Great Friday

Great Friday
Vol: 115 Issue: 22 Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday is known as “good” Friday due to the long history and quirky nature of the English language.  Frosted Flakes are “good.” Eskimos Pies are “good”. Crucifixion is blindingly horrific.

“Good” as in Good Friday is used in the now-obsolete sense of being “Holy” – which is in the near-obsolete sense of being “Great” — which ends up in the confusing sense of memorializing the agonizing death of the Savior of the world as being a “good” Friday.

So it wasn’t really “good” but it qualifies as unquestionably the greatest event of all time. 

It was the time that the Creator of the Universe stepped out of space and time to demonstrate how to live the perfect life demanded by the Law and then paid the penalty due for our shortcomings – a penalty administered by His own creation.

Is there a greater event than that?  Can there be? 

Jesus said that “greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13

What could be greater than that?

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die,” notes the Apostle Paul.  (Romans 5:7

Think about that – let it sink into your mind and your heart on this Great Friday.  There is no greater love a man can express than to die for a friend.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)

God’s love for us is such that His sacrifice was on behalf of His enemies!

Jesus was paraded naked before His enemies on this existence – and before His enemies in the next – all of them jeering the Creator like He was no better than they. 

Indeed, He was made subject to them on every level – sinners condemning Him, torturing Him, mocking Him – while the demons of hell roared their mocking approval.

He was beaten, whipped, spat upon, clubbed, cut, abused and tortured beyond what the mind can comprehend, before being nailed to a Cross and hung until He was finally, mercifully dead.  

Not ‘good’.  Not ‘holy’ in any sense of the word that I can make fit the circumstances. And ‘great’ only in the sense that Japan’s recent 9.0 earthquake was a ‘Great Quake’. 

But from the perspective of the Lord of Glory, as He hung there gasping out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and that of those in the crowd receiving that absolution, there was only great agony and great sadness and great misery and great earthquakes and great events.

And great darkness.  Great darkness.

For three hours, as the sins of the world were heaped upon the Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ was alone, separated from the Father, in unimaginable agony, before crying out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”

So it wasn’t good.  And it wasn’t holy.  But it was certainly great.  

Now, was it on Friday?

Assessment:

The idea that the Lord was crucified on a Friday has some seemingly significant problems, not the least of which is that Friday afternoon to Sunday morning doesn’t sound like three days and three nights.

One can run through the texts and find some seeming anomalies because there are two Sabbaths involved in the Crucifixion story.  Passover was a High (annual) Sabbath, whereas Friday evening at sundown marked the weekly Sabbath Day.

Most authorities agree that based on the Gospel accounts the day of the Crucifixion was most probably a Friday based on the testimony of John 19:42.

“There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

But there is also a strong argument that the day of Crucifixion was actually Wednesday – and not Friday.  This theory is based on the two Sabbaths – the high Sabbath (Passover) and the weekly Sabbath.  

John 19:42 argues against it.  The “Jew’s preparation day” is called the Day of Preparation and is in accordance with the Law of Moses that says no food is to be prepared on the Sabbath.  (Exodus 16:23, 35:3

This is in reference to the weekly Sabbath which begins at sundown Friday. So the “Jew’s preparation day” is Friday until sundown. 

But that week there were two Sabbaths – the high Sabbath of Passover on Thursday and the weekly Sabbath at Friday sundown.  The annual, or High Sabbath does not require a ‘day of preparation’ because food preparation is part of the Passover celebration and allowed according to Exodus 12:16.

So it would seem a certainty that the correct day is Friday.  Yes?  Well, maybe. 

John 19:31 says that He was already on the Cross and it was Preparation Day and that the next day was a High Sabbath, which seemingly would have been Passover.

That was on Thursday, which seems to suggest that He must have been crucified on Wednesday.

Confused yet? Let me help.  That week there were actually three Sabbaths.  (There. Doesn’t that help?)

Jesus died in the first month of the Jewish year, just prior to the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (Leviticus 23:6

This feast started on the fifteenth day and for seven days Israel could eat no leavened bread. 

To prevent accidentally eating leaven, all leaven and leavening products were completely purged from the house.

“For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel . . .” (Exodus 12:19)

The leaven was purged from the houses on the day before the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It took place on the 14th day, which was Friday.  That made both Thursday and Saturday that week High Sabbath Days. 

John 19:14 says that it was the ‘Preparation Day for the Passover’ but the Feast of the Passover is also a seven-day period that starts on the 14th day and ends on the 20th.  But Friday was the Day of Preparation for both the weekly Sabbath and the High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. 

So is it Wednesday or Friday? It seems as clear as mud.  But there is a way to sort it out.  

Astronomy confirms the eyewitness accounts of the three hours of darkness while Jesus endured the sins of the world.

On Friday, April 3, AD 33 there was a total lunar eclipse that began at 3:40 PM and reached its maximum at 5:15 PM with 60% of the moon eclipsed. As the moon rose over Jerusalem it was in total eclipse and stayed in eclipse for some thirty minutes, ending at 6:50 PM.

The effect of a lunar eclipse is what we sometimes call a Blood Moon.  We just had one last December 10th.  The next lunar eclipse will be June 15th.   

The secular Greek historian Phegon wrote of earthquakes and a blood moon occurring during the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (32/33 AD).  Eusebius linked the blood moon and the earthquakes with the 18th year of Tiberius reign, which would have been Spring of AD 33.

The description given by the Gospel of a lunar eclipse lasting about three hours is entirely consistent with the calculations that say a lunar eclipse that lasted about three hours was visible from Golgotha in Jerusalem on Friday, April 3 AD 33.

What does it mean? It means that Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon, buried before dark, spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the grave, rising at the start of the third day — Sunday, the first day of the week.

Today is the day that we recall with awesome wonder that our God is so great that He humbled Himself to take the form of a mere man and submit Himself to His own creation so that He could redeem . . . you.   

Just you. 

He endured the mocking, the scourging, the humiliation, the pain, and the incomprehensibly agonizing weight of the sins of the world separating Him from the Father . . . . and He did it all for you.   That’s how much He loved you.

