The Jeffersonian Wall and the KKK

The Jeffersonian Wall and the KKK
Vol: 28 Issue: 30 Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Research on Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” between church and state shows that Jefferson never intended it to be the iron curtain of today, which instead was built on anti-Catholic legal views in the 1940s.

Several books released recently make the case that it wasn’t really Thomas Jefferson who favored a ‘wall separating church and state’ to keep God out of classrooms, it was Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black who wanted to limit the power of the Roman Catholic Church. It seems that Justice Black’s membership in the Ku Klux Klan influenced his thinking there, according to one of the authors.

“What we have today is not really Jefferson’s wall, but Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s wall,” said American University professor Daniel Dreisbach, whose book explores how Jefferson coined the “wall” metaphor.

What About Sixty Years of Legal Interpretation?

In the Supreme Court’s 1947 Everson decision — forbidding New Jersey to spend state education funds for religious education — Justice Black cited the phrase “wall of separation between Church & State,” from Jefferson’s Jan. 1, 1802, letter to a group of Baptists in Massachusetts.

The new scholarship argues that the Virginian used that metaphor in hopes of winning support in New England — then a stronghold of the rival Federalists — rather than as the definitive interpretation of the First Amendment.

“Jefferson worked with his New England political advisers on the letter,” said Mr. Dreisbach, who five years ago began looking at Jefferson’s original draft, the political advice and the electoral setting of the period.

Historian Robert Alley, who argues that Jefferson wanted a secular public square, rallied other scholars in protest, saying the exhibit “ignores the past 60 years of Supreme Court opinions that analyzed Jefferson’s phrase.”

Building the Wall

Wait a sec, here. What about the previous century and a half that came before that?

The ‘separation of church and state’ sounded good to the secularists, but ignoring 60 years of previous Supreme Court ‘interpretations’ is not the same as ignoring the clear, unambiguous statements from the Founders.

Statements like,

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity,” John Quincy Adams — or, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We shall not fight alone. God presides over the destinies of nations.” – Patrick Henry.

And in accepting ‘sixty years of Supreme Court analysis’ of what Jefferson meant, we must ignore the sixty years of ‘Supreme Court analysis’ before that.

In 1892, in the case of the Church of the Holy Trinity vs. The United States, the Court ruled that,

“If we examine the constitutions of the various states we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of the forty-two states contains language which either directly or by clear implication recognizes a profound reverence for religion and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well-being of the community.”

It cited eighty-seven previous legal precedents before concluding,

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of Mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise: and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian … This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation … we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

Black Was a Bigot?

Both books make the case that Justice Black didn’t ‘discover’ the wall of separation, but rather invented it out of bigotry.

“You can’t understand the period when Justice Black was on the court without understanding the fear American elites had of Catholic influence and power,” said Dreisbach, [who is not a Catholic.]

Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life at Boston College, is impressed by the new findings but doubts they can make a difference.

“I think it is terrific scholarship, but I don’t think it can change anything,” Wolf said. “The ‘wall’ idea has taken on a life of its own and is part of our custom and law.”

Wolf also said that Catholics today are comfortable with church-state separation, as every religion must be in the United States.

“One day, a group of [US] Muslim thinkers will come up with an idea of ‘separation’ that works for them.”

[I love the subliminal spin in that sentence. Those who favor ‘separation’ are ‘thinkers’ — and the subtle linking of Islam with those who favor allowing God US citizenship is a nice touch.]

What Non-Thinkers Think

Since I tend to believe the incredible volume of evidence that suggests the Founders did NOT intend to banish God, but only to prevent the state from instituting a state religion, evidently, that means I am not a ‘thinker’.

I tend to believe history, rather than re-thinking it. History says the Founders knew what would happen if the State established the Church like in England.

England had in the past gone so far as forbidding worship in private homes and sponsoring all church activities and keeping people under strict dictates. They were forced to go to the state established church and do things that were contrary to their conscience.

No other churches were allowed, and mandatory attendance of the established church was compelled under the Conventicle Act of 1665.

Failure to comply would result in imprisonment and torture. The people did not want freedom from religion, but freedom of religion.

The only real reason to separate the church from the state would be to instill a new morality and establish a new system of beliefs. Which is what the secularists accomplished during that sixty years.

There is an often cited comparison between kids today and kids sixty years ago. Back then, the number one discipline problem cited by teachers was gum chewing, followed by talking in class.

Today it is school shootings. 

Stanley Katz, a Princeton scholar, said the new data on the “Jeffersonian myth” will have a “profound impact on the current law and politics of church and state.”

In the past fourteen years, it has been argued that modern anti-Catholicism produced the idea that “sectarian” groups create conflict and must be walled off from public support.

“It was an open secret that ‘sectarian’ was a code for ‘Catholic,'” Justice Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion fourteen years ago. “This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.”

The term “sectarian” was first used in a federal ruling on church-state issues in 1948.

Assessment:

A few bigoted secularists in the right place in the right time in history were able to legislate God out of American life, convincing the public that the Founding Fathers were double-tongued politicians whose words actually meant precisely the opposite of what they said.

That principle that politicians mean exactly the opposite is newly developed ‘thinking’. The old, reactionary ‘non-thinkers’ (like your humble correspondent) can look to history to find that in the days of the Founders, many states required a prospective legislator to swear he was a Christian before he could assume his office.

The Bible says that Satan is the god of this world, and that, in the last days, he will deceive the whole world.

Including the only nation on earth born under the principal that individual rights are granted by God and not under the authority of the state — (the principle that makes us citizens and not subjects).

Benjamin Franklin said, “Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants.”

The Bible says,

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. ” [Revelation 13:7-9]

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 5, 2002

Featured Commentary: In the Beginning, God. . . ~Wendy Wippel

The Prophecy Conundrum

The Prophecy Conundrum
Vol: 28 Issue: 29 Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In every generation of Christians since the time of the Apostles, there have been devout souls who have pored over the Scriptures, comparing the signs to the times and looking for evidence suggesting the imminent return of Christ.

In most previous generations, they were either revered as sages or dismissed as harmless nut-cases. But in this generation, something is different. Students and teachers of Bible prophecy find themselves in great demand or shunned like lepers.

