The Times of the Gentiles

The Times of the Gentiles
Vol: 20 Issue: 23 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Scriptures speak of three classes of people on the earth, the Jews, the Gentile, and the Church. The Church is made up of both Jew and Gentile. Outside of the Church all who are not Jews are Gentiles.

Up to the call of Abraham all people were Gentiles. Abraham was the first Hebrew. His grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:24-28) had twelve sons.  They became the heads of twelve tribes; the Twelve of Israel.

Under King David, the Unified Kingdom of Israel was a world power; under King Solomon it became the world power, with unparalleled wealth and prosperity.

After King Solomon died, the Tribes split into two kingdoms; the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah.  The Kingdoms were both independent sovereign powers until they fell into idolatry and were supplanted by the Gentiles.

In 702 BC the ten tribes of the northern kingdom were conquered and assimilated by the Assyrian Empire.

In 606 BC the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon.  When the captivity ended, all that remained of the twelve tribes of Israel was the Kingdom of Judah.  Henceforth, the remnant of Israel were known as Jews.

Although the Jews had returned to their own land, they returned as citizens of a foreign (Gentile) occupying power, beginning what the Lord described as the Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24)

First, let me clarify something in advance. The Times of Gentiles is different than the “fullness of the Gentiles”. (Romans 11:25) The Times of the Gentiles refers to the period of human government from Nebuchadnezzar to the antichrist.   

The fullness of the Gentiles refers to the called out ones (ecclesia) that make up the Body of Christ.  When the last one gets saved, then the fullness of the called out ones are caught up (harpazo) at the Rapture.  

The period of the fullness of the Gentiles begins at Pentecost and ends at the Rapture. 

The fullness of the Gentiles is all about the Church.  The times of the Gentiles is all about those who are neither Jew nor Christian.  The times of the Gentiles ends at the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation.

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he had a dream, but when he awoke it had gone from him.  He demanded of his magicians and astrologers that they should not only reproduce the dream, but that they should interpret it.  This they were unable to do and their destruction was ordered.  

The astrologers recognized that Daniel’s God was able to do what they only pretended to do, so they went to Daniel to implore him to ask God for the answers.  

“Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” (Daniel 2:19)

(The Babylonian astrologers were called the “Magi.”  Such was the respect the Magi had for Daniel that, more than five hundred years later, they mounted a caravan headed for Bethlehem to worship Daniel’s God come in the flesh.)

In any case, Daniel’s interpretation is not one that any mortal human being would have dared to deliver to the king, if he wanted to live.  But Daniel’s interpretation did not come from a mortal human being but from God Himself, so Daniel was unafraid to announce to the king the end of Gentile supremacy.

The king saw an image of a man with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, with two legs of iron and ten toes of iron mixed with miry clay. 

“And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” (Daniel 2:43)

Daniel interpreted the dream image as a succession of four world empires that would succeed each other encompassing the period from Nebuchadnezzar to the Second Coming of Christ.   The four kingdoms; Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome were not only numbered, but named in the order of succession.

The first kingdom, Daniel said, was Babylon, the head of gold (Daniel 2:38). The second was Medo-Persian, (Daniel 5:30-31) followed by the Greeks (Daniel 8:20-21) and finally, the Romans. (Daniel 9:26)

The image is one of deteriorating metals representing each kingdom’s waning power.  Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar’s power was absolute.

“And for the majesty that He gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.” (Daniel 5:19)

Daniel forecast that the second kingdom would be “inferior” to the first.   King Darius was not an absolute monarch, but ruled by the consent of the hereditary aristocracy.  Darius could not save Daniel from the lion’s den, for example.

King Ahasuerus  could only prevent Haman’s slaughter of the Jews by issuing a counter-decree authorizing the Jews to defend themselves.

“Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. . .” (Esther 8:11)

The Greek government under Alexander the Great was a monarchy supported by a military aristocracy, which was so weak that when Alexander died, it was divided among his four generals. 

The iron power of the fourth kingdom, (Rome) depreciated even further.  Initially, the Ceasars were elected by the people as “First Magistrate of the State”.  For centuries, they wore no crown apart from the laurel wreath of a successful commander.

The Roman Senate was created as a check on Ceasar’s power, but as the power of Ceasar grew, the power of the Republic waned. Ultimately, the Empire split into two legs; one leg ruled from Rome, the other from Constantinople.   

When political Rome collapsed in the fourth century, it was replaced by religious Rome for the next eighteen hundred years.  In 1948, political Rome began its revival with the signing of the Benelux Treaty which began the process of European unification.

The 1957 Treaty of Rome codified the six Benelux nations and established the European Economic Community.  In 1981 Greece became the tenth member, at which time, full membership was closed.  Although there are 27 member states today, the EU still has but ten full members with the rest holding either “associate member” or “observer” status.

The ten toes are composed of “iron mixed with miry clay” – partly strong and partly weak, a textbook description of European democracy. 

But as Daniel considered the ten horns, he was amazed to see another horn, a LITTLE one, come up among them, and before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots, that is destroyed; and as he examined the little horn more closely he noticed that it had eyes like the eyes of a man, and the mouth of a man speaking great things.  (Daniel 7:7-8)

Daniel’s image is ultimately destroyed by being smitten on the feet by a stone “cut without hands” that crushes it to dust in a single blow. 

“Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:35)

 Thus concludes the times of the Gentiles.

Assessment:

Note the difference, once again, between the times of the Gentiles and the fullness of the Gentiles.  There are a number of prominent teachers that are of the opinion that the times of the Gentiles ended with the 1967 capture of Jerusalem, based on their understanding of our Lord’s prophecy in Luke 21:24:

“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

But that was 1967, 50 years ago, and it takes a really desperate effort to conclude that Jerusalem is not now still “trodden down of the Gentiles.”  Jerusalem is not sovereign as much as the Israelis would like to claim that it is.

According to the Prophet Zechariah, Jerusalem will remain a burdensome stone and a cup that causes reeling until the Lord appears in the air over the city and the Jews look upon “Him, Whom they have pierced.

Here is what I want you to see this morning.  Nothing taking place in our world is taking place by accident; everything is proceeding according to a carefully-laid plan.  Nothing will happen out of order – the Bible lays things out chronologically. 

Just as Persia followed Babylon and Greece followed Persia and Rome followed Greece, so too will the events of the last days play out in the chronological order outlined in Scripture.  The Bible says that the times of the Gentiles will conclude with the destruction of the antichrist at the Second Coming.

But the fullness of the Gentiles takes place when the last Gentile to come to Christ by faith does so.  There is no reference to any Gentiles being saved during the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” 

The Apostle Paul says that after the Restrainer is taken out of the way, that Wicked will be revealed, and ALL that rejected the truth of the Gospel will be damned.