The next time you wonder whether or not you can undo what He did by your sin, think about what it was that He actually did to ransom you for salvation.

“Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9-10)

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20).  

Spend some time today meditating on the price paid for your eternity. Now ask yourself, if you paid THAT MUCH for something, would you trust it  to somebody like you for safekeeping?

Neither does He. 

Raising the Roof

Raising the Roof
Vol: 115 Issue: 21 Thursday, April 21, 2011

In February, 2010 the 111th Congress passed – and President Obama signed – a bill that reset the legal limit on how much money the United States could borrow.   Since that date, the legal limit on the national debt was $14.3 trillion dollars.

By next week, the Congress and the White House will have run smack into the debt limit, after which, it cannot borrow any more without passing a new debt limit.  The legal debt limit as it stands at the moment doesn’t really sound like that much.

$14.4 trillion sounds a lot like $14.4 billion – indeed, I read where the US spent $535 million on some project and to my mind, it actually sounded like more.  That’s because I can sort of get a handle on how much $535 million is.

Lots of individuals are way richer than $535 million,  I suppose, but $535 million sounds like real money and 14.4 trillion doesn’t  —the way that a thirty-year-old can sort of imagine turning fifty — but cannot picture what it would be like to be ninety.

The best way for me to understand million, billion and trillion is still to convert it into units of time.  A second is a second.  Everybody can get their head around a second, an hour, or a day.   So a million seconds is about twelve days.

Today is Thursday, April 21.  In roughly a million seconds from right now, it will be Sunday, May 1.  So for you to become a millionaire, you’d have to earn a dollar a second for every second until a week from Sunday.

At the same earnings rate — $1 per second — or $1,000,000.00 every twelve days – you would earn your first billion dollars sometime in April, 2043.  Assuming you are sixty today, you’d crack a billion at age 92 – in about thirty years.

If you started earning a dollar per second today, you would have earned a trillion dollars sometime around April, 34,043.   By the time you were able to pay off the national debt at that rate, it would be sometime around February of the Year 490,219. 

(That’s the Year Four Hundred and Ninety Thousand, Two Hundred Nine.) 

And that isn’t enough money, so we need to borrow more.  The Treasury Department has not said how much we need to raise the debt limit by, but analysts say the government needs at least ANOTHER trillion dollars to keep the government running until September 30th.  

Analysts also say the governemnt needs to borrow an additional TWO trillion to keep the government solvent until November 2012.   Using time as our frame of reference, this means tacking on an extra 64 THOUSAND YEARS at one dollar per second. 

At a dollar a second, the elevated debt ceiling means we won’t break even until February of the Year 554,219.  

And you thought it took a long time to pay off a MasterCard balance.

Assessment:

President Obama’s solution to the debt crisis is to use the tax code to buy votes from the 47% of Americans who pay no taxes at all by raising the top income tax rate on people whose income (at a dollar a second) would only last about three days.

At one point in pitching his plan, Obama scoffed that “Warren Buffet doesn’t need another tax cut.  I don’t need another tax cut.”

Surprisingly, I agree with the President.  Buffet doesn’t.  Obama doesn’t. But nobody is talking about a tax cut.  Obama is talking about raising taxes to the level they were ten years ago.   That’s when the tax cut took place – ten years ago. 

Today’s plan is to raise taxes – not just on billionaires and millionaires, but also on New York City cab drivers, Chicago roofing contractors and Los Angeles business owners and anybody else who lives in areas where $250,000 gross annual income barely covers expenses.

(I recall living in Venice Beach, CA in 1997 and looking at a kind-of-dumpy one-bedroom clapboard house that rented for $2200/month.  Here, it would rent today for maybe $650/mo.  In 1997, maybe $400.00.  And a one bedroom apartment in New York City can cost up to a million dollars.)

By the time a big-city entrepreneur pays all the salaries, fees, taxes, withholding, union dues, etc., $250,000 isn’t even ‘rich’ if he lives in Buffalo.  The tax hike would mean either the employer would have to cut back his own expenses or reduce his staff. 

Meanwhile, the “super-rich” like Warren Buffet (or President Obama) don’t pay anything close to the top tax rate now.   The IRS reported that the 400 richest Americans paid only 17 percent in federal income tax, on average.  

General Electric, run by super-rich Obama pal Jeffery Immelt, earned $14.2 billion in global profits and paid NOTHING is US federal income taxes.

For the nearly half of all US households that pay no taxes at all (thanks to the small employers (ie ‘the rich’) that pay it for them, Tax Day is like Christmas.    Noted the brilliant Victor Davis Hanson:

“Nearly half of American households pay absolutely nothing in federal income tax. For them, the once-dreaded April 15 tax day is more a welcome time of tax credits, rebates and refunds. In February 2011, American households received more than $2.3 trillion in direct government support, more than was collected during those 28 days by the Treasury in personal taxes. In contrast, the now-demonized top 5 percent account for almost 60 percent of all federal income tax revenue — a higher percentage than anywhere else in the Western world.”

If the Treasury took 100% of the income of everyone making $250K and higher, it STILL wouldn’t eliminate the deficit, let alone make a dent in the national debt.   That is what economists mean when they say the debt is “unsustainable.”

What should the government do?  I dunno.  That’s not my job.  I am not an advocate – I am an observer. My job is to examine current events and trends and see if and how they line up with Bible prophecy.  

I wouldn’t advocate against the current debt crisis because I am a fatalist. I admit it.  I believe that we are headed down a pre-ordained course.  For this reason, I am often mystified at the Christian reaction to the concept of predestination as somehow interfering with man’s free will.

Man’s free will is unencumbered – and yet we find ourselves in exactly the pickle prophesied, particularly if we are as far along the Bible’s timeline as I believe the signs say we are.

We aren’t yet bankrupt, but we can see where bankruptcy may well be in the cards for America’s near future.   But the Bible says that shortly after the antichrist comes to power the world will experience a devastating economic collapse.

