Frustrating the Grace of God . . .

Frustrating the Grace of God . . .
Vol: 152 Issue: 31 Saturday, May 31, 2014

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

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to address a heresy that put him into direct confrontation with the Apostle Peter.

Paul was describing his recent trip to Jerusalem in which he was accompanied by Titus. Titus was not a converted Jew, but rather a converted (and uncircumcised) Greek, which had created quite a stir among Jerusalem’s Messianic community.

Those whom Paul addressed as “false brethren unawares” were ‘brought in’ as spies, hoping to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.” (Galatians 2:4)

Paul was upset that Titus was being ostracized by the Jewish Church, and in particular, he blamed the Apostle Peter.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.”

Paul noted that Peter regularly ate with Gentiles when he was preaching among them. But when he received a delegation from the Apostle James, Paul said, “he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.” (v.12)

Peter was afraid of offending the Jewish authorities and had allied himself with ‘Judaizers’ — those who claimed salvation by grace through faith but also demanded adherence to Mosaic Law.

Here was Peter’s ‘fault’. Peter taught that God had pulled down the partition wall separating Jews from Gentiles. To express his conviction, he regularly ate with Gentiles.

But when certain Jews came as emissaries from the Apostle James, Peter withdrew from the Gentiles, acting as if the law was still in force and the distinctions between Jew and Gentile should be maintained.

Paul called this doctrine “dissembling”. “Dissembling”, according to the dictionary, means to “disguise or conceal one’s true nature, motives or feelings behind a false appearance.”

He noted that even Barnabas had been taken in by this false doctrine, “insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” (v.13)

“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Galatians 2:14)

Paul’s main complaint had little to do with the specific subject at hand. He accused Peter of subverting the Gospel, and replacing it with legal requirements that amounted to keeping the Law, but claiming salvation by faith.

Paul repeated the plain truth of the Gospel:

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

Assessment:

Let’s stay with that statement for a minute. “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.”

If it was true in Paul’s day, then it is equally true in our day. But the same heresy that so offended Paul two thousand years ago is just as active today as it was then.

Note that Paul says a man is justified by “the faith OF Jesus Christ.” Christians place their faith, first and foremost in the fact that Jesus Christ will keep His promises. Our faith is in His faithfulness.

There are many who acknowledge that Jesus Christ was as real an historical personage as Abraham Lincoln, but one can believe He existed and not be a Christian. The Muslims believe He existed, but Islam is hardly a Christian religion.

Christians are justified “by the faith OF Jesus Christ” to keep His promise that “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

Many in the Church today impose certain legal requirements as being contingent on salvation, just as did the early Church. They dress it up with Scriptures taken out of context, arguing that women should wear long dresses, men should keep their hair short, making lists of things that defile the temple of the Holy Spirit, etc.

Let’s hit the high points on the list and see where we disagree.

Christians who smoke are defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit. A Christian who is still in bondage to tobacco addiction is probably not REALLY saved.

(After all, don’t the Scriptures promise Christians freedom from bondage?)

A person who drinks alcohol probably isn’t really saved.

(Don’t the Scriptures say ‘drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?)

What about the person who claims salvation, but still dabbles in drugs?

(How can one simultaneously host the indwelling Spirit of God and still continue to indulge in the sins of the flesh?)

If anything, that person is said to have a ‘head’ knowledge of Christ, but not a ‘heart’ knowledge.

That flunks the logic test. It describes a person who THINKS that he is trusting Jesus, but somehow isn’t sincere.

How can one THINK they are trusting in Christ, but doubt their own sincerity?

The dictionary defines ‘trust’ as “something committed into the care of another; charge. To have or place confidence in; depend on.”

I can’t speak for you, but my ‘head knowledge’ tells that I am unworthy of the gift of salvation. It my head knowledge that constantly reminds me me I NEED a Savior.

(My heart tends to lie to me and tell me that I am really a better Christian than Joe So-and-So because MY secret sins are less obvious or socially-unacceptable.)

If smoking and drinking and drugs are evidence that a person is not really a Christian, then what about obesity? Being fat in today’s culture is not seen as sinful, despite the proven health risks associated with being overweight.

How is that less defiling of the temple of the Holy Spirit then the other, less socially-acceptable examples of self-indulgence? Logic and Scripture both demand the recognition that lustful self-indulgence would be the relevant sin, not the object one lustfully self-indulges oneself with.

I am not making a case that it is acceptable for Christians to smoke, drink, use drugs, or indulge in riotous living. I am simply using extreme examples. Sin is sin.

You can substitute swearing, cheating on your taxes, lying about your age, wishing evil on some guy who just cut you off in traffic, or envying your neighbor’s new car.

(The more socially-acceptable ‘substitute list’ above breaks five of the Ten Commandments. So, what are your thoughts, now?)

I am making the case that our salvation is not contingent on our works. Every Christian is a work in progress, the Scriptures tell us.

