A Kindler, Gentler Christianity

A Kindler, Gentler Christianity
Vol: 29 Issue: 30 Thursday, November 30, 2017

One of the oldest tenets of military doctrine is best expressed as “Divide and Conquer”.  It is a major theme of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” has been taught at every military academy since and is the root and branch of all politics.

The strategy is so effective that it has become instinctive; nobody has to teach a kid how to divide and conquer.  By the time he’s five, unless his parents are on the ball, he’s already an expert at it. 

As a strategy, one can trace it all the way back to the Garden of Eden.  Satan first drove a wedge between Eve and God, telling Eve that God forbade her the fruit of the tree of knowledge out of jealousy.

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

Division is the principle tactic of the Enemy, whereas the Cross calls us into unity.

“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;”

Paul explains God’s structural outline for the Church Age, saying:

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:3-4,12,13)

Moreover, the Bible tells us that one of the things God hates most is disunity.

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him:”

So we count off the first six as things God hates. The seventh on the list, the Bible says, is an abomination unto God, so let’s tick ’em off directly from Proverbs 6:17-19.

  1. A proud look
  2. A lying tongue
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood
  4. A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
  5. Feet that be swift in running to mischief
  6. A false witness that speaketh lies; and (drum roll, please)
  7. The Abominable Sin: he that soweth discord among brethren.

It is an Enemy tactic to divide and conquer.  The Church is called to be unified in one Body and led by One Spirit according to the Word of God. 

To accomplish that purpose, we’re told, He gave the early Church apostles and prophets and evangelists to spread the Gospel, and then pastors and teachers;

  1. For the perfecting of the saints.
  2. For the work of the ministry.
  3. For the edifying of Christ.

This work is to continue, the Scriptures say, until “we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” 

Let’s look once more at the passage — it’s actually in two parts.  Do you see it?  There is the ‘action’ part and the ‘result’ part.  The action part is assigned to God’s workmen: perfecting the saints for the purpose of the ministry, to the edification of Christ. 

The ‘result’ part is assigned to the Holy Spirit.  When DO we all come together in unity of faith and knowledge, “perfect men” as measured against the full stature of Christ? 

The answer should be obvious: on the day we stand before Him. 

Assessment:

I got an email the other day from a subscriber who wanted to know more about the Emergent Church movement and how it fits into the end times scenario. But before I tackled it, I wanted to make sure that we’re all on the same page Scripturally. 

When critiquing a new movement within the Body of Christ, one must do so with fear and caution. New teaching and Christian identity needs to be evaluated against the faith which was delivered to God’s people, “once, for all.” 

The Emergent Church offers what it claims is a more ‘generous’ view of orthodox Christianity. According to one enthusiastic evaluation, the Emergent church rejects;

the simplistic, biased and judgmental way they were taught to look at people in the world –many of whom seem more pleasant, humble and nice than the people from their fundamentalist Churches. 

Reacting to this background, they are determined to transcend the separatist spirit of Christians who seem to have nothing more important to do than to defend how right they are and how wrong everyone else is.”

It does sound a lot like the traditional Church, doesn’t it? 

There’s a joke about a Baptist who went to Heaven and asked St. Peter what was behind a high wall dividing Heaven. St. Peter answered, “One side is for Catholics, the other for Baptists.” 

“Why the wall?” the Baptist wanted to know. 

“Simple,” St. Peter replied. “They both think that they are the only ones here.”

The fact is, the Emergent Church reaches out with open arms of tolerance and acceptance to those they were warned to separate from by Scripture. 

The Emergent Church has a lot of nicknames: post-conservative, post-evangelical, post-fundamentalist, to name a few. 

It sees theology as a quest for the beauty and truth of God rather than a search for propositional statements, proof texts and doctrinal formulations —-used to measure those who are in and judge those who are out. 

The Emergent Church views its doctrine as a kindler, gentler kind of Christianity. 

It soft-pedals around harsh exclusionary doctrines like salvation through Christ alone or eternal damnation in a literal hell for unbelievers, or Scriptural condemnations of homosexuality. 

It is the view of the Emergent Church that traditional churches are dying because they hold too tightly to Scriptural absolutes, which is why the Emergent Church is, well, emerging.  That’s one way of looking at it. 

The other is to argue that traditional churches are dying because they AREN’T HOLDING TIGHTLY ENOUGH, which gives rise to the kind of spiritual arrogance expressed by Emergent Church leaders in the name of humility. 

So, which side of the issue am I on?  I opened with warnings about spreading division, but it is clear that the purpose of today’s column is NOT to promote harmony between the Emergent Church and traditional doctrinal understanding. 

