Why Study Prophecy?

Why Study Prophecy?
Vol: 20 Issue: 20 Monday, February 20, 2017

but their conclusions are formed based on the absence of evidence for the existence of God.

To take on the challenge of ‘proving’ there is no God, the unbeliever takes to himself the logically impossible task of proving a negative.  Because one cannot see God does not mean He does not exist.  One can’t see air, but it exists.  One can’t see gravity, but it exists.

Both, although invisible, exist, and that existence can be proved using empirical evidence.  The same applies to both the existence of God and His intimate involvement in the affairs of men.

Bible prophecy is a particularly powerful evidence of the existence of God, especially to this generation.  To the degree that Bible prophecy can be measured, it has proved itself 100% accurate, 100% of the time.

There are skeptics that will search out some reference that they assign a value of being ‘prophecies’ and then attempt to prove they were unfulfilled.  Once again, they’ve taken on the impossible task of proving a negative.  If it IS a prophecy, then, until the world ends, how can one say it hasn’t been fulfilled?

This is a clue as to whether one is defending the faith or flailing in the wind.  The determined unbeliever will abandon logic in his efforts to win an argument.

There is no more to be gained in continuing that debate than there is in debating the circumference of the earth with a member of the Flat Earth Society.  There is no foundation of logic upon which to continue the debate.

There is no possible way for anyone to know the future in the manner in which the Bible outlines it.  I’ve heard pretty much all the arguments . . . “What if some future society developed time travel and went back to the past? . . . seemingly turning things around and asking that YOU prove a negative.

Bible prophecy is not simply predictions of future events, it is a detailed outline of how the endless variables come together to make those events come to be.  It is beyond the capacity of any human being, or group of human beings.

It is history, written in reverse, a unfolding series of events that come together in the exact pattern necessary to bring about a particular outcome.  It deals, not just with the history of nations, but with obscure individual lives.

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,” is how God describes it. (Isaiah 46:10)

The human writers of Scripture were kings, shepherds, drifters, slaves and sinners.  They came from different parts of the world at different times, in an era when libraries were few and far between.  Yet each book fits cohesively into the next, cross referencing one another as if written by a single individual.

Prophecies uttered by one prophet were confirmed by another, in some cases, without one knowing what the other had written.

In every generation since the Bible was completed, there have been students, thinkers and philosophers as dedicated to the truth as any alive in this generation.  For two thousand years, the debate has raged over the truth of the Bible.

In all those generations, among all those skeptics, in all those debates, with all those scholars, not one single point in Scripture has ever been disproved.

Assessment:

If there were some thinker or philosopher of history who had conclusively disproved a single point in Scripture, he would have been the most famous thinker of all time.  He would have been the one who proved God does not exist, since everything we know of God comes from the Bible and the Bible says of itself that its seal of authenticity is its accuracy.

“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)

Bible prophecy is God’s signature.  It is empirical evidence that God is real, and that He keeps His promises.

“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” (Isaiah 45:19)

Then God issues the following challenge;

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.” (45:20-21)

Bible prophecy is given to us as a tool of apologetics — evidence directly from God for use in the practice of the defense of the faith. Too often, it becomes a kind of Christian ‘parlor trick’ — and I don’t mean that unkindly.

It is easy to get caught up in the wonder of witnessing the fulfillment of Bible prophecy before our eyes — the ‘gee whiz’ factor is exciting stuff. But the purpose of Bible prophecy isn’t to amaze or entertain believers. It is to convict the lost of the certainty of accountability before a Living God and lead them to the Throne of Grace.

Since it is impossible to prove a negative, God has provided us with positive evidence specifically designed for use by this generation.

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

“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. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, BY THE SAME WORD are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2nd Peter 3:3-7)

The same Word of prophecy that predicted the Flood and saved Noah and his family will be fulfilled as literally in this generation as it was in Noah’s.

The evidence that we are on the brink of catastrophe is not lost on the world.  Bible prophecy was given the Church as evidence this is a controlled catastrophe, so we might introduce the lost to the Controller — while there is still time.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on February 22, 2006

The Legacy of Appeasement

The Legacy of Appeasement
Vol: 20 Issue: 18 Saturday, February 18, 2017

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana, A Life of Reason, Book One: Reason & Common Sense, 1916

Waffling, wavering, withdrawal, or appeasement — all in response to terrorism…the sentiment has any number of names and only one inevitable conclusion.

It emboldens the enemy and gives him precious time to regroup, reequip and resume the conflict — on his own terms.

The most classic case of appeasement from history is British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s ‘peace in our time’ speech in 1938.

