When Is Too Late Too Late?

When Is Too Late Too Late?
Vol: 25 Issue: 22 Saturday, July 22, 2017

For my birthday, one of my kids gave me a placard that says, ”If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your wife tells you.”

Two recent OL columns, “The Times of the Gentiles” and “Perspective is Everything” appear to have generated more confusion than they have shed light on the issue, if I am to judge from my emails and from the forums.

So I asked my wife what she thought I should do.  She said to try, try again, but this time, keep it simple.

So here goes.

The general confusion revolves around the idea that Gentiles cannot be saved during the Tribulation or that no Gentiles will be saved during the Tribulation.

I didn’t say that and don’t believe that, but rather than repeating what I already wrote; (you can read them here and here,) I thought it more constructive to step back and look at the issue again, and in the context of the Big Picture.

The “Gentiles” means every person from Adam that isn’t either of the tribe of Israel or a Christian.

I don’t believe that every Gentile who lived before the time of Christ was condemned, but neither do I expect to see any huge number of Gentiles from the pre-Christian era when I get to heaven.

There is no Biblical record of a huge outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Gentiles during the Old Testament period.  The Holy Spirit did not indwell the Old Testament saints in the sense that He indwells believers during the Church Age.

There will be some Gentile Old Testament saints in heaven, of course.  Cyrus, maybe, or Nebuchadnezzar, maybe.  Enoch.  Noah.  Lot.  Melchizedek.  Job.  A few more, maybe.

But in the main, God’s attention was focused on the spiritual condition of His Chosen People, the Jews.

The entire future history of God’s plan for His Chosen People is laid out in detail to the Prophet Daniel by the revealing angel:

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

Daniel’s people were Jews.  Daniel’s holy city is Jerusalem.  This is a prophecy concerning them.  Both the Church and the Gentiles are excluded.

The “Seventy weeks” are weeks of years, or periods of 7 years each.  The full length of the prophecy thus runs 490 years in total.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”

This period of time, from the order to rebuild to the coming of the Messiah 7+62 adds up to 69 weeks or 483 years.

“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary . . .” (Daniel 9:26-27)

Josh McDowell did the calculations in his “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” showing that the commandment was issued on March 5, 444 BC.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem where He was received as King 173,880 days later, exactly 483 years.

It is at the point where the Messiah is “cut off, but not for Himself,” that the focus shifts to the salvation of the Gentiles.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25)

The “fulness of the Gentiles” means what it sounds like it means. 

“Fulness” (pleroma) means, “completion, what fills (with contents) what is filled (as in container, performance period) which is put in to fill up, full.”

When the full complement of Gentiles who will be saved are saved, Paul writes, then God’s attention turns back to Israel.

The born-again, Blood-bought Church, formerly Jews and Gentiles (but primarily Gentiles) and now, new creatures, are the individuals that corporately constitute the Body of Christ.   

The “fulness of the Gentiles” is followed by the Rapture of the Church, because the Body of Christ is complete.  Now, God’s attention returns to the national redemption of Israel.

Follow along in chronological order. 

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:26)

At some point after the Rapture of the Church, a ruler from the same people that destroyed the Temple in AD 70 will confirm a seven year covenant between Israel and ‘many’ restarting the timeclock that stopped, according to McDowell’s calculations, on March 30, AD 33 on a hill outside the city walls of Jerusalem.

Note that there was an interval of time between the Resurrection and Pentecost of forty days.  Note also that there was an interval of time between Pentecost and the destruction of the Temple of about forty years.   

That clearly establishes precedent for the view that there will be an interval of time between the Rapture and the onset of the Tribulation.

The Rapture is NOT the first day of the Tribulation.  But the Rapture is certainly the last day of the Age of Grace.

Assessment:

The period from the time of Moses to the time of Christ is the period of the Dispensation of the Law.  During this Dispensation, the children of Israel were obligated to keep the Law of Moses as a condition of their covenant relationship with God. 

The Dispensation of the Law concluded at Calvary when sin and death were nailed to the Cross.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: ” (Romans 8:2-3)

The Dispensation of Grace is the period of time from Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended and indwelt the twelve Apostles and all that believed thereafter, until the day that the fulness (pleroma) of (primarily) Gentiles that complete the Body of Christ.

The Apostle Paul says that the antichrist, “that Wicked” cannot be revealed until AFTER the Restrainer (the Holy Spirit) has been taken out of the way.

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:2-8)

So the Restrainer (the Holy Spirit) and the vessels He indwells (the Church) is taken out of the way and then that “Wicked” is revealed.  At this point, by definition, the only people remaining upon the earth are Jews and Gentiles.

Not every Jew or every Gentile has heard the Gospel.  But of those that have, Paul writes that they “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”  So these are they that rejected the Gospel.   And for THAT reason, Paul writes,

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 10-12)

This is clearly not every Jew or Gentile on earth – just those that heard and rejected the Gospel of salvation.

Note that Paul says that GOD sends them “strong delusion.”  I am not going to debate why God would do that – I am not God. 

But I can’t pretend that part is irrelevant to the overall unfolding of Bible prophecy — or take the risk that the Bible doesn’t mean what it clearly says. 

Which is that God’s plan for the salvation of the Gentiles comes to an end and is replaced with God’s judgment upon a Christ-rejecting world.  It doesn’t mean no more Gentiles CAN be saved — it simply means that Gentiles are no longer the central focus of God’s plan. 

The Tribulation begins with the antichrist, the rider on the white horse of Revelation 6:2.  Revelation Chapter six concludes with breaking of the Sixth Seal, and the onset of the last half, or the Great Tribulation.  

It is at this point that the antichrist seats himself in the Temple, committing the abomination of desolation that Jesus warned of.

The antichrist unleashes a wave of persecution against the Jews so severe that Jesus warns them that are in Judea to flee to the mountains.  He also imposes his mark as a form of worship and ordering the execution of anyone that refuses to accept it.  

Those that refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast are the Tribulation Saints.  Where do they come from?  Let’s step back a bit, and again, follow along in chronological order. 

There is something else that takes place at just about that time that is often overlooked.  What happens immediately after the breaking of the sixth seal but before anything else?

“Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Revelation 7:1)

In Israel, just as the Great Tribulation begins, 144,000 Jews are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  In the same breath, and as they are being sealed, Scripture speaks of;

“a great multitude (who are already in heaven) which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands . .  (Revelation 7:9)

Who are they?  Again, the chronology is helpful, here.

This multitude is identified in Revelation 7:14 as having come out of ‘great tribulation’ — but not THE Great Tribulation. 

(Note the chronology: First, seal the 144,000 — THEN the judgments are resumed.  This great multitude is already in heaven as the Great Tribulation begins with the sealing of the 144,000.)

The seventh angel sounds his trumpet in Revelation 11:15. The judgments continue as the evangelists preach and the Two Witnesses are resurrected after three and a half days. (Revelation 11:11

In Revelation 13 the perspective shifts from heaven back to the earth.  We are given a brief history of his rise to power, the rise of the false prophet, the persecution of the Tribulation saints and their ultimate martyrdom (Revelation 13:15)  rather than submitting to the Mark of the Beast. 

So who are the tribulation saints of Revelation 13:15-18 that refuse to accept the Mark?  The next verse is Revelation 14:1 – chronologically, the MOST obvious place to look for them, since the last few verses were about their martyrdom.

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. . . . And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” (Revelation 14:1,3)

What are the odds that these are a DIFFERENT 144,000 than the 144,000 sealed in Revelation Seven, just before the Great Tribulation began?

Follow along with me.  To this point in the Tribulation, the only thing God has visited upon the Gentiles is strong delusion and judgment for sin.

And the only thing that God has visited upon the Jews so far in the Tribulation is His Holy Spirit.  Sounds kinda backwards from the usual order of things, doesn’t it?

“. . .blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25)

This seems fairly well in keeping with the observation that the Tribulation Period is set aside for the judgment of a Christ-rejecting world and for the national redemption of Israel.

But that accuracy of that observation would largely depend on what happens next:

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

An angel is sharing the Gospel.  But there is no outpouring of the Spirit.  No massive revival of souls.  

The 144,000 that were sealed (indwelt) by the Holy Spirit had the power to lead others to Christ.  The Scriptures say that nobody can be saved apart from the Holy Spirit.

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

But that doesn’t mean that they are saved the way that we are in the Church Age.  The Tribulation saints are not in the Age of Grace.  They are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

This is the Seventieth Week of Daniel – the final Week of the Dispensation of the Law.  The rules are different for the Tribulation saints than for the saints of the Church Age.  

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 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 14:12-13)

The Tribulation saints, like the Old Testament Jews, evidently must keep the Commandments AND faith in Jesus.  And for those “which die in the Lord from henceforth” their works, (unlike ours), DO follow them.  

The Old Testament saints (primarily Jews) had to keep the commandments of God, look forward to the promise of a Messiah, and expected to be judged according to their works.

How can this be?  The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is the seventieth week of Daniel — the final week of the Age of the Law.  It is a different Dispensation than the Age of Grace. 

There will be Gentiles saved during the Tribulation, just as there are Jews saved during the Church Age, but God’s focus during the Church Age is on evangelizing the Gentiles, not the Jews.  

His focus during Daniel’s seventieth week is on Daniel’s people, his holy city, and finishing the transgression, making an end of sins, making reconciliation for iniquity, bringing everlasting righteousness, sealing up the vision and prophecy, and anointing the most Holy.

“Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.”

It is no heresy to say that the only sure way for a Gentile to get to heaven is not to wait until after it is too late to apply.  How late is too late? 

What do you think?

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 10, 2011

JesusLand, Gun Control and the Coming Prince

JesusLand, Gun Control and the Coming Prince
Vol: 25 Issue: 21 Friday, July 21, 2017

”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (US Constitution, 2nd Amendment, ratified December 15th, 1791)

The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution is apparently written in language so mysterious and sublime that it means something different to everybody who reads it.

Evidently, it also changes meaning as the clock ticks forward, since it continues to be interpreted and re-interpreted as if there were an ongoing contest for the most original interpretation of a sentence that, to the ignorant and uninitiated masses, seems to make perfect sense just the way it reads on the surface.

For about the first two hundred years of the Republic, the 2nd Amendment meant American citizens had a Constitutional right to keep and to bear arms.

And, for about the first two hundred years of the Republic, the 2nd Amendment functioned as it was intended.  It kept the government at bay.

Originally, the Constitution was approved without a Bill of Rights, then sent to the states for ratification.  The states felt the Constitution, as written, failed to give enough protection to individual rights that they wanted specifically protected by amendment.

Among the rights the states sought to enshrine as Constitutionally-protected were the rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to keep and bear arms.

The intent of the Bill of Rights was to protect individuals from government powers.  They were meant as a guarantee to the individual state governments as well as the American citizens that the Federal government would not try to take away the freedoms which many of them had so recently fought for.

Richard Henry Lee, the Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, noted at the time that,

“to preserve Liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

James Madison said in the Federalist Papers that the 2nd Amendment preserves,

“the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Noah Webster observed that,

“before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.”

Patrick Henry argued that the power to resist oppression rested entirely on the right to bear arms, saying,

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”

It would seem, as I noted at the outset, that the 2nd Amendment was intended to mean pretty much what it says.  Indeed, our country was born when a group of colonists rose up in arms against British rule.

Guns empower the masses: they are the last line of defense for a citizenry confronted with an evil government.

The regimes of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s U.S.S.R. recognized this principle and seized all weapons, precluding any effectual resistance to their tyranny.  One need only read the newspapers in New York and Los Angeles to realize that even the innocent have cause to fear the police.

Communities around the country are justifiably hesitant to relinquish their weapons and be at the mercy of local law enforcement.  Law enforcement, by definition, is powerless to act until AFTER a crime has been committed.  Police can’t protect individuals, they can only prosecute after the fact.

(Which, in the case of murder, is of little consolation to the victim)

In countries like Canada and England that have imposed what amounts to a ban on private ownership of weapons, citizens are most vulnerable in their own homes.

Home invasions (burglaries) became the crime of choice among criminals who became the embodiment of the slogan, ‘when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.’

A 1998 study by the US Department of Justice found that there were 40 percent more muggings in England, and burglary rates were almost 100 percent higher than in the United States.

And, counter-intuitively, rates of crimes using handguns is on the rise.  In 1999-2000, crimes using handguns were at a seven year high.

