Misplaced Faith

Misplaced Faith
Vol: 166 Issue: 31 Friday, July 31, 2015

Faith in Christ means a pretty substantial faith that you are right about where to put your faith. I have to admit that, from time to time over the years, I’ve heard some skeptic’s argument, some new interpretation of an accepted doctrine, or heard of some new archeological discovery that caused me to go, ”Hmmm”.

I admit that I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion if maybe I am following ‘cunningly devised fables’ concocted by brilliant men who lived centuries ago and refined in secret in the centuries since.

After all, if the Bible is true, then the writings of Buddha, which are unquestionably brilliant, are false. But one seldom hears of Buddhist suicide bombers or Buddhist killers or even Buddhist thieves. Their doctrine of ‘karma’ is not too much different than Jesus’ doctrine of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’

‘Karma’ is the belief that what goes around, comes around. A good man in this life comes back a better one in the next. A bad man in this life may come back in the next one as a dog. Or a pigeon. Or a chicken. (Karma also explains Buddhist vegetarianism. Yuck)

Still, while there are bad Buddhists (just as there are bad Christians) most of the followers of Buddha are pacifists who work hard at being good neighbors.

An evolutionist’s faith is rooted, first and foremost, in his own conviction that he is right about where to put his faith. As when one comes to Christ, that decision comes first. The search for confirmation that one’s faith is correctly placed comes afterwards.

The dedicated evolutionist is one who first concluded evolution made sense, then investigated his conclusion until he was satisfied he was right in reaching it. The rest of his energy is devoted to convincing others that his conclusion is right, creating new dedicated evolutionists in the process.

That is not too different in practice than is Christian dedication to leading others to Christ. But is it truly different in theory? Is it a case of being right? Or of being saved?

The evolutionist will make his point, and your reaction is to disprove his point first, then go back to your point, and so on, by which time the point you were trying to make gets lost in the argument over details. Soon, you find yourself, red-faced, eyes bulging, shouting, “Jesus loves you!” while resisting the temptation to grab the guy by the lapels and shake some sense into him.

What’s happened is that your faith is less in Jesus than it is in being right personally. It’s no longer about Jesus. It’s now about you. All somebody has to do to shake your faith is seemingly prove you wrong.

And you didn’t even see it coming.

Assessment:

Nobody puts their faith in something they don’t believe in. Evolution has been disproved so many times that, even though it is taught as fact in schools, it still bears the label ‘theory.’ ‘Theory’ means ‘unproved’. The evolutionist’s faith isn’t in the evidences from science. The evolutionist believes he is right because he has faith in himself.

Salvation comes by putting one’s faith in Christ instead of in oneself. It isn’t a case of being right so much as an understanding of how wrong you are by nature.

It is possible to put one’s trust in Jesus for their salvation and still be wrong.

One can be wrong about the timing of the Rapture and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation. One can be wrong about Bible prophecy and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation.

One can be wrong about their understanding of who the antichrist is, or is not, and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation.

It is even possible for one to be wrong about their church and its doctrine and still be right about trusting Jesus for their salvation.

Beyond the need for salvation and the way to obtain it, the battle isn’t over faith in Jesus, it is over one’s personal faith in oneself and one’s own rightness. What happens to that person when they lose the battle to someone with superior debating skills?

I’ve known many Christians who’ve been utterly demolished by skeptics who make a career out of debating the existence of God.

The Christian marches in, full of faith in his knowledge of details and doctrine, and has his faith shattered because his faith was rooted in his being right on all the details, rather than being in Jesus.

He gets a few details wrong, the skeptic uses those details to obscure the central truth, and the Message is lost in the debate. But the debate was supposed to be about the Message. Instead, it became about him.

The Christian’s faith in himself is in shambles. The skeptic walks away more convinced than ever of his rightness.

The final score? One wounded Christian. No victories for the Kingdom. Our faith was more in being right than being in Christ. And we pay the penalty for our misplaced faith.

None of us knows everything there is to know of God and His plan for the individual believer. What we DO know is that there are as many denominations within Christianity as there are letters in the alphabet, and each is convinced that their way is the only ‘right’ way.

But the Bible says that the ONLY way to heaven is through faith in Jesus. Everything else leads to bitter and endless debate that always degenerates into an argument over who gets to be right.

