Sudden Fear — And the Desolation of the Wicked

Sudden Fear — And the Desolation of the Wicked
Vol: 144 Issue: 30 Monday, September 30, 2013

I read a statistic that said the stock market crash has erased something close to one third of the average American’s 401k holdings.

For folks around my age, it means rethinking the age at which retirement is possible.

I know a fellow about my age who retired on his investments a couple of years ago. The crash is forcing him out of retirement.

For somebody in their sixties or early seventies who retired recently, their monthly retirement income has suddenly dropped by a third and there isn’t a lot they can do about it.

So what do you do? A person’s first instinct is to panic. When enough people panic at once, well, that’s how markets crash in the first place.

Individuals panic by cutting back on their cable bill, or selling their extra car, canceling their vacation or coming out of retirement back into the workplace.

Corporations panic by laying off more workers than necessary, selling off more inventory at greater discounts than necessary and closing more outlets than necessary.

Lenders panic by cutting off more credit than necessary to more borrowers than necessary. In all these cases, the thinking is the same — cut back all the way to the bone and then reorganize.

Restructuring is not the same as reacting. One restructures as necessary. When one reacts, it is out of panic.

It’s either controlled or uncontrolled, but its still panic. Panic is when you don’t know what to do — and you do it anyway.

I know Christians who when they panic, instead of cutting back, they double their tithe. They double down on their tithe so that God will bless the stuff they still have.

Sounds spiritual. But it’s not, really. No matter where one stands on tithing as a doctrine, you can’t get around what a tithe is mathematically — it’s ten percent.

(So if you’re already tithing, then ‘doubling down’ is like offering God a tip.)

Ok. Let’s roll everything back to zeroes for a moment and take stock of the situation.

First, we’re Christians who believe that Bible prophecy is true and relevant to this generation and that we are living in the last days. We go to church on Sunday and pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”

What does the Bible forecast for the last days? A great apostastic social meltdown. The rise of antichrist. The collapse of the economy. Earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences.

What do we see? A great apostatic social meltdown. “Apostasy” means to ‘fall away from the faith’ — it refers to watering down of doctrinal principles to conform to worldly principles.

The apostasy is global — former bastions of Christianity across Europe have all but formally renounced their faith. Christianity in the West is on the decline to the degree that the term ‘post-Christian era’ is no longer surprising when applied to America.

Is the world ready to embrace the antichrist when he comes? I submit that the antichrist could run openly AS the antichrist and probably get the majority non-Christian vote, if he were half as charismatic as Barack Hussein Obama.

The global economy is in free-fall, as we’ve already noted. And we’ve spent the past ten years up to our necks in earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences.

This is exactly what the Bible predicted for the last days. We know this in our hearts and in our minds. But we rail against the moral meltdown.

We worry for the future of a country under Barack Hussein Obama even as we KNOW what the Bible says is the ultimate future of not just this country but the entire western world under antichrist.

We fret and panic over our 401k accounts, knowing that what is transpiring is all part of God’s plan for the last days.

We search the Scriptures for answers to questions like; “what should Christians do to overcome in such times as these?”

But isn’t this what we prayed for?

Assessment:

There is an old principle of spiritual warfare that says, “Be careful what you pray for. You might get it.” We tend to view it more as a joke than a principle.

We should take it seriously — to do otherwise is the spiritual equivalent to assuming a gun isn’t loaded.

A trained warrior knows what a bullet can do and treats all weapons as if they were loaded unless he has personally inspected them to ensure their status.

The seven words, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded!” form the most tragic phrase in the English language.

Prayer is as real as a loaded gun. Because prayer is real, prayer has real consequences. It isn’t enough to talk about trusting God in times like these. We’ve prayed for His Kingdom to come, for His will to be done.

Prayer is real, His kingdom is real and that His will is sovereign. So if you’re afraid of what is coming, does that mean you’re faithless? Does it mean you aren’t trusting the Lord? No. It means you are human.

But it also means you’re missing out on some of what God has set aside for you.

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)

Notice there are two fears being addressed here. “Being afraid” and “sudden fear.”

“Sudden fear” is what comes to us all. Fear of losing my stuff. Fear of not being able to retire when I’d planned. Fear that my 401k is lost and gone forever.

It is this concept of ‘sudden fear’ that keeps us from being reckless. It is what keeps you from trying to beat oncoming traffic.

After all, you’re saved. You’re a Christian. Nothing can happen to you without God’s permission. So why don’t you just jump out in front of that oncoming car? (The ‘sudden fear’ that God may have granted that permission without telling you.)

Let’s move up to the next level; from ‘sudden fear’ to ‘being afraid.’

God says, ‘be not afraid of sudden fear’. This is the trust level. Where you recognize that the danger is real and the fear is real.

But we needn’t BE afraid of that sudden fear, NOR of the desolation of the wicked when (not ‘if’) it cometh. Note the promise: “For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”

It is ok to be afraid IN the ‘sudden’ sense — but not to be afraid OF the fear. We live in the world, but we are not OF it. The current economic panic began when folks decided they couldn’t pay their mortgages and defaulted.

There are exceptions to every rule but, in the main, what happens when somebody defaults on their mortgage? Do they evaporate? Or do they move somewhere else where they still have to pay, even if it is less?

The Lord differentiates ‘sudden fear’ from giving in to panic. You lose your job and stop paying your bills to preserve your available cash for when you ‘really’ need it. That is panic; fear devoid of trust.

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:27-28)

Sudden fear is an understanding of the situation and a respect for its gravity. Being afraid of sudden fear is what happens when one forgets to place one’s confidence in the Lord.

This is more than just a pretty platitude. It is a bedrock principle of doctrine. It is the Source of that “peace that surpasseth all understanding.”

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

There is but one way to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness than I can find in Scripture — and that is to trust Jesus. It is one thing to respect the risks attached as ‘sudden fear’ — it is another to allow it to rule your life.

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”(Matthew 6:34)

Don’t worry. God’s got it all under control.

Note:  This Letter was originally published Novemeber 19, 2008.  The economy still doesn’t look any better today but there is still nothing to be afraid of.

Everything in Context

Everything in Context
Vol: 144 Issue: 28 Saturday, September 28, 2013

I believe it to be a self-evident truth that the key to having a basic working knowledge of the Bible is the understanding of Scripture as a series of progressive revelations from God about the things of the Spirit.

This understanding of progressive revelation is confirmed by the Scriptures.  The various dispensations are not difficult to identify.  Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening, Genesis tells us.  He spoke to Noah with an audible voice and prepared Noah and his family to be saved from the Flood.

God appeared to Abraham in the form of a man when warning Abraham of the coming judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  God dealt with Abraham as an individual, whereas He chose Moses to reveal God’s Law to the children of Israel.

For a time after that, God communicated with the children of Israel through a series of judges, until Israel demanded a king.  After that, He communicated through the Hebrew prophets.  At different times, in different ways, God progressively revealed more of His plan for the Ages, including the promise of a Messiah-Redeemer.

There is a difference between Israel and the Church, which is why the Scriptures are divided between the Old Testament (the Covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham through Isaac) and the New Testament (the Covenant between Jesus Christ and the Church).

There is also a distinct difference between Jewish legalism and salvation by grace through faith.  Understanding WHY the Bible is divided according to Covenant Promise helps us to rightly divide the word, reconciling apparent contradictions like, ‘an eye for an eye’ (Exodus 21:24) vs. ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matthew 5:38-39).

The first three chapters of Genesis reveal that God’s intention in the creation of man was to live in fellowship with Him in the Garden of Eden. Eve was deceived by Satan into sampling the fruit of the forbidden tree. Adam was not deceived, but willfully disobeyed God and followed Eve.

This sin represented the fall of mankind from grace.  They were removed from Paradise and through their fall, death entered the world.  God shed the blood of animals to cover their nakedness (physical and spiritual) but not until they tried unsuccessfully to cover themselves on their own with fig leaves.