Apparently, criminals were easily able to access guns, but law enforcement officers and law-abiding citizens were not allowed.  (When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns, remember?)

In America, burglars aren’t sure if homeowners are armed or not, but the odds favor there being at least one gun in the house.  So they avoid burglarizing occupied homes.  Only thirteen percent of US burglaries are against occupied homes.

In Canada, the overall burglary rate is higher than the American one, and a Canadian burglary is four times more likely to take place when the victims are home.

In Toronto, forty-four percent of burglaries were against occupied homes, and twenty-one percent involved a confrontation with the victim.

Most Canadian residential burglaries occur at night, while American burglars are known to prefer daytime entry to reduce the risk of an armed confrontation.

A 1982 British survey found fifty-nine percent of attempted burglaries in the UK involved an occupied home, prompting the Wall Street Journal to report that;

“Compared with London, New York is downright safe in one category: burglary.  In London, where many homes have been burglarized half a dozen times, and where psychologists specialize in treating children traumatized by such thefts, the rate is nearly twice as high as in the Big Apple.  And burglars here increasingly prefer striking when occupants are home, since alarms and locks tend to be disengaged and intruders have little to fear from unarmed residents.” ( WSJ, Apr. 19, 1994, page A1)

The London Sunday Times, pointing to Britain’s soaring burglary rate, calls Britain “a nation of thieves.”

In the Netherlands, forty-eight percent of residential burglaries involved an occupied home.

In the Republic of Ireland, criminologists report that burglars have little reluctance about attacking an occupied residence.

In America, burglars are reluctant to invade an occupied home because they might get shot.  One out of every 31 burglars gets shot.  That is about the equal to the burglar’s odds of being sent to prison.

Assuming that the threat of prison is a deterrent to burglary, as in Canada or Britain, it seems reasonable to conclude that the equally large risk of being shot provides an equally large deterrent.

In other words, private individuals with firearms in their homes double the deterrent effect that would exist if government-imposed punishment were the only deterrent.

On the other hand, Switzerland has few restrictions on who can own or carry a firearm.

As a consequence, Switzerland has some of the lowest crime rates in the world, despite very high levels of gun ownership.  Also, despite being sandwiched between two aggressive powers during World War II, the country remained untouched, largely due to the heavy rates of private gun ownership.

Hitler and Mussolini knew that the heavily armed Swiss population would defend itself fiercely, (something they didn’t fear from the French, for example)

But these facts seem to be as lost to gun control advocates as is the clear meaning of the 2nd amendment.  To them, being at the mercy of invaders, either foreign or domestic, is a small price to pay to get guns off the streets.

Most gun control advocates point to the recent upsurge in gun violence by children as an example of why guns need to be controlled.

The fact is the upsurge in gun violence among corresponds with the various successes enjoyed by gun control advocates.  There were more guns in circulation in America in previous generations, but far fewer gun deaths.  (The first federal regulation of firearms in America wasn’t introduced until 1934.)

Previous generations of Americans grew up with guns.  They were familiar objects around the house, like a shovel or a wrench.  There was nothing mysterious about them.  Kids knew better than to play with them.

Assessment:

Gun control advocates argue that the 2nd Amendment gives the right to keep and bear arms to a well regulated MILITIA, and not to the ‘people’.  According to this interpretation, the 2nd Amendment gives the government the right to keep and bear arms via the National Guard.

The silliness of this argument is obvious to anybody but a liberal or an activist judge.  Why would the government give itself the right to bear arms by Constitutional amendment, since the Constitution already gives it the right to do so in order to ‘provide for the common defense’?

But that has been the prevailing legal opinion since the passage of the Brady Bill.  That the right to bear arms is granted to the government via a ‘well-regulated militia’ by the 2nd Amendment.

According to Title 10 of the United States Code:

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

In other words, the ‘militia’ and ‘the people’ mean the same thing.

Among the various documents and action plans uncovered among the terrorist camps in Afghanistan was a plan for suicide operatives to simply walk up to someone’s door and shoot whoever answers.

Another called for terrorist operatives to set up sniper posts in American cities simultaneously and starting picking off victims.

Both tactics have been used by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli settlements, but were seldom successful, since all Israeli settlers are armed to the teeth.

The terror threat facing the homeland prompted a reexamination of the gun control debate by the DoJ. IN 2004 they released a 103 page Memorandumm Opinion For the Attorney General” issued in August by Assistant Attorneys General Steven G. Bradbury, Howard C. Nielson, Jr. and C. Kevin Marshall.

They studied the history of anti-gun legislation and anti-gun court cases and reached the following conclusion:

“Our examination of the original meaning of the Amendment provides extensive reasons to conclude that the Second Amendment secures an individual right, and no persuasive basis for either the collective-right or quasi-collective-right views.”

The memorandum was titled; “Whether the 2nd Amendment Secures an Individual Right” and conspicuously put the conclusion in the subtitle; “The Second Amendment secures a right of individuals generally, not a right of States or a right restricted to persons serving in militias.”

When I queried Google using the keywords ‘2nd Amendment’, there were only nine stories relating to the DoJ memo.  Of them, only one was in the national media. The Washington Times carried the story under the headline, “Gun group urges 2nd Amendment observance”. (since removed)

Other than that, the media seems to have spiked the story.  To the liberal left, gun control is more than an issue, it is a matter of doctrine.

Gun control is a front for the advancement of the socialist agenda.  Giving in to the idea that guns are dangerous concedes to the notion that it is better to let some lowlife steal your property, rape your wife, and beat you half to death than it is to expedite his passage into the next world.

(Your property was all gained at his expense anyway, so in a moral sense, he’s entitled to it as much as you are.)

That is the core of the socialist doctrine.  And it is the dominant worldview of most of the industrialized world.

But that worldview is changing, it would seem, in the newly discovered country of ‘JesusLand’.  The world is marching in one direction, but Red State America is beginning to turn itself around and march the other way, dragging the Blue States along, kicking and screaming all the way.

As a consequence, Red State America is now the only obstacle in the path of the globalist social engineers who are unwittingly, but eagerly, preparing the way for the antichrist.

Paul says that the ‘mystery of iniquity’ is already at work, but that the Restrainer will continue to restrain, ‘until He be taken out of the way’ at the Rapture.