Debates are useful tools for sharpening one’s understanding of the things of God. But the problem with debates is that somebody has to be wrong. That doesn’t mean that it was God.

The Bible says, and logic and experience confirm, that all men are sinners who have missed the mark and come short of the glory of God. The Bible further says, and logic further confirms, that man is by nature a sinner from the day he is born until the day he dies.

The Bible says, and logic further confirms, that man is spiritually hopeless on his own. Spiritually, all men are equal.

Logic says that man is therefore lost without Someone to save him. The Bible says that God Himself took on human form in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus lived the life God expects of each of us, and, having complied with God’s standards, was uniquely qualified to pay the penalty failure to meet God’s standards demands.

Our faith is rooted in understanding our inability to meet God’s standards, first, with our faith in Jesus Christ to meet that judicial standard on our behalf rising out of that first understanding.

There is a difference between winning a debate and sharing the Gospel. Sometimes, listening to Christians debating non-Christians (or especially each other) it seems like a distinction without a difference.

It becomes more about the personal vindication by being ‘right’ than it is about sharing what you know and leaving the rest up to the Holy Spirit. Salvation comes by putting one’s faith in Christ instead of in oneself.

To the unsaved observer, that looks like ‘humility’ — which is a lot more attractive than arrogance. And it is the unsaved observer that is the mission. Leading him to a saving knowledge of Christ is the mission.

Not winning the debate. That’s a mission you take on for yourself.

Originally Published: July 7, 2006

Featured Commentary: Is the Rapture Really Imminent ~ Alf Cengia

Religion and Salvation

Religion and Salvation
Vol: 166 Issue: 30 Thursday, July 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The third sign is that of exclusive truth.

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

Fourth, religions prefer an authoritative leadership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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

Originally Published: October 29, 2011

Featured Commentary: We’ve Lost Some Angels this Year ~ J.L. Robb

The Question Nobody is Asking

The Question Nobody is Asking
Vol: 166 Issue: 29 Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Bible has, over the past two thousand years, been subjected to every form of criticism; textual criticism, archeological or historical criticism, criticism of its form, authorship and content, but has survived every effort to find even a single, documentable, provable mistake in its pages.

The Bible is the #1 best-seller in history.  It has been translated into 2,123 languages and dialects.  Nine out of every ten Americans own a Bible.

There are plenty of folks who claim they’ve found mistakes in the Bible, but the simple fact is this.  If somebody actually found a verifiable, provable error contained in Scripture, they have yet to demonstrate it.

While there are clever and articulate Bible-haters who have dedicated their entire lives to disputing Scripture, not one of them has made it into the history books as the one who disproved the foundational text of Judeo-Christianity.

Instead, they generally find themselves on the list of folks who take the more difficult parts of Scripture that they don’t understand and call them ‘errors’.

And despite the Bible’s record for being 100% accurate in every area in which its accuracy can be measured, there is no shortage of folks willing to step up to the plate, put their reputations on the line, and announce that they, of all the skeptics that have lived in the past two thousand years, have discovered ‘evidence’ the Bible contains mistakes.

Entire organizations and groups have been created for the express purpose of disproving the accuracy of Scripture, from avowed atheists to ‘professing Christians’ like the self-appointed members of the ‘Jesus Seminar’ who vote on which quotes attributed to Jesus were actually spoken by Him.

As an example, the Jesus Seminar’s theologians once considered Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer and concluded that the only words of that prayer actually spoken by Jesus were ‘Our Father’.  (They say the rest was added later.)

Christians are use to seeing the world twist and pervert the Bible, deny its Authorship, question its teachings and condemn it as ‘hate literature.’  There are entire collegiate-level curriculums exclusively devoted to Biblical criticism.

Even the phrase, ‘Biblical criticism’ refers to anyone who takes a position, pro or con, on the accuracy of Scripture.  Although almost 90% of Americans identify themselves as ‘Christian,’ Bible critics are among America’s most respected thinkers.

Critics of the Koran are among America’s loneliest.

Assessment:

Ever notice that other religious books, like the Hindu Upanishads, the writings of Buddha or Zoroaster, and, most particularly, the Koran, are never subjected to a scholarly analysis of their historical or textual accuracy?

Well, maybe ‘never’ is a strong word, but I can’t think of any famous Koran critics.

