Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch
Vol: 97 Issue: 31 Saturday, October 31, 2009

Religious holidays are all but illegal in 21st century America. Those few that survive have been watered-down beyond recognition. Thanksgiving, a day once solemnly set aside to thank God for our blessings as a nation, has morphed into Turkey Day, a day set aside to worship the guest of honor at dinner.

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25) 

Most Americans don’t gather to give thanks to God, they gather to eat and watch football. For millions, it is the one day a year they say grace before meals, and that is about as religious a holiday as it is gonna get. 

But there is still one religious holiday that is untouchable by either the Political Correctness Police or a vote-hungry Congress. Hallowe’en. 

Your kids will be encouraged to dress up as witches and hobgoblins, to exchange Hallowe’en cards or small gifts, to wish each other a ‘Happy Hallowe’en’ and to engage in
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a
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day-long celebration that doesn’t end until well after dark. 

Make no mistake about it, Hallowe’en is a religious holiday.  It just isn’t a  Christian holiday.  It derives its name from ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ — the day before the Catholic holiday of “All Saint’s Day” on November 1st.  According to the AmericanCatholic.org, Halloween was adopted by the Catholic Church as a day of “communion with the saints” who are still paying for their sins in purgatory and those who’ve either paid their sin debt themselves or were “prayed out” by someone still alive.   

A person could obtain a plenary indulgence by saying a particular formula of prayer performed on November 1st.   

In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.

The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the “communion of saints,” which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things”

“Purgatory” is a doctrine unknown to the Bible. It is based largely on one of the books of the apocrypha  and Catholic tradition that was formulated into a cohesive doctrine of the church at the Councils of Florence and Trent

But Hallowe’en was originally a Celtic religious holiday. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living. The dead would roam the earth seeking living bodies to possess. 

Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily parade around the neighborhood in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

The holiday was known as the Feast of Samhain, and was the High Holy Day of the Druidic pagan religion. 

The Romans later adopted the Celtic practices as their own. In the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.

The thrust of the practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As pagan belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role.

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine.

The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Catholics would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants. 

The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage to purgatory and on to heaven.

Assessment:

The Druids were the priestly caste of the ancient Celts. The Druids were polytheistic pagans who also deified elements of nature. The Druids were reputed to have possessed ‘the ancient knowledge’ — or witchcraft. 

There is little doubt in my mind that the Celtic Druids worshipped Satan,  (the angel of light) and there is plenty of documentation of the ‘ancient knowledge’. (Modern archeologists are still scratching their heads over Stonehenge).

Other ancient pagan religions also claimed divinely-obtained knowledge, and left behind similarly perplexing ruins, like the Mayan temple, the pyramids of Egypt or the statues of Easter Island. 

Genesis Chapter Six makes reference to the offspring of an unholy mating between angels and the daughters of men in the period before the Flood. 

“… the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Genesis 6:3)

Of the offspring of these unholy unions, Genesis tells us, “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” ( Genesis 6:4)

The ancient Greeks and Romans worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses, together with strange mythical creatures like minotaurs, centaurs, and so on.

Joshua spoke of the ‘gods’ from before the Flood that were still being worshipped by the ancient Israelites:

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether THE GODS WHICH YOUR FATHERS SERVED THAT WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)

When I was a young Christian, I used to rail against the celebratio
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n of Hallowe’en because it was Satan’s high religious holiday. But as I’ve matured in the Lord, I’ve come to see it a bit differently. And maybe because of contemporary history. 

As Christian religious celebrations are being secularized, Hallowe’en just keeps growing in popularity. And as it grows in popularity, Hallowe’en’s Satanic background becomes more a part of its celebration. 

It is an object lesson to Christians of the reality and existence of Satan and a testimony to his status as the prince and power of the air and the ‘god of this world’. (2nd Corinthians 4:4)

C. S. Lewis wrote that the “greatest trick the devil ever pulled was in convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” But for Christians, is the one day of the year when Satan is unmasked and exposed as a real entity. 

I don’t know if I ever made a convert by railing against little kids having fun dressed up in Hallowe’en costumes. I rather doubt it.  Hallowe’en’s roots are no more pagan than those of Saturnalia, also adopted by the Catholic Church, but renamed ‘Christmas’. 

So I don’t rail against it anymore. It is too good a witnessing opportunity to waste by sounding like a wild-eyed fanatic railing against little kids in cute costumes having fun playing dress-up and gorging on tiny Hershey bars.

“And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28

In the end, they aren’t worshipping Satan.  They’re making fun of him.  And they are learning about him in the context of heaven and hell.  That tends to spark questions in young minds.

For many, the controversy about Hallowe’en festivities will eventually spark the same question — and the same choice — Joshua laid out before his men.

If Satan is real, then God is real.  And if God is real, then you have a choice before you. It was that logic that first caused me to choose Christ.  

And it also demonstrates the truth of Paul’s comforting assurance that all things do work together for good to them who are the called according to His purpose. 

Even Hallowe’en. 

The Goldstone Report

The Goldstone Report
Vol: 97 Issue: 30 Friday, October 30, 2009

The United Nations Human Rights Council has formally endorsed the conclusions of the UN-commissioned “Goldstone Report” that accuses the government of Israel of war crimes during the Operation Cast Lead assault on Gaza Strip terrorists. 

The 574-page report included accusations that Israeli forces indiscriminately attacked universities, mosques and civilian areas. Its pages are full of testimony from witnesses, or partial witnesses or, more accurately, non-witnesses who heard stories from their brother-in-law who knows someone who was almost there. 

As South African jurist Richard Goldstone himself described it, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had.”

But if the Goldstone Report represents all the evidence they had, they didn’t have much.  One example of a non-finding contained in the report concering the Israeli attack on Gaza’s Islamic University read this way:

“These were civilian, educational buildings and the mission did not find any information about their use as a military facility.” 

They didn’t look very hard. The evidence they were looking for was in the Palestinian Broadcasting Authority archives. 

The Islamic University was previously featured as the site of clashes between Fatah and Hamas gunmen, with Fatah soldiers identifying it as a weapons laboratory for the new and improved Qassam rockets that Hamas fires by the thousands into Israel. Palestinian Authority television had a full display of the weapons cache found in the Islamic University at the time.

The report also condemns the destruction of several mosques in Gaza by Israeli fire, finding no basis for the Israeli allegations that mosques were used as launching points for Hamas attacks and as weapons storage facilities.

Israeli soldiers testifying at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Academy after the war displayed first-hand photographs – not hearsay accounts from a friend of a friend – showing weapons stored in Gaza mosques and Hamas gunmen using mosques as firing platforms. 

Goldstone complained that the Israelis did not cooperate with the mission, but, like the Palestinian television archives,  the IDF testimony is publicly available for anyone, including the UN’s “fact finders,” to see.

One of the most damning condemnations against Israel centered around the disproportionate number of Palestinian vs. Israeli casualties.  The Palestinians claim that some 1,414 Palestinians were killed during the operation, whereas Israel lost only three Israeli civilians and ten Israeli soldiers. 

The UN’s Principle of Proportionality is very important to the clueless diplomats on the East River.  The major goal of any war is to inflict more casualties on the other side than the other side inflicts on yours.  
That’s how wars get won — one side runs out of fighters. 

Under the UN’s Principle of Proportionality, no developed nation is allowed to win. That would put the diplomats whose only job is conflict-resolution out of work. Instead, the Principle of Proportionality guarantees there will be enough terrorists to keep the conflict alive well into the foreseeable future.  

The Goldstone Report alleges that Israel fired indiscriminately into Palestinian civilian areas, constituting a war crime.  

Israel defended itself with well-photographed accounts of Hamas forces concentrating themslves in civilian populated areas.  But the Goldstone mission couldn’t confirm it because they couldn’t get any of the locals to talk to them.  

“The mission notes that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups.”   

But if they couldn’t get locals to talk, and if they didn’t want to look at Israeli evidence, they could have paid attention to Hamas spokesman Fathi Hammad, who when interviewed described his organization as being at one with the people of Gaza: 

“This is why they have formed humans shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.”

