Blood Moon – Another Sure Thing

Blood Moon – Another Sure Thing
Vol: 162 Issue: 31 Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The ‘Blood Moon’ story has made the rounds in our forums through the years. The premise is irresistible; a series of lunar and solar eclipses will occur during Passover and Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) suggest a date for the Second Coming of Christ.

Mark Blitz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington, notes that the only string of four consecutive blood moons that coincide with Passover in the spring and the Feast of Tabernacles will take place between 2014 and 2015 on the standard Gregorian calendar.

It then follows that the Second Coming of Christ will take place at the end of the Feast of Trumpets — at the last trump, as it were. Blitz has put together a very compelling argument:

“The fact that it doesn’t happen again in this century I think is very significant,” Biltz explains. “So then I looked at last century, and, believe it or not, the last time that four blood red moons occurred together was in 1967 and 1968 tied to Jerusalem recaptured by Israel.”

Moreover, according to a WND report, Blitz noted a pattern of blood moon events that took place in 1948, two others in 1949 and 1950 took place on Passover and Succot.

According to Blitz (I haven’t done the research myself) the last time that the astronomical phenomenon known as ‘tetrads’ had taken place prior to 1948 was back in the 14th century, but “none of those fell on Passover or Succot,” he said.

Pastor Blitz’ research makes a compelling case, as I noted earlier:

“You have the religious year beginning with the total solar eclipse, two weeks later a total lunar eclipse on Passover, and then the civil year beginning with the solar eclipse followed two weeks later by another total blood red moon on the Feast of Succoth all in 2015.”

It was so compelling that J.R. Church of ‘Prophecy in the News’ is convinced:

“If you think that this is a coincidence, I want you to know that it’s time! There are no more of these for the rest of the century.”

I’m somewhat less convinced. Call me a hopeful skeptic.

Assessment:

WND interviewed Jim Bramlett, a former VP at CBN and author of a regular email newsletter and Hal Lindsey for the column. Bramlett was very excited about it. After watching a video of Blitz’ interview, Bramlett enthused:

“I have just watched the program two times and do not think I have ever been more encouraged or excited about the soon return of the Lord!”

Hal, not so much. WND quoted Hal’s comments as follows:

“In my 50-something years of studying prophecy, to me the greatest indication of the time of Christ’s return is based around the general things of prophecies coming together in the same time frame . . . I see the whole sweep and panorama spinning together in a precise scenario.”

What Hal is referring to is the Big Picture — the one Bible prophecy actually paints.

I talked with Hal about it the day after he spoke with WND. Hal was blindsided by the interview; unlike Bramlett, he hadn’t heard of Mark Blitz or his research.

But he and I had discussed the whole theory tying the return of Christ to the Feast of Tabernacles many times over the years. On the surface, this does sound a lot like just another ‘sure-thing’ — like Edgar Whisenant’s “88 Reasons Why Christ Must Come in 1988” and Harold Camping’s “1994”.

The Apostle Peter wrote:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)

I’ve even had that verse thrown at me in debates with date-setters who knew for sure they’d calculated the date of the Rapture as the last day of 2008’s Succot or the start of Yom Kippur.

But disagreeing is not ‘scoffing’ and I admit I disagree entirely on principle — this is one of the most convincing arguments I’ve yet run across — assuming the research is accurate.

If Blitz’ calculations are correct and the 2nd Coming will be during the Blood Moon Succot of 2015, then that would mean a Pre-Trib Rapture would have to occur at least seven years earlier.

Assuming the theory that the Rapture and 2nd Coming are symbolically linked to the Last Trump (Succot) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is correct, the Rapture MUST take place no later than the conclusion of 2008’s Feast of Tabernacles.

(The Second Coming of Christ takes place at the conclusion of the Tribulation during a blood moon — “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” [Joel 2:31])

I confess I haven’t much of an argument to rebut it, and frankly, I’m tempted to think that maybe this time, somebody has finally figured it out.

But no matter how hard I try, I cannot make it past the Scripture that says:

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

I’ve tried to parse that verse and find a way to justify some argument that will nullify its meaning. Maybe no man knew then — but what about now? I can’t get there from here.

After all, these aren’t the words of an Apostle under Divine Inspiration concerning the 2nd Coming of the Lord. These are the Words of Jesus Christ concerning His own coming — if He isn’t THE final Authoritative Word on the subject, then there isn’t one.

I admit that I don’t know if Blitz is right. I didn’t know if Whisenant was right until the last trump of 1988, or if Camping was right until the last trump signaled the conclusion of the 1994 Succot celebration.

Every year, somebody sends me their calculations proving that this year’s Succot is The Last Trump and I don’t know if they are right until after it’s sounded and I am still here.

So I don’t know if Blitz is right, but what I DO know keeps me from going off the deep end with them.

I know that when it comes to setting dates, Jesus has been right every time.

Originally Published: May 3, 2008

Featured Commentary: Atheists Among Us ~ Wendy Wippel

Salvation 101

Salvation 101
Vol: 162 Issue: 30 Monday, March 30, 2015

I have a good friend who was once a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but who left that cult after having encountered a well-informed Christian who proved to him that the New World Translation (the Bible used by Jehovah’s Witnesses) had significant differences from other Bible translations.