When one reads most critiques of the Emerging Church, they are more invective and personal observations about the motives and intent of its leaders, like Rick Warren, or Brian McLaren or Edmund Burke, than they are critiques of the doctrine. 

That’s not Scriptural, it’s not logical, and it only serves to marginalize the person making the critique. 

Scripture says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes”, and, that “every way of a man is right in his own eyes.” (Proverbs 16:221:2)

Guys like Rick Warren aren’t evil men — they truly believe that they are doing the Lord’s work. They honestly believe that they are being led by the Holy Spirit. They are as sincere as I am. 

It is just that they are sincerely wrong.

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

Sound doctrine is that which has been delivered through God’s Word.  “Itching ears” want something more spectacular, like direct revelation from the Holy Spirit instead of the same old-same old traditional doctrine that the Emergent Church is emerging from. 

And that is precisely the argument offered — that the Emergent Church is the one that truly reflects the teaching and intent of the Holy Spirit. 

Charles Spurgeon captured the true spirit of the Emergent Church over a hundred years ago when he wrote,

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what He has revealed to others.”

It seems odd to me, too.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 6, 2012

Featured Commentary: ACRONYMOLOGY ~J.L. Robb

Tribulation Saints and ‘The Mark’

Tribulation Saints and ‘The Mark’
Vol: 29 Issue: 29 Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I received an email from a member asking, “Upon what grounds will a believer be saved during the Tribulation Period?” It was an intriguing question, one that we’ve not touched upon in any great detail in previous discussions.

My correspondent framed his question around the acceptance of the Mark of the Beast and a ‘paradox’ he sees facing those who might accept it under coercion.
Specifically, he asked,

“During the Tribulation, if a “believer” is threatened with the choice between either taking the Mark upon himself, or becoming “responsible” for a horrendous evil act otherwise aimed upon their child, doesn’t a feasible scenario present itself whereby a believer may choose to take the Mark. How can these two apparent “truths” occur coincidentally, and form a contradiction?”

Another excellent question. Researching the answers was most illuminative, and I thank my correspondent for posing them. At the same time, the answers themselves are among those ‘hard sayings’ of Scripture. 

Let’s go with the Mark first. 

The Mark of the Beast is not merely an economic medium of exchange, like a debit or credit card, although it will incorporate that function. If that were all there was to it, my correspondent’s paradox would be valid. 

The Mark of the Beast is first and foremost a worship system. So now, we have crossed over from the material to the spiritual. 

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not WORSHIP the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:15)

The Mark is a symbol of membership in the ‘church’ of antichrist, and among the privileges of membership under his rule is the right to life, a form of liberty and the right to pursue a form of economic happiness. 

But the Bible makes plain that no man can serve two masters. 

To the question of whether or not accepting the Mark to save a life is paradoxical, James answers that question with a question of his own:

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14

There are two distinct and separate understandings of ‘life’ at work here. There is our understanding of life, under which one might be tempted to take the Mark of the Beast, say, to save one’s child. 

Then there is God’s understanding of life. Physical life is granted to us so that we can choose where we will spend eternity. 

Since the main purpose in the spiritual sense for our physical existence is to exercise that choice, the choice we make is of far greater importance than the physical existence that provides the opportunity to choose. 

Is the Bible specific concerning the choice to accept the Mark of the Beast and worship his image? 

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)

There is no paradox here. The choice is the same as it has always been. It was the same choice that Joshua offered the children of Israel more than three thousand years ago. 

“And if it seem evil   
http://www.omegaletter.com/admin/tinymce/themes/advanced/langs/en.js
unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

During the early persecution of the Church, many martyrs were given the choice between worshipping Caesar or seeing their entire families thrown to the lions. 

Those who accept a martyr’s death are promised a crown, but nowhere does the Bible grant an exemption for those who reject Jesus, coercion notwithstanding. Not in the Church Age, and not during the Tribulation. 

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)

The second question asks, “Upon what grounds will a believer be saved during the Tribulation?” The short answer would appear to be, “the same grounds upon which believers are saved during the Church Age” — salvation by grace through faith. But that isn’t exactly accurate. 

During the Tribulation, God’s grace, as we understand it in this Dispensation, is withdrawn. The Age of Grace concludes with the Rapture. The Tribulation Period is the final, unfulfilled week of the Age of the Law. 

Revelation Chapter 7 describes an event so unique that Jesus devotes an entire chapter to its discussion. It describes a special ‘sealing’ of “the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:3) These ‘servants of God’ are twelve thousand Jewish male virgins chosen from each of the twelve tribes of Israel — 144,000 in all. 

They are sealed in a miraculous manner, by the direct intervention of God, in exactly the same way Church Age believers are, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus was sealed by the Holy Spirit.

