Religion and Salvation

Religion and Salvation
Vol: 154 Issue: 19 Saturday, July 19, 2014

At Babel, God deliberately confused the languages of men and dispersed them into different nations. The purpose, according to Genesis, was to prevent them from all coming under the authority of a single dictator, as happened under Nimrod.

“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:6)

Denominationalism is the spiritual equivalent, ensuring that one powerful leader couldn’t take over Christianity and lead the true Church into error, as the Bible says the antichrist will during the Tribulation Period.

There is an effort by some world church denominations to reverse the process and bring all denominations together under the banner of ‘ecumenism’ but, because the separation is Divinely ordained, it has been unable to attract those denominations that most closely follow the Bible.

The World Council of Religious leaders is such an organization.  Formed at the Millennium World Peace Summit in 2002, The World Council adopted its own charter outlining how they can play an active role in global government:

“The World Council of Religious Leaders aims to serve as a model and guide for the creation of a community of world religions. It seeks to inspire women and men of all faiths in the pursuit of peace and mutual understanding. It will undertake initiatives that will assist the United Nations and its agencies by providing the spiritual resources of the world’s religious traditions in the prevention, resolution and healing of conflicts, and in addressing global social and environmental problems.”

Jesus Himself addressed denominationalism, writing to the seven Churches in the first three chapters of Revelation. Each of these churches is different, both in their doctrine and in the emphasis they place on it.

Thus, we have the Church of Ephesus ‘hating the deeds of the Nicolaitanes’ (a separate status for clergy and ‘laity’) whereas the Church of Pergamos is depicted as holding to “the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:6,15

It isn’t the denominationalism that Jesus ‘hated’ but the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, who developed a complicated hierarchy of bishops, priests, and ‘laity’ to oversee a Grand Church, as opposed to the Biblical model of local church self-government. 

Theoretically, Christian denominations share the same basic statement of faith, that of the sin nature, the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, the Power of the Shed Blood of Christ to cover sin, the free offer of salvation to all who trust Jesus’ sacrifice, and who share the belief that salvation is the product of a relationship with Christ, not a relationship with a church.

How can you tell if you are a member of a Christian denomination or a form of ‘Christian religion’? There are eight sure signs, any of which should make a Bible-believing Christian sit up and take notice. 

‘Religion’ can be defined as man’s way of making himself acceptable to God, whereas Christianity is God’s way of making man acceptable to Himself through a personal relationship. 

The first sign that a denomination has gone ‘religious’ is the denial of the true nature of God.

The Unitarians deny the Triune nature of the Godhead, for example. Many allegedly ‘Christian religions’ deny the Deity of Christ, commonly claiming that Christ as God was not an early Church teaching.  

A second warning sign is the emphasis on salvation by works.

Although many denominations include the idea that God’s grace is important in the role of salvation, the leader normally emphasizes the idea that salvation ultimately comes through one’s own efforts — as defined by ‘the church’.

This imparts power to the denomination, since it changes salvation from a gift to wages, and gives the religious hierarchy the authority to act as paymaster.

The third sign is that of exclusive truth.

Denominations tend to universally identify themselves as the ‘one true church’ to the exclusion of all others. They will agree that some other denominations have some truth, but teach that full truth has somehow been lost and can now only be found in their ‘one true church’.

Fourth, religions prefer an authoritative leadership.

In some denominations, that authority is carried to the extent that they claim to speak directly for God. This is the ultimate result of the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes that Jesus twice said He ‘hated’.

The authoritative leadership of the Pharisees and Sadducees came under withering condemnation by the Lord during His earthly ministry.

Religions and Christian ‘religious’ denominations both tend to follow the letter of the law — but as theyinterpret it, rather than observing the spirit in which it was intended.

We’ll explain the difference between the ‘letter of the law’ and the ‘spirit of the law’ using a secular example that is in all the headlines today.

The ‘spirit’ of the graduated income tax law was to ensure, (in theory, at least) that all citizens pay their fair share of the tax burden. This is the ostensible claim of the Occupy Wall Street movement — except they define “fair” by placing most of the tax burden on the 1% to pay for the benefits of the 99%.  

The spirit of the law is that it calls for shared sacrifice. The letter of the law exempts nearly half of American citizens from any federal tax burden at all. 

Fifth, religions also tend to impose their own form of taxation as a condition of salvation.

Some religions equate tithing with salvation or staying in a right relationship with God. The Bible imposes no such burden.

The Pharisee tithed, loudly and with great pomp and circumstance. The widow, on the other hand, gave two ‘mites’ — the smallest coin values of Jesus’ day. Jesus condemned the Pharisee, and commended the widow.

Giving is prompted by the Holy Spirit, Whose ministry the true Church belongs to in the first place. ‘Giving til it hurts’ is a man-made doctrine with an obvious goal that has nothing to do with the things of the Spirit.

A sixth warning sign of a denomination going ‘religious’ is the threat of loss of salvation.  Salvation is conditional on Church membership. If you aren’t a member of the proper denomination, you can’t be saved. 

One group with such a belief is the Boston Church of Christ, also known as the International Churches of Christ. The leaders of the ICC teach that there should only be one church in any particular city, which they say is the New Testament model.

If you leave to attend another, you leave your salvation behind at the door.

Seventh, religions also tend to heap to themselves extra-Biblical authority.

The ex-cathedra teachings of the Roman Catholic Popes are given equal weight with Scriptures, and in the case of conflict, are considered superior.

The same principle applies to Catholic Church dogma. Catholics are taught that when dogma and the Scriptures conflict, Church teachings and tradition are to be given superior weight.  

According to Catholic dogma, there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church and one’s salvation within the Church is dependent on observing Church law on sacraments, mass attendance, holy days of obligation, etc. 

Finally, the eighth sign of Christianity being perverted into a religion is the offer of unique truths never before revealed.

The idea that a hidden mystery or new truth is available only through a particular church should be taken as a strong sign that this group is a counterfeit Christian religion.

God has very clearly shown His truth through the pages of the Bible. A new doctrine, new truth, or special word from God suggests that God left something out of Scripture.

For example, that very doctrine — that God left something out — is the foundation of Mormon teaching. The LDS teaches that God forgot to mention Jesus’ coming to the New World to preach to the “Indians” (who were really the “Lost Tribes of Israel.”) 

But Scripture says of itself that it is complete, so by its nature, if it is some ‘new’ doctrine or truth, it is contradictory with the revealed Word of God.  And things that are different CANNOT be the same. 

Salvation is not the product of religion — indeed, religion is an obstacle to salvation. Salvation comes by trusting in the Shed Blood of Christ as full payment for all sins. 

Conversely, religion offers salvation in exchange for putting your trust into that particular religious system.

Salvation is part of an direct and individual relationship with Christ. Religion offers salvation as part of a corporate system of conditions and works. 

That is not to say that Christians shouldn’t attend church — I don’t want to send the wrong message. It is important to meet regularly with like-minded believers and we are told in Scripture not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. 

But church is NOT religion. It is an expression of corporate worship by individual believers. The person who thinks membership with a church makes one a Christian is as deluded as a person who thinks standing in a parking lot makes one a car. 

The Bible teaches that all men are sinners, and all men require salvation to enjoy fellowship with God. (Romans 3:23Romans 6:23)

There is only one way to be saved during the Church Age, and that is by accepting the free gift of pardon procured at the Cross and offered freely to all men through Jesus Christ. (John 3:365:2414:6)

That the gift of salvation is offered freely to all men is the expressed Will of God, as recorded in 2nd Peter 3:9.