Unfortunately for my friend, while he left the cult, he took what he had learned from it with him. One of the most difficult concepts for him to grasp is that of salvation by grace.

“But, Jack, it just CAN’T be that simple,” he’ll argue, before pointing out all the verses he learned from the JW’s that ‘proved’ salvation is limited and dependent upon behavior. My friend believes in God and Jesus Christ, and tries hard to live right because of that belief, but he still can’t bring himself to trust Jesus Christ alone for his salvation.

Instead, he trusts to his own good works, in spite of the fact that he knows (and admits) to sinning every day, just like everybody else does.

We’ve talked and talked — for hours at a time — while he wrestles with the concept of salvation by grace through faith. I am sure everybody has a friend like mine, so I thought it might be good to revisit Salvation 101 — maybe you’ve run into some of the same questions.

The Omega Letter is aimed at those who have already grasped the simplicity of salvation, and generally focuses its attention on the ‘strong meat’ of doctrine.

For example, we’ve examined the nuts-and-bolts answers to hard questions like, “Why did Jesus have to die?” and “would a loving God send people to hell?” etc., but not so much with the ‘milk issues’ that confound the seekers and confuse the lost.

Many people feel they have fulfilled the second commandment of God, in loving other people, but to a large degree, they have ignored the first and most important commandment – to love God with all your heart. We are created in the Image of God to love God and love one another.

If we choose to ignore God and not love Him, we are rejecting Him, and as such will not be forced to live with Him in heaven, but will be eternally separated from Him and His children (those who love Him).

Many churches do good things, and many people do good works in their church and in their community. However, without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, these works are “dead works,” often done to glorify ourselves and gain esteem within the church.

A person cannot have a personal relationship with God apart from Jesus. There is a gap that exists between God the Father and sinful humanity.

God is completely holy and cannot tolerate the presence of any sin. But we are all selfish sinners. To redeem us, He had to become ONE of us.

To do THAT, He had to physically enter sin’s ‘quarantine zone’ (the earth’s atmosphere), conquer sin in THIS world, thereby defeating sin’s universal stranglehold on humanity, and then, having qualified as an acceptable Sacrifice, paid the eternal penalty for sin on our behalf.

When Adam sinned, God cursed him, saying, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19)

God covered the first sin of Adam by clothing his nakedness with dead animal skins. Sin, by definition, introduced death into the world. “. . . without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

Jesus paid the penalty prescribed by Adam’s sin, just as every human being since Adam, but Jesus was WITHOUT sin. He was not under that penalty for Himself, so He could assume it on our behalf. Having defeated the cause of death (sin), He then defeated the penalty of sin (death) by His Resurrection.

My friend, (and everyone else who ever sinned, even once) have not defeated sin personally, and remain under sin’s penalty of death.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27)

But death is in two parts. The physical death, and what the Bible calls the ‘second death’ eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.

And so is the judgement. The believer’s sins were judged at the Cross, and the penalty for them has already been paid.

For those who trust to their own good works, there is a second judgement before the Great White Throne, where they will be judged according to ALL their works, good and bad.

There is no balancing scale. One sin earns eternal separation.

Our personal sin still earns the wages of physical death. We are spiritually and eternally saved, but the world in which we live remains under the curse. Sin has its consequences on the things which are in it.

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

Jesus sinless Sacrifice paid our eternal debt — there is nothing left to judge but our rewards. Nothing we could ever do could earn it, because it is a gift, freely offered to all men.

By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and committing to follow Him we are declared righteous by God on the basis of our faith.

Therefore as new creatures, recreated by the Blood of Christ, wearing His righteousness instead of our own, we are able to come before the throne of God blameless and cleansed, reestablishing our relationship with God.

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

It has NOTHING to do with religion. Paul was preaching to the Church at Galatia, where a heresy had crept in that said Christians had to be circumcised like Jews in order to prove they belonged to God.

Paul makes it clear that Christians are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but something entirely new.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)

My friend’s difficulty in trusting Jesus is rooted in his failure to understand the ‘new creature’ for what it is. The Bible teaches that there are four spiritual creations.

First, God created the angels. Then, He created Adam in His Image and in His Likeness. At Adam’s fall, his spiritual state was changed, he became separated from God, and Adam fathered the spiritual creation known as the Gentile.

Abraham, through faith, fathered the first of another new spiritual creation. Isaac was the first spiritual Jew, the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.

Since then, every person is born either a spiritual Jew or a spiritual Gentile. The three spiritual creations of God, then, are angels, and then Jews and Gentiles, created in His Image, with an eternal spirit.

A descendant of Isaac can never become a Gentile. A Gentile can become a practicing Jew, but he remains a spiritual Gentile, since his eternal spirit remains estranged from God in any case.

Jesus introduced a new spiritual creation with His Resurrection. Those who trust Jesus are transformed into a totally new spiritual creation, personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, and restored to the fellowship lost by Adam.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12)

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

Having been MADE righteous and restored to fellowship, Christians are neither Gentile nor Jew. Nor are they angels, either literally or figuratively. The Bible calls them ‘saints’ — something entirely unique in the history of the universe. Jews and Gentiles are born what they are. Christians are REBORN into a ‘new birth’ — a new spiritual creation of God.