“And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

 Church Age believers are sealed. “. . . in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13

The sealing work of the Holy Spirit is the basis for our eternal security during the Church Age. Among the spiritual benefits of being sealed by the Holy Spirit are: 

1) Men receive courage to rebuke sin: Matt. 3:8 

2) Men are enabled to speak with confidence: Acts 4:31-33 

3) Gives spiritual and moral strength: 2 Samuel 22:40Isaiah 28:26Isaiah 40:31;41:10Daniel 11:32Ephesians 3:16 

4) Provides strength in weakness: 1 Corinthians 1:272 Corinthians 12:913:4 

5) Provides spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6Ephesians 4:11

Returning to the question at hand, the 144,000 evangelists are sealed by the Holy Spirit to empower them as evangelists during the Tribulation Period, because it is only through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that men can be saved.

The doctrine of eternal security is due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers during the Age of Grace. 

During the final Week of the Age of the Law, the universal ministry of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn. (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)

He then indwells believers only selectively, as He did during David’s time, when David cried out, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalms 51:11

There will be believers in the Tribulation who will succumb to the antichrist’s coercion and accept his mark to save their families. And Scripture is clear that those who do are forever lost. 

Tribulation believers will be saved by faith in Christ and enduring until the end, as in the Church Age, but without the guarantee of eternal security or the automatic indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus described the tribulation as, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” 

He warned that, “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22

It is our job on this side of the Tribulation to give the warning of what is to come. It is coming. And it is coming soon. 

Our blessed hope is found in the Scripture’s promise that Jesus comes for His Church first. 

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

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

Featured Commentary: The Doomsday Donald ~Wendy Wippel

License to Sin

License to Sin
Vol: 29 Issue: 28 Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Many Christians view the doctrine of eternal security as a ‘license’ to sin. This line of reasoning asks a perfectly legitimate question: “If one is eternally secure, then what is the incentive to live a Christ-centered life?”

Add up all the arguments against eternal security with me. There are lots of them, and all of them have some relevant Scripture that seems to back those arguments up.

But virtually all of the arguments against eternal security share the same fatal flaw. They all argue from the same perspective of sin. The best way I can think of to explain what I mean is to use the story of a popular, but grossly overweight preacher I once saw on TV.

In the course of his sermon, he pointed accusingly at his audience, saying, “If you smoke, you are defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” He went on to list a half-dozen Scriptures to confirm his position — a position that I share, I might add.

The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Smoking not only causes serious physical damage to the Temple, it makes it smell bad, look bad and does nothing to edify either the Temple or its Occupant.

But I noticed that preacher had NOTHING to say about defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit with Twinkies and Double-Fudge Chocolate Overboard Brownies. Obesity is at least as dangerous as smoking. It does serious physical damage to the Temple; it looks bad, and does nothing to edify either the Temple or its Occupant.

Most of the same Scriptures that argue against smoking are even more applicable to viewing obesity as a habitual and even disqualifying sin. While Scripture doesn’t address smoking, it equates a glutton with a drunkard;

“. . . He is a glutton, and a drunkard.” (Deuteronomy 21:20)

“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty. . .” (Proverbs 23:21)

“The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber. . .” (Matthew 11:19Luke 7:34)

Let me put the question to you. If smoking is a case of habitual sin, then what is overeating?

Even making allowances for medical conditions that slow the metabolism, is it THEORETICALLY possible that our overweight preacher could slim down to a healthy weight?

What would be required to accomplish this transformation?

The same thing that is necessary to quit smoking. Getting control of one’s lustful appetites. Setting aside that sin that doth so easily beset us. Denying one’s appetites, putting food in its proper perspective as fuel for the body.

If a fat person is truly saved, then the evidence that they have gotten their appetites under control and are living a Christ-like life would be reflected by their 32 inch waistlines, no?

Now, back to the original point about the fatal flaw in the arguments against eternal security. They all share the human perspective about sin and they judge it accordingly. Smoking is a much worse sin in the eyes of a person who does not smoke. Obesity is much less sinful to a fat person.

There is a story about a dinner conversation between evangelists H. A. Ironside and D. L. Moody. After dinner, Dr. Ironside lit up a cigar. Dr. Moody exclaimed, “Sir, that offends me!” Dr. Ironside poked Dr. Moody’s prodigious middle, and replied, “Sir, that offends ME.”

Is a fat person claiming a ‘license to sin’ when he eats a Big Mac? Conversely, is a fat person, by virtue of his inability to control his appetites, not really saved?