“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.” (Philippians 1:6)

I can attest to the truth of that Scripture. (So can you, if you are honest with yourself.) I am not the same man today I was when I first got saved. I went through a series of transformations over a period of many years.

I would hate to be judged today according to the man that I was when I first came to Christ. God wasn’t done with me then.

He isn’t done with me yet. There is no doubt there are many more changes He will work in me before He is through.

(And the same applies to you. No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, right now, it will only get better.)

I opened with Galatians 2:21. Paul writes, “I do not frustrate (or work against) the grace of God.” Pardon for sin comes by and through the grace of God, not our own inherent goodness.

Paul goes on to make the logical point that, “if righteousness comes by [keeping] the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

The Law pre-existed Christ’s First Advent by a thousand years. If it were sufficient, then Jesus went to the Cross for nothing. I say all that to say this:

Salvation is immediate and eternal, but our sanctification in this life is a PROCESS. No matter where you are in your walk right now, that process is still underway.

This morning’s column is not the one I intended to write. But it is the one we ended up with. I am not sure who among us the Lord is addressing this morning. But you know who you are.

Being saved doesn’t take away your sin nature. It gives you the courage to keep getting back up.

Scripture promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 5:17)

Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged. God has a purpose for your life, and He can and will still use you to His purpose. Trust Him.

And get back out there on the line where you are needed.

Loving the World

Loving the World
Vol: 152 Issue: 30 Friday, May 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the central themes of Bible Christianity is;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The purpose of the first part of today’s OL was to illustrate the Bible’s principle that,

“But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” (Matthew 19:30)

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

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

Salvation creates a new creature with a direct spiritual connection with the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)

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

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

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

During His Agony in the Garden, Jesus prayed,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the sinning Christian can render himself so useless to the Lord that the Lord will take him home prematurely.

“. . . There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1st John 5:16)

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

Featured Commentary: Maranatha and Keep Looking Up – Alf Cengia

Grace That is Greater Than ALL Our Sin

Grace That is Greater Than ALL Our Sin
Vol: 152 Issue: 29 Thursday, May 29, 2014

From time to time, I will receive an email that brings tears to my eyes.  Over the past four days, I’ve received several such emails, all on roughly the same topic.  Let’s call it ‘survivor’s guilt.’

According to a 2010 Census, New York City is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.  It is home to 8,175,133 souls, who occupy every square inch of NY City’s 305 square miles. 

According to Life News, there were more than fifty-two million (52,000,000) abortions performed in the United States since Roe v Wade in 1973.

The number is staggering. .  . we have aborted more than six times the population of New York City since 1973.

That is one reason for the debt crisis we find ourselves in — we are about fifty million workers short of where we should be relative to our national demographics. 

Those fifty million-odd workers aren’t contributing to society or helping to prop up Social Security or paying taxes or otherwise benefitting America because we killed them, one at a time.

America is greatly diminished because we destroyed a significant portion of each generation since Roe v Wade, but that is only one side of the coin.

Every one of those fifty-two million aborted babies had two parents that now have to live with that decision.  What about them?  THAT is what makes me weep. 

One writes about having had an abortion in her early twenties and now is in her late thirties, newly saved and tortured by her past decision. 

Will I meet my unborn baby in heaven?  Will he or she know me?  Hate me?  How could the child I killed forgive me? Will I have another chance?  How can I admit what I have done?”

Another wonders what will happen to babies in the womb at the Rapture – a question dealing with essentially the same topic – so I’ll answer that one first. 

The Apostles told the jailer; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved – and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)

The Rapture is where Church Age believers receive the Resurrection bodies. A baby – in or out of the womb – is a separate human being.  An unborn babe at the Rapture would also receive his Resurrection body.

The Apostle Paul writes, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Romans 7:9)

The Apostle Paul was born at least 1400 years after Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai – how could he have been without the law?  How did the commandment revive sin?  What does he mean when he says, “I died.”?

Babies, born or unborn, are “without the law” because they cannot grasp it.  They are exempt from its provisions, and are therefore without any sin against their account. 

When one is old enough to understand what sin is, that exemption expires, the sin nature is revived and one dies spiritually.

A child that dies physically before it dies spiritually from sin goes directly to heaven.  I have every reason to believe that when we get to heaven there will be a glorious reunion. 

Will the child who was aborted recognize his parents and vice-versa?  Yes.  Will the child hate his parents?  It would seem more than unlikely under the circumstances.

On one hand, the child never experienced life on this earth and all that it has to teach us.  On the other hand, the child never experienced the trials, burdens, pain and suffering that serve as our temporal teachers.

The only ones having trouble with forgiveness with the whole abortion question are the parents – particularly the mother.  Even if they can see how God can forgive them, they cannot forgive themselves.

It is heart-breaking.

Assessment:

The Bible promises that when we get to heaven, God will dry all tears and each of us will receive perfect understanding.  That includes those aborted in the womb.  

Early in the 20th century, Daniel Brink Towner penned the words to the hymn, “Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin.”

It begins; “Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!”