Revelation Chapters 1 through 3 outlines the future history of the Church on earth from the first century all the way to the apostate Church of Laodicea.  After that, the Apostle John is ‘raptured’ into heaven in Revelation 4:1 — where the perspective remains for the remainder of the Book.

The Book of Revelation continues in chronological order; first the Seven Churches, then the translation into Heaven, then the judgments against a Christ-rejecting world, beginning with the first judgment, the revelation of the antichrist in Revelation 6:2.

There are Tribulation Saints, but they are not Gentiles.  They are those Jews saved through the efforts of the 144,000 Jewish male evangelists of Revelation 7, together with the evangelists themselves.

By Revelation 14, there are no more evangelists, no more Tribulation saints and the Gospel is being carried by an angel.  

In the first half of today’s brief, we looked over the outline of future history with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and saw how specifically and carefully the outline of prophecy was fulfilled from the time of Daniel until the restoration of Israel and the birth of the EU in 1948.

From that point forward, it isn’t our 20/20 hindsight that we are relying on, but God’s 20/20 foresight.

Although God’s 20/20 foresight is proved even more reliable than our hindsight, there is the temptation to assume that now, after all this time, maybe the last few hours of human history will play out a bit differently than it has since Nebuchadnezzar kicked off the times of the Gentiles in 606 BC.

They won’t.  We can rely on the Scriptures to be as accurate looking forward as they are looking backwards.  Following the Bible’s chronology, this is where we are at this particular moment:

The fullness of the Gentiles is upon us.  The evidence is that we can now see the time of Jacob’s Trouble approaching.  Because we can see it so clearly, there is a temptation to rearrange God’s chronology to make it fit current events. 

That ignores the fact that, to this point, the entire outline of Bible prophecy follows a system of progressive revelation from God, separated according to Dispensation.

Without a system, the best one can offer is an opinion — and there are no shortage of those.   A systematic view of theology provides a God-given context in which to understand Bible prophecy — and against which to measure opinions.

I don’t defend Dispensationalism because I want everybody to become a Dispensationalist. It is because without that framework as a guide, Bible prophecy means whatever the most convincing speaker says it means.

Paul told Timothy:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

If there is another way to “rightly divide the word of truth” nobody has yet demonstrated it to me.  Many have demonstrated that they believe they have rightly divided the word of truth, but can’t coherently explain why they divided it where they did.

But if the Word is ‘rightly divided’ then where to divide it should be reasonably obvious — it shouldn’t need a lot of explaining.  Drawing that line between the periods of Grace and Judgment is both obvious and in keeping with the whole counsel of Scripture.

That is what makes our job so urgent.  That is why the Lord gave us the signs. So we could give the warning.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

He is holding off for as long as possible, waiting for that last Gentile who will accept His offer of pardon, bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles.  Our job is to carry the message that the offer is still valid, but subject to cancellation without notice.

There’s no second chance after the Rapture.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 6, 2007

Featured Commentary: The Threat From Within ~Steve Schmutzer

The Tablets of the Heart

The Tablets of the Heart
Vol: 20 Issue: 22 Monday, January 22, 2018

The Mount of the Beatitudes stands near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee and is the most likely spot for Jesus to have preached the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t an actual ‘mountain’ as we’d understand it, but rather a large hill.

The reason that this is believed to be the exact location of the Sermon is because of its incredible acoustics. Along the slope there is a meadow that has the shape of a shallow bowl.

The effect is really quite amazing, as I’ll demonstrate when we visit the Mount of the Beatitudes during our upcoming Israel tour. A person standing in the center of that bowl’s voice carries everywhere within the rim of that bowl as if it were an amplified stadium.

The last time I was there, Peter Lalonde had me hike down that slope to the middle and read the Sermon on the Mount aloud, so I can’t tell you how clearly my voice carried from personal experience. I can only tell you I wasn’t speaking any louder than I would have spoken in my living-room. 

Looking back up at our group, they were far enough away that I couldn’t clearly distinguish their faces. Many of those who were on that tour with us were in their 60’s and 70’s. But all of them said they could hear me as clearly as if I were standing beside them. 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about that acoustical effect of that place is a sense of awe. To think not only that I was standing in the place where Jesus once stood, but also that I was standing in a place specifically designed by God for His use in giving one of the most important sermons of His earthly ministry. 

It is the place where Jesus stood when He proclaimed His mission statement:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus came to fulfill the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant and to fulfill the purpose of the Law. In Genesis 15 we read of the covenant agreement between Abraham and God.

“And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” (15:5-6)

But Abraham was a man of the Chaldees, a merchant from Ur, and business is business, so, where’s the contract?

“And he said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (15:8)

Since Abraham WAS a Chaldean, the Lord instructed him to prepare a blood covenant according to the customs of the Chaldees.

“And He said unto him, Take Me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto Him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.” (15:9-10)

These animal parts were used to form a somewhat grisly aisle through which, by custom, the two parties to the covenant would walk hand in hand while reciting its terms. It was also an object lesson in what fate would befall the one who broke its terms. 

The Bible says that Abraham prepared the covenant and waited for God to come so they could seal the bargain together. Instead, Abraham had a vision. In it, God recited the terms of the covenant while passing through the aisle in the form of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, in effect, signing the covenant on both sides. 

If the covenant was broken, somebody had to die, and God made Himself responsible for both parties. It was there on the slopes of that hill near the Sea of Galilee that Jesus explained that He came to fulfill the terms of THAT covenant — on behalf of Abraham’s seed. 

It was always God’s intent to write the law on the hearts of His people. In Deuteronomy 6:6 we read:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

Jeremiah speaks of a day when this will become a reality: “‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD.

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people'” (Jeremiah 31:33).

The writing of the law on the heart is finally accomplished by the fulfillment of the Old Covenant at the Cross and the establishment of the New Covenant whereby believers are grafted onto the olive tree of Israel.

actually stood in the place where Jesus made that monumental announcement! It was awesome beyond description. 

Many Christians see the Beatitudes more as idealistic guidelines than reality. Others take the opposite view; that the Beatitudes form a list of do’s and don’t’s regarding salvation. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” If you want the kingdom of heaven, it seems, one must be poor in spirit. But what does “poor in spirit” mean to believers who see themselves as the “King’s Kids?” Seems a bit contradictory, but only until you remember that the purpose of the sermon is to write the law on men’s hearts. 

The prophet Micah writes:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

The ‘poor in spirit’ are those who recognize they are unworthy of entrance into heaven by virtue of their own sin nature, that there are no good works they can do to thereby purchase admission on their own, and that Jesus Christ paid the price of redemption on their behalf. 

If you are a Blood-bought believer, you’ve already acknowledged your spiritual poverty and your dependence upon God’s riches. This isn’t a goal that stands before you, its your present state of reality — together with the attending promise, “for theirs [yours] is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. ” Why would believers ‘mourn’? We’re saved, we’re joyful . . . we’re told to be joyful because of the certainty of spiritual comfort. Paul writes, “that you sorrow not, as others who have no hope”. 

