Satan’s Holiday

Satan’s Holiday
Vol: 157 Issue: 31 Friday, October 31, 2014

Today is Hallowe’en, or the Feast of Samhain, el Dia de lost Muertos, one of the world’s oldest holidays, still celebrated from Europe to the Americas (and my daughter, Kari’s birthday. Happy birthday, Kari!)

One year for Christmas, one of my sons gave me a 700 page book entitled, “The Story of the Irish Race” written by Irish historian Seumas Macmanus near the close of the 19th century.

Throughout his book, Professor Macmanus demonstrates a record of Irish history, maintained through its songs, legends and traditions, almost as rich and detailed as that of the Hebrews themselves. Indeed, Roman historians of antiquity considered Ireland to be an ancient kingdom when Rome was still young.

Part of Irish folklore history holds that the ancient Ard-Righs (High Kings) of Ireland were trading partners and allies of King Solomon of Israel. It seems that the ancient pagan Irish Druidic class was modeled after the Israelite system of priests and judges.

The Druids maintained the history of the Irish race, mimicking the practice of the Israelites of committing the past to both oral and written records. The Druids were like the ancient Israelite priests, only without the God of Israel.

The ancient Romans referred to the Druids as ‘barbarian philosophers’ but in his book, the Gallic Wars, Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar noted that it could take up to twenty years to complete the Druid course of study.

“The principal point of their doctrine”, says Caesar, “is that the soul does not die and that after death it passes from one body into another.

With regard to their actual course of studies, the main object of all education is, in their opinion, to imbue their scholars with a firm belief in the indestructability of the human soul, which, according to their belief, merely passes at death from one tenement to another; for by such doctrine alone, they say, which robs death of all its terrors, can the highest form of human courage be developed.

Subsidiary to the teachings of this main principle, they hold various lectures and discussions on astronomy, on the extent and geographical distribution of the globe, on the different branches of natural philosophy, and on many problems connected with religion”.

Caesar also noted the Druidic deity was the equivalent to the Roman god of the underworld, Hades. The ancient Israelites would have recognized him from their literature as Satan.

The whole ghosts and goblins and witches thing comes from the Druidic traditions of the ancient Celts. November 1st was the beginning of the Celtic new year, marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter.

The winter season in Celtic tradition was closely associated with human death. The winter’s cold would hasten death, and so November 1st was the day when the Celts believed the boundaries between the living and the dead were the weakest.

On October 31st, following the ancient custom of burnt offerings unique to the Celts (and ancient Israelites) the Druids would order huge sacred bonfires (bone-fires) where people would gather to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, to frighten away the spirits of the dead.

Under the Romans, the Druidic custom merged with the Roman customs of Feralia, the Roman day of the dead and that of Pomona the goddess of fruit and trees. By the 4th century, it became the feast of Samhain.

In the 7th century, the Roman Pope Boniface IV declared November 1 All Saints Day, the day to honor saints and martyrs. In this way, the Vatican hoped to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a church-sanctioned festival of the dead instead.

From the History Channel’s website:

“The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.

Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.”

Assessment:

Hallowe’en is a conundrum for Christians. There are two ways that we, as Christian parents, generally approach it. Here’s the first thing I did as a new Christian just learning what Hallowe’en is all about.

On October 31st, we’d turn off all the lights and pretend we weren’t home.

Later, we learned from an elder about greeting the little trick or treaters and giving them tracts instead of candy.

My kids didn’t get to trick or treat for Hallowe’en when they were little. Instead, I used them like little banners to demonstrate my faith. (It wasn’t easy being one of my kids. Take their word for it.)

When all the other kids were dressing up like fairies and demons (and princesses and comic-book characters and hobos) I insisted that my kids be given something else to do besides celebrate in Satan’s holiday.

After a decade or so of alienating my kids, it occurred to me that other kids weren’t really celebrating Satan’s holiday.

My kids knew about the history of Hallowe’en. I made sure of that. They knew it was Satan’s holiday. But they didn’t want to worship Satan.