This was the first example of God’s principle of ‘blood atonement’.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

After being expelled, Adam’s descendents continued to rebel against God, bringing about the Flood and later, the confusion of speech at the Tower of Babel.  As human history progressed, so did God’s revelation to man.  Genesis 12 established the Abrahamic Covenant, in which God revealed His intention to set aside a peculiar people unto Himself, through the seed of Isaac.

Paul summarized the history of the Old Covenant in Acts 13:16-22 before giving the details of the New Covenant between Christ and the Church.  Paul stressed that the New Covenant grew out of the Old, that Jesus was of the seed of David, and that, rather than replacing Israel in God’s plan, he likened the Church to Israel as a graft on the original tree.

The Bible reveals that Jesus came first to the children of Israel, but they rejected Him, after which He offered salvation to the Gentiles — not instead of Israel, but in addition TO Israel.

In this present age, salvation is open to all men, Jew and Gentile, through faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.  God has NOT abandoned His promises to Abraham’s descendants.  Neither have the promises to Israel been transferred to the Church.

 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29) Instead, God reveals that “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

The Gospel of John details the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Through John, God reveals the Mystery of the Church, that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, tempted in all manner as we are, as a fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

His earthly ministry was “only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  However, about the non-Jewish Gentiles, Jesus said “I have other sheep, not of this pen. I must bring them also.”

BEFORE His blood was shed for forgiveness of our sins, Jesus commanded His disciples to “not go among the Gentiles.”

However, Jesus then explained “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”  AFTER He completed His work on the cross, in His resurrected body, the Lord Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and told them to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

He fulfilled Jewish prophecy and was crucified by both the Jews and Gentiles.  Remember, God said it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  He was buried and was resurrected on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures.

The Book of Romans summarizes the revelation of salvation by grace for all men, based on the equation of faith plus nothing equals salvation.

Paul explains the sin nature, our inability to overcome it by our own works, the principle that if a person lives by the law, he will be judged according to the law.  And that such a person is automatically condemned, since no man has ever kept the whole law as required by the Old Covenant.

Indeed, Paul reveals the purpose of the law was to establish our need for a Savior in the first place.

“Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

The equation of faith plus nothing equals salvation is an expression of the terms of the New Covenant, which, recognizing man’s inability to keep the law, releases him from its harsh terms.

“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Romans 7:2-4)

Understanding that the Old Covenant demanded complete obedience to the Law and demanded blood atonement for its violation reveals how completely hopeless our condition really is.  No man can keep all its terms, and breaking the law on even one point calls for the spiritual death penalty.

Having established, through a series of progressive revelations, God’s purpose for man, the consequences of his fall, the futility of the law and the penalty for sin, the Gospel reveals that penalty of blood atonement was satisfied by Jesus Christ.

The final revelation of the New Covenant concerning the Church is the ‘mystery’ of our own resurrection at the Rapture of the Church.

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1st Corinthians 15:16-18)

When the Bible speaks of something as a ‘mystery’ it refers to something not previously revealed by God.

Paul likens physical death to the planting of a seed. “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.” (1st Corinthians 15:36) Paul goes on to note that what springs forth from the seed as it dies is a new creature.

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Notes Paul in stark, unmistakable terms, “There IS a natural body, and there IS a spiritual body.” (1st Corinthians 15:42,44)

Through Paul, God reveals a new truth;

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53)

That resurrection, ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ is not limited to those already dead.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1st Thessalonians 4:14-15)

Once again, Paul reveals the requirements for salvation. Faith.

If we believe, then we who are alive and remain will ALSO be changed, ‘in a twinkling of an eye’.

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

I know that a lot of this, if not all of it, is review for most of you, but it is important material, nevertheless.  The Bible is laid out in a logical progression, line upon line, precept upon precept, with each successive revelation adding purpose and clarity to those which came before.

Misunderstanding the principle of progressive revelation, or ‘dispensationalism,’ removes context from the Scripture, giving rise to all kinds of heresies.  Like, for example, replacement theology that says God rejected the Jews after they rejected Jesus.

Not understanding the differences between the Covenant Dispensations leaves room for the Church in the Tribulation Period, since there is no recognition of the differences between them.

The Tribulation is the final ‘week’ during which the terms of Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled when Israel enters into its inheritance of the Messianic Kingdom.

The Church plays no role.

God reveals to the Church that,

 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1st John 4:4)

However, during the Tribulation, Scripture says of he that is in the world, (the antichrist) “it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME them . . .” (Revelation 13:7)

Which is it, then?  Are we overcomers during the Church Age, because of He that indwells us now, only to be abandoned by Him and subsequently overcome later by the antichrist during the Tribulation?

How does THAT work?  Obviously, it doesn’t.

Instead, the progressive revelation of God says that the purpose of the Tribulation is to fulfill the promise of Daniel 9:24 “upon THY (Daniel’s) people and upon THY holy city, (Jerusalem) to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

All those things were accomplished for the Church at the Cross.

“But this Man, after He had offered ONE sacrifice for sins FOREVER, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” (Hebrews 10:12-13)

As a hodgepodge of seemingly conflicting revelations (eg. ‘eye for an eye’) the Bible can be confusing, even misleading, giving rise to all manner of misunderstanding.

Seen as the record of the progressive revelation from God, the Bible presents a harmonious and cohesive outline of human history, past, present and future, devoid of contradictions.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2nd Timothy 2:15-16)

This brief was originally published June 19, 2012.

Brains, Washed, Spun-Dry and Folded . . .

Brains, Washed, Spun-Dry and Folded . . .
Vol: 144 Issue: 27 Friday, September 27, 2013

The phrase ‘mind control’ refers to the successful control of the thoughts and actions of others without his or her expressed consent.

In the most general sense, the term implies that the victim has given up some basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes, and has been made to accept contrasting ideas.

Mind control, when exercised as a government policy, turned Germany from the most cultured nation in Europe into a nation of cold-blooded murderers in a single generation.

Government manipulation of facts for the purpose of controlling the population is called ‘propaganda’ and its naked power remains on display as a living example in North Korea.

North Korea’s ‘Great Leader’ [Kim il Sung] and his mad progeny, ‘Beloved Leader’ Kim Jong il, have kept North Korean society closed to outside influence, and have, since Kim Jong il took power in 1948, effectively brainwashed the entire country.

Despite famines, mass starvation, concentration [or ‘reeducation’] camps, an almost complete lack of basic necessities like electricity and clean water, the average North Korean believes his country to be one of the most advanced and desirable places to live on earth.

Kim Jong il is worshipped as a god, and his son is worshipped as a living god. Two million North Korean soldiers stand ready to march into the teeth of battle at his whim.

Such is the power of systematic, unrestrained mind control.

Assessment:

There are all kinds of ways of looking at ‘mind control’. Some might argue that parental control over their children is a form of mind control, and the argument has logical merit.

Mind control is a bit like a knife. A knife, used to take a life in a bar fight, is a bad thing. The same knife, used to perform an emergency appendectomy to save a life, is a good thing. The knife itself is neither good nor evil. It is simply a knife.

Parental mind control over their children is a necessary part of maintaining the social and cultural fabric of society. Children need to be taught how to be good — being bad comes naturally.

Children want to please those in authority over them, and the first thing they learn is that socially acceptable behavior earns rewards, while anti-social behavior reaps consequences. With that lesson in hand, children put it into practice by seeking to learn what is socially acceptable.

But because mind control is a necessary part of learning social restrictions, we remain susceptible to it for the rest of our lives.

The values we learn as children seeking to put into practice life lesson #1; [good=rewards and bad=consequences] remain with us.

And nobody understands that better than the educators we trust with the power of mind control over our children.

Two teachers with the Port Washington-Saukville School Board put together a questionnaire which was distributed to hundreds of Port Washington high school students, with instructions to submit written answers and then to discuss the survey.

The questionnaire’s release was carefully timed; the survey was given to about 400 of the school’s 930 students on April 25, the day before the national Day of Silence, an annual event co-sponsored by the New York City-based Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

According to the ‘Day of Silence’ web site, the event is a “student-led day of action” that attempts to eliminate harassment of non-heterosexual students.

