Mystery Babylon

Mystery Babylon
Vol: 27 Issue: 31 Friday, August 31, 2018

A question was posed in one of our forums asking if it could be that America is actually Babylon the Great of Revelation.  It’s an excellent question and well worth looking into.

“And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (Revelation 18:21)

As one reads through all of Revelation 18 it certainly sounds like a word picture describing America; with her multi-billion dollar drug habit, multi-billion dollar porn industry, addiction to oil, and so forth.

Revelation Chapter 17 describes the great scarlet whore, a word picture of the decadence debauchery and prostitution of religious Christianity upon the earth. 

“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” (Revelation 17:3-6)

Daniel spoke of four world empires, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.  John speaks of seven — and then speaks of an eighth.   

“And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eight, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Revelation 17:11)

History records six great empires; two before Daniel (Egypt, Assyria) and four afterwards (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome).

Confused yet?  Wait. I’m not done.  Five have fallen, John says, and one is.   The one in existence in John’s day was the Roman Empire.  

John says the next empire, the seventh, which is not yet come, will be short-lived. John appears to say that the seventh is also the sixth, and simultaneously the eighth.  It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Not really. 

Revelation 17:2 interprets the ten horns on the beast as, “ten kings which have yet received no kingdom” these are future kings, not kings of John’s day.

The future beast is a government of ten kings who yield their power and strength over to the center, to an arch-regent, as described by the Prophet Daniel.

“And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.”

John pictures the beast as an empire. Daniel’s horn had eyes and mouth speaking great things.  Which is right? Actually, both are right. 

The beast is a system, personified by a man, but actually administered by two men, separated according to specialty.

Revelation 13:1 introduces the political beast, who rises up out of the sea (of nations).  Revelation 13:11 introduces the religious beast, “coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”

Both the first beast and the second beast derive their power from “the dragon” or Satan.   In John’s day, the seat of secular authority was Imperial Rome. 

By the 3rd century AD, Rome had become the seat of religious authority when Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the state church of Rome and the Emperor as Pontifex Maximus of the Christian Church.

“Pontifex Maximus” literally means “the greatest bridge builder” and was the title conferred on the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient pagan Rome. 

The College was ancient Rome’s most sacred priesthood of advisors to the Roman Emperor-god.

The Pontifex Maximus has been applied to the Roman popes since at least the 3rd century.  When political Rome collapsed in the early 5th century, it transferred much of the political power from the state to the Pontifex Maximus. 

The Roman Empire which in John’s day was present tense (beast that is) became the beast that was and is not and yet is. 

The papacy openly ruled Western European Christendom from early 4th century until well after the French Revolution and continues to be the single most politically powerful religious figure on earth.

Is the False Prophet the Roman Catholic pope?  I don’t know.  That often gets me accused of Catholic bashing, but that’s not a fair assessment. I believe the Rapture takes place before either the political antichrist or the False Prophet show up.  

What is a Church after all the Christians are gone?

Assessment:

Whether one wants to take issue with me over the Vatican being the seat of Satan’s power after all the Christians have been Raptured or not is secondary to the question I originally set out to answer. 

Could the Babylon of Revelation be America?  Revelation’s Babylon is presented in two parts; religious Babylon, as described in great detail in Revelation 17, and economic Babylon as described in Chapter 18.

The fall of economic Babylon could easily be interpreted as a description of America in decline:

“And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”

It sounds like America, home of Nashville, Hollywood and Wall Street, breadbasket to the world and home to the great merchants of the earth.   Certainly, one could line America up with the deception of ‘sorceries’ (Greek, pharmakea, or use of drugs), but that’s as far as one can take America before the Bible shuts it down.

“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (Revelation 18:22-24)

America is not soaked in the blood of prophets and saints – that honor belongs to Rome.

It is just as difficult to find a major role for America during the Tribulation Period as it is to find a role for the Church.   The Bible makes it clear that during the last days, all eyes are on the battlefield.

