Almost Persuaded

Almost Persuaded
Vol: 19 Issue: 20 Saturday, February 20, 2016

If I were to have to choose the saddest statement in all the Scriptures, it would be that of King Herod Agrippa to the Apostle Paul as recorded in Acts 26:28: ”Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

In 1871, Philip P Bliss attended a service at which the Reverend Brundage concluded his sermon with the words, “he who is almost pursuaded is almost saved . . . but to be almost saved is to be entirely lost.”

Mr. Bliss was so moved by the thought that he penned the hymn, “Almost Persuaded”.

The last verse goes like this:

“Almost persuaded / harvest is past! /Almost persuaded, / doom comes at last! / Almost cannot avail; / Almost is but to fail! / Sad, sad, that bitter wail / Almost, but lost!”

One of the most difficult things in Christian doctrine to get one’s head around is the doctrine of the Trinity. We can do so in a general sense, but if you want to test yourself and see if youreally understand it, try explaining it to someone else.

Man is created in God’s image and after His likeness, so it stands to reason that a Triune God would create a triune man. The difference is that Trinity is the same God in Three Persons, whereas triune man is one person in three parts, body, soul and spirit.

Think of man as existing within three concentric circles. The outer circle is physical; it is the ‘soma’ or the body. It is the body that has the five senses, sight, taste, smell, hearing, and touch.

These five are the gateways to the soul, or ‘psyche’. The soul of man is often confused with the spirit, which can raise all kinds of misunderstandings. Every living person has a soul. And every living person has a spirit. But not every living person has a living (or, ‘quickened’) spirit.

The Apostle Paul explains,

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

Paul isn’t speaking of physical death, obviously. He is speaking of spiritual death. Babies are born in God’s image, a living spirit and incapable of willful sin.

Obviously, babies are unconcerned with keeping the commandments. But there is a point when a child matures enough to understand the choice between keeping the commandment and feeding one of the body’s five senses.

Remember, it is the five senses that serve as gateways to the soul. These are the gateways through which sin makes its entrance.

Paul writes,

“And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” (Romans 7:10-11)

Paul was spiritually alive until he sinned for the first time. Until Paul knew what sin was, he could not sin. And he couldn’t know what sin was until he understood right from wrong.

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

Sin entered into Paul through one of the five gates of his body. But it wasn’t sin until it made the transition from the body into the soul. The body’s five senses feed the soul’s five senses; imagination, conscience, memory, reason and affection.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Dividing ‘asunder the soul and the spirit’ and of the joints and marrow (the body) and discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart (imagination, conscience, memory, reason and affection).

Are you still with me? We’ve only scratched the surface of man’s complexity. The ‘natural man’ consists of a living body, a living soul and a dead spirit. The natural man is dead in the sense that he is dead to God and therefore incapable of grasping the things of God.

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

Unless and until the spirit of natural man is ‘quickened’ by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Gospel is foolishness to him.

The spirit of man (pneuma) is ‘quickened’ (made alive by regeneration at salvation) when the Holy Spirit takes up residence. It is the spirit of man that provides the spiritual insight, or food for the soul.

When one’s spirit is quickened, one gains a whole new set of insights; faith, hope, reverence and the both the ability and the need to worship and pray.

That is not to say that the natural man doesn’t aspire towards obtaining the characteristics of the spirit — the spirit of man longs for these things. We are designed with a God-shaped ‘hole in the soul’ — the unregenerate spirit — where the Holy Spirit belongs.

Since the soul can’t help but notice it is incomplete, it is constantly in search of something to fill that empty, aching gap. Some folks fill it with drugs,(imagination) others with sex, (affections) others by replacing God with something else (reason), with false assumptions (conscience) or false experiences (memory).

The five gateways to the soul are as far as these folks get — for reasons known only to themselves and God, they just can’t seem to make it all the way into the inner ring of their soul where their spirit lies dormant.

They are almost persuaded.

King Agrippa believed the prophets, according to Acts 26:27. And so he was aware of Isaiah 53which taught of the suffering Messiah. Paul preached first the suffering Messiah, then he preached Jesus Christ. “For the King knowest these things,” Paul said.

Agrippa knew the prophets and the prophecies. He therefore knew that Christ had fulfilled those referring to His First Advent. Agrippa understood the Gospel as it was presented. He was “almost persuaded” but not quite. Why?

For the same reason that people are almost persuaded today. He didn’t want to submit — he was convinced by his conscience and his sense of reason, but he “wasn’t ready.” I’ve heard that excuse before and probably so have you. “I am almost ready, but not yet. But when I am ready I am going to do it right.”

What it really means is “I love my sin so much I’m not ready to give it up.”

Other people argue they have an intellectual problem with the Bible and so they just cannot believe. They are “almost persuaded” but they cannot accept the Lord. “Maybe later.”

‘Almost persuaded’ is to be entirely (and eternally) lost. And later is always sooner than you think.

Assessment:

The Apostle James writes,

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14)

In terms of eternity, James tells us, the periods of our individual lives are, in the grand scheme of things, like a puff of smoke.

Eternity is a long time.

By way of analogy, if a sea gull on the West Coast picked up a grain of sand and dropped it on the East Coast, and then came back and repeated the process every ten thousand years, when all the beaches of the West Coast were transplanted to the East Coast, well, that’s the first ten MINUTES of eternity.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 12:16-18:

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

You and I, everybody you meet, from the mailman to the guy next to you at work, has an eternal destiny. That destiny is either a joyful existence in the presence of God, or a Christless eternity in the place prepared for the devil and his angels.

And make no mistake about it. Hell is a real place. Jesus referred to it three times as a place where the worm dieth not and the fire is never quenched.”

In Luke 16, Jesus tells of Lazarus and the rich man.

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,”

We’ve discussed this passage before. Note that Jesus did NOT say, ‘Learn the parable of the rich man’. Instead, the Lord was specific when He said ‘there WAS a certain rich man.’