It doesn’t matter how bad a sinner one is, Jesus offers salvation to even the worst sinners. Wrote the Apostle Paul,

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1st Timothy 1:15-16)

Paraphrased into modern vernacular, Paul’s statement boils down to, “If Jesus saved me, He’ll save anybody!” All anyone need do is ask. 

Finally, the Bible assures us that once we are right with God, no religion or system has any claim to our eternal salvation. 

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

“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)

Religion offers bondage — Christianity offers freedom.  Even today, they aren’t that hard to tell apart. 

The Who’s Who of Gog-Magog

The Who’s Who of Gog-Magog
Vol: 154 Issue: 18 Friday, July 18, 2014

According to the prophet Ezekiel, there will arise in the last days, a massive military and political alliance more-or-less formally known as the ‘Gog-Magog Alliance.’

“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . .” (Ezekiel 38:2)

According to Ezekiel, Gog and Magog will lead an alliance of nations in the last days in a disastrous [for them] invasion against the reborn nation of Israel.

In Ezekiel 38:3, Ezekiel clearly identifies Gog as a person, rather than a place; “the prince of Meshech and Tubal.”

The Scofield Reference Bible’s notes to Ezekiel claim that “Meshech” is a Hebrew form of Moscow, and that “Tubal” represents the Siberian capital Tobolsk.

That interpretation would make Gog both a ‘place’ — the Russian Federation of Nations — AND a ‘person’ — in the sense of a federated Russian leadership.

The Interlinear Bible (Hebrew – Greek – English) renders that verse as:

“Son of man, set your face toward Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and prophesy concerning him.”

(In Hebrew, the word ‘Rosh’ meant, ‘chief prince’, or, the ‘chief of the chief princes.’)

Magog was a son of Japeth, who, together with his brothers Tubal, Meshech, and Togarmah (Genesis 10:2-3) settled what is modern-day Russia and the southern steppes of the Caucasus mountains.

And Ezekiel identifies ‘Gog’ as coming from the north of Israel. Following the compass due north from Jerusalem will take you through the center of Moscow.

The army of Gog and Magog primarily includes people from the nations of Gog, Gomer, Tubal, Meshech, and the house of Togarmah from the “north parts.” They will be joined by Persians from the East, Put from the West, Cushites from the South, and others.

“Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. . . ” (Ezekiel 38:5-6)

“Gomer” is mentioned in Genesis as well as Ezekiel. The Jewish-turned-Roman historian Flavius Josephus identified Gomer with the Galatians.

“For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites.” (Antiquities of the Jews, I:6.)

Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia (now Turkey). Galatia was bounded on the north by Bithynia and Paphlagonia, on the east by Pontus, on the south by Lycaonia and Cappadocia, and on the west by the remainder of Phrygia, the eastern part of which the Gauls had invaded.

The modern capital of Turkey, Ankara, is part of ancient Galatia.

Historically, ‘Gomer’ is also linked to the ancient Cimmerians. The Cimmerians eventually settled the regions north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea, in what is now parts of Russia and the Ukraine.

The Cimmerians are believed to have migrated north from the region now called Azebaijan around the time of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

Both the ancient Cimmerians and the Gomerites spoke a form of the Thracian or Persian language.

Tubal was another son of Japheth who settled the area. Josephus wrote:

“Tobal gave rise to the Thobeles, who are now called Iberes”.

Josephus’ ‘Iberes’ settled in the area of the former Soviet state of Georgia.

Ezekiel begins his listing of Gog-Magog’s allies with Persia, or modern day Iran. Iran’s allies, according to Ezekiel, include “Ethiopia” and “Libya.”

Of the Libya of Ezekiel’s day, Josephus writes:

“Phut also was the founder of Libya to the south and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself.”

(Some versions of Scripture render ‘Libya’ (as does the KJV) whereas others render it ‘Put’ — a grandson of Noah.)

Put settled an area that included most of North Africa including Libya and parts of modern Egypt.

“Ethiopia” (also rendered by some versions as ‘Cush’) was a civilization centered in the North African region of Nubia, located in what is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

Cush was another grandson of Noah, and the father of Nimrod. Josephus gives an account of the nation of Cush, who is the son of Ham and the grandson of Noah.

“For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites.” (Antiquities of the Jews I:6.)

In the 5th century AD the Himyarites, in the south of Arabia, were styled by Syrian writers as Cushaeans and Ethiopians, and it is certain that the present-day areas of Yemen and Eritrea were both ruled together by one dynasty at that time.

The African ‘Kush’ covered Upper Egypt, and extended southwards from the First Cataract. In addition, the Cushitic peoples, who live around the Horn of Africa and today comprise the Somali, Afar, Oromo and several other tribes, are popularly asserted to be the offspring of the Biblical Cush.

That the Biblical term was also applied to parts of Arabia is suggested by Genesis, where Cush is the eponymous father of certain tribal and ethnic designations that tend to point to Arabia.

Babylonian inscriptions mention the Kashshi or Kassites, and it was once held that this signified a possible explanation of Cush, the ancestor of Nimrod in Genesis chapter 8.

The rhetorical question, “Can the Cushite change his skin?” in Jeremiah 13:23 implies people of a notably different skin color from the Israelites, most probably an African race.

Also, the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament, made by Greek-speaking Jews between 250 BC and 100 BC, uniformly translates Cush as “Ethiopia”.

Assessment:

So, this is what we know. We know that Ezekiel predicts that, ‘in the latter days’ the chief of chief princes of an alliance called Gog-Magog will arise from a location to the uttermost north of Israel.

We know that due north of the city of Jerusalem on the same longitude is the modern city of Moscow.

We know that Gog will be reluctantly drawn into a conflict with Israel. Ezekiel says Gog will be ‘drawn’ as if he ‘had hooks in his jaws’ into this conflict.

The Gog Magog alliance includes modern Russia, the Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, North Africa, and the Middle East extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

We also know that the target of the Gog Magog Alliance is the restored nation of Israel. And finally, we know the time frame. Ezekiel says it will take place ‘in the latter days’. Here is something else we know. Ezekiel’s alignment of nations was never possible in previous generations.

To begin with, Ezekiel’s scenario demands the existence of Israel,

“the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations . . ” (Ezekiel 38:8-9)

From Ezekiel’s day until May 14, 1948, there was no place on earth called ‘Israel’. Prior to 1948, Russia had little interest in the Middle East. The Middle East had been part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire since the time of Columbus.

Ezekiel lived one thousand years before Mohammed introduced Islam to the world. Ezekiel lived twenty-five hundred years before David ben-Gurion announced the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Gog-Magog prophecy depends entirely on the simultaneous development of two concurrent events; the rebirth of Israel and the rebirth of Mohammedan-style radical Islam.

Look at Ezekiel’s main protagonists. There are three.

The first is Gog and Magog, the modern Russian federation. Gog and Magog’s participation in the invasion force, according to Ezekiel, comes as a result of God’s promise to,

“turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth. . .” (Ezekiel 38:4)

I’ve often pondered the phrase, ‘turn thee back’ (Hebrew ‘paqad’ or ‘call to remembrance’). I recall writing a piece for This Week in Bible Prophecy in 1992. The story was about the new Russian parliament suddenly breaking mid-session to rush out to the halls of the Duma where newly-admitted Western missionaries were handing out free New Testaments.

