Chariots of the Gods?

Chariots of the Gods?
Vol: 22 Issue: 29 Saturday, April 29, 2017

There exists a more-or-less universal human memory of strange, god-like creatures, such as the centaurs and minotaurs and giants in the mythical past.

The centaur was half-man and half-horse and in Greek mythology, was the offspring of the god Apollo and Stilbe, daughter of the river-god Peneus.

In addition to centaurs, the ancient Greeks also worshipped Harpys, Mermaids, Satyrs, etc,. all of which were depicted as half-human, half-animal hybrids.

The centaur, Chiron, was celebrated among the Greeks for his master of music, medicine and archery. Hercules, Achilles and Jason, all heroes of Greek mythology, were said to have been educated by Chiron.

The Romans had similar gods, goddesses and hybrids in their own mythology, as did a number of other ancient pagan religions.

Virtually all the ancient mythologies agree that the pantheon of gods interacted directly with mortals, bestowing special powers and skills to those mortals that they took a fancy to. 

There is an old saying to the effect that, ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’. That is to say, the ancient mythologies arose from something — they simply didn’t just appear in the imagination of the ancients — especially since the same myths exist, with slight variations, in cultures separated by both oceans and centuries. 

The Mayans worshipped Kukulcan, a winged god depicted as a serpent with feathers. The Mayans erected as his monument a pyramid, called the Pyramid of the Sun, which still exists in Teotihuacan. 

Mayan mythology has a story of extraterrestrial gods who came to earth and made man in their own image. When they first created man, the story goes, he was perfect, living as long as the gods and having all of their abilities. 

Fearing their ‘creation’, the gods destroyed them. In the next evolution, a lower form of entity was created, ‘human’, as he exists today.

The Mayan Kukulcan was worshipped as the deity responsible for the arts of civilization, including codes of law, agriculture, fishing and medicine.

Kukulcan was also known to the Aztecs of Peru as Quetzalcoatl, meaning, ‘feathered snake’. The worship of Quetzalcoatl sometimes included human sacrifices, and they believed that the surest way to enter heaven was to commit suicide. 

Does any of this sound familiar?

Assessment:

Atheists love to point at man’s mythological past, make comparisons to Bible stories about creation and the fall of man, and conclude that the Bible is just another effort by the ancients to use mythology to explain our origins. 

While most of the ancient legends contain common threads — the belief in a world-wide Flood, the concept of heaven as a dwelling place for the gods, divine messengers, etc., — their deities are uniquely evil, their doctrines bloodthirsty, their gods and goddesses responsible for imparting secret knowledge to a select few humans.

They argue that the God of the Bible is nothing more than a religious system that borrowed its theology from mythology. Christians would (accurately) argue that the reverse is true. 

Still, there are those universal memories of hybrid demi-gods — they had to have come from somewhere. And it is obvious that the pagans didn’t borrow their theology from the Bible. 

But when one compares the mythology of the ancients to the explanation afforded by the Book of Enoch, one comes up with another possible explanation for the ‘mighty men of old, the men of renown’ who taught the ancients astrology, mathematics, construction, but who were also bloodthirsty predators who practiced the doctrines of demons. 

I am not saying that the Book of Enoch has not been corrupted over the millennia, but what I am saying is that there must be some explanation for the advanced knowledge exhibited by the Great Pyramid, or the Mayan temples, or the shared memory of mythical hybrid creatures. 

One can argue all day about whether God exists, or whether the ancients had actually encountered space aliens, or whatever explanation one wants to dream up, but there is only one explanation that fits the known and the unknown together with Scripture.

“That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Genesis 6:2)

Their offspring, according to Enoch, were the Nephilim, angelic hybrids giants who possessed the ancient knowledge of their fathers. According to Enoch, they “sinned against birds and beasts and reptiles and fish”; they taught charms and enchantments, root-cuttings, astrology, metallurgy, weapons, etc. 

The Bible tells us of the giants in the earth then, — “and also after that.” The Book of Enoch tells us the angels (the Watchers) were confined after their sin, to be released after “seventy generations” — which brings the clock forward to approximately 7000 years from Adam. 

The Apostle Jude confirms Enoch’s book as containing ‘prophecy’ and the Apostle John confirms their release (Revelation 9:2) and their identities (Revelation 9:11) during the Tribulation Period. 

Ezekiel described the’ four living creatures’ (angels) he saw in great detail:

“The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. . . . As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.” (Ezekiel 1:13,18)

Read Ezekiel Chapter one in its entirety. Compare it to the descriptions in the accounts of modern UFO sightings and draw your own conclusions. 

It its own way, the Book of Enoch confirms the Bible and offers a credible explanation for the gods and goddesses of history, the origin of the lost wisdom of the ancients, and helps explain Joshua’s references to the ‘gods which were before the Flood’ — without contradicting the Big Picture as presented by Scripture.

That doesn’t make Enoch a lost book of the Bible or a source of absolute doctrinal truth. There is no way of knowing how much of it was corrupted from the original, although Jude does say that there WAS an original. 

As I’ve said a couple of times already, there are certain things that you just can’t ignore. You can try to explain them away, but there they are, just the same. 

Ancient mythology, the pyramids, this generation’s fascination with UFO’s — and the thousands of documented ‘sightings’ and photos — they are real enough. 