Full Disclosure: At two hundred pounds and just five feet ten, I am no lightweight. According to the charts, I am at least thirty pounds overweight. By that standard, there is at least fifteen percent more of me than there ought to be. I haven’t been able to put on a pair of thirty-two inch jeans since I was 25.

Is that evidence that I am lost? I don’t think so. Of course, I also don’t think of last night’s dinner as an example of my inability to control my lust, (although I was full enough to survive long before I finished my baked potato. But I LIKE baked potatoes.)

In my own view, if I committed any dinner-table sin, it was in NOT finishing everything on my plate, since I always have a twinge of guilt scraping uneaten, but perfectly good food into the trash container.

(“There are starving children in India who would do anything to have what you just threw away!”)

Assessment:

Every argument against eternal security judges sin according to the way their dominant culture does. American Christians almost universally see smoking as a sin. But in cultures where smoking is socially acceptable, smoking is as invisible to them as obesity is to Americans.

Christians in the Bible Belt almost universally see drinking alcohol in any amount to be a sin, but think nothing of eating steak four times a week for dinner.

And I know many Christians on the West Coast who think nothing of a glass of wine or a beer with their dinner. (But order a steak and get prepared for a lecture about cholesterol and heart disease and defiling the Temple.)

And, as in the case of the overweight preacher, most arguments against eternal security also revolve around some sin that the naysayer doesn’t personally struggle with.

The Bible says that all sin is equal in God’s eyes. He doesn’t distinguish between anger and murder, or between lustful thoughts and adultery. Scripture says that merely calling someone ‘a fool’ puts one in danger of hellfire. (Matthew 5:22-28)

We are the ones who view sin according to our view of its sinfulness, judge it according to our standards, and then imperiously pronounce some sins less unacceptable than others.

If flipping someone off in traffic is equal in God’s eyes to murder, then does that mean that smokers are habitual sinners more at risk of damnation than the obese?

Now, to another question that advocates of temporal security have trouble with. If one can sin oneself out of salvation, which sin is THE one? If it isn’t any one sin, but rather, a sinful lifestyle, who determines what is a disqualifying sinful lifestyle?

Is a habitual smoker living a disqualifying sinful lifestyle? What about the person struggling with a life-long battle with obesity? For that matter, what about the person who struggles with alcohol addiction? What about a drug addict? Is a drug addict worse than an alcoholic, a smoker or the habitually obese?

You see, the second we take judgment for sin out of God’s Hands and put it in our own, we run into all kinds of problems.

Even the person who argues against eternal security knows that he is himself a sinner. When asked how they reconcile that position with their own sin, they invariably point to 1st John 1:9;

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” — at the same time, making the unspoken argument that while THEY are sincere, the habitual sinner must not be.

The Bible says that eternal life is the product of grace through faith, and not of works, because God KNOWS our works. Of our works, (both good and bad), He says , “we are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Eternal security is not a license to sin. Humans don’t need a license to do what is natural to them. They need Someone they can trust to do for them what they are unable to do for themselves.

“For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)

To answer the question, “If one is eternally secure, then what is the incentive to live a Christ-centered life?”, Paul says that each of us will one day stand before the Bema Seat to be judged for the things we’ve done in this life.

It is at the Bema Seat that Christ awards us whatever crowns we’ve earned; the Crown of Rejoicing, the Martyr’s Crown, the Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Life, etc.

Some of us will stand before the Righteous Judge to see all our supposedly ‘good works’ burned up like so much wood, hay and stubble.

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

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

God IS faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

“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)

I am not arguing that sin has no consequences, either temporal or in eternity, because sin DOES have consequences, both here and now, and in eternity.

Neither do I take the position that sinners needn’t repent and turn from their wicked ways. But that is not a single ‘work’, it is an ongoing, lifelong process. There is always going to be another sin requiring repentance until we are at last separated from the flesh by death.

Personally, I believe that God is not done with me yet, and that, with God’s help, the best is yet to come. I still have my struggles, but I know that my relationship with God is, by definition, eternal.

My relationship is with the One “Who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24) and was secured for me, without my help, by Jesus Christ.

He KNOWS my struggles, and I know that He won’t abandon me when the going gets tough. (He and I both remember when things were a lot worse.)

Eternal security isn’t a license to sin. It is Divine license to get back up again when we fall.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on February 4, 2006

The Musterion of Anomia

The Musterion of Anomia
Vol: 29 Issue: 27 Monday, November 27, 2017

One of the more frightening things about living in the 21st century is the realization that if the government wanted to find something to arrest you for, it could.  If the government wants you, there is no security.

If you live and work and participate in everyday society, then you are probably guilty of committing at least three felonies a day, according to author Harvey Silvergate.  He provides a number of examples, some of which are pretty chilling.