Among the questions the students were required to submit written answers for later discussion included [and I wish I were making this up]:

“If you have never slept with someone of your same gender, then how do you know you wouldn’t prefer it?”

How does a high school student cope with a question like that? What possible educational value does such a question advance?

Sexual orientation aside, this is nothing less than a school system’s exhortation to students to engage in premarital sex for the sake of experimentation.

Now add the sexual orientation, the coincidence of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance sponsorship, and bingo!

Our knife just got used in a bar fight.

Now, one can characterize it according to its intended use as either good or evil.

The compulsory submission of young minds for the control of their thoughts and actions aimed at changing basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes until they conform with conflicting or contrasting ideas.

Other questions on the survey included: “What do you think caused your heterosexuality?” and “When did you decide you were heterosexual?”

Both were clearly designed to imply that heterosexuality is a conscious decision based on some cause — while at the same time, gay rights supporters argue that sexual orientation is neither the result of a conscious decision or caused by some external event.

If it sounds confusing to you, imagine how confusing it must sound to a fifteen-year old?

When angry parents confronted the school’s principal, his response was to describe the survey as an, “exercise in compassion and understanding that did not work out real well.”

What it WAS was an exercise in brainwashing. How well it worked out remains to be seen. The kids are still only in high school.

The Bible says that among the most powerful weapons in the antichrist’s arsenal during the Tribulation is power to delude and deceive the masses who will worship him as the messiah.

Jesus warned that his powers of deception will be such that, if it were possible, he would even be able to deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:4)

Paul says his powers of delusion will reach their peak after the removal of the Restrainer [and the Church] at the Rapture.

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.”

Paul then speaks of those who rejected Christ and salvation during the Church Age, those with the “deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

Since they rejected Christ and His offer of salvation by grace through faith,

“for THIS cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:10-11)

The groundwork for that strong delusion is already being laid by predators disguised as educators, brainwashing the young impressionable minds until evil and good are mere social conventions to be done away with as necessary.

Just in time for the advent of the master manipulator.

Note:  The Letter was originally published Jun 22, 2006.  Alf Cengia’s column, “On Comus & The Mockers“, points to the same delusional mind set today.

A Different Gospel

A Different Gospel
Vol: 144 Issue: 26 Thursday, September 26, 2013

There are two ways of looking at the Gospel. The first is that we are saved by grace based entirely on our faith in the promise that, ”Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

The second is that, while we are saved by grace through faith, we maintain our salvation through good works, or we risk losing our salvation through bad works.

I often repeat the following because it is both pithy and its logic is unassailable: “Things that are different are NOT the same.”

One can find Scriptures that seem to support both views, but, since they are different, they cannot be the same. If they are not the same, can they both be true? How many ‘truths’ are there concerning salvation?

Jesus linked the overspreading of the Gospel message to His Second Coming, saying:

“And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)

That teaches us two things up front. The first is that all Christians are commanded by Jesus Christ Himself to preach the Gospel to all creation. The second is that by preaching the Gospel, we actually play a role in bringing about the return of the Lord.

But what, exactly, IS the “Gospel”? The short answer is pretty simple. The word “Gospel” means “good news.” In its shortest version, the “Gospel” is the good news that Jesus Christ has reconciled all men to the Father by paying the penalty due for the sins of mankind with His own death and Resurrection.

Paul writes of the Gospel to the Ephesians,

“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)

The gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that provides full and free deliverance from the power and penalty of sin according to the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Why is this such wonderful news?

You and everyone else have been born with a fatal condition. This condition is called sin. Why is this condition so serious? Because God is sinless and hates sin, for sin is rebellion against His perfect and righteous standard. And your sinful actions makes you an enemy of God (Romans 3:23; James 4:4)

But the Bible says there is also “another Gospel”:

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. . . . And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2nd Corinthians 11:4,14)

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (Galatians 1:6)

There are some religious groups that teach that Jesus’ death on the cross was not enough to pay for all of our sins. They say that one has to perform certain good works, certain rituals like water baptism, belong to a particular church, observe certain religious days, or make other human additions in order to be saved.

Or they teach that salvation is dependent upon you, rather than the Lord, citing Hebrews 10:26-27 as their proof text:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

This misunderstanding has caused many a Christian to throw up his hands in despair. But read the verse again.

If that is the correct understanding, if you are saved but then sin, you are lost forever. No point in coming back to Jesus to confess, since “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”

But what this verse actually teaches that, having accepted the Gospel, one comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and can no longer sin with impunity. Instead, the Christian knows the certainty of judgment — which Paul says will devour THE ADVERSARIES — not the saved Christian.

There is another teaching to the effect that Jesus’ sacrifice covers only previous sins, but good works must be performed to cover present and future sins so that salvation may be received.

This, however, is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Jesus, before He died said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The Greek text uses the word tetelestai, which means paid in full. This means that our sins were paid for completely, rather than just a down payment being made, making it necessary for us to make regular payments to prevent the gift of salvation from being “repossessed” by God.

Romans 4:25 says that Jesus “was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” And Hebrews 9:26 says that “now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

When you truly believe this and place full trust in Him your entire life becomes transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17). You will begin to bear good fruit, and you will have the promise of God that He who began this good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

He will never abandon or cast you away from Him (John 6:37; Hebrews 13:5). According to His sovereign grace He will see to it that you make it home to heaven (1 Corinthians 1:8; Jude 24).

Paul makes it clear in his Epistle to the Ephesians that salvation is a gift of grace through faith and not of works — lest any man should boast.

What does that mean? Well, salvation is a gift. What does one do to ‘earn’ a gift? I work for Hal Lindsey — I do certain jobs, Hal pays me at a previously agreed upon rate.

That agreed-upon rate constitutes my wages. It is a conditional agreement — if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t get paid. It isn’t a gift — it is a mutual dependency.

Hal gave me a Christmas bonus again this year. I didn’t have to do anything to receive it — if I had, it would have been wages.

Instead, it was a gift, to do with as I pleased. There is an obvious difference.

I can boast all I want to about how important I am to Hal Lindsey and justify it by pointing to my paycheck. Suddenly, it is all about me.

But the free gift speaks to Hal’s generosity, not my inherent value. It isn’t about my goodness anymore.

The Bible says,

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

God will pay me the wages I’ve earned. (All men die.) But He also offers me the free gift of forgiveness and restoration by His grace, and asks only that I recognize it as a gift and receive it as offered.

The ‘other gospel’ takes the gift of God and makes it a conditional agreement — we are saved by grace, but our continued salvation is maintained by works.

That makes as much sense as Hal giving me a Christmas bonus in December, but if I don’t work twice as hard in January, he’ll take it back. It is no longer a Christmas gift, but an advance — or a loan — that must be repaid one way or another.

It is a source of endless fascination to me to hear otherwise well-meaning Christians argue against the doctrine of eternal security. The wages of sin is death, however, the gift of God is conditional upon works, they argue. What does the Bible say about ALL our works?

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

ALL our righteousness are as filthy rags, but God’s grace is perfect and all sufficient. If God’s grace didn’t extend to our post-salvation sins, then the only ones who would be in heaven would be those who died at the point of salvation.

Legalism dictates that God demands perfection, settles for minor imperfection, and revokes salvation from those whose imperfection crosses some invisible line.

Smoking isn’t among God’s Seven Deadly Sins — but on that list, the glutton sits right there beside the drunkard.

Are fat people habitual, unrepentant sinners who have condemned themselves while smokers get a pass? Or does God extend His grace to us according to our individual (and God-given) weaknesses or strengths?

I have the wisdom of Scripture that tells me that a holy God cannot countenance sin. That wisdom also tells me that, in God’s eyes, all sin is sin, and there are seven that God hates with a particular passion, habitual sins that, barring God’s grace, condemn as unrepentent; fat people, lazy people, gossips and drunks.

I also have knowledge of human nature from personal observation. I have intimate knowledge of myself and my own shortcomings.

Applied with a knowledge — but without an understanding — of grace, it tells me that my own salvation must depend on my first accepting Christ and then, never sinning again.

I came to Christ in 1976. I know that I have sinned since then. Wisdom plus knowledge — but devoid of understanding — therefore dictates that I am already lost and without hope — so why bother even trying?