The hidden knowledge of the ancients is also real enough. The Great Pyramid, Stonehenge, the Mayan calendar, the Mayan temples and pyramids — they all attest to hidden knowledge for which there is no other explanation that fits the requirements of Scripture, logic, history and common sense. 

According to Enoch, the ancients worshipped fallen angels and their offspring, the Nephilim. According to Genesis, there were giants in the earth then, — and also, ‘after that.’

And according to John, those angels will be released for a little season during the Tribulation. 

Finally, according to Jesus Christ, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.”

How does God describe the ‘days of Noah’?

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 18, 2008

Saved By Whom?

Saved By Whom?
Vol: 22 Issue: 28 Friday, April 28, 2017

There are certain doctrines that need to be revisited from time to time; there is probably not one more deserving of our attention than the doctrine often mocked as OSAS, or ”Once Saved, Always Saved”.

Personally, I prefer to call it by its more descriptive appellation, “eternal security.”

It is mocked as a “license to sin” or as a “free ride” and while both charges are true in the practical sense, they are at the same time completely inaccurate.

“Once saved, always saved” and its various other nicknames, put all the focus on the believer and none of it on the Savior.

By way of contrast, the doctrine of “eternal security” puts all the focus on the Savior and none on the believer.

Do you see the difference? The argument opposing once saved, always saved, is that believers who sin after salvation are still obligated to keep the Law, or at least, some parts of it, and those that don’t are liable to lose their salvation.

Opponents of OSAS don’t usually demand a post-salvation life of perfect obedience, but they argue that maintaining one’s salvation requires not sinning too much.

While the opponents of eternal security can’t say which sin, or how many sins cause one to lose one’s salvation, they are sure that if you sin enough, you will.  The problem with this view is, nobody can be sure that they are saved.

This doctrine could be called “temporary salvation” but its seminary name is “conditional perseverence”.

Conditional perseverance is rooted in the theology advanced by Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch Reformation theologian who lived one generation after John Calvin.

There are varying degrees of Arminianism, with some believing a person can be saved, lose their salvation and then get saved again.  Others believe you get saved once, but if you lose it, you are forever lost and there is no going back.

Conditional salvation does not necessarily argue that there is a sin so great that God cannot forgive it.  Instead, it holds forth that a person consciously surrenders their salvation through a free will choice.

They argue that belief is a free will choice and consequently, when somebody falls, they fell because they had consciously decided they don’t believe anymore.

Again, Arminianism puts all the heavy lifting on the believer and not on God.

There are other problems, as well.  If predestination negates free will, then it logically follows that God didn’t know from the foundation of the world who would be saved, but instead, He had to wait until you decided.

But God DOES know your eternal destiny from the foundation of the world, as the Bibleclearly says;

“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. . . (Ephesians 1:4)

“Look here,” says the Calvinist.  “We were chosen before the foundation of the world.  Is that not predestination?”

“Aha!” says Arminianism.  “It says we should be holy and without blame — does that not argue against OSAS?”

Both arguments ignore the full teaching of the Scriptures.  We were chosen — IN HIM — that is to say, He knew for whom He was sacrificing Himself.  And we are holy and without blame — BEFORE HIM — in love.

Not because of ourselves. Because of Him. The subject of this verse is not “us” but “Him”. The difference between foreknowledge and predestination is one of perspective and nothing more.

We were foreknown — which from the perspective of  a man with limited knowledge sounds like predestination. But from God’s perspective, then what a limited man might call ‘predestination’ would be what God calls ‘prophecy.’

If there is a practical difference between predestination and prophecy, I cannot see it.

For example, the Gog-Magog War will unfold precisely as it was prophesied.

Does that mean that the various participants are predestined to clash on the mountains of Israel?  Is there another way to see it?  Are we then to infer that none of them have free will?

I am not a Calvinist, but I believe in predestination.  I believe in predestination because I believe in Bible prophecy and you cannot have one without the other.

If you believe that the Lord will return in the last days because the Bible prophesied it, then you believe the Lord is predestined to return in the last days, since that is what the phrase, “from the foundation of the world” refers to.

“Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20)

“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3)

So if you were chosen before the foundation of the world to be saved,  or put another way, if God already foreknew that you would be saved, it raises an important question.

Were you saved according to the Plan of God, or according to your own will?

Assessment:

“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.” (John 6:64)

No matter how hard I try to get a handle on the idea that my salvation is conditional on my perseverance as a Christian,  I keep running into verses that tell me that I am saved by the will of the Father, through the Son, and not because I made the smarter choice.  (Lest any man should boast.)

“And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.” (John 6:65)

What does that mean?  Does that mean that everybody is called equally and that only the smart ones respond correctly to the call?   Who does that glorify?  God?  Or the unbeliever’s smarter brother?

I would submit that it glorifies the one smart enough to believe more than it glorifies the One in Whom they are believing.  “God didn’t choose me, I chose God. And I can unchoose Him any time I want.”

Who has the power in this case?  You?  Or God? Where does the Bible place the power of eternal life and eternal death?  (Here’s a hint.  Who holds the keys to heaven and hell?)

According to the doctrine of eternal security, nobody can be saved by their conduct.  Indeed, nobody is lost by their conduct.  The division between those who are saved and those who are lost is not based on conduct.