Israel says they hid behind civilians.  Hamas says they hid behind the civilians.  The civilians they hid behind were too scared to cooperate, according to the Goldstone Mission’s own admission contained within the report. 

But the Report concluded that Israel was to blame for the civilian deaths and that constituted a war crime. 

Assessment:

The Goldstone Report totally ignored the most relevant part of the entire Israeli operation:  the reason it was launched in the first place. 

Gilad Shalit was a nineteen-year old Israeli corporal kidnapped by Hamas forces in June, 2006.  Hamas didn’t kidnap Shalit inside Gaza during an Israeli military incursion.   Hamas crossed the border into Israel where they ambushed an Israeli army border post.  

During the attack, they killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped Shalit, who was incapacitated by a broken left hand and a shoulder wound sustained when his tank was hit by a Palestinian rocket-propelled grenade.  Hamas is using Gilad as a hostage to pressure Israel into releasing legally-convicted Palestinians serving time in Israeli prison. 

In September, Israel traded 20 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a videotape that proved that Shalit had not yet been murdered by his captors.

In 1983, the United Nations passed an International Convention against the taking of hostages, titled General Assembly Resolution 146.   

Article 1, paragraph 1, makes the taking of hostages an international human rights violation.

Any person who seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure or to continue to detain another person (hereinafter referred to as the “hostage”) in order to compel a third party, namely, a State, an international intergovernmental organization, a natural or juridical person, or a group of persons, to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the hostage commits the offence of taking of hostages (“hostage-taking”) within the meaning of this Convention.

To date, the UN has openly acknowledged that Gilad Shalit is a hostage, seized from foreign soil by agents of Hamas,  for the express purpose of compelling a State (Israel) to bargain for Shalit’s release.   The UN acknowledges it as fact, but to date, has not issued a single word of condemnation against either Hamas or th Palestinians.  

In the years between Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the beginning of Operation Cast Lead,  agents of Hamas within Gaza fired more than six thousand ‘blind’ rockets into Israeli cities and towns.

The rockets are fired ‘blind’ — those firing them have no idea precisely where they will land, whether on a kindergarten or in a civilian market crowded with housewives and their children.  There is no discernible effort on the part of Hamas to target Israeli military facilities  — the only possible targets are civilian homes and markets. 

That was the provocation for Israel’s Operation Cast Lead but the Goldstone Report assigned it little relevance.  The  UN Human Rights Council wasn’t interested in Palestinian atrocities — the target of the investigation was Israel. 

After all, the Council’s “investigation’’ into Israel’s response to the shelling of its southern communities by Hamas was preceded by an announcement of the opening of the investigation that found that Israel was responsible for “massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.”  

(“You’re guilty, but first we’ll give you a fair trial.  And then we’ll hang ya.”)

The Goldstone Report is the UN Human Rights Commission’s version of a fair trial.  

The UN Human Rights Commission was replaced in March 2006 with the current Human Rights Council in response to complaints from the US and European Union of anti-Israel bias.   The new Human Rights Council voted in its first session to make Israeli human rights violations a permanent part of the HRC’s agenda. 

Despite the HRC’s anti-Israel bias was unashamedly carried over into the new Council,  President Obama decided to rescind the US boycott and joined the Council in March, 2009.    

The Goldstone Report doesn’t simply accuse Israel of war crimes.  It also says that if Israel does’t conduct an investigation satisfactory to the Council,  the UN reserves the right to prosecute Israel before the International Criminal Court in Geneva. 

Since the Council had already reached its conclusion that Israel is guilty of war crimes, and has endorsed the Goldstone Report as having confirmed that assessment,  it is clear that the only Israeli internal investigation the Council will accept would be one that reaches the same conclusions Goldstone did. 

The international communities hatred for Israel is as white-hot as it is baffling.    Israel has never started a war with her neighbors. There is no historical record of Israel ever attempting to provoke conflict with any nation — Israel’s responses are historically reactive. 

It is as if Mexico sent agents into the US to blow up supermarkets and kill civilians unless America surrenders Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California — and the UN condemned America.  (Come to think of it,  that isn’t such a far-fetched premise, after all.) 

There is NO reason that anyone can logically point to that explains the world’s obsession with Israel.  Israel came into being the way that the rest of the world’s nations did.  She was granted territory by Britain by virtue of the Allied conquest of the Ottoman Empire in WWI.   

The same Allied authority that created Israel also created the modern states of Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran and drew the borders of the modern Middle East.  If Israel’s existence is questionable, then it is no more questionable than any other existing Middle Eastern state.  

But nobody is questioning the legitimacy of Syria or Lebanon.  Only Israel, whose land grant dates to 1917 and therefore actually predates the existence of any other modern Middle Eastern state to be carved out of the Ottoman Empire by the Allies. 

It makes no sense in the natural.  But it makes all kinds of sense from the spiritual perspective.  Apart from proving the Divine inspiration of Scripture by its very existence,  Israel is an offense to the world body for its status as the Chosen People of God.   

Even though the UN is officially atheist, it cannot stand the idea that Israel is the Chosen People of God, even if they were chosen by Israel’s God.  The world rejects Israel’s God in favor of the concept that God is whatever the rest of the world wants Him to be.   

The existence of Israel is a constant reminder to the god of this world that his time is limited.   The God of Israel cannot be reinvented to conform to the world’s perspective — the God of Israel does not bow down to men — He demands that men bow down before Him. 

If the god of this world has a ‘church’ headquarters, it would be the United Nations. The continued existence of Israel is a constant reminder to the god of this world that he has failed. 

And that his time is almost up. 

Foolishness of Christ

Foolishness of Christ
Vol: 97 Issue: 29 Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Bible says that God “hath chosen the foolish (simple) things of this world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.”

The Omega Letter is aimed at those who have already grasped the simplicity of salvation. A lot of what we focus on is what Paul calls the ‘strong meat’ of Bible doctrine.  

For example, we’ve examined the nuts-and-bolts answers to hard questions like, “Why did Jesus have to die?” and “would a loving God send people to hell?” etc.  But it is good from time to time to revisit the basic gift of salvation.

I have friends who can’t seem to ‘get’ how simple God made salvation.  The miss the forest for the trees.  Maybe you have friends like that too.  They can’t grasp the basic fact that salvation is for sinners. They think they have to earn their way by doing good.

When Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment of God, He replied:  

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)

Love God above yourself and love your neighbor as yourself.  Simple.  

A person cannot have a personal relationship with God apart from Jesus. There is a gap that exists between God the Father and sinful humanity. 

God is completely holy and cannot tolerate the presence of any sin. But we are all selfish sinners. To redeem us, He had to become ONE of us. 

To do THAT, He had to physically enter sin’s ‘quarantine zone’ (the earth’s atmosphere), conquer sin in THIS world, thereby defeating sin’s universal stranglehold on humanity. And then, having qualified as an acceptable Sacrifice, He paid the eternal penalty for sin on our behalf. 

When Adam sinned, God cursed him, saying, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19)

God covered the first sin of Adam by clothing his nakedness with dead animal skins. Sin, by definition, introduced death into the world. “. . . without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

Jesus paid the penalty prescribed by Adam’s sin, just as every human being since Adam, but Jesus was WITHOUT sin.  Having been born of the Father into this sin-sick world, He lived the life that God expected of each of us and then paid the penalty for sin that we deserve.

He was not under that penalty for Himself, which is why He could pay the price demanded on our behalf. Having defeated the cause of death (sin), He then defeated the penalty of sin (death) by His Resurrection. 

Nobody who ever sinned, even once, has defeated sin personally, and all remain under sin’s penalty of death. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27) 

But death is in two parts. The physical death, and what the Bible calls the ‘second death’ eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. 

And so is the judgement. The believer’s sins were judged at the Cross, and the penalty for them has already been paid. 

For those who trust to their own good works, there is a second judgement before the Great White Throne, where they will be judged according to ALL their works, good and bad. 

There is no balancing scale. One sin earns eternal separation. 