“Grace” is not a license to sin, it is Divine permission to get back up and try again. Sin is burdensome because it tends to pile up so fast. Soon, it becomes so heavy you CAN’T get back up on your own.

The burden is lifted by the grace of God so that we can get back up, heal our wounds and return to battle. Grace is not license to sin. It is medicine to heal and bandages to cover our sin so we can fight on.

Understanding grace is to understand what Paul meant when he told the Galatians,

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

Another gospel is a different gospel. And things that are different are not the same.

This brief was originally published December 31, 2008

The Rapture: Why?

The Rapture: Why?
Vol: 144 Issue: 25 Wednesday, September 25, 2013

”These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

According to the editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,

“there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones”.

For eighteen of the world’s major religions and its 270 sub-divisions, the concept of the sudden and instantaneous translation of millions of adherents from one form of existence into the next is completely unheard of.

It is even a controversial doctrine within Christianity. There are entire huge subdivisions, or denominations within Christianity that totally dismiss the concept of the Rapture.

I found a column at the appropriately-named AgainstDispensationalism.com that argues belief in the Rapture is little more than “The Arrogance of the West.”  I chose that column to highlight because it is a shining example of why the Rapture is so controversial.

To Jerry Johnson, the president of something called the Nicene Council, the Rapture is “paperback” theology and a recent theological concoction never taught by the ‘historic church’.

(For context, the ‘historic church’ would be the one that embraces replacement theology. And my Bible is paperback).

Notes Johnson:

“One is hard pressed to think that all of the great minds from St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, that though they had read I Thessalonians 4 failed to understand the important teaching of a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation rapture.”

Then he lashes out with his best, Sunday punch.

“Pre-tribulation rapture theology is at its foundation conceited!”  

This is the main objection to the doctrine of the Rapture – the misconception that the Rapture is a Great Escape.  Why should Christians escape the Great Tribulation while others do not? 

“It’s unfair and God isn’t unfair.”

One wonders if they find it equally unfair that some go to heaven and others go to hell.  My bet is that some do, but others don’t.  (But all would agree that Hitler shouldn’t go to heaven.)

That’s why God is God and theologians are not.

Assessment:

As noted, no other religion has anything resembling a Rapture doctrine, including whatever ‘historic church’ Jerry Johnson was referring to.  So where did it come from and why is it there?

The first thing anybody does when trying to answer that question is to hopelessly complicate the issue so that whatever answer they come up with, it is practically impossible to decipher.

If you take enough verses from different places throughout the Bible, you can make a case for a Rapture, against a Rapture, for pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, amillennial, premillenial, or post millennial, with or without a 1000 year Kingdom.

I know that to be true because there are scholars that adhere to each and every one of those positions (which is why they have names for them) and I refuse to believe that they hold those positions without some kind of Scripture to hang them on.

If one sees the purpose of the Rapture as a “Great Escape” then it is easy to take verses from all over the Bible to refute it.   Not because the Rapture is a false doctrine.

But because that isn’t the purpose of the Rapture. Knowing why provides valuable clues as to when and how.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ promised His disciples that when He ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit would come upon them and indwell them and empower them.  That indwelling Power would come upon and indwell all who believed.

Jesus called Him the Comforter.  Jesus promised that He would abide with me forever.

Let’s examine the simplest questions first.

What does it mean when Jesus Christ makes a promise to the Church? Is it reliable? What does “forever” mean?  Is there a time constraint on forever?  When would forever run out?  Does abide forever mean “abide forever for every generation but one?”

Houston, we have a problem. According to my paperback theology, the Comforter is:

“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”  (John 14:7)

So, the Comforter is the Spirit of Truth and He indwells me.  That’s what my paperback theology teaches me.  Then comes Part Two of the paperback Promise.

“I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

So how to resolve this obvious “contradiction” in Scripture?  There is only one way.  The Holy Spirit continues to indwell me throughout the Tribulation Period.  Therefore, by the authority of the Word of God, specifically, 1st John 4:4,

“Greater is He (the indwelling Holy Spirit) than he that is in the world.”  

Since the indwelling Holy Spirit is greater and since He will not leave or forsake me during the Tribulation, it is not possible for the antichrist to overcome my indwelling Spirit and pledge allegiance to him.

But that contradicts Revelation 13:7 which says that he can. And it’s not a little contradiction, either.

For the antichrist to overcome an indwelt child of the Living God, he must defeat the Indweller.  Unless the Holy Spirit no longer indwells me.  And if He doesn’t, did He ever?

And if He did, where did He go? And how did He do that without breaking Jesus promise not to leave me Comfortless?  The Tribulation is, after all, the time of greatest spiritual trial in all of human history.

And although every generation, from those thrown to the lions to those being massacred today in Iraq, have the benefit of the indwelling Holy Spirit, during the Tribulation I will be Comfortless?

How does that work?  If the Rapture is a Great Escape from Tribulation for Christians, then wouldn’t the opposite be when Christians suddenly have the Comforter ripped from them just when He is most needed?

And if I am still indwelt, then what is the purpose in sealing the Jews of Revelation 7 with the Holy Spirit so they can share the Gospel?  What’s wrong with using me?  Isn’t that my job since the Great Commission?

Here’s the Rapture narrative in summary. The Age of Grace began at Pentecost with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The Age of Grace concludes at the Rapture with the withdrawal of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The Promise to the Church is kept precisely as it was given by the Lord Himself.

Now, if one really works at it, one can find creative ways to portray the Rapture as the Great Escape and from there, all kinds of creative ways to dismiss it as paperback theology.

But the simplest answer is still the only one that makes sense.

Note: Jack wrote this Letter on November 13, 2010.  In keeping with the theme of the expectation of the coming King, Pete Garcia’s writes us “The Parable of the Kingdom” which chronicles the demise of a prideful land.

So, What is Wrong With YOU?

So, What is Wrong With YOU?
Vol: 144 Issue: 24 Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I was talking to one of the guys on the crew that paved my driveway a few years back.  The paving company was doing a driveway up the street and they had parked their dump truck/trailer rig in front of my house.

We exchanged a few pleasantries and I asked after one of the guys that was on the crew when they were paving my driveway.  He stood out in my mind because he made it clear almost from the start that he was a born-again Christian.

Indeed, he was so in-your-face about it that one could see the rest of the crew, including the boss, didn’t like him at all.  He got all the lousy jobs, especially those where he had to work alone.

Anyway, when I asked after him, the other crewmember said with obvious satisfaction, “Oh, he got fired.  He screwed the boss, big time, and he let him go.  Big Bible thumper guy,” he said to me knowingly.

“And he calls himself a Christian!“, he said, (as if he could actually tell the difference between a Christian and a bowl of Post Toasties).

I didn’t ask for details — I didn’t want to know.  I assume that real reason the guy got fired because he was either too annoying (or too convicting) for the rest of the crew.

My hunch is that they found something they could use to get rid of him and that the alleged “screwing” of the boss was just an excuse.

I prefer that scenario over one in which the guy really DID embarrass the cause of Christ after making such a big deal out of how it changed his life.

In any case, that is what I wanted to believe, and since it didn’t make any difference to me one way or the other, that is what I chose to believe.

But what got my attention was the obvious satisfaction the non-Christian guy took in condemning the Christian guy as a hypocrite.

Because it is guys like him that are the most difficult to reach for Christ.

They are the ones that believe that in order to be saved, you have to live a sinless life.  A person that believes that and has even the slightest acquaintance with self-honesty is not interested, because to him, it is impossible.  So why bother?

The fact is, it is impossible for anybody.  

Most churches I’ve attended seem to share the worldview of the paving crew, which is that Christians that continue to commit sin aren’t really Christians at all.  They are frauds and hypocrites masquerading as Christians.

And there are no shortage of proof texts that seemingly back that contention up.

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin,” (Romans 6:6-7)

See.  It says right there that you are freed from sin.  Aren’t you?  So it would seem that, if we continue to serve sin, we have not been properly crucified with Him, because we aren’t free from sin.  So it then follows that maybe we aren’t really saved, but only have a ‘head knowledge’ instead of a ‘heart knowledge’.