God’s attention will be turned to Israel and Satan’s attention will be focused on Europe.  America isn’t the Babylon of Revelation. 

Laodicea, maybe.  But not Babylon.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 19, 2010

Hope and Pain

Hope and Pain
Vol: 27 Issue: 30 Thursday, August 30, 2018

Life is pain.  We can’t separate the two.  It is pain that defines life.  Our entrance into the life is characterized by pain; everything about the process involves pain; labor pains, birth pains, delivery pain and so on.

We learn from pain — indeed, there is no more effective teacher.

A person born without the ability to feel pain is a medical emergency waiting to happen, one who is unlikely to survive childhood unscathed.

From the moment we enter this life until the day we leave it, life is an exercise in pain avoidance, bookmarked by pain on both ends.

Physical pain is a necessary element of survival, but that doesn’t make it one millimeter more attractive. One of the most attractive features that heaven has to offer is found in the verse;

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

But notice where in the Book that promise is written.  It is written at the end.  Between now and then, all we have is ‘hope’ — and even for Christians, that hope isn’t always enough.

It is one thing to talk about it, but it is another thing to feel hopeful when all seems hopeless.

Oftentimes, it is because we misplace where our hope is supposed to be centered.

Of all the kinds of pain that, taken together, define our earthly existence, the worst kind of pain is the pain of separation by death.

That pain is different for Christians than it is for unbelievers, but different isn’t the same as non-existent. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13)

I can barely recall the tragedy that death was to me as an unbeliever.  Death was the end.  All that person ever was, gone forever.  It was an incomprehensible tragedy.

When I became a believer, the nature of death changed for me, but not the pain of it.  I knew that death was not the end, but the beginning — for the one who has gone on.

My Bible says I should be happy for that person.  And I am, but that doesn’t do much to assuage my own loss.

The pain of separation is (for me) no less intense.

Assessment:

As a believer, my Bible tells me I should welcome death as a new beginning.  But I have to confess that I don’t.  It is part of that Christian dichotomy that notes that “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

Even those who object to the Rapture doctrine on the grounds it isn’t fair, base their objections on our inherent fear of the death process.

They don’t object to the idea of believers going to heaven, or receiving Resurrection bodies, they object to the unfair notion that there are believers who will circumvent the normal death process.

The Blessed Hope of the Rapture is, when broken into its component parts;

a) the Hope that some of us won’t have to die to see Jesus; and,
b) the Hope that we won’t have to endure the loss of separation from our loved ones who will be Raptured with us.

What makes the Rapture attractive to us is entirely carnal —  the avoidance of pain.  Remove that element, and one also removes most of the philosophical objections to a pre-Trib Rapture — the so-called “Great Escape”.

The Promise of the Rapture is our ‘Blessed Hope’ — but if its purpose was simply to ensure a smooth and painless passage into the next life for an elect group of Christians, I would also question its veracity.

The Rapture is our ‘Blessed Hope’ because it is natural for human beings to want to avoid the pain of death and separation.  And by its mechanics, that is what the Rapture offers — but that is NOT its purpose.

Understanding that one fact sweeps away most of the confusion surrounding the question of why God would so bless what is arguably the least deserving and already most-blessed generation in the history of the Church Age.

The purpose of the Rapture is NOT to provide a Great Escape from the pain of death and tribulation.

The purpose of the Rapture is to withdraw the restraining influence on evil that is the Church Age ministry of the Holy Spirit.

How does the Holy Spirit restrain evil?  The Bible says He accomplishes it through His indwelling influence of the Church.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”

Of course, the Comforter of Whom Jesus is speaking is the Holy Spirit. (Notice Jesus refers to “Him” rather than to ‘it’)

Notice also how Jesus defines the Comforter’s ministry during the Church Age.

“And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:7-8)

During the Tribulation, there is no reference to a Restrainer reproving the world of sin or righteousness or judgment.  The Tribulation is a time of unrestrained evil and unrestrained Divine judgment.