Do you care about the lost? Why? And when one dies in his sins, do you not mourn? The Beatitudes are not a future goal to the Christian, but a state of present reality.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness — this one is a tough one for Western Christians. (Fortunately, believers are joint-heirs with Christ, so they inherit the universe.)

In context, however, “meekness” means to have a submissive heart. Jesus said,

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Meekness can best be described as “strength under control” which is the characteristic Jesus said would “inherit the earth.” Meekness is not something to be attained, it is the current state of those who trust that Jesus has everything under control.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Uh oh! How does one manage this while navigating this lost and sin-sick world? 

The pure in heart have holiness written on their hearts. There is a lot more involved here than the avoidance of sin. The heart is our center of being. 

Jesus describes it in Mark 7:21-23;

“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.”

But also from within springs that holy desire to pursue God and be like Him. To be ‘pure in heart’ is not to accomplish the impossible by living a perfect life — it is the desire to get back up again after we fall. The ‘pure in heart’ shall see God. To be pure in heart is not a goal to be attained — it is the present state of the believer. 

The Law of Moses was written on Mount Sinai on tablets of cold, hard stone. The Sermon on the Mount represents the place where God, now and forever, writes His laws on the tablet of the heart. 

“Tetelestai!”

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on September 5, 2008

Featured Commentary: Trump: God’s Man of the Hour ~Pete Garcia

Why Does God Allow Deformed Babies?

Why Does God Allow Deformed Babies?
Vol: 20 Issue: 20 Saturday, January 20, 2018

Why is the world the way it is?  Why do some people die slow, lingering painful deaths, while others slip away peacefully in their sleep?  Why do some people suffer life-long debilitating illnesses while others live their lives through with nary a sniffle?  Why are babies born with birth defects?

That was the question that popped into my email box yesterday.  Does God make defective babies?

“I have a challenging question you may or may not want to tackle. I am 60 years old, I am a Christian and I have been a nurse for almost 32 years.  I work in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at a big, teaching hospital. In Psalm 139:14 God tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He knits us together in our mother’s wombs.  He knows us before this is even done!  How do I reconcile the fact that God knits us together in the womb with the fact that we see many anomalous infants born? (I am asking for my own understanding as well as to be able to minister to families who have these anomalous infants and either lose them in death or take them home to care for them long-term). I know we live in a sin-fallen world and things are not what they were meant to be, but does God actually knit a baby with Down’s syndrome together in the womb or one with an underdeveloped brain or heart?  I am looking and seeking to understand this myself, but wondered if you had any insight into this.  Thanks for considering.”

Virtually every meaningful conversation I have ever had with people on the subject of God and religion has either started with this question, or one like it.  No doubt, you probably can say the same thing.

If God is real, then how come He allows evil?  Let’s start there.

“Evil” is actually something that is completely beyond our comprehension.  As finite human beings, we can discern “good” on a subjective level — if we like the outcome, then it is good.

The same applies to recognizing evil.  We can discern that it is evil — subjectively — because we can perceive the outcome will be a bad one.

But the premise that we human beings can know good and evil is part and parcel of the first lie ever told in the universe.

“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)

Instead of knowing good and evil, Adam and Eve learned about bad and worse.  Bad was how they felt after they had sinned, and worse was how they felt after they were penalized for their sin.  But they couldn’t know good and evil.

We can discern moral and immoral, right and wrong, but good and evil are outcomes, not concepts. Outcomes are known only to God.  We witness an earthquake and we wonder why God created such a great evil.

The earthquake swarm that spawned the Japanese tsumani was a great evil because of the deaths and damages that followed.  Yes?

It depends on how you look at it.  As already noted, evil is subjective.

Earthquakes are necessary to sustaining life on earth.  Land masses wear down with time because of rain, snow, freezing, heating, glaciers, landslides, and gravitational forces. If there were no forces that lift the land to replenish the worn away parts, after a while all land on the earth would be under water.

Because the earth is liquid inside, land is constantly being lifted to replace the land that is worn down.  So earthquakes are actually good, because without them, the earth could not sustain life.

Death is evil, because we cannot fully understand it, not because it is actually evil.  Death is a necessary part of our transition from darkness into light.  You cannot go to heaven without dying first. (Unless you happen to make it to the Rapture).

And so, from the perspective of those who perished in Japan, it was only “evil” for those that died in their sins.

Those who were in Christ are presently in the company of their Savior, alive forevermore, beyond the reach of sickness, loss or death.

From the perspective of those who are left behind, the tsunami was a great evil.  But that is because we don’t know the whole story.  We never do.  That’s why it is so hard for us to grasp how God can “allow” evil.

If the tsunami had not struck an inhabited area, but instead swept across an uninhabited desert island, would it have still been considered “evil”?  No.

What made it “evil” was our perception of the outcome.

Assessment:

To a secularist, it is a greater evil to allow a defective baby to live with a birth defect than it would be to spare him a life of misery by aborting him in the womb.  But in order to make that judgment, one must first put oneself in a position of judging an outcome.

“God tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He knits us together in our mother’s wombs. He knows us before this is even done! How do I reconcile the fact that God knits us together in the womb with the fact that we see many anomalous infants born?”

Helen Keller was struck deaf and blind by meningitis at the age of 19 months.  By every possible human measure, this sounds unspeakably evil.  Certainly, it would have been ‘good’ had Helen Keller miraculously recovered her vision and hearing.

One might even call such a restoration a triumph of good over evil.  Especially from the perspective of pretty much anybody living back in the 1880’s.

But Helen Keller never recovered her sight and hearing.  She lived for eighty-seven years in a world of soundless darkness.  Had “good triumphed over evil” in this case, American sign language might never have been developed.

Why does God allow anomalous infants to be born? “The Lord works in mysterious ways” isn’t a very satisfying answer. There is good reason for that.

It is because the Lord doesn’t work in ‘mysterious’ ways; He works according to His will.  He has a purpose for everything that He does.  Whether we understand that purpose is irrelevant — HE does.

“So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My Mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

To the unbeliever, this life is all there is — so when God takes it, it seems exceedingly cruel.  But this is no more ‘all there is’ than the blackness of the womb is to the unborn child.  The blackness of the womb is simply all it knows until it is born.

What seems exceedingly cruel from this perspective of existence may well be an act of exceeding mercy when viewed from the perspective of God.

God allows birth defects for the same reason that he allows for the existence of both good and evil.  God uses what we might consider evil to accomplish what He knows is good.

Take the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.  His brothers were jealous of Joseph, so they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery.  They went back to their father and reported Joseph dead.

They intended to do evil.  That was their plan.  In those days, slavery was usually a fate worse than death. But Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt while his brothers were starving to death as the result of a great famine.

Had Joseph not been in the position he was at the time, his brothers, who were not Egyptians, would have been turned away to starve.  God had a plan for Israel and it didn’t involve them starving to death before it could come to fruition.