Jesus was speaking of a literal event of which He, as God, had specific knowledge. There WAS a certain rich man.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”

Stop there. Note the following from Jesus’ account. Before their Pardon was paid for, the righteous dead, like Abraham, Moses, etc, did NOT go directly to heaven, as do Blood-bought Christians of the Church Age.

Instead, they went to Paradise. Jesus did NOT say to the repentant thief, ‘this day you will be with Me in Heaven’. He said, ‘this day you will be with Me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:43)

Hell was at that time divided in two, one a place of comfort, (Abraham’s bosom, or Paradise) the other a place of torment, but both located physically in hell. Note also that the rich man can see Lazarus, that he speaks of literal torment and literal flame.

Abraham explains the division of hell, and why Lazarus cannot come to him:

“And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:26)

The rich man cries out,

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”

Stop here again.

Note that the rich man remembers his life on earth. As he will for eternity. He remembers his loved ones, and is conscious of their destiny. He begs Abraham to do something, but Abraham simply tells him that “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”

Now note something EXTREMELY revealing about the exchange. Abraham is Abraham. Lazarus the beggar, is Lazarus.

But the rich man has no name. He has his memories, he has his awareness of his surroundings, he knows the hopelessness of the situation and the only thing he wants more than a drink of water is to save his five brothers.

But HE HAS NO NAME! Why is that so important? Because he doesn’t need one. Nobody will ever speak it again. There is no reprieve, no visitors, no hope and no need for a name. To all intents and purposes, he is dead. BUT — he is eternally aware of it.

Eternally conscious, perpetually lonely, tormented alive, yet dead forever, remembering that one time when you could have escaped the torment.

THAT is what awaits the mailman, or the guy next to you, or your friends or relatives of whom we say, “I’ll talk to him when the time is right” or when he says, “I’ll think about it. Maybe tomorrow.”

Then God says, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

It is a terrifying thought.

The facts are these. If heaven is real, then hell is real. If God is real, then Satan is real. The Bible is not a theological smorgasbord where one can pick and choose what to put on their plates and choose to reject other parts as unpalatable. The same Bible that reveals the existence of God and heaven also reveals the existence of Satan, hell and the Lake of Fire.

Despite the best efforts of false teachers to recreate God in their own image, hell is real, and was NOT created initially for man — it was prepared for Satan and the rebellious angels.

Man was created in God’s Image — that is, with an eternal component that can not die. That existence continues somewhere; either in heaven with God, or eternally separated from God.

There is no third option.

That is why God places such great emphasis on the Great Commission. God knows what hell is really like, and gave His Own Son as a substitute sacrifice so that we could escape its torments.

Every person you see today, whether they are bagging your groceries or changing the oil in your car — EVERY PERSON — has an eternal destiny.

They will either spend eternity in unspeakable joy in the presence of the Father in Heaven, or they will spend eternity in equally unspeakable torment, separated from the Father, and remembering the opportunity they squandered to escape their fate.

For those of us that know the truth, that is an awesome thing to contemplate. It rekindles a sense of urgency for the lost. We are the watchmen on the wall.

It is incumbent upon us to be prepared, “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:” (1 Peter 3:15)

The Omega Letter exists — not necessarily to preach to the lost — but rather to equip the saved with the knowledge they need to “stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

The information in your Omega Letter is not for entertainment. We don’t sensationalize events to sell subscriptions. Our goal is to equip the one-on-one evangelist to meet the challenges facing each of us as the clock runs down.

Because it IS running down. And its running down faster than we think. Too many of our family and friends are almost persuaded.

‘Almost’ isn’t good enough.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 20, 2009.

The Trial

The Trial
Vol: 19 Issue: 19 Friday, February 19, 2016

During the thousand year Millennial Reign, the earth will be populated by ordinary, living, breathing humans, some of whom survived the Tribulation Period, together with those who will be born (in the usual manner) during the Kingdom Period.

The human lifespan will return to what it was in the days of Adam, but they will be mortal humans in the sense that, even with Satan bound, men will still die, and sin will still exist;

“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.”

Further proving that the inhabitants of the Kingdom Period are ordinary humans; they will need food, and shelter, and to get it, they will have to work for a living, even as they enjoy an extended lifespan:

“And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.” (Isaiah 65:21-22)

Coinhabiting the earth with mortal humans, Scripture tells us, are the immortal resurrected dead.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:4-5)

Notice two key points John makes in this passage. 

First, those being addressed are undeniably those who came out of the Tribulation. And second, John says that, AFTER the Tribulation, (in which they were beheaded) they both live AND reign with Christ for the full thousand years. 

This passage is often used as a proof text to argue in favor of a post-Tribulation Rapture. After all, they are clearly those who endured the Tribulation. And if it is the ‘first’ resurrection, then it must take place concurrent with the Rapture. 

That seems to make sense, until you look at the passage again. Those referenced there are ONLY those who came out of the Great Tribulation. 

Church Age believers and the Old Testament saints are not mentioned, since they have already received their resurrection bodies. (Matthew 19:28Daniel 12Job 19:25)

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

Revelation 20:4-6 mentions a “first resurrection” and identifies those involved as “blessed and holy.” The second death (the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14) has no power over these individuals. 

But how does one have two ‘first’ resurrections; the first at a pre-Trib Rapture, and the second at the end of the Tribulation Period? 

Actually, the Bible identifies the ‘first resurrection’ as occurring in four stages, not two. 

The first resurrection, in general, is the raising of all believers from all ages. 

It corresponds with Jesus’ teaching of the “resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14) and the “resurrection of life” (John 5:29). 

And it clearly takes place in various stages; the first was Jesus Christ Himself two thousand years ago. 

He was the ‘Firstfruits’ (1 Corinthians 15:20) Who prepared the way of salvation for those who Trust Him during the Church Age. 

The second stage involved the resurrection of the saints of Jerusalem;

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:52-53).

