this: 2 Corinthians 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Now that verse is often improperly applied to marriage (when the opposite is true; instead the Bible states that a believing spouse can often be used by God to convert an unbelieving one, see 1 Corinthians 7:10-16). Instead, this scripture and its context obviously refers to not being in religious communion or fellowship with non-Christians. That means that we cannot and should not emulate their beliefs, ways, traditions and rituals. Of course, in this age of ecumenism, pluralism, diversity, tolerance and other forms of ecclesiastical indulgence and compromise, it is no wonder that this 2 Corinthians 6:14 is applied to an area where it was never intended (ironically, consider the evangelical Christian dating site equallyyoked.com!) and neglected where it actually applies, which is to not keep church company with false religions, apostates, heretics, cultists, and anyone else who is operating beyond the bounds of New Testament Christianity, which most certainly includes Catholics, who do not even use our same canon of scripture.

Along with the National Association of Evangelical’s outreach to Mormons, it is a sign of the times. But make no mistake, it is a time that people serious about 2 Corinthians 6:14 and scripture in general should not join! Again, if your Protestant denomination has a legitimate longstanding Lent tradition of its own apart from Roman Catholicism, that is probably legitimate. But if it is some new thing, some fad that people are joining themselves to, it is perfectly appropriate to ask “why” and turn away!

Posted in Bible, catholic, Christianity, false religion, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments »

Kenneth Maiki Aiolupotea: Until Then (Japan Earthquake Tsunami Prayer Song)

Posted by Job on March 14, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

How Can A Loving God Send People To Hell? Answering Requires Knowing What Love Is

Posted by Job on March 12, 2011

Many people reject the doctrine of eternal damnation, opting instead for universalism and annihilationism, using the logic: “how can a loving God act in an unloving manner?” To answer this question, we have to deal with love itself. To that end, notes from a sermon on love preached by Stanley Jordan are below.

Key verse: 1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Once we come to know Jesus Christ, He desires for us to live a live full of love.
Real love is promoting the good of someone or something for its own sake.
Love is not desire, because we can desire something without even wishing it well.
Desire is the essence of lust.
In our fallen world, love constantly falls prey to lust.
However, love is the deepest essence of God.
It is impossible for God not to love.
Pride is thinking all your desires should be met.
Lust and pride lead to a world of fear.
Jesus Christ came to show us the ultimate love and to take away fear so we can live lives full of love.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the climax of love on earth.

Based on those sermon notes, we can plainly see that love is not a transaction. It is not conditional. It is not “give and take”, it is not “I’ll scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine. Legitimate Christianity is based on an unconditional love for God. See the book of Job. Much of modern Christianity, such as the prosperity/Word of Faith doctrines, is based on the transactional model, where love is where you do things that someone else want in order to get something that you want in return. For many Christians, that is what salvation is: a transaction. I “give Jesus Christ my heart” and obey to live according to certain religious, moral and ethical rules, and in return God gives me heaven! That is not salvation, and it is not love. Contrast that with Paul’s amazing statement in Romans 9:3, when he stated that his love for his Jewish people was so much that he wished that he could trade his own salvation in return for that of the Jewish people! Paul was willing to spend eternity in the lake of fire so that Israel could be saved! Needless to say, you haven’t heard very many sermons preached on Romans 9:3 have you? Let me give the pastor who preaches from Romans 9:3 some advice … pass the offering plate before the sermon! But let it be said that the person who wrote Romans 9:3 understood true love, because he received love and the revelation of the meaning of love from Jesus Christ and from the Holy Spirit.

So, what we understand as love today is actually a corrupt perversion of the concept. Now I am not a fan of the Buddhist Tina Turner, but she was absolutely 100% right in “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” The way that the fallen world portrays love, it is just a secondary emotion. Fallen, worldly carnal love is just a manifestation of human desire; a personal attraction towards the things that make you feel good. It is not noble or praiseworthy, because it often comes without any concept of sacrifice, commitment or responsibility.