Depending on how one receives the message, we are perceived as either hateful or hopeless, but we are certainly not harmless. In this generation, the first mental image most people have when they hear “Bible prophecy” is of a burning compound outside Waco.

It doesn’t matter that David Koresh was certifiably nuts or that he claimed to be Jesus Christ. To most people in this generation, “Bible prophecy” and “apocalyptic cult” are synonyms.

I typed in Bible prophecy apocalypse as Google keywords and the most popular returns all referenced 2012 in some way.

Very few actually had much to do with Bible prophecy, all of them had something to do with doomsday, and none of them offered much in the way of either understanding or hope.

Since the 1960’s ‘evangelical’ and ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘conservative’ have all sort of run together into an image that then-candidate Obama summed up (rather well, really) in his “bitter redneck” comment.

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

When you get right down to it, there isn’t much about Bible prophecy that this generation should be eager to embrace. I feel for one of our younger members who lamented in one of our forums that we older folks at least knew what it felt like to have a future worth planning for.

I feel it for my own children. I came to Christ in my early 20’s. God called me almost immediately to be a watchman — my kids grew up never expecting to grow up.

My son Rick will be thirty-six in August. I can still hear him in my memory, his squeaky voice just beginning to crack, asking me if I thought the Lord would tarry long enough for him to learn to drive.

I’ve been expecting the Rapture to take place at any second now for almost my entire Christian life. Every new event seems to signal that ‘this is IT!” but then it isn’t. I get my hopes up, and then I realize that my reach has exceeded my grasp.

I am not alone — I am one of an entire generation of similarly disappointed Christians who keep listening for a trumpet that never sounds. This collective disappointment is reflected by a number of recent surveys that suggest Christianity in general, and evangelicalism in particular, are on the wane in the United States.

Michael Spencer, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, paints a rather grim picture of where he sees American evangelical Christianity headed, not just in the United States, but the Western world.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the “Protestant” 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I’m convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

This is perfect example of the “prophecy conundrum” — that’s pretty much the way the Bible predicted it, too.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Assessment:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. ” (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

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

Prophecy is knowledge of future events — and that has considerable weight. If you don’t believe knowledge has weight, think back to some time when you were in deep trouble when you were a kid and you were waiting for a punishment you KNEW was coming.

You already knew what you did. That was past. But punishment, although certain, was still future. Weighed heavily on your mind, didn’t it? (Multiple puns intended to make the point)

Knowledge has weight. And some knowledge is heavier than other knowledge.

The end of the world is a fairly heavy subject.

The knowledge imparted to students of Bible prophecy in this generation is almost crushingly heavy — I believe that is the reason that the Lord promises a special crown to those who willingly shoulder its burden.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 4:8)

Watching God work has another unexpected consequence. It tends cause us to see ourselves in the reflected light of His glory –and it isn’t a pretty sight. Sometimes when that happens, it also manifests itself in one of our forums.

There was an entry by a brother just the other day lamenting his spiritual condition before the Lord. He begins by confessing he is ‘haunted’ by the fact he isn’t sure he is saved.

Let me address that brother first, before returning to the wider issue at hand, since we all struggle with that issue at one time or another.

If you can follow me around this mental circle. . . If I DIDN’T wonder if I was saved from time to time, THAT would be a reason to worry. I KNOW how far short of the glory of God I come. I know me in my innermost, darkest places.

If I was God . . . well, let’s just say that it is a good thing for ME that I’m not.

So if I started to think that I was good enough to be saved, and that’s why I wasn’t wondering, then maybe I wouldn’t be.

Stay with me, here. This is one of those circular thoughts that, once you get it, slings you out the other side where the light is better.

If you are wondering how can it be that you are saved, as unworthy and unfit as you are to be saved, then by those very doubts you qualify as one of God’s redeemed.

“Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” When John Wesley penned the words to that hymn, he was haunted by his sin, too.

When God works all around you, when you watch Him change the course of nations, set up and tear down rulers according to His Word, when you actually witness Him manipulating events to conform to His prophetic outline, it tends to remind you of who you ought to be before Him.

There is another lesson taught by prophecy that is often overlooked — not who you ought to be, but who you actually are before the Lord.

He knew, down to the tiniest detail, what you would be thinking and doing as you committed the worst and most unforgivable thing you ever did in your entire life — and He saved you anyway.

You are the one that He loved so much that He paid the penalty for all yours sins on Calvary so you and He could be friends for eternity.

You are the one He loved so much that He told you, in advance, what to look for in the last days, so you wouldn’t be scared.

“Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God. Believe also in Me.”

There is a crown of righteousness laid up for you and me at the Bema Seat as a special reward for carrying the weight of what we know and being willing to share it while there is still time.

I believe that Michael Spencer is right. The end of evangelicalism is close — it’s no more than a trumpet note away. We can see it. We can feel it. The weight of this sin-sick world is too heavy for us to bear for much longer.

Which is why, praise the Lord, we won’t have to. He’s coming.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 11, 2009

Casa Blanca

Casa Blanca
Vol: 28 Issue: 28 Monday, November 28, 2016

According to a report on PBS, Mexican drug violence has claimed 22,700 lives since December 2006.  That is more than the total deaths on both sides so far in the Afghan War.  It is just under half that of US losses in Vietnam.

I did the math, rounding up to four years, and it was pretty scary.   It works out to a murder every two hours!  And that is an underestimate since it doesn’t include the murders that will occur between now and December.

A total of 18 people were killed and 15 wounded in a twelve-hour period in the northern Mexican states of Durango and Coahuila.   Four of them had been decapitated. I found this gruesomely revealing line in the Latin American Herald report:

“The authorities said the heads had not been placed in refrigerators, as has occurred on other occasions.”

 Mexico is a failed narco-state where the police are either in the pockets of the drug lords or they end up like Police Chief Martin Castro.  Castro’s head was found in an ice chest together with the bodies of six of his men. 

The bulk of the police force of the Mexican town of La Union resigned enmasse following a drug-cartel ambush that wounded two of their officers.   

Residents on the outskirts of Mexico City, recognizing that they are on their own, are taking justice into their own hands. Two thugs mugged a young couple using a knife and a toy gun, robbing them of 200 pesos and a cell phone.