The Angel Gabriel is said to have told Mohammed: “This book is not to be questioned.” That is an article of faith among Muslims — subjecting the Koran to the same kind of textual criticism given the Bible would be suicide for a Muslim.

Questioning the Koran isn’t a popular enterprise among non-Muslims, either. It’s a great way to wake up one morning to discover you are dead.

The Arab scholar, Suliman Bashear, argued that Islam developed over time as a religion rather than emerging suddenly.  His students in the University of Nablus threw him out the window as a result.

Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” resulted in a fatwa because it was thought to mock Mohammed.  Islamic scholar Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed because his works were said to be ‘irreligious.’

One scholar of Semitic langugages, writing under the psuedo-name Christopher Luxenberg, published a criticism of the Koran in which he claims the text is both mistranslated and misread.

His work involving the analysis of the earliest copies of the Koran led him to the conclusion that parts of the Koran came from preexisting Aramaic texts.  These, he says, were misinterpreted by later Islamic scholars who composed the Koran as it is circulated today.

The classic example of this relates to the virgins supposedly awaiting loyal Muslim martyrs. Rather than ‘virgins,’ Luxenberg observes that in the original text, the Koran actually promises “white raisins” of crystal clarity.

This, one would think, would be a verse carefully scrutinized by Islamists.  Especially those Islamofascists planning to blow themselves up.  Who would want to commit suicide in exchange for a box of transparent raisins?

Those Semitic scholars who dare to voice an opinion are unanimous in their contention that there is no historical evidence of the existence of the Koran prior to 691 AD, about sixty years after Mohammed’s death. Much of what is known of Mohammed is based on texts that were written 300 years after his death.

John Wansbrough of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London says the text of the Koran now used appears to have been a composite of different texts complied over perhaps hundreds of years.  It appears to academicians to have continued to evolve until the end of the seventh century.

There are three schools of thought about who actually wrote the Koran and how it was assembled.  The first school of thought maintains Mohammed wrote the Koran.  The second says the Koran was simply assembled from notes left behind after the prophet’s death.

(It is a matter of accepted historical fact that Mohammed was illiterate. Illiterate men don’t leave behind notes so copious that, assembled together, they could form a six hundred page book.)

The third school of thought maintains that Mohammed dictated the Koran to a trusted [unknown] aide who faithfully transcribed the words of the prophet.

Originally Published: June 12, 2012

The Koran itself is more accurately an Arab commentary on the Bible, of which the Koran claims to be the final testament.

However, the Koran contradicts both the Old and New Testaments in both spirit and substance.  So Islam claims that the original Bible was changed by the Jews.

A complete copy of the Book of Isaiah was unearthed in 1948 at Qumran as part of the larger collection known as the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’.  Although the exact age of the document is unknown, what is unquestionable is the fact it lay hidden (and untampered with) since at least AD 70 — five hundred years before Mohammed.

The Isaiah Scroll is now on display at the ‘Dome of the Tablets’ in Israel.  I have seen it with my own eyes.  Scholars universally agree that the 2000 year old scroll is identical to the Book of Isaiah in a modern Bible.

Christianity welcomes, even invites textual criticism of the Scriptures.  Each effort merely serves to confirm the Bible’s Divine Authorship.  And, logically speaking, who would want to trust their eternity to a God Who might not be real?  (If the Bible wasn’t true, I know that I’d want to know about it).

But examining the Koran for accuracy and textual consistency is not just unpopular, it is dangerous to the point of being deadly.

If it is true, then what is there to fear?

Seven Are An Abomination

Seven Are An Abomination
Vol: 166 Issue: 28 Tuesday, July 28, 2015

According to the Book of Proverbs, although God hates sin, He has seven sins in particular that He hates more than all the rest. 

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:17-19)

These seven sins are not separate from or stand above all other sin. Rather, they are the wellspring from which all other sins originate. 

Note  that God HATES the first six on the list. Note even more carefully His opinion of the seventh — it is an ABOMINATION to Him. 

The first deadly sin on the list is pride. Although it doesn’t make the ‘abomination’ category, it is the first step on the road that leads there. 

Pride is the most insidious sin, since it might easily be termed the ‘silent’ sin. Its very nature prevents us from either recognizing it in ourselves or admitting to it when it is finally recognized (usually by somebody else.) 