Stage three is the resurrection of the “dead in Christ” followed by the Rapture of “we which are alive and remain” at the Lord’s return for His Church at the conclusion of the Church Age. (1st Thessalonians 4:17

And finally, the resurrection of the martyrs at the conclusion of the final seven years of the Age of the Law. (Revelation 20:4Daniel 9:24

All these groups are part of the ‘first resurrection’ upon whom the ‘second death’ (in the lake of fire) will have ‘no power’. 

There is no inconsistency between resurrection of the saints at the conclusion of the Church Age, followed by a separate resurrection of the martyrs at the conclusion of the Tribulation,anymore than there is an inconsistency between the Resurrection of Christ followed by the separate resurrection of the O. T. saints in Jerusalem. 

From the Resurrection of Jesus to the resurrection of the Tribulation martyrs and O.T. saints (Daniel 12:13); it is all part of the general ‘first’ resurrection of the dead in four stages, each of which is clearly separated according to Scripture to a specific purpose in the overall Plan of God. 

The second resurrection, then, is the raising of all unbelievers; the second resurrection is connected to the second death. It corresponds with Jesus’ teaching of the “resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).

The event which divides the first and second resurrections is the millennial kingdom. 

The last of the righteous are raised to reign “with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4), but the “rest of the dead [that is, the wicked] lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” (Revelation 20:5).

As part of understanding Scripture’s outline of the overall Plan of God, consider the various epochs of human history from the perspective of the angels who did NOT join the rebellion, and who, by nature, have no understanding of what sin really is or how it really works.

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

We are a mystery to the angels. The Bible says they are charged with ministering to us, but that one day, they will be judged BY us. (1st Corinthians 6:3)

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)

Isaiah 14 introduces us to the first outbreak of sin in the universe.

“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.”

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

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

The existence of humanity is often described by theologians as the ‘trial of Satan’. 

The courtroom is Planet Earth, with Jesus as the Righteous Judge, the angels as witnesses, and with sinful mankind serving as evidence. It is more than just the trial of Satan. Sin itself is on trial. 

Lucifer, called in Scripture, “the anointed cherub that covereth” was highly favored of God; “and I have set thee so” (Ezekiel 28:14) Isaiah 14:14 defines that first sin as, “I will” — the sin of pride.

The trial is to prove what ‘one little sin’ can do — the classic ‘slippery slope’ scenario. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

To accomplish that God Himself stepped out of space and time, took on the form of sinful man, kept the Law on our behalf, and paid the price for our sin. (Death) 

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

But most of mankind rejects even the free offer of grace, preferring a life of unregenerate sin. 

That constitutes Exhibit 5 — and it must make the angelic witnesses gasp in disbelief. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mortal humans who have lived in a state of God-given idyllic bliss for a thousand years, under the influence of Satan, raise an army to bring against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords Himself. Exhibit 7. 

Sin is judged according to its works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praise the Lord for that OTHER central theme of Scripture.

“For 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)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 14, 2005.

Featured Commentary: The Pope the Patriarch and Putin ~ Alf Cengia

The Fatherhood of God

The Fatherhood of God
Vol: 19 Issue: 18 Thursday, February 18, 2016

For all the sacred texts, for all the opinions and views and expectations and religious assumptions, and despite the best efforts of our imagination, it is not given to the human mind to fully comprehend the infinite God.

We can know some of His greatness and glory through observation and we can know something of Him through His Word and through the revelation of His Son, and such the retention of that knowledge is both a privilege and a duty.

God is revealed through nature as its Designer and Creator and through the Scriptures, which directly testify of Him.  He is revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who came to introduce men to Him.

Our human minds seem more readily able to grasp the concept of God as Creator than it does as Father, but the Scriptures reveal Him more as in His capacity as Father than as Creator.  Still, any investigation of God is more likely to consider the creative abilities of God than His Fatherhood.

God the Creator is simply a generic title.  In this sense, any that is called “God” and afforded the title of “Creator” speaks to the real Creator God, no matter who the intended addressee might be.  There is one God and He is the Creator and He will be the God and Creator that He is regardless of what name He is called by.

That is not to say that all ways lead to salvation.  While all roads lead to God in the end, there is only one road leads to salvation.

There is only one God by whatever name you approach Him, but that doesn’t mean He will answer to whatever name you choose.  God is not a stray puppy.

If one is praying to a heathen god, it is still the Omniscient God that hears, since there is no other.  But God is Creator of all things, but Father only to His children. 

God is presented as ‘Father’ in the Scriptures in four distinct respects.

1. Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort .” (2nd Corinthians 1:3)

“The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.” (2nd Corinthians 11:31)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3)

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:14)

“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” (Colossians 1:3)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” ( 1st Peter 1:3)

God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not, God the Creator of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God the Father.  Note also that God is presented as both “The God of” and “Father of” our Lord.

On the human side, the First Person of the Godhead is referred to as His God, whereas as the Second Person of the Godhead, He is referred to as His Father.

The connection in which the First Person is mentioned as His Father has continued throughout eternity.  The connection in which the First Person is His God is in Jesus’ humanity which had a beginning with His virgin Birth but has no end.

There is no hint of inferiority or succession between God the Father and God the Son – it is more a case of manifestation.  Instead, there appears to be a unique, eternal affiliation between the first Two Persons of the Godhead that is best conveyed to our minds in the pattern of father and son.

The Arian and Gnostic traditions argue that Christ, while unique, was inferior to the Father.  From this heresy springs all kinds of other heresies, like Jesus and Lucifer were brothers (JWs, LDS) or Unitarianism (popular among the Founding Fathers) and so on.

That requires rejecting the clear teaching of Scriptures such as Luke 1:35, which identifies Jesus as the physical Son of God through the Holy Ghost.

It requires rejecting the doctrine that became One with the Father at His Resurrection.

It demands the assumption He is only the Son by virtue of His office.  But Scriptures teach that He was One with the Father before the world began.

2. God is also the Father of all who believe

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12)

Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God. When you received Jesus, you became a legitimate offspring of God through adoption.  As adopted sons, we are co-equal heirs with Jesus Christ.  

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  (Romans 8:15

The symbolism of adoption in Judaism is deliberately chosen. A Jew may disown his sons, disinheriting them and going so far as to declare them judicially ‘dead’ to the family.