About 300 people pursued the two men, caught one and beat him so badly with sticks and fists that he died in an ambulance, officials said.

Human Rights Watch reported a jump in military abuses of civilians including charges of murder, rape and torture, which were ‘handled’ by secret military tribunal rather than open court.

Mexico is a horror show bigger than its borders can contain. From 2000 to 2008 the number of illegal aliens in Arizona skyrocketed by 70 percent.

Arizon’s a population of 6.6 million includes an estimated illegal alien population of 500,000 and a prison population that includes nearly 6,000 Mexican nationals (14 percent of the inmate population). 

(In California, where many cities have ‘sanctuary’ laws, passed in defiance of federal immigration law, 36% of prison inmates are Latino).

Phoenix has earned a reputation as the kidnap-for-ransom capital, second only to that of Mexico City.   There were 370 reported kidnappings in Phoenix in just the past year. 

In March, an Arizona rancher named Robert Krentz was fatally shot on his own ranch by an illegal alien.   Krentz had lived on the Arizona border all his life. But Google warns that if you try to read all about it from the Guadalajara Reporter, it might ‘harm your computer’.

Google does not warn people away from the sites that claim Krentz’ murder was really an American — there are about seven sites, all liberals, including the Huffington Post, making that claim. 

How do they know he was an American?  They don’t. They just made it up.

Krentz’ killer is still unknown.   

Assessment:

No other nation on earth permits this kind of foreign disrespect for either its borders or its citizens.  The estimated 12 to 30 million illegals living in America threaten to overwhelm the system. 

One in seven children in public schools is a direct or indirect product of illegal immigration.  The same number applies to hospital emergency room visits.

The federal government continues to drone on about ‘immigration reform’ with the word ‘reform’ used as a euphemism for ‘amnesty’ — while claiming the exact opposite.  

The Congress authorized the construction of a border fence, but it was never completed.  Despite the new Arizona law, illegal immigration is up by 6% according to the Border Patrol, (who doesn’t really know anyway). 

They base it on how many they stop — not how many get by them.

The liberals argue amnesty on the grounds we can’t round up and deport every illegal. Walter Williams of George Mason University published this brilliant response that argument:

“That argument differs little from one that says since we can’t catch every burglar, we should grant burglars amnesty. Catching and imprisoning some burglars sends a message to would-be burglars that there might be a price to pay. Similarly, imprisoning some illegal immigrants and then deporting them after their sentences were served would send a signal to others who are here illegally or who are contemplating illegal entry that there’s a price to pay.”

Williams offers this ridiculously simple solution.  Start strict enforcement of immigration law.   Enforce border security and laws against hiring illegal aliens. More than 70% of Americans agree with Williams, according to a recent Rasmussen Poll. 

But the Obama administration rolled out the red carpet for Mexico’s Felipe Calderon as if Calderon was an important ally of the United States, rather than an important ally of the Obama agenda, which I am now convinced is to bring about the collapse of Western civilization in order to replace it with something new.

Calderon’s government is facilitating an illegal, secret invasion — directly funding groups that aids migrants of any origin heading north to cross illegally.   The first thing Calderon did when he arrived in Washington was to complain about the Arizona law mandating the enforcement of existing federal immigration law.

And the first thing Obama did in reply was apologize for Arizona’s action as if he were explaining away a hyperactive problem child.

The law in question mirrors federal law, but evidently, nobody in federal government read it before pronouncing it discriminatory or racist.  

The reason they don’t have to read it to know it is a bad, racist law is because Arizona police are apparently so corrupt and racist that they will harrass people taking their kids out for an ice cream cone. 

(Who knew?)

Actually, the law prohibits police from questioning someone’s immigration status unless they are already under arrest for some other crime. But President Obama thinks that Arizona police will routinely violate that provision of the law.

But Obama did everything but declare Arizona police to be as corrupt as he declared Cambridge police “stupid” last year.

“I think a fair reading of the language in the statute indicates that it gives the possibility of individuals who are deemed suspicious of being illegal immigrants being harassed or arrested,” he said. 

There is that possiblity with ANY law.  But only if the police charged with law enforcement are corrupt.

For his part, Calderon had nothing but praise for Obama for distrusting his own police as much as Calderon distrusts his.

Mexico will “continue being respectful of the internal policies of the United States,” Calderon said, but he rejected the idea that “people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals.”

One thing Obama said during the press conference I found particularly striking. 

“I have confidence I can get the majority of Democrats — both in the House and Senate — to support a piece of legislation. . . But I don’t have 60 votes in the Senate. I’ve got to have the support of Republicans.”

What I found striking wasn’t what he said so much as the way he said it. In every major piece of legislation so far in his administration, the only thing bi-partisan has been the opposition.  It’s as if he lives in an alternate reality.

A reality where corrupt police eagerly await a chance to show they have as much contempt for human rights as Obama has for those charged with protecting them.  Where anyone who disagrees with his views is racist, ignorant, misinformed, deliberately dishonest or just downright hateful. 

Obama’s “reform” means amnesty for those already here, after they jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops that they bypassed or they wouldn’t be in the country illegally in the first place. 

If they didn’t do it then, what makes Obama think they will now?

This is really a deliberate recipe for further fiscal catastrophe, since they would then be eligible for low-income wage-earner benefits calculated to cost taxpayers some $19,900 per immigrant worker.  It isn’t popular with the public.  It isn’t popular in either House of Congress. 

AND this is an election year in which he is likely to lose both — yet he continues to ignore public opinion as if the November elections will be irrelevant to his agenda.

The pattern continues without deviation.  Whenever there are two possible choices, one which favors the United States and one which does not,  Obama consistently chooses the latter.  

Economy collapsing?  Spend more money.  Unemployment too high?  Grant amnesty to 30 million illegal workers. Losing the war in Afghanistan?  Tell the Taliban what date we’ll pull out. 

During the Tribulation, the Bible identifies four spheres of global power by compass point; revived Rome to the West, the Kings of the South, the Kings of the East and Gog-Magog to the north.

There is no fifth, separate power resembling the United States to be found anywhere in Scripture except for one.  The Apostle Paul warned of perilous times in the last days. 

But Paul isn’t speaking of the Tribulation,  he is addressing the Church during the Laodicean era just before the Rapture.