Prime Minister Chamberlain and French president Edouard Daladier travelled to Munich, Germany to conclude a peace agreement with Adolph Hitler.

In March 1938, MI6 agent Hugh Christie told the British government that Adolf Hitler could be ousted by the military if Britain joined forces with Czechoslovakia against Germany.

Christie warned that the “crucial question is, “How soon will the next step against Czechoslovakia be tried?’ … The probability is that the delay will not exceed two or three months at most, unless France and England provide the deterrent, for which cooler heads in Germany are praying.”

Instead, the heads of the governments of Germany, Britain, France and Italy met in Munich in September, 1938. At that meeting, they signed the Munich Agreement.

Rather than joining forces with the Czechs, the British and French agreed to carve up and give away the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia, in exchange for a promise from Hitler not to demand any more of Europe.

Czechoslovakia’s head of state was not invited to the meeting in which his country was negotiated away by the British and French.

Chamberlain came home to London, waving a piece of paper signed by Adolph Hitler, promising peace in exchange for the Sudetenland, and predicted that the Munich Agreement would guarantee ‘peace in our time’.

In March, 1939, Hitler seized the rest of Czechoslovakia, after having annexed Austria the month before. 

(The union between Austria and Germany was expressly forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended World War I.)

Chamberlain’s policy cost Czechoslovakia its freedom, handed Austria over to the Nazis without a shot being fired, and enlarged the Nazi empire and the German pool of army conscripts.

By November, Hitler was strong enough to invade Poland, despite his promises to the contrary, beginning the Second World War. The Munich Agreement had so empowered and enlarged Nazi Germany that it took five years to dislodge them from Europe.

Assessment:

At 6:20 a.m. on October 23, 1983, a large Mercedes truck approached the Beirut airport, passing well within sight of Israeli sentries in their nearby base, going through a Lebanese army checkpoint, and turning left into the parking lot.

A U.S. Marine guard reported with alarm that the truck was gathering speed, but before he could do anything, the truck roared toward the entrance of the four-story reinforced concrete Aviation Safety Building.

The building was being used as headquarters for the Eighth Marine Battalion.

The truck crashed through a wrought-iron gate, hitting the sand-bagged guard post, smashed through another barrier, rammed a wall of sandbags into the lobby, and exploded with such a terrific force that the building was instantly reduced to rubble.

The attack killed 241 Marines, most of whom died while sleeping in their cots. It was the highest single-day death toll for American forces since the beginning of the Tet Offensive that took 246 American lives across Vietnam in one day on January 13, 1968.

Within days, the Israelis passed along to the CIA the names of 13 people who they said were connected to the bombing deaths of the U.S. Marines and French paratroopers, a list including Syrian intelligence, Iranians in Damascus, and Shi’ite leaders in Beirut.

Instead of retaliating, the Reagan administration pulled all US forces out of Lebanon.

Osama bin Laden underscored the symbolic importance of the 1983 violence when he told ABC News in 1998 that U.S. soldiers were “paper tigers.”

“The Marines fled after two explosions,” he recalled.

“There is no question it was a major cause of 9/11,” said former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a member of the Sept. 11 investigative commission quoted recently in Knight Ridder Newspapers. “We told the world that terrorism succeeds.”

In 1993, following the Battle of Mogadishu (made famous by the movie, ‘Black Hawk Down’) Bill Clinton abandoned the Somalia objectives and withdrew all US forces from Somalia.

In 1996, bin-Laden issued a fatwa against the United States. In it, he cited Somalia as evidence of US weakness that he said proved his mujahadeen would win.

“But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousand American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you.”

In his fatwa, entitled, “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” bin-Laden also noted that;

“Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge, but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the “heart” of every Muslim and a remedy to the “chests” of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut, Aden and Mogadishu.”

America’s history of appeasement of terrorism is bi-partisan. It began under Ronald Reagan, and became the unofficial policy of the Clinton administration for the eight years that led up to September 11, 2001.

If the Europeans didn’t learn the price of appeasement on their own Continent in 1938, one would expect that maybe they learned something about it from America’s record.

But the recent agreement they signed with the mad mullahs in Tehran proves Santayana’s maxim that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

The agreement with Iran’s mullahs is even less reassuring than Chamberlain’s Munich Pact. At least Hitler PROMISED, and pretended he intended to keep his promise.

The Iranians promised, in so many words, that they would break the agreement to suspend nuclear enrichment, even before they signed it, but the EU went ahead anyway.

EU negotiators included, at Iranian insistence, the following line: “The E3/EU recognizes that this suspension is a voluntary confidence building measure and not a legal obligation.” Iran is the keystone of the terrorist edifice and we are doomed to confront it sooner or later, nuclear or not. The question is not ‘if’, but ‘when’.