Think about that for a second.  Try and get a handle on it.  Understand what it means when we say God’s grace is “greater than all our sin.” 

“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” (Psalms 49:3)

What is wisdom? Psalms 111:10 says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

Solomon noted that “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom,” before admonishing us; “and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

But how does one make the leap from ‘wisdom’ to ‘understanding’?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“Wisdom and instruction”, applied together, produce knowledge. 

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” (Proverbs 2:11)

One can, therefore, express it as a Divine equation: Wisdom + Knowledge = Understanding.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

‘Wisdom’ is the product of ‘fear’ (or reverence) of the Lord (as expressed in His Word).  Out of His Revealed Word comes ‘knowledge’, which, when applied with ‘wisdom’ gives birth to ‘understanding’.

Note well that it is ‘understanding’ that the Lord says will KEEP thee.

There are many, many women that have swallowed whole the lie that a fetus is merely a blob of unfeeling tissue, particularly since abortion is most prevalent among young women too young to realize the full consequences of their actions.

And many of the young women who had abortions in the past are no longer innocent school girls, but mature women who have since come to see it in a different light.

The weight of their guilt is crushing, even after they have come to Christ. It is to them, and to those who would judge them, that I want to speak now.

You are NOT guilty.

That guilt is imposed and perpetuated by a Satanically-inspired lie designed to use that guilt to silence greater opposition to continuing the holocaust.  That is one reason that abortion remains legal, despite the fact a majority of Americans oppose it.

Guilt is a powerful motivator for silence.

Deception is what the enemy does.  Forgive is what God does.  He forgives utterly, and completely.  There is no residual guilt to those who have turned their lives over to Jesus.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9)

While abortion is a sin, it is as forgiven as any other sin at the Cross. God forgets it with a perfect forgetfulness. Both the sin, and the guilt, are covered by the Blood of Christ.

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

The sins of our past were committed by the old creature;

“Therefore if any man [or woman -ed.] be in Christ, he is a new creature: OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY, AND BEHOLD, ALL THINGS BECOME NEW.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

If a different spiritual creature was responsible, and ‘old things are passed away’, then how can the new creature bear its guilt?

When Jesus said from the Cross, “It is finished” in our English translations, it was translated from the Greek ‘Tetelestai’, literally meaning, ‘paid in full’.

It means exactly that.  Paid in full, due to grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.  You are the only one that can’t forgive that sin or let go of the guilt. 

But you are holding itit isn’t holding you.  You have to let go first.

Hebrews 10:17-18 says of our sins being remitted by His Sacrifice on the Cross;

“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

There is no need for further offering for sin. Jesus did it all, for all time, and, truly, “it is finished.”

“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right Hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE HATH PERFECTED THOSE WHO ARE SANCTIFIED.”

“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)

And Jesus Christ promised;

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

There is NO unforgivable sin, apart from the deliberate choice to reject the free offer of pardon paid for — in full — by Jesus Christ at the Cross. Any who come to the Cross and ask Jesus to forgive them for their sins can be assured that, not only has He forgiven them from their sins and cleansed them from all unrighteousness, but He has also assumed the full measure of guilt associated with it.

So when one is Redeemed, even that sin is washed away, and that guilt is ‘put away’ forever.

“Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 21:8-9)

Just as abortion is a lie, so is the lifetime of guilt having an abortion often imposes. Guilt is what the enemy trades in. Don’t let the lie steal your victory!

No sin is above another in God’s economy, and Jesus does NOT lie. Rejoice in your victory in Him and forgive yourself, as He has forgiven you.

The enemy wants to keep you in chains of guilt. The Son came to set you free.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Featured Commentary: The Disappearance – J.L. Robb

Peeking Behind the Curtain: What’s the Danger?

Peeking Behind the Curtain: What’s the Danger?
Vol: 152 Issue: 28 Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In the famous prophecy of the 70 Weeks, the Prophet Daniel views the future history of the Jews from the rebuilding of the Temple to the Crucifixion of the Messiah. 

 “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Daniel 9:26)

Notice the colon following the word, “Himself” in the verse.  That colon represents a jump in time forward from the Cross, skipping completely over the Church Age and picking up again at the beginning of the Tribulation Period.

This illustration by Clarence Larkin demonstrates the ‘twin peaks of prophecy’ with this chart from “Dispensational Truth.”

Peaks of Prophecy The “people of the prince” were the Romans that sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in AD 70.

“And he [the ‘prince’] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: [7 years] and in the midst of the week [3 ½ years) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, [indicating active Temple worship] and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, [fulfillment of prophecy at the 2nd Coming] and that determined [judgment] shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:27 italics mine)

The ‘prince’ of whom Daniel is speaking is a prince of the political entity that destroyed Jerusalem and ended Temple worship in AD 70.  At the end of the age, that “prince” restores it by confirming a covenant between Daniel’s people [the Jews] and “the many” different peoples that surround it.  

So there are number of prerequisites that must first be in place before Daniel’s 70th week can begin.  