Without the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit working through the indwelt Church, the Blue State Americans left behind after the Rapture will be only too happy to turn back around, throw away their guns, and defenselessly march in lockstep with their socialist cousins — straight into the waiting arms of the Beast.

“And THEN shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His Mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:8)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 21, 2004. (Updated in 2016)

Featured Commentary: Were the Reformers Right about Justification? ~Alf Cengia

The Wedding Supper

The Wedding Supper
Vol: 25 Issue: 20 Thursday, July 20, 2017

Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, instituted by God for the twin purposes of partnership and procreation. That it is a sacred union is something disputed only by the obtuse.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:7-9)

Jesus Christ said that marriage is instituted by God and that the union of two people in marriage creates a third entity — they are “no more two, but one flesh” in both the eyes of God and, until recently, the eyes of man. However, with the new social rules concerning marriage, that no longer applies.

Two guys can’t be ‘one flesh’ — and neither can two girls. They cannot ‘join’ the way a traditional couple can, they cannot procreate together, they cannot produce from their union new life. In the Biblical sense, they cannot become ‘one flesh’.

For that reason, God intended marriage, from the beginning, to be an unbreakable contract between two people:

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

This is why adultery is such a serious sin. According to the dictionary;

“Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and one who is not his or her spouse.”

Dr. Henry Morris defined ‘fornication’ as follows:

“The Greek word for ‘fornication’ (porneia) could include any sexual sin committed after the betrothal contract. …In Biblical usage, ‘fornication’ can mean any sexual congress outside monogamous marriage. It thus includes not only premarital sex, but also adultery, homosexual acts, incest, remarriage after un-Biblical divorce, and sexual acts with animals, all of which are explicitly forbidden in the law as given through Moses (Leviticus 20:10-21). Christ expanded the prohibition against adultery to include even sexual lusting (Matthew 5:28).”

There are few cultures on earth that don’t recognize some form of marriage. And there has never been a culture in history that survived reinventing marriage or expanding it beyond its original mandate of one man and one woman.

Every culture that tried — from Sodom and Gomorrah to the ancient Greek and Roman Empires collapsed soon after. Man cannot successfully reinvent marriage. It isn’t his to reinvent.

Marriage was instituted by God. It belongs to God. God defined it. It is the model against which all other relationships are defined.

Marriage is also used to symbolize God’s eternal spiritual union with His people throughout the Scriptures. The word ‘fornication’ is sometimes used symbolically in the Old Testament to describe forsaking God to follow after idols.

In the Old Testament, the unrepentant Israel was pictured as an adulterous wife. (Hosea 2:1-8) In the New Testament, the Church is depicted as the Bride of Christ.

In ancient Israel, marriage was a three-phased operation. The first phase was the betrothal, or engagement. The second was the coming of the bridegroom to claim his bride. The third phase was the marriage supper, held at the home of the bridegroom.

Our spiritual relationship with Christ follows this model. Our spiritual ‘betrothal’ takes place at the moment of salvation. The coming of the Bridegroom to claim His bride is a prefiguration of the Rapture.

John’s vision in Revelation 19 completes the picture with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb which takes place in Heaven.

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.”

Let’s take a sneak peek at what is in store for us at our wedding dinner and see what we can learn from it.

Assessment:

This passage in Chapter 19 is the first corporate appearance made by the Church since Revelation 4:1 when John heard a voice from Heaven saying “Come up hither!” From Revelation 4:2 until this point in Revelation, John’s narrative has focused on the judgments being meted out to those that “dwell upon the earth” and the corresponding events in Heaven.

There are four views of when the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place. About the only thing that is universally agreed-upon is that it takes place after the Rapture and the Believer’s judgment at the Bema Seat.

The post-Tribulation view is that it takes place in the air while the Church is being raptured. In this view, the Church rises into the air, is judged at the Bema Seat, participates in the celebration, then immediately returns to earth with Jesus to participate in the Battle of Armageddon.

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 1:13-14)

The Pre-Tribulation view is that the Bema Seat Believer’s judgment and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place while the judgments of the Tribulation are being meted out to those that dwell upon the earth.

There are two other views, “Mid-Trib” and “Pre-Wrath” that place the Rapture and Marriage Supper somewhere around the middle of the seven year Tribulation. The Pre-Wrath view differs from Mid-Trib in that Mid-Tribbers agree that Daniel’s 70th Week is divided in half into two periods of 42 months each. Revelation 13:5 says that the second half of the Tribulation lasts 42 months. Daniel 9:27 says the antichrist breaks the covenant with the years halfway through the seven years.

Also, Daniel 7:25 where the “time, times, and half a time” (time=1 year; times=2 years; half a time=1/2 year; total of 3 1/2 years) also refers to “great tribulation.”

Pre-wrath argues that the Tribulation isn’t seven years long, but is an undefined period of time during the last 3 1/2 years of Daniel’s 70th Week.

Revelation 11:2-3 speaks of 1290 days and 42 months, Daniel 12:11-12 refers to both 1290 days and 1335 days. These days have a reference to the midpoint of the tribulation.

(The additional days in Daniel 12 may include the time at the end for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and time for the setting up of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).)

So the length of the Tribulation Period is probably one of the most CLEARLY defined in Scripture.

“And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And He saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:9)

Who are those “called” or “invited” to the marriage supper of the Lamb? Is that the Church? Many opponents of pretribulationism say so. Does it make sense? Were you ‘invited’ to your own wedding? Without them, there would be no supper. The hosts are not ‘called’ to their wedding. They call others. The Bride and the Bridegroom host the wedding from their place of honor. They are not guests.

The guests are the Tribulation martyrs, the saints of the Old Testament and the hosts of heaven.

The Bride is pictured as arrayed in fine linen.

“And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:8)

The opponents of pretribulationism argue that suggests the Church must suffer through tribulation to cleanse and purify her in preparation for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Church is purified by tribulation. The Church is purified and sanctified by the shed Blood of Christ which imputes righteousness, or the Church is not sanctified or purified at all — and never can be.

It is BECAUSE the Church is clothed in fine linen that the Bema judgment has already taken place. That is where the rewards are given out. Note the description of the armies that return with Christ:

“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 19:14)

The phrase, “Fine linen, white and clean” is mentioned twice. Once at the Marriage supper, (v. 9) and once here.

John’s description of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb confirms the following order of events, or it all collapses.

