When Even the Bad News is Good

When Even the Bad News is Good
Vol: 23 Issue: 30 Monday, April 30, 2018

A scientific study conducted in Europe has shown a direct link between the sun and periods of extreme cooling. To me, it sounds a bit like a headline saying that a new study has shown a link between air and breathing, but evidently, it is news to somebody.

The study’s author is Frank Sirocko, professor of Sedimentology and Paleoclimatology at the Institute of Geosciences of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

(Wouldn’t you love to see how he fits all that on his business card?)

Anyway, the effect of the sun on temperatures has evidently escaped modern science until now, in part because they say accurate seasonal weather records don’t go back far enough to establish a pattern.  

The other part is because Western governments issue grants to scientists that can link global warming to anthropogenic (man-made) pollution.  They don’t issue grants to scientists that fail to draw the preferred conclusions.

In the late 1980’s Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, was fighting off the environmentalists that opposed expanding Great Britain’s nuclear power generation system.  Part of her war strategy was to demonstrate that the use of fossil fuels did more harm to the environment than the use of nuclear energy does.

So the British government began giving research grants to scientists that reached the conclusions that she wanted them to.  In 1989, Senator Al Gore seized on the British findings as the “next big thing” and quickly made it his own.  

Gore published his tome, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit just in time for the 1992 Democratic Convention and the party adopted it as that year’s vice-presidential platform. Once the Clinton-Gore ticket became the US federal government, Gore was in a position to emulate Thatcher’s successes with the scientific community.

Unlike Thatcher, however, Gore wasn’t advancing the anthropogenic theory for policy reasons, but for his own.  By the end of the 1990’s, Gore’s scare tactics had proved so successful that they nearly carried him to the White House.

Failing that, he turned the fear of global warming into a cash cow that won him a Nobel Peace Prize, an Oscar, uncounted millions of dollars and the adulation of his peers. 

To this very day, there are millions, if not billions of people convinced that human development has become a planetary cancer.  They also believe that the only solution is to shrink the tumor. 

Ahem. They are talking about us.

Assessment:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (Romans 1:28)

The anthropogenic global warming theory and its solution could not possibly be a better fit to this prophetic Scripture.  The theory assumes that man is supreme on the earth.  Further it assumes that the solution is to reduce the population to “sustainable levels”.

Since that is a euphemism for killing off or otherwise reducing our own species, one might argue the solution is both reprobate and inconvenient.    

Returning to the German study we referenced earlier, the authors discovered another way to map historical warming/cooling periods to provide them with the weather data necessary.

From the early 19th through mid-20th centuries, riverboat men used the Rhine for cargo transport.  And so docks along the river have annual records of when ice clogged the waterway and stymied shipping.  The scientists used these easily-accessible documents, as well as additional historical accounts, to determine the number of freezing episodes since 1780.

“The advantage with studying the Rhine is because it’s a very simple measurement .  .  . Freezing is special in that it’s like an on-off mode. Either there is ice or there is no ice,” Professor Sirocko explained.

Sirocko and his colleagues found that between 1780 and 1963, the Rhine froze in multiple places 14 different times.  The sheer size of the river means it takes extremely cold temperatures to freeze over making freezing episodes a good proxy for very cold winters in the region, Sirocko said.

Mapping the freezing episodes against the solar activity’s 11-year cycle – a cycle of the Sun’s varying magnetic strength and thus total radiation output – Sirocko and his colleagues determined that ten of the fourteen freezes occurred during years around when the Sun had minimal sunspots.  Using statistical methods, the scientists calculated that there is a 99 percent chance that extremely cold Central European winters and low solar activity are inherently linked.

“We provide, for the first time, statistically robust evidence that the succession of cold winters during the last 230 years has a common cause.”

The common cause?  The sun.  And so, the sun is the proven historical cause of global cooling.  Gasp!  Could that mean that the sun is the cause of contemporary global warming?  What does the evidence say?Sunspot chart

Let’s avoid going deep into the weeds and look at the most obvious evidence.  As this chart shows, sunspot activity has been steadily on the rise since 1900.  So have temperatures.  When the sunspot activity begins to slow down, temperatures start to cool.

That is the same conclusion reached by the German study, (which evidently wasn’t getting research grants from either the UK or US).

“When sunspot numbers are down, the Sun emits less ultraviolet radiation.  Less radiation means less heating of Earth’s atmosphere, which sparks a change in the circulation patterns of the two lowest atmospheric levels, the troposphere and stratosphere. Such changes lead to climatic phenomena such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, a pattern of atmospheric pressure variations that influences wind patterns in the North Atlantic and weather behavior in regions in and around Europe.”