Under Title 18 of the US Code, Section 1346, a person commits an offense if he conspires or schemes to defraud by depriving another of the intangible right to honest services.  

So, you are a salaried employee of a large company.  Your cousin phones you up to tell you he’s got two tickets to the Knicks game for tomorrow, but tomorrow is a work day.  But you really want to go to the game, so you call in sick. 

Because you are on salary, you are being paid while you are at the ball game.  You have just defrauded your employer by depriving him of the right to your services, which he paid for.  Oh, and your cousin is guilty of conspiracy.

In the hands of an ambitious-enough federal prosecutor, you might both get convicted of racketeering under the Rico Act.

How about this one?  You discover that your son has a stash of marijuana in his bedroom.  What you don’t know is that the cops are already watching him.  What do you do? 

Do you call the cops and have him arrested, saddling him with a criminal record and probably destroying your relationship with him for the rest of his life?  Or do you flush the dope and deal with him yourself when he gets home from school? 

So, which is it?  If you decided to flush the dope and deal with him yourself, then you have just destroyed evidence in an ongoing investigation, making you guilty of a felony.  It doesn’t matter that you were unaware of the investigation.  Or that the alternative choice is to be the one to destroy your own son’s future.

You and your family enjoy a picnic at a national park.  After the picnic, you clean up your trash, throw it away and leave.  One of your kids is less careful and leaves some trash behind.  As you are leaving the picnic area, a ranger asks if you and your family cleaned up all your trash. 

You tell him yes, and you have just committed a felony.  Any false statement made to a government official, even in casual conversation, leaves one open to charges of making a false statement to a federal official.

Assessment:

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn Rand

A law professor named John Tehranian published a paper entitled “Infringement Nation” in which he demonstrated how easily one could find oneself in legal jeopardy without ever intending to violate a single law.

In his paper, he created a hypothetical law professor named “John.” (Clever, isn’t he?) “John” doesn’t file share or steal music or movies.  He uses his computer for work. 

In the course of the day, he answers his emails, the contents of which are reproduced by his email program when he hits the ‘reply’ button.  Each unauthorized reproduction of someone else’s copyrighted text—their email—represents a separate act of copyright infringement, as does each instance of email forwarding.

He distributes three just-published internet analyses of a Supreme Court decision just handed down to his class, violating the analysts’ copyrights. While the students are reading, he doodles a sketch of something he saw at an art museum, creating an “unauthorized derivative work.”

Later he reads a 1931 poem to his Law and Literature class, an unauthorized public performance.  Then he emails pictures his friend took of him at a football game.  The pictures are of him, but his friend owns the copyright on the pictures.

He sings Happy Birthday to a friend at a restaurant and records it on his iPhone.  He has just recorded an unauthorized public performance of a copyright-protected work.  If the holders of all the various copyrights violated by these acts were upheld, Professor Tehranian concludes the following:

All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million (to say nothing of potential criminal charges). There is nothing particularly extraordinary about John’s activities. Yet if copyright holders were inclined to enforce their rights to the maximum extent allowed by law, barring last minute salvation from the notoriously ambiguous fair use defense, he would be liable for a mind-boggling $4.544 billion in potential damages each year. And, surprisingly, he has not even committed a single act of infringement through P2P file-sharing.

The point being made by Harvey Silvergate and Professor Tehranian is that all of us are lawbreakers, whether we intend to be or not.  Indeed, it is impossible for a person to operate normally within normal society without breaking some law, somewhere. 

Under the terms of Google’s terms of service contract, (which nobody ever reads) you may not use the search engine or gmail or any of the company’s other features if “you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google.”

So a seventeen-year old using Google to research a term paper is breaking the law.  Did YOU know there was a law against underaged Googling?

We are no longer a nation governed by laws, but rather, we are a nation governed according to the whims of lawyers.  And politicians. 

Laws, which were originally given to protect us, have made us slaves to the law.  We either go along to get along or we could find ourselves going to jail.  There are two Biblical applications here.

The first, of course, is that the situation mirrors our spiritual condition before God.  The Ten Commandments were too many laws for any human being to be expected to keep.  No matter how hard one tries, a person WILL run afoul of at least one of them over the course of a lifetime.

The runaway legal system we find ourselves in now is designed to keep us outside the law, and therefore enslaved by it.  The Ten Commandments functioned in exactly the same way.

Except that the legal system is designed to enslave us, whereas the Ten Commandments were designed to point the way to freedom by grace through faith.  

Once we realize that the deck is stacked — and that nobody can keep the law — then we understand WHY we need a Savior.  Understanding one’s need for salvation is the first step to seeking salvation.  