First, there must be a recognizable nation of the Jews, situated in Jerusalem and in possession of the Temple Mount.  The State of Israel captured West Jerusalem in 1948 during the War of Independence against her Arab neighbors following its recognition by the UN.  It has fought five separate wars and lived in a state of constant hostility ever since.

Secondly, there must be a revived form of the empire that initially destroyed the Temple in existence during this same period in history.   

According to Nebuchadnezzar’s image, the final form of this empire will be the ten toes of iron and miry clay, led by ten ‘kings’ who share power and empower an eleventh, the diplomatic ‘prince’ who ultimately negotiates a settlement with the Arabs that restores Temple worship.

Daniel's ViewpointIn 1948 the six nations that served as WWII’s main Western battlefield, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, West Germany and the Netherlands came together to form the “European Coal and Steel Community” which became the forerunner of the Western European Union, or WEU.

In 1973, Denmark, Ireland and the UK officially signed on to the EEC. And then there were nine.  In 1981, the Greeks joined the EEC. And then there were ten.  Prophecy teachers began making bold predictions about the return of Christ in 1988.  Then, in 1986, Portugal and Spain signed on. 

Jack Van Impe made a valiant attempt to reconcile this with prophecy, arguing the next member would subdue three of them, leaving them with ten kings and one ‘prince’.

But 1988 came and went and the Church remained.  And efforts towards full unification seemed hopelessly deadlocked.

Then, in late 1990 the 1st Gulf War unfolded live and on television, showcasing American military technology in what came to be known in some circles as “the Nintendo War”.

Saddam Hussein’s military was battle-hardened, well trained and well-supplied with the latest in Soviet weapons technology.  It was considered the fifth-most powerful military force in the world at that time.

The buildup of military forces in Saudi Arabia began in August under the code-name Operation Desert Shield.  On November 30, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm as the first wave of bombings began.  

By February, following a 100 hour ground campaign, the much-vaunted Iraqi military was surrounded, shattered and forced to surrender.  The Soviet Union, shocked at the ease with which America destroyed the cream of its military technology on the battlefield, dissolved before year’s end.

The Europeans, equally shocked at the raw display of American power, set aside most of their differences and formalized their new Union, with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty the following year.

The Maastricht Treaty created the European Union and set into motion the mechanisms necessary for the creation of the single European currency, the euro.

The European superstate was born.  But it had too many heads.   

In 1995, the ten original members of the WEU; France, Germany, Italy, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Greece agreed to form the core of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy, responsible for Europe’s collective self defense.

In June 2000 the EU and WEU agreed to consolidate their respective ‘kingdoms’ under one subordinate ‘prince’ under the ponderous title of “High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Secretary-General of both the Council of European Union, and the Western European Union.”

That position was created by a recommendation of the WEU Assembly, article 12, Recommendation 666.

Assessment:

Recommendation 666 had much the same effect as did Greece’s entry into the EEC in 1981.   Everybody declared the EEC the fulfillment of Daniel 2:44, concluding that the Lord would return in 1988.

When Javier Solana was named High Representative for both the EU and WEU under Recommendation 666, some prophecy watchers declared Javier Solana to be the antichrist.

I know of several formerly-staunch pre-tribulationist preachers who switched over to become advocates of a ‘pre-Wrath rapture’ to allow for the Church to be present during the Tribulation Period. 

Javier Solana was promptly declared the antichrist by many.   Type Javier Solana into Google.  The first two entries are about Javier Solana the politician.  The next two are about Javier Solana the antichrist. 

Until Solana retired in 2009 and was replaced by Catharine Ashton. As a British baroness, she qualifies for High Commissioner and Secretary General.  But she doesn’t qualify as the antichrist.

The antichrist will not be revealed on this side of the Tribulation.  The Church will never know who he is.  I have little doubt that the position created by WEU Recommendation 666 is the ‘prince’ position forecast by the Prophet Daniel, but that doesn’t mean the current office holder is automatically THE ‘prince.’

The EU isn’t ready.  It has its requisite ten members, but not necessarily the ten that will emerge as the ten leading ‘kings’. 

Greece seems highly unlikely to emerge as one of those leaders — its economic collapse threatens the entire economic Union.  It’s more likely to be expelled than it is to survive to become one of the Final Ten. 

Going back to the 1991 Gulf War,  it seemed obvious to me that for Bible prophecy to play out, both the Soviet Union and the United States must decrease and some form of Europe must rise to supremacy.  

That process is well underway, but it isn’t there yet.  The EU is itself on the verge of economic and political collapse, but it cannot revert back into its former status as a collection of independent nations anymore than a pickle can revert back into a cucumber.

What must emerge, if a united Europe is to survive, is a leaner, smaller and more cohesive unit of like-minded states — what exists now is too fractured and fractious — it’s neither “old Europe” nor “new Europe” and until it becomes one or the other, it will remain neither.