The third judgment of the Tribulation is the Rider on the Black Horse:

“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”

That’s what Bible prophecy predicts will be the situation as we enter the Tribulation Period – and that is pretty much what secular analysts predict will be the situation by the time we roll around to Election 2012.

Like I said, I don’t know if we’ll be bankrupt by 2012 – I don’t know when the Tribulation will start. Even though we can see the shadows of what is to come, nobody can say precisely when – but there is little doubt that it is near.

Here’s what I do know.  I know that the Tribulation Period is a time of judgment against a Christ-rejecting world and a time of purification and redemption for national Israel.  

And I know that as bad as things look right now, this isn’t the Tribulation yet –even though it looks like it could be — because the Rapture happens first.  And that is what is so significant about all this, insofar as the Church is concerned.

Because when we see all these things begin to come to pass, we are to look up and lift up our heads for our redemption draws nigh, the Lord says.  

He doesn’t say to flee to Petra.  He doesn’t say to flee from Judea to the mountains.  That is what He told the Jews living around Jerusalem to do.   But He tells the Church to look up, and lift up our heads and wait for our redemption (Gk: apolutrosis=deliverance)

“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:31-32)

The Perfect Candidate

The Perfect Candidate
Vol: 115 Issue: 20 Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One of the most famous quotes that Henry Kissinger never said concerned the unification of Europe.  The quote was misattributed, but it still has legs today because it was so profound.

“Europe?” Kissinger never said. “If I wanted to call Europe, who do I call?”

The comment, whether he actually said it or not, uniquely summarized the contrasts between the European view of what constitutes federal unification and the American version.   

If you wanted to call America, the White House phone number is in the book.

Unfortunately, if you were to call the White House between now and Election Day  2012, chances are that you’d discover that nobody’s at home.

Having given governing his best shot for two years and finding it boring,  not to mention unpopular, difficult and unrewarding, Obama has turned governing over to Joe Biden so that he can spend the next two years campaigning for re-election in 2012.

Obama is an astute politician but he has an almost insurmountable task before him. And if we are as far along the Bible’s timeline for the last days as I believe that we are, he’ll probably pull it off.  We’ll return to that a little later.

Meanwhile, I don’t believe that it is an oversight that the Bible makes no mention of America as a significant player in the political scene of the last days.

America is there – after a fashion.  The Bible makes several references to the professing Church — as it will exist in the last days.  In his first Letter to his disciple, Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats. . . “  (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

According to the CIA Factbook, Seventy-nine percent of Americans profess some form of Christian faith.  Twelve percent claim no affiliation.  Four percent are atheist, 1.7% are Jews, 0.7% are Buddhist and 0.6% Muslim. The remaining 2 percent or so are ‘other’ or ‘unspecified’.

According to the CIA World Fact Book then, the United States is, by reputation and statistic, not only mostly Christian in population, it is also the world’s most Christian nation.  

The Founders were overwhelmingly Christian, as was America’s national character — until recently. 

(Skeptics and revisionist historians can bray contrary nonsense all they want — I can remember praying in school during assembly and before class, and pledging allegiance to one nation under God at PS #66 in Buffalo NY in 1965.)

Later, in his second letter to Timothy, Paul expands on his vision of professing Christianity in the last days, starting with a cryptic warning: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”

He follows up with a description of social conditions as they will exist during the last days of the Church Age.   Is it logical that Paul is describing the underground, persecuted churches under Islamic rule?

Or those in Communist China? 

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. . .” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Which of those does not describe America as it exists today?   It is not just a perfect fit for America politically; it is a perfect fit for America spiritually.

Compare Paul’s description of the perilous times for the Church of the last days with the Lord’s description of the Church as it will exist during final epoch of the Church Age:

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.”

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:14-17)

There is a difference between the professing Church and the born-again, Blood-bought believing Church. The Lord makes that plain enough in His letters to the Seven Churches. He contrasts the professing church with the believing remnant in every instance but one – the Church of Laodicea.

The Laodicean Church is divided into those that He will spue from His mouth and those to whom He offers counsel:

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:17-19)

But He has no word of commendation for this church.  It is out of this Church epoch that the Lord will Rapture His saints.  

Assessment:

I said we would get back to Obama’s insurmountable task and how if these are the times I think they are, it means he’ll probably pull it off.

Despite having two wars on his plate and having started a third, Obama has all but taken a powder from governing, leaving it up to Joe Biden and his various czars and military commanders to mind the store while he hits the  full-time campaign trail.

The first time around, it was a lot easier.  He had no record to either run on or defend.  He represented a whole bunch of ‘firsts’ in American history – the first black to be nominated, the first black to win the White House, the first illegal alien . . . as Joe Biden said of then-candidate-Obama at the time;

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

That’s the thing about Obama.  America loved him as a candidate.  As a president, however, he leaves a lot to be desired.  So instead of being president, he is going back to doing what he does best – campaigning.  

But the last time around, he had a convenient boogey-man that he could deflect all his mistakes on.  Just yesterday, he invoked his name again – evidently the Bush magic is still there, although it doesn’t have as much mojo as it did two years ago.

Obama’s insurmountable problem is that in order to win, he’ll have to run against his own record.  That would usually doom an ordinary politician, particularly a politician that is as spectacularly bad at governing as this one.

It takes a special kind of electorate to buy the same empty suit twice in a row.  One devoid of discernment. One to whom “a form of godliness” is sufficient.  One that is unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, false accusers, despisers of those that are good . . .

It seems impossible, unthinkable . . . almost unimaginable that Obama could possibly be re-elected in 2012, given his obvious intention to drive the United States over the cliff it is now speeding toward.

The economy is in the tank, unemployment is a record levels, America’s southern border is a literal war zone with American casualties on American soil, the dollar is collapsing like a lawn chair, the military is engaged in three wars and a prime target for financial cuts, we’re out of oil, won’t drill for more, and his investment of our money into Government Motors is about to cost us eleven billion dollars.