The author of the column obviously still believes in the anthropogenic theory, and was careful to selectively quote the author of the study to make sure he sounded properly skeptical:

“Climate is not ruled by one variable,” said Sirocko. “In fact, it has [at least] five or six variables. Carbon dioxide is certainly one, but solar activity is also one.”

It is worth noting at this point that NASA is also able to monitor weather on Mars.  And when global warming happens on earth,  it also happens on Mars.  

If the cause of global warming is the sun, then all the money being thrown at “green” companies and “green” energy plans (that don’t work) is a waste.  So the debate ignores the sun as if it were irrelevant and instead, blames Western use of fossil fuels.

Not China, or India or the former Soviet Union, none of whom are gullible enough to believe the nonsense, primarily because they don’t need climate change to scare their populations into going along — they have other, more convincing methods.

No, it is only the West that needs climate change in order to convince their populations to go along with the program, which, if one is paying attention, is to force the West to submit to some form of global authority empowered with the ability to pass laws, impose taxes and even make war in the name of saving the planet.

Note that it is the West in the crosshairs.  The Kings of the East, Gog-Magog and the Kings of the South aren’t in a panic about their own emissions, although they don’t mind sharing in our panic about ours.

Note also that it isn’t climate change that is the debate.  Nobody is questioning the fact the climate is changing, including me.  The debate is about whether or not it is man-made — or part of existing weather patterns and cycles that go back as far as we can trace them in the fossil record.

The debate has been raging for almost a quarter-century.  Should we fear what appears to be coming upon the earth?  Or is it a case of confusion about the cause?  What is the cause?

Well, signs in the sun seem to suggest solar flares, but if the sun is the cause, then there is nothing we can do about it.  A perplexing situation, is it not?  We have people practically keeling over with heart attacks out of fear of rising seas washing away places like Manhattan.

To listen to the climate change alarmists, one would almost assume that the powers of heaven are about to sweep us all away.

Which is exactly how the Lord described it when He was outlining the signs of His impending return to the earth in the last days.  He said there would be:

“. . . signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

Apart from the Flood, never before in history has there ever been a serious, GLOBAL threat to the continued existence of humanity.  And never before in history was it possible for the whole world to perceive such a threat — had there ever been one.

But more than nineteen centuries after the Lord outlined a series of signs that would all occur within the space of a single generation, that is precisely the situation the threat of man-made global warming has created.

Fear, confusion, perplexity, all spawned by changes in the solar patterns, as we prepare for what NASA says could be the most dangerous solar season our technology-dependent world has ever seen.  And right after He prophesied the global warming scare, He had this to say to His Church:

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

And that’s what I love about being a Christian in the last days.  For us, even the bad news is good.  Maranatha!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 23, 2012

Featured Commentary: The Little Book of Daniel ~Pete Garcia

The Answers Are Easy. It’s the Questions That Are Hard.

The Answers Are Easy. It’s the Questions That Are Hard.
Vol: 23 Issue: 28 Saturday, April 28, 2018

I’m not a particularly young man.  And I’ve read a lot of books.  But in all that time, I’ve not read any scholarly effort to disprove the existence of Sophocles, Cicero, Socrates or Virgil.

Neither have I come across any serious effort to discredit Roman historian Flavius Josephus.

Historians seem satisfied with the authenticity of the ancients and their works despite the fact that just a handful survived into the modern era.

Flavius Josephus was really a Jewish historian whose first-century eyewitness history was commissioned under his patron, Titus, the son of Flavius Vespasian and future emperor of Rome.

According to his biography at Wikipedia;

His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the Maccabees, the Hasmonean dynasty, and the rise of Herod the Great. He makes references to the Sadducees, Jewish High Priests of the time, Pharisees andEssenes, the Herodian TempleQuirinius‘ census and the Zealots, and to such figures as Pontius PilateHerod the GreatAgrippa I and Agrippa IIJohn the BaptistJames the brother of Jesus, and a disputed reference to Jesus (for more seeJosephus on Jesus). He is an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple Judaism and the context of early Christianity.

Josephus was not the only ancient to write of Jesus, the first-century Nazarene Whose exemplary Life and substitutionary Death had already made a impact across the known world.  The Roman historians Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny, none of whom are known to have become Christians, all make reference to Jesus of Nazareth.

But my library at home could not contain all the different volumes of work dedicated to either discrediting the Bible or disproving the existence of Jesus Christ.  None have succeeded, but they keep trying.