This in no way suggests that the Tribulation (and the Rapture that precedes it) is somehow still years away.  Two years ago, the United States appeared perfectly sound — today we’re already composing America’s eulogy. 

The linchpin of Bible prophecy is still Israel.  America has begun to distance itself from Israel, but it is still the principle peace broker between Israel and the Arab world.   

For now.  But with Barack Obama in the White House, that equation could change overnight. 

What I want to highlight in this briefiing is the inherent danger that comes from filling in the blanks in Bible prophecy instead of letting God do it.   There are some things God intended for us to know, so that we would know that it was near, even at the doors.

All the signs that point to this generation as the one that will see the fulfillment of all things are in evidence.  God wanted us to know when it was near so we would be able to impart that sense of urgency to others.

But there are some things God has drawn a veil of secrecy around.  Counterintuitvely, THOSE things are the ones that make all the headlines.  

God has drawn a veil around the identity of the antichrist.  We won’t know who he is because he can’t be revealed until after the Rapture.   Mark ministries that claim they know who the antichrist is being in defiance of Scripture.

We won’t know when the Rapture will take place.  Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven.    He said we won’t even be able to guess — but that doesn’t stop people from trying.

Mark ministries that promise you the Rapture will take place on this day or that day because of some complicated numbering scheme or based on deep research into the Scriptures.   They are certain to disappoint — no man knows the day or the hour.  

Jesus not only said nobody could know when, He explained why. Salvation is by faith.

“But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.” (Matthew 24:43)

If we knew the date of the Rapture, then there’d be a world-wide revival the day before — a revival as sincere as an Obama campaign promise.   We only know what we know because God wanted us to.  We can’t know what He has concealed from us.

The real purpose behind identifying the antichrist or calculating the date of the Rapture is not to glorify God, but to glorify oneself.   There are limits imposed by God.  Seeking a way around those limits is an act of rebellion against His Word.

Bible prophecy is not given to us to be sensationalized into some kind of parlor trick to win converts to a ministry — it is given as a warning sign of His soon return to win converts to salvation.  

Converts to a prophecy ministry often fall away when the minister’s prophetic interpretation is proved wrong.  If their faith was in the interpreter, rather than the prophecy, then the foundation of their faith is destroyed.  They won’t trust the next guy, even if he is giving them the real Gospel.

I’ve seen it happen a hundred times in the past. They gave their faith once, and had it trampled.  They are unlikely to be that trusting again. 

We are eyewitnesses to the unfolding of future history as it was written thousands of years in advance.  That is more than ample testimony that these are the last days.

What can be more sensational than that?

”A Poem Lovely As a Tree”

”A Poem Lovely As a Tree”
Vol: 152 Issue: 27 Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I receive emails often from skeptics challenging me to one of those ridiculous verbal duels over whether or not God exists.  Such arguments are pointless.

In the first place, the skeptic doesn’t want me to convince him that God exists, he wants to convince me that He doesn’t.  I’ve never fully understood why anyone would want to advance a philosophy that offers nothing and takes everything.

Christianity offers eternal life — the skeptic offers the cold grave.  (“I think I’ll take “What is a stupid trade?” for five hundred, Alex!”)

In the second place, neither side can prove their argument empirically.  The skeptic cannot prove God does not exist.  He can only argue the reasons why he believes God does not exist.

But it is impossible to prove a negative.  Just because I can’t see God doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist.

(I can’t see my mother in law at the moment, either.  But believe me, she exists.)

I turned down the offer although I had the advantage over my would-be opponent.  While it is impossible to prove a negative, the contention that God does exist is a positive statement.

The argument against the existence of God rests on the absence of evidence acceptable to the skeptic — not the absence of evidence itself.  The evidence is overwhelming.  There is certainly more evidence arguing in favor of God than there is against, since, by definition, there is no evidence for a negative.

The Bible says that such an argument is the epitome of foolishness:

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalms 14:1)

The rules of philosophy and science concur.  One can only deny the existence of God based on the fatally-flawed assumption that because they cannot see Him, He does not exist.  That’s a pretty foolish foundation upon which to build one’s conclusions.

The furthest either science or philosophy can legitimately take it is the assumption that because they can’t see Him, He is not there.  Theoretically, He could be somewhere else.

The evidence for God is everywhere. The Apostle Paul writes:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

The Psalmist declared:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalms 19:1)

Look at the sublime precision of chemistry, for example.  All the elements combine in very precise mathematical ways to produce their various compounds.  Each of the elements are recorded on a valance chart — the precise number and weight of each atom can be counted and measured.

Every plant has a precise number of leaves or petals, arranged in a precise order.  Every living thing has a certain number of chromosomes in its cellular structure according to its design.  Man has twenty-three paired chromosomes.  A dog has thirty-nine.  An ape has twenty-four.

Poet Joyce Kilmer offered this eloquent argument in his poem, “Trees“:  “Poems are made by fools like me.  But only God can make a tree.”