China is warning America not to default on its debt, we’re still fumbling around in Libya without any sense of direction and gasoline just hit five dollars a gallon in the nation’s capital.  (When Obama was elected, it was $1.78).

This is the record that Obama is taking on the campaign trail, which is why he really can’t afford to be seen governing – that’s why he passed it off to Joe Biden.  Let Biden take the blame and then dump him and get a new running mate if necessary.

We’re in so much trouble and Obama is such a terrible leader that it is impossible to imagine how the United States could possibly survive an Obama second term.   If he gets one, it probably won’t. 

If we are as far along as I think we might be, then he just might pull it off.  Especially if there aren’t any believing Christians around to vote against him. 

That is, if we are as far along the timeline as I think we are . . . 

TANSTAAFL

TANSTAAFL
Vol: 115 Issue: 19 Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When I was a young man, among my favorite books were the early works of a science-fiction writer named Robert Heinlein. A Marine buddy introduced me to them by lending me a book called, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” 

Throughout the book, whenever it fit the story plotline, one of the characters would utter the catchphrase, “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” by its acronym, ‘TANSTAAFL’.

It was one of those oddball phrases that stuck in my head because of the simple truth it conveyed; in this world, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Everything comes with a price tag.  

It is a basic law of physics as expressed by the phrase, “for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.”

As a principle, it stands at the core of economic theory, as well as virtually every other area of human endeavor. God so designed this universe that that everything is, in the end, a zero-sum game – all things balance out to zero eventually.

The Book of Ecclesiastes, or “the Preacher” was written by the wisest man the world has ever known, King Solomon. Late in his life, Solomon realized his gift of wisdom had benefited all but himself. 

The Book of Ecclesiastes could be described as the somewhat bitter memoir of a wise old man who looks back on a life filled with regrets. It is lots more than that.

Many Christians find Ecclesiastes a gloomy book; its central theme is that life is pointless, (all is vanity) and since all that awaits us is the grave, “every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

But if there is one central theme in the Book of Ecclesiastes, it is TANSTAAFL.

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

Critics and skeptics argue that these verses contradict Scriptures that speak of the afterlife and resurrection.  There will always be critics and skeptics that will find a way to read Scripture to make it sound like there are contradictions.

They are so intent on disproving the wisdom of Scripture that the wisdom of Solomon goes completely over their heads. 

Solomon is expressing reality as viewed from this side of eternity.  All of his laments make the same case.  All is vanity.

You can be the wisest man who ever lived. You can have all the riches the world can offer. You can be the world’s most powerful king and have the world’s most desirable woman for your queen.  

You can have the admiration of men and the love of women and the riches and wisdom of Solomon, but in the end, it is STILL a zero-sum game.

“Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.” (Ecclesiastes 2:15-16)

Ecclesiastes isn’t a gloomy book.  Neither is it contradictory.  Written by the wisest man who ever lived, it is unsurprising that those who attempt to understand it’s message apart from the Holy Spirit miss it completely. 

They are looking for what they think is the central theme of the Bible.  That because the Bible freely offers salvation to “whosoever will” that the Bible offers a free lunch. 

Solomon isn’t contradicting Scripture, he is setting the record straight.  They are looking for a free lunch. 

TANSTAAFL.  There ain’t one.

Assessment:

By now I can almost hear some of you arguing with me in your head; “What are you saying! Salvation is a free gift.  The Bible says so! Look!

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Romans 5:15)

See! FREE GIFT.  A GIFT has to be FREE, or it isn’t a gift!  Right?

“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” (Romans 5:16)

See! FREE gift!

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:18)

See! Free gift upon all men is this HARD?

TANSTAAFL!  Read it more closely.  The gift of eternal life is free – to YOU.  But the price paid to secure it was unimaginably high. 

You just weren’t the one that had to pay for it.  Jesus Christ paid the price for every sin you ever committed or ever will commit — on the Cross at Calvary.

And it HAD to be that way.  He could not pay the price for just some of the sins you commit – that is an imperfect price. Since there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as a partial payment on a free gift.

To be free, the payment must be in full and to be a gift, it must be offered without further payment due.

The gift of salvation wasn’t free – it was paid for with the Blood of Jesus Christ.  Does that mean that you can now sin with impunity? 

That’s what lots of people teach, even though logic and experience and the principle of TANSTAAFL prove the opposite to be the case.

Even more will reject the idea eternal security on the grounds that it is a free lunch, which they logically – and correctly — understand to be impossible in God’s creation.  Nothing is free.  Not in the here and now and not in the hereafter.

My salvation was purchased for me. It was then offered to me as a free gift.  Once I have accepted it, it is mine forever – once saved, always saved.  But that does not mean that I am exempt from the consequences of sin – I certainly am not.

If one smokes, one will pay the consequences.  Smokers get COPD, lung cancer, emphysema, etc.  Continuing to smoke after salvation will kill you just as dead, just as slowly and painfully as it would an unsaved smoker.   

Chronic boozers get cirrhosis, heart disease, and all kinds of other ailments.

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.”

“Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” (Proverbs 23:29-32)

It is often rightly said that sin will take you further than you want to go and keep you there longer than you want to be there.  That is one of those universally true statements because it is founded in a universal truth.  

Sin has consequences.  But sin is NOT the dividing line between heaven and hell.  One doesn’t go to heaven because one is sinless or to hell because one is a sinner.  If that is true, then Jesus Christ would still be the only human qualified to enter.

And strictly speaking, He IS the only one qualified to enter – on His own merit.  The rest of us are qualified by Jesus, based on His righteousness and not our own.

Jesus paid the eternal penalty due for all sin – but the temporal penalties remain outstanding.

A saved person cannot sin with impunity. There are physical consequences attached to sin.  There are social consequences attached to sin. There are emotional consequences attached to sin.  Sin hurts a saved person more than it does a lost person. 

But sin isn’t the determining factor between saved and lost. ALL Christians are sinners.  The determining factor in salvation is whether you repented (changed your mind) about sin and turned your life and your will over to Jesus Christ and then trusted Him with your eternity.