Paul tells us what holds back what he calls “the mystery of iniquity” –or, an evil so pervasive that it causes “all the world” to worship the beast. (Revelation 13:4)  Paul writes,

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let [restrain], until He be taken out of the way. And THEN shall that Wicked be revealed. “(2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8a)

The Restrainer is not a thing, but a “He”.  And that “Wicked” is also a person.

Until He [the Restrainer] is ‘taken out of the way’ that Wicked cannot be revealed — because he won’t have the Satanically-energized power to do so.

The power and signs and lying wonders are not manifested until after the Restrainer is taken out of the way.

But Jesus promised the Church that the Comforter will indwell us until He comes for His Church. So we have two conflicting promises.

The first is that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way BEFORE “that Wicked” is revealed.  (2nd Thessalonians 2-6-9)

The second is that the Comforter will indwell believers until Jesus returns “in like manner as you see Him go.”

As the Apostles watched Jesus ascend into Heaven after Pentecost, two angels stood by, and addressed them.

“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

Jesus did NOT ascend into Heaven astride a white horse, accompanied by ten thousands of His saints, and bearing a flaming sword of judgment.  He ascended into Heaven in secret, witnessed only by His Apostles and the two angelic witnesses.

So, if Jesus is to return for His Church in “like manner” to the way He left it, then He comes in secret, visible only to the Church and the angelic witnesses.

Jesus ALSO promised that the Comforter would indwell us until He returns for us.

If, as I said, the purpose of the Rapture was to provide a ‘Great Escape’ for a single generation of supremely undeserving Christians, then I would share the same problem as others do.

Why wouldn’t the Church have to endure the Tribulation?  What are we, something special compared to all those generations who came before?

In reality, the Rapture isn’t a Great Escape for Christians — it is the promised evacuation of the Holy Spirit — which requires the evacuation of the vessels He indwells.

It might seem unfair from the perspective of man, but therein lies the difficulty.  God doesn’t see things the way that we do.

That is why He expects us to trust His Word.

“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)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on August 2, 2012

Featured Commentary: The Final Exam ~J.L. Robb

Conditionally Unconditional Love

Conditionally Unconditional Love
Vol: 27 Issue: 29 Wednesday, August 29, 2018

There are few words more powerful than the word ”unconditional”.  By itself, the word is just a modifier.  Its power is not unleashed until it is linked to an action such as ”agreement” or ”surrender” or ”election”.

“Unconditional” means “without condition, absolute.”  What makes the word powerful is that so few things in our existence truly are unconditional.  Even the most seemingly unconditional actions are themselves conditional.

An offer of unconditional surrender can only be accepted on the condition that the enemy actually surrenders.  An unconditional agreement can only be reached on condition that the parties agree.

John Calvin postulates a state of ‘unconditional election’ of believers.  If one accepts that concept unconditionally, then it follows that God decides who will be saved in advance.

But that creates a major problem insofar as the Great Commission is concerned. Since God has already made the decision, why bother with evangelizing the lost?

The problem with unconditional election is that it confuses knowledge with destiny.

My knowing you’ll get home from work at five o’clock isn’t the same as your being destined to get home at five o’clock.

God has perfect foreknowledge of the hour and day that you will get saved.  That isn’t the same as destining you to be saved.  Just because God knows what your choices will be doesn’t mean that you do.

You don’t know what your choices will be for lunch next Monday.  But God is omniscient and therefore, He must — by definition.  But you still don’t even know if you’ll even eat lunch next Monday.

When next Monday comes around and you’re looking over the menu, your free will choices remain unimpaired.

Even the most hyper-Calvinistic would have a hard time arguing that unconditional election doesn’t include one condition.

No matter how far one takes unconditional election, one still has to decide to come to Christ. God doesn’t, won’t and can’t do it for you.

Wait!  Are you saying that there’s something God ‘can’t’ do?  God’s sovereignty is unconditional!

With this one condition. God can’t break His Word.