First, the Rapture. Then the Bema Judgment. Then comes the marriage supper. Finally, the return to earth with the Lord at Armageddon. The length of the Tribulation Period is the full seventieth Week of Daniel, or its purpose is meaningless and Daniel must be ripped from our Bibles.

Daniel 9:26-27 says it is determined for the Jewish people. Jeremiah 30:7 says it is the time of “Jacob’s Trouble”. Revelation says one purpose is to judge a Christ rejecting world (Revelation 9:21) and Zechariah 12:10 says its other purpose is to bring about the national redemption of Israel.

No matter how hard one tries to make the Church fit with the purpose of the Tribulation, to make it so, one has to diminish the Lord and elevate mankind. The sacrifice is sufficient for a person to be saved individually, but it isn’t enough to save one generation all at once.

The average guy has to go through average tribulation throughout his life, but if he trusts Jesus, he is saved from judgment. The ONLY purpose for the Tribulation Period IS judgment. Every generation of believers in New Testament history was judged at the Cross and found blameless if they covered by the Blood of Christ.

Except this one.

What happened to C.S. Lewis when he died? Did he have to go through the Tribulation to go to heaven? What about H. A. Ironside? D. L. Moody? Or pick your famous (and now dead) Christian from history. When they died, were they subjected to judgment for sin? Or was their sin covered?

If they didn’t have to go through the Tribulation Period, then why should the last generation?

Are we worse than previous generations that did not? Or is Jesus growing weaker as time passes?

The bedrock doctrine of Christianity is salvation by grace through faith. Nothing more is necessary than God’s grace and our faith. Thus has it been since the Romans threw the Christians to the lions in the 1st century. They weren’t saved by being eaten by lions. They were saved by trusting in Christ.

The Tribulation Period is not the 1st century. Jesus is not building His Church — He is judging those who persecuted it. To judge the Church at the same time is to render the purpose for judgment meaningless.

It adds a special judgment to this generation not meted out to believers of previous generations. It diminishes Christ by demanding additional payment for sins from those whose sins were already paid for.

If salvation is a gift of grace and not of works, lest any man should boast, then what is salvation to the last generation? Bait and switch? You’re saved until the Tribulation and then you have to start over?

If you pass (by being decapitated), you get to go to heaven. If you fail (by taking the Mark), you are forever ineligible and your salvation is of none effect. But those rules didn’t apply to the generation before this one. Or the one before that. Or the one before that, going all the way back to Christ.

But this generation has to re-write 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18 to read:

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with Him in the clouds. . . . if we survive the Tribulation.”

Wherefore comfort one another with these words?

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on July 20, 2009

Featured Commentary: Coming Full Circle ~J.L. Robb

”As By Fire”

”As By Fire”
Vol: 25 Issue: 19 Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There are many ministries and church denominations that either ignore Bible prophecy as being useful to the Church or argue that all Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled.

In many churches, those members who study Bible prophecy are relegated to the ‘lunatic fringe’ — politely — and sometimes not so politely — dismissed out-of-hand for wasting their time trying to divine the future.

The Bible says that there are rewards for those who dedicate themselves to Christ in a number of different theological disciplines.

Christians must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ that we might receive a reward for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be bad.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not related to the revelation of some secret sin, in that the Judgment seat of Christ is not related to the revelation of some hidden fault, but rather, the Judgment Seat of Christ is related to the manifestation of all of the deeds that individuals have done after they have become Christians, whether they be good or whether they be bad.

Let me emphasize that the word “bad” refers not to sin, but to deeds that are worthless according to His purpose. The evaluation, therefore, is based upon whether the works that have been done are worthwhile or whether they are worthless.

The Greek word translated as the ‘judgment seat’ of Christ is the word ‘bema’. During the Greek Olympics of Paul’s day, the judge would sit on the ‘Bema Seat’ situated along the finish line. His judgment was to determine who won the gold, who won the silver, who won the bronze, who came in fourth, fifth, etc. Note that the only ones judged at the Bema Seat are those who cross the finish line.

The Bema Seat is reserved for believers — those who successfully completed the ‘race’ and specifically to determine their running order and to award their prizes.

Scripture teaches that after these works are judged, rewards will be given if the works are worthy. There will be no rewards if the works were unworthy, but ;

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

If you get to the Bema Seat, you will make it into heaven. And you get to the Bema Seat by accepting the judgment for sin borne by Jesus Christ on the Cross as a substitute for your own failures — nobody gets there based on whether or not they are sinners.

It is based on whether or not you trust that Jesus Christ made full payment for your sins, as He promised He would. While we will stand before the Judge as judicially ‘righteous’ — that righteousness is Christ’s freely offered to whosoever will accept it.

Once we stand before the Bema Seat, our rewards are determined — not our punishment. Our punishment, although richly deserved, has already been borne by our Savior. Now, we are judged according to our works on behalf of the kingdom.

There are those who argue, “You know, I don’t think we ought to talk about our rewards. We ought to serve the Lord just because we love Him.” 

I agree. We ought to serve Him because we love Him, but we have every right and reason in the world to talk about our rewards. We have every reason to seek the very best reward that we can when we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

There is nothing selfish about that; it is thoroughly Scriptural.

Assessment:

There is the ‘incorruptible crown’ — what one might term a crown of self-denial. 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 teaches:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Not everybody will receive the crown of self-denial. Each of us is gifted with certain strengths according to some predetermined purpose of God. In other words, some things are harder for some than they are for others — according to God’s purposes — not our own. We are judged according to how hard we try.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1st Corinthians 12:4-7)

There is also the Crown of Rejoicing — the ‘Soul Winner’s Crown’. 

 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord.” Note that Paul is addressing people as a ‘crown’. He is saying to those whom Paul has led to Christ, “You are my joy now and you will be my crown by and by.” (Philippians 4:1)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

Translated literally, it reads, “are not even you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when we stand before Him?” 

“One of these days,” the Apostle says, “we are all going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, you Philippians, you Thessalonians, are going to be my crown.” 

It is difficult for us to think of people in terms of a crown, but Paul emphasizes that the Philippians and the Thessalonians, among others, are the crown which he expects as an award to him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.” 