Our conversion is literal — we CONVERT into a new thing, like a moth becoming a butterfly. Just as a Jew can’t become a Gentile because he is of Isaac’s race, (and a Gentile can’t become a spiritual Jew because he isn’t), a Christian, once reborn, can’t revert back to either Jew or Gentile. And we never were angels.

Salvation is a permanent transformation from one kind of spiritual creation to a different kind of spiritual creation.

Why is this so important to a study on basic Salvation 101?

As I said, it is the misunderstanding of the new creature that is a stumbling-block to my friend. He sees Christians the way the world does. Sinners, not saints.

He understands the ‘wages of sin’ part, kinda grasps the ‘free gift’ part, but not quite, but can’t get understand how Christians can still sin and confidently expect to go to heaven when they die? Because they DO sin, even though they try not to.

One cannot sin one’s way back into an old creature that has, according to Scripture, “passed away.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17) Paul says the old creature is dead. Only God can raise the dead, not an act of man. Even a sinful act.

The Bible says to repent (literally, change your mind), realize your sin will take you to hell, and that there is nothing you can do about it except to trust Jesus’ promise that by trusting Him for your salvation as the Lord of your life, you are now a new creation of God.

It’s so simple. So simple, in fact, that there are millions upon millions who just can’t get it. Paul spoke of being “wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16) not the least of which is the belief that our works contribute to our salvation.

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1st Corinthians 1:27)

Trusting Jesus means exactly that. Jesus did it ALL. It’s Salvation 101.

Originally Published: September 12, 2004

Featured Commentary: The Last Days ~ Pete Garcia

Evil Under the Sun

Evil Under the Sun
Vol: 162 Issue: 28 Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wisdom is something all of us seek, but few of us find when we’re looking for it.  According to the Bible, King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived.  But King Solomon is also the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, in which Solomon strives to explain the nature of life, only to conclude that he cannot.

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

Although Solomon was gifted with God-given insight and discernment, or wisdom all through his life, he was still in search of understanding as his days on earth dwindled down to a perilous few.  The Book of Ecclesiastes can be divided in four main parts:

  • The Futility of all Human Endeavor
  • The Futility of all Human Achievement
  • The Limitations of Human Wisdom and;
  • The Conclusion: Live Joyously in the fear of God

Solomon, at first blinded by the seeming futility of life despite his wisdom (“all is vanity”) reached his final conclusion only after he attained a measure of understanding:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

The Scriptures tell us that wisdom plus instruction equal understanding and that ‘understanding’ is the senior of the three attributes.

Psalms 111:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.”

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

Proverbs 3:13: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.”

Proverbs 8:5: “O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.”

Do you see the progression?  When one seeks wisdom through instruction, the Bible promises the result will be understanding.  But what is the difference between wisdom, which Solomon always had, and understanding, which came to Solomon only later in life?

Solomon outlines the progression of spiritual learning.  It begins by seeking the source of wisdom.  Having identified the source of wisdom, one must prepare to receive instruction; in other words, have a teachable spirit.

Wisdom plus instruction, when properly applied, will then yield understanding.

Assessment:

Let’s break this down a bit further.  Many people learn to drive by seeking instruction from a skilled driver.  The instructor, if he is worth his salt, will impart certain wisdoms; keep your wheels straight when waiting to make a left turn until you are ready to move, for example.

But if you don’t know why that is a wise move, it is probable that you will forget it as soon as you’ve passed your driver’s test.  If your instructor is any good, he will impart his wisdom together with instruction, which will lead to understanding.  

If your car is rear-ended while you are waiting to turn, if your wheels are already turned, you will be pushed into an oncoming lane of traffic and probably get hit again. 

Once you know why, you are far less likely to forget what.  Because wisdom plus instruction yields understanding.

As we progress in our walk with the Lord, we learn that the source of all wisdom is Scripture.  The Bible says that the ‘fear’ [respect] for the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.  

That is to say, without respect for God’s Word AS God’s Word and therefore infinitely wise, instruction will be useless and understanding will never come.

Like the guy who gets mad when he gets a ticket for rolling through a stop sign.  To his mind, the cop is ‘picking on him’.  He never makes it to the point of understanding — and he probably gets a lot of tickets.

“And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:9)

We miss much of what God has planned for our lives.  Instead of applying Scripture to our lives, we apply the wisdom of the world, best expressed as ‘live and learn.’

That will eventually yield some measure of worldly wisdom, but by itself, it won’t bring us to the next level, that of understanding.

Many Christians start out eager for instruction and seeking wisdom.  But then they reach a point where they feel they’ve learned all they need to know.

Paul refers to them as ‘milk’ Christians — baby Christians not yet able to digest ‘the strong meat’ of the Word of God.

Think back to the guy who got mad because he saw his ticket as evidence the cop is picking on him.  Now think about the last time you had a discussion with somebody over some element relative to Bible prophecy for the last days.

Take the Tribulation, for example.  The Scriptures teach that there will be saved Christians on the earth during the reign of Antichrist.