As Joseph himself noted, his brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

It isn’t a very satisfying answer to the question, does God form anomalous babies?  But it is the only logical answer, notwithstanding.  Of course God is responsible for birth defects.  He is God.  But birth defects are “evil” only because of our lack of understanding.

When she was a young child, it would be impossible to see Helen Keller’s life as anything but a tragedy.  But God intended it for good and Helen Keller went on to use her disabilities to become one of the most famous educators in American history.

In the end, we can say without doubt that God knits together every person in the womb, including those with birth defects.  We can say with confidence that if God didn’t want that baby to have a birth defect, then it wouldn’t.

So that leaves only one remaining possibility.  God intended it for reasons of His own that we cannot understand, which is, in and of itself, a point of understanding.

Good and evil are outcomes, and outcomes are known only to God.  That’s why He wants us to trust Him.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on February 24, 2012

Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid

Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid
Vol: 20 Issue: 19 Friday, January 19, 2018

It is no stretch to say that the world as we know it is in trouble, to say the least.  To say the most would be to say that we’re witnessing our physical world, our environment and human culture heading into the early stages of demise.

If our world were a human being, we’d be wondering whether that cough we just heard was the first telltale sign of terminal lung cancer, or whether it was beginning to show signs of succumbing to old age. 

If the earth really is millions, if not billions of years old, and if humanity has been here for a million years or more, then the ‘old age’ argument seems kind of weak.  This sense of impending planetary doom has only been around since about 1948, when we invented stuff like atomic bombs and television.

Before that, it seemed as if the world would go on forever.  Prior to that, there was no planetary sense of impending doom.  There were no marches aimed at saving the planet.  There were no symposiums to discuss the sustainability of life on earth. 

Nobody was afraid of cow flatulence, air pollution, rising seas, global warming, solar flares, planet-killing asteroids or the death of the oceans, prior to 1948.  Prior to 1948, there was no general sense of an impending mass extinction event.

Prior to 1948 there was no Doomsday Clock.  While a Doomsday “midnight” was not even on the horizon prior to 1948, in the years since, the Doomsday Clock’s hands remain set at just before midnight.

And so, to return to the earlier point, sixty or seventy years out of a million years or more islike a split second taken out of a month of Sundays.  On that scale, what we observe during that split second of existence is like hearing a single cough and diagnosing a case of terminal lung cancer.

On the other hand, if the earth is much closer to being just six thousand years old, then the slice of time in which we are making these observations is more significant.  But how could the earth be just six thousand years old? 

More than that, what about the universe?  For example, if God created the universe six thousand years ago, then how can one explain light years?   A light year is the amount of distance a beam of light can travel in a solar calendar year.  

Today a beam of light (in a vaccum) can travel some six trillion miles in one year.  So six trillion miles is a light year and Alpha Centauri, our closest cosmic neighbor, is 4.37 light years away. Expressed as a number, that is 26,000,000,000,000 miles away.

BUT, any effort to estimate the age of anything necessarily involves a number of assumptions; where to start measuring, constancy of rates, contamination of the system, on so on. 

If any of these assumptions are wrong, then so, too are the conclusions reached. Take light years, for example.

If we assume that the current light speed has always been what it is today, then we reach one figure.  If we make that assumption incorrectly, then the universe could be much younger.

But we don’t know if light speed has always been constant — it could have moved more quickly in the past.  And changing the speed of light changes EVERYTHING, like the ratio of mass to energy, for example.

Science doesn’t know.  It assumes.

Another assumption is that time has always flowed at the same rate, a seemingly reasonable assumption.  But Einstein discovered that the rate at which time passes is affected by motion and by gravity.

For example, when an object moves very fast, close to the speed of light, its time is slowed down.  This is called “time-dilation.”  So, if we were able to accelerate a clock to nearly the speed of light, that clock would tick very slowly.  If we could somehow reach the speed of light, the clock would stop completely.

Likewise, gravity slows the passage of time.  A clock at sea-level would tick slower than one on a mountain, since the clock at sea-level is closer to the source of gravity.

The 2006 Indonesian earthquake that spawned the killer tsunami also shifted the earth on its axis slightly, affecting the space-time continuum and causing the earth to move several microseconds forward in time. 

So in real-world conditions, we have empirical evidence that time is not always a constant, even if by microseconds.  Now the question isn’t whether time is reliable, (we just proved it isn’t) but rather, it is a question of how reliable?

Since time can flow at different rates from different points of view, events that would take a long time as measured by one person will take very little time as measured by another person. This also applies to distant starlight.

Light that would take billions of years to reach earth (as measured by clocks in deep space) could reach earth in only thousands of years as measured by clocks on earth.

Imagine that a plane leaves a certain city at 4:00 p.m. for a two-hour flight. However, when the plane lands, the time is still 4:00. Since the plane arrived at the same time it left, we might call this an instantaneous trip.  Except that the plane crossed two time zones.

Still, it was 4:00 pm when you left, and it is 4:00 pm when you arrived two hours later, as measured by universal time, not local time.  There is a cosmic equivalent to local and universal time.  Light traveling toward earth is like the plane traveling west; it always remains at the same cosmic local time.

Since God created the stars on Day 4, their light would leave the star on Day 4 and reach earth on Day 4 cosmic local time.  Light from all galaxies would reach earth on Day 4 if we measure it according to cosmic local time.

Someone might object that the light itself would experience billions of years (as the passenger on the plane experiences the two hour trip).  Except that according to Einstein’s relativity theory, light does not experience the passage of time.

So the trip would be instantaneous.

Another assumption made by science is the assumption that all phenomena can be explained in natural terms.  That assumption by definition excludes the supernatural, an assumption whose flaws are self-evident.

God can, and usually does, use natural laws to accomplish His will, which is the reason that we have a word for when He does not — supernatural.  Since God is supernatural, He is capable of acting outside natural law.

This certainly applies during Creation Week.  God created the universe supernaturally.  He created it from nothing, not from previously existing material.  Today, we do not see God speaking into existence new stars or new kinds of creatures.

God ended His work of creation by the seventh day.  Today, God sustains the universe in a different way than He created it.  The naturalist erroneously assumes that the universe was created by the same processes by which it operates today.

Of course it would be absurd to apply this assumption to most other things.

A light bulb converts electricity into light, but it does not follow that electricity created the light bulb.

Since the stars were created during Creation Week and since God made them to give light upon the earth, the way in which distant starlight arrived on earth may have been supernatural.

Assuming that past acts of God are necessarily understandable in terms of a current scientific mechanism is misleading, because science can only probe the way in which God sustains the universe today.

It is irrational to argue that a supernatural act from the past cannot be true on the basis that it cannot be explained by natural processes observed today.

Assessment:

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

To summarize briefly before moving on, let’s recap what we know and what we don’t know.