A woman can fall in love with a man, pledge herself to marry him, and then leave him standing at the altar while she runs off with the best man because she loves him too! And that man ten years later can walk out on that woman and the four small children that they have had together for another woman – or in these wicked times, another man! – that he has allegedly fallen in love with. And that jilted woman can use her feelings of anger and rejection over this event as an excuse to abuse her children, and when the state comes to take her children away to save them from the abuse, she will protest by claiming that she wants and deserves to keep her children because they are hers and she loves them! This is the result of seeing love as giving and getting in order to meet your emotional needs and desires. It is precisely this fallen notion of love that causes so many parents to spoil, neglect, deprive, become co-dependent on, or otherwise abuse their children. In the church, we absolutely positively cannot continue to take the fallen, carnal love that is mostly based on temporal feelings and fleshly desires for the pure, eternal love that is part of God by way of His attribute and character.

Now this is hard to do because human culture exalts fallen, carnal love. Look at love songs, and it does not matter the genre of the music. Most of them are simply about pleasure, desire and emotion. And it is not just contemporary culture either. Take classic literature: look at Romeo and Juliet. It’s about two “lovers” committing suicide! Much of the so-called love literature throughout the ages has been about adultery and other illicit romances! (For those who bash Hollywood, contemporary movies and TV shows are actually more moral than classic literature.) Fairy tales? Most of it is desire and infatuation. A prince wants to marry a woman that he has never seen before merely because she is beautiful, and it was “a dream” for a woman merely because she got to be a princess and live in a castle.

The love depicted in entertainment and literature often more resembles the selfish, irrational passion-driven behavior of false gods of Greek, Roman, Norse or eastern mythology than the God of the Bible who sent His only begotten Son to save sinners. Despite what man-centered thinking and theology, this was not only a huge sacrifice, but a one way sacrifice. Tell me the way, shape or fashion that sending Jesus Christ to die on a cross was to the advantage or benefit to God the Father? How did God the Father gain from that transaction? Realize that where all false religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, modern Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Scientology, the mythology systems, you name it – are transaction based (based on trading and transacting between the worshiper and the object of worship) legitimate Christianity is the only one based on what the sovereign God did with no expectation of any gain or advantage for or to Himself, and demands that its adherents follow after God’s example (see 1 Peter 1:16) by also acting righteously not because we expect to be rewarded, but because our love for God causes us to.

We need to stop mistaking love for desire, for where the former leads us to Godliness, the latter leads us to be more like Satan. Carnal desire leads to pride, and pride is what precipitated the fall of not only Satan, but of Adam. Adam’s fall was due to the lust of the eyes (desire for what one sees), lust of the flesh (desire to fill one’s wants or appetites) and the pride of life. Adam’s fall happened because he traded Godly love for carnal love. As a result, carnal love is primarily what those who are in Adam know for themselves and desire for themselves.

Where perfect love, Godly love, casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), carnal love can only result in fear. The reason is that where perfect love causes one to deny himself and seek that which is not to his own benefit, carnal love is obsessed with getting what you want, holding onto it, and getting still more. The fear comes from the dread of being denied what you want, losing what you have, and also even the thought that getting what you want may not even make you happy. One only need to peruse the despair of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, which was the result of his trading Godly love for carnal affections, to see this dread and fear.

So, when the issue is applied to eternal damnation in the lake of fire, we must remember 3 things.

1.God does love humans, but He does not only love humans! It is narcissist for us to believe that our considerations must come first, or that our treatment must outweigh all. This is not a surprise, because fallen, want and desire based “love”, the second hand emotion, is inherently narcissistic because it values meeting one’s own desires above all. The truth is that in addition to loving humans, God by His own character is also required to love holiness, justice, righteousness and order. These are God’s attributes – part of God – and yes God does love God (see John 3:35, which says God the Father loves God the Son). For God to put His love for humans first would make humanity into a god that Jehovah must serve! And further, as humanity is limited in power, knowledge and morality and therefore sinful, the love required to put humanity first would have to be an imperfect love, a love that is more akin to the fallen carnal love common to humanity that is clearly distinct from and inferior to perfect divine love. By possessing and acting according to such a love, God would be in contradiction with Himself, contain imperfection and unrighteousness – or sin – within Himself, and not be God at all. Therefore, God must balance His love for humanity with His love for such things as holiness, justice and righteousness, and with His love for God. This is done by mercifully saving some humans from the punishment that they deserve by grace through the actions of Jesus Christ, and giving the rest of humanity the punishment that sin requires.