That is not permitted in the case of an adopted son.  Jewish law prohibits disinheriting an adopted son – no matter what.  An adopted son is a son forever.

(When we were last in Israel, I heard a little Jewish kid call his father “Abba.”  It means, “Daddy.”)

The promise of Romans 8:17 is that we will eventually be conformed to the image of His Son and transforming us into actual sons of God, otherwise we could never be considered joint-heirs with Christ.

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.”  (Romans 8:17)

We are conformed to the image of His Son when we receive our glorified bodies at the Rapture.  At the present time, God’s attention is focused on bringing many sons unto glory.

3. God is the Father of Israel.

Several times in the Old Testament God addresses the nation of Israel as His sons.  This relationship isn’t one in which individual Israelites were regenerated unto salvation by God, but rather connotes the national solicitude or fatherhood by reason of parental care for all.  God has also declared Himself husband to Israel, completing the familial symbolism between Himself and His Chosen People.

4. God is the father of all mankind.

The first four books of the New Testament each trace the genealogy of Jesus Christ backwards to King David and all the way back to Adam:  

“Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. (Luke 3:38)

Adam’s right of sonship came by way of direct creation – the only concept of Divine fatherhood within reach of an unregenerate Gentile.

Addressing the unregenerate Greeks at Mars Hill who worshipped THE UNKNOWN GOD, Paul identified them as the offspring of God. 

“For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts 17:28-29)

All men, saved or lost, are the sons of God inasmuch as they owe their existence to Him.  But this kind of sonship is based on mere existence without relationship.  It is a relationship in which Father and son have never met and that’s the way the son wants to keep it.

Any study of the Fatherhood of God brings with it the tragic sense of loss that comes when that lost sinner enters eternity with all hope of fellowship eternally lost.

One that God loves so much that He sent His much beloved and only –begotten Son to seek and to save.  One that Jesus loved so much that He willingly laid down His life to save is lost forever.

The tragedy in heaven when such a one is lost must be unbearable.

That is where we come in.  We are sons of God, eternally saved, and secure in the knowledge that we are saved by grace through faith.   As actual, literal sons of God, we have an obligation to reflect the Father’s love.

So the next time you are led to share the Gospel with someone and you’re hesitating over it, think about it from both perspectives.

How much would you have to love God to want to spare Him the agony of having to condemn one of His errant sons?

And secondly, how much would you have to hate that person to know the way to eternal life and not tell them about it?   

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”  (1st John 3:17)

How, indeed?

The Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 28, 2010.

Featured Commentary: Love is in the Air ~ J.L. Robb

Hey — What’s With All the Punditry?

Hey — What’s With All the Punditry?
Vol: 19 Issue: 17 Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Every few weeks or so, somebody will drop me an email saying something like, ”Hey! All you ever talk about is politics and current events. I thought this was a Bible prophecy website!”

You’re right. I’m sorry. It is supposed to be dedicated to the movement of Bible prophecy in this generation. So this morning, we’ll discuss Bible prophecy.

According to the Prophet Daniel, in the last days, there will rise to power, a confederation of ten ‘kings’ who will preside over what, combining Daniel’s description with historical hindsight, can only describe a revived form of the old Roman Empire.

Daniel spoke of the ‘people of the prince who is to come’ as being those who would destroy the ‘city and sanctuary’. The ‘prince who is to come’ is the antichrist. The city and the sanctuary were destroyed by the Roman legions in AD 70.

So, if this is the generation that will see the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, there should exist a political entity that more or less mirrors Daniel’s description.

Of course, such a political entity exists today.

I’d tell you more, but that would be too much about current events and politics and not enough about prophecy.

The Apostle John said that in the last days, those subject to the antichrist’s government will be required to submit themselves to receiving a mark, either in their right hand or forehead, without which, ‘no man might buy or sell.’

This economic mark will be more than simply economics, however. According to the Apostle John, it will also be an expression of worship.

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:15-17)

Of course, while the antichrist has not yet made his appearance on the scene, if he were to show up tomorrow, he’d find that the necessary systems to make all this happen already exist.

But that would require examining current technology as well as the current political atmosphere before one could get any sense of how close such a prophecy might be to being fulfilled.

But if I was going to discuss either the current technology or the political attitudes that lend themselves to the creation of such a system then this would be punditry instead of prophecy, no? Today, we’re going to ignore current events and stick just to prophecy.

The Prophet Ezekiel predicted that “in the latter days” there would arise a great alliance of nations, under the leadership of a political power referred to as “Gog and Magog.”

Gog and Magog will align themselves with the nations of Persia, Togarmah, Gomer, Libya, Ethiopia, and a bunch of others. Once assembled, they will invade Israel.

On the other side are a bunch of other nations; “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish and all the young lions thereof,” Ezekiel says. These nations will oppose Gog-Magog. Not militarily, but diplomatically.

“Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13)

Gog, Magog, (and all the other countries Ezekiel predicted would be allied with them) exist today, in exactly the alliance structure foretold.

And if we were planning to discuss either politics or current events today, well, then, I could tell you who they all were. But today, I am sticking strictly to Bible prophecy.

One of the great mysteries of the Book of the Revelation is the manner of death prescribed for those who refuse to take the Mark of the Beast. In the Big Picture overview, it looks a bit like this:

There will be a false religion that will contain elements of Christian imagery, but doctrinally, John says it will ‘speak like a dragon’. It will demand that those it deems unbelievers either convert to the new religion or submit to death by decapitation.

What kind of religion could possibly win enough popular support to be viable when its doctrine calls for beheading people in the name of its god? Does such a religion exist? Is it possible that this prophecy is coming true in this generation?

If we were discussing current events and politics, I’d be happy to answer all of these questions. But today, we’re only discussing Bible prophecy.

After all, I’m a Bible teacher, not a pundit.

The Apostle Paul once outlined the social, political and moral characteristics that will dominate cultural Christianity in the last days under the general heading of a warning:

“This know also, in the last days, perilous times shall come.”