Paul seems to underscore that point, writing,

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:12-13)

So you don’t.  You try and try to keep sin from reigning in your mortal body.  You fight against obeying the lusts thereof.  You yield yourself to God as best you can.  You dedicate your body and your members to His service.

You weep at the altar because you KNOW what a sinner you are, and you pray and pray and pray for the God-given strength to keep your commitment not to sin.  You KNOW your heart is in the right place as you cry out in despair to God.

And you continue to sin anyway.  And wonder how you failed — or worse, how God failed YOU, because sin CONTINUES to reign in your mortal body anyway.  You keep yielding to its lusts, and continue to wonder why it doesn’t seem to work for you, like it does other Christians.

It is discouraging, to say the least.  Everybody you know is a better Christian than you are.  They don’t have the same doubts you do.  They clearly put their sin nature before the Lord, and He dealt with it.  Just look at them!

How come He didn’t do it for you?

Guess what!  He didn’t do it for THEM, either.  Any more than He did for the Apostle Paul.  The Apostle Paul was miraculously converted on the road to Damascus.  He was specifically chosen by Jesus Himself to fill the vacancy created by Judas the Betrayer.  Paul saw the Risen Savior.

And STILL, Paul struggled with sin.

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:14-15)

Every time I read this passage, I am struck by how exactly Paul’s experience with sin mirrors my own.  In spite of Paul’s first-hand knowledge, having actually met the Lord, seen His power, having himself been empowered to work miracles, and was the greatest evangelist in history, Paul struggled with day-to-day sin. Just like you.

How can this be?  Paul continues;

“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (7:17-19)

The enemy hammers at me as he hammers at you — using the same indictment our paving crewmember did . . . “And you call yourself a Christian?”

Paul admits that, even though he is saved, sin continues to indwell his mortal body.

“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (7:20)

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (7:21-23)

Paul cries out in despair, (as have I, using different words but just as despairingly);

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (7:24)

The phrase Paul used, “body of this death” was deliberately chosen.  In Paul’s day, one form of execution employed by the Romans was to chain the condemned to a corpse and withhold food and water.  They would then bet on how long before the condemned would try to survive by feeding on it.

To Paul, it was analogous to knowing the law of God, but feeding off the corpse of sin.  Hence the cry; “O wretched man that I am!”

Having poured out his soul, (as you have, and as I have) struggling to understand the dual nature of the Christian life, Paul concludes:

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25)

To head off the inevitable criticism, I am not preaching a “licence to sin”.  Human beings don’t NEED a license to sin.  I am preaching the path to salvation, which is by grace through faith, and not works, lest any man should boast.

Everybody wants to believe it is possible to reach some kind of spiritual state of nirvana where they don’t sin, even if they’ve never experienced it themselves.  It is discouraging when they can’t.  And they can’t because it is not true.

Sinning is what human beings do.  Guilt is the most important tool in the enemy’s arsenal of weapons against us.  We find it hard to forgive ourselves.  But the Lord God knows what we do not, and He forgives us when we ask Him.

Every time we ask Him.  And His forgiveness is perfect.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12)

“For I will be merciful in their unrighteousness, and their sins and transgressions will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:1)

If you are sinning, are you walking after the flesh?  And if you are walking after the flesh, then does that mean there IS condemnation?  What does ‘walking after the flesh’ mean?

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5)

Which are you?  Take a second for another spiritual reality check: Before you were saved, you sinned.  Did it bother you that you were a sinner?

Now that you ARE saved, you STILL sin.  Does it bother you now?

Then you are minding the things of the Spirit, are you not?

“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33-34)

It is the nature of man to sin.  It is the nature of God to forgive.

“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)

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)

Since you are a Christian, there is nothing the enemy can do about YOU — you are forever beyond his reach.  Scripture says you are now positionally seated in the heavenly places, as surely as if you were already there.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:5-6)

Our purpose as Christians is to do God’s will. God’s will is revealed throughout the Scriptures:

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18:32)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“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)

“And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN SHALL THE END COME.” (Matthew 24:14)

God’s will is that none should perish, and that all should come to repentance and be saved.  As front-line soldiers in the King’s service, that is our objective.  The enemy wants to convince us that we are unworthy to serve.  Be encouraged!  It isn’t true.

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2nd Corinthians 12:8-9a)

Don’t let the enemy steal your victory.  It was purchased at too high a Price.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Phillipians 1:6)

He has all the time He needs.

Note: Jack wrote this brief last summer.  We do not follow cunningly devised fables, as the skeptic would have us to believe.  In Wendy Wippel’s article today, “Faith Anchored” she shows how the Bible is reliable even in the depths of the sea.

Refocusing the Big Picture

Refocusing the Big Picture
Vol: 144 Issue: 23 Monday, September 23, 2013

Sometimes, it is helpful to step back and take a look at the Big Picture when looking at the events of our day and the prophecies of Scripture for the last days in order to get a handle on where we are now and how we got here.

In the last days, the Bible divides the world into four spheres of global influence. The prophet Daniel identifies the antichrist as being a prince of the people who would destroy Daniel’s ‘city and sanctuary’ (9:26) [Jerusalem and the Temple].

It is the antichrist who confirms a peace covenant between Israel and her surrounding enemies during Daniel’s 70th Week — what we call the Tribulation.

Daniel’s prophecy of the destruction was fulfilled about six hundred years later, when the legions of Rome, under the command of Titus, a future emperor, destroyed the city, the Temple and exiled the Jews from the Holy Land.

Rome’s history was described in Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel described Rome as ‘strong as iron’ and would subdue all things but also said it would be ‘divided’. (Daniel 2:40)

The Roman Empire was the most powerful in world history. It grew so large that it split into an Eastern Empire ruled from Constantinople and a Western Empire ruled from Rome.

Daniel interpreted the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image as a final version of the Empire, a fractured and fractious alliance of ten ‘kings’ who are eventually united under an ‘eleventh’ leader (Daniel 7:20).

“And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” (Daniel 2:43)

The prophet Ezekiel outlines the rise of a second sphere of global influence in the last days, cryptically known as the Gog-Magog Alliance. ‘Gog-Magog’ is more or less universally accepted as referring to modern Russia and her traditional Slavic allies.

‘Gog’ allies itself with the Islamic world, principally Persia [Iran] and launches an all out assault on Israel. Ezekiel describes Israel as a ‘land of unwalled villages’. (Ezekiel 38)

[Israel is currently in the process of constructing a ‘wall’ along its entire border]

Daniel refers to another global sphere of influence, the ‘king of the south’ or Islamic north Africa.

Finally, the Apostle John refers to the ‘Kings of the east’ identifying them by their numbers. John said they would field an impossible army of two hundred million men — almost half the population of the earth in John’s day.

Today, the CIA World Factbook estimates two hundred million as the total military strength of the People’s Republic of China.

There is no mention of any fifth sphere of global influence that resembles the United States in Scripture during the Tribulation Period.

The ancient Hebrew prophets all made reference to Israel being the center of global attention in the last days.

Zechariah predicted Jerusalem would be a ‘cup of trembling’ in the last days and that the whole world would gather together against Israel over possession of the Holy City. (Zechariah 12)

It is against the mountains of ISRAEL that Gog throws himself, according to Ezekiel, at a time when Israel is a land of ‘unwalled villages’.

Daniel said the leader of Revived Rome would kick off the Tribulation Period by concluding a peace treaty between Israel and her enemies.

Assessment:

On March 17, 1948, the Benelux Treaty was signed in Brussels, creating what eventually became the Alliance of the Western European Union, and eventually the EU.

The WEU is Europe’s security alliance, which consists of ten full member states. Other members are either ‘associates’ or ‘observers’. The EU and the WEU are both led by the same man, Javier Solana.

The decision to combine both offices was in response to a document entitled WEU Recommendation 666.

On May 15, 1948, the state of Israel was established, creating the first homeland for the Jews since they were exiled by Rome in AD 70. It was the first independent state called ‘Israel’ to exist since the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Sargon II in 702 BC.