If it was, then most Mormons would have a better shot at heaven than you do.

Mormons tithe, do obligatory religious work, regularly attend services, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t drink coffee or tea, don’t engage in premarital sex, and follow strict rules regarding sin and how to deal with sinners.

I dunno. You know you.  How do you stack up against that?

Salvation is based on grace through faith.  God’s grace extends the offer of salvation, and we are saved by our faith that God’s grace is sufficient.

“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)

If one is saved by faith, then it does not follow that they can be subsequently lost by their own conduct.  This is not in any way intended as an apologetic for sinful behavior – sin is sin and sinhas consequences.

The consequences of sin are severe and far-reaching, but your sin does not punish God.

“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)

God has already restored you to fellowship with Him because HE wants fellowship with you.

If you can sin yourself out of salvation, then God would lose that fellowship (that He says means more than the whole world to Him) forever.

God does not lose.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 19, 2011

Featured Commentary: A World Mind Siege ~Alf Cengia

Faith in Something

Faith in Something
Vol: 22 Issue: 27 Thursday, April 27, 2017

Faith, the Bible says, is the substance of things hoped for and the expectation of that not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) It is indeed a divine description (pun intended) of something all of us have but few of us can describe.

In saying all of ‘us’ having faith, I mean the entire human race. There is no person, lost or saved on this planet that doesn’t have faith in something.

Consider an atheist with a job and a credit card. He goes to work on Monday because he expects to be paid on payday. Midweek and out of cash, he uses his credit card to pay for lunch, spending on Wednesday.

He works in exchange for the expectation of that not seen, (paycheck), his faith so strong that he spends some of it (the substance of things hoped for) on Wednesday, although he doesn’t see it until Friday.

When you get right down to it, that takes a lot of faith. But billions of us live that way, day after day, week after week, for our entire adult lives, and never really give it much thought.

One has faith in a spouse. By her presence, she is both the substance of things hoped for (a happy, lifelong marriage) and the expectation of things not yet seen.

I place my faith in the fact that Gayle wants the same thing and the two of us are working toward the same end to our mutual benefit. But the chief requirement for a happy marriage is mutual love, and that is where my faith is rooted. In her love. Without it, the rest would be impossible.

I am no different in that regard than anybody else, believer or unbeliever. It takes incredible faith and nobody gives it much thought.

Faith without trust is impossible. If I didn’t trust that my employer would meet the payroll, I would be less inclined to stay on that job. Or even show up for work.

If I couldn’t trust Gayle, there would be neither the substance of things hoped for nor the expectation of that not seen (a happy future together).

In the spiritual context, I believe in the promises of Scripture. The substance of things hoped for is my current relationship with Christ. It has substance because my faith has changed my life. I know what it was before Christ. I know what happened when I surrendered to Christ. I know how much different it is now.

There is evidence of things not seen.

But my relationship with Christ is not perfect. Not yet and not now. I remain a sinner, trapped in what Paul referred to as the ‘body of this death.’

“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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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 7:25)

Paul speaks of the imperfect relationship with Christ thusly;

“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)

It is that second part of that verse that contains the substance that I hope for; when I see Him face to face.

For now, as Paul says, my relationship is like looking through a piece of smoked glass, I only know ‘in part’. My sin nature keeps getting in the way, blocking my view, and obscuring the details.

It is that sin nature than caused Paul to echo my frustration and pain when he wrote:

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. . . For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. . . “(Romans 7:7-25)

It takes a lot of faith to overcome that kind of spiritual conflict. I am saved, I am going to heaven, I will see Jesus face to face, and I am a habitual sinner.

I do what I hate, I want to do good and fail, I hate evil before I do it . . . if I were God I wouldn’t wait for me to stand before the Judgment Seat, I’d just dissolve me into a pink mist and start over.

That is where ‘trust’ makes its appearance. The guy who doesn’t trust his boss will meet payroll will quit and start looking for another job.

A marriage where one cannot trust one’s spouse will end in divorce, and both sides will go out looking for somebody else to put their trust in. ‘Faith’ and ‘trust’ are two sides of the same coin, but they are not the same thing.

I trust that Jesus will do what I cannot.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

There are believers that believe in Jesus. They believe that He lived a sinless life. That He died for the sins of the world, and that He was Resurrected on the third day. They believe that He washed their sins away when they were saved.

But they don’t trust Him. Having surrendered their lives to Him at salvation, they take back both control and responsibility the next day. They construct an artificial table of rules, and then despair when they still fall short.

There are some pretty famous atheists who proudly boast that they are former ‘born again’ Christians — Ted Turner comes to mind, but there are others.

I often wondered how this could be. How someone could have expressed faith in Christ, only to divorce Him later? I have also heard of ex-preachers who lost their faith.

This also gave me pause. How could someone whose faith was so strong they became preachers of the Gospel just quit and start looking for another job?

Faith cannot exist without trust. As trust diminishes, so does faith. If I cannot trust that Jesus will sustain my relationship with Him, then how can I have faith that I will see Him face to face?

If I put my trust in my ability to meet His perfect standard, then my expectation of things hoped for is based on the substance of that which IS seen, i.e., my ability to conduct myself in a sinless manner. No wonder there are those who lose their faith! They put it in the wrong place.