From there, it is easy to conclude those Christians are part of the Church.  Having reached that conclusion, any instruction to the contrary becomes a point of contention over the timing of the Rapture.

Putting the Church into the Tribulation Period means spiritualizing and allegorizing the rest of Scripture instead of seeking understanding.  Scripture teaches that the Christian in the Church Age cannot be overcome by the enemy. (1st John 2:14,4:4)

But the same Scriptures teach that during the Tribulation, the antichrist is not only empowered to make war with the saints, but ALSO to overcome them. (Revelation 13:7)

How does one seek to understand what appears to be such a glaring contradiction?

“Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (Proverbs 8:33)

The purpose of the Tribulation Period is two-fold; in the first, it is the ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’.

“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7)

Note that Jeremiah says that “Jacob” [the children of Israel] will “be saved out of it.”  They will be saved OUT of the Tribulation, by the Promise of God — as Jews.

During the Church Age, individual Jews are saved by grace through faith and become Christians.  At the end of the Tribulation, Scripture says that ALL Israel will be saved, but by sight, rather than faith alone.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

The Church plays no role in Israel’s national redemption during the Tribulation.  The Church is in heaven and the 144,000 Spirit-filled Jews of Revelation 7 carry the Gospel, primarily to the Jews.

The second purpose of the Tribulation is to bring judgment on a Christ-rejecting, unrepentant world.

“Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (Revelation 9:21)

By definition, Church-Age Christians have already repented — they have no role to play in the Tribulation.

The Tribulation Saints are saved through the Spirit-dwelt 144,000 Jews empowered as evangelists by the seal of God (Revelation 7).  They are overcome by the antichrist, and are either killed or accept his mark.

During the Church Age, salvation is open to all men.  They need only to accept Christ and they are forgiven, their crimes erased, and they are washed in the Blood of the Lamb and spend eternity with Christ.

The Church Age and the 70th Week of Daniel are in different dispensations.  During the Church Age, salvation is unconditional.  During the Tribulation, there is no redemption for those who take the Mark of the Beast, according to the Word of God.

The Scriptures provide both wisdom and instruction. But one must be teachable to combine the two and come up with understanding.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things
Vol: 162 Issue: 27 Friday, March 27, 2015

Giant chipmaker Intel announced in 2012 the creation of a joint project with the Beijing Municipal Government and the Institute of Automation of Chinese Academy of Sciences.  The project will be called the China-Intel Internet of Things Joint Labs.

Internet of Things?  What in the world is that?  I’m glad you asked.

The Internet of Things is the name given to the global effort to create a globe-spanning sensor network capable of monitoring things as large as climate change and as microscopic as the life-cycle of product packaging.

By increasing the amount of data gathered, the theory goes, efficiency can be improved and our quality of life increases.  That’s the theory.  But somehow, it sounds like the old, “computers make our lives easier” argument.

Overall, perhaps they do, but if cars operated like computers, they would run flawlessly for thousands of miles before suddenly crashing themselves into a tree for no apparent reason. 

The Internet of Things sort of sounds like a good idea, but, as the saying goes, “every silver lining has its cloud” — including the planned Internet of Things.

Viewed in context, (context being that the Internet is not yet thirty) the Internet of Things isn’t all that new — it has been around since 2009, which in Internet terms is a fairly long time. 

What the Internet of Things actually describes is a network of Internet-enabled objects, together with web services that interact with these objects. Underlying the Internet of Things are technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification), sensors, and smartphones.

The Internet fridge is probably the most oft-quoted example of what the Internet of Things will enable, but there are lots more.  What is an internet fridge?

Imagine a refrigerator that monitors the food inside it and notifies you when you’re low on milk.  It also perhaps monitors all of the best food websites, gathering recipes for your dinners and adding the ingredients automatically to your shopping list.

This fridge knows what kinds of foods you like to eat, based on the ratings you have given to your dinners.  Indeed the fridge helps you take care of your health, because it knows which foods are good for you.  And not only can your fridge figure out what you like to buy, it can also notify the manufacturers.

HP is developing a project for the Internet of Things on a platform called CeNSE, which stands for, Central Nervous System for the Earth.  The goal is to create a worldwide network of sensors, which will create a feedback loop for objects and people.

These sensors will measure data such as vibration, rotation, sound, air flow, light, temperature, pressure and much more.

IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign is about connecting objects to the Internet and applying intelligence and services on top of that. Like HP, IBM uses the central nervous system analogy. “The planet has grown a central nervous system,” it states on the Smarter Planet overview page.

According to a report at gigaom.com, the Internet of Things already consists of more than 9 billion devices and that is expected to balloon to 24 billion devices by 2020.

What does that mean?  More connected televisions, cars, DVD players, photo frames and of course tablets and smartphones.

And more government.

Assessment:

Broadcom has just introduced a new GPS chip for smartphones that is capable of pinpointing one’s location, not to within a few meters, but to within a few centimeters!

The unprecedented accuracy of the Broadcom 4752 chip results from the sheer breadth of sensors from which it can process information. It can receive signals from global navigation satellites, cell-phone towers, and Wi-Fi hot spots, and also input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters, and altimeters.