Assessment:

If there is a more powerful argument for the existence of God than the Bible, I don’t know what it might be.  No skeptic can offer an adequate explanation for desert-dwelling Job’s description of the Arctic permafrost.

Who told him?  He didn’t look it up in a book and he sure didn’t go see it for himself. Who told Job that wind moves in circles and not in a straight line? Who told Isaiah the earth was round and suspended by nothing?

The Bible speaks to us in the two existing languages of sentience: the spoken word and the universal language of mathematics. (And this is the point where I usually lose patience with the skeptic.  The best rebuttal he can offer is “oh yeah?”)

Because words can be used to tell a lie.  That’s why God also wrote it out numerically.  Because numbers CAN’T lie.  And neither can God.

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One God.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

For God, the number one signifies Divine completion.  For human beings, it takes two to make man complete;

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for the labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

The number Three is the simplest compound unity — it is the first and simplest compound unit of mathematical science.  God is one God in Three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Three is the number of the Godhead.

Four signifies the number of this created world.  There are four seasons, winter, summer, spring and fall.  There are four points on a compass, north, south, east and west.

The living creatures (cherubim) of Ezekiel chapter 1 are four in number.  They each have four faces, four sides, four wings and move on four wheels, representative of God’s creation and providence.

Man has five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot.  We have five senses.  Added together we have ten fingers and ten toes.  The decimal system is based on this system of tens.

We think in tenths.  A tithe is ten percent.  No man could be consecrated as a priest under Jewish law unless he had all ten fingers and toes.  Five, doubled to ten, stands for human completion.

The number six is the number of man.  As we’ll see in a moment, the number seven is the sacred number of spiritual perfection, so six falls just short of it.  Man was created on the sixth day.  The Divinely-appointed work week is six days, with the seventh set aside for God.

Hebrew slaves were appointed to serve for six years before manumission.  Goliath had six fingers and six toes.  His spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron.  Goliath’s height is recorded as six cubits and a span.

Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide.  Jesus Christ was crucified on the sixth hour of the sixth day of the week.

And of course, there is the most famous six of all as recorded in Revelation 13:18:

“Here is wisdom. Let him that understandeth count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.” (666)

Six units six tens, six hundreds.  Three sixes, each successively higher on the decimal scale.  The number 666 represents the antichrist — the number of imperfect, spiritually incomplete man, multiplied 100 times over.

Then we come to the number seven.  The number seven is representative in Scripture of spiritual perfection.

Four is representative of the physical world.  Three, the representative of the Trinity.  Together, they equal seven.

Seven days make up one of the four quarters of the moon.  There are seven basic notes in music.  There are seven colors in the rainbow.  On the seventh day, God rested.

The number seven is the fourth prime number is also a Mersenne prime, the first Woodall prime, the fourth factorial prime, the second lucky and the second safe prime number.

A ladybug has seven spots.  Most mammalian necks have seven bones.  There are seven rows in the periodic table.  The neutral pH value between acidity and alkalinity is seven.  There are seven stars in the Big Dipper.  There are seven continents and seven seas.

The Book of the Revelation is addressed to the seven Churches of Asia Minor.  There are seven star representing the seven angels who represent the seven churches.  In Revelation 3:1, Jesus is identified as having the ‘Seven Spirits of God’ — or the whole and completed Spirit of God.

In Revelation 5:6, the Lamb is pictured as having seven eyes (representing omniscience) and seven horns(representing omnipotence).

There are seven seals, seven thunders, seven vials; the dragon has seven heads and seven crowns upon his heads.  There are seven mountains, seven kings, etc.

The Bible specifically says there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David; fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian captivity, and fourteen generations from the Babylonian exile to Christ. (Matthew 1:17)

Fourteen is seven doubled.  The Passover is on the fourteenth of Nisan, and fourteen lambs are offered on each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Pentecost is on the fiftieth day, after the passage of the full 49 (7×7) days from Passover.  The Jubilee Year is the fiftieth year after the passage of seven ‘weeks’ of seven years each.

Under OT Law, an animal must be at least seven days old before it can be sacrificed.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days.  A male child could not be circumcised until after seven full days had passed.

The rules of cleansing (as in cleansing a leper) involved seven sprinklings of water.

The Day of Atonement demands seven sprinklings of blood.

The menorah has seven branches and seven lights.  Noah entered the ark on the seventh day.  (Genesis 7:4,10) Noah’s ark came to rest on Mt Ararat on the seventh month.  (Genesis 8:4) Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel.

Joshua sent seven priests who marched around Jericho for seven days blowing seven trumpets.  On the seventh day, the circled the city seven times before the ‘walls came tumbling down.’

Samson’s marriage feast lasted seven days.  Samson had seven locks of hair (Judges 16:19)  It took Solomon seven years to build the Temple.  Job had seven sons.  His friends grieved in silence with him for seven days and seven nights.  Job offered seven bullocks and seven rams for a burnt offering.