Having just emerged from a lifetime of godless Communism, Russians were eager to hear the Word of God and Christian missionaries were welcomed with open arms.

For several years, Russians were offered this ‘call to remembrance’ of Scripture before former KGB operative Vladimir Putin slammed the door shut on foreign missionaries. The Russian Orthodox Church — which was heavily inflitrated by the KGB during the Communist era — the only legal Christian religion in Russia.

The ‘call to remembrance’ was over. When Moscow later entered into its nuclear agreement with Iran, the hook was set.

The second of Ezekiel’s protagonists is the alliance itself.

Look at the list carefully. Every single nation and region named as Gog-Magog allies is part of the Islamic world. Every single one of them.

Islamic North Africa, [Ethiopia and Libya] including the Sudan, whose Islamic government is currently conducted genocide against its Christian population.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the heart and soul of radical Wahabbist jihadist Islam.

Turkey, (ruled by the Islamic Party), together with most of the Russian Republic’s Islamic ‘stans’.

Persia, or modern Iran, the ‘hook’ in Gog’s jaw. Iran’s nuclear program was built by, overseen, guarded and maintained by Russian scientists, technicians and military forces. Iran’s leader has made it something of a habit to mention the destruction of Israel in every speech.

That brings us to the third protagonist in Ezekiel’s scenario — Israel.

According to Ezekiel, the entire invasion force is assembled to one purpose. The destruction of Israel. Israel has but two choices facing it.

Israel can gamble that the rest of the world will restrain Iran’s mad mullahs from pulling the nuclear trigger against them. Or Israel can act militarily to remove the threat itself.

A third possibility, although not among Israel’s choices, is that the United States will act to remove Iran’s nuclear facilities before Israel faces the point of no return. The possibility the US will act in time is just that — a possibility.

Israel’s entire existence has been a gamble, but gambling that the world will protect them from Iran is an unacceptable bet. Gambling on US intervention is a long shot, but the odds are within acceptable ranges, so Israel can afford to sit tight for the time being.

But Israel will only gamble with its existence for so long before it is forced to push all its chips into the middle and take out Iran’s Russian-built, Russian-staffed and Russian-guarded nuclear facilities.

Setting the hook in Gog’s jaw and bringing all three protagonists together ‘against the mountains of Israel’ exactly as Ezekiel predicted would take place ‘in the latter days’.

Featured Commentary: On Spurning God’s Word ~ Alf Cengia

What Makes Them So ANGRY?

What Makes Them So ANGRY?
Vol: 154 Issue: 17 Thursday, July 17, 2014

A good friend and OL member from Illinois emailed me in regard to a recent column by me examining the doctrine of eternal security.

My friend had reposted “License To Sin” at another forum whereupon one of the forum members came down on him for posting a column on eternal security.  Part of the comments, (with names redacted), went like this:

“I will NEVER be part of a theology that excuses “continued” sin in “believers” lives – making them feel comfortable and “justified” (I can’t help it)  to continue in their sin,  only to  discover one day He never knew them.”

“Bro B—, can I now please ask that you give me your assurance that you will stop posting OSAS justifying messaged here at the group, as I would hate for Bro B— to have to put you on moderate.”

Uh-oh. The missive was signed, “in Christian love.”  (Sigh. Aren’t they all?)

His question to me, however, wasn’t about the theology or the doctrine.  It was about the animosity it engendered.

“Why is there this hostility to believing that “we can’t be taken out of the Father’s Hand”?

This is a question that deserves a broader hearing, since it cuts a wider swath than just the issue of eternal security.  One encounters the same kind of hostility in discussions about the Rapture, pretribulationism, Dispensationalism and so on.

These are some of the things that mature Christians hesitate to discuss unless they are sure they are discussing it with like-minded believers.  Our own forums have from time to time become battle zones over some of these same doctrinal issues. 

More than one OL member has broken fellowship with us following a debate over eternal security or pretribulationism.  I am almost always blindsided by how quickly the debate turns nasty.

While I was answering my friend’s email, the Lord showed me why.   

I thought it worth sharing.

Assessment:

Since the topic at hand is eternal security, we’ll stick with that, but you will see how it applies to pretrib Rapture doctrine as well.  

When I said a minute ago that the Lord showed me why it turns nasty, it wasn’t hyperbole.   I found the answer was given specifically by Jesus, beginning with Matthew 20:1.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.  And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.”

There are several important points made here.  The first is that this is a parable about heaven.   The second is that the laborers had agreed with the householder about their wages.

“And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.”

Let’s stop here and digest what we have so far.  In the West we divide the 24 hour day at noon and midnight.

The Jews reckoned time using a 30 day lunar calendar and a twenty-four hour day divided as it says in Genesis 1:5.

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

So the Jews divided their twenty-four hour day more logically.  The day begins at morning and ends at dark.  So the first hour of the day would be from 6 until 7 – that was about the time the first laborers were hired for a penny.

The “third hour” was 9 am.  The householder didn’t set an exact wage, but instead promised to do right by them for going to work.   Then he went out at the sixth hour (noon) and again at the ninth hour (3 pm) and hired more workers under the same contract conditions.

Finally, it says that he even hired workers at the eleventh hour (5 pm) and sent them out to work.   

“So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.”

So they were paid in the reverse order from their hire.  The last ones to work (for only an hour) were paid.

“And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.”

These guys put in a twelve hour day, whereas the last ones hired worked for only an hour.  So the guys that worked longer complained.

“Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”  (Matthew 20:12)

These guys were mad.  No two ways about it.  And I can’t blame them. If it was me that had worked my butt off in the field for twelve long, hot hours, I would expect better than the guys who barely worked up a sweat.

“But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?  Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.”

And here is the answer to the question at hand. 

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

Do you see it now?  The main objection to eternal security is always that it is license to sin. There are those people on this earth that, for one reason or another, don’t have the same struggle with sin that others do.

They don’t think so, but that proves the point. Nobody knows how heavy somebody else’s burdens are.  There are some Christians that have no problem with habitual sin – they easily gave up smoking or drinking or cussing. . .   or insert your besetting sin here.

I know that to be true because there are also non-Christians like that. There are non-Christians that successfully quit smoking or drinking or cussing — and they managed to do it without relying on God or the Holy Spirit.  That is just a fact.

Why is it sometimes easy for an unsaved sinner to accomplish what a saved Christian still struggles with?  The answer is obvious to almost anybody except some Christians. Because it is easier for some people than it is for others because that is how they are built.

It isn’t an excuse. It is an observable fact.  Some people quit smoking the day they get saved, some saved people continue to smoke for years.  

Some unsaved people quit smoking the day they decide it’s unpopular, too expensive, too unhealthy or too stinky.     

So you are the kind of Christian that started working at the first hour, and you see some alleged “Christian” who is still struggling to get started at the eleventh hour, long after your besetting sins are behind you.  

And then some joker like me comes along and says that guy is just as saved as you are.   

That makes them mad.  Just like when they object to the Rapture as a Great Escape.  It isn’t fair.

“Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”

Or put another way,

“I will NEVER be part of a theology that excuses “continued” sin in “believers” lives – making them feel comfortable and “justified” ( I can’t help it)  to continue in their sin,  only to  discover one day He never knew them. . . .  In Christian love . . .”