God hates pride. ‘Pride’ is arguably the seminal sin of the universe out of which all other sin arises. The first recorded sin in the history of the universe was not the fall of man, but the fall of Lucifer. 

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12

What follows is Satan’s indictment, often called the five ‘I wills’ — each of which are the byproduct of Lucifer’s pride. 

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

Some preachers have made the case that sin can be defined through this passage. “I will” — rather than “God’s will.” It’s pithy and elliptical — and even accurate, up to a point — but it doesn’t quite hit the bullseye. Close, but not exact. 

If one were seeking to locate the root and branch of sin, “I will” is a lesser included offense, so to speak, but not the original sin.  “I will” is merely the outward expression of the original sin of pride. 

If you take God’s list in order, “pride” is first because without pride, the rest of them haven’t a leg to stand on. 

The secular dictionary defines ‘pride’ thusly: “A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect.” 

Pride breeds lies. Why do people lie? Generally speaking, it is to conceal some secret that would make them look bad. There is a standing joke in prison that the one thing all inmates have in common is that they are innocent. 

Even after having served their time, few convicts own up to the crimes for which they were convicted, even though vindication wouldn’t give them back their time served. It is gone forever, so why bother continuing to deny it? Pride. 

“Hands that shed innocent blood” immediately brings abortion to the forefront of my mind. Why are abortion records kept secret? After the abortion is accomplished, the ‘problem’ is ‘solved’.

It isn’t illegal to have an abortion, so there is no legal jeopardy attached to having had one. The records are sealed to protect the privacy (and pride) of the perpetrator. 

And while there are many ‘reasons’ for wanting to get an abortion, when they are distilled down to their essence, one will find pride in there somewhere. The pro-life slogan, “It’s MY body” is an expression of pride. The abortion destroys the baby’s body, not the mothers. 

“A woman’s right to choose” is another. A pregnant woman already made her choice when she did the deed that produced the pregnancy. Claiming a special ‘right’ to a SECOND choice to correct the first wrong choice — as an expression of the uniqueness of womanhood, is rooted in pride. 

Men are expressly forbidden the same ‘right’ to correct a wrong choice. And not only is their sin NOT concealed, it is a matter of public record, accessible by anybody searching through court-ordered child support records. 

The identities of those who actually shed innocent blood are protected, to protect their pride. Those just as involved in the creation of the child, but who have no say in the matter of abortion, are often held up to public ridicule. (Or even imprisonment) 

The ‘innocent blood’ shed in the process is secondary to protecting the reputation of those who shed it. I would venture to bet that there would be lots fewer abortions if there were a legal requirement to post the particulars of an abortion in a local paper, the way the law requires public notification of a death, an estate, or a bankruptcy. 

A heart devising ‘wicked imaginations’ and feet that are ‘swift to be running in mischief’ would be less divisive and less swift if the particulars were certain to be published on the front page of the newspaper, even when no crime has been committed. 

We’ve discussed pride’s role in bearing false witness.  Now we come to that final pride-sponsored abomination: “he that soweth discord among brethren.” 

Assessment: 

Ever find yourself in a discussion over doctrine that turns nasty? Where what ostensibly began as an effort to ‘straighten out’ someone else’s doctrinal error degenerates into an argument over whose understanding of doctrine is the correct one? 

You can tell when it has made that shift from discussion to debate to argument, even if you aren’t part of it. It becomes less about the doctrine in question and more about who is right. 

Even after both sides have agreed to disagree, the debate lingers as each side waits for an advantage, some unrelated event or circumstance that will re-open the debate and give one side or the other a hope for the opportunity to say, “Aha! Told ya!” 

Pride, by its insidious nature, blinds us to the fact (obvious to most observers) that the goal of the debate has morphed. It’s no longer about the doctrine. It’s about being right. 

The debate about the timing of the Rapture is a perfect example. It is a given that, when two genuinely saved, born-again Christians start debating the timing of the Rapture, both sides sincerely believe that they are right. Why else would they want to argue about it? 

What neither side can articulate very effectively is what difference the timing of the Rapture makes to their own salvation. Or what difference it makes to the mission of leading souls to Christ. 

A pre-trib Rapturist is no more saved than a post-Trib Rapturist. One is saved by grace through faith in Christ, not by faith in Christ’s appointment calendar. An understanding of the timing of the Rapture is necessary to rightly dividing the Word insofar as understanding the Bible’s prophetic outline.