James writes; “O vain man . . .faith without works is dead?” Those who have faith in God but trust in their own works to sustain their faith often point out James 2:20 as evidence that salvation is the product of faith AND works.

They miss the context of the next verse;

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (James 2:21)

In context, James is speaking of trusting God, not doing good works. Trust me, if you kill your son on an altar, you won’t be doing a ‘good work’. Instead, James explains,

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:24)

Abraham ‘believed God’ — he was willing to kill his son at God’s command because he trusted God would not hold that sin to his charge. THAT is what God ‘imputed unto him for righteousness’.

Trust. Not ‘good works’ as defined by a religious sect or church group. Trust. (Abraham was gonna cut his son’s throat, for crying out loud.)

A young man asked Jesus what he lacked for salvation;

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:21-22)

Jesus was making the opposite point to what many Christians come away with.

Jesus KNEW what the young man would say. He put an impossibly high standard on salvation to make a point His disciples immediately picked up on.

“When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?”

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” . . . “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Ephesians 2:8Romans 11:6)

“Now unto Him THAT IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, and to present you FAULTLESS before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 28, 2005

Featured Commentary: The Third Woe ~J.L. Robb

Ages and Dispensations

Ages and Dispensations
Vol: 22 Issue: 26 Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We often refer to the time in which we live as the Age of Grace, but, theologically speaking, it isn’t exactly correct.  Actually, we are living near the end of the Age of Human Government, during the Dispensation of Grace.

We tend to use the term ‘age’ and ‘Dispensation’ interchangeably, but actually, they are distinct terms that describe different concepts.

Theologically speaking, the difference between an “Age” and a “Dispensation” is that an “Age” stands for a period between two great physical changes in the earth’s surface, while a “Dispensation” stands for a “moral” or “probationary” period in the world’s history.

A Dispensation, therefore, denotes a period of time when God dealt with man under a specific set of rules.

For illustration, the “Present Age” began with “The Flood,” and ends with the return of Christ to the Mount of Olives at His Second Coming.

The Flood caused such physical and climatic changes that the length of human life was reduced from 900 to 100 years.

While the Dispensations are probationary periods, Divine administration is different, and contains progressive revelation with each Dispensation.

There are three distinct ‘ages’ and seven different identifiable Dispensations.  The three Ages of Man are the Antediluvian (before the Flood) this Present Age, (Flood to the 2nd Coming) and the Age of Ages (Millennial Kingdom) to come.

During the Antediluvian Age, men lived nearly 1,000 years.  In this Present Age, our lifespans are much more limited.  During the Age of Ages, mankind will resume his Antediluvian longevity.

Within those ages of man, there are seven identifiable Dispensations;

Eden, Antediluvian, Postdiluvian, Patriarchal, Legal (Law), Ecclesiastical (Church), Messianic (Kingdom) and finally, the Fullness of Times (Eternity Future).

The Postdiluvian Dispensation is known as the Dispensation of Human Government.  It was followed by the Patriarchal Dispensation that lasted from the Call of Abraham until the Exodus from Egypt.

The giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses ushered in the Dispensation of the Law, which then lasted until the Law was fulfilled on Calvary by Jesus Christ.

During these different Dispensations, God judged man according to the revelation as given.  God gave Moses the Law, and then judged Israel according to how well or how poorly they kept it.

We are now in the Dispensation of Grace, a period of time during which salvation is extended as a free gift to whosoever will receive it and judgment is reserved for those who reject it.

Like each of the previous Dispensations of God, the Dispensation of Grace has an identifiable beginning, and an identifiable end.  The Edenic Dispensation ended with the Fall of Man.  The Antediluvian with the Flood, the Patriarchal with Moses, etc.

Assessment:

Each Dispensation begins and ends with a progressive revelation from God.  The Patriarchal Dispensation began with God’s revelation to Abraham, and it ended with God’s revelation of the Law of Moses.

The Dispensation of the Law began with the Ten Commandments, and ended with the fulfulment of the Law on the Cross.  The Dispensation of Grace, what we commonly call the “Church Age” began at Pentecost with the indwelling of believers by the Holy Spirit.

In the previous Dispensation, man was guided by the Law as given to Moses.  In this Dispensation, man is guided by the Holy Spirit of God Who lives and dwells in him.

According to the Prophet Daniel, there remains one unfulfilled week (of years) of the Dispensation of the Law.  The remaining seven years of the Law will take place at the conclusion of the Dispensation of Grace, and is distinct and separate from the Dispensation of Grace.

Like the Dispensation of Grace, it will also begin with progressive Divine revelation.  Daniel’s Seventieth Week is also the last Dispensation of this Present Age.

So, where is this all leading?  As we’ve seen, there are three Ages and Seven Dispensations of God.  All have an identifiable starting point.  And all have an identifiable end point.  So, where is the identifiable end point for the Dispensation of Grace?

Let’s revisit what sets the Dispensation of Grace apart by looking at its starting point.

“And there appeared to them parted tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with [the] Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave to them to speak forth.” (Acts 2:3-4)

Acts tells us that, once indwelt, the Apostle Peter, the coward who previously denied Christ three times, stood up boldly and gave the Gospel to the multitude, and Acts 2:41 tells us “and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.”