James 1:12 identifies the ‘Crown of Life’:

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”

Notice the word “temptation.” That is a broad word. Sometimes it means a solicitation to evil–that is, you are tempted to commit murder, or you are tempted to commit adultery. It is a solicitation to evil. Sometimes it is a reference to a test that God permits you to go through as a kind of ‘refinement by fire’.

The ‘Crown of Life” might also be called the ‘Crown of Endurance.” The Lord Himself also speaks of the Crown of Life reward, promising: “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” 

‘Faithful unto death’ is not a condition of salvation — salvation comes by grace through faith in the efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin at the Cross. The Crown of Endurance won’t be given to every believer — the Scriptures say of even those who receive NO crowns, as previously noted, “he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” 

There is the Crown of Glory — the crown of the ‘undershepherd’ or the ‘pastor’s crown’.

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1st Peter 5:1-4)

Not every pastor or undershepherd will receive this crown, either. There are those who will fail the test of willing service (not for filthy lucre) or those who set themselves up as ‘lords over God’s heritage’ instead of being examples to their flocks, or those who fail to feed their charges with God’s Word. 

Finally, there is the Crown of Righteousness.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 1:8)

Those who study prophecy, those who dedicate themselves as watchmen on the wall, ready to give the warning of His soon appearing, will receive the Crown of Righteousness from the Righteous Judge at the Bema Seat. 

Literally, the Crown of Righteousness means ‘a crown for doing right.’ Paul is saying, “I have loved the appearing of the Lord. Because I have loved the appearing of the Lord, I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.” 

Note what Paul did NOT say. He did NOT say, “If you keep the faith, you will receive the Crown of Righteousness.” Instead, he says, “If you love His appearing, you will.” 

Personally, I am not certain that I will receive the crown of self denial. I am not too sure that I keep my body under control enough to deserve this reward. I am not too sure I will win the soulwinner’s crown, although it is one I really, really hope to receive. 

I am not sure that I will get the Crown of Glory — as an undershepherd, I have many shortcomings. One example of my failure to properly shepherd my charge is the uproar in the member’s forum, an uproar I addressed this morning under the subject heading, “What is happening here?” 

I pray for the Crown of Life for enduring life’s trials — but I am not certain that I have endured them with the long-suffering love of Christ as I should. So I am not sure about that one, either. 

But I am hopeful of the Crown of Righteousness — it is the easiest one to get. My righteousness is not my own, but that of Christ’s, and my love of His soon appearing is an all-consuming passion. 

The point to it all is this: We will all one day stand before the Bema Seat — but the Bema Seat is where we are judged for our rewards. Whether or not I receive all — or any — of the rewards that are available to me as a believer, I have the certain assurance that, even if I suffer loss, I will still enter heaven, even if it is ‘as if by fire’.

And so will all those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation.

Maranatha! For those of you I don’t get to meet in this life, I look forward to seeing you at the Bema Seat. Do me a favor, though. 

Plug your ears when it gets to my turn.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 30, 2005

Featured Commentary: Firm Convictions ~Wendy Wippel

Disappointed With God?

Disappointed With God?
Vol: 25 Issue: 18 Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Although few of us want to admit it, it is my firm suspicion that everybody has found themselves, at one time or another, disappointed by God.

Among those who DO admit to it, there are those who’ve gone the extra half-inch from being disappointed BY God into being disappointed WITH God. And with church. And with other Christians. And with doctrinal divisions. And with the whole spiritual conflict in general.

It isn’t enough to have some well-meaning friend remind you that ‘life is hard, and at the end, you die.” Or that ‘God never promised you a rose garden.’

I beg to differ. There are apparently clear and unambiguous promises in Scripture that He did so.

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matthew 7:9-11)

We, as parents, do all that we can to provide our children with a ‘rose garden’ existence. To the degree that our children let us. Which means there are a lot of thorns in that rose garden.

Jesus asked which of us would give our children a stone instead of bread? Children NEED bread, even when they ASK for stones. You can pray for diamonds, but God knows what your are going to NEED in the days ahead.

Sometimes, God, knowing your future, says ‘yes.’ (If He didn’t, you’d never see a Christian lady wearing a diamond ring.)

And sometimes, in His infinite foreknowledge, He knows you are asking for a stone, but what your future will demand is more bread. To you, in the here-and-now, its a diamond.

But if you get hungry enough, a diamond is just a stone. (Bread’s better. Trust me on this one.)

James explains,

“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”

He goes on with this seemingly contradictory statement,

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

Assessment:

Jesus promised,

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 21:32)

So if it is the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom, how come He won’t give me a better job? How come He won’t make my credit score higher? How come He won’t make life easier for me?

Or, the Big Question: God created the world in six days out of nothing. How can it be that, no matter how many times I ask Him, He still hasn’t helped me to quit smoking, overeating, drinking, (fill in your own ‘how come’ as needed)?

How come I pray for courage to boldly speak out for Christ, but can’t find it when I need it? How come I pray for healing and it doesn’t happen? How come the more I pray for understanding, the more confusing it all gets.

Why DON’T You DO something about this?

The Bible says, “with God, all things are possible.”

Until it comes to my shortcomings, or my health problems, or my personal problems. Then sometimes, they are evidently even too big for Him, since I still have them.

And it isn’t all that helpful to have somebody tell you that, “God works in mysterious ways,” either. It doesn’t seem that mysterious. It’s God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom.

Did Jesus not say,

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son?” (John 14:13)

‘Prosperity Gospel’ preachers twist these Scriptures to mean that God wants you to be materially healthy, wealthy and wise. They tell you that first. Then they explain that all you have to do to obtain these blessings is ‘let go’ of what little material wealth you have.

(To them, of course, so they can continue to spread their ‘message’ that God wants other people to let go of their material wealth (to them) so He can shower them with wealth, too.)

The truth is, this world ISN’T ‘the kingdom’ that the Father takes pleasure in giving me. I am IN this world, but I am not OF it.

The promise is valid, it is the reward that is misunderstood.

And Jesus was speaking to the Twelve directly, whom He was granting the power, in His Name, to do the miracles recorded in the Book of Acts as they went out to start the early Church.

The Apostles were given that authority as a form of credentials, that the “Father may be glorified in the Son.”

The power to perform miracles in Jesus’ Name proved to the early Jewish converts that their message of salvation by grace through faith was not blasphemy, but came directly from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God has a plan for each of our lives, but it is seldom the plan we expected or wanted. We don’t see the same end-game that God does.