Allow yourself to meditate on that last paragraph.  None have succeeded.  If any of them had, then Christianity would be a dead religion.  And they keep trying.  They shouldn’t have to try sohard.

Unlike other world religions that are so constructed that they could survive such a blow, conclusively disproving a single point of doctrinal truth would bring the entire edifice of Christianity crashing down.

If there was no King David, then Jesus could not be God because He specifically referred to David.  If the Book of Daniel was really an allegory written by Judas Maccabeus in 163 BC as some scholars alleged, the Jesus could not be God.

Jesus referred to Daniel as a “Prophet” and to the prophecies contained in the Book of Daniel.  If Daniel was a fraud, then Jesus would be too, since He should know and the Bible clearly indicates that He didn’t.

If the story of Noah’s Ark is an allegory, then Jesus cannot be God.  It was Jesus that likened the last days to the days of Noah.  If Sodom and Gomorrah are allegorical, Jesus cannot be God. Jesus admonished His followers to “remember Lot’s wife.”

That makes things even more complicated.  The Bible says that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.  If that didn’t happen, then Jesus either didn’t know or He lied. In either case, He could not be God.  God cannot lie.

Then there is the amazing story of Jonah and the big fish or whale.  According to the Old Testament, God told Jonah to head east for Nineveh and Jonah headed west toward Tarsus instead.  Jonah didn’t like Nineveh and so he defied God.

God sent a big storm, the crew tossed Jonah overboard, a big fish or whale swallowed him up, turned around and headed for Nineveh where it barfed Jonah up on shore three days later.  Later, Jesus taught,

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

So if Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale and preserved alive for three days, then Jesus isn’t God.  More than that, Jesus said He would be in the earth the same way Jonah was in the whale.  If Jonah wasn’t, then by implication Jesus wasn’t.

Which means our faith is in vain and we are yet in our sins.

Assessment:

Christianity is carefully constructed, fact upon fact, precept upon precept, and pulling out any one of them would cause the rest to collapse like removing a key brick from a wall.

The Bible claims of itself that it is Divinely inspired and therefore without error.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

So if any Scripture is proved unreliable for doctrine, reproof, correction or instruction in righteousness, then the whole Body of Scripture is suspect — including the parts that promise you salvation by grace through faith.

In the final analysis, that is where and how we learned of salvation, and it is in those Promises of Scripture that we place our faith.  If Noah didn’t build an ark, if Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale, if Lot’s wife wasn’t turned to salt, if Daniel didn’t write the Book the bears his name, then Jesus could not be God.

We would have to speak of Him in the past tense.  Is it even possible that Jesus was a good man, a great teacher and moral authority and that is all?  Does that explain why the world is still debating Him two thousand years later?

Jesus specifically said He was God on a number of occasions, despite what some would have you believe. John 8:58 records His reference to Himself as “I Am.” In John 14:8-9, Jesus says that seeing Him is “seeing the Father.”  In John 10:33 He says, “I and My Father are one.”

There is no doubt that those that heard Him understood what He meant, since the next verse says they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy.

Jesus claimed to be God.  He taught as one that had the authority of God.  He refused to recant His claims of Deity at the cost of His own life.  If Jesus was NOT God, then He could not have been a great teacher of wisdom and morals.

In light of His claims, he would either have to be a megalomaniac with galactic-sized delusions of grandeur or a con man of . . . dare I say it? . . . Biblical proportions.

But one would think after some 2000 years of close and constant scrutiny, if there was some previously-undetected flaw in the story, it would have come to light by now.

If Jesus wasn’t God but claimed to be, He was not good.  If He taught as God and wasn’t, He was not wise.  And if He went to the Cross for a lie, He was not sane.

In summary, Christianity is the most delicate religious belief structure in the history of mankind.  Christianity is unique in that it isn’t truly a religion so much as it is a relationshipwith a real Person.

Religion is man’s way of making himself acceptable to God according to man’s standard.  Christianity is God’s way of making man acceptable to God according to God’s standard.

Buddhism could survive without an actual, historical, living Buddah.  Islam could survive even where the Koran contained contradictions.  Confucianism could survive learning Confusius didn’t say everything attributed to him.

But Christianity could not survive if Noah didn’t build an ark, Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a whale, if there was never a real, historical King David, or if there wasn’t really a Prophet named Daniel.