And the answer is even older than the question.

“After many days thou shalt be visited: in THE LATTER YEARS thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8)

“Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” (Mark 13:30)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 11, 2004

”. . . And Curse Them That Curse Thee”

”. . . And Curse Them That Curse Thee”
Vol: 20 Issue: 17 Friday, February 17, 2017

Most of the inhabitants of the Arab world can trace their lineage back for centuries. To find someone who lives on land owned by his family for generations, and sometimes centuries, is not uncommon. Many live exactly the same way their ancestors did, often without indoor plumbing or electricity.

I was once a guest for coffee at a Bedouin camp in the Judean wilderness. The invitation was arranged by an Israeli tour guide. They lived in tents. We sat on a rug on the floor and drank strong, sweet coffee from heavily stained little glasses that were probably as old as our host’s parents.

The most prized possession — shared by the whole Bedouin clan — was a battery-operated 19″ black and white TV and a little generator just big enough to keep the battery charged.

Over coffee, they told us a bit about their lifestyle. They are desert nomads who regard themselves as stateless citizens and, TV set notwithstanding, still live in the 6th century. They do what their fathers did, and their fathers before them, from time immemorial.

I can recall thinking to myself as I listened, “Why?”

Arab culture is ancient; at one time, it was a seat of learning, with highly advanced schools of science, medicine, astronomy and mathematics. Arab doctors were performing sophisticated surgeries when French medicine believed that bathing was an unhealthy practice to be avoided at all costs.

When one takes the Arab world and contrasts it against the United States, it seems more logical for the Arab world hold preeminence than it does the USA.

By Arab standards, America is a young country, made up of immigrants from other countries, with no ethnic or cultural ties, and barely any history, to bind them together.

What went wrong with the Arab world? Why is it so far behind the West? It isn’t like the region is poor. They are awash with oil. Together with their equally rich cultural, religious and linguistic heritage, they should neither be poor nor facing ethnic conflict.

Yet they are both.

The ‘Arab world’ is loosely defined as the 22 member states of the Arab League. In 2002, the UN Development program commissioned a report entitled, ““Arab Human Development Report 2002” that examined the Arab World’s strengths and failings. The part dealing with Arab strengths didn’t take up much space.

It’s strengths were its oil wealth, a minor increase in life expectancy, and the largest proportion of young people in the world.

It scored lowest among the regions of the world in individual freedom, political freedom and what the UN calls, ‘gender empowerment’ or women’s rights. Democracy is occasionally offered, but as a concession, not as a right:

“The transfer of power through the ballot box is not a common phenomenon in the Arab world,” the report says politely.Freedom of expression and freedom of association are both sharply limited.

The report quotes Freedom House, an American-based monitor of political and civil rights, in recording that no Arab country has genuinely free media, and only three have “partly free”. The rest are not free.

Despite the money spent on education, illiteracy rates are still very high, especially among women. According to the report, one in two women can neither read nor write. Investment in research and development is less than one-seventh of the world average. Only 0.6% of the population uses the Internet, and 1.2% have personal computers.

The report comments sadly on the severe shortage of new writing, and, for instance, the decline in the film industry. Nor are foreign books much translated: in the 1,000 years since the reign of the Caliph Mamoun, say the authors, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in one year.

Assessment:

What went wrong with the Arab world? The short answer is Islam. Every one of the deficits listed by the UN’s report is mandated by Islamic belief.

Islam teaches that women should not be educated, given equal status with men, or allowed to work outside the home, effectively neutralizing half the Arab world’s potential. Their participation in their countries’ political and economic life is the lowest in the world.

Islam mandates the merging of the executive and judiciary under Islamic Law, which makes no allowance for representative government.

From their schooldays onwards, Arabs are instructed that they should not defy tradition, that they should respect authority, that truth should be sought in the text and not in experience. Fear of fawda (chaos) and fitna (schism) are deeply engrained in much Arab-Islamic teaching. “The role of thought”, wrote a Syrian intellectual “is to explain and transmit…and not to search and question.”

Since the root of the problem is so obviously Islam, the Arab Human Development report only outlined the deficits responsible for the Arab world’s stagnancy. It didn’t dare suggest a solution.

But it DID manage to find a way to blame Israel for some of the Arab’s world’s problems. And it even suggested the US response to September 11 has “provided authoritarian rulers with an excuse to get away with doing some pretty nasty things, particularly if done to Islamist dissidents,” although the report was compiled within months of the 2001 attack.