What sets the Dispensation of Grace apart from the Dispensation of the Law is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  The Dispensation of Grace has as identifiable an endpoint as it does a beginning.

It began when the Holy Spirit indwelt the Apostles at Pentecost.  It concludes when the ministry of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn, paving the way for the conclusion of the final Week of the Law.

The Apostle Paul reveals that during the final week of the Law, the Temple will be in full operation, and Paul goes a step further, legitimizing that Temple by referring to it as the “Temple of God.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:4)

But during the Dispensation of Grace, we learn that Church Age believers are the “Temple of God.”

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1st Corinthians 6:19)

Since the Dispensations are separate, unique and do not overlap, the Dispensation of Grace must end before Daniel’s 70th Week can begin.  The Final Week of the Law cannot take place concurrently with the Dispensation of Grace.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit cannot be withdrawn, signaling the conclusion of the Dispensation of Grace, and still indwell believers on the earth.  If He still indwells believers, then His ministry has not been withdrawn.

If He is withdrawn FROM believers on the earth, then Jesus has broken His promise that the Comforter will indwell the Church until He comes for it.

There is only one theologically accurate and logically acceptable answer to this conundrum.

Believers are withdrawn at the Rapture with the Holy Spirit.  And since the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit marks the end point of the Dispensation of Grace, that event must take place before the onset of the final week of the Dispensation of the Law.

It doesn’t matter how one approaches the subject, analyzing it logically, and following the Dispensational pattern so clearly outlined by Scripture, the only conclusion that fits is that the Rapture of the Church takes place at the beginning, and not the middle or end, of the final week of the Dispensation of the Law.

I don’t see how anyone could conclude otherwise.  And I’ve tried.

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:15-18)

So keep looking up.  He is coming!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 20, 2007

Featured Commentary: God’s Tactical Two-Step ~Wendy Wippel

The Hell You Say. . .

The Hell You Say. . .
Vol: 22 Issue: 25 Tuesday, April 25, 2017

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. .  .” (Mark 9:43)

The other day I was chatting with an old friend and somehow we got around to the topic of the afterlife.  My friend isn’t a Christian, but is well aware that I am. 

I used to Bible-thump him, but that only hardened his resolve – he was determined to hold out for the sake of holding out.

I planted the seed, but instead of letting the Holy Spirit water it, I kept replanting it, going over the same ground so many times that I scraped right down to the bedrock.

It isn’t that my friend doesn’t believe – I think that he does.  But he isn’t saved.  He doesn’t want to be.

“Heaven sounds too boring,” he says. “Besides, all my friends will be in hell.”  

He’s both right and he’s wrong.  He’s right about all his friends.  I’ve known this guy since the ‘70s and I knew most of the same people. 

And sometimes, I admit that heaven does sound a wee bit boring.  Don’t look at me like that.  It does.  An eternity of no strife, no conflict, no pain, no sorrow, no tears . . . all that is wonderful and all, but if I had to eat chocolate cake for dinner every night for the rest of my life, I’d skip a lot of dinners.

It’s pretty hard to sell heaven to a lost sinner.  How in the heck do you explain what even the Bible says is beyond imagination?

“But as it is written, 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.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

To my friend, that is the deal-breaker.  He can’t imagine heaven being any fun, but (unfortunately for him) he has no problem imagining hell as being far more interesting than heaven. 

We used to start into these discussions and get about half-way into them before things would shift from a conversation between friends to a debate between competitors, each defending his own position, parry and thrust, block and counter-strike, until exasperated, we’d agree not to ever bring it up again.

Until the next time.  My friend likes the debate (when he is in the mood) and often tries to restart it when he thinks he has some killer new argument.   He’ll ask a question, but it’s clear he doesn’t want to learn from the answer – he is just looking for a springboard issue.

When I think about it, my friend is not unique – I know several guys that find the battle more interesting than the topic under discussion, and others with whom I’ve agreed to disagree agreeably.  Some are just flat hostile to the entire topic.   

What does one do with a life-long friend who just flatly refuses to either believe or discuss it?  It sounds like an easy question with an equally simple answer.  At least, theoretically.

Some would answer in favor of immediate separation from that person, for “what concord hath Christ with Belial?”  But Paul is talking about being “unequally yoked” – it can’t mean “only associate with believers” or who would we share the Gospel with?

According to the Bible, Jesus had a reputation around town as a “winebibber” and a “glutton” that hung around with all the ‘wrong’ people. Mainly, publicans (Gk telones = “tax collector) and sinners.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31)

The Apostle Paul confronted a situation in which a wife was a believer married to an unbelieving husband.

“For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16)

Granted, one’s spouse is a different case than a fishing buddy.  But God puts people in our sphere of influence for a reason.

“But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. (1 Corinthians 7:17)

Assessment:

“And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:45-46)

You’re probably wondering why I repeated myself by opening the assessment with the same verses about hell.  Look again.  They are two different verses.  The next sequence is as follows:

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:48-49)

Three times in succession, the Lord tells us there is a place called “hell” — a place where “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”.

Hell isn’t going to be ‘interesting’.  And my friend isn’t going to find his buddies, even if they are there.  Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man.  It isn’t a parable.