Given all that we know over the course of all the centuries, together with all we’ve learned just over the past generation, the fact that Christianity still stands intact is powerful, logical evidence of the truth of the Bible.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)

He is still able.  And we can still trust Him.  We still have His Word on it.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 7, 2011

Faith in Something

Faith in Something
Vol: 23 Issue: 27 Friday, April 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is evidence of things not seen.

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

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25)

Paul speaks of the imperfect relationship with Christ thusly;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I trust that Jesus will do what I cannot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They miss the context of the next verse;

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

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

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

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

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

A young man asked Jesus what he lacked for salvation;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Commentary: Sheep Goats Judgment and Social Justice Gospel? ~Alf Cengia

Behold the Fig Tree And All The Trees

Behold the Fig Tree And All The Trees
Vol: 23 Issue: 25 Wednesday, April 25, 2018

“And He spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees.” (Luke 21:30)

In the Scriptures, there are three specific trees that are used as euphemisms for Israel; the vine, the fig tree and the olive. 

In Scripture, the vine is the symbol of Israel’s spiritual privileges; the fig tree symbolizes Israel’s national privileges and the olive tree symbolizes Israel’s religious privileges.

“Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. (Psalms 80:8-10)

The Psalmist is here painting a graphic picture of Israel being removed from the soil of Egypt and being transplanted into the fertile soil of Israel.

Once the “Vine” was transplanted it began to grow and spread over the land, until in the words of the Psalmist, it sent out its boughs unto the Mediterranean Sea, and its branches unto the Euphrates river, as in the reign of King Solomon.

“Now will I sing to my Well-Beloved a song of my Beloved touching His Vineyard. My Well-Beloved hath a VINEYARD in a very fruitful hill (Canaan): and He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the CHOICEST VINE, and built a Tower in the midst of it, and also made a Winepress therein.” (Isaiah 5:1-2)

The olive tree is used to symbolize Israel and the Church by the Apostle Paul:

“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.” (Romans 11:16-18)

The Apostle Paul refers to the good olive tree (Israel) and the wild olive tree (the Gentiles).  The good olive tree was “good” because it was separated, or set apart, (holy), whereas branches from the wild olive tree (the Gentiles) are grafted in.

“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:24)

Notice carefully that the good olive tree (Israel) is NOT rooted up and destroyed with the wild olive tree planted in its place.  That would be the case if the replacement theologians were right and that the Gentile Church has taken the place of Israel.  

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:25-26)

Instead, the good olive tree remains alive and gives life to both the good tree and the wild tree.  The Church does not supplant or replace Israel, it is grafted in to the existing tree. 

Paul explains that “blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

That is to say, during the Church Age, God’s attention is focused on the Gentiles until that last Gentile (whom God foreknew would be saved) has been saved, bringing in the full number of Gentile believers.

When every Gentile that is going to be saved has been saved, THEN. . .

“. . . the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The fig tree is the third, and most often-used symbol for Israel.  The Bible teaches that as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him to ask Him “what will be the sign of Thy coming?

In His reply, Jesus listed three major signs recognizable to the Jews.

  1. The appearance of the “Abomination of Desolation” spoken of in Daniel 9:27 (the revelation of antichrist).
  2. The sign of the Son of Man appearing in a cloud (Acts 1:9Matthew 24:30)
  3. The sign of the “Fig Tree” – symbolizing the regathering of the Jews into their own land.

The fig tree is a particularly appropriate symbol in that on the fig tree, the fruit appears BEFORE the tree blossoms.  The Bible says that first, Israel is regathered into her own land, and only after that does the nation “blossom” with the return of the Husbandman.

The restoration of Israel is like the budding of a fig tree in the springtime symbolizing a tree about to blossom — symbolic of Israel’s national privileges.

The “fig tree” began to put forth its leaves on May 14, 1948, beginning the countdown to the end of the Church Age at the Rapture and kicking off what the Prophet Jeremiah called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”

But is there some way of confirming that? 

Assessment:

According to Bible prophecy, in the last days, there will come into existence, a revived form of the political Roman Empire.  The Prophet Daniel predicted that the antichrist will be a prince of the people that would destroy the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple).

In 1948, as Europe struggled to rebuild, six nations in Western Europe signed the Benelux Customs Union, beginning the process of European unification that was codified in March, 1957 with the treaty of Rome.

And so, a unified Europe looks back to its foundation on January 1, 1948.  Is that significant?  We’ve examined this question before, but it is worth going back to for another re-think.  

The Bible also predicted the development of an apostate form of Christianity that will have world-wide authority.  Revelation 13:11 describes this religious system as “having two horns like a lamb” — symbols of Christianity.