The variety of location data available to mobile-device makers means that in our increasingly radio-frequency-dense world, location services will continue to become more refined.

In theory, the new chip can even determine what floor of a building you’re on, thanks to its ability to integrate information from the atmospheric pressure sensor on many models of Android phones. The company calls abilities like this “ubiquitous navigation,” and the idea is that it will enable a new kind of e-commerce predicated on the fact that shopkeepers will know the moment you walk by their front door, or when you are looking at a particular product, and can offer you coupons at that instant.

What does that mean?  About half of all phones today are smartphones.  And if you have checked out the telecoms lately, they are so desperate to get you into a smartphone that they will give you one for the asking.

The government is already capable of tracking almost every move a person makes; between electronic toll barriers and CCTV cameras, you are already under government surveillance most of the time.  The Obama administration is pushing to use drone aircraft as a tool of domestic law enforcement.

But all that is necessary for the government to track your every movement is for you to have a smartphone in your pocket and a smart TV in your home.

CIA Director David Petraeus recently called the Internet of Things “transformational” because it would open up a world of new opportunities for “clandestine tradecraft,” or in other words, make it easier for intelligence agencies and governments to spy on you via your dishwasher.

Petraeus said the emergence of so-called ‘smart’ devices would “change our notions of secrecy,” allowing authorities to track individuals via their household appliances.

“Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.”

 “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing,” Petraeus told attendees at a meeting for the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.

Remember all the paranoia and fear back in the early 1990’s about the Mark of the Beast?  Every new development, from barcodes to RFID chips was immediately hailed by prophecy teachers as “one step closer” to the Mark of the Beast.

They were right.  But ‘one step closer’ is not the same as ‘here.’  If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me, “when somebody imposes an economic mark that uses three 6’s without which one cannot buy or sell, then I will believe,” I’d have many dollars today.

But the fact is that Universal Pricing Code (UPC) has been on all products for two decades or more. ‘Universal’ means just what it says.  No products can be sold in the US or EU commercially without it.  In fact, in the EU, it is nicknamed the “EU Mark”.

Take any product you have in your cupboard out and look at the UPC barcode.  It is a series of parallel lines readable by a computer.  Notice that it begins with a little longer series of parallel lines, then there is an identical long one in the middle and another at the end.  Each of those longer lines is identical to the code for ‘six’.

So there already IS a ‘mark’ that employs what appear to be three sixes as a condition of being able to buy or sell.  But it hasn’t resulted in the mass conversion of skeptics.  Neither has it resulted in anyone being forced to accept it on their right hand or forehead.

Instead, it has served as part of an ongoing conditioning process whereby we are being carefully prepared to accept such an eventuality.

When it DOES come, it will seem a natural progression; from RFID chips to credit card chips to smart phones to the Internet of Things. . . .  to a mark in one’s right hand or forehead.

But it is NOT here now.  We’re rapidly moving in the direction of a cashless society within a larger, global economic system.  But that is just the beginning.

For there to be a Mark of the Beast, a number of things are necessary that are not yet in evidence.  First and foremost, we are missing a Beast. 

The Bible says the Mark of the Beast is imposed as a form of worship of the Beast.  So we also need a religious system suitable to that purpose and a False Prophet to propagate it.  

We don’t yet have a cashless society or a fully integrated global economy.  The Beast of Revelation has not yet been introduced.  There is no functioning global religious system or False Prophet that fits the Bible’s description.

And the Church still remains on the earth. 

Two things I want you to see here.  First, owning a smart phone or smart TV or internet-ready dishwasher or having a credit card doesn’t mean one has joined the system of the antichrist or has accepted the Mark of the Beast. 

Secondly, I want you to marvel with me at the fact that some people worry that they might have already.  

Why? 

Because when John predicted it, it was impossible on every level.  It was impossible to track a person’s buying habits.  It was impossible to impose restrictions on an individual’s ability to use money.  It was impossible to impose a global financial system. 

It was impossible in AD 88 when John likely first penned it.  It was impossible in AD 1088.  It was impossible in 1887.  It remained a social and technological impossibility until Bell Labs patented the transistor chip in early 1948, setting the stage for both the Computer Age and the global economy.

In every generation from John’s until mine, it was impossible.  Today, it is necessary to offer assurances that it isn’t already here

Because we are the generation of whom the ancient prophets spoke.  We are the generation that has seen all these things begin to come to pass, and we are the generation that will hear the trumpet call. 

Maranatha!

Origianlly Published: April 11, 2012

Featured Commentary: President Obama VS Israel ~ Alf Cengia

The Predestination Controversy

The Predestination Controversy
Vol: 162 Issue: 26 Thursday, March 26, 2015

One of the most controversial points of doctrine (after the Rapture) among believers is the doctrine of ‘predestination’.

‘Predestination’ is generally misunderstood as the belief that God chose you to be saved before the world began.  And that there are others who He does NOT choose.

As the Bible presents it, ‘predestination’ is simply Divine foreknowledge.