From there, Paul outlines the things to watch for that will indicate that those perilous times have arrived.

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2nd Timothy 3:1-5)

So, have we reached the point of  ‘perilous times’ yet? My answer is, “Absolutely.” 

This is a letter-perfect description that, were we discussing current events and politics, would be as crystal-clear to you as it is to me.

But we’re NOT discussing current events and politics this morning. We’re discussing Bible prophecy. (I’m a preacher, not a pundit!)

According to the Words of Jesus from the Olivet Discourse, the generation that will see His return will be one marked by deception, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences ‘in diverse places’.

Does this generation qualify? Does it fit the Bible’s description?

I’d discuss that, but today, we’re avoiding politics and punditry to stick to Bible prophecy.

Jesus also described,

“signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

He said of these things,

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

But to figure out when these things were beginning to come to pass would require some examination of current events and global politics.

And today we’re sticking strictly to Bible prophecy.

According to the Bible, the antichrist is part of an unholy trinity, consisting of Satan, theantichrist and the false prophet. The antichrist comes to power by deception, Paul tells us in 2nd Thessalonians.

He presides over a government that is party strong and partly weak, like iron mixed with clay, Daniel says.

He controls a global economy and global government, John says. His partner has control of the global religion, which prescribes death by beheading for infidels who refuse to convert.

So, for these to be the last days, there must be a revived form of the Roman Empire, but unlike Rome, partly strong and partly weak, but with a strong centralized government and banking system.

And a viable, global religious system that governs by terror and insists on submission or death by decapitation.

It all exists today and I can prove it. But that would require introducing politics and current events into the discussion. I promised today we’d only discuss Bible prophecy, not politics, punditry or current events. I kept my promise, too.

Learn anything?

The Letter was originally written by Jack Kinsella on August 21, 2008.

”Can I Get A Witness? . . .”

”Can I Get A Witness? . . .”
Vol: 19 Issue: 16 Tuesday, February 16, 2016

”For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2nd Peter 1:16)

The New Testament of the Bible consists of twenty-seven short Greek writings, essentially letters that were exchanged throughout the Church, the first five of which are historical in character.

The first four historical books are commonly called the ‘Gospels’ (literally, ‘good news’) that record the eyewitness accounts of the public ministry of Jesus Christ.

The Gospels aren’t exactly biographies of Jesus, since they reveal little of the Lord’s life on earth, apart from His Divine origin and His three years of public ministry.

The first three Gospels are called the ‘Synoptic’ Gospels because they share common features not found in the fourth Gospel, that of the Apostle John.

The Synoptic Gospels tend to focus on the humanity of Jesus, whereas John’s Gospel examines Jesus from the spiritual perspective.

Critics often point to the variations between the Gospels as evidence the Scriptures are flawed,since some give seemingly different accounts of the same event.

It is important to keep in mind that each presents a distinctive point of view, and each was originally composed for a different audience. Personally, I regard the differences between the Synoptic accounts as strong evidence supporting their accuracy.

The Gospels are eyewitness accounts. Much of my law enforcement career was spent conducting investigations and interviewing eyewitnesses. It has been my personal experience that no two eyewitnesses ever describe the same event the same way.

Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes glaring, but it was identical accounts that raised a red flag.

Mark’s account of the Olivet Discourse differs from that of Luke’s or Matthew’s but only in minor points of perspective, the way two eyewitnesses to a car wreck remember different details based on their point of view and what stood out to them at the time.

The writings of the New Testament were completed by about AD 100, with the majority of them having been in existence within forty years of the Lord’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.

This also argues strongly for their accuracy. The Synoptic Gospels were written and distributed within the lifetime of men who were alive and could remember the things that Jesus said and did.

Many of us were alive and old enough to remember the assassination of President Kennedy. Many of us witnessed the Kennedy assassination, and the subsequent murder of Lee Harvey Oswald three days later, on live television, as it happened.

While there are literally as many conspiracy theories as there are conspiracists to dream them up, the basic historical facts remain indisputable.

Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas by a gunshot wound to the head. Oswald was murdered in the basement of the Dallas Police parking garage when Jack Ruby poked a thirty-eight into his ribs and pulled the trigger.

I could not write a credible book arguing that Kennedy was really shot in Seattle and Oswald really died in a shootout with police by the Space Needle. There are too many living witnesses to take me seriously — it would never get any traction. (Even my wife wouldn’t buy a copy, let alone start telling the story to her friends).

Consider this: The Synoptic Gospels recount a time when Jesus was speaking to a crowd so large that, to get a sick man into His presence, the roof was ripped off the building so a paralyzed man, confined to a cot, could be lowered to Him.

Ripping part of a roof out of a building would attract the attention of its occupants. Seeing a guy lowered down in front of the featured Speaker would grab the attention of every person in the room. And when the paralyzed guy got up and started running around, there was not likely a disinterested person in the house.

Jerusalem of Jesus’ day was a small town where everybody pretty much knew everybody else. When the Gospels began making their rounds, this fantastic story was accepted because there were eyewitnesses to attest to its truth.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in full view of many witnesses. John records the resurrection of Lazarus was reported to Caiaphas the High Priest and the Council of Pharisees.

If, even thirty years later, somebody tried to fabricate this story, there would be living eyewitnesses to argue against its truthfulness.

And if there were no eyewitnesses to support the account, the Gospels would have been discredited as just one more Messianic legend. Nobody would have believed them and Christianity would never have found a foothold — especially among the Jews.

The ‘Thirty-Nine Articles’ document that determined the Canon of Scripture, that is, separating the Inspired Word of God from other historical and religious works of the time, declares in Article VI,

“In the name of the holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.”

If there had ever been an expressed doubt, it was carefully examined for contemporary eyewitness testimony. Within three hundred years of the Resurrection, the Canon of Scripture was assembled.

All legitimate doubts were satisfied.