The second Biblical application I want you to see is how this fits with the Bible’s outline of the last days. 

The Apostle Paul writes of the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit’s earthly ministry and the revelation of the antichrist:

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

Jesus said that in the last days, “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

The word “iniquity” is translated from the Greek anomia which means, “lawlessness.”

So the picture that the Bible presents in the last days is one in which lawlessness “abounds” — a condition that the Apostle explains as a ‘mystery’ (musterion) — meaning it will only make sense to the generation to whom it was intended.

To a generation that routinely commits three felonies on any given day, anomia isn’t all thatmusterion.

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on February 28, 2012

Featured Commentary: The Age of Miracles ~Pete Garcia

The Indictment

The Indictment
Vol: 29 Issue: 25 Saturday, November 25, 2017

According to the Bible, one day as Jacob was cooking a red stew, Esau came in from the wilderness ‘and he was faint’. Genesis 25:29 tells us of the episode that gave Esau his nickname, “Edom.’

“And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.” Which means red).

The Bible doesn’t go into detail about Esau’s condition beyond that, but it is worth considering the context. 

Esau was out ‘in the wilderness’ at a time when the ‘wilderness’ was a huge, dangerous and inhospitable place populated by wild animals and roving bandits. 

When Jacob demanded Esau’s birthright as first-born in exchange for a bowl of red stew, “Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”

Clearly, Esau was ‘faint’ with hunger and exhaustion, but given context, Esau could have been in very bad shape. 

It was a dirty trick on Jacob’s part, and it set the stage for conflict that continues to this day. 

The Prophet Obadiah picks up the story of the Edomites and their abuse of God’s people, God’s land, and God’s Holy Hill, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. 

Obadiah accuses Edom of “violence against your brother Jacob.” (v.10) Not just an ACT of violence, but constant, systematic and unrelenting violence.

Some Bible prophecy is near term, some long term, and, in come cases, like Obadiah’s, it is a single glance that encompasses a a broad period of time. Obadiah’s vision spans the entire scope of history from the first destruction of the Temple to the end of time. 

That Obadiah’s prophecies extend into the present day is evidenced by his references in verse 15-17 to the Day of the Lord, the recovery of the Temple Mount and references to land not yet recovered by Israel. Obadiah’s prophecy begins with the ancient Edomites and tracks their physical and spiritual descendants to the last days. 

So, can we determine their modern identity with any degree of confidence based on the Scriptures? 

Assessment:

The most compelling Scriptural evidence to identify the Edomites is found in Ezekiel 36:5

The first fifteen verses of that chapter give God’s viewpoint regarding the ownership and eventual disposition of what the world calls the “West Bank.” 

Ezekiel describes a conspiracy between the nations of the world and “Edom” to misappropriate that land that God had granted to Jacob. 

The book of Obadiah is also closely related to the prophecy of Ezekiel 35, which is a prophecy against the same group of people.

“All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; that they eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.” (1:7)

The ‘Palestinians’ are a ‘confederacy’ rather than a people. They have conspired with Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iran and the Saudis to lay claim to the West Bank as their ‘ancestral homeland’. Jeremiah 48-49 includes prophecies against these modern Islamic states, and provides additional support for the identification of the Palestinians as the Edomites. 

Further nailing down the identification of modern Edom is Obadiah 1:8:

“Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?”

The ‘wise men out of Edom’ are the imams and Islamic preachers who preach the destruction of Israel from the “Mount of Esau” (the stolen Temple Mount v.16). 

Let’s examine some of Obadiah’s indictments against Edom and compare them to Israeli-Arab conflict:

1) Violence against Jacob: “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” (v. 10)

2) Celebrating Israel’s calamities: “But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger;” (v.12a)

3) Handing over the Jews to their enemies: “neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.” (v. 12)

4) Taking possession of the Jewish holy places: “Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity.” (v.13)

5) Mocking the God of Israel and His People from His Holy Hill: “For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” (v. 16)

6) And finally, the destruction of something Obadiah calls “Mount Esau” — a symbolic reference to Esau’s deity, Allah, on ‘Mount Zion.”

“And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.” (v.21)

In case that doesn’t make the case for you, Obadiah’s chief indictment against Edom is its systematic, constant and unrelenting violence against Jacob. 

Let’s revisit that verse, substituting the word ‘violence’ with its Hebrew equivalent and look at the indictment one more time in context:

“For thy HAMAS (violence) against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” (Obadiah 1:10)

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

Honey, Vinegar and Flies

Honey, Vinegar and Flies
Vol: 29 Issue: 24 Friday, November 24, 2017

I used to know a fellow, let’s call him “Bill” who was afflicted with a most annoying habit. When he wasn’t finishing my sentences for me, he was either correcting my grammar or my pronunciation.