They wanted to dress up in costumes and play instead of do schoolwork and canvass the neighborhood for free candy and eat it until they got sick.

They also knew that they could do all that without worshipping Satan even once the whole night. They figured that out years before I did.

The second way to deal with being a Christian at Hallowe’en is to go to the Bible for the answers. (I didn’t get around to that until about the time my last kid was too old to go trick or treating anymore. Being one of my kids really wasn’t easy.)

Paul writes in Romans 14:1;

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”

Hmmm. Doubtful disputations? Like what?

“For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.”

What about days like Hallowe’en?

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Paul says that a day is a day is a day:

“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.”

As to how Christians should regard it,

”let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

Why? Because Paul says a day, in and of itself is just not that important.

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.”

What Paul says regarding things like Hallowe’en is;

“So then, every one of us shall give account of himself unto God”

— and if you are ok with it, then its between you and Him.

Why? Because to a Christian, it is just not that important.

“I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.”

So if you, my brothers and sisters, think that turning off the lights and pretending you aren’t home tonight is an appropriate response, then it is an appropriate response and I praise the Lord for you.

On the other hand, if you think the appropriate response is to greet the little trick or treaters with a Bible tract, you are equally correct and I praise the Lord for you.

And if you think that on Hallowe’en trick or treaters are just kids having innocent fun and you also want to load them up with junk food commensurate with how cute they are, then, by the authority of the Word of God, you are ALSO correct and I praise the Lord for you.

“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” (Romans 14:22)

It is possible to be a Christian in this world and still live a little.

Featured Commetary: On Fixing ISIS ~ Alf Cengia

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch
Vol: 157 Issue: 30 Thursday, October 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment:

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

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

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

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

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

Of the offspring of these unholy unions, Genesis tells us,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even Hallowe’en.

Featured Commentary: The Two Witnesses ~ J.L. Robb

A Man after God’s Own Heart

A Man after God’s Own Heart
Vol: 157 Issue: 29 Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Paul’s sermon at Antioch, in which he briefly recounts the history of Israel, he refers to the statement made by God concerning David:

“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own Heart, who will do all My will.” – (Acts 13:22 [cf. 1 Samuel 13:13-14])

It is especially interesting, given the fact that David is among the patriarchs with the most checkered past.

The portrait of King David painted by Scripture is hardly the picture of what one might consider ‘a man after God’s own heart’.

At various times during his lifetime, he was deceitful and corrupt, a widely despised tyrant who lacked for justice, and a murderer. From the slaughter of seven sons of Saul to the murder of one of his most loyal lieutenants, whose wife he seduced, David was no paragon of virtue.

What was there about David that caused God to extend such a sweeping compliment as to pronounce him a man after His own Heart? David understood his relationship with God like few others in Biblical history.

After committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having her husband, Uriah killed, the prophet Nathan stood before King David and accused him before God.

“And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.” (2nd Samuel 12:1-7)

Note that Samuel carefully records that “the Lord sent Nathan unto David” to convict him of his sin. In his prayer of contrition in Psalm 51, David reveals much of what it was that caused God to pronounce him a ‘man after His own heart.’

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1)

David understood that his relationship with God was ‘according to His lovingkindness’ and not according to David’s definition of what God should do. He also understood that his sin, as horrendous as it was, could be blotted out, not by some act of David’s, but solely due to the ‘multitude of God’s tender mercies’.

David appeals;

“Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (v.2.3)

David knew that God knew what his sins were, but the important point was that DAVID knew what his sins were, and the importance of honest confession before God.

David understood also that his sin was against God, that it was deliberate, and that the reason his sin haunted him was because of its offense before God. David understood that, since it was a sin against God, only an act of God could blot it out. Nothing David could do to make restitution would ever be sufficient.

“Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” (v.4)

David understood that there was no ‘wiggle room’ before the Lord and that God’s justice is as absolute as His mercy.