Our personal sin still earns the wages of physical death. We are spiritually and eternally saved, but the world in which we live remains under the curse. Sin has its consequences on the things which are in it. 

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus sinless Sacrifice paid our eternal debt — there is nothing left to judge but our rewards. Nothing we could ever do could earn it, because it is a gift, freely offered to all men. 

By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and committing to follow Him we are declared righteous by God on the basis of our faith. 

Therefore as new creatures, recreated by the Blood of Christ, wearing His righteousness instead of our own, we are able to come before the throne of God blameless and cleansed, reestablishing our relationship with God.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

It has NOTHING to do with religion. Paul was preaching to the Church at Galatia, where a heresy had crept in that said Christians had to be circumcised like Jews in order to prove they belonged to God. 

Paul makes it clear that Christians are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but something entirely new. 

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)

The difficulty in trusting Jesus is rooted in the failure to understand the ‘new creature’ for what it is. The Bible teaches that there are four sentient spiritual creations of God. 

First, God created the angels. Then, He created Adam in His Image and in His Likeness. At Adam’s fall, his spiritual state was changed, he became separated from God, and Adam was the father of the spiriitually unregenerate Gentiles.

Abraham, through faith, fathered the first of another new spiritual creation. Isaac was the first spiritual Jew, the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. 

Since then, every person is born either a Jew or a Gentile, from the perspective of their spiritual state of existence. The first three sentient, spiritual creations of God, then, are angels, Jews and Gentile, descended from Adam, but in God’s Image, with an eternal spirit. 

A descendant of Isaac can never become a Gentile. He can denounce Judaism, become a Buddhist, an atheist, or whatever, but in God’s eyes (as well as man’s) he is still a Jew. 

A Gentile can become a practicing Jew, but he remains a spiritual Gentile, since his eternal spirit remains estranged from God apart from Christ.  

Jesus introduced a new spiritual creation with His Resurrection. Those who trust Jesus are transformed into a totally new spiritual creation, personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, and restored to the fellowship lost by Adam. 

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12)

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) 

Having been MADE righteous and restored to fellowship, Christians are neither Gentile nor Jew. Nor are they angels, either literally or figuratively. The Bible calls them ‘saints’ — something entirely unique in the history of the universe.

Jews and Gentiles are born what they are. Christians are REBORN into a ‘new birth’ — a new spiritual creation of God. 

Our conversion is literal — we CONVERT into a new thing, like a moth becoming a butterfly. Just as a Jew can’t become a Gentile because he is of Isaac’s race, (and a Gentile can’t become a spiritual Jew because he isn’t), a Christian, once reborn, can’t revert back to either Jew or Gentile. And we never were angels. 

Salvation is a permanent transformation from one kind of spiritual creation to a different kind of spiritual creation.  It is the misunderstanding of the new creature that is a stumbling-block to grasping the simple assurances of the Gospel.  

At the point of salvation, according to Scripture, the old creature (Jew or Gentile) is “passed away.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17) The Bible says the old creature is dead. Only God can raise the dead, not an act of man. God would be forced to raise the dead spiritual Gentile,  and undo His new spiritual creation based, not just on an act of man, but on a sinful act.

If sin can force God to undo His own creation, then where is the victory? 

The Bible says to repent (literally, change your mind), realize your sin will take you to hell, and that there is nothing you can do about it except to trust Jesus’ promise that by trusting Him for your salvation as the Lord of your life, you are now a new creation of God. 

It’s so simple. So simple, in fact, that there are millions upon millions who just can’t get it. Paul spoke of being “wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16) not the least of which is the belief that our works contribute to our salvation. 

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1st Corinthians 1:27) 

 If Jesus didn’t do it all, then He didn’t have to do it at all and He died in vain.  

“I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21) 

It Ain’t Easy, Being Green

It Ain’t Easy, Being Green
Vol: 97 Issue: 28 Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It would appear that Lord Monckton’s blitzkrieg assault on the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference is starting to bear a little fruit.  That is not to declare victory in any sense, but there is just the slightest chance that the backlash generated may give reason for pause — at least for now.

First a little background for context.   I’m sure many of you have seen Hal’s program on global warming airing this week.  If not, you can watch it at his website here

Lord Monckton’s full speech completely devastated the entire global warming argument by rebutting, point by point, every major claim in support of either man-made global warming or catastrophic climate change from any cause.

Long time OL members have been tracking the global warming swindle unfold,  since at least 2003, according to what I could find in our archives.  There is little doubt that the earth experienced a global warming trend that began about 1977 — what the argument is about is why.

True Believers are convinced beyond all logic and reason that the cause of the global warming trend is what the UN calls ‘anthropogenic’ or man-caused.  I say it exceeds both logic and reason because they have to hold that opinion despite the fact that 96% of all so-called greenhouse gases occur naturally.  

They are emitted by the oceans and lakes (5/6ths of the earth’s surface is water).  Then there are volcanoes. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 spewed fifty times more pollutants into the atmosphere in one year than the cumulative total of all human activity — throughout the history of mankind!   

The eruption was so massive that it cooled  (rather than warmed) planetary temperatures by about 1.6 degrees for the next three years running.   This is not new stuff — I’m largely relying on the information in our archives because they were reported as it happened, rather than after the details had been massaged by the propagandists.

Of the remaining five percent of so-called greenhouse gases, human activity accounts for about fourteen percent of the outstanding five percent of the planetary emissions not caused by oceans and volcanoes.   The other 86% of the outstanding five percent is caused by rotting vegetation, animal carcasses, and, ahem, cow flatulence. 

That’s why the really, really dedicated True Believers like Britain’s Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of fixing global warming,  think you should give up eating meat to save the planet. 

Lord Stern, a former chief economist of the World Bank, believes that the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December should call for an increase in the price of meat and other foods that contribute to climate change.

In an interview with The [London] Times, he said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”

He added: “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating.”

So Lord Stern is recommending that everyone follow his example and not destroy the planet by becoming vegetarians like him. No, wait, that’s not right.  Lord Stern isn’t a vegetarian at all.  He wants you  to give up meat-eating — so that he won’t have to.   

Stern isn’t talking about abolishing the meat industry — just raising prices so high that only guys like Lord Stern can afford it.

In the eyes of elitists like Lord Stern (and most of the rest of the True Believers) the goal is to reduce meat consumption — the best way to accomplish that is to take it away from you.

That’s the reason that global warming is a political issue rather than a scientific one. It isn’t about saving the planet — it is about controlling it.

Assessment:

Last weekend, we discussed the Lord Monckton video and the global warming debate at length on Jan Markell’s radio program — you can catch the full hour here

One of the things I like most about working with Jan is her care to avoid sensationalism. The broadcast was careful to stress that Copenhagen is not yet a done deal. 

It is important we keep in mind that this is where Bible prophecy is trending — which is a lot different than pronouncing something a prophetic fulfillment.  That’s why I like working with Jan. 

So I was pleased this morning when Jan emailed me to tell me it was one of their strongest programs.

I am not vain enough to think it is because I am so witty and articulate — (thinking I’m great is Gayle’s job) — the reason the program was so strong is because the American public is beginning to get a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing and they’re tired of half-truths and outright lies.

According to Janos Pasztor, director of the UN’s Climate Change Support Team, it is all America’s fault.  He said this week that “it’s hard to say how far the conference will be able to go” because “the U.S. Congress has not agreed on a climate bill.”

Pasztor told a news conference “there is tremendous activity by governments in capitals and internationally to shape the outcome” of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in early December, which “is a good development” because “political leadership is essential” to make a deal.

What Pasztor is really talking about is that pesky Constitutional requirement that any international treaty be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.  Back in 1998, the Senate voted 95-0 against ratifying Kyoto.   The Senate has changed hands, but it is unlikely that the Senate has changed so much that 95-0 can become 66-33.

So the UN has begun ratcheting down expectations that the Copenhagen Conference will produce a treaty.  Instead, says Pasztor, the UN’s strategy will shift instead towards maintaining;

“the political momentum established by the 101 heads of state and government who attended the climate change summit and continue to aim for an ambitious, politically binding agreement in Copenhagen that would chart the way for future post-Copenhagen negotiations that lead to a legally binding global agreement.”