The prophets who wrote of last days’ ‘Israel’ were writing of an entity which had not existed, in their time, for more than a century.

What remained of Israel, Judah, had been destroyed and its people taken into captivity. There was no natural reason for them to expect Judah to escape the fate of the Israelites.

But the prophets confidently described the existence of a Jewish state called ‘Israel’ in the last days.

It was the 1948 War of Independence that created the radical Islamic terrorism that now threatens the entire Middle East and has polarized the world against Israel and ‘Christian Crusader’ America.

Since 1948, radical anti-Israeli Islam has spread throughout the Middle East and Islamic North Africa.

In June, 1948, America faced off against Stalin’s Soviet Union over Stalin’s blockade of Berlin. The Berlin Airlift kicked off the Cold War — which reshaped the world until it ultimately produced the exact geopolitical alliances foretold by the prophets for the last generation.

In 1948, Mao Tse Tung’s Communists chased Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalists off the mainland to the Island of Formosa and renamed itself Taiwan, and declared itself the legitimate government of China.

The conflict between the two Chinas further rearranged regional political alliances until they fit the alignment foretold by the prophets. It is today a flashpoint that could plunge the region into war.

The Bible says all this will take place under the auspices of a global government that will be controlled by revived Rome.

By virtue of the lopsided Security Council arrangement the EU already has two of its five permanent seats, [and two of its five vetoes] and is pushing for an all-European sixth permanent seat.

According to the Bible, this will coincide with the rise of a global economy so tightly regulated that, under the government of the antichrist, ‘no man could buy or sell’ without being part of his system.

Prior to the 1948 invention of the transistor by Bell Labs, such an integrated and regulated global economic system was impossible.

But the transistor kicked off the Computer Age, and today, one can’t buy a new car without being part of some economic ‘system’. (Plunk down twenty grand in cash at your car dealership for a new pickup and see what happens.)

In the last days, the Bible says there will develop a global religious system, having a form of godliness that denies the power thereof, as Paul describes it. There are dozens of major religious systems — the one thing they share in common is their opposition to Biblical Christianity. ‘Fundamentalist Christian’ is the semantic equivalent to ‘whacko fanatic’.

I noted that there is no mention of a fifth sphere of global influence resembling America.

Consider the effects of a pre-trib Rapture. Imagine the world-wide chaos as millions of people suddenly disappear. The US will have no explanation — indeed, it will be among the hardest ‘hit’ by the sudden ‘catastrophe’.

On the other hand, Europe will remain largely intact and uniquely positioned to step into the political vacuum created by the decimation of the United States.

Looking at the Big Picture for the last days, then, we find 1948 to be a pivotal year. One can trace most of the major events prophesied for the last days to that single point in history.

Since 1948, events have conspired together to reshape the world to fit the overall outline of history for the last days.

We’ve only touched on the high points in the Big Picture, but the pattern is unmistakable. Events foretold to take place in a single generation, somewhere in time — events that can only happen once — are coming together — all at once and in THIS generation. (A generation rapidly drawing to a close).

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is NEAR, EVEN AT THE DOORS. Verily I say unto you, This generation SHALL NOT PASS, till ALL these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)

Note: This Letter was originally posted March 23, 2005.  Jim Fletcher’s article, “News Worth Telling” gives us some useful information on what is happening today in the world’s most controversial country.

Hereafter . . .

Hereafter . . .
Vol: 144 Issue: 21 Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Book of the Revelation is divided into several sections.  Chapters 1-3 cover the first section, the message from the Lord to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor.

As we’ve discussed in previous briefs, each of the seven churches was a literal church that existed during the first century.  They were real churches with real problems.  The letters to the seven churches addressed the most egregious problems facing each of these embryonic churches.

But, as they say, “hindsight is 20/20” and using the benefit of hindsight, scholars have determined that each of the seven churches in Asia Minor is also representative of various epochs within this present dispensation, or the Church Age.

When you get right down to it, it is both fitting and logical that the letters to the seven churches would be prophetic.  The Book’s formal name is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John” but its short name is from the Greek “apocalyptos” which means ‘unveiling’ or ‘revelation’.

All three of those words can be used interchangeably with ‘prophecy’ – which also means unveiling, revelation or, simply the speaking of God’s Word.

The first church addressed by Christ is the Church at Ephesus:

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. . .”

Let’s stop here for a second.  Notice first to whom each letter is addressed.  It is not addressed to the church – it is addressed to the ‘angel’ of the particular church in question.  Does that mean that there was a guardian angel assigned to each of the seven churches?

It might – the Scriptures aren’t specific enough for me to be dogmatic on the issue of guardian angels.  Daniel does say that Michael is Israel’s assigned guardian angel.

But there is nothing so specific concerning the Church.  In any case, the Church is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.  So there are two senses of understanding here.

In the first sense of understanding, there were seven literal, existing, flesh-and-blood 1st century churches to whom the Lord was speaking.

In the second sense of understanding, there is a corresponding epoch, or period of time within the overall Church Age whose characteristics are represented by one of these seven churches.

That the ‘angel’ in this instance refers to a ‘messenger’ rather than to a celestial angel, is supported by the fact that it is followed by a message addressed to that church.  The message is addressed to those within each Church Epoch charged by Christ with its delivery.

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Just as in the 1st Century, when all seven churches co-existed in the same time periods, the characteristics of each continued down through history.

The Epochs of the Church reflect the general characteristics of overall Christendom at various points in history – it doesn’t mean all Christians of the Middle Ages were of the Church of Sardis, for example.

The Church at Ephesus corresponds to the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the 1st century, or Apostolic Epoch. But the 1st Century Church continues to exist – indeed, it is resurging, of all places, on the internet.

The main characteristic of the 1st Century Church is that its Founder was Jesus Christ. Its doctrine was purely apostolic and its churches were organized according to the framework outlined by the Pauline Letters to the Churches.

The 1st Century Church was non-denominational, obtained its doctrine from the Apostles and claimed salvation by grace through faith. The 1st Century Church was commended by Christ for its patience, but condemned for its lapses into legalism.

“But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6)

It is from the Nicolaitanes that we get our concept of ‘laity’ and ‘priests’. Jesus taught His disciples to be humble and lowly, saying the last shall be first and the first last, washing their feet by example.

The Nicolaitanes were big on titles and robes and all the trappings of clergy and the attendant power enjoyed by the Jewish Pharisees. They introduced that concept into the church — in defiance of Jesus’ clear teaching that all Christians are both priests and saints.

There are 1st Century Christians within this present church epoch – a non-denominational Bible church is a 1st century church. (In terms of organization and doctrine, the Omega Letter Fellowship is a 1st century ‘church’.)

The Church at Smyrna reflected the overall characteristics of the Body of Christ from the end of the Apostolic period until the time of Constantine in the early 4th century.

Smyrna was the ‘persecuted’ Church that suffered under the Ceasars.  There have been persecuted and suffering churches throughout Church history, but during the Smyrna Epoch, persecution, suffering and martyrdom were the main characteristics.

The Church at Pergamos was reflective of the period from Constantine until the beginning of the sixth century, which corresponds with the Church at Thyatira.

Thyartira marked the beginning of the Dark Ages and corresponds with both the suppression of the Bible by the Vatican and the birth of Islam in 622 AD.

The Dark Ages of Thyatira witnessed the rise of Islam, the Papal Crusades against Islam, Islam’s wars against the Christian world all the way to the Reformation, which roughly coincided with the birth of the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1617.

The Epoch of Sardis begins at roughly this time, and is historically parallel with the European Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation.  The Protestant Reformation gave rise to the Epoch of Philadelphia, the “Missionary Church” and the only Church for which the Lord had no words of condemnation.

The Church of Philadelphia Epoch began around the middle of the 18th century.  It corresponded historically with the Great Global Christian Revival, the overspreading of the globe with the Gospel, from the founding of the United States in 1776 to the first years of the 20th century.

The seventh and final church Epoch began sometime in the early 20th century – the Laodicean Church.