Of course.

Featured Commentary: Anti-Semitism on the Rise ~ J.L. Robb

Islam’s Split Personality

Islam’s Split Personality
Vol: 154 Issue: 16 Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Since September 11, there has been a concerted effort to present a new and improved Islam to the world. The moderate Muslim activists in the West avoid referring to teachings that may offend the Western citizen, such as the Islamic code of punishment.

They stress that they believe in Moses and Jesus. They refrain from calling Jews and Christians “infidels”, “Zionists” or “Crusaders”.

They use the term “Sunday School” in place of “Friday Class”, and they end their speeches with the Christian expression “may God bless you”.

Islam has two streams of theological thought; those based on Mohammed’s sayings in Mecca and those penned from Medina. Both eventually were brought together in the Koran, but reflect two entirely different worldviews.

The Meccan view is the ‘universalist’ view that holds that Islam, Christianity and Judaism all worship the same Deity and that we are all “People of the Book.”

The Medina view is the warlike, conquering Islam that is reflected in the Koran by verses such as, “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” [Sura 5.51]

Historians agree that there is a big difference between Mohammed’s religious teachings from Mecca and his teachings after his migration to Medina.

In Mecca Mohammed was weak, struggling to be accepted, often mocked at and ridiculed. He tried to appeal to the people of Mecca by being compassionate and loving. His teachings condemned violence, injustice, neglect of the poor.

However, after he moved to Medina and his followers grew in strength and number, he became a relentless warrior, intent on spreading his religion by the sword.

This change in Mohammed’s personality becomes apparent by comparing the Meccan and the Medinan suras. The following are some additional examples:

In Sura 73:10 God tells Mohammed to be patient with his opponents “Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously.”

In Sura 2:191 God orders him to kill his opponents “Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out…”

In Sura 2:256 Allah tells Mohammed not to impose Islam by force “There is no compulsion in religion.”

In verse 193 God tells him to kill whoever rejects Islam “Fight (kill) them until there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s.”

In Sura 29:46 Allah tells Mohammed to speak nicely to people of the Book (Christians and Jews) “Argue with people of the Book, other then evil doers, only by means of what are better! and say, we believe in what has been sent down to us and sent down to you. Our God is the same as your God, and we are surrendered to him.”

Then in Sura 9:29 Allah tells him to fight the people of the Book, “Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day…and fight People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute by hand, being inferior.”

To justify this sudden change in the Koran’s mood from peaceful to militant, conciliatory to confrontational, Mohammed claimed that it was Allah who told him so.

History demonstrates that what actually happened was that Mohammed grew strong in Medina — strong enough to move from being conciliatory in his religious approach to jihad.

Those who claim to be moderate followers of Islam are those who follow the Meccan Mohammed. The militants follow the Mohammed of Medina.

Islam teaches love, temperance and moderation. It’s easy enough to prove. Just read the Koran. However, since few ever will, the American face of moderate Islam will read it to you, as is evidently the case with the Bush administration.

But the same Koran teaches jihad, death and destruction out of the same pages, and while the American face of moderate Islam will never read those to you, the militant Islamist reads them every single day.

Verses like the following:

Men are superior to women (Sura 2:228).

Women have half the rights of men: in court witness (Sura 2:282) and in inheritance (Sura 4:11).

A man may punish his wife by beating her (Sura 4:34).

A man may marry up to four wives at the same time (Sura 4:3).

A wife is a sex object for her husband (Sura 2:223).

Muslims must fight until their opponents submit to Islam (Sura 9:29).

A Muslim must not take a Jew or a a Christian for a friend (Sura 5:51).

A Muslim apostate must be killed (Sura 9:12).

Stealing is punished by the amputation of the hands (Sura 5:38).

Adultery is punished by public flogging (Sura 24:2).

Resisting Islam is punished by death, crucifixion or the cutting off of the hands and feet (Sura 5:33).

Fate decides everyone’s eternal destination (Sura 17:13).

Every Muslim will pass through Hell (Sura 19:71).

Heaven in Islam is the place where a Muslim will be reclining, eating meats and delicious fruits, drinking exquisite wines, and engaging in sex with virgins (Sura 55:54- 56) & (Sura 52:17,19).

You might notice I didn’t include a lot of the ‘moderate’ verses ‘proving’ the Koran presents Islam as a religion of peace and love.

That isn’t because they aren’t there. But they are rendered meaningless by the verses that teach the opposite.

Islamic apologists point to the warlike nature of the Old Testament and the seeming contradiction presented by the Prince of Peace in the New Testament.

But the Koran isn’t two separate religions based on two separate Dispensations of God, clearly divided by 400 years of silence followed by the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the life of Jesus Christ.

One has to be an Islamic scholar to separate the Meccan verses from the Medinan verses to know whether Allah wants them to be friends with Christians and Jews or to crucify them.

It is that split personality within Islam that separates the moderates from the militants. We are told that the moderates are in the majority, but all the evidence seems to indicate the exact opposite.

In any case, there are approaching two billion Muslims in the world — that is two thousand million, to put it more descriptively. If even ten percent of Islam follows the Mohammed of Medina, that’s 100 million militant Muslims.

That’s a lot, no matter how you interpret it.

The Gospel According to Job

The Gospel According to Job
Vol: 154 Issue: 15 Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Book of Job opens with the ”sons of God” (angels) presenting themselves before God.  The fallen angel Satan (literally, ”the accuser”) was apparently also compelled to attend this gathering of angels, since he also was there.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.”

There is much to be learned from this verse, and also from the one following:

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6-7)

The general outline of the story is well-known. God gives Satan permission to test Job and Job is afflicted.  He loses everything: his sons, his crops, his livestock, all his wealth and finally his health.

In all this, Job never curses God and is restored in the end.  Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar accuse Job of sin and point to his many afflictions as proof.

Job defends himself by claiming something close to perfection and demanding an explanation from God for his suffering.

The fourth, Elihu, jumps Job for mistaking righteousness with perfection and reminds Job that righteousness comes from God.

“I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” (Job 36:3)

Nobody knows for sure who Job was, or even if Job was the author of the book that bears his name.

Nothing is known of Job apart from Scripture, including when the book was written, but from its literary style and use of language, it is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, chronologically speaking.

The majority of Orthodox Jewish scholars believe Job was an actual historical figure.  The construction of the Book of Job suggests the book was penned by an Israelite who was telling the story of a non-Israelite, which also suggests a very early date, probably before Moses.

There is a tradition among some Torah scholars that suggest Job was one of three advisors to Pharaoh during the 400 years in Egypt.  That same tradition names Moses as the author of Job.

That seems unlikely.  Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.  He had a distinctive style not evident in Job.  And Job’s lifespan puts him much closer to the time of the Flood.

Job lived some 240 years, longer than Terah, (205) longer than Abraham, (175) longer than Jacob (147) and longer than Esau (147).

By the time Moses came along almost a thousand years after Abraham, 120 years was the outside limit of a human lifespan.

Moses lived to be 120, Joshua 110.  After that, the Bible indicates that the maximum lifespan dropped to roughly where it is now, at;

“threescore and ten, and if by reason of strength, fourscore.”  (Psalms 90:10)

Assessment:

Why is the chronology of Job important?  Because he in all probability predates Abraham.  Certainly, Job was not a Jew, but there is no reference to him in the Hebrew Bible as being a Gentile.