Assessment:

In opening his report to his patron, Theophilus, the Apostle Luke attests:

“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the Word.” (Luke 1:1-2)

Both Peter and Luke made clear from the outset that they were personal eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Peter reminds his followers that he was a “witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” (1st Peter 5:1)

Luke also drives home the point of eyewitness testimony, writing,

“And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” (Acts 5:32)

Moreover, Luke stresses that the Apostles were far from the only witnesses:

“And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people.” (Acts 13:31)

The fifth historical book of the New Testament is really a continuation of the Gospel of Luke,but divided into the Acts of the Apostles. In it, it recounts the beatings, stonings, ostracism, torture and ultimate deaths of many of His eyewitnesses.

The only Apostle to die a natural death was John the Beloved, who lived into his eighties. The rest were given a choice between denying the testimony of what they witnessed, or accepting a horribly brutal and painful death.

This is, to my mind, incredibly powerful evidence. Following Jesus meant abandoning their lifelong religion, their families, their friends, their homes, all they held dear, to become vagabond preachers, subject to the whims of the authorities and declared public enemies of Judaism.

Given the choice, not one recanted. All went joyfully to their deaths, as did countless Christian martyrs of Nero’s persecution. They KNEW by personal eyewitness what we know only by faith.

They SAW Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead, turn water into wine, feed five thousand with five loaves and seven fishes, walk on water, die, be buried, and rise again three days later. They WATCHED as He ascended into heaven. They SAW the angels and HEARD their words:

“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

With what they knew, first-hand, how COULD any of them trade what they knew for certain was an eternity with Jesus for a few more years of this life?

Imagine if you had walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, witnessed His miracles first hand. What would there be about dying that would frighten YOU?

That is what makes the Acts of the Apostles such powerful evidence. Who would choose to live a life of misery and joyfully embrace an agonizing death when a simple declaration could make it all go away — unless they were absolutely certain?

We live in a generation unlike any in history. Our technological advancements border on the miraculous, indeed, we’ve come to expect a new technological miracle as part of our daily routine. We live in an age of miracles, to the degree the miraculous loses some of its ‘miraculousness’. (I had to invent a word to make my point — sorry)

My point is this: Miracles are less convincing to this generation than they used to be. That is why God ensured we would have adequate eyewitness testimony.

So that we could KNOW as the Apostles did, that we are NOT following cunningly devised fables.

Jesus is alive and well and everything is under control — despite the seemingly ever-increasing chaos all around us. We can be confident of His involvement in the affairs of men and in His promise:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

And when He comes again, to ‘receive us to Himself’, we have the eyewitness testimony of the angels who told the ‘men of Galilee’, that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”

Or, as the Apostle Paul explained in greater detail,

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:15-17)

We have the evidence of undisputed eyewitness testimony.

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

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on September 6, 2005.

Featured Commentary: The Number of His Name ~ Wendy Wippel

Quite the Mysterion

Quite the Mysterion
Vol: 19 Issue: 15 Monday, February 15, 2016

Of all the things that are certain about life, the most certain thing of all is that none of us will get out of it alive.   But what about the Rapture, you ask?

Those alive at the Rapture do not experience physical death, but by every standard of measure we have for physical life, they don’t arrive in heaven any more alive than do saints who died in the fifth century.

In his first letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul writes;

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

There is a lot of information packed into those few words.  First, the use of the word mystery (mysterion). It means, a ‘hidden thing’ or ‘hidden purpose or counsel of God.’ 

Paul chose that word carefully to make an impact upon his audience. Words have a dictionary meaning but could mean something entirely different within the cultural context.  

Suppose you are some future historian trying to translate ancient 21st English.  How would you translate the following two sentences?

  1. She wore a gay smile as they danced across the ballroom. 
  2. Everyone at the dance was gay.

In the Greek of Paul’s day, mysterion was primarily understood to mean a religious secret confided only to the initiated and withheld from ordinary mortals. Such secret religious sects were typical of the ancients, both Roman and Greek.

In English, it doesn’t carry quite the same primary meaning.  We hear ‘mystery’ and we think of whodunits or unexplained events.   A mysterion was a revelation – a secret revealed by God to special initiates who would ‘get’ it.  

Contextually then, we would understand a mysterion as someone who had been ‘read into’ a secret, like a 33rd degree Mason or a high-level Homeland Security agent.  

It is important to understand what mystery means in context, since it is only used about eighteen times in the King James Bible.  It doesn’t mean it is too complicated for you to understand.  It doesn’t mean that is hidden from you.  

Whenever you see it, you need to recognize that you are being “read into” some top secret counsel of God — completely unintelligible to anyone other than those to whom it is intended.

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:” (1 Corinithians 2:7)

The mystery isn’t ‘mysterious’ at all.  What is a mystery is that even today, only those that have been ‘read into’ the mystery can understand it. Unless someone has been “read into it” by the Holy Spirit, one can explain it until one is blue in the face and they can’t get it.

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

If that is true, then shouldn’t it follow that as soon as someone is saved, he should be able to understand every doctrine in the Bible?   Nope. 

God doesn’t read every Christian into every mystery, either.  That is what makes it a mysterion– a mystery is a revelation to the initiated – not everybody is initiated to the same level.  We are all individual persons and our God is an individual God.  

Saved individuals have a unique relationship with an individual God.  My relationship with God is no more like your relationship with God than my relationship with one of my sons is like my relationship with the other.

Each of us is an individual with an individual relationship.  Each of us understands the other slightly differently.  Do you see what I mean? 

I “get” one of them more than I do the other, but that is because we are all real individuals.

If everybody ‘got’ God the same, I’d have to question whether He was real.  Even if everybody is ‘read into’ the ‘mysterion’ the same way – not everybody ‘gets’ it the same way — because it is all real.

I could say the same thing to all my kids and I’d be lucky if half of them ‘got it’ the way I meant it. And I can explain a particular doctrine to some Christians until I was blue in the face and they’d still miss the point.

“Behold, I read you into a secret; we shall not all sleep (koimao) but we shall all be changed.”