So whether or not the True Believers get that legally binding treaty this time around or not makes Lord Monckton’s scenario no less valid. If they aren’t successful this time, they will keep trying.

They have to.  

The climate change swindle represents the United Nations’ last, best hope to create for itself a global governing authority by which it can dictate to the nations of the world — including the United States.

Global warming was their ticket to global power — so when the weather stopped cooperating with the global warming theory in 1998 and started steadily cooling,  the alarmists simply renamed it climate change.  

One can almost hear the desperation in the voices of the True Believers — “Honest — weather is dangerous to our future existence”  — but a UN-centered global government doesn’t line up with Bible prophecy.

 The climate change swindle has again highlighted the perceived need for some kind of global authority, but it won’t be the United Nations.  The Bible says that the one-world government of antichrist will arise out of the revived Roman Empire. 

So, while the Copenhagen Conference has the potential to introduce global government, my sense is that it will instead be more like the UN’s Durban Conference on Racism — a miserable failure that will only serve to highlight the impotence of the current UN system.

That in no way mitigates the importance of the Copenhagen Conference to the overall Big Picture presented by Bible prophecy.   Two thousand years ago, Jesus spoke of signs in the sun, moon and stars, the sea and waves roaring, the spectacle of which will cause the distress of nations, with perplexity (fear and confusion) as being among the signs that will signal His imminent return.

One can look back through recorded history to find some example of world-wide distress and perplexity matching that described by Jesus in Luke 21:25 — but there is nothing else that even comes close. 

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:25 

Dogma

Dogma
Vol: 97 Issue: 27 Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The dictionary defines “doctrine” as “a set of true beliefs that define the parameters of a belief system.”  So then, “doctrine” can be either true or false, relative to the standards of the belief set.

It is the same in politics as it is in religion.   The “Truman Doctrine” was rooted in the belief system that the only way to stop communism was to prevent its spread.  The “Truman Doctrine” was rooted in the belief that democracy and capitalism were superior to communism and a state-managed economy.

Doctrine’s twin sister is “dogma” which is defined as “absolute beliefs that transcend reason.” Dogma is no less binding that doctrine, with the exception that doctrine relates to a belief set, whereas dogma can itself become a belief set.

The rules that define capitalism are called ‘capitalist doctrine’.  The rules that define Marxism are called ‘Marxist dogma’.  The reason is because capitalism has been proved true in both theory and practice.

Capitalism is essentially the world’s economic fall-back system.  When there is no other system in place, capitalism naturally flows in to fill the vacuum.  Every underground economy is capitalistic – the most pure example of capitalist doctrine would be a prison system.

Everything inside a prison system operates on the principle of capitalism – currency can be anything from food to cigarettes to other contraband.  Some inmates become bankers, others collection agents.  If there is a buyer, a seller, and a medium of exchange, that is capitalism.

So, as you can see, ‘capitalism’ has a doctrine.   Marxism, which cannot exist independently, operates according to principles that defy both logic and reason. 

Marxism never makes it into a prison economy.  There is no room in prison for the kind of Marxist dogma that dictates that the poor deserve a portion of the spoils of the rich.

America is a capitalist society currently being operated according to Marxist dogma – which explains why Obama’s plan to dump a trillion dollars into the economy made things worse, instead of better.  

It is a dogmatic belief among those on the Left that government is the answer to any problem.  It is a ‘dogmatic’ belief because it is a) absolute; and b) transcends reason.  

Fedex, Purolator, UPS, DHL and a hundred other courier services owe their existence to the fact that the US government runs the Post Office.   Nobody doubts that.  If you “absolutely, positively” wanted to be sure your package gets delivered overnight, would you take it to the Post Office?

Obama is the single biggest purveyor of liberal dogma to ever take a seat in the Oval Office.  He has made expanding the reach of federal government into private life the exclusive goal of his administration, almost to the point of obsession.   (Maybe not even ‘almost’)

This is a perfect example of an absolute belief that transcends reason.  Obama once cited the Post Office to prove that government health insurance wouldn’t bankrupt the private insurance industry:

“I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time. I mean. If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”

If ever there were a case of faith transcending reason,  Obama made it with that statement.  

Assessment:

I caught a snippet of a TV news report yesterday in which San Franscisco mayor Gavin Newsom was criticizing a decision made by the San Franscisco Board of Supervisors.   Newsom spearheaded the ‘sanctuary city’ movement wherein the city refuses to enforce US immigration law.

Typical of dogmatic liberal thinking,  the ‘sanctuary city’ movement is dedicated to the proposition that people who disobey laws they don’t like, such as immigration law, will magically become law-abiding citizens if not prosecuted for their initial crime.

But since liberal dogma is rooted in an absolute belief that transcends reason,  what happened instead was the city became a magnet for street gangs.  So the Board of Supervisors voted to extend the sanctuary protections to include juvenile gang members charged with felony crimes. 

This was even too much for Gavin Newsom.  In the sound byte I heard, Newsom seemed genuinely incredulous: 

“The sanctuary city was never designed to be in any way, shape or form a framework where people can commit crimes and be shielded against those crimes,” said Newsom. “I mean that’s perverse, it’s absurd.”

Of course it is absurd.  It is also the next logical step in liberal dogmatic thinking.   Liberal dogma explains how California can remain liberal in spite of the wreckage liberal dogma has wrought on the once-most successful state in the Union.

It explains why inner-city blacks continue to vote for liberal Democrats even as their cities crumble around them.    It explains how the Obama adminstration can claim that 250,000 new taxpayer-funded government jobs can be counted as positive job creation. 

It is an article of liberal dogmatic belief that civil-service jobs are better than private sector jobs anyway. They pay better, they provide better benefits and it is almost impossible to get fired.  So of course the creation of a quarter-million new government jobs represents hope and change.  

Another word that lends itself well as a substitute for liberal dogma would be liberal delusion.   Delusion is defined as  “a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.”

I’ve often pondered the ‘strong delusion’ Paul spoke of in his second letter to the Thessalonians.  There was a heresy circulating the church at Thessolonika to the effect that the Lord had come, and that the Day of Christ was at hand — and that they had been left behind.   

The ‘Day of the Lord’ refers to the Tribulation judgment. The ‘Day of Christ’ refers to the Millennial Reign that follows.  What was concerning the Thessalonians was that they had missed the Rapture: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Hiim” was how Paul opened the discussion in 2nd Thessalonians 2:1

Paul then outlines the sequence of events leading into the Tribulation Period. First comes ‘a great falling away’ from the faith that will clear the way for the man of sin to be received as a messiah-figure. 

Paul says that ‘mystery’ of iniquity doth already work. Paul used the Greek word “musterion’ which means ‘to shut the mouth’  — in the sense of silence imposed by intiation into secret religious rites. 

It sounds like a perfect substitute description for dogmatic liberal thinking.  Liberal dogma says that the same government that runs the Post Office can successfully run the entire US health care system.  But the same liberals who make that argument have Fedex and UPS account numbers taped to the inside of their desk drawer.  

But liberal dogmatic belief is that this time, it will turn out differently.   It’s like renting “Old Yeller” over and over again, hoping that this time, they won’t shoot the dog at the end.   It is a ‘musterion’ to anybody —  but those initiated into liberal dogmatism.

Paul says that first comes the “musterion” — an atmosphere of sin and rebellion so pervasive that people will believe what they know to be a lie, simply because the lie better suits their preferred ideology.    But Paul says that the musterion is currently restrained:

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way,” Paul writes in verse 7.   The word “letteth is translated from Paul’s original Greek “katcheco”  which means. “to hold fast, keep in memory, possess, seize, retain, stay, take or withhold.”

(See if you can make sense out of verse seven’s katcheco without finding a reference to the indwelling Holy Spirit as the “He’ in this verse and the ‘taken out of the way’ meaning anything other than His ministry of restraining evil.)