We know the Bible says the universe was created in six days.  We don’t know what the speed of light was at the time of creation, so we cannot categorically say that light and distance prove otherwise.

We know that the act of creation was by supernatural means.  We don’t know at what point God spoke the natural laws that now govern the universe into existence.  We know, for example, that science argues the Big Bang created the universe from a single pinpoint.

Evolutionists and proponents of Big Bang compress time, space and matter into the head of a pin, then take the opposite position to argue that the distance between the stars dates the universe. 

In the 1650’s an Anglican bishop named James Ussher published his “Annals of the World“. Bishop Ussher was no ordinary man, but one who was unmistakably blessed with incredible intelligence and insight that he devoted entirely to the study of God’s Word.  (By age 26, Ussher was chair of the Divinity Department at Dublin University.)

While that in and of itself would be worthy of a lifetime achievement award, Ussher went on to full professorship, served as vice-chancellor of Trinity College twice, and, by age 44, was elevated to the rank of Archbishop of Armagh, the highest position in the Irish Anglican Church.

The point is that Bishop Ussher was not just a smart man.  He was an intellectual giant who used his God-given gifts to advance the understanding of God’s Word.

Bishop Ussher’s “Annals of the World” begins at the point of creation, which he determined was October 23, 4004 BC.

Ussher’s arrival at the date of October 23 was determined based on the fact that most peoples of antiquity, especially the Jews, started their calendar at harvest time.

Ussher concluded there must be good reason for this, so he chose the first Sunday following autumnal equinox.

Although the autumnal equinox is September 21 today, that is only because of historical calendar-juggling to make the years come out right.

In September 1752, eleven days were dropped to bring the calendar back in line with the seasons.  Another day was dropped at the beginning of the 19th and 20th century for the same reason.

Ussher’s calculations, made centuries before these adjustments, are vindicated by them.  Pretty impressive stuff for a guy working by candlelight centuries before the advent of a calculator.

The reason Ussher’s work is so accurate was because he relied solely on Scripture as his source of information.

Ussher arrived at the date of 4004 BC by taking known dates in history, and calculatingbackwards by using the chronologies of Genesis Chapters 5 and 11 and working backwards.  The calculations themselves were so complicated that, in the original documents, they covered more than one hundred pages.

Using Bishop’s Ussher’s calculations, the Prophet Hosea lived from 3197 to 3246, or, BC 808 to 759.  Ussher’s dating is expressed in standard years, although he worked from the perspective of the ancient calendar of twelve months of thirty days each.

At the end of each year, the ancients tacked on five days, and every four years they added six days.  The prophet Hosea wrote,

 “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2)

Further on, the prophet predicted;

“Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.” (6:11)

Hosea began with the Promise of God that “He will heal us and bind us up” — a promise that was fulfilled with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. We date our own calendar counting forward from Christ.

So does God, which brings us back to Hosea’s prophecy. “After two days will He revive us, and in the third day, raise us up,” writes the prophet. Twice in Scripture, God reveals His own reckoning of time.

“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4)

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY is with the Lord AS A THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as one day.” (2nd Peter 3:8)

Using Scripture to make the calculations, Bishop Ussher’s calculation of creation as being 4004 years before Christ isn’t based on the year of Christ’s Birth. But Hosea’s prophecy IS.

Israel’s physical revival has been an ongoing process for sixty-four years as the world’s Jews, including members of the Ten Lost Tribes, are being re-gathered to the land of Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s redemption process is almost complete.

Hosea said of the Jews, ‘AFTER two days will He revive us, and IN the third day . . we will live in His sight.’ And the Apostle Peter taught that;

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

It is clear that God is extending His ‘grace period’ (the Church Age of Grace) to give all men one last chance to accept the gift of pardon that He extends to them, but it is equally clear that His patience is being rapidly exhausted.

Bishop Ussher gave us at least as reasonable an estimate for the age of the earth as the most careful scientific calculations can, given that both arguments are based on assumptions.  The secular scientist assumes that all his calculations are universally correct going back into the impossible, unknowable and incalculable reaches of time.

Bishop Ussher’s calculations were based on the assumption that the Bible is true.  So here’s the deal.

Science used to think the world was flat.  Wrong assumption.  The Bible, on the other hand, always maintained the earth is round.  

Science used to assume that light was static.  It appeared and disappeared, depending.  But the Bible teaches that light is in motion.

Science used to assume that wind moved in a straight line.  But the Bible teaches that wind blows in a circular pattern.  (Ecclesiastes 1:6

Science once assumed air was weightless.  Job 28:25 reveals that the wind has weight.  

We don’t know everything.  We aren’t supposed to know everything.  We are supposed to live by faith.  Here is something else we know.  In every instance where the Bible can be fact-checked on matters of history, archeology, medicine, science, and times and dates, the Bible checks out accurately.

No single claim of Scripture has ever been conclusively disproved, despite the best efforts of every generation of scientists and skeptics since the Bible was first compiled.

If all of science’s assumptions are right, then so are the conclusions reached.  But since science can be wrong, and often is, putting one’s faith in science is what it is.

Faith doesn’t mean the same thing as stupid.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 17, 2012

Featured Commentary: Why Does the Church Need Eschatology ~Alf Cengia

Why Did God Create Man?

Why Did God Create Man?
Vol: 20 Issue: 18 Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Bible tells us that it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the Creator of all things, including the heavens, the earth, and even hell.  This mystery is revealed in the first chapter of the Book of John.

John takes us back to creation, saying,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1)

In John’s Gospel, the ‘Word’ (logos) is capitalized as a proper noun, since it is used in the sense of a title.

“The same was in the beginning with God.” John also reveals that, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:2-3)

That John is referring to Jesus is made clear when he writes,

“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto his own, and His own received Him not.” (10-11)

That can only be describing Jesus Christ, Who came first to the Jews, as Jesus told the ‘woman of Caanan’. (Matthew 15:24-28

So, following the logic that Jesus is the Creator of all things, we must also conclude that He created Hell.  This presents what appears to be an impossible theological conundrum. 

Jesus describes hell as a place of eternal torment, describing it three times as the place;

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44,46,48)

The conundrum arises when one tries to solve the apparent contradiction between a compassionate Christ Who shed His Blood to provide a way for me to avoid the horrors of hell and the Creator of Hell Who knew at the time He was creating it that there would be some who would go there. 

Assessment:

Jesus says that it would be better not to have ever been born than to end up in hell.  So, why create man in the first place, then?  The Bible answers that question, but, to the skeptic, the answer only prompts more questions. 

According to Revelation 4:11, we were created for God’s pleasure.

“Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”

So, if man was created for God’s pleasure, but a significant majority of mankind is destined to go to hell, does that mean God takes pleasure in sending people there?  The Scriptures say no.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 33:11)

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

Jesus says in Matthew 25:41 that hell wasn’t created for man, but rather was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” 

But that still doesn’t fully address the question.  IF the place of ‘everlasting fire’ Jesus is referring to was ‘prepared for the devil and his angels’, and if man was created for God’s pleasure, AND, if God is all-knowing, then He knew some of His creation would end up there.