The World Council of Churches was born in Amsterdam in 1948.  The WCC is not a ‘global religion’ but is the closest thing we currently have to a global religious authority that purports to speak for world-wide Christianity.

The Bible also predicts the rise of a centralized global economic authority that will become one of the antichrist’s principle methods of economic control.

The World Trade Organization — a trade organization empowered to regulate the global economy — saw its genesis in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, enacted by the UN in 1948.

The Bible predicted that global economy will fall under the control of a single individual who will be able to regulate commerce down to the individual level — “That no man might buy or sell” (Revelation 13:17). Such individual control was impossible before the advent of computers.

Although computers had been invented during World War II, they were huge, bulky monsters that used notoriously unreliable and hugely inefficient vacuum tubes.  The first computers were slower than a pocket calculator, filled huge environmentally sealed rooms and required enough electricity to power a small city.

That all changed in 1948 when Bell Labs patented the transistor chip, signaling the official birth of the Computer Age.

That final age would be marked by ‘rumors of war’ – (Matthew 24:7).

  • The ultimate ‘rumor of war’ was the Cold War.  It began with the Berlin Airlift of 1948.  The Soviet collapse was a direct result of the cost of fighting the Cold War.
  • Earthquakes began to show a marked increase in size, scope and intensity in 1948.
  • The modern period of ethnic unrest can be traced to the death of colonialism beginning in 1948. Increasing ‘pestilence’ or deadly disease, can be traced to 1948, with the introduction of sulfa drugs and the over-prescription of antibiotics.
  • Economic ‘kingdoms’ began with the first multinational corporations in 1948.
  • The decline in world-wide morality can be traced to the moment that it became acceptable to use abortion as a method of birth control.
  • The Japanese Eugenics Act — the first legal abortion on demand legislation ever passed in modern society — was passed in 1948.
  • American Margaret Sanger was so impressed with the idea that she founded the premier abortion rights advocacy group — Planned Parenthood — in 1948.
  • The Supreme Court ruled for the first time, that  public schools could not use taxpayer funds for religious purposes, discovering in the process, the modern principle of “separation of church and state” (McCollum v Board of Education, 1948)

In 1948, Mao Tse Tung’s Communists chased Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalists off the mainland to the Island of Formosa and renamed itself Taiwan, and declared itself the legitimate government of China.

The conflict between the two Chinas further rearranged regional political alliances until they fit the alignment foretold by the prophets. 

Other related events that trace their roots to the same year as the budding of the fig tree include; commercial television, holography, cybernetics, meteorology, the nuclear arms race, microelectronics, the Big Bang, the birth of NATO, the Cold War, the UN adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the Kinsey Report that kicked off the “sexual revolution.”

Israel is the centerpiece of Bible prophecy.  Its existence and history are proof positive of the accuracy of Bible prophecy.  To this point in the historical record, Bible prophecy — where it can be proved at all — has proved to be 100% accurate, 100% of the time.

It continues to unfold before our eyes.  We’ve only touched on the high points in the Big Picture, but the pattern is unmistakable.  Events foretold to take place in a single generation, somewhere in time — events that can only happen once — are coming together — all at once and in THIS generation.

The same God that predicted what has already occurred with such unerring accuracy will continue to perform His Will until His Purpose is accomplished.  Bible prophecy proves God is still on His Throne and is intimately concerned with the affairs of men.

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

That promise has no expiration date.  God’s blueprint for the future will continue to unfold with the same accuracy in the days ahead as it has in millennia past.

Prophecy is His signature of authenticity.  And our confidence is well placed.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 23, 2012

Featured Commentary: About Time ~Wendy Wippel

Judge Not? Is That Right?

Judge Not? Is That Right?
Vol: 23 Issue: 24 Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Generally speaking, when a carnal Christian is trying to justify behavior he knows is outside the will of God, he’ll quote the words of Jesus: ”Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1)

Later, in John, we find Jesus seemingly contradicting Himself. “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

Then Paul comes along and tells us to judge those that are without God and to put away from ourselves that wicked person (1st Corinthians 5:13).

But then turns around and writes; “I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1st Corinthians 6:5)

James writes, “There is one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12)

Are you confused yet? I thought the Bible didn’t contain any contradictions, yet here are four. Do we judge not? Or do we judge the wicked? Are we to convene a panel of judges? Or are we usurping God’s authority?

It would appear that whatever position you want to take on the issue of judgmentalism, there is a Scripture one can use to back it up. But what if all a person wanted was the honest answer to the question, rather than to win a debate or excuse bad behavior?