But we aren’t saved by our understanding of the Bible’s prophetic outline. It isn’t when He comes that saves us, it is faith in the One Who is coming. 

But spend a little time reading through some of the debates and it is hard to find much about Christ in them. It’s about being right. Pride. Bragging rights. 

Proverbs says that ‘pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

In our forums, debates about the timing of the Rapture has driven many members right out of our fellowship. Those who remain are vindicated — some even rejoice at having driven such a one away. 

Nobody has learned anything from the exchange except which party is the better debater. Each side remains convinced of their own position, because the goal is to defend their own view, not consider the merits of the other side. 

And pride won’t allow us to see that the damage being caused in the process far outweighs any eternal value that might be gleaned from winning over a post-tribber to the pre-trib side. 

Nothing of eternal value is obtained by driving away a brother or sister from fellowship over an issue that can never be proved until after the fact. 

It serves only to spread unnecessary discord among brethren, which the Scriptures identify as an ‘abomination before the Lord’.

The discussion at hand in today’s briefing is the insidious nature of the sin of pride. It sneaks up on us, unawares. By the time we recognize the role it plays, (if ever) it is too late to undo the damage its caused. 

It shatters relationships, spreads discord among brethren, damages the shared mission of all Christians — to demonstrate the truth that sets men free:

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

As we have discussed in the recent OL brief, “A Difficult Book” the doctrinal differences between Christians are there because that is the way God has ordained it to be. 

In the Book of Genesis, we read of Nimrod’s efforts to rally the whole world to his cause, to build a tower that would thwart God’s effort at judgment in the event of another flood. 

To prevent the whole world from falling under the sway of one man’s heresy, God confused the languages and divided the world into nations, confusing their languages so that they would be able to form their own opinions about God’s will for their lives without the influence of a single, powerful human leader. 

Within the Church, there are doctrinal differences between denominations that serve the same purpose.

Interestingly, it is only AFTER those doctrinal divisions are ‘taken out of the way’ at the Rapture that the antichrist is free to advance his own personal doctrine, whereby he seizes control of the global religion and declares himself to be God. 

His plan could never work during the Church Age. Christians can’t even agree among themselves about the details of the Eternal God, despite the fact they were revealed by God Himself, let alone buy into the unified doctrine of antichrist. 

There is but one universal Christian doctrine, summed up in Acts 4:12

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  

The Apostle Paul addressed the doctrinal divisions that had already stirred up the pride of the early Church, as some Christians declared themselves followers of Peter, and others, followers of Paul. 

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” (Romans 14:1

There is probably no better example of a ‘doubtful disputation’ than the timing of the Rapture. Nobody knows for certain if the view they hold is right.  Moreover,  nobody can know until the Trumpet sounds. 

As Paul noted in his letter to the Corinthians; “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?”

We teach what we believe, but nobody should be forced to agree with every detail in order to keep fellowship. We are all one in Christ as sinners saved by grace. 

I am convinced of a pre-trib Rapture, but if somebody wants to reject that in favor of another view, his eternity is not in jeopardy. Just his understanding. 

As to endless debate about peripheral details not related to salvation, Paul says,

“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1st Corinthians 14:36,38)

In addressing the minor doctrinal divisions of his day, Paul writes,

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded IN HIS OWN mind.” (Romans 14:5)

The operative phrase here is for each man to be fully persuaded of his own doctrine in his OWN mind. We don’t agree on all points of doctrine because that is the way God designed it. That is the genius of the Bible. 

It is what keeps us free.  What an amazing God!

Originally Published: January 17, 2011

Featured Commentary: As We See the Day Approaching ~ Wendy Wippel

The Quest for An ”Age of Reason?”

The Quest for An ”Age of Reason?”
Vol: 166 Issue: 27 Monday, July 27, 2015

It is a bedrock article of faith among environmentalists that human beings have become a ‘cancer’ on the planet, multiplying and consuming resources the same way cancer cells overrun and destroy a living organism.

To a hardcore environmentalist, the “Georgia Guidestones” function as a sort of Green ‘Ten Commandments’ handed down to mankind from Mother Earth.

The ‘Guidestones’ were erected by an anonymous group and arranged to resemble Stonehenge. The display consists of six granite slabs twenty feet tall and weighing more than one hundred tons.