If one doubts the validity of Christianity over Islam, one need only look at conditions in the Islamic world. Where Islam is embraced, there is chaos, confusion, conflict and poverty. The wealth and prosperity are confined to the largely Christian West, despite the Islamic world’s strangle-hold on the global energy market.

Despite boycotts, a more or less constant state of war, with few allies and even fewer natural resources, Israel, situated in the midst of the Arab world, is a beacon of freedom, prosperity and technological genius.

The teachings of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and genetics all agree that the only difference between the Jewish and Arab Semitic people is that of religion. Islam traces its lineage through Ishmael, whereas Judaism traces its through Isaac, but both agree to shared ancestry with Abraham.

The Islamic world is dedicated to Israel’s destruction. And despite its abundant natural wealth and former sophisticated culture, it now ranks as the most backward-looking, ignorant, uncultured and despotic region on the face of the earth.

The fruits of Islam not only expose the nature of its god, they also serve to authenticate the Divinity of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Christian West has largely supported Israel since its re-establishment in 1948, and prospered in accordance with God’s Promise to Abraham’s descendant’s through Isaac that;

“I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)

That promise is as valid today as when it was given four thousand years ago. The evidence of its fulfillment is undeniable. What it means to us is that the rest of God’s promises are equally valid. Including His Promise;

“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 14:3)

Maranatha!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 12, 2007

Featured Commentary: New Age Spiritual Candy ~Alf Cengia

Our God Is An Awesome God

Our God Is An Awesome God
Vol: 20 Issue: 16 Thursday, February 16, 2017

“Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. . . Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.”

“Behold, ye are of nothing. . .” (Isaiah 41:21,23-24a)

There is so much going on in the world related to Bible prophecy that it is sometimes helpful to take a step back and contemplate a bit on the Big Picture.

It is easy to get so caught up in the details that one misses the awesome power of the Big Picture itself; the embodiment of the old saying about being unable to ‘see the forest for the trees’. 

Bible prophecy is more than a prediction about the future.  It is a promise about the future.  God doesn’t just list events out of context, the events emerge later out of the promises He makes. 

God promised the restoration of Israel in the last days as a benchmark against which to measure other end-time’s promises. 

To bring about the restoration, God promised that the Jews would be forced out of Israel, scattered worldwide, persecuted worldwide, and that they would then return to Israel. 

All of these promises were fulfilled in the context of the greater Promises of the Big Picture; the return of Christ for His Church and the national redemption of the Jews. 

The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies. Some were fulfilled more than 3000 years ago.  Others have been fulfilled since then.

The most astonishingly unlikely prophecy of Scripture was fulfilled on May 14, 1948, when Israel resumed its seat at the table of nations after a 2700 year absence, as prophesied by Daniel, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah and Jesus. 

Israel was established as a nation some 3400 years ago.  The Jews lost sovereignty about 2700 years ago.  Israel existed under a sucession of conquerors until AD 70 when the Jews were banished from the Holy Land by the Romans. 

They wandered, persecuted and afflicted, and were dispersed (but never absorbed) among all the nations of the world.  But when God called them back to their land at the appointed time, they came in exactly the order prophesied:

“Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 43:4-5)

Zionist history records the first modern mass emigration of Jews back to the Holy Land as the “First Aliyah” (1882-1903):

“Between 1882 and 1903, approximately 35,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine, then a province of the Ottoman Empire. The majority, belonging to the Hibbat Zion and Bilu movements, came from Eastern Europe with a smaller number arriving from Yemen.” (Wikipedia entry for ‘aliyah’)

These early immigrants from the East later gathered together with the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust in Western Europe, and, under the slogan, “Never again” declared the rebirth of the sovereign state of Israel. 

The Soviets soon clamped down on Jewish emigration, and Jewish ‘refuseniks’ languished in Soviet labor camps until the USSR collapsed and ‘gave up’ her Jews — from the north. 

In 1991, during a 36-hour covert operation, Israel airlifted 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in defiance of the Mengistu regime then in power who was ‘holding back’ the Ethiopian Jewish community from emigrating to Israel. 

Since then, dozens of other rescue operations have been mounted for isolated Jewish communities world-wide. 

God’s promise was fulfilled exactly as it was given, in order and to the last detail. 

“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

Allow yourself a second to contemplate that verse and what it reveals.  God’s ‘signature’ is to start at the end with a Promise, then outline in advance how He will keep it. 

First, the end — Israel’s restoration — told ‘from the beginning’ and then, ‘from ancient times’ His method for accomplishing ‘the things that are not yet done.’ 

God not only promised Israel’s restoration, but in so doing, foretold, in detail, the events that would make restoration necessary — and the order in which He would accomplish it. 