But David was also a realist;

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

David understood the dual nature of fallen humanity, that which caused the Apostle Paul to cry out,

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

Paul explained,

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

Having expressed his frustration with his own struggle with his dual nature, Paul summarized that which David understood, saying,

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

David prayed,

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6)

Assessment:

God’s truth is that nothing we can do by our own effort will ever make restitution for our past sins. Each of us shares the same conflict between the carnal nature and the spirit.

Paul’s equation of the sin nature to ‘the body of this death’ refers to a particularly brutal form of execution sometimes practice under the Romans. The condemned would be chained to a corpse, and food and water withheld until the condemned either died or resorted to cannibalism.

That is how Paul viewed the cohabitation of the spirit with the sin nature of the flesh.

David trusted God to lead him, even when he was out of fellowship, having faith that ‘in the hidden part’ — in his spirit, God would ‘make him to know wisdom’.

David’s understanding of the grace of God as expressed in his prayer in large part, fits with God’s description of him as being a man after His own Heart.

It was this understanding of unmerited grace that formed the centerpiece of the ministry of Jesus. One of the Lord’s earthly titles is the “Son of David.”

David expresses his understanding of how the process of forgiveness operates in God’s economy.

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (v. 7-10)

Note the role David plays in his redemption. Admit, confess, repent and trust. To ‘repent’ means to change one’s mind about sin. David saw himself as King of Israel, and therefore, whatever he did was above reproach.

David sat on his throne, and passed judgment on the wicked rich man of whom Nathan spoke. Until he realized Nathan was speaking about HIM, at which point he changed his mind about his sin and laid himself bare before the Lord.

All the rest of the redemptive process David placed in the Hands of God. ‘Purge me, wash me, forgive me, bless me and renew me.’

Even his sense of conviction came through a direct message from God through Nathan, just as we are directly convicted by God through His indwelling Holy Spirit.

David’s only role in his redemption was to trust in God to make the changes that David knew he could not effect himself.

David accepted the earthly consequences of his sin, such as the death of his son, but with the clear understanding that the spiritual consequences of his sin were forgiven.

“While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I SHALL GO TO HIM, but he shall not return to me.” (2nd Samuel 12:22-23)

What made David a man after God’s own heart was his understanding of the consequences of being out of fellowship with God, and how to get back into right fellowship with God.

Ask Him.

“Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.” It is the joy of knowing one is saved and in fellowship with the Lord that shines through and attracts the lost.

Having been spiritually restored, notes David;

“THEN will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.”(v. 11-12)

Often, I read in the forums of members lamenting their ineffectiveness for Christ and wondering what it is they are doing wrong. Spend a few minutes meditating on these two verses with me.

GOD restores our joy, GOD then subsequently upholds us with His Spirit. THEN we find ourselves effective witnesses, teaching people His ways, and leading the lost to Christ.

It is deceptively simple. Trust God. Be joyful. Allow Him to lead you and not the other way around.

David makes it clear that the redemptive process is in God’s Hands, understanding grace so well that he could see past the Temple rituals of the Mosaic Law and peer into God’s Heart, saying,

“For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (v. 51:16-17)

One of the most debilitating emotions to one’s Christian witness is the weight of the guilt we heap on ourselves for being what we KNOW we are in our own ‘inward parts’.

David understood, in his spirit, that God’s forgiveness is total and absolute, and leaves no spiritual residue of guilt. At the Cross, the Son of David cried out in a loud voice, ‘Tetelestai!’ which means, ‘paid in full’.

Jesus promised,

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Featured Commentary: Talk the Walk ~ Lea Sylvester

Speaking of Excrement And Fans. . .

Speaking of Excrement And Fans. . .
Vol: 157 Issue: 28 Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our column on “Doomsday Preppers” sparked something of a debate about whether or not Christians should be prepping for what is coming our way, or if making preparations in some way betrays a lack of faith.

It also appears to have given the impression that I come down on the side of those that believe making preparations demonstrates a lack of faith, so let me address that first.   

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

It is not a lack of faith to make provision for one’s family.  Quite the opposite.  The Scripture mandates it.  Paul characterizes the failure to provide for one’s family as a denial of the faith.  This means more than providing a home and daily bread, or paying child support.  