When the Lord taught in parables, He clearly identified them as such.

In this case, Jesus began, “there was a certain rich man” – a specific rich man of Whom the Lord claimed knowledge – and “a certain beggar named Lazarus.”

The Lord described the deaths of both men, whose bodies were both buried in the earth but whose consciousness continued, unbroken, into Paradise, where each had some form of spirit body recognizable by the other.  Abraham also had a form of spirit body the rich man could recognize.

Finally, the rich man’s spirit body was real enough to feel pain.  We learn all that from just one verse:

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.(Luke 16:23)

So according to Jesus Christ, hell is real, the torments are real, and spirit bodies are tangible to be recognized from a distance and to feel pain while “their worm dieth not from “the fire that is not quenched.”

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27-28)

The rich man, while in hell and in torments, remembered his father’s house, so his memories of his life on earth are intact.  He not only remembered his brothers, but he was terrified at the prospect that they would end up there because “that’s where all their friends went”.

We cannot imagine Heaven and what little we can imagine is no doubt wildly out of synch with what it will actually look like. 

Streets of gold with a tree standing in the middle with living water running through the middle of a garden, mansions, a giant apartment building with twenty-four doors, peace, joy, no more death, no tears, no sorrow . . . a man blind from birth would have an easier time describing the color red.

But hell – that’s a whole different story.  Throughout history, man’s vision of hell has been clear enough to inspire generations of painters and poets like Dante.  There is far more secular literature on the subject of hell than there is of heaven.

My friend’s other objection to hell is that, “If God was such a loving God, He would never send anybody to hell.”  

That is a valid objection and one that I completely agree with.

Hell wasn’t created for sinners. It was created for Satan and the rebellious angels that followed him – when they were kicked out of heaven, they made their abode in hell.  

Man is created in God’s image — as an eternal being.  When the body dies, the eternal component lives on – somewhere – and the choices are limited to one of two possible places. 

One choice is heaven, which is attained by recognizing oneself as an undeserving sinner that God loved so much that He stepped into time and space as a man, lived the sinless life God’s justice demands, and paid the penalty due for sin on behalf of sinful humanity.

To accept the pardon extended, one must repent of one’s sins and trust Jesus to keep them and preserve them whole into the next life. 

Or they can choose to stand before the Judge the way they are, like my friend, who would rather take his chances in hell.   But it is the individual that chooses – not God. 

God’s choice was to die — so we wouldn’t have to.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 28, 2011

A Man With Two Watches. . .

A Man With Two Watches. . .
Vol: 22 Issue: 24 Monday, April 24, 2017

I was asked by a reader to comment on a new version of the Bible and some of the claims being made by its publishers.  In its sales pitch, it made a number of theological assertions that my correspondent found confusing.

What caught my eye first, even before reading the sales pitch, was the menu bar across the top.  In particular, the button marked “author”.

Curious, I clicked on it, expecting to see some representation of God.  Instead, the website displayed a pleasant-looking man named Fred. R. Coulter.  No doubt Rev. Coulter is one brilliant guy.  His bio certainly indicates that.

But if Reverend Coulter is the author, then we already have a theological problem with calling this work a “Bible”.

Rev. Coulter attempts to address that problem under the “Purpose” button.

According to the website, the reason for a new translation is that the old ones were corrupted by the translation committees who redivided the original 49 Books and assembled the books out-of-order.

The purpose claimed for the “Bible in It’s Original Order” is to restore the true Word of God to the English-speaking world after 400 years of error.

According to the website, previous translation committees were motivated by,

“[C]arnal-minded, special interest groups—who desire to make the Bible conform to a particular political, sexist or ecumenical religious agenda—than in accurately translating the Word of God.”

In the case of some translations, particularly the modern politically-correct versions, I have to agree.  But that is only when compared to the earlier out-of-order 66-book versions.

The “Restoring the Original Bible” presents the Bible as 49 books assembled in the order in which they were written.  And the author doesn’t present his work as a commentary on the Bible.

He says it is the most trustworthy of all existing Bibles, which he also says contain all manner of copyist errors and mistranslated words.

He also gives a few examples of mistranslations and explains all the copyist errors in his 1st Edition that have been corrected in the second.

Rev Coulter didn’t retranslate the Scriptures from the originals the old fashioned way, by scholarly consensus under rigorous oversight.  That’s why he says the old versions were flawed.

Instead, Rev. Coulter proudly proclaims he retranslated it all by himself, producing, in his words, “a translation [that] far surpasses the standards of many recent English translations and has indeed fulfilled the requirements for a faithful translation.”

Rev. Coulter says his new translation focuses on five key areas:

1) Accurately conveying the meaning of the words of the original text;

2) Phrasing that accurately expresses the thoughts of the original writers;

3) An understanding of Hebrew and Greek idioms—which cannot be translated literally, but must be translated according to their cultural and historical usage;

4) Punctuation that is honest to the original meaning; and,

5) The careful insertion of words (in italics) to clarify the meaning.

By the time I finished reading the purpose section, I found enough red flags to furnish a construction site.  And I hadn’t even gotten to the sales pitch yet.

The sales pitch repeatedly calls it a “Bible” in spite of the proud claim of authorship by Rev. Coulter.  It presents itself as the authoritative Word of God, more faithfully translated than previous versions.