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

That he is addressing Christians is evident from his warning to them to ‘turn away’.  That he is addressing the US as the visible representative of the Laodicean Church is something I believe to be self evident.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Until the turn of the 20th century, the Bible was the most commonly used textbook in America. America’s reputation as the world’s most ‘Christian’ country dates to its founding.   The following passage is rather lengthy, but necessary to my point. 

It was written by Alexis de Tocqueville, a French researcher and historian who was explaining the United States to his European countryment in the 1830’s.

Religion in America.. .must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief. I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion-for who can search the human heart?-But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.
The sects that exist in the United States are innumerable. They all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man. Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God…. Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same.
In the United States the sovereign authority is religious,… there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
In the United States, if a political character attacks a sect [denomination], this may not prevent even the partisans of that very sect, from supporting him; but if he attacks all the sects together [Christianity], every one abandons him and he remains alone.

De Tocqueville was describing America in her early days.  Paul’s letter to Timothy is a letter-perfect description of American politics in these days.

The Apostle Paul called them “the last days” — and the times are as perilous as one can imagine.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 20, 2010

Featured Commentary: Civil War and the Coming New World Order ~Pete Garcia

Thereafter What??

Thereafter What??
Vol: 28 Issue: 26 Saturday, November 26, 2016

The formal name for the last book of the New Testament is ”The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St John” and not ”The Book of Revelations,” or ”Revelations” or ”The Apocalypse of John.”

John himself never titled the Book he penned while in exile on the Isle of Patmos.  The Book was titled by Jesus Christ Himself:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)

The word “revelation” is the English equivalent to apokalupsis meaning, “unveiling” or “lifting of the veil” which is why it is also sometimes called the Book of the Apocalypse

The Lord divided the Book into two parts; “the things which are and the things which shall bethereafter.” (Revelation 1:19)  

The first part of the Book is written to the seven churches; identifying them as the “things which are.”

At the time of John’s exile, there were seven major churches in Asia Minor; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. (Interestingly, all seven were located in modern-day Turkey, which is 99.8% Muslim, according to the CIA Worldfactbook.) 

If the “things which are” referred to those seven specific cities, then we would now have to becenturies into the period Jesus identified as the “things which shall be thereafter.”

Jesus concludes His revelation about the “things which are” with a cryptic message, intended not for the natural man, but understandable only to those already indwelt by the Holy Spirit:

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:22)

“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)

At that point, there is a jump from the “things which are” to John’s hearing a trumpet, and a voice telling John that what comes next are “the things which shall be thereafter.”

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)

John says in the next verse that “immediately I was in the Spirit” and the next thing he saw was “a throne set in heaven.”

Let’s stop here for a second and summarize. The Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It is not addressed to John, it is sent to John.  It is addressed to the ‘servants of Jesus Christ’ – look at it again.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)

Who are the “servants of Jesus Christ?” Ummm, lessee. Angels?  Nope? Individuals? Maybe, but Jesus said of individual believers,

“Henceforth, I call you not servants, but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)

The servants of Jesus Christ are the individual Churches that exist within the Body of Christ.  

The Book is distinctly divided into two parts; not three, not five, not fifteen or eighteen, but just two.  The first division is identified as the things which are.

The second division is what “shall be thereafter.”  Which leaves the obvious question remaining.

Thereafter what?

Assessment:

Jesus assigns specific characteristics to each of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor which correspond historically with seven distinct epochs within the Church Age. 

For example, the first of the Churches mentioned, Ephesus; bold in resolute endurance, discerning, intolerant of departures from the faith, this is the Apostolic epoch. 

There was Smyrna, battling nobly with trials and danger, in the midst of poverty and suffering but rich in faith and good works. The Age of the Martyrs.

Then comes Pergamos, married to the world. This church epoch began with the Emperor Constantine declaring Christianity to be the State Church of Rome.

The Church at Thyatira was condemned for its continual sacrifice and the introduction of new doctrines, corresponding historically with Dark Ages. (Purgatory, indulgences, and the Inquisition).

Sardis was the ‘dead’ Church, as it had become by the time of the Reformation.  Sardis gave way to the period of revival following the publication and distribution of the Word of God to the common man.

The period from the Reformation in the 15th century to the end of the 19th century, was the epoch of the Church of Philadelphia. This was the ‘missionary church’ that took the Bible to the New World, to darkest Africa, to China and the far corners of the earth.

The end of the Philadelphia Church Age coincided with the ‘Enlightenment’ in Europe, brought about by ‘modernist’ thinking near the end of the 19th century which ushered in the Laodicean Epoch, the era of Church history that unmistakably corresponds with the time in which we now live.

From Philadelphia to Laodicea, distinguished for its worldly riches, its high-toned profession and spiritual pride; yet lowest in the scale and standard of all, neither cold nor hot — a religion of boasting words, but devoid of moral strength — “poor, blind, and naked.”

The center of the Church of Laodicea isn’t Jesus, but rather, it is what its name implies; Laos, (people) and dike meaning, “decision” — or the “Church of the People’s Decision”.

The name wasn’t chosen by accident. If ever there was a generation of Christians to whom that description fits, it is this one. 

At the Church of Laodicea, Jesus isn’t inside, but stands on the outside and knocks, waiting to be invited in. 

Given our perspective of 20/20 hindsight, there are but two possible conclusions concerning the period of time Jesus said would be identifiable as the “things which are.”

It either refers to the historical period in which these seven specific churches existed in Turkey, in which case we have been living in the period “which shall be thereafter” for about 1200 years now, or it refers to the period from the Apostolic era to the conclusion of the Church Age at the Rapture.

If it means the former, then it became irrelevant the moment that the churches in those cities ceased to exist. Doesn’t it?  Can it mean anything else?  What is left?

If the Revelation of Jesus Christ to His servants is to have any meaning to His servants, then it logically follows that His message to the Churches was a continuing message relevant to the entire Church Age, and not just to seven long-lost church communities in Asia Minor.

The Church Age is the period that encompasses the “things which are”.  That which “shall be thereafter”is the Tribulation Period, which begins when John hears a trumpet, and the voice of an angel, and the scene instantly shifts from the physical to the spiritual and relocates in heaven. 

That event is specifically identified as the commencement of the “things which shall be thereafter.”