This is the second remarkable statement – we shall not all sleep.  The word koimao means literally, ‘to be put to sleep’.  It is a verb – metaphorically; it can mean “to die” —but in the sense of cause and effect; the cause is God did it, the effect is you died.

“Behold, I read you into a secret, we shall not all be put to sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

In English, when we read of being changed, that can mean pretty much anything from a new haircut to a new attitude.

The word “changed” as used here is from the Greek word “allasso” which primarily means “exchanged” or “transformed”  into something that was not present previously.  It means to ‘exchange one thing for another’.

“Behold, I read you into a secret, we shall not all be put to sleep, but we shall all exchange one thing for another.”

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthinans 15:51-54)

Assessment:

Not every Christian has been ‘read into’ every mysterion — just like not every person knows the Whole Counsel of God.  It’s all there in the pages of the Bible. All of us have access to it. 

But none of us are capable of being “read into” the whole Counsel of God.   That’s how God made us.  It doesn’t necessarily make one person wrong and the other right.  It puts that person where God wants them to make the point He wants made.

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ;

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Not everybody is “read in” the same way.  

When, exactly, DO we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ? 

There is no unity of faith in the here & now.  Nobody has attained that level of perfection since Christ.  Who could be measured against the stature of the fullness of Christ?  Nobody. 

Until that Day when we are changed. At the last trump. 

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

But not everybody agrees on what the last trump means, or what it means for the Lord to descend from Heaven, or what it means for the dead in Christ to rise first or for those who are alive and remain to be caught up.

The Prophet Daniel proclaimed to Nebuchadnezzar, “But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets.”  Nowhere does it say that everyone gets them the same. 

There are those that are convinced that the Rapture will take place at some precise point within the Tribulation – the breaking of the Sixth Seal, or somewhere at the mid-point or even at the end.  

For those folks, it seems critically important that they convince others to prepare to avoid the judgment of God that is to come upon the earth during the Tribulation.  To my way of thinking, that is the most mysterious line of reasoning of all.

Avoiding God’s judgment?  Is that even possible?

I believe that the Rapture must precede the Tribulation, since it is a period of judgment for sin in which the Church has no part.  Either Christians are declared judicially innocent by virtue of the Blood of Christ or they are not.

If they are judicially innocent, then God cannot justly impose judgment on them.  So the Church cannot be justly judged for the sins of the world after Jesus has already paid the penalty due.   

That is why Paul concludes the Rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians with this note of encouragement:

“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”

Not everybody has been read into every secret the same way. Every person is an individual with an individual relationship with an individual God.  It is by our disagreements that we demonstrate the 
http://www.omegaletter.com/admin/tinymce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js
reality and the individuality and personality of the living God.   

The Lord works in mysterious ways. That’s what makes Him God.

This Omega Letter was originally written by Jack Kinsella on February 3, 2011.

Featured Commentary: This Kind of War ~ Pete Garcia

Is Unwise the Same as Sinful?

Is Unwise the Same as Sinful?
Vol: 19 Issue: 13 Saturday, February 13, 2016

It didn’t take very long before somebody challenged me over the recent OL briefing “The Doctor Will Kill You Now” regarding euthanasia and drugs.

The challenge, however, was not what I was expecting.

In your column, you point out that in Holland, and increasingly, in the United States, marijuana is either legal or has been decriminalized.  Then you suggest that somehow the decriminalization of marijuana is evidence of social breakdown that leads addle-pated Dutchmen to voluntary euthanasia.

That leads me to ask two questions.  The first one is,  “what have you been smoking?”   The second is for you to show me from the Bible how you arrived at your conclusion that using marijuana is a sin?”

At first glance, that seems a pretty simple challenge.   Ordinarily, I’d crush such a challenge totally with Scriptures requiring Christians to obey the law – but that doesn’t work if there is no applicable law to break.

And even if it did, that argument is no more powerful against marijuana that it is against speeding.   If breaking the law is what makes it sin, then how does one make the case that smoking pot is more sinful than speeding? 

The sin here is lawbreaking, not speeding. Or smoking pot. 

The fall-back position is that the body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and that it is a sin to do anything to defile it with things that are bad for you.  

The problem with the position it is bad for you is that it doesn’t address the challenge of how smoking pot itself is morally sinful.

Lots of things are bad for your body.  Tylenol is as hard on your liver as alcohol.  Aspirin can thin out your blood and cause internal bleeding. 

Twinkies are chemical cesspools of deliciousness.   There is zero nutrition in a can of Coca Cola.   One might as well eat rat poison as eat a fast-food cheeseburger.

The film, “Super Size Me” chronicled Morgan Spurlock as he ate three meals a day from McDonald’s for thirty days.

Spurlock was interviewed by Newsweek about his experiment.    He was asked what happened to his body over the course of his month-long binge at Mickey D’s.

 My body just basically falls apart over the course of this diet. I start to get tired; I start to get headaches; my liver basically starts to fill up with fat because there’s so much fat and sugar in this food. My blood sugar skyrockets, my cholesterol goes up off the charts, my blood pressure becomes completely unmanageable. The doctors were like “You have to stop.”

The “Temple of the Holy Spirit” argument works for pot, but it works identically for chocolate, pasta, French fries, cheeseburgers and Twinkies.   That doesn’t meet the challenge.

The next argument that comes to mind is that smoking pot affects a person’s mind and that is sinful because altering one’s mind affects one’s relationship with God.  

But how does that argument work when applied to sleeping pills?  Laughing gas?   Pain killers?   Ah, but they are prescribed by a doctor! 

Ok. That makes them legal. But how does that make them moral?

I’m way outside my comfort zone here.  I am NOT an advocate of legalizing marijuana.  There are enough legal vices out there already. 

But I have to admit that I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know before I started researching this column. The history part is intriguing, but PLEASE don’t think I’m advocating one way or the other.

I’m just callin’ it as I read it. 

It wasn’t the hippies in the 1960’s that discovered pot. It’s a plant. It’s been around for millennia.  Pot was smoked like tobacco until the 1930’s.   

In 1937 the Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act that imposed a tax on anyone who dealt commercially with cannabis or hemp.  