Before Abraham, there were only Gentiles.  The Masoretic text places Abram’s birth only 292 years after the Flood.

Abraham was the eponymous father of both the Arabs and the Jews.  Before Abraham, there would be no such distinction of ‘Gentile’.  Before Abraham, everybody was a Gentile, making such a distinction unnecessary.

Job was from the ‘land of Uz’.  Uz was named for the son of Shem, grandson of Noah. (Genesis 10:23)

The Book of Job asks and answers three questions that have puzzled mankind since the the  days before the Flood.

The answer to the first question; “Where can we find God?” automatically invokes the second, “How can one be righteous before Him?” but neither has much meaning without the answer to the third: “If a man die, shall he live again?”

We have come all this way with Job, his friends, the chronology of his life and times, and his relationship to organized religion, just to address Job’s reply to that very question.

Again, let’s keep in mind that Job lived just after the Flood, and before Abraham.  There was no Bible.  Moses wouldn’t write Genesis for at least a thousand years.

Matthew 1:17 tells us there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David.  There were fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian Captivity.  And there were fourteen generations from the Captivity to Christ.

“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” (Job 14:14)

The appointed time.  Until my change come.

Forty-two generations before Christ,  Job spoke of his ‘change’ at the ‘appointed time.’

Forty-two generations later, the Apostle Paul explains:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

Forty-two generations AFTER Christ, we eagerly await the trumpet’s call —  for this IS the ‘appointed time’.

Paul called it a ‘mystery’ because it was a doctrine not previously revealed — except to Job.  Paul said;

“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 15:51-52)

Job not only knew about the change, he knew about the trumpet:

Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” (Job 14:14-15)

There are those who argue that the Rapture is a recent doctrine, invented by J. N. Darby or by a Scottish epileptic named Margaret MacDonald.  The Rapture isn’t a recent invention, it predates both Christianity and Judaism.

Genesis and Jude confirm that Enoch, seventh from Adam, was also raptured.  Job expects to hear God call him at the appointed time.   The Apostle Paul addressed the same doctrine two thousand years later.

“For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds . . ” (1st Thessalonians 4:16)

And now we’re talking about it two thousand years after that — as if it were some unproven doctrinal supposition subject to interpretation.

It wasn’t merely supposition to Job — to whom the Flood was still a recent memory.

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  (Job 19:25)

That is a pretty amazing statement of faith, dated as it is to a thousand years before Moses and two thousand years before Christ.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26)

The Sadducees were still debating the resurrection of the dead with Jesus two thousand years after Job stated it as fact.  That Job was referring to the resurrection of his own physical body, and not referring to some spiritual equivalent is made plain.

“Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:27)

So will mine.  I’ll be there, too.  And I’m sorta looking forward to meeting Job.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2nd Peter 1:19)

Featured Commentary: The Triune Trifecta ~ Wendy Wippel

Palestine

Palestine
Vol: 154 Issue: 14 Monday, July 14, 2014

The land claimed by Israel is smaller than the state of Rhode Island. In comparison to the Arab Middle East, Israel is like a single piece of sod on a football field.

Carrying the analogy further, imagine that one team has to defend that single piece of sod from an opposing team that outnumbers them 650 to 1.

The other team, claiming unfair advantage, is demanding the single piece of sod be divided and half of it be awarded to them.

The referees agree, and penalize the defending team for refusing to concede half of its 1/6th of one percent of the field to the opposition [that outnumbers them 650 to one]. The crowd loudly boos the defenders.

That is roughly analogous to the rules of engagement under which the Middle East conflict is being played out.

The Arab side makes two concurrent claims; 1) Israel has no historical right to the land; and 2) Israel, by its existence, has dispossessed the indigenous Palestinian people, leaving them with nowhere to go.

Except for a few decades of Christian control during the Crusades era, the land claimed by Israel was under Islamic control for 1300 years. This is one of the principle arguments advanced in favor of the Palestinian claim that Israel has no historical right to the Land of Promise.

That argument is bolstered by the existence of an Arab mosque atop what the Jews claim as Temple Mount, a mosque that has graced Mount Moriah for some 1,350 years.

According to modern Islam, the mosque atop Mount Moriah is the third-holiest site in Islam. Recenty Islamic tradition says the al Aqsa Mosque marks the place where Mohammed ascended into heaven aboard a winged horse.

For that reason, it now ranks third in line behind Mecca and Medina as Islam’s holiest cities.

In ancient times, Israel sat atop the most strategic crossroads of the known world. One couldn’t get from Babylon to Egypt by chariot without passing through it.

Israel and Jerusalem have been fought over and conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, and finally, the British in 1917.

In each of its conquests, Jerusalem was strategic because of its strategic value as Israel’s God-given capital. From Nebuchadnezzar to Titus, each successive conqueror acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews.

When the region was conquered by Islam, taking Jerusalem was a strategic, rather than religious necessity. Whoever controlled the Jewish holy city controlled the remaining indigenous Jews.

The reconquest of Jerusalem became a holy religious duty only after the Crusaders claimed the city for Christianity. Since the city was holy to Judaism and holy to Christianity, it became holy to Islam, as well.

But ‘holy’ doesn’t mean the same thing to Islam as it does to Christians and Jews. To Christians or Jews, ‘holy’ means worthy of reverence, whereas to Islam, ‘holy’ means worthy of possession.

Under Islamic possession, Jerusalem was just another dusty city of the province of Southern Syria. In the four hundred years Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule until 1917, the city was never even a regional or provincial capital.

After the Ottoman Empire fell to the Allies in the First World War, British foreign secretary Lord Balfour put into writing Britain’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

When the League of Nations made Palestine a British mandate after the war, Lord Balfour’s declaration was assumed as part of the deal and the allied powers of the Great War all agreed. By 1935, there were more than 300,000 Jews in Palestine. Tel Aviv, founded in 1909, had 100,000 people.

In 1947 Britain, which had been handed the Palestine problem by the now-defunct League of Nations passed it on, with relief, to the newly born United Nations. The UN agreed to partition Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a neutral UN zone containing Jerusalem, a city sacred to three religions.

The Jews were thrilled, the Arabs adamantly opposed.

In late 1947 the plan was ratified by the UN, and the State of Israel proclaimed on May 14, 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled the country.

The the British pulled out completely, and most of the Arab world- Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, as well as Palestinians- immediately attacked in an attempt to destroy Israel.

By the time of armistice in 1949 Israel held three quarters of Palestine- twice as much land as the UN had proposed- Jordan had taken the land on the West Bank of the Jordan River, and Egypt had taken the Gaza Strip.

It is at this point in the story of the Middle East that history ends and the modern myth of the Middle East is born.

Assessment:

The modern myth is that at the end of the Israeli War of Independence, the indigenous ‘Palestinian’ people were dispossessed by Israel and left with nothing.

The historical fact is that, until the mid 1930’s, the term ‘Palestinian’ was a label applied to the Jews.

Until 1950, the name of the Jerusalem Post was THE PALESTINE POST; the journal of the Zionist Organization of America was NEW PALESTINE; Bank Leumi was the ANGLO-PALESTINE BANK; the Israel Electric Company was the PALESTINE ELECTRIC COMPANY; there was the PALESTINE FOUNDATION FUND and the PALESTINE PHILHARMONIC.