One could seldom finish an entire sentence when talking with Bill: I once caught myself speaking faster in the hope I could get to the end of it before he did.

(Of course, then I’d make some kind of grammatical error as a result and he’d correct that. . . Grrrr)

The worst part about it was that he was just a heckuva nice guy in every other respect. He was one of those guys who’d climb a tree to fight a bear if he thought it might be helpful; in fact his annoying tic was part of that “I-just-wanna-help” mindset.

Personally, I didn’t mind it so much . . . as annoying as it was, he had a terrific grasp of the English language and an amazing vocabulary, so I learned something in almost every conversation.

But not everybody wants to hang around with a guy whose favorite Reader’s Digest section is “It Pays To Increase Your Word Power.” People don’t appreciate being around other people who make them feel stupid.

Of course, I’ve always been a writer and so words (and their proper usage) are more important to me than most, but not every body appreciates being corrected every other sentence. So this guy didn’t have many friends, despite the fact he lived to be helpful.

Sometimes, one can be so helpful that it begins to drive folks away.

Back in the 1960’s Walter Martin made a name for himself in evangelical circles when he began his ministry, the Christian Research Institute, following a series of successful books exposing false Christian cults.

In his first book, “The Rise of the Cults”, Martin exposed the doctrinal errors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Mormonism, the Theosophical Society, and took on “Father Divine” a cult leader from Brooklyn who claimed to be God. “The Rise of the Cults” was published in 1965 and is reputed to have sold nearly a million copies since.

In the 1980’s Martin turned his critical eye away from non-Christian cults to less obvious heresies within Christianity, most notably the “Word of Faith” movement popularized by guys like Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin.

While Martin was critical of these teachers’ claims concerning their views of Christ, healing, faith, and prosperity, Martin was generally acceptive of the charismatic movement, editing and reprinting DL Moody’s book on spiritual gifts called “Secret Power.”

When Martin died in 1989, he was succeeded by Hank Hanegraaf in a takeover still being challenged by Martin’s surviving family.

Hanegraaf’s “The Bible Answer Man” program claims to present the only “true” Christian doctrine.

Assessment:

I have a copy of Hanegraaf’s 1993 book, “Christianity in Crisis” in which he highlights some of the more outrageous doctrinal claims made by some of the ‘regulars’ on TBN, from founders Paul and Jan Crouch to Benny Hinn, Copeland, Hagin, etc., etc.

It’s a pretty good book, if one is the kind of person who would seek Bill out at a party to chat with. But if you just want to be sure that you are right with God, then Hanegraaf’s book raises a lot more questions than it answers.

Suppose, just for a second, that you’ve just finished reading Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth.”

Having read the book and compared it with the Bible and the morning newspapers, you became convinced from the evidence that God is real, that He sent His only Son to have a relationship with you, and you need only accept the Gift of Pardon Hal says Jesus already procured for you.

You’re heading to work, mulling it all over. Then you turn on Hank Hanegraaf’s radio program and learn that Hal made it all up. All Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70. The evidence was all just a clever ruse designed to sell books.

Or you pick up Hannegraf’s book, “Christianity in Crisis” and discover that every single TV preacher is a lying con man who will say anything if it increases donations.

If these are the cream of the crop, then does anybody know the real truth? Can anybody know the real truth?

It’s been rightly said that a man with one watch always knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never quite sure.

What is a guy who hears the Gospel of Love — from the same lips that tell him how cynical and manipulative most Christian preachers really are — supposed to think?

We have entire threads in our member’s forums dedicated to ‘exposing’ this guy or that guy’s false teaching. Generally speaking, it goes like this. One guy starts a thread exposing some other teacher’s false doctrine.

Suppose somebody else in that thread got saved watching Jack Van Impe, for example. Then somebody starts ripping into his ministry over something he said.

Now, that new Christian starts to wonder. . . if JVI is really a cynical liar, then how can I be sure I am really saved?

So he jumps in to defend JVI, except he’s really not defending JVI — he’s defending his own salvation. (From another Christian! How confusing is that?)

Next thing you know, the debate isn’t about doctrine anymore. It’s about being right. For the guy who found Christ through JVI, it’s even more important than that.

It’s about the efficacy of his salvation experience.

Mature Christians have a tendency to forget how difficult it is for new Christians. Nobody wants to think they’ve been sold a bill of goods by a slick operator.

They have barely gotten a grasp of salvation by grace through faith and now they find themselves in a bar fight over whether or not JVI has correctly interpreted a verse they’d never heard of until now — and now they are locked in combat over the messenger.