Jesus told the Pharisees to forgive trespasses seventy times seven.  He imposed seven ‘woes’ on the Pharisees.  Romans 8:35 lists seven afflictions; 12:6-8 enumerates the seven gifts.  James 3:17 lists the seven qualities of heavenly wisdom.  2nd Peter 1:5-8 outlines the seven virtues imparted by faith.

The seventieth week of Daniel lasts for seven years.  The disciples took up seven baskets of fragments after the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.

The skeptic’s counter-argument is ‘coincidence’.  Or that some human or group of humans actually wrote the Bible using the two universal languages of sentience.  Either takes more faith in nothing than I am capable of mustering.

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14)

The skeptic knows that in his soul, too.  So there isn’t much point in debating it.

Note: In this Letter, Jack explains the ramifications of debating the skeptic.  Wendy Wippel researches “new” christian thinking which calls people to “Use Your Imagination” concerning the things of God.

In Memorial

In Memorial
Vol: 152 Issue: 26 Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day is a celebration of freedom and those that defend it.  We celebrate with heavy overdoses of all things American, fireworks, hot dogs, BBQs, picnics, baseball games and so on.

The fireworks are to remind us that freedom doesn’t come without a fight and the overindulgence in Americana is to honor those that missed the party because they had to pay for it.

Memorial Day isn’t a just the official kick-off of the summer season or an excuse for a long weekend.  It is a day set aside by an Act of Congress in 1971 to honor the veterans of American wars.

Before that, it was called ‘Decoration Day’ since it was first proclaimed by the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

In 1868, General John Logan ordered that the graves of the Civil War dead interred at Arlington national cemetery be decorated with flowers to commemorate their sacrifice.

His order included both Union and Confederate war dead.  No matter which side they fought on, they were all American.

In recent years, the purposes of Memorial Day have taken second place to the party aspect — it is more a celebration of summer and less a celebration of freedom and hardly at all about honoring our war dead.

Many of the graves of the fallen are ignored.   In those places in America where flying Old Glory isn’t either illegal or forbidden,  proper flag etiquette protocols call for flying the flag at half-mast until noon to symbolize a nation in mourning.

In one of the last acts and few shining moments of his presidency, Bill Clinton issued Official White House Memorandum asking all Americans to pause for one minute at 3 PM on Memorial Day to reflect on the price paid by our fellow citizens for our continued freedom.

In part, the Memorandum states:

“Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”

Evidently, one day of national reverence is too much for the current White House. On Memorial Day, Vice President Joe Biden will lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on the President’s behalf.

The president has a scheduling confict — he’s on vacation in Chicago. (2010)

Assessment:

The dictionary defines ‘honor’ as: “the reputation, self-perception or moral identity of an individual or of a group.”

This weekend is not just the beginning of summer. It is set aside to honor those who make the supreme sacrifice on your behalf. It is a time set aside to pray for those who protect us from harm. It is a time for us to love those who loved us with a love beyond human comprehension.

This weekend, as in past Memorial Day weekends, the networks will be re-running all those great old WWII propaganda movies.

The ones where the Nazis and Imperial Japanese were evil personified and the American GI is depicted as a salt-of-the-earth guy forced to put down his plowshare to reluctantly pick up a gun and defend his country.

They were called ‘propaganda’ movies and they might have been, but the propaganda message was that America was worth dying for.

They are stories from a bygone era about a nation united, strong and free.  We don’t see those kinds of stories anymore.

Duty. Honor. Country.  These are things worth memorializing.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Note: In today’s Letter, Jack gives a brief history of Memorial Day.  Pete Garcia walks us through the ages of the Gospel and “The American Rapture” just on the horizon.  We would like to thank all those serving and those who have served in the fight to maintain our freedom.

The Trial

The Trial
Vol: 152 Issue: 24 Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mankind is a mystery to the angels.  The Bible says that God has charged them with ministering to men on this earth in this life with the understanding that men will judge them in the world to come.

One of the purposes for the creation of man, according to Scripture, was the instruction of angels.

“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; WHICH THINGS THE ANGELS DESIRE TO LOOK INTO.” (1st Peter 1:12)

The Prophet Isaiah introduces us to the first outbreak of sin in the universe when Lucifer, the most anointed of the angels, uttered the first of his five famous “I will’s”:

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13)

For his sin of arrogance, God pronounced judgment on Lucifer, the most honored of His angels, and those rebellious angels who followed him;

“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)

I often wonder about the angels who joined Satan in his rebellion. Why? It isn’t like they didn’t know Who it was they were standing up to.

What made them so crazy?  Perhaps they felt God was being unjust in His dealing with Lucifer and in so doing, were also guilty of sin and cast out.   

Or maybe they joined with Lucifer at the moment that God unveiled His plan to create the human race and make the angels subject to their judgment.  Maybe they were jealous.   

The Bible doesn’t say why specifically, but it is clear that a third of them broke away and joined him.

It is worth considering that, while mankind is still a mystery to the righteous angels, the fallen angels understand mankind only too well.  That’s because we have something in common with the fallen angels.  