One slab stands in the center, with four arranged around it. A capstone lies on top of the five slabs. The slabs are astronomically aligned, hence its nickname, “American Stonehenge”.

An additional stone tablet, which is set in the ground a short distance to the west of the structure, provides some clarifying notes on the history and purpose of the Guidestones.

The capstone declares: “Let These be Guidestones to An Age of Reason”, and identifies its sponsors as “A small group of Americans who seek the Age of Reason.”

The Georgia Guidestones list ten ‘reasonable’ guidelines for maintaining global harmony:

1) Maintain humanity under five hundred million in perpetual balance with nature.

The current population of the earth is 6.6 billion. To achieve the goals demanded by ‘reason’ would require ‘eliminating’ 6.1 billion of them somehow. One way of accomplishing that goal is to:

2) Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity..

Abortion is a fairly effective way of reducing both the surplus population and ‘improving fitness and diversity’.

That is one reason the majority of abortions in America are performed for free, or are subsidized, particularly for members of the African-American community. One third of all abortions performed in the United States are performed on African-American babies.

And one pregnancy in four in the United States is terminated by abortion.

Four-fifths of abortions are performed on single women, a third of them teens.

3) Unite humanity with a new ‘living language’

A ‘new’ language would be necessary, since carrying out just the first two guidelines would necessarily involve the words, ‘eugenics’, ‘genocide’ and ‘infanticide’. Those words would have to be eliminated and replaced with something a bit less ‘offensive’. (Think, “Soylent Green”)

4) Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.

“Faith and tradition” are code-words for Judeo-Christianity, which, to the Greens, is the antithesis of ‘reason’.

5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.” .

“Fair” laws and “just” courts would be those that protect the earth from humanity, rather than the other way around.

6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

Why should anyone be surprised to learn that environmentalists are also globalists? It is the planet — the globe — that is important, not its inhabitants.

7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

Presumably, ‘petty laws’ refer to laws that put human rights ahead of ecological concerns and and ‘useless’ officials as officials who put getting re-elected by humans ahead of being loved by spotted owls.

8) Balance personal rights with social ‘duties’.

The moment somebody suggests ‘balancing’ personal rights against ‘social duties’ the term ‘personal rights’ becomes meaningless. A right that is not a right is a ‘privilege’ to be extended or withdrawn to comport with ‘social duties’ . . . as interpreted by whom?

9) Prize truth — beauty — love –seeking harmony with the infinite.

I wouldn’t know where to begin with this one. So far, we’ve eliminated 6.2 billion useless people, made abortion a social duty to improve fitness and diversity, created a new universal earth-language, eliminated personal rights and replaced them with social ‘duties’ and eliminated any need or mention of God.

Having accomplished genocide via deception, NOW its time for truth, beauty and worship of ‘the infinite’ — presumably the earth. So, finally, the kicker:

10) Be not a cancer on this earth. Leave room for nature. Leave room for nature.

That isn’t a typo — ‘Leave room for nature’ is repeated twice on the slabs, too. The symbolic meaning is clearly that nature is twice as important as the cancer that infests it.

Human beings are the cancer and that cancer must be excised or it will kill its host.

Assessment:

When Al Gore wrote his 1991 “Earth in the Balance” he pretty much followed the outline of the Georgia Guidestones, also likening humanity to a cancer on planet earth that can only be controlled by reducing the population to ‘sustainable levels’ and maintaining it in ‘balance’ with nature.

How is that accomplished in nature? Survival of the fittest. Natural selection. “Natural selection” is the culling process in which the weakest segments of a population die off until there are few enough for the environment to sustain them.

Al Gore and his followers knew twenty years ago what effect biofuel would have on the global food supply. He says so in his chapter “Seeds of Privation” in which he also argues AGAINST genetically modifying crops to increase the available food supply.

It takes roughly four hundred pounds of corn to produce 25 gallons of ethanol. That is roughly the equivalent to the amount of corn it would take to feed one person for an entire year.

There are other technologies, such as Thermal Depolymerization, that can convert ANY carbon-based garbage (which is essentially anything) into light Number Six Crude oil indistinguishable from that pumped from the ground.

The process has been proved at two thermal depolymerization plants, one at Carthage, Missiouri, the other outside Philadelphia. Both were set up outside Butterball Turkey plants to process their waste products — but it works equally well with other animal waste parts, most household garbage and even ground up computer parts.