So, following Paul’s sequence of events aimed at assuring the Thessalonians that they had not missed “the gathering together unto Him” first comes the musterion, then the removal of the katcheco and, then shall that Wicked (anomos) be revealed.”

The KJV makes ‘that Wicked’ a personal pronoun — it refers to an individual anomos, which means, “one not subject to Jewish law, by implication, a Gentile, positively wicked, without law, lawless. transgressor, unlawful, wicked.”

Paul says that the anomos will be embraced by them that perish (apollumi) meaning “to destroy, die, lose, or perish” BECAUSE “they received not the LOVE of the truth, that they might be saved.”

Liberal dogma is a delusional ideological worldview that embraces ideological absolutes that transcend reason that is rooted in the rejection of traditional values as outdated and irrelevant. 

Hope is therefore defined by change. And since ‘change’ is, by defintion, a state of constant alteration,  hope remains a constant because it is a hope for change.  Does that make your head hurt?  It’s supposed to.  It is a delusion that only works if you have no love for the truth.

So first comes the musterion, then comes the removal of the katcheco, followed by the revealing of the anomos whose dogma will be embraced by the apollumi.  But as long as the katcheco remains, liberal dogma will remain a musterion.

Until He be taken out of the way.   Because that’s the next event in Paul’s sequence.  Along with the vessels He indwells.

Maranatha!

Are Catholics Christians?

Are Catholics Christians?
Vol: 97 Issue: 26 Monday, October 26, 2009

One of our members posted the intriguing question, “Are Catholics Christians?” in our member’s discussion forums.  It is a hugely difficult topic to address – even the very question is difficult.  I was reading through the various responses and I was gratified that so many mentioned that they were reluctant to offend. 

Allow me to express the same sentiment.  I have absolutely no wish to offend anyone, either, but the question deserves a carefully thought out reply.

Let me begin by saying that I am a former Catholic.  I was educated by nuns in Catholic schools, was an altar boy, learned the entire Mass in Latin and fantasized about one day becoming a priest.

I loved the sense of privilege that came along with being a Catholic.  When a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon missionary came knocking, one could devastate them by simply saying, “No, thank you. I’m a Catholic.”

Who would dare to argue with the only people on earth that were going to Heaven? 

For years, I was careful to check my religious reading material for the all important “imprimatur” and “nihil obstat” endorsements that certified the material contained therein was approved by the Church.  

I had my “Martin Luther Moment” in the eighth grade religion class at Our Lady of Grace school when I asked about what seemed to be a conflict between Church teachings and the Bible. 

I’d like to say it was a profoundly deep theological question, but wasn’t.   Our parish priest’s name was Father Noonan — his nephew was our principal.  I wondered if Mr. Noonan called him ‘Uncle’ or ‘Father’?  

The teacher, a Sisters of Loretto nun named Mother St. Brendan,  said that as a priest, he was always to be addressed as ‘Father’ — even by his family members. 

I had done a little research on my own before asking and her answer raised another question.  In Matthew 23:9 Jesus said to His disciples, “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”

So I asked her about that, and her answer totally devastated me.  “In matters of conflict between the Bible and Church dogma, Church dogma is to be given the greater authority.”    I had to ask her to clarify it for me; “You mean when the Bible doesn’t agree with Church teaching,  it is the Bible that’s wrong?” 

My brain was spinning — this made no sense to me.  Where did we first learn about God?  Obviously, from the Bible. It was the Old Testament prophets who told us of the coming Messiah.  It was by those prophecies that His credentials were established.  

So if the Bible could be wrong on certain matters of Church dogma,  then the whole “chicken and the egg” question comes into play.  Did God create the Church?  Or did the Church create God?  

It was a question I had been wrestling with ever since Vatican II lifted the prohibition on eating meat on Friday.

Eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin which, if unconfessed and unforgiven, meant eternal damnation.  I always thought that Friday was chosen to be meatless because the next day was Saturday, the day that everybody went to confession before Mass on Sunday.

That way, I reasoned in my eleven-year old brain, even if you did violate the meat ban, you only had to make it til the next day without getting hit by a bus or something before you could go to confession — at least you had a fighting chance.

Then Pope John XXIII lifted the ban and you could eat a burger on Friday without going to hell.  My eleven-year old mind couldn’t reconcile what happened to all the guys who ate meat on Friday before Vatican II? 

Did they have to stay in hell?   What happened to them?  Did God stick His head down there and say, “Sorry, guys, My mistake.  You can come in, now.  The Pope said so.”  

If the Church couldn’t keep its own doctrine straight, and it was the final authority over the Bible, then the Bible couldn’t be true.   I was a Catholic, but I wasn’t a Christian.  

Assessment:

Before accusing me of Catholic-bashing, let me remind you that I am answering a direct question to the best of my understanding of both Catholicism and the Bible.   It boils down to a single question.   Is one saved by membership in a Church? 

Or by faith that one’s salvation was obtained by the grace of God through faith in the finished work of the Cross?  The Vatican, until recently, declared all non-Catholic Christian denominations ‘heretics’ and to this day declares, “There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.”

We’ll get back to that concept shortly.   But for now, let’s consider the question before us, but we’ll try some name substitution.    “Are Presbyterians Christians?”  

According to the PCUSA’s catechism, “The Book of Order” the “church’s pastors, elders and deacons are to live lives of “fidelity within the covenant of marriage” and “chastity in singleness.”

But the PCUSA voted last year to include openly gay clergy and to drop the chastity requirement. Biblical prohibitions were deemed unsuited to modern culture — essentially deciding that certain parts of the Bible are wrong.

What if one is a member of the Lutheran Church?  Does that mean that one is a Christian?  The Lutherans practice infant baptism, despite Acts 8:28‘s clear teaching that one must first confess faith in Christ before one can be baptized. 

I was once a member of a Convention Baptist Church here in my town.  Among our membership was a family in which everybody was saved except the Dad.  Dad showed up every Sunday for both morning and evening services.  He helped out with Vacation Bible School.  He went to adult Sunday school classes.  And he would be the first to admit that he wasn’t saved. 

The guy lived like a Christian.  He didn’t smoke, drink, swear or run around at night.  He was an excellent Dad and a really nice guy.   The pastor encouraged him to get involved, hoping that he would eventually ‘get it’. 

Are Convention Baptists Christians?  He was a Convention Baptist.  But if one defines ‘Christian’ as eternally saved by grace through faith, then the Dad I’m thinking of definitely was not a Christian.

The question, “Are Catholics Christian?” is profound in it’s simplicity.  It cuts right to the essence of what Christianity is all about.  To the world, Christianity is a religion.  It is often referred to as one of the world’s three great montheistic religions, and that description is upheld by the Vatican. 

Speaking from Temple Mount during his visit in May, Pope Benedict told the world, ““Here the paths of the world’s three great monotheistic religions meet, reminding us what they share in common.” 

“It is paramount that those who adore the One God should show themselves to be both grounded in and directed toward the unity of the entire human family,” he said.  

Here is what the three great monotheistic religions share in common. 

“Religion” is a man-made system of worship whereby man makes himself acceptable to God.  The problem with this approach is two-fold.  The first is that it assumes that man knows what is acceptable to God.   That is what Satan told Eve: “Your eyes will be opened, knowing good from evil.  Ye shall be as gods.”

Good and evil are outcomes, not actions. One can do something with the very best of intentions and it still cause great evil.   Witness the banning of DDT to protect the environment. One can hardly find fault with the intentions. But the result was more than a million malaria-related deaths per year that would have been prevented by the use of the pesticide. 

One can intend to do someone great evil, as did Joseph’s brothers when they sold him into slavery in Egypt, which ultimately resulted in the salvation of the entire family from starvation.  

Satan certainly had evil intentions when he conspired with the rulers of this world to crucify Jesus Christ. But it was through that evil that our salvation was purchased. The action was evil, but the outcome was the salvation of mankind.

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1st Corinthians 2:8

Christianity is not a religion. Christianity does not have “rules”.   “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Genuine, Biblical Christianity is a philosophy that recognizes that it is God that made man acceptable unto Himself — because man is powerless to so so on his own.   A Christian is one that trusts Jesus Christ and His promise of salvation, rather than substituting membership in a Church for faith.