All these were Jewish organizations. In America, Zionist youngsters sang “PALESTINE, MY PALESTINE”, “PALESTINE SCOUT SONG” and “PALESTINE SPRING SONG”

In general, the terms ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’ referred to the region of Palestine as it was prior to 1948.

Thus “Palestinian Jew” and “Palestinian Arab” are straightforward expressions. “Palestine Post” and “Palestine Philharmonic” refer to these bodies as they existed in a place then known as Palestine.

The adoption of a Palestinian identity by the Arabs of Palestine is a recent phenomenon. Until the establishment of the State of Israel, and for another decade or so, the term ‘Palestinian’ applied exclusively to the Jews.

The claims of the Arab ‘Palestinians’ to be a separate people is an utter fiction. There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Arab Palestinians.

Arab Palestinians are indistinguishable from Jordanians (recent British inventions all), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.

Syria was created by the British and subsequently given to France as the French Mandate. The Syrians declared independence after the British left in 1946, two years before Israel did the same thing. Jordan was created by the British in 1921.

The same British government that created the modern Arab world in 1920 at the San Remo Conference in Italy — by decree — also created a Jewish homeland the same way at the same conference.

And the Jewish Palestine of the Balfour Declaration as confirmed at San Remo encompassed a much bigger chunk of ground than Israel claims today.

Until the Jews renewed their claim to the land of Palestine, nobody else wanted it. The Jews petitioned for statehood on the principle that Palestine was “a land without a people” and that the Jews were “a people without a land.”

Arab revisionist historians say that claim was ‘a myth.’ History and mathematics tell a different story — if anybody were interested in the facts, that is.

In 1948, there were about 735,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs in Palestine. There were about 716,000 Jews. Since the same land now supports a population of more than 12 million combined Arabs and Jews, the argument that the Arabs were ‘crowded out’ by the Jews makes no sense.

The ‘Palestinian refugees’ languishing in ‘refugee camps’ in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere, were not interned by Israel. They were interned by their own governments after those governments lost the war with Israel.

Those Jordanian citizens that lived in Jordan’s West Bank and the citizens of Egypt’s Gaza Strip (who, on May 30, 1967 were still Egyptians), became instant ‘Palestinians’ on June 7, 1967.

From the moment of its declaration of statehood, the Jews of Israel have lived under the constant threat of annihilation by the surrounding Arab states.

As Golda Meir observed during the Yom Kippur War, “the Arabs can fight, and lose, and come back to fight another day. Israel can only lose once.”

What makes this significant is that NONE of this is a secret. Knowing this, the entire world prefers the fictional account advanced by the Islamic world; that the Palestinians pre-existed the Jews, that the Jews stole ‘Palestinian land’ dispossessed its inhabitants and locked them away in refugee camps.

Remember the football field and the single square of sod analogy. To the world, dividing that single square of sod defended by a team outnumbered 650 to one that holds the rest of the football field is an example of ‘leveling the playing field’.

It is nothing short of madness. But it is a madness that seems to have infected the world at large. The Islamic version of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a monstrous lie being advanced in favor of a claim to land that nobody wanted until the Jews did.

In the midst of a global war on terror, the world is prepared to countenance an openly terrorist government ruling over a ‘people’ that do not exist, (a people whose only goal is the ANNIHILATION of another people whose history is THE most documented record of ancient times) based on the argument that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem is historically invalid.

That lie is so delusional that it boggles the mind. Yet it is the basic reason for a global war on terror that now threatens to spill over into an all-out war of civilizations.

Israel, by its very existence, is a stench in the nostrils of the secular world. It is a constant reminder of the existence and reality of God, and therefore, man’s accountability before Him. Paul explains it this way:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. . .” (Romans 1:28)

The secular world’s war against the Jews is unreasoning, blind anti-semitism so ingrained in its psyche it is blissfully unaware it even exists.

Any critically-thinking person can see the truth, yet the UN consistently finds the ‘anti-truth’ when it involves Israel. It is almost supernatural in its scope and breadth. In fact, scratch ‘almost’ from that last sentence.

It IS supernatural.

Featured Commentary: Divergent Doctrines; Part II ~ Pete Garcia

Grace and Guilt

Grace and Guilt
Vol: 154 Issue: 12 Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grace is one of those Divine topics that is so deep and wide and endless that there can never been enough said about it.  It is so complex in its simplicity that a full understanding of it probably cannot be had this side of heaven.

Grace is easier to define by what it is not than by what it is.  Grace is not mercy or love.  In Ephesians 2:4-6 three doctrines are outlined in their individual and specific understandings; grace, mercy and love. 

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 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:”

God is rich in mercy.  He loves us with great love.  But we are not saved by mercy or love.  One can extend mercy without extending grace. 

We are not saved by His love.  If we know anything from Scripture about man’s relationship with God, it is this: God loves all sinners.  Not all sinners are or will be saved.

Addressing mercy first, one could define Divine mercy as God’s compassion, which moved Him to provide a Savior in the first place.  If God could save a single soul on the basis of His mercy alone, then every soul could be saved on that basis.   In that case, Christ’s death was unnecessary.

As for God’s love, it is reflective of God’s infinite character. It is the motivating purpose behind all that God does on man’s behalf.  The Bible says that there is joy in heaven at the salvation of one sinner.

But God’s infinite character is that of holy and righteous love and since sin is an offense before Him, God cannot save a soul without first making a way to satisfy the claims that Divine righteousness makes against the sinner.

One of the dumber arguments often used by atheists to question the existence of God is the question of God’s omnipotence.  “If God can do anything, can He make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”  It is a stupid question but you’d be surprised how many people actually try to answer it. 

The atheist is trying to get the believer to admit that there are some things that even God can’t do. 

But the fact is, there are things that even God can’t do.  God cannot sin.  God cannot compromise justice.  God cannot abandon His holy nature.  And so, until Divine justice is satisfied, God’s infinite love cannot realize its desire.

Mercy and love are what grace are not.  Grace is what God is free to do on behalf of the lost after Christ satisfied the judicial requirements by paying the penalty for sin.

Although the holy demands of justice were satisfied by the sacrificial execution of Christ, the love of God can never be satisfied until He has done all that He can for the one that accepts Christ’s judgment on their behalf.

What is the greatest thing that God could do for you, a sinner?  How about elevating you to be conformed to the image of the Son of God?

Love and mercy represent the whys of salvation, but not the how.  

Since grace only represents what God can and will do for those who trust in His Savior, it must function independently of all human effort or cooperation.  Grace demands nothing beyond confidence in God’s ability to save.

Grace provides the only mechanism whereby men can be saved God’s mercy and love are not enough. God’s mercy and love were every bit as much in operation before I was saved as after.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

This is the second most difficult part of the salvation process.   If I’ve been pardoned, why do I still feel guilty?   You can tell me I’m no longer guilty all day long, but I was with me. I know better.  And I’m not much at self-deception.

I was guilty of sin before I was saved.  Some of those sins haunt me still.  And if I remain on this earth, I will be guilty of sin again. 

The guilt is real.  I know it.  So does the enemy – it is one of his most effective weapons against believers.

“Maybe you’re saved by grace, but you’re guilty. You don’t deserve salvation.” 

What makes it so effective is that it is true. Sin is rebellion against God and His authority.  Jesus may have paid for my sins at Calvary, but He wasn’t guilty of them.  I was. 