2.Why must the punishment be eternal? This is because in order to be a just punishment, it must be in proportion to the offense. God is eternal, not temporal. Sin is an offense against an eternal Deity, and thus has eternal consequences. The eternal consequences of sin were such that it required the death of God’s eternal Son on the cross! So, in order for the punishment to fit the crime, the eternal consequences of sin require an eternal punishment. Annihilationism rejects the eternal consequences of sin, and in effects treats the consequences of sin to be temporal. Yet, annihilationism inconsistently accepts the payment of sin by Jesus Christ to be eternal and not temporal! For annihilationism to be consistent, there cannot be an eternal reward for those that Jesus Christ redeemed. Or at the very least, the death of Jesus Christ was a payment that vastly exceeded the nature of the crime! If sin were temporal and not eternal, why would not the sacrifice of a temporal being that is not charged with sin, such as a bull or goat, adequately deal with it?

3.Be not deceived: God does love those who are going to hell! Claiming otherwise is treating love as a transaction, where God’s love is determined merely by the treatment that He metes out, and in the context of how we perceive it – how we want to be treated and think that we should be treated – in particular. It is only fallen, carnal love based on fulfilling our desires and seeking our own interests for our own sakes that makes it difficult to fathom how God can love someone that He sends to the lake of fire. Instead, of viewing love as a transaction as the world does, Christians should strive to see love as an attribute inherent to God’s nature. Love is God, love is part of God, love is defined by God, and it does not and cannot exist in the absence of God. Love is not this independent attribute that is part of creation (a naturalist view), nor is it this impersonal energy or force (like the karma and similar in eastern religions). We would like to define love on these terms because it suits our own agendas. And this notion of love according to our own desires is what allows us to declare God unloving and unrighteous because He does not conform to it. We either do this out of hand (in the case of atheists) or we reject Biblical truths and doctrines that transgress our view of love while accepting only those that fit our self-styled and self-serving ethics and morality (far more common than atheism, but just as dangerous).

So, true perfect love is part of God. It is given to humanity in part as a gift of the Holy Spirit through common grace, and man due to his fallen nature misunderstands, corrupts and to a degree rejects even this part (see Romans 1:18-32). But it is given to Christians in a more full and perfect measure as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. However, a great many Christians, particularly those who are spiritually immature, do not reach their potential in fully understanding or comprehending this fruit, as this pure perfect love is acted against by our flesh (our fallen nature) and is even denied by some less than ideal Christian doctrines and practices. But the duty of the Christian is to better know God so that we may better know and understand His love. This can be achieved by A. loving God ourselves through the keeping of His commandments (see Titus 1:16) and seeking a better, fuller revelation of God through B. studying and meditating on the Bible, C. through legitimate worship and praise that is with reverence and Godly fear, and D. by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, which we are more open and receptive through by our faithfully and diligently pursuing A., B., and C. Where a human cannot understand how God can love those that He sends to hell (or more accurately the lake of fire), God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). We cannot understand God’s ways in full, but our duty is to become closer to God and more like God, to submit ourselves to being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, so that our knowledge of God and His ways, though partial, is greater and more accurate.

Ultimately, these things are not for the world’s consumption. The fallen mind is going to go after fallen things. The duty of the Christian is not to get fallen man to accept Christian doctrines, or to declare them to be “acceptable” or “reasonable.” The Bible tells us that the fallen world is going to find these things foolishness and contemptible, and ill-treat Christians as a result. Indeed, this has happened ever since wicked Cain slew righteous Abel, and will happen until Jesus Christ returns to save His church from the same world that rejected and slew Him on a cross. (And yes, many of the same people who claim that a loving God would never send people to hell also claim that a loving God would never send His Son to die on the cross as payment for the sins of others … even some so-called Christians refer to this as “cosmic child abuse”, as they too see love as a transaction and not as a Divine attribute within the Divine and therefore defined by the Divine).

The idea that “love is defined by God” may seem to be nothing more than an invalid debate tactic on the part of a Christian caught in an unresolvable trap or conundrum created by his own doctrines and interpretation of scripture. But the fact that “love is defined by God” is one that is consistent with God’s own revelation of Himself through His Name in the Bible. The Name of Himself that God revealed to Moses: “I AM THAT I AM”. That Name reveals God’s self-existence, and self-existence inherently means self-definition. And being the only self-existing entity, God’s self-definition is the only valid definition. And by virtue of being Creator, God is free to impose His self-definition on His creation, to demand that His creation acknowledge and respond to it, and to judge and punish His creation for their refusal or otherwise failure to do so. Make no mistake, “I AM THAT I AM” means “love is a Divine attribute that is defined by God”, and this means that humans must accept, respect and honor God’s self-definition of His actions as loving and make the appropriate response. And the only acceptable response that a sinner is capable of making is submitting to the loving act of God as represented by Jesus Christ on the cross, and acknowledging its meaning.