 Neither can a person sin without spiritual consequences — as well as physical ones.  Each of us will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to answer for those things we have done in this life.

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)

God has a plan for your life and it will be reviewed at the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ.  There you will be rewarded for the times you were faithful and you will give account for the times you were not.  

You will see the rewards you would have earned, had you been where you were supposed to be when you were off sinning somewhere.

Your sinful works will be tested by fire, and burned into so much ash and stubble, and you WILL suffer loss.  Unimaginable loss – for eternity. 

But not the loss of eternity.  Your eternal security is not a free lunch.  Jesus paid for it.  Your sin is not a free lunch. You will pay for it.  Just not in hell.

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

You cannot ignore the consequences of sin simply because Jesus has ransomed your eternity.  You cannot smoke without consequence. Or drink without consequence. Or stuff yourself without consequence.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Obviously, this destruction can only refer to the ‘temple’ – the body – and not the eternal soul that Paul just finished saying would be saved, yet so as by fire.  

Defile the temple and God will destroy it.  Need another proof text?  Visit a cancer ward.

What is the point here?  Eternal security is NOT a free lunch.  To argue otherwise elevates man to the level where he plays an instrumental role in his own salvation.   

 “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

“Not Thee, Lord, but thee and me.” That elevation comes at a price by minimizing the price paid at Calvary.   Jesus can’t do it, but together, we can.  

“And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are Your’s.”

If salvation is a case of “Thee and me” then there would be ample reason to glory in men.

“I am saved because Jesus paid the price and now I don’t sin.  I used to be a terrible sinner, but now just look at me. Look at what Jesus can do.”

That is why if one sins after being saved, there is no way to renew him to repentance, as Hebrews 6:6 says, “seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame.”   

If you don’t sin anymore because of what Jesus did for you, what does it say about Jesus when you fall? For you will fall.  Did you fall?  Or did Jesus drop you?   

Why is this important?  Because there is no “license to sin.” Salvation is not a function of sin.  It is a function of grace.  There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is a huge difference between consequences and penalties.

Consequences are the effect, cause or outcome of an action.  A consequence can be good or bad.  A person can save someone’s life and consequently be awarded a medal. Or he can stand by and do nothing and consequently that person will die.  

Consequences are simply outcomes of particular actions.  

A penalty is a punishment imposed for a violation or crime.  A penalty is always bad and can never be good.   Eternal security means that the penalty due for my sin was paid for by Jesus Christ. 

But the consequences of my sins are on me.

Crazy

Crazy
Vol: 115 Issue: 18 Monday, April 18, 2011

The word “crazy” has a whole raft of different definitions: one can be crazy about a girl, crazy after a favorite team victory, crazy over a favored hobby, come up with a crazy get-rich-quick scheme or just be crazy (mentally deranged).

There is only one definition of crazy that is applicable to our planet at this moment in history. That would be the last one; mentally deranged.  There really isn’t an adjective that has a better fit. 

It is almost as if the various Western administrations review a list of options until hitting on the heading labeled, “Crazy”– like that was the category it was looking for all along.

For example, the administration has been bending over backwards in its efforts to extricate itself from both Iraq and Afghanistan.  The desperation to get out of Iraq is predicated by the inaccurate belief that it was an ‘unjust’ war.

For it to be an “unjust” war, several things would have to be missing, not the least of which, obviously, would be justification

The justification for the war against Saddam Hussein was that credible intelligence information from all Western governments were unanimous their assessment that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq represented a nuclear threat to the rest of the world.

Granted, that would also justify war with Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran – but Saddam was a special case since Saddam had actually used weapons of mass destruction against his own people.  So the thinking was, “if he used WMD against his own people, he’d probably use them against mine.”

Plus, there was the whole first Gulf War thingy, and twelve years of skirmishing over the no-fly zone. Although there was evidence then – evidence that continues to mount to this day – that Saddam transferred his nuclear program via convoy to Syria in the months leading up to the invasion.

The world went crazy over Iraq, along with significant portions of the US population.  Had there been a global popularity contest between George Bush and Saddam Hussein in 2003, Saddam Hussein would have won it hands-down.

As far as the war itself was concerned, Saddam lost.  So did everybody else and seven years later, the war still rages.  It’s crazy.

Then there is the war in Afghanistan.  This was, allegedly a ‘just’ war, because the Taliban refused to give up Osama bin Laden who had attacked the US on September 11.  But it has being going on now for nearly three times as long as the US involvement in WWII and five times as long the US fought in WWI. 

The enemy is a collection of undisciplined 7th century religious zealots numbering no more than 25,000.  Arrayed against them are 140,000 NATO troops – two-thirds of them American – and 200,000 members of the Afghan security forces.   

It would be crazy to think we might lose. And even crazier to think that we might be forced to sit cross-legged on the floor of some tent somewhere to negotiate peace with them.  

They don’t want peace – they attacked us.  What the Taliban wants is the unconditional surrender of the West.  Crazy, isn’t it? 

Isn’t it?

Assessment:

What is even crazier is being engaged in two wars we cannot win and then involving ourselves in a third.  This third war is so crazy that it defies description.  Let’s run it down and see how crazy it really is.

Whose side are we on?  Well, it isn’t Ghadaffi, but the mission isn’t to remove him.  So are we on the rebel’s side?  Not really, since the rebels are primarily al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Who authorized the use of US troops in combat in Libya?  The Arab League and the United Nations.  Congress was not consulted. 

Whose side are we on?  According to the White House, America is neutral. Neutral?  How can we be neutral and in combat at the same time?

How will we know when we win?   Will it be when Ghadaffi is removed? That’s not part of the mission.  When Libya is divided in two?  When the rebels take over?  What if the rebels are worse?   Does anybody care?

Throughout its term, the administration has gone out of its way to discredit and marginalize Fox News by denying it practices real journalism and referring to it as Faux News and refusing to grant Fox access.

But according to Politico, that doesn’t mean that the administration’s favorite news outlet is CNN.   In her recent Senate testimony, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that if Americans want to get REAL news, the best source is  — al Jazeera!