What IS our responsibility as believers when it comes to judging the behavior of others?

On one end of the spectrum are the Genesis 4:9 Christians (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”); on the other the 2nd Corinthians 6:17 Christians (“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate”).

In the middle, Hebrews 10:30: “For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people.”

Judgment is a very broad term; although it is derived from the word ‘justice’ it also includes everything from how to drive a car safely to what kind of tie goes best with your shirt.

There is no contradiction in the Scripture — there is only context. Remove the context and one can ‘prove’ pretty much anything they want to.

A proof text without context is a pretext.

The contradiction isn’t in Scripture, it is in the interpretation of the word ‘judge’ in the judicial sense of the word in every case, rather than in context. In some cases, it means judge in the sense of discernment, like judging when the best time is to try and get through rush hour traffic.

Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged” is the whole verse, but it is not the whole story. In Luke’s synoptic account, (6:37) Jesus says, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

The Gospel is a series of continuing revelations direct from God to one of the most religiously judgmental societies of antiquity. Jesus is teaching doctrine here — the point is not judgment, but forgiveness to a people that heretofore knew only of atonement.

(“Atonement” means ‘to make restitution’. “Forgiveness” means no restitution is necessary.) You see what I mean about context being everything?

Paul’s admonition about putting away a wicked person is made in the context of spies inside a church during the days of Nero. It is judgment in the sense of smart thinking, not judicial conduct.

Paul’s reference to one judging among his brethren (1st Cor 6:5) is in the judicial sense, but in the context of two Christians not going before a pagan judge to decide a civil dispute.

In John 7:24, Jesus IS speaking of judging in the judicial sense when He tells His followers, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” He is admonishing against blind justice, or put another way, rendering judgment without considering the context.

I call it the “Jimmy Swaggart Syndrome.” Jimmy Swaggart served the Lord for decades and decades. He used his gifts to the glory of the Lord instead of following his cousins, Jerry Lee Lewis and country singer Gene Watson into secular show biz.

But Jimmy Swaggart isn’t judged by us according to his decades of service to the Lord, the sacrifices he made along the way, the thousands he led to Christ, his Bible ministries or his missionary work.

Instead, Jimmy Swaggart is remembered as the caricature sobbing “I have sinned,” and judged by his Christian brothers and sisters according to the worst moment is his life.

I’ve even seen it as a Hallowe’en mask.

Assessment:

Christian soldiers are just about the only army I know of that, when he sees a wounded comrade fall, immediately turns away from the enemy and bayonets his wounded.

While that is the sense of judgment most often exercised by well-meaning but legalistic Christians, it is the ONLY sense of judgment absent from Scripture. The one area of judgementexpressly forbidden to believers is another believer’s heart. So of course, that is the first place we rush to judge.

One hears such comments all the time — “I don’t think that person’s heart is right before God,” or “he needs to get his heart right” and so on. THAT is where we like to pass judgment. Particularly if it is judgment against a struggle we don’t personally share.

You never hear a fat person condemn gluttony; you don’t hear smokers condemn smoking; you don’t hear drinkers condemning drinking . . . but drinkers condemn smokers, smokers condemn gluttons, gluttons condemn smokers . . .

It has been my experience that fat smokers who also drink are generally the most agreeable Christians of all. They also seem to have the best grasp of the concept of grace and are the least judgmental.

An expert swimmer in calm pool has little regard for the lifebuoy ring on the wall. A drowning man in a raging sea is profoundly grateful for his lifebuoy ring. Grace is most greatly appreciated by those who need the most of it to get through their day.

When we render judgment against a brother, we are basing that judgment on a single slice out of that person’s entire life. Think about the worst moment you’ve ever had in your Christian walk.

Recall the most profound and painful failure you’ve experienced since coming to Christ. Now imagine your entire Christian life being judged according to that particular moment.

That’s what we Christians do when we attempt to judge the heart of another. We’re judging that person’s entire life according to the context of a tiny part of their entire lives, as if God was all done with them and therefore, we should be, too.

God isn’t done with you. Wherever you are in our walk with God at any given moment, that’s not where you are going to be later on. You are not marching in place — time doesn’t stop until the body is separated from the soul and spirit at death.

And so neither does our walk with the Lord. As we walk, we change. Our judgments change. Our opinions change. Our worldview changes. NONE of this happens at the moment of salvation.

At the moment of salvation, your spirit is quickened (made alive) and you were transformed into a new creation of God. Spiritually, you are no longer Gentile or Jew, but are now and forever a Christian.