Down to details like the subtle difference between ‘gathering’ from the West and commanding the South to ‘hold not back’. Awesome. 

The prophet Joel foretold that the modern state of Israel will be partitioned by other nations:

“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for My people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted My land.” (Joel 3:2

Zechariah foretold that Jerusalem would become the focus of international attention, a ‘burdensome stone’ that will cause all the nations of the world to be gathered against it. (Zechariah 12:1-5)

The prophet Micah said that in the last days, Jerusalem would become the world’s most important religious site. (Micah 4:1)

NONE of this was even possible to be fulfilled only a generation ago.  Today, it is so much a part of the daily newscasts that it loses its impact. 

Step back from it for a minute and see it for what it actually is. 

The scenario playing out before our eyes conforms exactly with God’s promises regarding Israel in the last days.  That is just part of the Big Picture.  It’s awesome. 

All the rest of the details are, in and of themselves, just as awesome. 

But when you step back and see how each detail is so interdependent on so many other details, ‘awesome’ isn’t quite adequate to describe it. 

The attention to detail confirms for us that no matter how chaotic and out of control world events seem to be, everything is going according to Divine Plan.  God remains in control of events and He told us how it all turns out in the end. 

And since He hasn’t been wrong yet, we can trust Him on it.

How awesome is that? 

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on September 5, 2009

Featured Commentary: Attacking Gideon ~J.L. Robb

Too Much Information

Too Much Information
Vol: 20 Issue: 15 Wednesday, February 15, 2017

As I was casting about for inspiration this morning, the words ‘be still’ kept bouncing around in my brain.  Generally speaking, that would be bad advice for a writer with a deadline.  

There is a lot going on in the world right now.  Much of it is relevant to Bible prophecy, but not all.  Some of it is white noise.  I’m still working on sorting out which is which.  

I feel a bit like the two kids in the Denny’s commercial trying to sort all the options ten dollars would give them.  At the end, one kid makes a gesture like his head was exploding from too much information.

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)

The Middle East continues to unravel – every day is a new surprise.  The Bible outlines only so many possible options – I’ve explored each from as many angles as possible and in the end, I will probably still be wrong.

Back in the 1980’s, I knew that the Bible forecast the rise of a revived form of the Roman Empire and that it would take supremacy in the last days. For Europe to surpass the world’s two existing superpowers the US and USSR would have to decrease.   

That was only logical.

And from the perspective of the early 1980’s, the most logical way for that to come about would be a limited nuclear war between the two countries.  It fit both the times and the capabilities and there were plenty of Scriptures that seemed to point toward nuclear war.

Jack Van Impe’s television programs focused almost exclusively on the theme, linking it to Ezekiel 3839. (I know. I bought all his tapes.)  

I could argue half a dozen different scenarios that ended in with the Soviets and Americans each knocking themselves out of commission, necessitating a revived Roman Empire to pick up the pieces.

There was only one scenario that I hadn’t thought of. 

The one that happened.

It never occurred to me that the Soviet Union would simply crumble. That the Berlin Wall would just come down.  Looking back, with hindsight, it should have. 

Instead, I was babbling away, happily sharing my pet theories with anybody that couldn’t escape me.

Every one of them was wrong. 

It wasn’t the Bible that steered me in the wrong direction.  My opinion in the mid 1980’s was shared, with minor variations, by almost all the important teachers of the time. They weren’t steered wrong by the Bible, either.

The Bible’s scenario continues to play out exactly as outlined.  But interpreting the signs of the times is exactly that – an interpretation. 

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” (Psalms 4:4)

There are times when one should interpret. .  . and there are times when one should be still and contemplate. Like when there is too much information.

Selah.

Assessment:

And with that, we suddenly shift gears:  I was cruising the member’s forums (boy, do I love that place!) and I came across this question: “Are Preterists Saved?”

“The only reason I ask, is that if we are all given the Holy Spirit who indwells us, and that Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, then how can these folks be SO wrong about SO much of scripture?”

(It’s a fair question – mainly about interpretation, so the shift wasn’t really that drastic)

Preterism is an interpretation of Scripture (elevated to the point of doctrine by its adherents) that argues that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70. 

The antichrist was Nero, the destruction of the Temple fulfilled the prophecies of Revelation and that event signaled the transfer of the Covenant Promises from Israel over to the Church.  

Most adherents to preterism would agree with the following tongue-in-cheek one-liner from this particular forum thread.  (In this, they would be in harmony with most pre-tribulationists.)

“I have discovered through the years that only the people who agree with MY interpretation of scripture have a correct understanding, and everybody else is going to hell.”