We’ve gone the long way to get where I wanted to go, but that was because I wanted to ensure as air-tight a case as possible.  There are many well-meaning and sincere Christians that believe that this generation of Christians will be present for all or part of the Tribulation Period. 

But the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ specifically divides itself into the physical here and now and the spiritual thereafter.  The “here and now” ends with translation, alive, into the spiritual hereafter. 

This occurs before the opening of the first seal, (antichrist) before the ride of the next three horsemen, (War, Famine and Death) before the moon turns into blood and before the seventh seal pours out the Wrath of God.

FIRST comes the Trumpet (the Rapture).  Then, two chapters later (suggesting some element of time has passed) comes the onset of the Tribulation Period.  

No matter what kind of Scriptural gymnastics one resorts to, there is no way for the “things which are” to also be the “things which shall be thereafter.”

The “things which are” include the Church at Laodicea all the way up to when the addressees of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ find themselves in the Spirit before a Throne set in Heaven.  AFTER that comes the “things which shall be thereafter”.

The dividing line imposed by Jesus can only be in one place – the place where JESUS divided it.  At the Rapture – and it doesn’t fit anywhere else. 

If it fit at the sixth seal, then that is where Jesus would have divided His Revelation.  If it fit at the first seal, (the revealing of the antichrist) then that is where Jesus would have divided His Revelation. 

But Jesus divided it at the conclusion of the Laodicean Church epoch. The Apostle Paul described the conclusion of the Church Age from the perspective of Planet Earth.

“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 4:16-17)

The Apostle John described it from the perspective of Heaven:

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)

Both Apostles are describing the same event from different perspectives!

Note also that John is in Heaven for some time before the first seal is broken – and therefore, so is the Church, or the symbolism is meaningless. John witnesses the events that precede the breaking of the first seal – and so does the Church.

So the indwelt Church cannot be both present on earth when the first seal is broken AND present in heaven to witness the breaking of the first seal.  

Here is what that means.  From where we sit, we are so close we almost think we can identify the antichrist – there is a whole new sect of Christians emerging that believe they already have.

But the Bible clearly tells us the Rapture comes first.  So if we are so close we can almostidentify the antichrist, the Rapture of the Church is that much closer. 

And with all the chaos and war and upheaval and financial and natural disasters coming upon us, the Apostle Paul says of the Rapture;

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

Words of comfort.  Not words of terror.  There is a difference.  It would be far less comforting to me if I believed it was addressed only to the survivors of the first six judgments. 

And it would make far less sense.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on September 15, 2011

Concerning Edom. . .

Concerning Edom. . .
Vol: 28 Issue: 25 Friday, November 25, 2016

Edom is the name given to Jacob’s brother Esau after Esau sold his share of his inheritance to Jacob for a bowl of red bean stew.

Esau and Jacob were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau, the first-born, was so named because he was born covered with red hair.

The root meaning of ‘esau’ is ‘hairy’. The root meaning of ‘edom’ is ‘red’.

Esau was a hunter and outdoorsman and evidently not the sharpest tool in the shed, whereas Jacob was more of a dreamer and schemer.

Jacob conned Esau out of his share of his inheritance from Isaac, which Isaac had inherited from Abraham, who ‘inherited’ it directly from God.

Being first-born carried great status; the first-born was presumed to be God’s choice as default heir to the father’s wealth, power and authority.

But even before Esau’s birth, the Lord told Rebekah that her older son would serve the younger.

The Bible says the battle between the two brothers began in the womb; Jacob was born clutching Esau’s heel, as if attempting to claw his way out first.

The Bible says that after an unsuccessful day of hunting, Esau came home “famished” and found Jacob cooking a pot of red bean stew, or ‘pottage’.

He asked for some, and Jacob asked if he would be willing to trade his inheritance for it.  Esau agreed.  The whole story only occupies a few lines of Scripture, so I am sure the exchange was broader than that.

The Bible account makes it sound like Esau was being flippant: “thus he despised his birthright.”  Maybe Esau meant it, maybe he didn’t.  But Jacob clearly intended to take it seriously.

So Jacob made good on the deal by tricking Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing that traditionally would be reserved for the first-born.

The blessing, once given, could evidently not be retracted. When Esau found out, he swore to kill Jacob.  So Jacob moved to Haran in what is now Iraq to work for Rebekah’s brother. (Follow along with me, here. The lineage is important.)

Esau intermarried with the Hittites and the Ishmaelites, including Mahalalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son.

After Isaac died, Esau took his wives, his children, his servants and his cattle and moved away from his brother to Mount Seir in Edom, a territory bordered by the Jordan River and including much of modern Jordan, including Petra.

After the Babylonian captivity the Edomites, (called Idumeans by the Greeks and Romans) were driven north by the Nabataeans to the areas around what is today southern Judah and Samaria in the West Bank.

The Idumean’s chief city was Hebron, which was captured by Judas Macabeeus in 163 BC. The rest of the West Bank area was conquered by  John Hyrcanus in 127 BC, who compelled the Idumeans to be circumcized and convert to Judaism.

King Herod Antipater and his son King Herod the Great were Idumeans, or Edomites, who were set up as puppet kings by the Roman occupation.

After Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin, He was sent to stand before the Idumean King Herod. Thus any lingering claim by Esau was satisfied as the descendent of Esau stood in judgment over a descendent of Jacob innocent of any sin of His own.

Justice was satisfied.

Assessment:

The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament at only 21 verses. But Obadiah’s theme could have been lifted directly from the pages of the Jerusalem Post.

“The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a message from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the nations, Arise you, and let us rise up against her in battle.” (Obadiah 1:1)

It is all about the abuse of God’s people, God’s land, and God’s Holy Hill, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The villain, the guilty party, will end up devastated. Obadiah identifies the guilty party as Israel’s twin brother Esau (Edom), together his physical (Edomite) and spiritual (Ishamelite) descendants.

Obadiah accuses Edom of “violence against your brother Jacob.” (v 10) This is not an isolated incident of violence, but systematic, repetitive, unrelenting violence.

The Book of Obadiah reads as a formal indictment against Edom and their allies. One of the first things to examine in prophecy is the time frame in which it applies. Some prophecies were given for the near-term, others are for the long term.