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. . .” (Ephesians 5:25)

What does Paul mean by, He “gave Himself for it”?  Obviously, the Lord died for the Church when He died for the sins of the world.  But the Lord didn’t just die for the Church, He lived for it. 

He spent His every waking moment providing for His Church, nurturing, teaching, feeding and preparing  them for what was to come upon them, as well as preparing us for what is to come upon us.  

His death was only part of how He provided for us.

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

To provide for His Church, He lived, died and rose again.  We are commanded to emulate Christ when providing for our families and to do less makes one “worse than an infidel”.

So let me make this point clearly before moving on: I believe we should prepare for the coming storm with all the resources at our disposal.   It is not evidence of a lack of faith.  Any more than laying down in the middle of a freeway at rush hour is a demonstration of faith.   

I have faith that the Lord will return for me before the onset of the Tribulation Period, but I have no reason to believe that, (to quote the New York Times’ reference) the event involving excrement and a fan won’t happen until after the Rapture.

I have made my own “bug-out” plans in the event it becomes necessary.  We are also stockpiling food and other necessary supplies, just in case.  Plus a whole lot of other measures that I’d rather not put into print.

But my plan is limited to surviving until the Rapture. 

Assessment:

The Bible predicts the Rapture will take place before the antichrist takes the reins of government, (2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8) but nowhere can I find where the Rapture takes place before anything bad happens. 

Just that the Rapture happens before that one, specific bad event takes place.

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.  And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. “(Revelation  6:1-2

There is no reference to any nation resembling the United States during the Tribulation Period.  Given the state of national affairs under Obama, there is almost no nation resembling the United States right now. 

No wonder there are reality shows like “Doomsday Preppers.”  But being fearful doesn’t equate with being faithless.

Fear is a natural, God-given emotion, and is one of mankind’s most basic survival tools.  Pain hurts, so that we fear it, and therefore, we are careful not to damage ourselves.

It is the fear of pain that makes us run from danger, preserving our lives.  Without fear, few of us would survive to adulthood.

The Bible doesn’t tell us not to fear so much as it teaches us how to redirect our fear.  Jesus said to fear not those who can destroy the body, but rather to fear Him Who can destroy the soul. 

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4)

“Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . .” (Psalms 46:2)

“In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” (Psalms 56:4)

So, if scary news scares us, does that mean that we are faithless Christians?  No.  There is a difference between being scared from time to time and living in fear.

“Sudden fear” comes upon us all, saved and unsaved alike.  Don’t let it worry you.  It’s part of our existence in this world. We all get scared.  We may not be of this world, but we are in it.  

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

What is the purpose for Bible prophecy if not to give the warning to prepare for what is to come?   

“For when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

The things the Lord is referring to are the same things that Doomsday preppers are making preparations for.  That’s the bad part.   

But these events also mean that the Lord is also making preparations to return for His Church.  That’s the good part.

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

Featured Commentary: Bethulah and Her Son ~ Wendy Wippel

Confessions of a Doomsday Prepper

Confessions of a Doomsday Prepper
Vol: 157 Issue: 27 Monday, October 27, 2014

Reality TV is a relatively recent trend in entertainment programming that I confess baffles me to the core.  Reality is where I live.  If I’m looking for reality, I should be looking out the window, not into my TV screen.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1950’s, TV was new — and so was everything on it.  Live entertainment programs really were “live” and the entertainment was sublime.  Television was literally imagination in a box.  And it was largely original. 

General Electric Theater produced a new, original screenplay every week.  So did Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Ford Television Theater, Fireside Theatre, Somerset Maugham Theater, the Philco Television Playhouse and a dozen others.

All the sitcoms were from original ideas; the Life of Riley, Our Miss Brooks, I Love Lucy, Life with Luigi, The Honeymooners, December Bride, etc.  The format was new, and so were all the routines.  

The TV dramas were often brilliant, and always fun.  And like everything else on television in those days, all original.  

Dragnet, The Millionaire, Private Secretary, Cheyenne, Maverick, Have Gun Will Travel, Peter Gunn, Perry Mason, Wanted: Dead or Alive . . . . every episode of every program was unique and original.