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29)

Predestination is a central point in Calvinism, which helps to explain why it is so controversial.  Most Christians shun the label ‘Calvinist’ altogether, not sure if they are ‘hyper-Calvinists’, ‘modified Calvinists’, or indeed, if they are Calvinist at all.

The main argument against predestination is that it mitigates free will.  If one is predestined to be saved, then God made the choice for you so where is the free will?  Foreknowledge is not predestination anymore that Bible prophecy is.

In both instances, God knows the future, but the choices that bring about that future are made by man.  Their free will is unaffected.  God knows the future — they don’t.

Within Christianity, there are two basic schools of thought on issues of salvation, grace and faith — Calvinism and Arminianism.  There really isn’t a third — any other position is a modification of one of these two.

For the most part, mainstream Protestants and Pentecostals embrace Arminianism, which conforms to the Catholic positions adopted at the Council of Trent.

The Arminian school of thought rejects Dispensationalism, pretribulationalism, and the doctrine of eternal security and embraces Replacement Theology.

The term ‘Arminianism’ comes from Jacobus Arminius who was a Divinity Professor at Leiden University in Holland early in the seventeenth century.

The Five Points of Arminianism:

1. God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ those of the fallen and sinful race who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Him, but leaves in sin the incorrigible and unbelieving.

2. Christ died for all men (not just for the elect), but no one except the believer has remission of sin.

3. Man can neither of himself nor of his free will do anything truly good until he is born again of God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

4. All good deeds or movements in the regenerate must be ascribed to the grace of God but His grace is not irresistible.

5. Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the faith.  But it IS possible for a believer to fall from grace and lose his salvation.

According to Arminianism, then, salvation is accomplished through the combined efforts of God and man.  One is saved by grace through works, and one’s salvation is maintained by not sinning — at least not habitually.

Sort of like maintaining a balance between good works and bad works.

The Five Points of Calvinism:

1. Total depravity of man: Man is unable to believe the Gospel apart from the Holy Spirit and cannot respond on his own.  Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ – it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature.

2. Unconditional election: God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will.

3. Limited atonement: Jesus didn’t die for ALL men, just for those who were predestinated to receive Him. (Points #2 and #3 are the ones that give rise to the most objections.  Even from those who believe that the Jews were similarly chosen exclusively through the sovereign election of God)

4. Irresistible Grace: The internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion.

5. Perseverance of the saints: (Eternal Security) All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved.  They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

Calvinism teaches that salvation is entirely the work of God; God chose His elect, the Son died to pay their sin debt, and the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the Gospel.

The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone.  In this view, it is God, and not man, that determines who will be saved and who will be lost.

Both suffer from the same fundamental flaw in thinking — that foreknowledge is the same as predestination.  Simple logic tells you that because you don’t know your own future, your free will decisions are unaffected by the fact that God does.

Assessment:

“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)

The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners encourages others to hope in His grace and mercy.  Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast.  These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)

It is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power.  It was His purpose, to which He prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our perseverance to holiness.

‘Holiness’ (Gk hagiasmos) means ‘purification’ which is a PROCESS, also accomplished by God through Jesus.

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

There are no Christians more deserving than others.  Because you have not yet achieved the state of holiness others have does not mean you are less favored.  We all come to the Cross equally lost, and we all came away equally saved.

Salvation is an eternal state for which each of us were chosen before the world began.

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” Paul writes to Timothy, (2 Timothy 1:9)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that CANNOT LIE, PROMISED before the world began. . .” (Titus 1:2)

We are eternally secure, because we are eternally saved, which was accomplished in the Mind of God when each of us was called — BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN!

Let’s bring it together.  Nobody can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, who provides us with both the extension of the offer of salvation and the faith necessary to receive it, a calling that was sealed in heaven before the world began, according to His purpose and grace.

Our salvation is immediate and eternal, but our purification is a process, which, having been begun in us at the moment of salvation, will be performed in us — BY CHRIST — until the day we stand before Him.  Lest anyone should boast.

That’s not my opinion of what the Bible says — look up the verses in context and see if you can make them mean something else.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:23-24)

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

Legalism runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture.  This is a very difficult doctrine to both teach and understand.  It sounds like a license to sin.  It is not.

It is an understanding that our relationship to Christ is unique — that God knows our hearts, and has already judged us accordingly.  So that sin cannot reign supreme in our mortal body and thereby render us useless to our calling.

If the enemy can convince us of our own personal unrighteousness (of which each of us is acutely aware) or cause us to doubt the truth of Scripture or of our faith (which is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast) or cause us to doubt our own salvation, then we will not be able to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

God has a plan for each of us, and His plan is to send us to seek out and introduce others to their Savior.  That is our assignment on this earth.  THAT is our ‘calling.’  To spread the Gospel.

As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility before God.  We have been assigned to seek out the lost and offer them the Gospel.  To accomplish our mission, we need to be fully equipped for the task.

That is what eternal security is all about.  Not a license to sin, but rather a certain knowledge that our sin is forgiven.