In Obadiah’s case, it is both.

Or, put another way, Obadiah looks at Edom from beginning to end in a glance. The abuses accumulate throughout history, and end with the establishment of God’s rule on earth.

It is a broad chronological perspective ranging from the Destruction of the First Temple to the end of days.

Visions that prophets were given are not always restricted to a thin slice of time. Some encompass a very long period of time, as is the case in the Messianic prophecies.

Some were fulfilled at Jesus’ First Advent, others will be fulfilled in His Second. Some verses contain prophecies that address both Advents in the same verse.

The prophecy concerning Edom is one such “dual-fulfillment” prophecy, as we’ve discussed in previous briefings.

Verse 10 indicts Edom of violence against ‘thy brother, Jacob’.

Verse 12 indicts Edom for celebrating Israel’s catastrophes;

“Neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.”

Compare that verse to images of chanting crowds of Palestinians dancing for joy at the news of a new bombing attack against Israeli civilians. Or the cheering crowds that celebrated Saddam’s missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

Verse 13 indicts Edom for ‘entering the gates of my people’. When the British Mandate ended in 1948, the Arabs immediately seized the Old City of Jerusalem.

It took until 1967 for the Jews to re-take the city. They still have no control over the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount, remain at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as God said they would.

Completing Obadiah’s identification of modern ‘Edom’  is his mention of the emblem of the Palestinian Authority.

“Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.”

The PA’s official emblem is the eagle. And the timing is right.

“For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations: as you have done, it shall be done unto you: your reward shall return upon your own head.”(v. 15)

“And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken it.

“And they of the south [the southern Kingdom of Judah – the Jews] shall possess the mountains of Esau; [The West Bank] and they of the lowlands the Philistines: [The Gaza Strip] and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, [Judea] and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. [the Galilee.]” (v. 18-19)

Tick . . .tick. . .tick.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 2, 2010

Featured Commentary: A Thief in the Night ~Alf Cengia

My Favorite Holiday

My Favorite Holiday
Vol: 28 Issue: 24 Thursday, November 24, 2016

Of all of the various holidays, Christmas is the most fun. To my mind, it always has been. I loved it as a kid, but I’ve loved it even more since becoming an adult.

It is the one time of the year when I get to express my love and appreciation to my family and friends without anybody feeling awkward about it.

But Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving Day is.

I love its historical purpose. It is the one time of the year when America expresses its collective love and appreciation to our Creator God for the many blessings showered upon us as a nation.

Thanks to the foresight and faithfulness of America’s Founding Fathers, even in the rabidly secular post-Christian America of the 21st century, there remain a significant number of Americans who still heed 2nd Chronicles 7:14:

“If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

The fact that despite America’s many sins, America remains the most Divinely favored nation on the face of the earth is evidence that God heeds His promise in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 as well.

That is what I love most about Thanksgiving Day. The opportunity to witness God’s continued involvement in the affairs of men.

During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress appointed one or more days of thanksgiving each year. And each one carried a recommendation to the executives of the various states for the observance of these days in their states.

George Washington, leader of the Revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga. The Continental Congress proclaimed annual December Thanksgivings from 1777 to 1783 (except in 1782).

The concept of setting aside a day of thanksgiving is as old and as universal as mankind.

Many countries, such as for example, Asia, Japan, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka have celebrated in gratitude for their rich rice harvest for many, many centuries.

In Africa, many tribal expressions of gratitude are similar as this ancient prayer:

“The Year Has Come Around Again, Great Lord Of Our Land – Never Can We Thank You For Your Good Deeds And All Your Blessings.”

In South America you find many of the native Indian cultures have expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving. Modern Brazil has a special public day of thanksgiving and prayers and has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since 1949.

In Chaldea. ancient Egypt and Greece, harvest festival has been celebrated with great rejoicing.

The Hindus and the Chinese marked their harvest with a holiday. The Romans celebrated their Thanksgiving early October. They dedicated it to the Goddess Of The Harvest, Ceres, and the holiday was named “Cerelia.”

Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia, offered the first or last sheaf of wheat to the “Great Mother” or the “Mother Of The Wheat”, believing that earth power was a feminine force.

The annual “Declaration of World Thanksgiving”, is signed by 12 world leaders — religious leaders, scholars, scientists, philosophers, artists — representing various religions and cultures from around the world.

Assessment:

If everybody celebrates thanksgiving in some form or another, and if the tradition goes back to the ancient Chaldeans, then what is so American (or Christian) about Thanksgiving?

The answer should be obvious. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” Scripture tells us.

America is, hands-down, the most abundantly blessed nation on the face of the earth. Sharing in that blessing are Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some of the nations of Western Europe.

Those nations also share the tradition of offering thanks to the Almighty God of the Bible for their blessings.

Israel also has a tradition of thanksgiving, called Sukkot. Sukkot has three names: Hag HaAsif – The Festival of Ingathering, Hag HaSukkot – The Festival of Booths, HaHag – The Festival), which comes on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, lasts for seven days.

During that time the Israelis remember the protection God gave them during the forty years they spent traveling in the desert. The Jews also celebrate the ingathering of crops during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Like the Christians, the Jews offer their thanks to the True Author of blessing, and like the Christian nations, are among the biggest recipients of God’s provision and protection.

Places like India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, etc., have traditional celebrations in which they give thanks to pagan gods.

What the pagan gods are able to deliver in return is self-evident.

“Yet ye have forsaken Me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.” (Judges 10:13)

The reason that I love Thanksgiving Day above all other holiday seasons isn’t the turkey (but I love that) and it isn’t the feasting (but I love that) or the parades, or the football games or any of the secular trappings that go along with it.

It is because I get to watch God keep His promises. When God told Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleaded with God until the Lord agreed that if there remained yet ten righteous men in the city, He would stay His execution on the city.

Even though not ten righteous men could not be found, for the sake of Lot and his family, the Lord arranged first for their evacuation, before bringing judgement on the city.

Each Thanksgiving Day, Americans acknowledge the Creator and offer Him thanks for His blessings. And a walk through American history shows that every year was more abundantly blessed than the year before, with one notable exception.

The longest period of economic stagnation in US history was the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Economic growth was all but non-existent and banking panics were commonplace.