The Divine disposition of guilt is one of the greatest triumphs of grace. Note that there are two aspects to the concept of ‘guilt’.

The first aspect is personal guilt.  Personal guilt is nothing more than the historical record of your sins.  You committed them alone.  That fact will never change.   Not here and now.  Not in the hereafter.

You are personally guilty.  God didn’t make you do it.  Satan didn’t make you do it. You alone are guilty.  Personal guilt is non-transferable.  That’s why you still feel guilty even though you know that you are saved.

The second aspect is that of judicial guilt.  This is guilt as an obligation to justice. Judicial guilt is transferable – one can be personally guilty but if someone else pays the penalty due, then the law has no further claim.

The Lord Jesus offered Himself as a substitute to bear the obligation demanded of the world by Divine justice.   We need only acknowledge and stand before God under the terms of His provision of grace.

It is by faith that I recognize my judicial guilt and by faith accept that my salvation is by grace, a gift of God and not of works, lest any should boast.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

That is what our faith is in – not our ability to stay saved, but His ability to keep us — by His grace.

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
The Father He spake, and His will it was done;
Great price of my pardon, His own precious Son;
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Your sins ARE all pardoned.  Your guilt IS all gone.  It cannot work any other way.

Maranatha!

The Only True Religion

The Only True Religion
Vol: 154 Issue: 11 Friday, July 11, 2014

I was chatting with a friend about the news and such when he unexpectedly turned the conversation to the subject of religion and specifically the notion that Christianity is the only ‘true’ religion.

“How do YOU know that Christianity is the only genuine religion? People from other religions think theirs is the only true religion. Even some Christian denominations claim theirs is the only way to heaven. Didn’t Jesus die for everybody?”

“Don’t get me wrong,” he continued, “I believe in Jesus and the whole Bible. I just think the idea that Christianity is the only true religion sounds pretty narrow-minded. How can you be so sure?”

At the risk of sounding like, well, you-know-who, much depends on how you define the word ‘religion.’ The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘religion’ as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power,” or “a particular system of faith and worship.”

Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Attending a particular church doesn’t make one a Christian. And not going to any church at all doesn’t mean one isn’t a Christian. It is not a ‘system’ of worship, it is a personal friendship with Jesus.

“Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:14-15)

But applying ‘religion’ to Christianity in its loosest sense, the question remains: “How can anybody be completely sure that Christianity is the ONLY true religion?”

Assessment:

The simplest answer is the most obvious. While there can be many religions, there can be only one God. And while there can be many purported revelations from God, only one of them can be true. Things that are different are NOT the same.

Jesus Christ said that He was the ONLY way to the Father. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:16)

Jesus also said that He alone revealed the Father.

“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and He to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27)

Christians don’t believe Christianity is the only true religion out of narrow mindedness or bigotry. They believe it because they take Jesus at His Word.

There is more or less universal agreement among the various religions that Jesus was a good man and a wise teacher. Jesus SAID that HE was the only way. Either he was telling the truth, or he was a liar and a lunatic.

Truth is not a feeling. Truth is not an idea. Truth can stand on its own merits, without requiring interpretation or semantic gymnastics.

Jesus offers a relationship with God, by trusting in Him and what He accomplished by His death and resurrection, instead of trusting in one’s own efforts.

Sincerity and good works cannot bridge the gap of sin between God and man. The truth of that statement is self-evident.

Men sin. Sinners cannot undo their previous sin, no matter how many good works they perform. Neither can they be certain they won’t sin again, no matter how sincerely they try.

If sincerity and good works were sufficient, then there would be no point in God giving us a Bible to correct our sincerely-held wrong ideas about Him. And He wouldn’t have sent His Son to accomplish what our good works could not.

It is utterly illogical to assume that there can be more than one acceptable way to please God. Logic demands that there can be only one true religion.

It isn’t narrow-mindedness. It isn’t religious bigotry. Jesus is the only way to the Father because He said so.

And if He doesn’t know, who does?

Featured Commentary: Denial and the Cult of Death ~ Alf Cengia

Shifting Tides. . .

Shifting Tides. . .
Vol: 154 Issue: 10 Thursday, July 10, 2014

The last couple of decades has seen a slow,but undeniable shift in attitudes as the children and grandchildren of the Baby Boomer generation started to come of age.

The 1960’s radicals who swore to never trust anybody over thirty were faced with the choice between new slogans and accepting the bad news that passing thirty is an irreversible condition.

At eighteen, everybody is a radical. It is part of being eighteen. At eighteen, one knows all about living but nothing about life. (Veterans excepted)

As such, giving the vote to eighteen-year olds is like letting giving your kids a say in how to spend your surplus income. (“All in favor of putting this in my 401(k) instead of giving it to you say ‘aye’!”)

The eighteen-year olds got the vote largely in response to the Vietnam War in answer to the seemingly reasonable argument about being old enough to fight for one’s country but not old enough to vote for it’s leaders.

The result was that everybody who was old enough to be drafted voted against the war. By the time they were old enough to appreciate the consequences, they were also facing the irreversibility of turning thirty and having to take responsibility for the mess they made at 18.

Some took responsibility. Most invented new slogans. The result was thirty years of liberal domination of the American social infrastructure. Leftists took over the education system, pounding leftist propaganda into impressionable young minds.

In the 1970’s, Ivy-League universities like Yale and Harvard were turning out young Marxists faster than the Soviets were. They dominated the political scene until their children came of age.

Those who had children, that is. Those who invented new slogans like ‘pro-choice’ and ‘women’s rights’ pursued careers instead of families, dominating education, the arts, Hollywood and politics.

But a lot of those university-trained Marxists eventually, got married, had children, and suddenly, leftist values like abortion and feminism lost their appeal. They began to see aborted fetuses as dead children instead of tissue. They saw the great society secured for them by the Greatest Generation slipping away. So did their children.

The Baby Boomers children came of age in the 1990s. Thanks to the advance of progressive liberalism, there were fewer of them than there should have been.

The 1970’s feminist movement meant fewer families and fewer children. Unrestricted abortion meant fewer still. Those who survived were faced with having to pay off their parent’s libertarian excesses in the form of inflation and budget deficits.

As the Boomer children got into their twenties, many of them embraced the conservative values of their grandparents. Having personally experienced the benefits of progressive liberal public education, they started home-schooling their own kids.

By the time they recognized the irreversibility of turning thirty, they had handed both Houses of Congress and the White House to the Republicans.

Assessment:

The point here is not political. It is philosophical. Let’s settle the political first. In America, those with a conservative worldview have but two viable political choices. Either they can vote for Republican candidates, or Democratic candidates.

Since it is impossible for a conservative to support Democratic values like abortion, the abolition of the traditional family, the abolition of religion, the abrogation of personal responsibility, and political indoctrination passing for education, there is only one remaining choice.

That doesn’t mean that it is a good choice. Just the only one left.

Now, to the philosophical. Younger people are shifting toward conservative ideals because they have to live with the results of liberalism, rather than the ideals that spawned it.

Liberalism as an ideal is attractive. It stems from the idea of creating a utopia on earth, where everybody has enough, and nobody goes hungry. In its most pure form, it is called ‘communism’.

Communism, as an ideal, is the most perfect form of government ever devised. It is almost a carbon copy of the kind of government envisioned during the Millennial Kingdom. In a perfect world, everybody would share equally. Nobody would covet his neighbor’s goods because he had everything he needed. That is the pure essence of communism.