The Secretary’s staff, together with those of the CIA and Obama White House attended the Congressional Correspondents Dinner as al Jazeera’s guests!  When one walks through the State Department, says Tony Burman, Al Jazeera English’s chief strategic adviser for the Americas;

“you see it [al Jazeera] on virtually every TV and computer.”

The Obama administration ignored the Iran protests, saying it didn’t want to interfere with Iraq’s sovereignty, but actively worked to topple US ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, turning that country over to the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Crazy?  I dunno.  You tell me.  After eight years and uncounted billions, we’ve lost Iraq completely.  Instead of creating a US ally in the region, we’ve created a new client state for Iran.   

In Afghanistan, the most powerful military force the world has ever seen is stalemated by 25,000 guys who live in caves, eat goats and wear bedsheets for clothing.  

Obama refused to involve America in Tunisia or Yemen, but leaped into Libya at the command of the Arab League.   We don’t know who we are fighting, so we won’t know if we won.  We don’t know what our goals are so we can’t tell when they’ve been reached.

And Obama’s early assurances to the Ghadaffi regime that the US military would not step up its involvement turned the tide in favor of the Ghadaffi regime.  Obama was forced to admit Friday that the Libyan crisis had entered a military stalemate.

While nobody is sure what the mission IS, the administration has been more or less firm on what it is NOT.  The mission is NOT about regime change.

As a consequence, NATO is falling apart.  Spain said it would not participate further.  Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi announced that “we have done enough.”  Canada says it will NOT increase its military contribution. 

Former German intelligence chief Bernd Schmidbauer last week went to Tripoli on a peace mission which guaranteed that Qaddafi would stay in Libya.  Britain and France are on record saying that their mission is regime change, even if NATO’s isn’t.

Finally, the World Tribune is reporting that the administration is backing the Syrian regime in Damascus.

“Administration sources and analysts said the White House was arguing over whether Washington should support the Syrian opposition against Assad. They said senior members of the National Security Council were debating whether Assad still marked a U.S. foreign policy asset.

“Right now, supporters of the status quo have the upper hand,” an administration source said. “Their argument is that if Assad falls then the entire U.S. policy of arranging an Israeli-Palestinian peace and establishing a Palestinian cell will be threatened.”

Obama, who has assured Arab leaders that the Arab revolt would not hamper U.S. policy, was said to side with the Assad supporters in NSC and the State Department.

On April 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration, amid the Arab revolt, would launch another diplomatic offensive to establish a Palestinian state throughout the West Bank.”

Let’s recap. Starting from the top, we lost Iraq to the Iranians and are doing our best to lose Afghanistan to the Taliban. 

Meanwhile, we are engaged in a war in Libya over something, although we are not sure what, and are siding with we’re not sure who in hopes of not defeating Ghadaffi, because we’re not sure how or why or what comes after.

The one news source that the Obama administration trusts the most is al Jazeera.  When it comes to foreign policy, our foreign policy is to:

  1. shore up enemy regimes like Iran;
  2. stay neutral on regimes that are somewhat neutral with the West, (Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, etc);
  3. help bring down regimes friendly to the West like in Egypt;
  4. promote enemy propaganda while opposing pro-American news sources;
  5. start wars at the behest of the Arab League or the UN;
  6. hide US involvement behind NATO and then throw NATO under the bus.

Did I miss anything? Oh, yes. 

Remedy the falling US dollar is to flood the market with unbacked US currency with which America can buy its own debt.

Hamstring any efforts to get the border under control. File a lawsuit against Arizona for passing a law making it illegal to be illegal.   (And then report Arizona to the UN Human Rights Council as a human rights abuser.)

According to the New York Times, while our military is trying to kill Ghadaffi while our government is trying to find him a good home.

The US Department of Justice is suing a Chicago school board for not allowing a probationary teacher time off to attend a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.   A similar lawsuit aimed at, say, allowing a Catholic to take three weeks off to go to the Vatican for Lent would be just crazy.

Wouldn’t it?

How Many Right Ways Can There Be?

How Many Right Ways Can There Be?
Vol: 115 Issue: 16 Saturday, April 16, 2011

In 1939 the world was holding its collective breath in anticipation of what was shaping up to be another world war. “World war” means something different North Americans than it does to the rest of the world.

For North Americans, “world war” meant, at worst, conscription, rationing and blackouts.  For everybody else, it meant air raids, occupation forces, destroyed cities, refugee camps, reprisals and death on wholesale levels, up close and personal.

But even from the perspective of North America, the prospect of another world war must have seemed like end-of-the-world stuff.  The US was still suffering from a decade-long Depression – without the benefit of social programs, welfare, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid etc.

The veterans of the last war were in their late thirties to early fifties.  Having witnessed the horrors of the European battlefields last time around when weaponry was relatively primitive, the horrors to come must have looked very much like what we might anticipate the Tribulation to look like.

By 1939 the Nazi persecution of the Jews was well-known; the infamous Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) had occurred the year before.  Those Jews that managed to escape to the West shared what they witnessed first-hand.  

In Germany, schoolchildren said grace before meals to their Fuhrer and asked his blessing on them before bedtime. 

“Fuehrer, my fuehrer, bequeathed to me by the Lord protect and preserve me as long as I live…” –Excerpt from a prayer children said to Hitler in his public schools

The Fuhrer governed over a system symbolized by the swastika – a broken cross — that gave special economic status to Party members who swore an oath of allegiance to the Fuhrer.

Under that system, persons could be excluded from normal social and financial intercourse for not following Party rules, refusing to join the Party, speaking out against the Fuhrer, or simply for being Jews.

In 1939, the whole world was teetering on the brink – the League of Nations, designed to prevent a repeat of the Great War, ended up helping to shape the alliances of the one looming on the horizon.

Hitler’s vision was of a revival of “New Order” for a “Thousand Year Reich” modeled after the old Roman Empire.  He partnered with Benito Mussonlini, dictator of Rome. 