Are Catholics Christians?  Some are. Some are not. Simply being a Catholic doesn’t make one a Christian.  The same can be said for Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians or any other denomination within organized Christian religion.   

Judging by the Vatican’s own statement that “there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church,” one can conclude that the Vatican’s position is that salvation is determined by Church membership.  Further, the Vatican says that Catholic Church dogma must be given greater weight than the Bible.

Since the Bible says salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and claims itself to be the final authoritative Word of God,  the Vatican disqualifies itself as a follower of Biblical Christianity. 

One way of expressing it is like this — “membership in a particular church making one a Christian is about as logical as membership in a parking co-op makes one a car.” 

(Don’t remember where I first heard that — but I don’t think I made it up. It’s far too profound.)

Every Saturday, I would hurry to confession to have my sins forgiven by a priest, so that I could attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass whereby the wafer is transubstantiated into the Body of Christ, which is sacrificed anew on the altar for the forgiveness of sins. 

“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”  (Hebrews 10:11-12,14)

Organized religion cannot save anybody — no matter who organized it or when.   Nobody is saved by the rituals of religion. 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9

Loving the World

Loving the World
Vol: 97 Issue: 24 Saturday, October 24, 2009

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

In times like these, that’s great advice – but with the economy on the brink, the world on the brink of war, the country on the edge of default and your 401k forcing you to reconsider the prospect of retirement at any age, it’s hard advice to follow.

I know lots of Christians that wax eloquently against ‘loving the things of this earth’ that suddenly turn apoplectic when their own personal comfort zone is threatened.  

It always reminds me of the 400 lb preacher I once saw who pointed his stubby finger accusingly at his audience as he roared, “If you smoke, you’re defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit!”

Everybody loves the things of this world, when you get right down to it.  Love your dog?  Your kids?  Your wife?  Love being in your own personal comfort zone at home? 

You can run down the whole list of things you love in your own mind.  You don’t feel ‘dead’ to the people or things that you love – what does that mean to your salvation?

Is this a conditional statement?  Does it mean that unless your affection is set on things above, unless you are dead to the things of this earth, your life isn’t hid with Christ in God?

One of the central themes of Bible Christianity is “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1st John 2:15)

This is one of those cognitive dissonance moments. You know how Christians are supposed to feel about the world and all that is in it – but you still love the things you love.  You even throw around quotes like, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” – but you still love the things you love.

You love the Lord and you love your fellow man.  You love your church family.  You love your OL family.  You love your country. 

You know you aren’t supposed to love your life, but you do everything in your power to make it as comfortable as possible.  You know that you love your life.  If you didn’t, you’d be a prime candidate for suicide counseling. 

Christians try to parse this until they read it to mean, “love not sinful things” or “don’t love the world too much” but Jesus confronts us with an either-or ultimatum: “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Which presents us with an enormous conundrum.  There are those who scrupulously practice religious asceticism, which is the practice of austere self-discipline in order to achieve a higher spiritual ideal – (think monks in hair shirts).

But the rest of us aspire to live in warm houses with comfortable beds with a loving family and a loyal dog named Shep. Sometimes, we even criticize our brethren for loving the things of this world – while worrying about our own 401k.

What is it that I am trying to say here?  That we’re all sinners?   Well, . . . yeah.  But you already knew that.  I can find a dozen verses that clearly command us not to love the world or the things that are in it.  But you do anyway — and you know it.  Then you criticize other Christians for loving some things of this world, usually the things that you don’t.  

“If they love that, they can’t really be saved.”  Or, “if they were really saved, they wouldn’t love that.

Assessment:

What does “really saved” mean, in context?  Bible salvation refers to the redemption from sin through the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Gospel (Good News) is that salvation has been secured on our behalf. The Book of Romans contains what is often called “Roman’s Road” to salvation. 

Salvation requires a recognition of one’s personal sinful state (Romans 3:23)  It demands an understanding of the consequences of sin (Romans 6:23)  and that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Romans 5:8 explains that our salvation is a product of the unfathomable love of God, “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

Romans 10:9 tells us that “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 summarizes salvation thusly: “whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”   

Jesus described salvation as being “born again”.  “ . .  Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

This isn’t a figure of speech.  It is an actual rebirth of one’s spirit, which dies at the moment we commit our first sin.  The soul of an unregenerate man only receives input through his five physical senses.

When he is saved, his spirit is “quickened” opening up a new source of input to his soul.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Corinthians 2:14)  

That sense of spiritual discernment comes from the awakening of the spiritual senses.  Now the soul gets input through both the physical and spiritual gateways. It is this transformation that the Bible refers to as a “new creature”.  

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

The purpose of the first part of today’s OL was to illustrate the Bible’s principle that “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matthew 19:30)

I believe that principle illustrates what happens to those to define salvation as something somebody else doesn’t have because they aren’t living according to their understanding of the Bible.   

Which is to say, “love not the things I don’t love.   The things I love aren’t sinful,” — while ignoring the fact that loving them is.

Salvation creates a new creature with a direct spiritual connection with the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)

If it is possible for a person to lose one’s salvation, Hebrews 6:6 teaches that it is impossible for such a one to be born again, again.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost . .  if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.”(Hebrews 6:4-6)

Why would “renewing them again unto repentance” put Christ to an open shame?”

During His Agony in the Garden, Jesus prayed, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost. . . Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:12,24)

The open shame is found in the fact that He was unable to keep such a one by His sacrifice, despite the testimony of Scripture:

“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;  From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14)

The regenerate man whose spiritual eyes have been opened cannot commit spiritual suicide because his spirit is directly indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.  “Falling away” is defined in the eyes of the beholder, not the eyes of God.   God says you already fell away when you decided to buy a comfortable shirt instead of one made of sackcloth.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in it.”   Doesn’t say a word about loving the things of this world in a righteous way.  Remember the rich man who went away sorrowful because he had many possessions? 

Aren’t you glad you weren’t offered that same choice?  Oh, wait.  You were.  And unless you live under a bridge in a cardboard box, you probably made the same choice the rich young man did.

Except that you are saved by grace through faith, not works, lest any man should boast.  Your life is hid with Christ in God.  Your life is ‘hid’ in Christ — when God looks at you, He sees Christ and judges you accordingly.

You aren’t hid in Christ because you are righteous – nobody is.   You aren’t even hid in Christ because you try to be righteous.  You are hid in Christ because all your works are as filthy rags before the Lord. (Isaiah 64:6)

The sinning Christian loses irreplaceable opportunities to lead others to Christ. (Ephesians 5:14-17) The sinning Christian will suffer loss at the Bema Seat. (1st Corinthians 3:11-13) The sinning Christian will be chastened by the Father.  (Hebrews 12)

And the sinning Christian can render himself so useless to the Lord that the Lord will take him home prematurely.  “. . .  There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1st John 5:16)

But what the sinning Christian cannot do is “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.”  Because “by ONE offering He hath perfect forever them that are sanctified.”

It really isn’t all about us.  It is all about Him. 

”Judas Hanged Himself — Thou Do Likewise”

”Judas Hanged Himself — Thou Do Likewise”
Vol: 97 Issue: 23 Friday, October 23, 2009

“God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: Hat He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

“If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” (Jeremiah 18:8)

So, which is it?

God says of Himself that He isn’t a man, that He should “repent” which means to ‘change His mind.’  But then He says he will repent of a decision in response to the actions of man.  Is God indecisive? 

It seems rather a difficult character defect to ascribe to an all-powerful and all-knowing God without having to demote Him to really powerful and really knowledgeable.  (Instead, they are actually attributes of the Enemy)

The word translated ‘repent’ is much richer in its understanding in Hebrew or Greek than it is by the time it makes it to English.  It implies a complete change of mind from one thing to another in which the two positions are mutually exclusive, rather than simply meaning any old change of thinking.

When a person repents of his sin and surrenders to Christ, what takes place is that person’s core worldview undergoes a fundamental reversal.   A repentent believer understands that he deserves to go to hell. 