Sin is the great equalizer. From the context of the Five ‘I Wills’ the bone of contention between Lucifer and God was over who was going to be in charge. Given what is revealed, mankind is likely the cause of the rebellion – Satan certainly hates us enough.  

In my mind’s eye, I picture it like a cosmic boardroom where God has just announced His plan to create a race of inferior beings that Lucifer would first serve and then submit to in judgment later.

“Not me,” says Lucifer.  “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit upon the mount of the congregation, I will ascend above the clouds, I will be like the most High.”

“Wrong,” says God. “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Lucifer was the anointed angel. He was the most blessed, the most beautiful, the most entertaining, it is not much of a stretch to assume he was also the most popular.

From there, one needn’t stretch much further to assume that even the angels that didn’t join the rebellion had questions about the severity of the punishment.  

The existence of humanity is often described by theologians as the ‘trial of Satan’. Why a trial?  Because God is just.

Allow me to set the scene.  The trial of Satan begins with the introduction of one little sin.  It is more than just the trial of Satan.  Sin itself is also on trial. 

Lucifer, “the anointed cherub that covereth” was highly favored of God; “and I have set thee so,” it says in Ezekiel 28:14.  

Isaiah 14:14 defines that first sin as, “I will” — the sin of pride. The trial is to prove what ‘one little sin’ can do — the classic ‘slippery slope’ scenario.

The trial is really an examination of the epochs of human history from the perspective of the angels who did NOT join the rebellion, and who, by nature, have no understanding of what sin really is or how it really works.

Exhibit 1: Adam and Eve. They are placed in a perfect environment and given only one command — to avoid the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  They fail — and man inherits a sin nature.

Exhibit 2: Man is allowed free reign until the Flood — the so-called “Age of Conscience”. Without Divine interaction or instruction, society becomes so sinful and corrupt that God saves Noah and his family alive and destroys the rest in the Flood. 

Exhibit 3: During the Age of the Patriarchs, God spoke directly to chosen individuals; Abraham, Noah, Lot, etc. Each, even having spoken directly with God, commit some heinous sin. 

Having gone from one commandment (the Age of Innocence) to no commandments at all (the Age of Conscience) to direct confrontation,(the Age of the Patriarchs) God progresses to giving mankind the Ten Commandments (the Age of the Law).

Not one person ever kept all ten of them throughout his lifetime, no matter what the circumstances. (David, for example, broke all ten of them.)

Exhibit 4: The Age of the Law, during which time the Commandments of God became so corrupted and perverted that it became necessary to scrap the whole system and replace it with the Age of Grace.

Exhibit 5: To introduce the Age of Grace, God Himself stepped out of space and time, took on the form of sinful man, kept the Law on our behalf, and then paid the price for our sin. (Death)

In so doing, He made a way for all mankind to be saved by faith through grace.

But most of mankind rejects even the free offer of grace, preferring a life of unregenerate sin. That act of rejection, given the Price paid, must make the angelic witnesses gasp in disbelief.

From the perspective of the angelic witness, then, ‘one little sin’ has thus far brought mankind to the point it is today.  So far, God has given sin every opportunity to prove itself worthy of its wages

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

Exhibit 6: The Tribulation Period. The Age of Grace concludes at the Rapture. The Rapture removes the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, giving Satan (and sin) free reign for seven years.  And the end result is the near-destruction of all human life.

Jesus then returns at the 2nd Coming, binds Satan for a thousand years, and reigns Personally from Jerusalem.

Mortal humanity has no excuse, He is right there, in Person, for all to see.

Satan’s influence is restrained, lifespans are extended, there are no more wars, famine or poverty, and humankind is returned to the Eden-like state from which it began.

Exhibit 7: With God Himself on the Throne of human government, ruling with a rod of iron for a thousand years, Satan is loosed for ‘a little season’.

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 20:7-8)

The mortal humans who have lived in a state of God-given idyllic bliss for a thousand years, under the influence of Satan, raise an army to bring against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself. 

“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” (Romans 2:12)

The trial is over. Sin is judged according to its works. All appeals have been exhausted. Sentence is pronounced and carried out immediately. 

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” (Revelation 20:10)

This is the SECOND resurrection. Unlike the first resurrection, it has only one phase.

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10-12,14)

In the overall Plan of God, as outlined in Scripture, everything has a purpose.  There are no omissions, no errors, and no inconsistencies.

From Genesis to Revelation, a central theme of Scripture is that sin is the cause of death. Sin will ultimately be eradicated from existence.  And so will all those who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:12

The lake of fire was created and prepared for Satan and his angels.  But since man’s spirit is created in God’s image, it is also eternal and immortal, in that it cannot be destroyed. 

So those that reject Christ and choose to follow Satan have to go somewhere. 

They will not cease to be, but they will cease to matter.  They will spend eternity nameless and alone, tortured by the flames — and the memory of the day they rejected the opportunity to avoid their fate. 

But nobody will be able to accuse God of being unfair.  Case closed.