AND, if it would be better for man to never have been born than to end up in hell, then WHY create us in the first place? 

The universe is considerably more than just man, and while the salvation of man is an integral part of God’s program, we are not the only part of God’s program. 

Eons before man was created, God’s anointed angel, Lucifer, rebelled against a decision of God’s (most likely over the creation of man himself). 

In describing Jesus’ decision to take on human form, the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” (2:9

Psalms 91:11 tells us that,

“He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

But Paul writes to the Corinthians,

“Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1st Corinthians 6:3)

One can imagine Satan rebelling against the concept of the creation of a new, puny, human spiritual being, made ‘lower than the angels’, that God decreed angels (including Satan and his followers) would serve in this life, and then be judged by in the next. 

Isaiah outlines Satan’s rebellion as a series of five “I wills”.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:13-15)

When God cast the rebels out, it was incumbent upon Him to prove Himself just in His decision to those angels who remained loyal.  After all, eternity is a long time, and hell is a terrible place.  Wasn’t God being a bit hard on them? 

So, in a sense, humanity serves as a kind of living courtroom in which angels can observe the consequences of unchecked sin on the natural order of the universe. 

Hebrews 12:1 tells us we are “compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” (the angelic hosts). 

God created man initially with only one rule: avoid the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  To the astonishment of the angels, man broke that rule, introducing sin into the world.  Then God allowed man to ruled by his conscience. 

(That worked out so well that it took a world-wide flood to repair the damage.) 

So God went to Abraham and spoke with him directly.  The angels must have been dumbfounded to witness Abraham’s sin with Hagar, knowing that Abraham KNEW better.  God told him so directly.  They also saw the consequences of sin beginning to pile up, embodied by the ongoing conflict between Abraham’s descendants, Ishmael and Isaac. 

To further prove God’s judgement of sin was just and fair, God set aside a Chosen Nation, gave them ten little rules to follow, and allowed the scenario to play out before the heavenly jury. 

What began as ten rules for living in harmony for God resulted in the development of a religious system so corrupt that Jesus came to earth Personally to replace it with an even easier method of reconciliation with God — trusting in the shed Blood of Christ alone for salvation. 

Remember, the angels who are witnessing all this have seen sin go from a bite of fruit to the horrors of Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin and Saddam Hussein.  Knowing first-hand what an unimaginable Gift was extended mankind from the Cross, can you imagine their astonishment when that Gift was almost universally rejected by what is now a sin-sodden world. 

Finally, the Bible says, Jesus Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation Period, binds Satan for a thousand years, sets up a physical Kingdom in Jerusalem from which He personally rules the earth. 

During that time, Scripture says, man will live in perfect harmony with nature, as God had originally intended in the Garden of Eden.  Isaiah says that a person who dies during the Millennial Kingdom at age 100 would be mourned as one who died in his youth. 

Lions will lay down with lambs, little kids will be able to play with deadly snakes, men will beat their swords into plowshares and war will be abolished. 

Scripture then says that, when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be loosed for ‘a season’ to tempt those human beings who KNOW Jesus, have lived a THOUSAND YEARS under His Personal governance, and are perfectly certain of His Power and Authority.

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” (Revelation 20:7-8)

At this point, the angelic jury is convinced, and the prosecution rests.

“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Revelation 20:9)

Then comes the judgement.

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (20:10)

Why did God create man if He knew that some would choose hell?  Because He also knew that some would choose Heaven. 

And in any case, it is man’s choice to make.  As declared the citizens in the parable of the nobleman in Luke 19:14,

“We will not have Him to reign over us.”

When such people are cast in hell, it is literally what they asked for. 

God has a purpose for every detail of our creation.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God created mankind to prove His justice.  He created mankind for His pleasure.  And He created mankind so He could save them. 

But He also created mankind so we could CHOOSE to love Him.  There cannot be a choice without an alternative.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on September 29, 2004

Featured Commentary: Flu, Plagues, and the Times ~J.L. Robb

”Fixing” the Gospel?

”Fixing” the Gospel?
Vol: 20 Issue: 17 Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An OL member emailed me to ask what I thought was a question whose answer was complex enough and interesting enough to merit its own column.

She writes that she has no personal doubts that the Bible is the Word of God. “What,” she then asks, “do you say to an agnostic or young Christian. . . (who argue) that the latter writers simply read what the former writers said about the coming of Messiah and just made the prophecies “fit”?”

The problem, she continued, was that, “Somehow, saying “just have faith” doesn’t suffice, and that’s the only answer I’ve ever gotten.” 

As I see it, the biggest problem lies in keeping an agnostic’s attention long enough to explain the answer.  It’s a long and complicated one, because there are actually several questions contained inside that question that have to be answered first. 

The first question goes to the human authorship of the Bible and its subsequent preservation. It is a matter of undeniable, irrefutable archeological fact that the Book of Isaiah, including its multiple Messianic prophecies, was written at least 100 years before Christ. 

In point of fact, the Book of Isaiah is universally dated by Jewish records as existing five hundred years before Christ, but the copy found in Qumron buried among the Dead Sea Scrolls is positively dated to 100 BC.

So even using the date of the oldest existing manuscript, the prophecies of Isaiah preceded the events they predicted by more than a century.

Isaiah predicted the Messiah would ‘despised and rejected of men’. Isaiah said He would be ‘wounded for our transgressions’ and ‘bruised for our iniquities’.  The NIV translates Isaiah 53:4-6 “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows . . . and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah notes that He was ‘cut off from the land of the living’ for ‘the transgression of My people’. 

That these are independently verifiable historical facts is indisputable. Roman custom was to crucify the condemned under a banner proclaiming the crime for which they were being punished. 

Josephus and the Jewish Talmud confirm His execution under the banner ‘King of the Jews’. Pilate ordered that proclamation because Pilate found Him guilty of no other offense. 

Jesus could not have engineered His own Death or arranged the crime for which He was convicted. It was so unique one had to be invented. 

The Gospel of John records that Caiaphas, another verifiable historical figure, making his case to send Jesus to Pilate for execution, argued that, “it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” (John 18:14)

And the Gospels were first circulated within living memory of the event. If they weren’t generally accepted as an accurate reflection of what the citizens of Jerusalem had personally eyewitnessed, the Gospels would never have achieved the level of respect accorded them. 

I often use by way of analogy, a new history book that claimed John Kennedy wasn’t shot in Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, that it never really happened. There are two many living eyewitnesses to the actual event for the book to survive its first printing. 

Isaiah said He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but with the rich His death. 

Jesus could not have arranged to be crucified between two thieves and He was already dead when Joseph of Aramithea petitioned Pilate for His body, which was later placed in a rich man’s tomb. 