A repentent believer knows that his salvation cannot be attained or secured based on one’s own good works or righteous behavior, but is the product of the grace of God obtained by faith and secured by the righteousness of Christ.

By nature and definition, God is all-knowing. For God to repent suggests that God either made a mistake, which is impossible, or didn’t foresee events that subsequently caused Him to change His mind.  

The Bible lists thirty-one different times in which it says God does repent.  It would take too long to list them all, but a few examples in which it appears God did change His mind include:

“And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7)

“And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” (Exodus 32:14)

“If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.”(Jeremiah 26:3)

God says He doesn’t repent.  He also says He doesn’t lie.  

It is a conundrum.

Assessment:

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)

Is the Bible true?  How can it be with this seemingly impossible contradiction?  God says He doesn’t lie and doesn’t repent and then He goes ahead and repents thirty-one times.   How can both be simultaneously true?  

God’s holiness is unchanging.  Consequently, it requires Him to treat the wicked differently from the righteous. When the righteous become wicked, His treatment of them must change.  

For example, America was once among the most righteous of the nations, and simultaneously, the most blessed among the nations.

Most of our blessings have soured as America moved further and further from acknowledging God as the Creator and Guarantor of our rights and freedoms.   God didn’t change.  We did.

By way of analogy, the sun doesn’t ‘change its mind’ when it hardens clary while softening wax.   The sun is the same and so is the effect — the sun will always harden clay and it will always soften wax.  

It is the wax and the clay that differ, not the effect of the sun.   God is unchanging in His eternal plan — the changes are from the perspective of the changed:

“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:” (Ephesians 1:9-10)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

God is immutable, but that is not the same as being immobile. The plan remains unchanged.  God’s ‘repentance’ involves the execution — while working within the confines of space and time — of purposes eternally existing in the mind of God.  

The execution of that plan necessarily involves human beings, which necessarily involve free will, which requires God to make adjustments.  Are these adjustments unforeseen?  Was God taken by surprise?  

That totally misses the point.   God is perfect.  We are not. He must allow for our imperfections. 

Read in context, Numbers 23:19 is part of a wider discourse concerning Israel, not God.  Speaking through Balaam, what God is saying when He says, “God is not a man, that He should lie or repent”  He is speaking in relation to His plan for Israel. 

In context, it isn’t saying that God will never repent of anything — here the Scripture is promising that He will not repent concerning His promise to Israel.    There actually is no contradiction — the contradiction is created by making the mistake of using one passage of Scripture to interpret another.  

That will almost always produce error because every passage of Scripture must be understood in context. 

Once you pull Scripture out of context, one can accurately argue that the Bible says that Judas went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5) and “thou do likewise” (Judges 7:17) therefore supports the conclusion that the Bible encourages suicide by hanging.  

Rather than presenting an insurmountable Bible contradiction, the fact that God repents Himself teaches a series of wonderful truths.  It teaches that God is not impersonal.  He responds to man’s actions.  He is not an unfeeling Spirit.  He knows what ails us.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

The entire debate teaches us the importance of rightly dividing the Word of truth.   Many approach the Scripture seeking confirmation of what they already believe to be true, rather than seeking the truth itself.  

As we’ve already seen, if one is seeking confirmation that the Bible is flawed, or that Scriptures contradict themselves, then that is exactly what they will find.  One can find proof texts for all four positions on the doctrine on the Rapture.

One can find proof texts that seem to confirm that one can lose one’s salvation, that the Bible teaches soul sleep, that there is no hell, that God is indecisive, that the Rapture is pre, mid, pre-Wrath, post trib and that there is no Rapture at all.

If one approaches the Scripture looking for contradictions, one can find them.  Even when they aren’t there.

“Is the Bible Divinely inspired?   Well, the Bible says God doesn’t change His mind, then it says He does.  Here, let me show you — it says so right here and here. ”    

When somebody does that, it can be pretty convincing.  But on deeper investigation, it always turns out to be a case of the melting wax complaining that the sun is indecisive because the clay hardened. 

It isn’t God that changes — His holiness is unchanging.  

“If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. . .   If it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” (Jeremiah 18:8,10)

If America is no longer under God’s Hand of blessing, it isn’t because God changed His mind about America.  It is because America changed its mind about God.

God is simply responding in kind.

Way Past the Beginning

Way Past the Beginning
Vol: 97 Issue: 22 Thursday, October 22, 2009

The administration announced yesterday that it had made a diplomatic breakthrough in its diplomatic offensive against Iran when Iran accepted a draft agreement to send 80% of its reported stock of uranium to Russia for enrichment.

Iran has enough low-enriched uranium, in theory, to produce one nuclear weapon. If it agrees to the deal, it would be nine to 12 months before the country would have enough uranium to restart a clandestine enrichment program.  So it would stall Iran for one year.

It is being hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ primarily by the United States to try and hand some credibility to the Obama administration’s foreign policy initiative to “extend an open hand if Iran will unclench its fist.”  

So far, it’s been a case of extending an open chin to Iran’s closed fist.   This morning, Iran’s deputy Speaker of Parliament (Iran’s version of Nancy Pelosi) threw a sucker punch at the extended chin. 

Mohammed Reza Bahonar was quoted by Iran’s IRNA state-owned news agency as saying Iran “doesn’t accept the deal” after all. While the administration was quick to point out that Bahonar doesn’t speak officially for the government, the fact remains that nothing is published in IRNA that the government doesn’t want published. 

Iran is simply buying time.   This morning, the Jerusalem Post published a hopeful (and naïve) assessment that Obama recognizes the uranium-transfer deal as a delaying tactic, but speculated that Obama is working a strategy of his own:

Washington is interested in taking confidence-building steps and in engaging diplomatically with Iran until this option is exhausted. The administration of US President Barack Obama is taking this path to ensure that eventually it will be able to demand extreme measures and supervision of Iran to prevent Teheran from achieving nuclear military capabilities, Jerusalem officials reportedly said.”

It is a matter of almost absolute certainty that the Israeli War Cabinet knows better.   Nobody believes that Obama has the stomach for another war, least of all the Iranians.

The premium intelligence website, Stratfor, is fo
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recasting what it calls an ‘increasingly likely’ scenario for war in the fourth quarter of this year.  Stratfor bases that assessment in large part on Iran and Russia’s view of Obama:

There is little but diplomacy preventing this conflict from happening. Between the Iraq and Afghan conflicts, the United States has the naval and air assets in the region that would be required for extensive and sustained air strikes against Iran. But both Iran and Russia feel they have the upper hand and both doubt Obama’s nerve. Any of the sides could back down — Obama or Iran could flinch, Russia and the United States could strike a deal on sanctions, Israel could decide that Iran is not so far along in its nuclear program — to avert a war. 

Assessment:

It is hard to imagine President Barack Hussein Obama standing up to the Russians or the Iranians in solidarity with Israel.  Obama’s worldview was shaped by his self-described mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright

(“Them Jews won’t let him talk to me,” Wright complained after the election).  

And there isn’t another nation on earth that will, if America doesn’t.  The Europeans won’t.  I am racking my brain to think of a country whose own national self-interest is sufficient to bring it to Israel’s defense.

There are a few that have limited alliances or treaty agreements, but when it comes to standing with Israel, most would stand a little further back and look the other way.  They’d speak great, swelling words of support, but talk is cheap.

The UN just released a 574-page report on Israel’s incursion into Gaza last year to destroy the Hamas rocket factories and put an end to the rocket barrage raining down on Israeli towns from within the Gaza Strip.

The report was authored by Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist selected by the UN to conduct the investigation. 

Based on the report, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution that singled Israel out for censure — without making any mention of Hamas’ tactics of hiding near civilian shelters, using human shields, firing on tanks from hospitals, etc.

The US, the Ukraine and four EU members opposed the report.   That’s six countries — out of one hundred and ninety-two.  And there was essentially no price to be paid for its opposition — the UN Human Rights Council is essentially powerless.  

Imagine if standing with Israel carried an attending financial or military risk? 