If you have not yet done so, do not delay. Respond to the love of God today by:

Following The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, Christianity, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Is Your Eschatology Political Or Biblical?

Posted by Job on March 12, 2011

Sorry for the disproportionate emphasis on the endtimes lately. Rest assured, I am not reverting back to my “Heal The Land With Spiritual Warfare” angry Pentecostal days when I was given to much speculation concerning anti-Christ new world order conspiracies. It is merely that I have finally gotten around to reading an excellent book recommended by the Irish Anglican, which is “Interpreting Revelation: A Reasonable Guide to Understanding the Last Book in the Bible” by the late Merrill Tenney, an evangelical theologian who at one point was under the employ of Wheaton College. Now this Tenney was not nearly objective; rather it was quite easy from reading the book to discern that his beliefs tended towards premillennial dispensationalism/pre-tribulation rapture. Fortunately (for me anyways) Tenney pays little attention to his rapture beliefs beyond “gently” mentioning it as a possibility now and then, and instead deals with other issues using my own preferred methodology, which is literal-historical-redemptive interpretation of Bible texts (a hermeneutic that relies mostly on literal interpretation but allows for symbolic and figurative interpretation where appropriate) supported by responsible prooftexting (interpreting scripture with scripture without using verses out of context in order to support some agenda or bias) and appeals to church history. This makes it possible for me to (mostly) agree with Tenney’s scholarship in “Interpreting Revelation” in spite of my disagreement with his belief in (and in this book advocacy of, however mildly) a pretribulation rapture.
Of particular interest are chapters 8 and 9 of his text, which are “The Chronological Approach” and “The Eschatological Method.” In those, Tenney makes the case – though oddly enough this case was not his intention to make – that premillennialism was the eschatological view adopted based on the Biblical (and extrabiblical) text, and that other systems, particularly preterism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism, were developed for political reasons. (Regrettably, Tenney fails to distinguish between his own modern premillennialism – which includes dispensationalism – and historic premillennialism, or chiliasm. His case would have been much stronger, and dare I say more honest, had he done so. That, and his shocking failure to deal with the objections to premillennialism – his own view – as thoroughly as he did with the systems with which he disagrees actually constitute a greater shortcoming than his occasional stumping for the pretribulation rapture.)
First, preterism. Tenney convincingly credits its development with Alcazar, a Roman Catholic Jesuit friar. This Alcazar was a counter-Reformer, which was a duty of The Society of Jesus in general. He developed preterism in order to refute Protestant attacks on the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church, as the Reformers polemically used Revelation to refer to this church and its pope as “Babylon” and “anti-Christ.” His method: claiming that Revelation was written in reference to the early church’s struggle with the Jews (chapters 1-12) and paganism (13-19) and had no contemporary or future application whatsoever. Thus, Alcazar followed after a long line that began at the very latest with Eusebius in marginalizing Revelation for political purposes. What is amazing is that Protestant theologians soon began to adopt for themselves a Roman Catholic system created for the very purpose of opposing – and attempting to destroy – the Protestant Reformation, and many have used it ever since despite knowing its original origin and purpose! Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
Next, Tenney deals with the political origins of postmillennialism: Augustine’s need to defend the declining Roman Empire (and the ecclesiastical arm of the church-state) along with it. The idea at the time – first proposed by Eusebius in his “official theology” created to support the political aims of Constantine, to whom Eusebius served as an “advisor” – was essentially that the Roman Empire through its making Christianity the state religion, was the earthly fulfilment of the kingdom of God, and that the empire and its church would grow (whether by conversion or coercion) to fill the earth and thereby fulfil the prophecies concerning the global reign of Jesus Christ. Of course, this doctrine JUST HAPPENED to provide a religious justification for the need/desire of the Roman Empire to wage war, conquer territory and subdue/repress people. When the Roman Empire began to crumble, Augustine had to rework his doctrines somewhat in order to arrive at the position that even though the present political order – the Roman Empire – might collapse, the visible church destined to gain global dominion (and domination) would continue by attaching itself to whatever political, social and economic order that existed (whether the Roman Empire of Constantine’s time, the feudalism of the Dark and Middle Ages, or our current political hegemony) and adapting to fit it.
To pull this off, Augustine had to use an allegorical/spiritual method of interpreting Revelation (and other texts) that allowed him to strip the text of its intended meaning and assign the meaning that suited his purposes, which of course were the purposes of the empire and its state church. In that regards, we can consider Augustine to be a postmodern reader-response deconstructionist sort whom the Marxist scholar Jacques Derrida merely followed after 1500 years later! One of the things that Augustine had to do was deny a literal first resurrection, that of the martyrs spoken of in Revelation 20:4-6, by making the amazing claim that this passage referred to Christian regeneration! Now while Augustine was technically not Roman Catholic (but rather “proto-Catholic”) it is still amazing that so many Protestants followed his eschatological groundwork when it so blatantly involved willfully denying the meaning of scripture in order to contrive an interpretation that suited his political needs. Now, the Reformers were motivated to remain basically loyal to Augustine’s eschatology because of their commitment to his soteriology. The problem is that where Augustine’s soteriology is easily confirmed by a plain reading of the Bible, one has to reject that plain reading in order to adopt his eschatology. The Reformers erred in not being consistent in their hermeneutics, and with regard to the magisterial Reformers in general, were not free of their own political needs in maintaining their own church-states.