Reruns were rare at first; later they became more common, but only as “filler” between seasons for that show.  Nobody would watch a program made up exclusively of reruns.  Not yet.  There was still too much on TV that was new.

In the early days, TV offered escapism, not reality.  (Reality TV, as I noted, came on at six o’clock starring Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.)

In recent years, original entertainment programming has become as common as the dodo bird.  You can’t get much more original than to write about stuff that doesn’t exist, and so Star Trek managed to survive through four incarnations, but in the end, even the coolest gadgets couldn’t disguise the recycled plotlines.

And so, Reality TV was inevitable.  We’re bored with the fantastic — we live in an age where hardly anything is fantastic, anymore.  Or put another way, everything is so fantastic that we need to turn to our television sets to find a little old-fashioned reality.

We started out seeking thrills; Rescue 9/11, COPS, Real Stories of the Highway Patrol and World’s Wildest Police Videos, but soon craved more; from the disgusting, (Wife Swap)  to the more disgusting (Keeping Up With the Kardashians) until we discovered the joys of reality voyeurism, (the Bachelor, Big Brother).

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)

Assessment:

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. ” (Matthew 24:37-39)

In February 2012, the Discovery Channel introduced a new reality TV series called “Doomsday Preppers.” The program is described at its website under the heading, “About the Show” — just below the dramatic photo of a teen-aged boy firing a scoped assault rifle with an extended banana clip.

“Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.”

What is a “Doomsday Prepper”?  That is evidently what the New York Times set out to discover.  Here is what staff critic Neil Genzlinger (Gezundheit!) found.

“Watch either show for a short while and, unless you’re a prepper yourself, you might be moderately amused at the absurd excess on display and at what an easy target the prepper worldview is for ridicule. Watch a bit longer, though, and amusement may give way to annoyance at how offensively anti-life these shows are, full of contempt for humankind.”

Hmmm.  I’ve not seen the show.  But if the New York Times hates it . . . 

“Who knows how representative these shows are of the prepper universe, but the people they feature are disproportionately white. They can’t speak for long without employing that cliché involving excrement and a fan. And whatever their religious beliefs might be, something “Preppers” doesn’t generally explore, most of them put their real faith in firearms.”

No, I think I was reading it wrong.  The New York Times loves the show — it gives them the chance to showcase how much they hate those people.

“But the unmistakable impression left by these programs is that what these folks want most of all is not to protect their families — the standard explanation for why they’re doing what they’re doing — or even the dubious pleasure of being able to say to the rest of us, “See, I told you the world was going to end.” What they want is a license to open fire.”

According to the New York Times, Doomsday Preppers are primarily gun-toting racists who have no respect for human life.  And that is pretty much the same view taken by the rest of the liberal elite, including the top echelons of the Department of Homeland Security. 

That is also the view that you are supposed to have, if you are the sort of person that takes his ideological marching orders from the New York Times or shares the worldview of the Discovery Channel that produced the program.

Doomsday Preppers is played strictly for laughs, quietly mocking their subjects, holding them up as objects of ridicule, but also as folks to be feared, (once the cliché’ involving excrement and a fan becomes appropriate.)

Who are they, really?  Lots of them are precisely what the Discovery Channel makes them out to be. (That’s why they were the ones chosen.)  

The real Doomsday Preppers are simply folks that are preparing for the obvious the way one would prepare for a coming storm.  Clearly, it is coming and it is just as clearly that obvious. Or there wouldn’t be a prime-time reality show devoted to the premise.

Only a liberal would view the decision not to become a victim as anti-life and contemptuous of mankind –  “mankind” meaning, presumably, the roving bands of looters that Doomsday preppers are preparing to defend their families from.

What I find fascinating, however, is that Doomsday prepping is not a phenomenon exclusive to Christians that believe in Bible prophecy.

There are some Christians among the Doomsday Preppers, but they are preparing for economic and political collapse, not “Doomsday” in the sense of the end of the world.  