“I 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 3:15-17)

The Church at Philadelphia was unique in that the Lord offered it no word of condemnation.  The Church at Laodicea was unique in that the Lord offered it no word of praise.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:22)

Assessment:

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)

For all of the past three chapters, John has been in the presence of Jesus, walking amidst the golden candlesticks, but John wasn’t in heaven. He was in exile on the isle of Patmos.

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:9-11)

John is on Patmos, off the coast of Greece, on Planet Earth.  He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, heard a voice and turned.  Still on Patmos, Greece, Planet Earth.  John takes dictation and writes out the seven letters to the seven churches located in various corners of Asia Minor, Planet Earth.

When Jesus finishes dictating, He concludes His letters: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Look at the Big Picture with me as it stands at this moment.

Jesus has finished His revelation to the churches of Asia Minor and to the Epochs of the Church from the days of the Apostles to the days of the Televangelists.

Jesus says, “Pay close attention here . . .” and WHAM – in the very next verse, John is whisked into heaven.

There are several other things I want you to be sure to notice.  The first is the presence of the trumpet.  John was in the Spirit in the Lord’s Day and the Lord came to John, accompanied by the sound of a trumpet.

The second is that when the Lord was finished dealing the the earthly Church, John hears another trumpet, and he is whisked away into Heaven.

Paul writes of the believer’s resurrection, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:52)

The third is that John heard the call, “Come up hither” and Revelation 4:2 says, “And immediately I was in the Spirit.”

Fourth, note that John was already ‘in the spirit in the Lord’s day’ on the Isle of Patmos, Greece, Planet Earth at the time when he received his vision for the seven churches.

John is now literally ‘in the spirit’ and present in heaven, where he remains for the remainder of the revelation.

Finally, notice that when John is called, it is to “shew thee these things which must be hereafter.” (4:1)

The Voice from Heaven tells John these things MUST be ‘hereafter’.  ‘Hereafter’ what?  The answer is obvious. It means after what just came before.

And so. . . .  what just came before?  The Seven Epochs of the Church Age.  What follows Revelation 4:2 when John finds himself translated into heaven?

First is the worship of the Lamb of God as the One worthy to open the seals of judgment. Then comes the actual opening of the first seal.

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelation 6:1-2)

Bible scholarship is more or less unanimous on the identity of the rider on the white horse as the antichrist.  The opening of the 1st seal begins the series of twenty-one judgments that are pronounced against a Christ-rejecting world.

Now let’s summarize:

  1. Jesus outlines in detail the future history of the Church Age, divided into seven epochs and concluding with a description of Laodicea that is a mirror-image of 21st century mainstream Christianity.
  2. Jesus concludes with an admonition to ‘listen up’ to hear the spiritual message behind His words.
  3. John hears a trumpet, hears a voice saying ‘come up hither’ and says he is now literally ‘in the Spirit’ but instead of merely ‘in the Lord’s Day’ as before, now he is “in the Spirit” but present in heaven.
  4. It is not until AFTER John arrives in Heaven that the first seal is broken, allowing the judgment of antichrist.
  5. Make no mistake about it.  The antichrist is a judgment on all those that rejected Christ.  Paul says he is a “strong delusion” that the world will embrace because ‘they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.”

The antichrist is the first seal judgment specifically pronounced as a judgment against those who rejected Christ.  Jesus was speaking of the rider on the white horse when He said,

“I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (John 5:43)

The judgments of the Tribulation are ALL for the purpose of judging a Christ-rejecting world, beginning with the first seal.  According to the prophet Daniel, that first seal is broken with the restoration of Temple sacrifice and worship.

Daniel says it isn’t until three and a half years AFTER the restoration of Temple sacrifice and worship that the antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel.

The Third Temple is as sacred as the Second or the First, according to Jesus Christ, Who ought to know.  He calls the antichrist’s desecration of the Temple “the abomination of desolation”.

It could only be an abomination if the Temple were sacred and it could only be made desolate by being desecrated.

During the Church Age, I am the Temple of God.  Not a building.

Do you see the chronological flow?  Now, interrupt it and see what happens.  There is a sudden, loud and discordant clang when one tries to change the order of operation.

First the redemption, then the Church Age, then the conclusion of the Church Age, then the open door in heaven, then the celebration of the Lamb and then the breaking of the first seal.

And THEN the antichrist, the restored Temple, the resumption of Temple worship, the interruption of Temple worship, the persecution of Christians and Jews, Mark of the Beast, etc., etc.

Change the order and it changes the logic of what came before and what is to come ‘hereafter’.  And hereafter comes just after we hear a trumpet and a voice saying, “come up hither.”

If hereafter doesn’t mean, ‘after Laodicea’, then ‘hereafter’ can’t really mean anything at all.

This Little Light of Mine . . .

This Little Light of Mine . . .
Vol: 144 Issue: 20 Friday, September 20, 2013

There is a vast difference between opinion and doctrine. Nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

John Calvin wrote of the Trinity doctrine,

“I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained, just as they lie in the text: “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: And these three are one.”

“As they lie in the text. . . “ Calvin’s wording here raises another question:  Is the text itself genuine?

There are those that argue that 1 John 5:7 was added by some scribe or copyist later and that it was not among the earliest doctrines of the Church.

I’ve seen this debated many times over the years – the argument over the authenticity of the text baffles me.   If the text is not authentic, then what is it doing in the Bible?

If the answer is that it shouldn’t be in the Bible, then the next question should be, “who says and how do they know?”

That’s where one moves from the realm of doctrine into that of opinion. Nobody can say for certain if the text was a later insert.  If it was certain, then it wouldn’t be part of the Bible.  But there it is.

So it is a matter of opinion if it is supposed to be there.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a mystery.  So let me throw this out for your consideration.  The Bible does not require you to believe a ‘mystery’.

The Bible requires that we believe the facts as they are, not necessarily the Divine mechanics beyond those already revealed.

Genesis records that God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”  That is a fact and I believe it.

There is no mystery in the existence of light.  Only in how it sprang from nothing.  But I don’t need to know that in order to believe that God created light.

“And the Word was made flesh.” I believe this as a fact – my belief is not based in my understanding of the details of how, but in my faith in the factualness of that statement.

I believe the Bible’s statement that God is both Three and One.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the Second Person in the Godhead, and I also believe that God is One.

HOW this can be is a matter of faith and not one of understanding. That’s why it is a mystery.

But it is absolute absurdity to reject the facts which God has revealed because we don’t fully understand the mechanics of how it all works.

The ‘mystery’ does not lie in the fact itself, but rather in how that fact comes to be a fact.   Paul wrote,

“Behold, I shew you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”  (1 Corinthians 15:51)

There are many Christians that don’t believe in the Rapture. They have a different opinion about what that verse means.  But their eternal destiny is not in jeopardy. 

Nobody is saved by faith in the Rapture.  We are saved by our faith in the Promise of salvation by grace. 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God . . .”  (Ephesians 2:8)

The mystery is not relevant to the facts.  As a Christian, you are not required to believe the mystery or even to understand it.  But you are required to believe the Scriptures.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)  

The objection that the text describing the Trinity was inserted into Scripture later by a copyist means by definition that 2 Timothy 3:16 is unreliable.  Doesn’t it?  

If 1 John 5:7 was a later insert, meaning that 2 Timothy 3:16 must be unreliable, what does that say about Ephesians 2:8?

How do you know which verses to trust? 

Assessment:

There is a Latin phrase that deals with these kinds of Bible objections. “Si erro, libenter erro; et me redargui valde recusem.” 

It means, “If I err, I err willingly; and I vehemently refuse to be convinced of it.”

There is much that we know but can’t explain.  You are a soul who has a body.  You don’t need to be a religious scholar – or even a Christian – to know that.

Aircraft routinely carry the bodies of deceased persons as cargo. Airlines therefore report the number of ‘souls’ on board an aircraft to differentiate with the number of bodies.  

An injury to the body is felt by the soul.  An animal will flee from an injury and be done with it.  It takes an injured soul to plot revenge for an injury to the body.  

On the other side of the equation, when the soul feels shame, the body blushes.  When the soul feels anger or fear, it is the body that trembles.  