Amillennialism, at least according to Tenney, is little more than an improved or more sophisticated and “realistic” postmillennialism. Thus, it follows the same Eusebius-Augustine theological lineage, and ultimately comes to the same conclusions, even if – again according to Tenney – it makes better use of scripture in arriving at them. For instance, amillennialism also generally denies a literal first resurrection. Which is understandable: if the church and the political/economic/military/religious/cultural systems (the world) are one and the same, then who is martyring the Christians that will be resurrected? However, it should be pointed out that amillennialists do generally acknowledge that evil will increase before the return of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ does return to overthrow and judge a wicked worldly system, a wicked ungodly antiChrist system (as opposed to a personal antiChrist). At best, this system is an attempt to reconcile political eschatology with what the Bible actually says. As stated earlier, this was likely done because these doctrines came as part of a larger packaged doctrinal system (i.e. covenant theology).
Then, there is premillennialism. Tenney does acknowledge that premillennialism was not the consensus view of the early church, though he does regretfully understate this fact. However, Tenney does effectively make the case that premillennialism was a doctrine of many Christians from the earliest times in recorded church history, and naming such people as Papias and Justin Martyr (who wrote mere decades after the canon was completed, as early as 115 AD) as well as Irenaeus. Tenney uses the uncanny similarity between the millenarian teachings in Revelation and those in such apocryphal books as Baruch and Esdras IV as evidence of the existence of chiliast beliefs in the first century church. Of course, many throughout church history have used this fact against premillennialism, claiming that it is Jewish propaganda and misinterpretations of prophecy, but that principle is not used against apocryphal and extrabiblical references that appear in other Bible books (i.e. the book of Jasher and the book of the wars of the Lord in the Old Testament; the book of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses in Jude).
Of course, embrace of premillennialism was far from universal in the early church. However, some of that can be attributed to anti-Jewish bias among Gentile Christians (which scripture tells us was developing as far back as when Paul composed the epistle to the Romans), and more still to a lack of a normative canon, and in particular the fact that Revelation appears to have been among the last books to gain widespread circulation and acceptance. However, it is known that vigorous opposition to chiliasm – and in many cases to Revelation itself, including many who wanted to either explain away its meaning and application or keep it out of the canon altogether – did not arise until Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, and that this opposition was motivated by the need to depict the Roman Empire as the fulfilment of God’s kingdom. Tenney’s assertion of this point is by no means unique, but is repeated in any number of books on church history, and in particular those that deal with the debate over Revelation’s inclusion in the canon.
A final positive contribution by Tenney is his debunking the common claim that premillennialism received its modern revival thanks to the works of such spurious characters as Cyrus Scofield. The effects of this contribution is somewhat diminished by Tenney’s failure to acknowledge that at least some of the Christians who began investigating premillennialism had social and political motivations. This was true of certain radical Anabaptists in their violent upheavals in the 16th and 17th centuries, and also of Christians operating in the political, economic and social upheavals in the United States and England in the 19th century. Still, Tenney does identify a list of more reputable scholars who contributed to the revival of premillennialism (including historic premillennialism, which again Tenney regrettably does not distinguish) including Johann Albrecht Bengel, Hermann Olshausen, Heny Alford (definitely a chiliast), Johann Peter Lange (somewhat questionable because of his tendencies towards neo-orthodoxy), Andrew Fausset (another chiliast), Joseph Seiss, Franz Delitzsch and Charles Ellicott. Unfortunately, Tenney does the credibility of his effort in compiling that list great harm by including Plymouth Brethren hyperdispensationalist (a position that challenges the unity of the New Testament by setting Paul’s teachings over against those of the gospels and Acts) John Nelson Darby on his list of “reputable scholars”! (Why Darby and not Scofield, who in some respects is actually LESS problematic?)
So, Tenney’s book, despite its problems, helps one arrive at the conclusion is that premillennialism is the eschatological position that, despite is shortcomings, reflects the Biblical text according to a consistent hermeneutic and early church doctrines, and not the political need to assert that a church-state serves as the kingdom of heaven until the return of Jesus Christ. The former view integrates Revelation into a consistent schema of Old and New Testament thought – and not merely thought related to the apocalyptic/eschatological/prophetic – while the latter makes one wonder why Revelation is in the canon in the first place, and especially its application to contemporary Christians.