I believe that God intended for there to be some degree of doctrinal ambiguity in the Scriptures. The Book of Genesis records God’s decision to confound human speech and divide mankind ethnically.

The people of Babel had set out to build a tower to which they could seek refuge should God ever again decide to destroy the world by flood.

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:4-5)

The issue wasn’t that God believed they could actually build a tower that would ‘reach unto heaven’. It was because they were unified under a single leader. Separating them into smaller, like-minded groups prevented one person, in this case, Nimrod, from uniting them in rebellion against God.

In the Church Age, we are separated doctrinally for the same purpose. It is not until AFTER the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence is withdrawn from the earth that the world is once again united under a single political and religious authority.

We even have a word to describe human effort to try to overcome these doctrinal differences. It is called ‘ecumenism’.

“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:” (Luke 12:51)

When we set out to ‘prove’ that this guy or that guy is really a heretic, consider what it is that we are claiming for ourselves in so doing. The Roman Catholics call it speaking ‘ex cathedra’ — what the RC calls the “Doctrine of Infallibility.”

Non-Catholics take great joy in running down the list of ‘infallible’ papal statements that have since been reversed or modified by subsequent papal pronouncements. Then they turn around and assume for themselves that same mantle of infallibility while explaining why nobody (else) is infallible.

You were once a baby Christian. Think about how confusing it all was.

There is a place for doctrinal study and doctrinal discussion. It is incumbent upon us to hold, “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:9)

A ‘gainsayer’ is a person who twists doctrine for his own gain, rather than that of the Kingdom. That is not the same thing as a person who sincerely holds to a doctrinal worldview because he believes it to be true.

I believe that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation. If somebody wants to know why, I am more than happy to explain why I hold to the view that I do. That doesn’t mean somebody else who disagrees isn’t sincere, or is deliberately teaching error.

Someone can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong. Even more importantly, they can be sincerely wrong on some minor point of doctrine and still be every bit as saved as you are.

We are exhorted to ‘hold fast’ to our doctrine, but the ‘Prime Directive’ so to speak, is not to finish everybody else’s sentences or correct every minor point of doctrine, but to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ paid the penalty due for our sins and made a way for us to have eternal fellowship with God.

It is a fine line to walk, but nobody said being a Christian was easy. Paul divided the Word into two parts; the ‘milk’ and the ‘strong meat’.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)

We are to spread the Good News, and to be ready to give an answer for the reason of hope that is in us to a hopeless and dying world. That ‘hope’ isn’t found in accepting my interpretation of minor points of doctrine.

That hope is found in the fact that Jesus accepts us as we are, not in converting everybody else into scholars of our chosen discipline of Scriptural interpretation.

The Apostle Paul could have been reading one of our forum threads when he wrote:

“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”

(Or, “I am of Copeland; I am of Crouch; I am of Lindsey; I am of Kinsella”; etc.)

“Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”, Paul asks. (1st Corinthians 1:12-13)

It is one thing to present sound doctrine in the context of Scripture. It is another thing altogether to target this ministry or that one for some minor doctrinal differences or toss around phrases like ‘false teacher’.

The Omega Letter is designed for mature Christians — it’s mission is to equip you with the tools necessary to be an effective witness for Christ in your day-to-day evangelistic efforts.

But taking that as a mandate to expose ‘false’ teaching only makes one effective with people that already agree with them.

“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.  (1 Corinthians 8:1)

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

What are your own motives? Do you want see people come to Christ, or to come to your point of view? Are you correcting out of love? Or to show off your own knowledge?

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:13-15)

Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and a place for everything, including doctrinal debates. I can’t tell you when the time is right and when it isn’t. But you can tell for yourself.

Sharing the Gospel of Christ isn’t supposed to make you mad. If it does, it’s time to step back and take another look at the Big Picture.

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace,” writes James, the Lord’s brother. (James 3:18)

Or, put another way, ‘you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.’

Food for thought.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 3, 2008

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks
Vol: 29 Issue: 23 Thursday, November 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

The fact that despite America’s many sins, America remains the most Divinely favored nation on the face of the earth is evidence that God heeds His promises. 

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

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

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

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

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

In Africa, many tribal expressions of gratitude are similar as this ancient prayer: “The Year Has Come Around Again, Great Lord Of Our Land – Never Can We Thank You For Your Good Deeds And All Your Blessings.”

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment:

“By their fruits ye shall know them,” Scripture tells us. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America was therefore ‘blessed’ accordingly. 

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

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

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

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

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

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 26, 2009

Featured Commentary: Thanksgiving and What it Means to Me ~J.L. Robb