The most effective weapon we have in our war with the enemy is the knowledge that he cannot take away our salvation.  There is never a time when we are unworthy to tell others of Jesus Christ.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1st Peter 3:15)

Originally Published: October 3, 2009

Featured Commentary: Prayer and the U.S. Congress ~ J.L. Robb

‘Christianophobia’ in the Last Days

‘Christianophobia’ in the Last Days
Vol: 162 Issue: 25 Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I confess that when I was young in the Lord, I used to have trouble picturing one of the major elements of end times’ prophecy. I always had trouble imagining Christian persecution taking place in the West.

I’d heard about Christians being persecuted in faraway lands during the Communist era, but that, somehow, seemed normal — probably because all I knew of Communism was that it was godless and therefore, doomed to eventual collapse.

I never doubted the eventual victory of the West, because I knew God was on our side. I grew up in a world where the government used to fund broadcast messages admonishing me to remember ‘to attend the church or synagogue of my choice’ this Sunday. THAT’S why I knew, even when I was young in my faith, that we would win over the Communists.

How could a political system that regularly encouraged its citizens to worship the God of the Bible possibly be defeated by a system that imprisoned its own citizens for doing the same thing?

The answer is obvious. There is only one superpower in the world today.

But in recent years, the competition for that title has gotten serious. Russia is no longer a serious candidate, but both the godless United Nations and the post-Christian European Union think that they are.

Under the spiritual principles that have governed my entire adult life, that would mean they can expect to meet the same fate as the Soviets.

But America is rapidly entering its own post-Christian era, voluntarily stepping out from under the umbrella of Divine protection that has made it the safest, wealthiest and most powerful nation the world had ever known.

The Vatican has just coined a new word; “Christianophobia”. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s second-ranking diplomat, defined it in a speech given to a US-organized conference on religious freedom.

“It should be recognized that the war against terrorism, even though necessary, had as one of its side-effects the spread of ‘Christianophobia’ in vast areas of the globe,” he told the conference.

Assessment:

Type the phrase ‘Christian values’ into Google’s news search engine and most of the returns that come up are about efforts in America to stamp them out.

Stuff like designating a Christmas tree as a ‘holiday tree’ or explaining why school districts that order all references to Christ be dropped from what are now called ‘holiday pageants’ is a good thing.

A new greeting card released by Planned Parenthood for this Christmas season depicts a winter theme with snowflakes on the front above the words “Choice on Earth.” Inside, the message reads “Warmest wishes for a peaceful holiday season”.

By replacing ‘peace’ with ‘choice’, the greeting card mocks the angelic proclamation of the Birth of Christ while linking abortion to the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Democratic strategist James Carville recently said that the Democratic Party had to be “born again” in order to reclaim the White House in four years.

Education, the arts, entertainment, architecture, public monuments, and many other areas of society in which religion was once honored or deferred to, have become thoroughly secularized as the Christmas holiday itself.

For the first time in American history, prominent individuals and established political movements, not to mention many movies and television programs, are openly atheistic and hostile to religion, seeking, in the name of liberal tolerance, to drive religion out of the public sphere altogether.

Or, to be more specific, they seek to drive Christianity out of the public sphere. Non-Western religions such as Islam are welcomed with open arms.

The only Christianity tolerated by these left-liberals is a desiccated Christianity that keeps up the external forms and formulae of the faith but no longer adheres seriously to any Christian beliefs that are distinct from those of liberalism.

The Apostle Paul described it as ‘having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2nd Timothy 3:5)

Even conservative Christian leaders have given up the traditional idea of America as a basically Christian society and now subscribe to the liberal view of America as a level playing field where different beliefs, including non-Western beliefs, can strive for influence.

A Florida church advertises something called ‘open baptism’ . The church website also says, “Lack of ‘belief’ is not an obstacle to belonging or to participating at St. Christopher’s by-the-Sea.”

And in the words of a Fargo, North Dakota, cathedral’s website: “Whoever you are and wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are always welcome at the table of the Lord.”

A Boston Globe editorialist recently commented;

“The Christian agenda is one of exclusion. They want to take away our rights, not protect them. The constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage would be the first amendment enacted to take away rights from the people, not bestow or protect their rights. It is anathema to the spirit of the Constitution and our core beliefs as Americans.”

An article in San Diego’s North County Times opined; “There is no denying that the Christian religion was intertwined with government in our early days but that is not a reason to rejoice, because that very element brought out some of the worst features in our history.”

The Boy Scouts are under constant legal attack because they require their members to express a belief in God. Thanks to their unwillingess to boot God out of their charter, most Boy Scout troops have been booted out of the mainstream.

Not only is it unfashionable to be a Christian in mainstream America, in some cases, it is actually illegal.

As Spanish philosopher Georges Santayana famously observed, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The Nazi holocaust began with a systematic national campaign to blame the Jews for the world’s evils. It began shortly after the 1933 election of Adolph Hitler. Six years later, the ‘Night of the Broken Glass’ signalled the declaration of open season on Jews throughout Germany.

Six years after that, more than six million Jews had perished at the hands of the most cultured and educated populations on earth at that time.

The Bible predicted a world-wide persecution of Christians and Jews in the last days, that will, under the administration of the leader of a revived Roman Empire, make the Holocaust look like a dress rehearsal by comparison.

The stage has been set. In a single generation.