At present, the process can turn garbage into oil for about $18.00 a barrel — its inventor, Brian Appel, says mass production could bring it down to about $11.00 a barrel.

A Canadian study released this week predicts that the price of fossil fuel oil will double again to more than $200 per barrel by 2012. That translates to roughly $11.00 a gallon at the pump, or roughly $220.00 to fill a 20 gallon tank.

So why is Al Gore championing the production of biofuel alternatives? Wouldn’t turning the excess garbage created by the surplus population into energy, carbon black and clean, potable water be ‘green’ enough?

Evidently not, since the objective is not to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, but instead to reduce the surplus population that depends on it.

Environmentalism is not a social cause, or a political agenda so much as it is a religion rooted entirely in the tenets of the New Age and Al Gore has become its high priest. Anyone who disagrees with its doctrine is immediately labeled a ‘heretic.’

Taking a look at the Big Picture, we see the following: There are two solutions for the energy ‘crisis’ brought on by high oil prices.

One solution is to spread the pain across the planet, creating an artificial food shortage and raising food prices to famine levels.

Appel Technologies is real — the process is real — and it works. But it’s main drawback is that it solves the energy crisis without the
necessity for the ‘Ten Guidelines’ (which begins by calling for the elimination of 6.2 billion people).

The other solution is to buy carbon credits from some tribesman in Ubangi who doesn’t have a car, and then starve him to death by using his food to fuel mine.

Using his food to run my car is acceptable; using garbage nobody wants is evidently not even worth discussing.

Maybe I’m just a thick-headed paranoid. You tell me.

Origianlly Published: April 26, 2008

Featured Commentary: Memories of Things to Come ~ Pete Garcia

Goodness Must Be Learned

Goodness Must Be Learned
Vol: 166 Issue: 25 Saturday, July 25, 2015

One of the fundamental flaws in liberal thinking that puts it in direct opposition to Scripture is the notion that people are basically good.

In this line of thinking, bad or immoral behavior is the exception, and bad or immoral people are largely the product of bad environments. 

The Bible teaches the exact opposite. So does experience. Bad or immoral behavior is the first behavior exhibited by babies as soon as they are old enough to express it.

They have to be taught not to hit. They have to be taught not to bite.  I never personally witnessed anybody teaching babies to be bad or immoral. THAT comes naturally.

They have to be taught to behave. Parents teach children morals and standards of behavior that conform to their cultural environment. No person is inherently moral. It is learned behavior. 

Despite the conflict posed by both reason and their own experience, this idea of the basic goodness of mankind is nevertheless foundational to liberal thinking. 

And dangerous beyond comprehension. There is an old joke to the effect that ‘a liberal is a conservative who’s never been mugged’. The problem is, not everybody survives a mugging. 

This isn’t intended as a screed against liberals; the Bible says that the application of wisdom and knowledge brings forth understanding. Understanding our nature helps us to appreciate our little victories over it along the way. 

The Bible says, “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:30) 

The concept of man as basically good flies in the face of both reason and personal observation. Man is born a selfish sinner who must first be taught right from wrong. 

The Bible also teaches the total depravity of man; 

“Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalms 53:3)

“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12)

It is in our base nature that we find conclusive evidence to the age old question of whether or not God exists. If man is not basically good, as liberals prefer to believe, then how did we develop such a complicated and rigid moral code? 

That is why they reject the depravity of man despite the evidence of reason and experience. Because accepting it demands accepting some Lawgiver beyond mankind itself. 

The Apostle Paul explains: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:28)

Assuming the basic goodness of man is hardly convenient. To make that assumption, one must ignore everything they know about themselves and other people, but they make the leap BECAUSE they do ‘not like to retain God in their knowledge’ exactly as Paul said. 

What follows is a line by line description of the fruits of liberalism:

“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:29-32)

Recognizing the depravity of man brings with it a recognition of man’s need for a Savior. And for those who believe and are saved, a profound sense of gratitude for the unmerited gift of salvation through faith. 

Because we know could never make it on our own.

Ignorance: The Higher Moral Ground

Ignorance: The Higher Moral Ground
Vol: 166 Issue: 24 Friday, July 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment:

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

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

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

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

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

Sura 5:51 in the Koran says,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Commentary: Is God Finished With Israel ~ Alf Cengia