Posted in anti - Christ, anti - Semitism, antichrist, beast, Bible, catholic, Christianity, church state, church worldliness, covenant theology, endtimes, eschatology, evangelism, false doctrine, false teaching, Israel, Jesus Christ, man of sin, mark of the beast, postmillennialism, prophecy, religion, religious right, replacement theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Romans 11:26 – When Will All Israel Be Saved? See Zechariah 12

Posted by Job on March 11, 2011

Romans 11:26-27 reads “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Now John Calvin, despite his being right on so many other matters, erred when he claimed that this passage refers to spiritual Israel, the church. This cannot be the case, because Sha’ul the Benjamite Jew (more commonly known as Saul, or Paul) had already made the distinction between Israel and the church, between natural Israel and spiritual Israel, earlier in Romans (such as Romans 2:28-29 and Romans 9:3-4), and furthermore declares himself to be a member of both natural and spiritual Israel. Also, “when I shall take away their sins” cannot in any sense refer to the church, because Paul is referring to a prophecy that is as yet unfulfilled with respect to national Israel. For we all know that spiritual Israel, the church, has already had its sins taken away.

So, Romans 11:26-27 refers not to the past/present church, but a future event when national Israel is saved and joins spiritual Israel; when natural Israel becomes a member of both groups just like Paul and the other apostles. John Calvin was unable to acknowledge the plain meaning of that text because of his theological bias; the covenant theology framework that refuses to acknowledge a distinction between Israel and the church, claims that Israel was the church of the Old Testament, and that (among other things) where infant circumcision was the covenantal inclusion ritual of the Old Testament church, infant baptism is the covenantal inclusion sacrament of the New Testament church.

So, allowing Romans 11:26-27 to stand as written, when will this event happen? When will Israel’s national salvation occur? The hint occurs in Revelation 1:7, which reads “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” That text points directly to Zechariah 12:10, which reads “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Now the spirit of grace and supplications (see Romans 8:26-27) is the Holy Spirit. The One who sents the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (see John 14:16-26), is Jesus Christ. So, Jesus Christ is the “me” whom “they” have pierced, and “they” in this specific context are the Jews, who bear the national responsibility for killing Jesus Christ through the actions of their religious and political leaders in the time of Jesus Christ, Caiaphas the high priest and the Sanhedrin.

So, when this prophecy is fulfilled, the same Holy Spirit that currently indwells the church, spiritual Israel, will also indwell the Jews, natural Israel. And if this prophecy is to be interpreted literally, this will not be the result of individual conversion by way of preaching the gospel as happens with the church, be its members (Messianic?) Jewish or Gentile, but instead an act of national salvation akin to God’s delivering Israel from Egypt and making the covenant with the Jewish nation at Sinai as recorded in Exodus. (It is obvious – to me anyway – that this precludes any notion of “free will salvation.” Just as Israel had no choice in the matter at Sinai, but instead God imposed the Sinai terms on His vassal nation as its Suzerain Lord) they will have no choice to choose or reject Jesus Christ when He comes to fulfill Romans 11:26-27 with respect to the Jewish nation.