The Banking Panic of 1837 almost tanked America — in 1861, Abe Lincoln had to issue ‘greenbacks’ — in essence government IOU’s — to finance the Civil War.

It is especially interesting in light of the fact that, from 1816 to 1861, there were no presidential Thanksgiving proclamations issued.

America was therefore ‘blessed’ accordingly.

We live in a post-Christian era, but there remain a few righteous men left, in a handful of nations, that still heed the national call for thanksgiving and prayer.

Thanksgiving Day renews my hope that, as in Lot’s case, the Church will be evacuated before God executes judgement on a lost and sin-sick world.

“And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.” (Jeremiah 30:19)

Offer up thanks to Our Creator, the Almighty God of Israel, Isaac, Jacob. Let Him hear the ‘voice of them that make merry’ — wherever you may be.

I pray each of you have a happy Thanksgiving Day. God bless you all.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 24, 2005

Featured Commentary: I’m Glad It’s Still Thanksgiving ~J.L. Robb

Faith Without Works is Dead

Faith Without Works is Dead
Vol: 28 Issue: 23 Wednesday, November 23, 2016

One of the main arguments against the doctrine of eternal security to those who don’t understand it is that its opponents believe it is a ‘license to sin’.

Salvation is a three step process. First, one must recognize his condition as a sinner. Secondly, that person must recognize that Jesus paid the penalty for that sin on the Cross. And third, that sinner must repent and be converted;

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

When one repents of one’s sin and trusts Jesus, then the Scripture says one becomes ‘a new creature’. “. . .old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

Repentance means more than mere sorrow or regret or despair or grief over sin. Bible repentance means a change of mind toward God that results in a change of action.

Writes Robert Girdlestone in “Synonyms of the Old Testament“;

“Repentance is neither sorrow without change or change without sorrow, but it is such a deep feeling of sorrow as gives rise to a determination to change.”

“Repentance is a change of mind or purpose. Until a man repents he commonly feels comfortable about himself and his “ways; but when the Savior, through the Spirit, gives him repentance, he changes his mind about himself, and seeing nothing good in his heart or in his works, his whole soul cries out, “Lord be merciful to me, as sinner.” (William Cathcart, Baptist Encyclopedia)

James Stewart explained ‘repentance’ this way in his book, “Evangelism”;

“Repentance is included in believing. Howbeit, repentance is not faith, nor faith repentance. ‘He that believeth’ implies repentance. ‘Repent and be converted’ involves faith. The hand that clutches the assassin’s knife must open it ‘ere it can grasp the gift its intended victim proffers; and opening that hand, though a single act, has a double aspect and purpose. Accepting the gift implies a turning from the crime the heart was bent on, and it was THE GIFT ITSELF that worked the change.”

Before looking more deeply into what repentance is, let’s take a look at what repentance is NOT.

Repentance isn’t fear of God’s anger coming from a consciousness of guilt or grief as a consequence of that guilt.

Judas was guilty of the greatest crime in human history — the betrayal of the Son of God. The Bible says that he was so filled with despair that he went out and hanged himself.

There is no indication that Judas had any sorrow for any other sin in his life, and he asked no pardon for his betrayal of Jesus. Judas’ despair was the result of great regret, but was not the same as repentance.

Judas had no change of mind, nor a change of heart. Rather than resolving to live a changed life and trusting the Lord for his forgiveness, he pronounced judgment upon himself and sentenced himself to death.

He was sorry for his crime, but he had no faith in forgiveness. He trusted to his own works.

The Greek word translated ‘repentance’ is ‘metanoeo’, which involves four things, according to R.C. Trench’s “Synonyms of the New Testament.”

1) “To know after,”

2) the change of mind consequent on this after-knowledge,

3) regret for the course pursued, resulting from the change of mind consequent on this after-knowledge, and,

4) the change of conduct for the future, springing from all this.

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon defines metanoeo (‘repent’ as a verb) as ‘to change one’s mind’. Thayer’s defines ‘metanoia’ (‘repentance’ the noun) as “to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.”

Repentance, as it relates to salvation, means to turn to God from sin. It means to bow before Jesus Christ as the God of one’s life. It involves a change of mind concerning Whose will issupreme, and involves a change of action as a consequence. There can be no salvation without repentance.

Repentance is denying self (a negative) while by faith affirming Christ (a positive). Repentance looks within; faith looks above. Repentance exposes us as miserable sinners; faith delivers us from that misery.

“Repentance is hunger, faith is the open mouth, and Christ is the living Food,” writes Cathcart.

Those who don’t understand the doctrine of eternal security take their personal view of ‘repentance’ and apply it across-the-board, according to the prism of their own self-experience.

For example, the smoker who, upon being saved, is convicted that smoking is a sin (changes his mind) and repents (changes his action) and quits, then applies smoking as a litmus test against which to measure the repentance of others.

In this view, someone who gets saved and doesn’t give up smoking can’t still be saved because he hasn’t really repented of his sin. Do you see the fundamental flaw in this logic?

Repentance is a change of mind, followed by a corresponding change of action. But it isn’t an instantaneous change, or the Scripture ” that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” would make no sense. (Philippians 1:6)

Repenting and trusting Jesus means turning their sin nature over to Jesus Christ, and being willing to allow Him to make the changes as He saw fit.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)

To the guy who gave up smoking, the guy who hasn’t quit yet didn’t repent. To take this view, one has to ignore the fact that God isn’t done with this second guy yet.

He hath BEGUN a good work in him, but the Scriptures say it is a PROCESS in which He [Jesus] will CONTINUE to perform that good work until the day we stand before Him at the Bema Seat.

(Or else we have to tear that verse out of our Bibles.)

The sinner who will be saved MUST repent, and that repentance will ALWAYS result in a changed life.

Because those changes aren’t the ones somebody else (or even the sinner himself) expects to see doesn’t mean there is no repentance or no salvation or a loss of salvation.

The saved person KNOWS who they were before Christ. And the saved person marvels at the changes God has wrought in him — because HE knows what they are.

Even if those who would judge him by his outward performance do not.

I recall a discussion I had with the Lord not too long after I was saved. The moment I was saved, I gave up all the outward sins, smoking, drinking, swearing, etc. It wasn’t too long until the enemy threw me a few curves, and the next thing you know, there I was, right back where I started. Or so I thought.