Back to the original question, then.  How can we all be led by the Holy Spirit and they be so wrong?

A preterist that trusts Christ for his salvation instead of his works is saved.  So is a Catholic. 

There is clearly a limit to the role doctrine plays in salvation.   Consider the question asked of the Apostles by their jailer in Acts 16:30-31. (hint: only one reply is correct)

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, embrace the doctrine of dispensational pretribulationalism and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, do good and live a sinless life and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, join a Spirit-led church and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)

In the eleventh chapter of Genesis, the whole world has united under a single king, Nimrod, who conspires to defeat God by building a tower in case God decided to send another flood.  

God, in His wisdom, confounds their speech and language, breaking them up into nations to prevent them from being united as a single voice. That is too much power to invest in one person.

The same applies with the Church.  The Church has from the earliest been separated into factions according to disparate doctrines.  

Emperor Constantine united the Church the way Nimrod united the world.  The results?  The Crusades. The Inquisitions. The pogroms against the Jews. 

The Holy Spirit broke up that unity with the Reformation and has led the various denominations in the directions they have taken according to the same wisdom that is so evident to us in the Babel story.

There won’t be doctrinal unity again until after He is taken out of the way.  “And then shall that Wicked be revealed. . .”

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

God knows what He is doing.  Tony’s one-liner hits on a profound truth.  We aren’t saved by our interpretation of Scripture. One can be five miles off the mark and still be a saved believer.

If it was up to me, then “only the people that agree with my interpretation of Scripture have a correct understanding and everybody else is going to hell”—which is good reason to thank God it isn’t up to me.

Otherwise, Heaven might be a lonely, boring place to spend eternity.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on February 16, 2011

Featured Commentary: A Heart of Wisdom ~Wendy Wippel

Unto Whom Much Is Given

Unto Whom Much Is Given
Vol: 20 Issue: 14 Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Christianity, in the sense of a philosophy, is fraught with seemingly contradictory notions, as seen from the perspective of this world. For example, one attains victory over sin by surrender to Jesus.

Christian philosophy teaches that human weakness demonstrates Christ’s strength. Victory by surrender and strength through weakness are not commonly practiced strategies.

It is our nature to attain victory by overcoming the opposition and develop strength by force. The carnal existence is driven, at its most base level, by the two prime motivators; the acquisition of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

In most human pursuit, the objective is to win and the prize is to live.

Paul writes to the Philippians;

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (1:21)

Of all the seemingly contradictory thoughts within Christian philosophy, it is this one that most of us have the hardest time with. And it completely baffles the world.

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

The New Testament begins with Jesus pronouncing God’s blessing on the living in the Beatitudes. It concludes with this beatitude for “those who die in the Lord.”

God says that death is an enemy, the product of sin, but that for those who know Christ, it is not the end, but rather it is the beginning. Here is another seemingly contradictory analogy. When a baby is born, it is both the end of a pregnancy and the start of a new life. For a Christian, death is like that.

The Bible says that when we die, we are immediately received into the Presence of God. It doesn’t happen at some time in the future, or at a faraway place or a faraway time. Your soul, (your mind, will and emotions, the ‘ghost in the machine’ that makes you You) does not cease when the body does.

The Three Fold Nature of ManYour soul is primarily shaped by the events of your lifetime. You are, to a large degree, the product of your experiences. That is how we are designed – the Bible equates age with wisdom because there is no teacher like one’s own experiences.

But it isn’t your soul that has experiences, it is the body. Think of a person born deaf, blind and dumb and stuck in an iron lung, devoid of human contact. It’s a horrible thought – unimaginably horrible, really. To be stuck like that, a mind without a body, without sight, sound, touch . . . brrrrr!

The experiences of the body provide the majority of the input that makes you You, but the body is not You. It is your possession, not your essence. Your body is the gateway to the soul through which we receive input via the five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing.

The seeming contradictions between the carnal understandings of Christian philosophy like victory and death are the consequence of the Christian’s ‘sixth sense’ as expressed by the Apostle Paul.

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

The carnal mind has but the five senses of input. The sixth sense is spiritual; to be spiritual minded is to be able to ‘see’ via your spirit, which was ‘quickened’ or made alive, by the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)

“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)

Do you see? It is more than simply the fact that salvation and the things of God seem foolish to the unsaved. It is that the spirit is stillborn, like the horrifying example of the active mind trapped in a useless body devoid of sensory input.