Christians await the coming of Christ, and the Millennial Kingdom —  not the coming of antichrist and the end of the world. They aren’t prepping for Biblical Doomsday — they are prepping for hard times.

What I want you to see here is the whole progression in one lifetime (generation). 

From the unbridled hope and freshness with which it began, as reflected by television — imagination in a box — to the unmitigated fear and confusion (distress and perplexity) into which it is descending.

Again, as reflected by our “imagination in a box.”

As the eyes are a mirror into the soul, television is a mirror into our collective society.  Here’s what it reflects: We started out with Milton Berle and the Cavalcade of Stars and “progressed” to “Doomsday Preppers.”   

My parents were confident that life would be better for me than for them.  I am confident they were right — but life was better for me than it will be for my children.  Everywhere, there is a sense that time is running out and Doomsday Preppers is an uncomfortable reminder of that reality.

What I noted throughout the Times’ article, over at the Doomsday Preppers website, and the other articles I read while preparing this one was that while they all mocked the preppers, nobody mocked the premise.

Everybody was pretty much in universal agreement that preparing for Doomsday was contemptuous of humanity, selfish, etc., etc., but none of them were arguing that it was unnecessary.   

“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:33-34)

The secular world knows, just like we do.  They just don’t want to accept what it means.

“That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” (Philippians 2:10)

To the secular world, that is Doomsday.

Featured Commentary: The Great Red Dragon ~ Pete Garcia

Laws of God? Or Laws of Men?

Laws of God? Or Laws of Men?
Vol: 157 Issue: 25 Saturday, October 25, 2014

Civil disobedience is a touchy subject among Christians.  There is so much in our world that screams out for it.  And we are all sick and tired of being pushed out of the public arena, marginalized and mocked, and sick to death of the Obama.  It is difficult to know when is the right time to stand up and shout, “Enough!”

In Acts 4:15-20 and 5:27-29, when the Sanhedrin demanded that the Apostles cease preaching the gospel, it was a clear-cut case of the dictates of man contradicting the commandments of God.

Jesus had sent the Apostles out to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19,20); to disobey Him would be sin. The Apostles had to make a personal choice; they chose to obey their Savior.

In Acts 16:35-40 Paul explained that he was concerned about future opportunities to preach the gospel.  He insisted on his legal rights as a Roman citizen.  This is a unique situation, but from it, we learn that Christians CAN stand up for their legal rights, especially when the cause of Christ is involved.

On the other hand, the Apostle Paul writes that we are to submit ourselves to the governing authorities.

This is where it gets complicated.  The two most important passages on this subject are Romans 13:1-5 and I Peter 2:13-17.  The Holy Spirit lays out for us the following truths.  First, every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities, for God has appointed those authorities (Romans 13:1).

It is worth of note that as Paul wrote these words, Nero was the Roman Emperor, and his kingdom was based on anything but Biblical principles.

Nero certainly was no God-fearing man, yet Paul gave instructions to submit to the government in that anti-Christian historical context, and included no conditions.

Many advocates of Christian civil disobedience base their views on the assertion that a government based on anti-Christian principles, carrying out unjust policies, forfeits its right to command obedience from its citizens.

But the Roman government Paul lived under was no less humanistic and wicked than is ours; and yet Christians living under it were commanded to submit to it.

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient” (Titus 3:1).

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men, whether to the Kings, as the supreme authority, or to governors” (1 Peter 2:13-14).

Note that Peter does not say, “every authority except one that is humanistic” or “every authority except those not based on God’s law” but “every authority.”

Second, to resist God-appointed authorities is to resist God and invite His judgment on our lives (Romans 13:2).

Third, ruling authorities are the ministers of God for our good. It is amazing that God is using even unsaved political leaders to accomplish His purposes, without their consent or knowledge (Romans 13:3,4).

Fourth, we are to submit to authorities not only out of fear of punishment, but also in order to have a clear conscience before God.

Consequently, the believer will seek to obey the laws of society even when he is not likely to get caught for committing a crime. Our ultimate reason for obedience is to please God (Romans 13:5; I Peter 2:13-14).