Sincere Christians sincerely seek God’s plan for their lives by seeking God’s will for their lives. Sometimes, it is like trying to find a particular tree in the middle of a forest. We need to step back and take a look at the whole forest for a minute.

What IS God’s will? In the sense of the forest, and not that one particular tree, I mean? If we can discern God’s will overall, it helps to define what role we are to play in fulfilling His will, and in so doing, not following our own ‘lusts’, as James put it.

Peter says that, “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” but then adds, “as some men count slackness.”

Dwell on that second phrase, for a second. We don’t see things the way that God does. Thinking we do is a sure recipe for disappointment. So what is important to God?

Peter continues,

“but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

Dissect this with me, and we’ll find the answers to the questions we’ve pondered; “Why hasn’t God taken away my bad habits, why hasn’t God cured my health problems, why won’t He help me get a better job, why am I disappointed with God?”, etc.

Peter says that God is long-suffering towards His messengers, because it is not His will that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.

From the Apostles until this time, the Lord has used His people to spread the Gospel that salvation is open to all men.

So God’s will is that this message be carried to ALL. And there are places that only you can go; people that only you can reach. People that trust you because of who you are, warts and all. Think about it. God has been equipping you your whole life for your mission. 

That’s why you are who you are.

When Paul went directly to the Lord to pray for deliverance from some unnamed affliction he felt hindered his ability to carry the Message, Jesus told him;

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Instead of being disappointed with God for not dealing with Paul’s offending tree, Paul stepped back and took another look at the forest and concluded,

“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

The Message is God’s Perfect Will, but it is carried by imperfect men. If only perfect men could carry the Message, Christianity wouldn’t have made it out of the first century.

You are the messenger God has chosen to carry His message now. Not later, when you feel that God has equipped you to your satisfaction.

(If you were not chosen, you wouldn’t be reading this right now– and you already have all the credentials necessary to carry it at this moment. The first requirement of salvation is that one must first be a sinner.)

God has not let you down. He has equipped you for your unique mission for the Kingdom.

For in your weakness is His strength made perfect.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 24, 2006

Enoch, Enoch. . . Who’s There?

Enoch, Enoch. . . Who’s There?
Vol: 25 Issue: 17 Monday, July 17, 2017

What is startling about the Book of Enoch is the amount of Messianic prophecy it contains.

We know from the Dead Sea Scrolls, from contemporary documentary evidence, and from the Epistle of Jude that the Book of Enoch was widely known and accepted by Jewish authorities long before the birth of Christ. 

The Book of Enoch is classified as “Jewish pseudo-biographical literature” meaning, ancient biographical literature that is attributed to someone else, but whose actual author is unknown.

By itself, that doesn’t make it a forgery. Jeremiah didn’t write the book that bears his name. It was written by a scribe named Baruch. 

Nobody is certain who the actual author of the Book of Hebrews is, whether it was Paul, someone writing at his direction, or another, unnamed Apostle. 

It is highly unlikely that the Book of Enoch was actually penned by the literal Enoch, seventh from Adam, great-grandfather of Noah. But not impossible.

The Church fathers, including Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Lactantius, and others borrowed an opinion out of the book of Enoch in discussions regarding Genesis 6:2

Tertullian, in several places, speaks of the Book of Enoch with great reverence, arguing his belief that it actually WAS written by Enoch, 7th from Adam, and preserved by Noah during the Flood. 

The problem with the Book of Enoch, more than anything else, is its guilt by association. Enoch has been adopted into Islamic tradition as an Islamic prophet. 

Interestingly, Enoch’s Islamic name means ‘instructor’ or, ‘initiate’ and Islamic tradition credits Enoch with the invention of astrology, astronomy, the written word and arithmetic.

(We’ll discuss this association between Enoch and ‘knowledge’ as we progress in our study, but it is worth keeping that fact in mind as we go along.) 

Enoch was also recently adopted by the Mormons as a prophet, the ‘founder of Zion’ worker of miracles, etc., etc., until the mere mention of ‘Enoch’ makes some Christians running screaming from the room shouting ‘heresy’. 

Enoch also plays a major role in Freemasonry and other occultic secret societies, especially those heavily involved in astrology or the zodiac. 

But behind all the cults and occults and secret societies and New Age groups that have claimed Enoch as their inspiration, there is also the historical fact that the Book of Enoch was quoted directly in Jude 14-15:

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Compare Jude 14-15 to the Book of Enoch 1:9:

Behold, He comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against Him.”

Assessment:

I don’t want to be misunderstood as attempting to rehabilitate the Book of Enoch or legitimizing the Book of Enoch beyond what it deserves. 

It is worthy of discussion as a book of history, at the very least. It is at least twenty-three hundred years old, and it could possibly be much older. 

Let’s look at it a different way. . . 

I have a book in my library called “The Bible as History.” What its author attempted to do was take the Bible as it is and present it into an historical narrative. The end result was a sweeping historical overview of the history of mankind, but devoid of any theological or spiritual truths. 

The book is accurate, as history, and would be useful to historians seeking historical information about the period and location, but it wouldn’t be much use in leading someone down Roman’s Road. 

It isn’t something a theologian would study as part of an effort to learn what God wants us to know — but that doesn’t mean that it is worthless or unreliable. 

But if somebody were to take “The Bible As History” as Divinely inspired and then use it as their religious text, it WOULD be worthless, unreliable, and downright dangerous. So it is important to view the Book of Enoch in a similar fashion. 

The Book of Enoch is not part of the Bible, is not without error, and is not the final authority on matters of theology — but that doesn’t automatically make it worthless. 

Flavius Josephus’ “War of the Jews” is not without error, neither is it Divinely-inspired, but there is still much it can teach us. 

The Book of Enoch claims to have been written by Enoch, the son of Jared, of the seventh generation from Adam. Here’s what we know — and what we don’t know. 

We know that the Book of Enoch was highly regarded among the Jews at the time of Christ. We know that Jude quoted from it; and we know the Essenes thought enough of it to hide it along with the rest of the treasures of the Temple in the caves at Qumron. 

We know that in Joshua’s time, there was still a collective memory of life before the Flood. And we know that Tertullian, who lived a lot closer in terms of time to the events it describes that we do, believed the Enoch was preserved by Noah and was passed down through the generations since. 