You know it as fact.  The Bible only confirms that it is true, it doesn’t explain how it works.  Neither can you. Nor should you necessarily have to know how it all works in order for it to be true. 

It will be true whether you understand it or not.

That doesn’t mean that nobody should study. Everybody should. But it is a command with a purpose:

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

These are marching orders for those called to serve — not everybody who gets saved is called to lead others to Christ.  Some are called to the work of evangelism, others are not. 

But all need to be saved.  Salvation does not come by scholarship.  Salvation does not come by understanding the mysteries of God as revealed.  One doesn’t need to have ever cracked a Bible in order to be saved.

The Bible says that “faith cometh by hearing . . . the Word of God.”    (I believe it safe to say that Heaven is full of people that never learned to read on earth.)  

John tells us that these Three are One in unity and testimony and also in essence.  1 Timothy tells us that ALL Scripture is Divinely inspired and useful for doctrine.   

Jesus Christ said that every hair on your head is numbered and that not a sparrow falls from the sky without God’s knowledge and permission.   

It then follows that God is equally capable of preserving His Word as He wants each of us to have it, according to His purpose. That’s another no-brainer that is often overlooked in the quest for scholarship.

The Bible says that God has revealed Himself as one God in Three distinct Persons; the Pater, the Logos and the Hagios Pneuma.  HOW God can be one God in three Persons is not revealed by Scripture.

Where is the wisdom in rejecting what is revealed based on that part which has not been revealed? 

The doctrine of the Trinity is not nearly as difficult as it is made out to be.  Try this for an illustration.  Take three candles into a dark room and put one in each corner.  Light them and go stand facing the other corner. 

From that perspective, facing into the corner, you can only see one light.  But you know that there are three candles.  You can’t see the three candles, but you know that they are there. 

Do you know how the light from each candle behind you was diffused in order to create the single light illuminating your corner?

Now for the next question. This is the big one.  Do you NEED to know how in order to be able to use the light to see?   

What if you were already standing in the corner in the dark when somebody else comes in and lights the candles.   Does it matter if you know how many candles he lit?  

Would it change anything about the light if he said there were three different candles in different corners; a green one, a red one and a white one?

Would you have to inspect the three candles before you could use the light to see with?  Or is it enough to simply know how many candlepower the light is?

Do you see it?  The light illuminates the doctrine.  Trying to create a doctrine out of the light gets the equation exactly backwards.  Turn around from your imaginary corner and stare directly at one of the candles for a minute. 

Now turn back around and see if you can still see as well into the darkness of your corner as you could — before you blinded yourself by staring too hard into the light. 

It is incumbent upon us to learn all we can from the Word of God because the more we learn, the more we understand how little we know.  That is where wisdom begins.  In knowing that God is God.

And that we are not.  

The Scriptures tell us; “him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”

It is easy for God to be a Trinity and still be One God because He is God. Everything is easy for God.

But it is impossible for us to fully understand it because we are not God.  God says it takes three Divine Candles to produce the Light that illuminates my dark corner.

Now that He’s defined that Light for me, I need only worry about using it to see what He is illuminating.  There will be lots of time to learn about the Candles in detail when I get to Heaven.

The Bible says the Light is better there, anyway.

Note: This message from Jack reminds us of the Hope in the darkness.  Alf Cengia’s article, “Post Red Line Fever” reminds us that we are very close to seeing the Source of our hope as he sheds some ‘light’ on what is happening with some key global players.

Suicide is NOT Painless

Suicide is NOT Painless
Vol: 144 Issue: 19 Thursday, September 19, 2013

The theme song from the old TV series M*A*S*H was the instrumental version of a song one of the characters, “Painless Pole” in the original movie.

The lyrics to the song were written by fourteen year-old Mike Altman, son of one of the movie’s stars, Robert Altman.

The first verse and refrain went like this:

“Through early morning fog I see * visions of the things to be * the pains that are withheld for me * I realize and I can see… [REFRAIN]: that suicide is painless * It brings on many changes * and I can take or leave it if I please.”

Remember the song? The music was haunting; the lyrics oddly mature, considering the age of the lyricist:

“The game of life is hard to play * I’m gonna lose it anyway * The losing card I’ll someday lay * so this is all I have to say. . . [REFRAIN]: The only way to win is cheat * And lay it down before I’m beat * and to another give my seat * for that’s the only painless feat.. . “

As I listened, I felt that same sense of the surreal that director Robert Altman infused into the “Painless Pole” scene in the M*A*S*H movie.

What made M*A*S*H so popular was that sense of the surreal; all the characters were doctors in a front line medical unit who expressed their anger at the horrors of war by growing increasingly eccentric and self-contradictory.

It was funny in the movies. It is terrifying in real-life. In the movie, “Painless Pole” only thought he was going through with his suicidal protest of the war.

The real-life version is neither imaginary nor painless.

In a 2007  BBC survey, 28,000 respondents from 27 countries were asked to rate twelve selected countries according to whether they had a positive or negative influence on world events.

According to the survey, the country that has the most negative international influence, that is to say, the country the world could most do without, was tiny Israel. (That melody is beginning to play in my head again.)

Israel is smaller than Rhode Island and has a population about equal to New York City. Yet it exerts the MOST negative influence in the world? More than Venezuela? Yep. More than Russia? Yep.

More radical than Islam threatening to bring down Western civilization? Yep.

No other country, say the respondents of the survey, has a greater negative influence on the world than Israel.

The survey ranks Iran a close second most country the world could do without. Israel’s influence is viewed as ‘mainly negative’ by 56% of respondents, compared with 54% for the terrorist regime in Iran.

Ranked up there, just behind Iran and Israel, (and barely ahead of North Korea) the third country the world could most do without, according to the survey, is the United States of America. (The melody gets louder)

There is a reason that America ranked third on the list of countries the world believes it would be better off without.

There has scarcely been a positive news report about the United States in either the domestic or international press since the liberal left swore to make George Bush’s presidency a failure when Al Gore wasn’t able to disqualify enough votes in Florida to win the state.

And listening to the latest rounds of attacks aimed at the government by its own members puts me in mind of the way a cancer seeks to take over the body, slowly killing it in the process.

They are well aware of the existential dangers facing America.  But then again, I don’t think that suicide is painless, either.

Assessment:

Let’s look for something hopeful in all of this.

The fact that Israel and America are among the least popular nations on earth is one of those upside down equations that make no sense in the natural, but make perfect sense from a spiritual perspective.

Israel stands as a living reminder of the God of the Bible. As such its very existence is offensive to the god of this world. Its very right to exist has been challenged since its rebirth in 1948 and remains under challenge to this day.

Compared to Iran, North Korea, the Sudan, Somalia, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Pakistan, etc., Israel is a model global citizen. It is the region’s only true democracy and its contributions to the international community far outweigh its tiny size.

(The majority of Nobel Prize recipients in all disciplines, for example, are Jews.)

America remains, for the time being at least, the world’s most representative Christian country. American contributions to the global community are incalculable; yet America has the third most negative global image.

The image that the world has of America is the one presented to them by the liberal media — that is to say, it is the liberal image of America.

It is an image that perfectly conforms to that described by the Apostle Paul to Timothy that he prefaced,

“This know also, that in the last days, perilous time shall come. . . and concluded, “evil men and seducers will wax worse, and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2nd Timothy 3:1,13)

What looks like slow, national suicide is really a case of setting the stage for that ‘Wicked’ who won’t be revealed until after the Restrainer is withdrawn. (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)

You’re probably thinking, “THIS is the hopeful part?” Stay with me a minute.

The fact that we can see all these things taking place exactly as foretold means that the rest of the promises of Scripture for the last days can be trusted to be fulfilled with equal precision.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

“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)

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

“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Note: Jack wrote this briefing back in 2007.  To make this a current Letter we edited out all references to the political environment of that time.  This is your Omega Letter. Please let us know if we were able to maintain the integrity of the message.  This is not an easy time to be a Christian or even a person as J.L. Robb describes today in his column, “Unprecedented“.  Our umbrella of protection is from the Lord.