Assessment:

Saved or lost, that part of you that makes you You is immortal. When the gateway through the body closes at physical death, your soul now gets its input via the spirit. We receive spiritual insights now; our souls hunger for spiritual input now; but we also have the five carnal senses now.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)

When the body’s sensory gates are closed at death, that glass is no longer clouded. If one’s spirit is alive, that is. If one’s spirit has not been quickened, the carnal sensory input stops.

That is the first death. One’s soul is in hell, trapped in a dead spirit, much as one might imagine being trapped in a dead body. Like being buried alive.

At the Great White Throne, the souls of the dead without Christ are assembled for final judgment and the resurrection of the dead.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:13)

Those souls are now equipped once more with bodily, carnal sensory input capabilities. Now that they are reunited, body and soul . . .

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

In truth, death is all about appearances. We see the grave and we sorrow, we mourn, we grieve – but God sees it from the perspective of eternity to come. God grieves for us in our ignorance, telling us that;

“. . .Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9)

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:18-19)

When we die, we don’t ‘wake up’ on the ‘other side’ so much as we merely switch glasses. Both science and the Bible agree that there is both a visible and invisible existence. Quantum physics demands the existence of additional dimensions beyond the three dimensions we now occupy.

“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)

The invisible things of Him are as real as the three-dimensional creation that we currently occupy. What is the evidence for the invisible? Oftentimes I’ll hear somebody use ‘air’ as an example of something that is invisible but yet exists.

That’s not entirely satisfactory. I can spray a colored substance and ‘see’ air. I can ‘see’ air through refracted light. Air has substance. Air is real.

But even more real than air is Me. “I think therefore I am.” There is nothing more real to me than Me, and everything about me that makes me Me is more invisible than air.

My soul has no mass. It cannot be detected by weight. It has no substance or shape or dimensions. But it is as real as . . well, it is as real as I am. And everybody has a soul. The invisible is very, very real.

Death is real. But it is real only in the sense that a pregnancy is real. The goal of the pregnancy is for it to end with the beginning a newer, richer existence.

Knowing all this information is empowering. But there is nothing in this world that comes without cost, and the price of this empowering and comforting knowledge is high, indeed.

I know what will happen when I die – at least, in know in part. Right now, I see through a glass, darkly. I know I will see my loved ones again. And like Job, I know it will be in my flesh, and not another’s. I will see my Savior in my flesh, with mine own eyes, and not another’s. (Job 19:25-27)

That’s the comforting and empowering part of this knowledge. But I also know what awaits those who enter eternity with their spiritual eyes closed. That’s the price tag that comes with it.

That’s why there is joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to Christ. (Luke 15:10) It is why God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2nd Peter 3:9)

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

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: (Luke 12:48)

The Letter was written by Jack Kinsella September 18, 2009

A Different Gospel

A Different Gospel
Vol: 20 Issue: 13 Monday, February 13, 2017

There are two ways of looking at the Gospel. The first is that we are saved by grace based entirely on our faith in the promise that, ”Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

The second is that, while we are saved by grace through faith, we maintain our salvation through good works, or we risk losing our salvation through bad works.

I often repeat the following because it is both pithy and its logic is unassailable: “Things that are different are NOT the same.”

One can find Scriptures that seem to support both views, but, since they are different, they cannot be the same. If they are not the same, can they both be true? How many ‘truths’ are there concerning salvation?

Jesus linked the overspreading of the Gospel message to His Second Coming, saying:

“And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)

That teaches us two things up front. The first is that all Christians are commanded by Jesus Christ Himself to preach the Gospel to all creation. The second is that by preaching the Gospel, we actually play a role in bringing about the return of the Lord.

But what, exactly, IS the “Gospel”? The short answer is pretty simple. The word “Gospel” means “good news.” In its shortest version, the “Gospel” is the good news that Jesus Christ has reconciled all men to the Father by paying the penalty due for the sins of mankind with His own death and Resurrection.

Paul writes of the Gospel to the Ephesians,

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

The gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that provides full and free deliverance from the power and penalty of sin according to the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Why is this such wonderful news?

You and everyone else have been born with a fatal condition. This condition is called sin. Why is this condition so serious? Because God is sinless and hates sin, for sin is rebellion against His perfect and righteous standard. And your sinful actions makes you an enemy of God (Romans 3:23James 4:4)

But the Bible says there is also “another Gospel”:

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. . . . And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2nd Corinthians 11:4,14)

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (Galatians 1:6)

There are some religious groups that teach that Jesus’ death on the cross was not enough to pay for all of our sins. They say that one has to perform certain good works, certain rituals like water baptism, belong to a particular church, observe certain religious days, or make other human additions in order to be saved.

Or they teach that salvation is dependent upon you, rather than the Lord, citing Hebrews 10:26-27 as their proof text:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

This misunderstanding has caused many a Christian to throw up his hands in despair. But read the verse again.