It doesn’t work because people aren’t pure. Neither does its offspring, American progressive liberalism. Which is why the philosophical tide is shifting to the right.

When Jesus toured the Judean countryside, Matthew notes; “He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”

“Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:38)

In these last days, the shift away from the humanist worldview of the liberal left has opened the door for revival unlike any time since the Reformation. The fields are truly white with the last days’ harvest. But they are like sheep without a Shepherd.

The Bible depicts two harvests in the last days. The first is at the Rapture;

“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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (2nd Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Those who are taken in that harvest will spend eternity with the Lord.

“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” (Revelation 14:15-16)

Those who are taken in THAT harvest will stand before the Righteous Judge with no Advocate and will be convicted according to their works.

It is our job to tell them they have a choice. Both harvests are fast approaching.

Featured Commentary: Independence Day in the USA ~ J.L. Robb

Ignorance: The Higher Moral Ground

Ignorance: The Higher Moral Ground
Vol: 154 Issue: 9 Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Political Correctness, or ”PC” is a term that applies to language, ideas, policies or behavior that seeks to minimize causing offense to identifiable minority groups. As a concept, political correctness has some merit.

But only as a concept. (Conceptually, communism has merit. Everybody shares equally.) In between concept and practice, however, one finds the sin nature of man. Communism would be a great idea, were it not for mankind’s ingrained senses of greed and selfishness.

Greed and selfishness is not something a person learns, but something that comes naturally that must be unlearned. The same applies to things like racism. Racism isn’t something a person is taught — it is something that must be untaught.

Studies with preschoolers have shown that one black child in a room full of white kids gets singled out for abuse by the other kids based entirely on the fact the black kid is ‘different’.

Researchers ALSO found that reversing the dynamic does nothing to change the outcome. A room full of black kids will turn on the white kid just as reliably.

Political correctness seeks to use the natural inclinations of humanity as a method of controlling the masses.

The originator of both the phrase and its application was that champion of the downtrodden, that hero of the underprivileged, that great thinker, orator and writer, the author of the Little Red Book, Chairman Mao Tse Tung of China.

“Correctness” in Marxist-Leninist thought is a reference to toeing the party line, called the ‘correct line’ and Mao Tse Tung insisted on it.

Pat Buchanan described its effect on Western society in his book, “Death of the West” as,

“Cultural Marxism — a regime to punish dissent and to stigmatize social heresy as the Inquisition punished religious heresy. Its trademark is intolerance.”

It is politically incorrect to suggest any connection between same sex behavior and the spread of the AIDS virus, despite reams and reams of medical evidence to the contrary.

I’m not going to re-argue the evidence here — it wouldn’t be politically correct — but will instead point out the absolute insanity allowing a deadly disease to spread in the name of political correctness.

It is politically incorrect to oppose same-sex marriage, despite the biological evidence for marriage (its how we make and train new humans) and the social argument for marriage (we’ll all have to live with these newly trained humans one day).

It is politically incorrect to oppose abortion, easily one of the most egregious examples politically correct ignorance every foisted on a human society. One needn’t be a Christian to see what is wrong with abortion. One needn’t even be religious.

First, the argument is specious. Abortion proponents claim a ‘woman’s right to choose’. In 99.9% of pregnancies, the woman has already exercised her right to choose and that choice resulted in pregnancy. This is a special second ‘right to choose’ extended exclusively to the mother. Neither the father or the baby have any choice in the matter at all.

Even an atheist has as compelling a reason for opposing abortion as does the most devout Christian. Only half of the human race has ever had a baby — but we ALL were babies once. To argue that a fetus is not human is astonishingly self-delusional.

Left to itself, a fetus will never become a Chevrolet, a Doberman Pinscher or a coffeepot. Once the egg’s been fertilized, it can only become one of two things — a dead human fetus or a live human being. But it is politically incorrect to say so.

In fact, in many places it is not just politically correct, it is illegal.

Assessment:

If you are politically correct, then you believe in something called ‘moderate’ Islam. You’ve never seen it, can’t point out an example of it, but you’re sure that it exists.

In Islam, the “Sunna” records the words and deeds of Mohammed. Sunna is the words and deeds of Mohammed, the perfect pattern for all Muslims. The Koran says over 70 times that all Muslims are to imitate Mohammed in every detail of their life.

To that end, Islam has an enormous literature about Mohammed in the Sira (his sacred biography) and the Hadith (his sacred traditions). It is the model of Mohammed who determines what Islam is.

So if a Muslim imitates the Sunna of Mohammed, then that makes that Muslim a moderate within Islam. A Muslim extremist would go beyond Mohammed’s example, whereas a Muslim apostate would fall short.

The Koran makes up about 16% of the Islamic canon — the remaining 84% of Islamic doctrine is derived from the Sira and Hadith. The Hadith devotes 20% of its text to jihad, whereas 75% of the Sira’s doctrine revolves around jihad.

Sura 5:51 in the Koran says,

“O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.”

So if you, as a Christian, have a Muslim friend, either he disbelieves the Koran, or he wants you to believe that he does. By definition, by claiming to be your friend, he is either an apostate or a deceiver.

But that is not politically correct, even though it is factual. And not merely factual, but potentially life-saving.

But when it comes to PC, facts must submit to feelings. Ignorance is the higher, if not the highest possible, moral ground.

The less I know about Islam, the more I can defend it as “one of the world’s three great monotheistic religions.” The more I know about it, the less defensible it becomes.

In our society, being politically correct is the same thing as being willingly ignorant. If you are PC, then you don’t know that racism is like greed or selfishness and must be unlearned. If you don’t know that, how will you know it must be untaught?

If you are PC, then you don’t know that the primary method of transmitting AIDS is through unprotected gay sex. Knowing a deadly disease’s primary mode of transmission seems important to preventing its spread, no?

If you are PC, then you’ve no problem with gay marriage and gays adopting and raising children. The remedy is to let gays adopt children on the assumption that growing up gay in America is harmless.

But you oppose second-hand smoke on the grounds it may cause respiratory problems in children. The remedy is to outlaw smoking anywhere in public on the grounds that children come first.

If you are PC, then you believe that if your child doesn’t want to pray in school, then the remedy isn’t to excuse your kid from prayer. The remedy is to not let ANYBODY pray.

If you are PC than you believe that abortion is a woman’s ‘right to choose’ but deny the choice is to kill her baby. If you are PC, you find no inconsistency between ‘right to choose’ and legal barriers preventing pro-life counsellors from coming with 100 feet of an abortion clinic.

Political correctness, as it is used by the politically correct, is a form of censorship that seems like the best kind possible. It seems to be rooted in the finest traditions of human behavior — language carefully worded so as not to give offense.

But like all human based traditions, it is fatally flawed. It assumes that offense is something that is given, rather than the factually correct position that offense is something that must be taken by the person claiming offense. You can’t offend me unless I let you.

Political correctness is a way that seems right unto a man. Abortion is politically correct. Denying any connection between AIDS and gay sex is politically correct. Denying that Christ is the only way to heaven is politically correct. Denying that Islamic doctrine is responsible for Islam’s murderous tendencies is politically correct.

The Bible is politically INcorrect. Proverbs 16:25 describes the appeal of political correctness, particularly as it applies to unregenerate man.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Featured commentary: A Sheep of  Different Color ~ Wendy Wippel