What is noteworthy how perfectly things continue to follow the Bible’s general scenario. The Bible predicted that in the last days, Israel would be a pariah state.  Zechariah predicted she would stand alone against the whole world.   He predicted that the stumbling block to peace would be Jerusalem, the ‘burdensome stone’.

Ezekiel predicted the development of an alliance between Russia and Iran, together with the Islamic Middle East, (including NATO ally Turkey) that would move against Israel in the last days.   Ezekiel 39:12-13 predicts that the rest of the world will do little more than launch a weak diplomatic protest.

The Bible says that all this will come in conjunction with the rise of revived Rome as the preeminent superpower of the last days.  The EU described itself as ‘revived Rome’ in much of its own founding literature.

In any event, what was the Roman Empire 2000 years ago is the rough geographic equivalent to the modern European Union.   The EU is continuing its ascent, while existing superpower America appears to be in the throes of decline.

Bible prophecy for this generation is rich with detail and clarity, starting with the fact that all Bible prophecy for the last days revolves around Israel.  Keep in mind that, at the time the prophets penned those prophecies, Israel did not exist, had not existed for centuries, and would not exist again for millennia!

So, before ANY of it could move forward, the world’s Jews had to first return to the same piece of geography from which they’d been scattered.  Think about that!  Until the Jews returned to their ancestral home, the prophecies for the last days were frozen in place.

They remained frozen in place for century after century after century until the middle of the past century, when for the first time in more than 2500 years, Israel was reborn out of the ashes of the Holocaust.

Really think about this.  All those centuries that came to pass – but the Bible says that once Israel was reborn, everything else to follow would take place within the space of one generation.

One generation!   This generation.  The generation to whom Jesus was speaking when He said, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Maranatha! 

”Then They Came For Me. . .”

”Then They Came For Me. . .”
Vol: 97 Issue: 21 Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller was initially a strong supporter of both Adolf Hitler and of national socialism.   Neimoller served as an officer of the Imperial German Navy during WWI . His daring exploit as as submariner in action against the Allies earned him the Iron Cross First Class. 

After the war, Niemoller resigned his commission to protest post-war Germany’s new democratic government following Kaiser Wilhelm’s abdication.  The son of a Lutheran pastor, Niemoller eventually attended seminary and was ordained in 1924.  

Niemoller openly supported opponents of the new Weimar Republic and welcomed Adolf Hitler’s election in 1933 as Chancellor of Germany.  

Although no less anti-semitic than most Germans of the time, Niemoller nevertheless founded the Pfarremotbund, a group of clergy dedicated to “combat rising discrimination against Christians of Jewish background.” 

In 1934, Niemoller joined fellow pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer in founding the Confessing Church which was a movement to oppose the Nazification of German Protestantism.  

Unlike Bonhoeffer, Niemoller had no particular quarrel with Hitler’s politics concerning the Jews — it wasn’t until the Nazis threatened the churches that he began to openly oppose the regime. 

In 1938, Hitler had Niemoller arrested and interned in Sachsenhausen and later Dachau.  Somehow, he survived the camps and later authored the famous poem, First They Came . . .

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist. 
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. 
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist,
Then they came for the Jews; and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me.  And there was no one left to speak for me.

Assessment:

Yesterday, I posted a poll question about the administration’s war against Fox News.  More than half agreed with the statement, “Because the first step in imposing a totalitarian regime is to take control of the opposition media.” 

The rest were more or less evenly split between “Because the administration can’t control the message” and “Because the administration hopes to marginalize it with its viewers.” 

But the choice, “Because the administration can’t provide answers to its charges”  received not a single vote at the time of this writing.  I was very surprised.   I half-expected this to be the number one answer.

Noted a recent issue of Politico Magazine:

With a series of private meetings and public taunts, the White House has targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest-spending pro-business lobbying group in the country; Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most-listened-to conservative commentator; and now, with a new volley of combative rhetoric in recent days, the insurance industry, Wall Street executives and Fox News.

 Obama aides are using their powerful White House platform, combined with techniques honed in the 2008 campaign, to cast some of the most powerful adversaries as out of the mainstream and their criticism as unworthy of serious discussion. 

Press secretary Robert Gibbs has mocked Limbaugh from the White House press room podium. White House aides limited access to the Chamber and made top adviserValerie Jarrett available to reporters to disparage the group. Everyone from White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to White House Communications Director Anita Dunn has piled on Fox News by contending it’s not a legitimate news operation. 

All of the techniques are harnessed to a larger purpose: to marginalize not only the individual person or organization but also some of the most important policy and publicity allies of the national Republican Party.

 Dunn said that in August, as the president’s aides planned for the fall, they made “a fundamental decision that we needed to be more aggressive in both protecting our position and in delineating our differences with those who were attacking us.”

Look at some of the allegations made by Glenn Beck, to take the most extreme example.  Glenn Beck has alleged the Obama administration includes Marxists, Communists, Maoists, pedophiles, convicted felons, terrorists, and other folks with views so extreme that their government involvement should be limited to their inclusion on an FBI watch list. 

If only half of what Beck says is true, then the United States government has been taken over by ideological fanatics no less dedicated to imposing their ideology on the country than were the Nazis in 1934.

And no less dangerous — there are those within the administration who believe that the only way for mankind to survive is by culling the existing population down to a more manageable level. 

President Obama’s top science and technology advisor John P. Holdren co-authored a 1977 book in which he advocated the formation of a “planetary regime” that would use a “global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply, as well as mandatory bodily implants that would prevent couples from having children.

Cass Sunsteen advocates extending civil rights to animals, including the right to sue human beings.  Sunsteen is Obama’s pick to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  

Sunsteen advocates a policy under which the government would “presume” someone has consented to having his or her organs removed for transplantation into someone else when they die unless that person has explicitly indicated that his or her organs should not be taken.

You see, that’s the problem, says Sunsteen. “The major obstacle to increasing [organ] donations is the need to get the consent of surviving family members.”   

Under Sunsteen’s policy proposal, hospitals would harvest organs from people who never gave permission for this to be done.  Instead of consenting to the procedure, one must somehow let the doctors know you oppose it.  

The next logical step is to harvest the organs so that they are as fresh as possible by deciding whether or not somebody is dead — based on the condition of his donor-suitable organs. 

Let it all sink in for a few seconds — this guy is Obama’s chosen Propaganda and Regulations Czar.  

So along comes Glenn Beck and lays it all out before us.  Then the White House accuses him of distorting the truth.   Beck installs a red telephone on the set, gives the White House the phone number, and offers to correct any errors — on air.  

The phone never rings.   

Why? Because the White House can’t dispute the charges.  Everything Beck has alleged is documented.  Van Jones is a Communist.  Anita Dunn is a Maoist.  Cass Sunsteen is a moonbat.   John Holdren is an elitist whose views faintly echo the ones that Martin Niemoller found so objectionable. 

It’s all true — and there isn’t a thing the White House can say to address the charges directly without having to confirm its all true.  It is a conundrum.  

The White House has indirectly admitted that it has banned top administration officials from appearing on Fox News.  The spin they are putting on it is that they are punishing Fox News for being so negative.  

But what is behind the spin is the fact that they can’t.  It’s all true.  So instead, the plan is to systematically marginalize any journalist or news organization who either picks up or repeats it. 

I was amazed to listing to David Axelrod obliquely warning the mainstream media via an appearance on “State of the Union” that they should “not follow Fox News” — in other words, not pick up on stories broken by Fox. 

What is equally amazing to me is the reaction from the rest of the mainstream media — or perhaps, the lack of reaction.  Here we see the Executive Branch directly targeting the 1st Amendment-protected free press, and the rest of the so-called ‘free press’ looks the other way  — and says nothing. 

The administration’s effort to marginalize its critics instead of engaging them directly is classic.  That is what Niemoller’s
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poem is all about:

First they came after Limbaugh, and I was silent, because I was not Limbaugh;
Then they came after Fox, and I was silent, because I was not Fox

You’d think the rest of them could see where it is going from here. 

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)