Fifth, obedience to authorities is a good testimony before unbelievers (I Peter 2:15).

And sixth, we are to honor those who have authority over us (I Peter 2:17).

Some argue that the Roman Christians were practicing civil disobedience when they refused to sacrifice to the emperor as they were commanded.

Civil disobedience is not refusing to obey a command that would cause us to sin. Christians are free to disobey the government, and indeed must disobey the government when it commands us to do something contrary to God’s Word, or forbids us to do something Christ commands.

For example, if a government forbids us to preach Christ to unbelievers, we must disobey, as Peter and John did (Acts 4:1-20).

A true act of civil disobedience by the Roman Christians would have been their refusal to pay taxes as an act of protest against the Roman government’s corrupt policies – such as, supporting slavery, encouraging idolatry, and sponsoring cruel spectacles in the Colosseum.

Yet the New Testament instructs believers to pay their taxes: “this is also why you pay taxes, because authorities are God’s servants … if you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue” (Romans 13:6,7).

This is the crucial difference: civil disobedience is refusing to obey a law as an act of protest against a government policy one believes is evil.

This is what troubles me.  Is the Alabama cause the cause of Christ?

Paul said the Cross freed us from the bondage of the 10 Commandments, since no one except Jesus ever kept them all.

Paul writes in Romans Chapter 7:8-11,

“But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”

As Paul already observed in Romans 6:14, thanks to the Cross,

“we are not under the law, but under grace. . .”

If Paul is telling the truth, the Ten Commandments are the reason that the Jews remain lost to this present time. The fact we are NOT under the Ten Commandments is the reason you and I can hope for eternal life.

Boiled down to basics, the unsaved world came away with the image of Christians, protesting the removal of a monument to the Law, the same Law that necessitated Christ’s crucifixion in the first place. A Law that Christians themselves cannot keep.

This is what troubled me. What kind of message does that send to the unsaved?

They don’t know that Christ set us free from the Law. A missed golden opportunity, since nobody got a chance to hear about that on TV.

Instead, the world saw the images on the television of Christians prostrate before the monument, like pagans worshipping at an altar. With a faith (in the Law, from the perspective of the unsaved) so powerful an Alabama Supreme Court Justice would defy his own court.

Should anything be more important than leading the lost away from the spiritual bondage of the Law and into the liberty procured by the Lord at the Cross?

Did anybody see anything in this debacle for the lost sinner, the skeptic, the seeker currently dabbling in drugs, the occult or paganism, that would convict them of their sinful state and turn them to Christ?

Anybody know anybody who got saved as a consequence of this hugely publicized Christian gathering? Anybody?

I could have gone with the majority on this. In fact, I wanted to. This is a juicy issue, if all I wanted to do was attract subscribers by piling on a popular topic and championing the popular view.

But the Bible and logic both say this isn’t right.

We’ve addressed it from the Biblical perspective, now let’s look at it logically. Because spin is spin, no matter who is doing the spinning.

Suppose the idiots who sued to have the monument moved had lost, then exhausted all their appeals. Having lost, they then took a sledgehammer to the monument anyway, in defiance of the court. Having removed the monument, they announced they did so because the ruling was unconstitutional (as they saw it).

I don’t want to offend anyone. I love you all as family. I hurt about this as much as you do. I am as infuriated by the anti-God efforts of the courts as any of you.

The Bible said this is what would happen in the last days. God Himself ordained the collapse of society, the rejection of godly principles, a system that would have a ‘form of godliness but denied the power thereof’ and He told the last days believers, ‘from such turn away’ — not emulate their tactics.

I gave you my word I’d unspin things and let you decide what the picture looks like when it is standing still. Even when it hurts.

Believe me when I say this one hurts.

A lot.

Everything in Context

Everything in Context
Vol: 157 Issue: 24 Friday, October 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Through Paul, God reveals a new truth;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Church plays no role.

God reveals to the Church that,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Commentary: A Thief in the Night ~ Alf Cengia