And if it WERE possible to do so, why would He? That is a worthy question. If He were not Who He said He was, what would be the point? Wise man and prophet? Liar and Lunatic? Or the Son of Israel’s God, crucified as “King of the Jews” as Israel’s King? Which logically fits the known facts? 

The Book of Isaiah could not have been tampered with without attracting the attention of the Jews. And we have irrefutable evidence Isaiah’s prophecies are unchanged since the Isaiah Scroll found buried at Qumran was in circulation since 100 BC. 

The Gospels could not logically have been tampered with after they were first circulated on the streets of Jerusalem, beginning around 45 AD with the Book of Mark. They reflected events of less than fifteen years before that took place in what was a small and very close-knit community of Jews. 

If they didn’t reflect the facts as the eyewitnesses remembered them, there would be some record of their dispute, given that Jews boasted one of the most literate and carefully documented societies of antiquity. 

And if they do accurately reflect the events they record, then it is more than significant that there is no record of any serious contemporary dispute of the accounts of the dead being raised, sight being restored to the blind, paralytics being healed. etc. 

The accuracy of the Gospel is as much a matter of logic as it is one of faith. 

Is it even remotely logical to believe that the Gospels could have been altered in any significant way without attracting the notice of the early Church? To alter them after they entered the public record, considering the eyewitness factor already discussed, would be impossible. 

And once they entered the public record, history shows they were so universally accepted as truth that Christians chose the lion’s den rather than to deny their contents. 

The Gospels were in circulation by about 45 AD. The first documented persecution of the Christians was during reign of Nero. (37-68) So many of those who refused to deny Jesus were eyewitnesses to the events recorded by the Gospels. 

The Roman historian Tacitus recorded in Book 15, Chapter 44 of his Annals of the History of Rome,

“[Nero] falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated.”

If the Gospels were well-entrenched enough to inspire martyrdom within living memory of Jesus, then any subsequent alteration to make them ‘fit’ would not escape notice. 

Then, we have the record of the Acts of the Apostles. Once again, we are relying as much on logic here as we are on faith to seek the answer to our questions from what is more or less undisputed historical fact. 

We know that the Twelve were eyewitnesses to the events recorded by the Gospels from their own written testimony. 

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His Majesty.” (2nd Peter 1:16

Did Peter write the Gospel that bears his name? The people to whom he was writing believed he did — and they were in the best position to know. 

His epistles were accepted as Divinely-inspired doctrine by the early Church, many of whom were ALSO eyewitnesses to ‘His Majesty’. 

Ancient records confirm that Peter was crucified for preaching the Gospel. Roman custom demanded he be allowed to recant. It is logical to assume, since he was crucified, that the Bible’s account of his refusal is an accurate record. 

It was Peter that specifically noted that “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2nd Peter 1:21)

If Peter didn’t believe it was true, it is illogical to believe he would have allowed himself to be crucified for a lie. 

Then there are the rest of the Apostles. All met similarly gory deaths. None of the accounts are historically disputed. All had the opportunity to renounce Christ, all chose grisly deaths. 

(Only John escaped death by martyrdom. He was banished to Patmos — after John survived an attempt by Nero to martyr him by boiling him alive.) 

Logically, then, we have the undeniably prophetic passage in Isaiah, fulfilled in the life of Christ through a series of humanly uncontrollable events that led to His historically verifiable torture and execution to consider. 

Then, we have the eyewitness factor and that the eyewitness accounts recorded in the Gospel were accepted within living memory of the events described. 

That it was believed as absolute truth is testified to by the rivers of blood shed by Christians as early as the reign of Nero. 

Finally, we have the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles, who were alive at the time the Gospels they published made them the undisputed leaders of the early Church. 

For the Messianic prophecies to be the result of a later conspiracy to ‘fix’ them, given the known facts, is both a logical and historical impossibility. 

It is illogical to conclude that the early Church, its persecution and the reams of historical evidence attesting to its faithfulness in the face of grisly death, was founded upon an easily-disproveable lie concerning events that occurred within living memory. 

And it is illogical to assume they could have been subsequently altered without those who were willing to die for the truths contained therein noticing the changes. 

There is a principle of logic dubbed ‘Occam’s Razor’, named for the philosopher, Sir William of Occam, who first published it. It states that; given a variety of explanations, the one that most closely fits the known facts is logically the most likely to be true. 

Both logic and deductive reasoning demand the conclusion that the Gospel accounts MUST be true. Any other reading of history would be illogical.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 28, 2006

Featured Commentary: Prophetic Previews ~Wendy Wippel

The Dispensations And the Ages

The Dispensations And the Ages
Vol: 20 Issue: 16 Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15)

The first thing to notice is that if there is an admonition to ‘rightly’ divide the Word of truth, then that is to prevent dividing it ‘wrongly.’

Having established from Scripture the possibility of wrongly dividing the Word, we need to understand what Paul meant by ‘dividing’ the Word to begin with.

The clearest and most obvious division is the one between the Old and New Testaments. Pretty much everybody agrees on that, across the spectrum.

The Omega Letter’s doctrinal worldview is shaped primarily by Dispensationalism, or systematic theology.   Systematic theology views Scripture as unfolding progressive revelation and doctrine.

Dispensationalism means, “the act of dispensing or something dispensed; a specific arrangement or system by which something is dispensed.”  The ‘something’ being dispensed in this case is God’s message.

Dispensationalism is one of those doctrines, like pretribulationism or a pre-trib Rapture, that has no specific bearing on salvation or eternity, in the sense that one needn’t be a Dispensationalist or believe in a pre-Trib Rapture to be saved.

But you wouldn’t know it from the heated debates it spawns among Christians.  So I’ll say it again.  One need not accept either Dispensationalism or pretribulationism to be saved.  But without it, Bible prophecy loses its coherence.

One of the first objections offered to Dispensationalism is also one of the weakest – that Dispensationalism is a relatively recent doctrine.  It isn’t.  It is as old as the division of the Testaments.

But let’s stipulate that the modern understanding of Dispensationalism is relatively recent. If one wants to date it to Darby in the early 1800s or Clarence Larkin in the early 1900s, I’m ok with either one, because it makes no difference to the weakness of the argument.

Until the prophecies for the last days began to take shape in a coherent form, there was nothing around which to form a systematic understanding.

There was no need to seek a deeper understanding of the Scriptures until one became aware of existing misunderstandings.  

The misunderstanding of the Law of Moses wasn’t apparent until Jesus delivered, or dispensedthe Good News of the Gospel and explained the purpose for the Law.

The Law was given to convict sinners so that they would recognize the need for salvation byfaith, since the Law proves salvation by keeping the works of the law an impossible mission.    

The division between the Dispensation of the Law and the Dispensation of Grace could not be plainer. But when the signs pointing to the soon return of Christ started to take shape, so did the prophetic outline. 