The reason that this version is more faithfully translated, if we are to accept the claims of the website, is because Rev. Coulter was more faithful to the Word of God than were the previous translation committees. Again, according to . . . Reverend Coulter.

Unlike the other versions, his version “combines current scholarship with the latest in archeological findings—yet, it is free from the influence of religious tradition and presupposition.”

But if I had to choose which was the biggest theological challenge presented by the “Holy Bible in the Original Order” I think it would be the following statement , that appears just before the “Order Now” button on the website.

“The Holy Bible In Its Original Order is designed to lead the believer to the unadulterated truth of the Old and New Testament Scriptures and into the “faith once delivered” by Jesus Christ and the original apostles.”

Assessment:

I understand how advertising works — Billy Mays was among my favorite all-time pitchmen.  If you are trying to sell something, it HAS to be better than the best, even if what you are selling is muffler repair putty repackaged as “Mighty Putty” at twice the cost.

But the Bible is not Mighty Putty and it is unfortunate that Reverend Coulter is selling it as a Bible, let alone a “new and improved version” of the original, as certified by, er, Reverend Coulter.

By definition, if this new version is the “unadulterated truth” then the old versions contained “adulterated truth.”

All of the claims of superiority made in the sales pitch are based in the contention that until now — millennia after the events occurred — we never had the whole, unadulterated truth necessary to lead us “into the faith once delivered by Jesus Christ and the original apostles.”

I don’t want to denigrate the author or his book — from his picture, he seems like a pleasant man, and as I said earlier, from his bio one can conclude he is undoubtedly brilliant.

And I am sure he is a dedicated servant of the Lord. But the Lord already has a Bible.

Reverend Coulter says plainly that he has little regard for the ‘traditions of men’ which he blames for the errors in the existing versions.

Whenever I hear the phrase ‘traditions of men’ it is in the context of someone who is about to introduce some alternative understanding that is closer to the mind of God.  Guys who think they know the mind of God worry me a little.

The ‘traditions of men’ represent humanity’s collective memory, preserved as history and culture.  The traditions of men is the way God preserved His Word down through the ages.

Reverend Coulter claims his new translation is from the “original languages” but nowhere could I find reference to which manuscripts were used.

Is this a Textus Receptus?  Sinaiticus/Vaticanus? That would be important, since the Codex Sinaiticus was found in 1845 in an Egyptian monastery and the Codex Vaticanus was subsequently ‘discovered’ in a vault in the Vatican. And each reads somewhat differently.

Until 1845, all English Bibles were based on the Textus Receptus (Received Text) passed down through the ages.

The 1845 introduction of two extra (and conflicting) manuscripts into the translation process is one of the reasons that there are so many versions of the Bible in existence today.

Reverend Coulter’s book is probably a terrific reference book and I may order one for myself for that purpose.  But it isn’t the Bible.  By his own admission, it is one man’s scholarly opinion on what he thinks the Bible should say.

What accepting this as a Bible actually means to the Christian is best illustrated by the old saying: “A man with one watch always knows what time it is.  A man with two watches is never quite sure.”

If what Fred Coulter wrote is really the Bible, then what have I been studying all my life?  And why did God keep it from me for all this time? What about all those Christians who relied on it as God’s Word until now?

Before I could trust any Bible again, I’d need answers to those questions.  But they are only questions if you believe that until now, nobody ever got the translation right.

I’ve no doubt the book would be useful in helping to understand the Bible, but as an interesting commentary and Bible reference book, not as a primary source of doctrine.

That’s what the real Bible is for.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 8, 2009

Featured Commentary: A Light in a Dark Place ~Pete Garcia

Hell and A Merciful God

Hell and A Merciful God
Vol: 22 Issue: 22 Saturday, April 22, 2017

The question has been asked so many times that has morphed from a question into a challenge; “How can a merciful and loving God condemn people to eternal torments in hell?”

The question is not just posed by atheists and skeptics, but also by some sincere, but woefully uneducated Christians.  The argument has some merit on the surface.  God is love. All men are created with a sin nature.

Since, by definition and design, all men are sinners and our Creator God is love, it logically follows that a loving God who created sinners would be unjust in condemning them to hell for being what they are. 

God is the Righteous Judge.  If He is so righteous, it seems logical that He would take into account the mitigating circumstances. 

Especially since the chief mitigation is the fact it was the Righteous Judge that created the unrighteous sinner and that unrighteousness is the default condition of man.  That cannot be stressed strongly enough. 

The default condition of mankind is that of utter depravity.  People are not born good and then learn bad things.  It is precisely the opposite. 

There is a common canard in our society that dictates that racism, for example, is learned behavior.  A ‘learned behavior’ is something that has been taught to someone, or a way of thinking that they did not come up with themselves. 

The prevailing worldview is that children who grow up to be racists are taught to be racist as a child.  In this view, unless a child is taught to be racist, he will grow up to be ‘color-blind’ so to speak. 

An article posted on the American Psychiatric Association’s website attempted to argue against racism as a ‘mental illness’, claiming that racism “is mainly a product of learned behavior,” and “a majority of explicitly racist persons do not have any psychopathology.”

I don’t know if racism is a mental illness, but I know that racism is not something that children are taught. It is something that they must be ‘untaught’. 