A concordat is an agreement between the Pope and a sovereign state on matters relating to the Roman Catholic Church – in essence, a limited partnership between the Church and state.  It was signed in 1933 by Nazi Vice Chancellor Fritz Von Papen and Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli on behalf of Pope Pius XI.

In 1939, Eugenio Pacelli was elevated to become Pope Pius XII.  So by 1939 the Vatican, political Rome and Nazi Germany were all bound by one form of treaty alliance or another.  The Soviets had just inked the Molotov-von Ribbentrop Pact in August, 1939.

So here is the Big Picture in summary as it appeared at the time: 

In 1939, it certainly looked as if Hitler’s hegemony would encompass the whole world.  His empire was modeled after that of Rome and at its height, encompassed all its territory.

Hitler was partnered with Rome — and with the Vatican based on a treaty with the sitting Pope and had just concluded a non-aggression pact with Gog-Magog and had embarked on a systematic extermination of the Jews.

Some Jews had begun returning to their homeland in Palestine since 1917 in fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones.  

From the perspective of Bible prophecy as it would have appeared in 1939, Hitler was a good fit for the antichrist and Mussolini/Pius XII —  a sort of hybrid political/religious beast.  Jews and Bible Christians were being rounded up and put into camps.

There was again a Jewish presence in Israel, albeit under foreign occupation (as it was in AD 70) a Gog Magog connection, a European dictator with a god complex, heavily into the occult and clearly demonically empowered, the specific involvement of Rome . . .

In 1939, one could easily have made the case that either the Tribulation was about to start — or we are already in the Tribulation now. 

How is it any different today?

Assessment:

I could fill a week’s worth of column space just listing all the historical similarities between the present state of world affairs and conditions as they existing in 1939.

Does that mean that we could be as far off the mark as somebody in 1939 would be in seeing Hitler as the antichrist and WWII as the Tribulation? That is what a lot of scoffers like to argue.  

“Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have from the beginning of Creation.”  

In other words, “We’ve heard all this before . . .  what about Hitler and Mussolini?  What is different this time?”

It’s a fair question.  I’ve made a pretty convincing case for Hitler by making Bible prophecy fit current events (as they were then) — but notice that I didn’t need to twist either one in the process.  

That’s what makes understanding the framework of Bible prophecy so important.  Outside the framework of Dispensationalist systematic theology, close counts.  

When close counts, it becomes possible to reinterpret Bible prophecy until it fits current events. 

But working within the Dispensationalist framework, there at least seven reasons why Hitler could not have been the antichrist and World War II could NOT have been the Tribulation.

  1. Global Annihilation Wasn’t Yet Possible: In Matthew 24:22, Jesus says that “unless that time (the Tribulation) be cut short, there should be no flesh saved.”   Even though we had split the atom by late 1945, the technology necessary to annihilate all flesh was still twenty years away.
  2. There was no Israel: The Bible confidently predicts the existence of a recognized state of Israel, known as “Israel” which is reclaimed from the desert by Jews drawn from the four corners of the earth.  In 1939, some Jews lived under British rule in the Palestinian Mandate. 
  3. The Bible predicts the revival of Rome by peaceful means:  Daniel says of the antichrist that he will “by peace shall destroy many Hitler’s unification of Europe by force did not qualify. 
  4. World-wide instant communication was not possible.  The Bible says that when Jesus returns, every eye shall see Him.  When the two witnesses lay dead in the streets of Jerusalem, their images will be broadcast world-wide.  When they are restored to life three and a half days later, the whole world will witness that event, as well.
  5. The Gospel was not yet preached into all the world.  In 1939 there remained many places so isolated that they had never heard of civilization, let alone Jesus.  The Gospel still has not been preached in all the world – there remain dozens of indigenous tribes world-wide that have yet to make contact with the outside world.
  6. There was no Covenant: The Prophet Daniel predicts the antichrist will confirm a seven year peace ‘covenant’ between Israel and ‘the many.’  In order to confirm an agreement, first there must be an agreement to confirm. In 1939 there was no covenant and as noted, there was no Israel.  
    In September, 1993, Israel signed the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinians. It outlined a land-for-peace process that was supposed to culminate with an agreement on the final status of Jerusalem by September, 2000, exactly seven years later.  Instead, Yasser Arafat abrogated the deal and in September, 2000 he called for a new intifada, quickly dubbed by Israel as “The Oslo War.”
  7. There was no expectation of Christ’s Coming:  The Bible says that when the events prophesied for the last generation begin to come to pass, that generation will recognize that their redemption draws near.  There was no sense of messianic expectation in 1939.  In 2011, the discussion transcends all barriers; Christians are looking for the Rapture, Muslims are looking for the Mahdi, the Messianic movement in Israel has never been stronger. Even movies and popular music reflect the expectation that the end is near.

There is a reason why I study Bible prophecy within the framework of Dispensationalism and it is the reason that I teach it as the only logical way to rightly divide the Word of Truth. 

Dispensationalism demands literal interpretation unless the text clearly indicates otherwise.  It demands that Bible prophecy follow the Bible’s systematic outline, dividing history according to Dispensation, rather than according to current events.  Paul wrote to his disciple, Timothy;

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Obviously, if Paul admonished Timothy to rightly divide the Word of Truth, it also reveals two axiomatic truths.   First it is possible to divide it wrongly. And secondly, it confirms the Word is “divided” to begin with.  

If it is divided, and if it is possible to get the divisions wrong, then it would seem that there IS a right way. And if there is a right way,  then there can only be ONE right way.

Do you really think there can be several right ways?  For anything? 

One doesn’t need to adopt Dispensationalism to be saved. One needn’t be a Dispensationalist to be a Christian or to study the Word of God.  

But if one wants to have a grasp of unfolding Bible prophecy and where Bible prophecy shapes current events, rather than the other way around, then there must be a discernible, logical flow.  

The Bible divides it by dispensation. Without that division, Bible prophecy becomes little more than a confusing jumble of heads, horns and beasts. 