We know that it has been used as a launch point for innumerable cults who claim to have found in it a ‘hidden knowledge’.

We don’t know who wrote it, or how much of it was added along the way, or if it were an oral tradition at some point committed to paper. 

We don’t know anything about the copy process, if it were held to the same standard of copying as were the Books of the Torah, and because we don’t know, we can’t trust it as Scripture. 

And because we don’t trust it as Scripture, it is no more or less reliable than some of the historical accounts of Josephus or Pliny or Tacitus or Herodotus. 

With that in mind, let me finish my disclaimer thusly: 

By definition, some of the Book of Enoch must be true, or it wouldn’t have occupied the place of honor that it did among the religious Jews of the time. 

But we don’t know what is absolute truth and what contains elements of truth. So we shall approach the study from that perspective, and rely on the Bible to illuminate the difference. 

It is important to keep all this in mind. In our study, we are not seeking hidden knowledge, or the secrets of Enoch, or any such balderdash as that. 

Where Enoch conflicts with Scripture, Scripture is the final authority, not the other way around. Where Enoch adds information not revealed by Scripture, we’ll apply logic and common sense against what the Scriptures DO reveal. 

Our purpose is more historical than spiritual, but our approach is that the spiritual is as real as the secular, and is part of our overall history. 

There are many questions left unanswered about the time before the Flood, and over the course of our study, we’ll examine some of them, including, but not limited to, the following:

1) Why do all ancient civilizations have similar memories? 

2) What does ‘perfect in his generations’ mean? 

3) Who were the giants before the Flood — and ‘also after that’?

4) Where did the ancients get their knowledge?

5) Who built the pyramids?

One question we will NOT tackle is whether or not the Book of Enoch should be part of the canon of Scripture. That question was settled centuries ago, and I claim neither the knowledge nor the desire to reopen it. 

So, having said all that, we’ll begin our study tomorrow with a discussion about “The Watchers.”

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 18, 2011

Featured Commentary: The End of All Things: Part Two ~Pete Garcia

God’s Grace

God’s Grace
Vol: 25 Issue: 15 Saturday, July 15, 2017

There is a wonderful hymn published at the turn of the 20th century that proclaims, ”Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

I’m sure most of you have sung these words at some point or another, but have you ever truly contemplated their meaning?

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!” 

We sing it, but do we really believe it? More importantly, do we really UNDERSTAND it? 

Wrote the Psalmist,

“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” (Psalms 49:3)

What is wisdom? Psalms 111:10 says that,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

Solomon noted that;

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom,” before admonishing us; “and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

But how does one make the leap from ‘wisdom’ to ‘understanding’?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“Wisdom and instruction”, applied together, produce knowledge.

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” (Proverbs 2:10-11)

One can, therefore, express it as a Divine equation: Wisdom + Knowledge = Understanding.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

‘Wisdom’ is the product of ‘fear’ (or reverence) of the Lord (as expressed in His Word). Out of His Revealed Word comes ‘knowledge’, which, when applied with ‘wisdom’ gives birth to ‘understanding’.

Note well that it is ‘understanding’ that the Lord says will KEEP thee.

It is the ‘wisdom’ to recognize oneself as a sinner in need of salvation taken together withinstruction that Christ has extended a free pardon for one’s sin’s that result in the extension of God’s grace, which produces saving faith.

Proverbs 19:8a says,

“He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul, he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”

I don’t think the first part of that verse is an inaccurate statement, although it tends to take the wind out of our sails a bit when we think about it.

I prefer to think of my coming to Christ as an expression of my love for Him — but when I am as honest as Solomon was, and teachable enough to know wisdom when I hear it, I understand that my reason for turning to Christ was love of MY soul. (The wisdom to love Him came later.)

But note well that, to ‘find good’ out of wisdom, one must apply ‘understanding’.

Assessment:

Whenever I tackle the topic of ‘Amazing Grace’ some of the forum comments and emails suggest there are still many misunderstandings, particularly about the way I articulate the doctrine of grace.

I don’t mind revisiting it as often as necessary, as long as you don’t mind revisiting it with me.

The Bible instructs us to strive for perfection. To sin no more. To be perfect, even as the Father is perfect. That our every waking moment should be dedicated to God. (“Sell all you have, pick up your Cross and follow Me.”) To pray without ceasing.

That certain sins really drive God nuts;

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

And I have knowledge that I am occasionally guilty of pride, sloth, gluttony, mischief, etc., — just as before I was saved. (Moreover, my personal observations tell me I am not alone among believers in this regard).

Now we turn to the concept of ‘grace’.

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

Further, Paul writes;

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

Few argue the Bible doesn’t teach salvation as an unearned gift extended to all who will receive it. But then they stumble over the idea of eternal security as a ‘license to sin’.

I don’t mean to sound pompous in saying this reflects wisdom, but without understanding. And it is ‘understanding’ that the Lord says is what will ‘keep’ you.

They argue that the doctrine of eternal security turns the Bible into a book of ‘suggestions’. I’ve been accused of endorsing sin. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Wisdom plus knowledge equals understanding.

I reverence God’s Word, which tells me that sin is man’s natural state of being. Paul’s explanation of the dual nature of man in Romans 7 confirms to me that the struggle with sin after salvation is as common to all men as it was to Paul.

It was the wisdom to love my own soul that brought me to the point of salvation, and the knowledge of grace and the dual nature of man that brought me to the understanding of grace.

Paul wrote,

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, ACCORDING AS GOD HATH DEALT TO EVERY MAN THE MEASURE OF FAITH.” (Romans 12:3)

Wisdom (God’s Word) says that some struggle more with sin than do others, and that God deals out different measures of faith to each of us according to His will.

I think it fair to say we are pretty forgiving of ourselves. Sometimes, we can come up with pretty convincing reasons for falling at the moment we did.

That isn’t to suggest the reasons justify the fall, but we extend to ourselves the grace to pick ourselves up, and try again. Wisdom plus knowledge go out the window once we assume God is less forgiving of us than we are of ourselves.

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.

Remember the story of the 300 lb preacher reminding his congregation that smoking is defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit?

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? 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 thirty-five years ago. I am sure I have sinned in the last thirty-five years. 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)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 22, 2008