I went for a long walk and I enquired of the Lord — what is wrong with me? Was my repentance insincere? Was my salvation a sham?

How is it that the same God Who could speak the earth into existence out of nothing couldn’t give me the strength to keep me from picking up a cigarette? Where was my repentance? Was I still saved? Was I EVER saved?

And as I walked with Him, and questioned Him, He gave me the only answer that made sense. It was so obvious I wondered why I couldn’t see it before — I was walking with the Lord and asking Him why I hadn’t changed.

That’s when the lights came on. Before I got saved, I didn’t do that.

I went along my own way, running my life according to my own will and understanding, and the last thing I would have done would have been to go for a walk, talking to an invisible Savior and seeking His assurance and approval.

I still had a pack of cigarettes in my pocket, but I had changed my mind about myself, my relationship to God and my sin. My salvation had already produced evidence of a changed mind and a changed life.

As we walked, the Lord brought to my mind a whole list of things that I used to do that I didn’t do anymore. The changes just weren’t the ones I was expecting, in the order in which I had expected them.

The changes weren’t in the same order as in other people, but they were just as profound, since I KNOW who I was before. And so did God.

I was still a sinner. But I was a repentant sinner who was walking with God in the cool of the evening and I knew I had fellowship with Him because I WAS walking with Him in the cool of the evening, and seeking His will for my life.

The Apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist who ever lived, wrote of his own personal struggle with sin.

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Paul cries out in seeming despair, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Then the Lord gives him the answer to his question, just as He gave me mine.

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:21-25)

Eternal security is not license to sin. It is a recognition that sin exists in our lives, but also that,

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

As I walked with the Lord, hating (but keeping) that pack of cigarettes in my pocket, was I walking after the flesh, or after the Spirit?

In his letter to the Romans, Paul says,

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof . . . for sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

My sin continued to exist, since I remain subject to the ‘law in my members’ but it no longer had dominion over me. I could still approach the Throne of Grace and seek His Face and pray with confidence.

The enemy’s efforts to convince me I was unworthy by virtue of my sin was overcome by God’s assurance I am forgiven by grace through faith. It wasn’t up to me — I didn’t need to give up in the face of my failure.

“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Romans 8:33)

Answering the objection that eternal security is the same as a ‘license to sin’, Paul writes;

“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

What IS the sin unto death? There IS such a sin — the Bible says so;

“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)

John makes it clear that there are sins which are NOT unto death, but Paul says the wages of sin is death. A contradiction? In both cases, the context indicates the comments are addressed to believers. So what does it mean?

“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

The Apostle John recorded Jesus’ teaching that;

“It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)

It is the Holy Spirit that calls us to salvation. Rejecting that call is the sin unto death for which there is no forgiveness.

The Apostle James writes;

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)

Opponents of eternal security seize on the second half of that verse to prove the validity of works, instead of looking at the entire verse in context.

In context, note that James is using a dead (unquickened) spirit to contrast against a ‘dead faith’.

Faith is NOT the spirit and the spirit is not faith. One has a spirit whether one has faith or not. The two are not the same. But one’s spirit is ‘quickened’ — made alive, BY faith.

Hebrews 11:1 defines ‘faith’. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

If one has faith, but does no works of faith, how does it follow that means his spirit is killed — since, by definition, saving faith results in a ‘quickened’ spirit?

If one has faith, but does no works of faith, he will bear no fruit. Leading someone to Christ is a work of faith that bears fruit. Passing up an opportunity to witness because one is too ashamed is a fruitless exercise. Without works, that faith will bear no fruit.

But we are not saved by faithless works, we are saved by workless faith. Others are saved, i.e., led to Christ, by our works on behalf of the Gospel. Or they are not, due to our failure.

Paul writes of the fate of him that has faith without works when that one stands before the Bema Seat;

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”

But note the following verse very carefully:

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:13-15)

Again, is this a contradiction? James says faith without works is dead, but Paul says that faith that produces no works will suffer the loss of rewards, before he notes carefully that loss of rewards isn’t the same as the loss of salvation.

Connecting the dots, we find the following:

1) Salvation is a free gift of grace, received by faith, and exclusive of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

2) Repentance means a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of action.

3) There is but one ‘sin unto death’. The only sin which will not be forgiven men is the rejection of salvation by denying the leading of the Holy Spirit.

4) Dead faith cannot produce spiritual fruit without works, so faith without works is dead.

5) Every person who by faith, accepts the free gift of salvation, will stand before the Bema Seat and be rewarded according to their works.

6) He who has no works will receive no reward, “BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.”

Salvation comes by repentance for sin and faith in the completed work of the Cross as a substitutionary and all-sufficient sacrifice for sin.

Works of faith can only come AFTER that faith has been quickened by salvation. If the only sin unto death is the rejection of the free gift of salvation, then by definition, one who has saving faith has NOT rejected it.

His faith may not bear fruit, in which case, to all intents and purposes, that faith is ‘dead’ but the one with faith without works will ‘suffer loss’ but will himself be saved, ‘as by fire’.

This in no way means that works are irrelevant to bearing fruit, which is the Great Commission given to the Church, but it is clear that ‘works’ and ‘faith’ are two different things.

It offers no assurance that one can sin with impunity — sin bears its own reward, whether one is saved or lost.

Smokers get lung cancer, whether they are saved or not. Drug addicts overdose or die of disease brought on by a weakened immune system. Alcoholics get cirrhosis or die of some other alcohol related disease.

Sexual promiscuity yields a whole host of consequences, from the misery of divorce to the risk of death by sexually-transmitted diseases.

But only those who reject the offer of pardon procured for them by Jesus Christ at the price of His Own Blood sin the ‘sin unto death’.

The doctrine of eternal security is no license to sin, merely a recognition that sin exists, and that Jesus Christ alone has defeated sin’s eternal consequences.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

Salvation is an issue between an individual and Jesus Christ. Repentance cannot be faked — one KNOWS in one’s heart whether one has repented or not.

So does Jesus Christ. Trust Him.

“. . .yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 5, 2005

Featured Commentary: A Sheep of a Different Color ~Wendy Wippel