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)

Origianlly Published: December 4, 2004

Featured Commentary: Jesus in Disguise ~ Lea Sylvester

The Lawless One

The Lawless One
Vol: 162 Issue: 24 Tuesday, March 24, 2015

He has many nicknames. He’s been called “The Lightbringer.”  He’s been called “The Messiah”.  He has been called, “The Anointed One.”  He has been called simply, “The One.”

He has said of himself,  “We are the Ones we have been waiting for.” (video 16 secs)  

I found a website that offers what it calls “The Pretty Darn Exhaustive List” of Obama nicknames collected “while surfing the conservative side of the internet.”  

Among his other nicknames are some less complimentary but more descriptive ones, like “The Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers“; “The Petulant POTUS“; “Dear Leader” and “President Hopenchange.” 

(But I like “King of the Unicorns.”)

One glaring omission from the nickname list was that of “The Lawless One”  a nickname whose appropriateness was reconfirmed by Obama himself in 2010 during his speech on what is euphemistically called, “immigration reform.”

“Immigration reform” is kind of a hard concept to get one’s head around.  As nearly as I can understand it, “immigration reform” is an effort by the administration to coerce the Congress into passing legislation opposed by the people by refusing to enforce existing laws it doesn’t like.

That the administration’s preferred tactic is, in and of itself a federal crime, appears to be of no consequence to either the administration or to the Congress.   

America’s foundational principle is that is a nation of laws, embodied by the Constitution, to ensure that all citizens enjoy equal protection under the law.   The Constitution was constructed to ensure that the law applied equally to all citizens, including the Chief Executive.

The President has no more authority to break the law than does any other citizen under the Constitution. The Office of the President of the United States is required — by law — to ensure the enforcement of laws passed by Congress. 

It is a federal crime for any official to interfere with the enforcement of federal law, whether that official agrees with the law or not.  

The Constititution and the United States Code require federal officials to enforce violations of federal law — until existing federal law is changed by Congress in accordance with the principles of a representative democratic republic.  

In his speech,  Obama dismissed all that legal Constitutional stuff about federal law and his obligation to enforce it as written as “political posturing.”   He blamed the Arizona state law for having “divided the nation” over illegal immigration.

(Nationwide polls show that, far from dividing the nation, the nation overwhelmingly (73%) supports Arizona’s decision to enforce immigration law.  I’d suggest adding “Liar in Chief” but it is already on the list. So is Demagogue-in-Chief).

Being the expert he is on the subject,  Obama managed to make illegal immigration about race suggesting that anyone who opposed his “immigration reform” efforts was a racist.  

Sort of reminds you of the old schoolyard taunt, “It takes one to know one!”  Which brings to mind yet another; “out of the mouths of babes comes truth.”

Those Americans who aren’t either Republicans or racists (which Obama made clear he felt was a distinction without a difference) were succumbing to the ‘politics of fear’.

It was demagoguery at its finest.

Assessment:

Obama appealed to public emotion reminding us that the motive of illegal immigrants was no more sinister than “wanting a better life for themselves and their families.”  Who could be opposed to that? 

That is the same motive behind the millions of legal would-be immigrants that went through the legal immigration process instead of jumping the borders.  To enter America illegally to work, the first law one has to break is the one barring illegal entry.

Every act that follows breaks another law.  Every day that they go to work brings with it a fresh crop of serial violations of existing laws that bind all citizens and legal immigrants.  

Income tax evasion. Social Security fraud. Forgery. (Or identity theft).  Making false representations to every government official with whom they come into contact. Obtaining government benefits (from health care to education) by fraud. 

Violation of wage labor laws, which floods the lowest paying job market with illegal immigrants willing to work for sub-standard wages, squeezing out legal applicants for those jobs?

If they drive, they either broke the law to get a driver’s license or they don’t get one.  And without a license, they can’t get insurance.    This isn’t because they are bad people. 

It is because they can’t obey all the laws that the rest of us are bound by because they broke the law designed to ensure immigrants obey the law in order to get here. 

During Election 2000 Democrats were shocked when George Bush captured the Latino vote, costing Al Gore the White House.  They took “immigration reform” as ‘their’ cause hoping to use ‘immigration reform’ as a pathway to turning as many as 20 million illegal aliens into new (and grateful) voters.

If it were aimed at immigrants, rather than at Latino illegal aliens, then it would be a lot harder to make the case that requiring immigrants to obey existing immigration laws is ‘racist’.  

Nobody is calling American immigration laws restricting Canadian immigration ‘racist’ because race has nothing to do with it.  

Demagoguery: “a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public, typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist, populist or religious themes.”

The same Wikepedia entry provided a few historical examples of famous demagogues from history;  the virulently anti-Semitic 1930’s priest and radio personality, Father Charles Coughlin;  Adolf Hitler and Joseph McCarthy. 

For cross reference purposes, Wikipedia offers a link to “The Big Lie” which it identified in its lead paragraph thusly:

The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, for a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

“The southern border is more secure today than at any time in 20 years,” President Obama said in his speech, before accusing the Republicans of misrepresenting the facts.

Originally Published: July 2, 2010

Featured Commentary: Christ Zero ~ Wendy Wippel