Children are racist by nature.  Studies conducted that put one black pre-schooler into a classroom full of white pre-schoolers showed the white pre-schoolers abused, ostracized and teased the black kid corporately, that is to say, they did so as a group. 

Reversing the situation produced the same results; the black kids abused, ostracized and teased the white kid, again corporately.  Were all these pre-schoolers taught to be racists?

Moreover, who taught them to be abusive?  Who taught them the principles of boycott, or ostracization? 

These are fairly advanced principles for pre-schoolers — it took Jesse Jackson a lifetime of effort to fine-tune them into the social weapons they are today.  Where did these kids learn to be racist? 

Any school teacher will confirm that children are not only racist, they are mean.  Kids are really small terrorists without advanced weaponry or a cause.  And we were all kids. 

If we reach back far enough into our memories, it is fairly obvious that the cruelest people we ever met were our own classmates. 

Everyone remembers that one kid who was taunted unmercifully, (maybe it was you) because of their skin color, their religion, their social status, or some other characteristic that made that kid different.  (I remember a kid we all teased because he was ugly.) 

I was teased unmercifully because I had no hand-to-eye coordination.  When we would choose up sides to play baseball, the two team captains would choose their players until they got to me.  Then they’d fight over who got ‘stuck’ with me — as if I wasn’t there. 

My nicknames were alternatively, “Easy Out” and “Butterfingers” — two terms that make me cringe to this day. 

Children have to be taught not to hit each other, bite each other, they have to be taught not to steal, to show respect, not to lie, etc. 

Prisons are full of folks who blame their upbringing for their shortcomings.  That’s a cop out. Children needn’t be taught bad values because ‘bad’ is their default state. 

Prisons, as rehabilitation centers, attempt to teach ‘good’ values — or the word ‘rehabilitation’ is meaningless. 

A long example to prove a short principle; We are born sinners.  Evil is our default condition.  It is goodness that is the learned behavior.

To return to our original premise, if a loving God created us without a spark of goodness, then how could He then condemn us to an eternity of torment for being what He made us to be — and still call that ‘perfect justice’? 

It is worth noting that the only inherently evil creation in the corporeal (physical) world is humanity.  Animals aren’t evil by nature.  They do what comes naturally. 

Sin isn’t a learned behavior.  It is something that must be unlearned.  The degree to which a human being ‘unlearns’ selfishness, cruelty and sadism becomes the measure of his goodness.  Provide the right set of circumstances, say, New Orleans after Katrina, and humanity reverts to type. 

Doctors murder patients to save themselves.  People with no criminal record become looters.  The strong prey on the weak.  Right and wrong, as social concepts, essentially evaporate. 

Man was created in God’s image.  He was created with the ability to discern between right and wrong, and was also created with the ability to choose which path to take. 

This planet is the only place in God’s creation where evil is permitted unfettered operation.  Theologians call it the ‘cosmos diabolicus’.  It is enclosed by an atmosphere which keeps evil from escaping out into the universe. 

When Satan came to present himself before the Lord, “the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7

It is Satan’s domain. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he offered the Creator of the Universe a bargain:

“the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, All these things will I give thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

Although Jesus is the Creator (and Satan knew it) the ‘cosmos diabolicus’ was Satan’s to offer. 

So, again we return to the central question: “How could a loving God condemn us to eternal torment for being what He made us to be?” 

A lion who hunts down and kills an injured wildebeest that can’t keep up with the herd isn’t doing evil because he selected the weakest and most vulnerable prey.  That’s what he was created to do.  He has no other choice. 

And THAT is where God’s perfect justice comes in.  We DO have a choice.  We were created specifically to that single purpose.  So that, when given the choice, we could then choose God. 

God’s perfect justice demands that there be some provision of salvation for those who choose Him — or He could impose no penalty for those who choose to reject Him. 

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  Therefore, man has a choice between ‘good’ (God) and man’s default nature of evil (self).  Jesus Christ represents God’s perfect justice. 

Having defeated the sin nature by living a perfect life, He was uniquely qualified to pay the penalty perfect justice demands, because no created being could earn the currency necessary to pay the price on their own behalf. 

Each of us is acutely aware of our sin nature.  We spend a lifetime seeking to overcome it, and in so doing, learn that it is impossible.  We then are confronted with a choice. 

We can choose Heaven by humbly accepting the offer of Pardon extended to us, knowing it is not something we earned, cannot earn, and cannot buy or steal. 

Or we can choose hell, the place prepared as the eternal repository for sin after this cosmos diabolicus is destroyed at the end of human history. 

The earth will have served its purpose as a confinement area for sin, and having served that purpose, “shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” (2nd Peter 3:12

After Satan is banished to hell and sin is contained, the cosmos diabolicus gives way to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2nd Peter 3:13)

God doesn’t condemn us to hell.  He condemns sin.  But in His mercy, He provides a way for us to shed our sin nature through the regeneration of salvation. 

But we are the ones who make the final choice.  It is indeed perfect justice that the condemned be given the choice — while still in their sins — of where they will spend eternity. 

Having expressly provided the choices to us, it would be utterly unjust of God to ignore the choice we make.

God is just, so He honors the choice we make.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on July 25, 2006

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