The doctrine isn’t of recent origin, but I’ll stipulate that its rise to prominence is as recent as the resurgence of prophetic fulfillment that demanded its exploration.  

Assessment:

Although we often use them interchangeably, (myself included) there is a distinct difference between an “Age” and a “Dispensation”.  An Age is marked by a period of cataclysmic change to the earth, like the Flood or the change at the 2nd Coming that ushers in the Millennium.

Properly, there are three Ages;  Antediluvian (before the flood)  this present Age (Age of human government: Flood to 2nd Coming) and the Age of Ages (2nd Coming to the New Earth)

But there are seven Dispensations of God’s revelation to man.  God’s administration to man changes as God progressively reveals Himself. 

The Dispensations are divided thusly:

Dispensation of Innocence: It is important to understand the difference between innocence and righteousness.  Innocence cannot be righteousness (or holiness) until tested.  Innocence is one step from either holiness or sin.   Adam failed the test, beginning the next dispensation.

Dispensation of Conscience:  During the Age of Conscience, God permitted man to do as his own conscience dictated.

It shows what man will do when guided only by his conscience. Adam and Eve had no conscience before the “Fall.” Conscience is a knowledge of good and evil, and this Adam and Eve did not have until they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Conscience may produce fear and remorse, but it will not keep men from doing wrong, for conscience imparts no “power.” 

Dispensation of the Patriarchs:  This extended from the call of Abraham through the Exodus, when God gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai.

Dispensation of the Law: This Dispensation began with Moses and lasted for roughly 1500 years before it ended when the Messiah was ‘cut off, but not for Himself,” rending the Temple curtain at the Crucifixion.     

Dispensation of Grace:  This present Dispensation began at Pentecost and is distinguished by the unique indwelling of believers by the Holy Spirit.  During this Dispensation, individual salvation is extended to “whosoever will” by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, ‘lest any man should boast’ (of his own righteousness).  (Ephesians 2:8-9) 

The Dispensation of Grace ends with the withdrawal of the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit at the Rapture (together with the indwelt Church), which allows for the man of sin to be indwelt by Satan.  This begins the 70th Week of Daniel;

The Dispensation of Judgment, the Tribulation:   There are three groups that face concurrent judgments during the Tribulation, not as individuals, but nationally or corporately.

The first to face judgment will be the Church caught up at the Rapture and judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ at the beginning of the Tribulation. (2ndCorinthians 5:10).

Obviously, if the Church is being judged at the Bema Seat, they can’t also be under the judgment of Tribulation.

This period is known as the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 3:4-7, Daniel 12:1) during which time the Jews will be judged during the Tribulation under antichrist and saved nationally at the 2nd Coming.

The third group to face judgment during the Tribulation are the Gentile nations.  The Gentiles will be judged at the end by Jesus and divided into ‘sheep’ and ‘goat’ nations based on how they treated Israel.

The ‘goats’ will be destroyed on the spot.  The ‘sheep’ will be permitted to enter the next Dispensation, (which is also an “Age”)

The Millennial Kingdom:  This is a Dispensation in that it marks a shift in God’s relationship to man (Jesus rules Personally) and an Age, in that it marks the end of Human Government at His cataclysmic Return. 

Bible prophecy follows a beautifully organized, progressively revealed plan whose Divine nature is revealed in that it can only be read from back to front;

“telling the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.”  (Isaiah 46:9-10)

I would not be afraid to mount the argument that there has been more Divine revelation concerning unfolding Bible prophecy in the past six decades than in all the centuries from the conclusion of the Book of Revelation to the restoration of Israel in 1948.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, the divisions between each of the Dispensations are distinct and identifiable.  The Dispensation of Grace is clearly divided in Scripture from the Dispensation of Judgment.

The Bible clearly identifies three separate judgments during the Tribulation Period and three different groups to be judged. Each is judged differently and each judgment is rendered at a different time. 

The Jews are judged under antichrist during the Tribulation and are redeemed by the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10) at its conclusion.

The Gentile nations are judged at the end by Jesus Christ, with the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left.  The sheep nations are permitted to go on into the Millennial Kingdom

The Church is judged at the beginning of the Tribulation at the Judgment Seat of Christ which is then followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb.   

Do you see the systematic nature of Bible prophecy? Bible prophecy is by definition Divine revelation, and for the generation that witnesses it unfold, that revelation is progressive; more is revealed with each passing day.

However, if the Church is physically present during the judgment of the Tribulation, the system collapses. 

There is no explanation for how the Church can be overcome by Satan as recorded inRevelation 13:7 without directly contradicting the promise of 1st John 4:4.

John tells me that He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world. 

But the Tribulation Saints are overcome by Satan.  Is He that is in me also in them? If so, this is impossible.  If not, but I am present at that time, is He still in me?  

If He is, then I cannot be overcome.  If He is not, then He forsook me before Jesus came, directly breaking His Promise.

Returning to my earlier point, NOBODY is saved according to what they believe about the Rapture or the Tribulation.   We are saved by grace through faith in the finished Work of the Cross, not by our understanding of Bible prophecy.

But Paul called Timothy “a workman” – a laborer of Christ.  As such, his toolbox is the Word of Truth.  Not all Christians are called to be workmen.  And not all Christians heed the call they are given.

But if one is to be a workman for Christ, he will only be as good as his tools.  I’ve examined the other toolboxes carefully and repeatedly to see if I could find evidence of a similarly clear system. 

Scripture says that God is not the Author of confusion. But the moment that one erases the line between the Dispensation of Grace and the Dispensation of Judgment, the system of progressively unfolding revelation collapses into confusion. 

Where is the Holy Spirit?  I am still indwelt? Are the Tribulation Saints?  Can they be overcome?  Can I be overcome?   What about the Promise? 

Am I judged under the Cross at the Bema Seat?  By antichrist during the Tribulation?  Or both?  Or at the end, with the sheep and goats?  Or must I endure all three judgments?  

Bible prophecy, systematic theology and Dispensationalism are mutually dependent disciplines in that one cannot fully understand any one of them without a grasp of all three.

You needn’t believe it to be saved.  But you do if you want to understand Bible prophecy. 

You can try to invent your own system — lots of them do.   Look at the all the failed efforts to pinpoint the date of the Rapture or to identify the antichrist.    

And in the end, they were all wrong.   The dates came and went.  The candidates rose and then fell. If these workmen weren’t ashamed, they should have been.  

The Apostle Peter explained, “Knowing this first”  that the prophecies of Scripture are of no‘private interpretation’.  That particular Scripture is often used to refute Pre-tribulationalDispensationalist doctrine by those who have what amounts to their own different and thereforeprivate interpretation.

They were sincere.  But they stepped outside of Scriptural boundaries as necessary to make their scenario work. Those workmen failed to rightly divide the Word.  

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” (Colossians 1:25-26)

It wasn’t the Bible that was wrong.  But that’s not what their disappointed students thought.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 11, 2010

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