And when will this event happen? As Zechariah 12 is obviously linked to Revelation, which deals with the fate of the church (and please recall my position that there will be no “pretribulation rapture”, or even if there is one, it will be a partial one that will leave the vast majority of the church to endure the great tribulation), Israel and the world, this event will happen at some point during the great tribulation. More specifically, as Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 1:7 obviously describe the second advent of Jesus Christ, the best Biblical evidence (again, according to my opinion) is that this blessed event will occur at the time described in Revelation 19:11-21, which is Jesus Christ returning from heaven with His saints and angels to defeat the armies of the beast (or anti-Christ) and – according to those of us with premillennialist leanings – set up His 1000 year kingdom.

It is impossible to claim that Zechariah 12:10, or more accurately the much longer prophecy block that includes much of Zechariah 12-14, has been fulfilled already. It cannot refer to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem or the Babylonian destruction of the same, as those had already occurred when Zechariah – who lived in the time of King Darius – wrote his book. It also cannot refer to 70 A.D., because of Zechariah 12:7-8, which reads “The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify [themselves] against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David [shall be] as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” The fact that God did not defend Jerusalem in 70 A.D precludes any preterist interpretations of Zechariah 12:10, particularly since preterism holds that Jesus Christ came to punish the Jews in 70 A.D., not to fight and overcome their enemies for them.

Still more evidence? Zechariah 12:2-3 reads “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah [and] against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” This is a reference to how during the endtimes, the Gentile nations will attempt to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. It will be at that time that Jesus Christ makes His return. Where will this return be? The Mount of Olives according to Zechariah 14:1-4. “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

Before you stumble at “and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go forth into captivity” and consider that this may refer to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians or some other event, please recall Revelation 13:7, which speaks of the beast “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Now the Jews at this point are not “the saints”, but it is rather logical to conclude from that verse that the evil forces will inflict no small damage against Jerusalem and its inhabitants before Jesus Christ comes to save them, just as many Christians will perish at the hands of the anti-Christ before the days of the great tribulation are cut short for the elect’s sake (see Mark 13:20 and Matthew 24:22). Further, please recall that Romans 11:28 refers to the Jewish nation as being God’s elect also, thus Jesus Christ will return to ensure that some of both natural and spiritual Israel will survive the great tribulation. From these passages, it appears that natural and spiritual Israel will be combined into one elect church at the second advent of Jesus Christ.

Finally, consider Zechariah 14:6-9. “And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the light shall not be clear, [nor] dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, [that] at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, [that] living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Does this not correlate strongly to the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22? Revelation 21:23 reads “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.” Revelation 22:5 also says “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 22:2 reads “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Zechariah 14:11 reads “And [men] shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.” Revelation 21:4? “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

It is simply inexcusable to ignore all this evidence unless one relies on a symbolic interpretation of not only Revelation, but the prophetic Old Testament material of Zechariah and elsewhere, not to mention New Testament prophecy outside of Revelation such as the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24-25, Luke 21 and Mark 13). The reason for such interpretation is the commitment to a theological construct that demands it (with the covenant theologian John Calvin mentioned at the beginning of this piece being an example). The fact that these texts have regrettably abused by many premillennial dispensationalists provides no justification for denying their plain meaning and application. At the very least, in order to be consistent, one must adopt a symbolic or “spiritual” interpretation of such Messianic prophecy texts as Isaiah 7:14 (yes, almah does mean “virgin” in that verse and not “young woman”, otherwise almah would not have been translated as parthenos, which can only mean “virgin”, in the Septuagint by Jewish scholars who lived over a hundred years before Jesus Christ!) and Isaiah 9:6.

Though the date of Israel’s national salvation will be the second advent of Jesus Christ, the question is the date of your salvation. This is so even if you are Jewish, for A) we do not know the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s second advent and B) tomorrow is promised to no man. The Bible is clear: whether one is Jewish or Gentile, salvation is of the Lord, and there is only one Name by which men will be saved, and that Name is Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, with the common English transliteration being Jesus Christ. If you have not already been saved through Jesus Christ, I urge and entreat you to make your time of salvation right now.

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Posted in anti - Christ, anti - Semitism, antichrist, Bible, Christianity, covenant theology, election, endtimes, eschatology, great tribulation, Holy Spirit, Israel, Jesus Christ, man of sin, mark of the beast, Messianic Judaism, prophecy, religion, replacement theology, Ruach Hakadosh, the anti-christ, the beast, the false prophet, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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