But spiritually speaking, you came to Christ as dumb as a bag o’ hammers and susceptible to almost every possible wind of doctrine.

If your heart were judged by your fellow Christians right then, you’d be judged differently than you would be today. And it would be a different judgement if rendered twenty years from today.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 tells us, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.”

It is only at the day of one’s death that one loses the ability to continue to be conformed to the image of Christ.

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

My counsel would be to be absolutely sure you know Who it is you are passing judgment on. Because that’s the standard He will use when its your turn.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 19, 2009

Featured Commentary: Who Am I, Really? ~Steve Schmutzer

The Name of the Lord. . .

The Name of the Lord. . .
Vol: 23 Issue: 23 Monday, April 23, 2018

One of the most baffling claims I’ve heard repeated about Jesus is the one that says Jesus Christ never claimed to be God.

Indeed, some will go so far as to say that Jesus Christ didn’t even THINK He was God. I read one critic’s opinion that said if Jesus were alive today, He would be astonished and dismayed to find Himself an object of worship.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, and I’ve seen it in print under the names of some otherwise fairly astute and intelligent authors.

There are as many opinions about Jesus as their are religious worldviews on this planet. Everybody wants to include Him as part of their own religious dogma, provided He doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to their own deity.

There is a Muslim ‘Jesus’ [Isa] but the Muslim Jesus is not God. The Muslim Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin, did not go to the Cross, and certainly never rose again from the dead. The Muslim Jesus was not God, but instead, he was a prophet and a teacher.

Jesus plays some kind of role in most the great pagan religions of the world. But with the exception of Christianity, the pagan Jesus was invariably depicted as a ‘good man’ or as a ‘wise teacher’.

And for THAT reason, those who deny the Deity of Christ do so in order to keep their own religious doctrine from flying apart. If the real Jesus claimed to be God, then He was neither ‘good’ nor ‘wise’.

‘Good’ men don’t lie about who they are. ‘Wise’ men don’t allow themselves to be executed to perpetuate a lie. If Jesus Christ wasn’t God, but claimed He was, then He was a liar and a lunatic.

So whether or not Jesus Christ believed He was God is of critical importance to their doctrine. The Islamic Jesus says of himself,

“He [Jesus] said: ‘I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me revelation and made me a prophet; He has made me blessed wheresoever I be; and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live. He has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable. So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!’ Such was Jesus the son of Mary. It is a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” (Sura 19:30-35).

So Islam’s Jesus is NOT the begotten Son of God — because it does not befit their god to have a son.

“Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God makes His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!” (5:75).

For Islam to recognize that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God would require throwing out the Koran.

The Koran advances the belief that Mohammed was the final prophet of God. But if Jesus had claimed to be the only begotten Son of God, then Mohammed would not only be a liar, he would have been unnecessary.

Or Jesus would have to be exposed as a fraud. Since Mohammed evidently couldn’t credibly deny His existence, the best he could do instead was ‘adopt’ Him as a mascot.

Islamic theology relies on Mohammed being superior to Jesus, but makes no claim that Mohammed was divine. If Jesus therefore simply CLAIMED to be the Son of God, then Mohammed would either be an inferior prophet, or Isa couldn’t be a prophet at all. In either case, Islam’s foundational stone would crumble.

Most cults find a way to reduce Jesus to the status of a created being, for the same reason. If Jesus claimed to be God, then their god can’t be, or they wouldn’t need a Jesus. They’d have their own Jesus and wouldn’t need to steal ours.

To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ isn’t the Eternal God, but rather, a creation OF God.

Charles Taze Russell accomplished this transformation by in including a single letter in the text of John 1:1 in his ‘New World Translation:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was [a] god.”

The Mormons not only deny the Deity of Christ, they deny the Deity of God Himself. The Mormon God was once a man himself, and Jesus Christ was really Satan’s smarter brother.

Mormons believe that God liked the plan for the salvation of mankind that Jesus submitted better than the one that Satan came up with. So Jesus got to be the Savior of Mankind, and Lucifer became Satan out of sibling rivalry.

All the cults who claim Jesus do so on the grounds He was either a good man and a wise teacher or that He was a prophet sent from God.

If at some point, Jesus claimed to be God come in the flesh, then He could be neither.

Assessment:

As I said at the outset, the argument that Jesus never claimed Divinity is among the most baffling of all.

Consider this. There are somewhere between a billion and two billion Muslims on this planet. They not only believe He was just another prophet, their entire religion demands it.