The bill was passed over the objections of the AMA. It found no evidence to support claims of addiction, violence or over-dosage, as was claimed by the Act’s supporters.

Under the terms of the Act, anybody who wanted to deal in hemp products had to apply for a tax stamp.   So all the government had to do to criminalize it was refuse to issue the stamp. 

It wasn’t until 1970 that marijuana was declared a controlled substance.   I didn’t know thateither.  I thought marijuana had always been illegal.  

But the first place to ban pot was, ironically, the state of California in 1913.  The first country to ban pot was Great Britain in 1928.

Fiorello La Guardia, the legendary New York mayor, spoke out against the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act, going so far as to call for its abolishment.

La Guardia commissioned a study by a group of 31 impartial scientists that took six years to complete.

After the in-depth scientific analysis, researchers found that marijuana doesn’t cause violent, psychotic episodes.  It doesn’t lead to anti-social behavior, the report found. 

It doesn’t cause uncontrollable sexual urges. It doesn’t change a person’s personality.  Nobody is known to ever have overdosed or otherwise died from overconsumption of it.  

The thought struck me as I was researching this story that a person can die from drinking too much water — but nobody ever died from too much pot.

In 1944, La Guardia published a report of his group’s findings, scientifically disproving all the government’s claims about the effects of smoking pot. The report was immediately spiked.

It would seem that the reason that there is no historical problem of marijuana abuse prior to the 1930’s was that it didn’t become a problem until it was declared illegal.

George Washington grew hemp as his primary crop in 1797.  Hemp was Thomas Jefferson’s secondary crop at Monticello.    Farmers in Jamestown Virginia were required under a law passed in 1619 to grow hemp for use in trade.

So now we come back to the Scripture support for the argument that smoking marijuana is a moral sin.  Scripturally, it ranks right up there with cigarettes, but not as highly as booze.

It is a sin to smoke cigarettes?   Culturally, yes.  But if you forced me to prove it from Scripture, the best I could do is the Temple of the Holy Spirit argument – it’s bad for you.   So is eating cheeseburgers.

If there is a clear violation of God’s law in lighting up a cigarette, I cannot find it in Scripture. 

Is it a sin to drink alcohol?  Some say yes. But the Bible only prohibits drunkenness, it does not forbid drinking.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)

“Deceived”, and thereby, “not wise”.   But that is not the same as ‘sin’.

Deuteronomy 14:26 commands the Israelites, as part of the celebration of their first fruits:

“And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.”

It would seem that there are times, therefore, in which God evidently approves of wine or strong drink, under certain circumstances.  So it isn’t the drink that is sin. Or even the consumption of strong drink that is sin. 

That only leaves time and circumstance.  Clearly, it is better not to drink, and one can extrapolate from that obvious fact until it becomes sin. 

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:” (Proverbs 31:4)

Are we not, as Christians, princes, priests or kings before the Lord?  But then in the very next verse, we read:

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” (Proverbs 31:5)

And,

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (1st Timothy 5:23)

Clearly, there are times when strong drink and wine are appropriate, according to the Scriptures. And just as clearly, there are times when it is not. 

And for some people, there is never a time when it is appropriate.  

But is impropriety the same thing as sin?  I can make that case by interpreting the Bible from my own personal perspective, but I cannot make that case by using Scripture alone. 

A lot of what Christians see as sin against God is in reality a sin against their culture.  A Middle Eastern Christian in 2010 would not necessarily view smoking tobacco as sin.  

An American Christian in 1910 wouldn’t either.   The great 19th century evangelist Dr H. A. Ironside’s fondness for cigars was no barrier to his ministry. 

Somebody is gonna hammer me for justifying sin or preaching situation ethics or accuse me of trying to justify smoking or drinking or pate-addling.   I am not.

If you want to hammer me, do it with Scripture.  I’ve never looked into this from exactly this perspective.  Maybe I missed something.  I don’t want to teach error. 

In the main, is the Bible makes the case that drinking alcohol is stupid, er, unwise.  But there are times and places, evidently, when stupid isn’t the same as ‘sinful’.

I was challenged to make my best case from Scripture against marijuana as sin and the Bible says what it says.  It doesn’t say anything about smoking – either tobacco or pot.  

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a theologian, to see that smoking anything is stupid, er, unwise.  But is stupid the same thing as sin?  

Smoking could lead to death and that is stupid.  But so could skydiving, a perfectly respectable sport that I think, personally, is the Grand Poohbah of Stupid. 

But that doesn’t make skydiving a sin.  Does it?   Again, we find the elements of time and circumstances. 

It’s no big deal unless or until his chute fails and he leaves behind a widow and a bunch of fatherless kids just so he could indulge himself with his own stupid hobby.

Viewed through the prism of time and circumstance, he morphed from stupid to sinfully stupid and from harmless to sinfully hurtful.  

The point is that the sin is in the eye of the beholder.  So in the end, what is the most powerful case I can make against pot, solely from Scripture?  

To my surprise, my best case is really not very powerful. 

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

Genesis 1:29 says that all seed-bearing herbs are lawful and given to us as meat.  Hemp is a seed-bearing herb.   It was lawful in every country on earth until the early 20th century.  

But not everything that is lawful is necessarily good.  

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1st Corinthians 6:12)

It isn’t an issue of sin or not sin insofar as I can find in Scripture.  It is an issue of wisdom and foolishness, time and circumstance.  

At some point, one has to grow up and stop doing foolish or childish things.  The sooner one gets there, the sooner one can respond to the will of God.

The challenge was to make a case from Scripture for the moral sinfulness of smoking pot — absent laws against it. 

What I found surprising was how hard it was to do so.  

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1st Corinthians 10:23)

Time and circumstance.  All things are lawful to me, but there are times when they work against the will of God that we exhort and edify others weaker in the faith than we.

If somebody believes something to be sin, well, to him, it is sin.  And that is how God will judge it – “You thought it was sin and you did it anyway.

Not very defensible.

Originally written by Jack Kinsella on April 23, 2010