And when it comes to figuring out what it all might mean, your guess is as good as mine.

Doubtful Disputations

Doubtful Disputations
Vol: 115 Issue: 15 Friday, April 15, 2011

I was reading through the private member’s only forum when I came across a post about Sunday worship.  This is one of those non-issues that is an issue that still really isn’t an issue . . . and yet is.

Indeed for some, it is a point of doctrine that transcends almost everything else.

First, the post.  OL members can read it in detail, but since it is in the private member’s forums, I’ll just hit the main points to set up today’s discussion.

A Christian who attends a Messianic Temple said that Sunday worship is rooted in anti-Semitism and Sunday worship is a display of anti-Semitism. This fellow is really persistent and the posting member wanted some input from the fellowship.

What intrigued me was the suggestion that Sunday worship was a display of anti-Semitism.  That’s a pretty hefty accusation to hurl at somebody — especially a Christian who loves Israel. 

There’s a children’s saying about “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” 

That’s true — if one is a liberal progressive. Name-calling is the preferred substitute for reasoned thought, particularly if reasoned thought puts you on the wrong side of your own debate. 

That’s pretty much what is going on here.  Sunday worship is no more an expression of anti-Semitism than it is the Mark of the Beast. (A core teaching of Seventh Day Adventists)

Another argument against Sunday worship is that the Sabbath was hijacked by the Roman Catholic Church.  I found a fascinating website listing quotes from all kinds of famous churchmen presenting arguments favoring a Saturday Sabbath for Protestants.

Yet another argues that there is no Scriptural support for changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.

“In both Old and New Testament there is not a shadow of variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath. The seventh day, Saturday, is the only day ever designated by the term Sabbath in the entire Bible. Not only was Jesus a perfect example in observing the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, but all His disciples followed the same pattern after Jesus had gone back to heaven. Yet no intimation of any change of the day is made.”

Izzat so?  I almost agree. “No intimation of any change of the day is made” . . .  exceptMatthew 28:1Mark 16:2, 16:9; Luke 24:1John 20:19Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2

Other than those eight places, there isn’t hardly any intimation suggesting worship on the first day of the week at all.  

So what does the Bible say about keeping the Sabbath Day? 

“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 31:15)

Well, ok then!

Assessment:

Most of these arguments end up like that. Everybody gets mad, they start pulling Scripture out of context — some folks will get downright dishonest in their efforts to convince you that they are right.

Sometimes it is over Sabbath Day worship. Sometimes it is the timing of the Rapture.  Sometimes it is over the Tribulation.  Or the Mark of the Beast.  Or the antichrist.

One side or the other digs in on a point and the battle is joined.  The point is almost always pointless and the battle is almost always nasty. 

What does the Sabbath Day have to do with the Church? The Sabbath was appointed as a day of rest under the Law of Moses to set aside the Jews as a peculiar people unto Him.

“Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.”  (Exodus 31:16-17)

Let’s see. The children of Israel are to observe the Sabbath. It is a sign between God and thechildren of Israel.  Are you of the children of Israel?   

The Apostle Paul was not only an observant Jew – he was a Pharisee – a Jewish lawyer well acquainted with the intricacies of Jewish religious law. 

The Apostle Paul was present, and some say, ordered the stoning of Stephen (the first believer martyred for his faith) for blasphemy.   So as a Jew, Saul was pretty much a stickler for details like Sabbath worship. (Remember the penalty under Jewish law for breaking it.)

Upon his conversion, the Lord appointed him Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.  When writing to new converts about details of Jewish law, such as the Sabbath, he had this to say:

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” (Colossians 2:16)

Why would Paul write that if Sabbath-keeping was imposed on the Church?

And now to the main point: if Sabbath-keeping isn’t imposed on the Church, then what difference does it make what day Christians observe something that isn’t imposed on them in the first place?

These are all important issues for theologians seeking the deeper mysteries of God, but they fade to the point of irrelevant when weighted against the importance of understanding the mystery of salvation.

Those that argue such dogmatic issues as if they were matters of eternal life and death usually don’t usually have a firm handle on the most important doctrine of all.

The mystery of salvation is that we are not under the law. Not any part of it.  We are notobliged to keep the Sabbath. We aren’t obliged to keep it on the seventh day. We aren’t even obliged to keep it on the first day of the week.

We will not be judged based on how well we honored our father and mother, whether or not we stole, took the Lord’s Name in vain, coveted our neighbor’s stuff, or even if we killed, lied or cheated. 

We won’t be judged according to how well we understood the finer points of Scriptural doctrine. We won’t be judged according to how well we kept other believers in line doctrinally, or whether we believed the Rapture would happen before the Tribulation.

The mystery of salvation is that those who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb are judged according to the righteousness of Christ.   The mystery of salvation is that we are judged based on our faith in that ONE thing alone. Trust.

“And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”  (Romans 4:21-22)

The mystery of salvation is that salvation comes by trusting that God has already saved you independent of yourself.  That is the bedrock doctrine of salvation.   

Not keeping the Sabbath.  Not keeping the Law.  Not by doing good works. Not some combination of doctrine, works, faith and understanding.  NONE of those things can save you.  

One can have faith in his doctrine, faith in his works, and faith in his understanding.  But if one doesn’t trust that “what He has promised, He is able to perform” then there is no basis upon which for the Lord to impute righteousness. 

Only the perfect righteousness of Christ is sufficient to stand before a Holy God.  Anything I could add would only take away from that perfect righteousness. Now my righteousness is based on the perfect righteousness of Christ plus my imperfect efforts.

What happens when you add an imperfection to something that is perfect?  Does the imperfection fade away?  Or does it render the perfect imperfect? 

The correct Sabbath Day ranks up there with the exact date of the Rapture in terms of relevance to one’s salvation or ability to preach the word. 

Paul writes to the Romans; “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” before offering an example of a “doubtful disputation”

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. (Romans 14:1,5)

Is Sunday worship an act of antisemtism? The Mark of the Beast? Could this disputation bemore doubtful?

I doubt it.