It isn’t that Islam would crumble if Jesus WAS Divine, it would crumble if Jesus simply BELIEVED He was Divine. As previously noted, if He believed He was the Son of God, He could NOT be a prophet of God. He could only be Who He claimed to be, or He would be a liar. There is no logical third option.

If He said He was the Son of God, He cannot be a prophet. And if He thought that He was, and was mistaken, deluded or insane, well, then He cannot be a prophet.

Jesus never said, “I am God” in the English Bible. Instead, the Bible quotes Jesus as saying, “before Abraham was, I am.” “I am” is one of the Hebrew Names for God. When Moses asked God to identify Himself, He replied, “I am that I am. Tell them that I AM sent you.”

To the Jews living under the Mosaic Law, “I AM” could only be a reference to the God Who handed Moses the two tablets.

Jesus knew exactly what He was saying, and so did the assembled Jews. Abraham lived around 2160 BC; about as far removed from Christ’s time as Christ’s time was from our point on the timeline. After He made the claim, the Jews prepared to stone Him for blasphemy, but He slipped away in the crowd.

To somehow see this as a claim of anything other than one of Divinity is an act of desperation. What else could it POSSIBLY mean? If I said to you, “before Jesus was, I am,” how would YOU, a non-Jew living in 21st century, interpret that remark?

If YOU see it that way, how could the religious Jews of the 1st century have interpreted it to mean something different?

Matthew 28:18 records Jesus saying,

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

Who has ALL authority in heaven and earth? Who does Islam think that refers to?

Mohammed? Hardly. Only Allah is all-powerful. Who do the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe has all power in heaven and earth? Or the Mormons? Or any other religion that co-opts Christ in a supporting role?

Jesus claimed to be “Lord of the Sabbath”. Who did the Jews believe was the Lord of the Sabbath? (Answer: the One Who gave Moses the tablets. They knew Him as “I AM”.)

Jesus said that authority was given Him to forgive sins. Remember, He was addressing the most religious Jews of His day — they knew that the authority to forgive sins belongs to God alone.

Jesus claimed to be the “light of the world’ that provides salvation. David identified Jehovah as his “light and salvation.” (Psalms 27:1)

Jesus identified Himself as “the Good Shepherd” who was ‘sent to the lost sheep of Israel’ (Matthew 15:24Ezekiel 34:11 identifies the Good Shepherd;

“Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.”

Jesus said He would separate the sheep nations from the goat nations. Ezekiel 34:17 says that this is a function of God:

“And as for you, My flock, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I will judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats.”

Jesus said of His sheep:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)

Now, is it even POSSIBLE that the observant Jews of Israel circa AD 30 could be confused as to the identity of the One Who gives eternal life? Can you conceive of the possibility that the observant Jews of circa AD 30 were unfamiliar with the identify of the “Great I AM”?

Or that there is any other way for the Jews to have understood Christ’s claim to be anything less than Divinity? What was the charge under which Christ was convicted by the Sanhedrin?

Did Jesus ever directly claim to be the Christ, the Son of God? You tell me.

“Again the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I AM:” (Mark 14:61-62)

Is this unclear?

If one requires proof that Jesus Christ is real, and that Jesus Christ IS the only-begotten Son of God, the most convincing evidence is found in the number of religions that co-opted Him into it — to lend themselves legitimacy.

Why do the religions that claim Christ do so? And having done so, why claim a watered-down version of who He is? The reason they cannot deny Him outright is because He is real.

The reason they cannot acknowledge Him for Whom He claims to be is because it would expose their own religion as false.

Even acknowledging that He made the claim of Divinity exposes that religion as false. If He claimed Divinity, but was merely a man, He has no credentials as a prophet of God.

God cannot lie. If He was a liar Who allowed Himself to be executed to perpetuate a myth, then He has no credentials as a wise teacher.

In either case, there would be no reason for any other religion to even WANT Him, let alone kidnap Him as their prophet.

In the final analysis, logic dictates that the Person of Jesus Christ was either the Son of God, truly God and truly Man, Who lived a sinless life and died a sinner’s death as full payment for the sins of mankind, and now sits at the Right Hand of the Father.

Or those religions who have adopted Him as their prophet are following a liar and a lunatic.

In either case, it exposes them as cheap counterfeits. If He is not Lord OF all, then He cannot be Lord AT All.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

That Name is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 15, 2008

Featured Commentary: The End is Nigh: Ten Reasons Why ~Pete Garcia

The Hell You Say. . .

The Hell You Say. . .
Vol: 23 Issue: 21 Saturday, April 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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