If that is the correct understanding, if you are saved but then sin, you are lost forever. No point in coming back to Jesus to confess, since “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”

But what this verse actually teaches that, having accepted the Gospel, one comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and can no longer sin with impunity. Instead, the Christian knows the certainty of judgment — which Paul says will devour THE ADVERSARIES — not the saved Christian.

There is another teaching to the effect that Jesus’ sacrifice covers only previous sins, but good works must be performed to cover present and future sins so that salvation may be received.

This, however, is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Jesus, before He died said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The Greek text uses the word tetelestai, which means paid in full. This means that our sins were paid for completely, rather than just a down payment being made, making it necessary for us to make regular payments to prevent the gift of salvation from being “repossessed” by God.

Romans 4:25 says that Jesus “was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” And Hebrews 9:26 says that “now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

When you truly believe this and place full trust in Him your entire life becomes transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17). You will begin to bear good fruit, and you will have the promise of God that He who began this good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

He will never abandon or cast you away from Him (John 6:37Hebrews 13:5). According to His sovereign grace He will see to it that you make it home to heaven (1 Corinthians 1:8Jude 24).

Paul makes it clear in his Epistle to the Ephesians that salvation is a gift of grace through faith and not of works — lest any man should boast.

What does that mean? Well, salvation is a gift. What does one do to ‘earn’ a gift? I work for Hal Lindsey — I do certain jobs, Hal pays me at a previously agreed upon rate.

That agreed-upon rate constitutes my wages. It is a conditional agreement — if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t get paid. It isn’t a gift — it is a mutual dependency.

Hal gave me a Christmas bonus again this year. I didn’t have to do anything to receive it — if I had, it would have been wages.

Instead, it was a gift, to do with as I pleased. There is an obvious difference.

I can boast all I want to about how important I am to Hal Lindsey and justify it by pointing to my paycheck. Suddenly, it is all about me.

But the free gift speaks to Hal’s generosity, not my inherent value. It isn’t about my goodness anymore.

The Bible says,

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

God will pay me the wages I’ve earned. (All men die.) But He also offers me the free gift of forgiveness and restoration by His grace, and asks only that I recognize it as a gift and receive it as offered.

The ‘other gospel’ takes the gift of God and makes it a conditional agreement — we are saved by grace, but our continued salvation is maintained by works.

That makes as much sense as Hal giving me a Christmas bonus in December, but if I don’t work twice as hard in January, he’ll take it back. It is no longer a Christmas gift, but an advance — or a loan — that must be repaid one way or another.

It is a source of endless fascination to me to hear otherwise well-meaning Christians argue against the doctrine of eternal security. The wages of sin is death, however, the gift of God is conditional upon works, they argue. What does the Bible say about ALL our works?

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

ALL our righteousness are as filthy rags, but God’s grace is perfect and all sufficient. If God’s grace didn’t extend to our post-salvation sins, then the only ones who would be in heaven would be those who died at the point of salvation.

Legalism dictates that God demands perfection, settles for minor imperfection, and revokes salvation from those whose imperfection crosses some invisible line.

Smoking isn’t among God’s Seven Deadly Sins — but on that list, the glutton sits right there beside the drunkard.

Are fat people habitual, unrepentant sinners who have condemned themselves while smokers get a pass? Or does God extend His grace to us according to our individual (and God-given) weaknesses or strengths?

I have the wisdom of Scripture that tells me that a holy God cannot countenance sin. That wisdom also tells me that, in God’s eyes, all sin is sin, and there are seven that God hates with a particular passion, habitual sins that, barring God’s grace, condemn as unrepentent; fat people, lazy people, gossips and drunks.

I also have knowledge of human nature from personal observation. I have intimate knowledge of myself and my own shortcomings.

Applied with a knowledge — but without an understanding — of grace, it tells me that my own salvation must depend on my first accepting Christ and then, never sinning again.

I came to Christ in 1976. I know that I have sinned since then. Wisdom plus knowledge — but devoid of understanding — therefore dictates that I am already lost and without hope — so why bother even trying?

“Grace” is not a license to sin, it is Divine permission to get back up and try again. Sin is burdensome because it tends to pile up so fast. Soon, it becomes so heavy you CAN’T get back up on your own.

The burden is lifted by the grace of God so that we can get back up, heal our wounds and return to battle. Grace is not license to sin. It is medicine to heal and bandages to cover our sin so we can fight on.

Understanding grace is to understand what Paul meant when he told the Galatians,

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

Another gospel is a different gospel. And things that are different are not the same.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 31, 2008

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