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

Salvation is unconditional in that Jesus met all the conditions necessary to pay the penalty for my sins.  Nothing I do can add to the Finished Work of the Cross, and nothing I can do can take away from the Finished Work of the Cross.

Why? Because it’s finished!

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)

If the Cross was simply a fresh start with God, but after that it was up to me to maintain it on my own efforts, my last state would be worse than the first.

Hebrews 6:4-6 clearly says that once saved, if you were to lose your salvation, you are foreverlost and can never be saved again.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.”

“Impossible” is another one of those ‘power’ words.  So if one could lose one’s salvation, they would be forever lost because it is impossible to renew them to repentance.

It also would mean that getting saved in one’s eighties would give somebody a definite advantage over the one who gave his life to Christ as a child.

If I believed that one could sin one’s way out of salvation and as a consequence, be forever lost, I would have advised my kids to hold off on getting saved until they were more mature.  (Especially if they’ve only got one shot at it.)

The enemy has less time to work on them before they die, they have more maturity working in their favor when temptation comes, and a lot of what tempts a 17 year old isn’t so tempting when you’re eighty.

Does that sound either logical or Scriptural?

While maintaining the state of salvation is unconditional, I had to meet at least five conditions in order to obtain it.  I had to believe, accept, repent, confess and trust.

It seems there are a lot of conditions attached to even the most seemingly unconditional promises.  But there is a lot more here than just a play on words.

Stay with me.

Assessment:

I received an email from a brother asking what at first blush sounded like a no-brainer. “Do you agree/disagree that God’s love is unconditional?”

I was about to dash off a quick reply when I heard that still, small voice in the back of my mind let out with a chuckle. I decided I wasn’t absolutely sure how to answer that question so I’d better make sure.

It’s that word, ‘unconditional’ that nagged at my spirit.   Unconditional love is something that makes no demands, has no preconditions, and has no strings attached.

God IS love.  But unconditional love is a humanistic concept, not a Biblical one.  Unconditional love is the highest kind of love humanism knows.

Unconditional love as humanism views it, is a love that makes no demands for performance, good behavior, fellowship or discipline.

Unconditional love as expressed by God is a bit more conditional:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

That appears to be a condition — not necessarily on love, but certainly on salvation.  But unconditional love means that God loves everybody — without condition.  So what do we do with Esau?

“And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” (Malachi 1:3)

“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Romans 9:13)

Unconditional love demands that God loves Esau unconditionally, doesn’t it?  So there could be no conditions under which God could hate Esau by definition, no?

In the end, I can’t find any expression in Scripture of what could be called unconditional love.  At best, one can argue that for a Christian, the conditions have already been met.

Jesus met the first condition, to wash away the sin that God hates. The believer meets the second condition, but only by God’s grace through faith.  The conditions of God’s love are resident within Himself, but they are conditions, notwithstanding.

There is a temptation to popularize Christianity by using loaded PC buzzwords like ‘unconditional love’ to make Christianity sound more relevant.  After all,  it is politically incorrect to suggest that God doesn’t love everybody, saint and sinner, without condition.

But the Bible says God doesn’t love everybody unconditionally.   He loved the world so much that He made a way for sinners to have fellowship with Him, on condition that they believe on His Son.

He loves His children, but He still spanks them when they get out of line.

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”  (Hebrews 12:7)

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11)

God’s love for us is deeper than we can contemplate and more unfathomable than vastness of the universe.  The price paid for our redemption stunned the angels and totally blindsided the enemy.

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1st Corinthians 2:8)

As deep and as wide and as unfathomable as that love might be, the word ‘unconditional’ is not the right word to describe it.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on  May 4, 2010

‘And Ye Shall Be Hated For My Name’s Sake’

‘And Ye Shall Be Hated For My Name’s Sake’
Vol: 27 Issue: 28 Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In Belarus in 1999, the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in Minsk had 1,000 members. After being driven from one building where it held services and being threatened to move from another, it has lost 400 worshipers. Most members stopped attending for fear of the government.

Private worship services are broken up by government thugs; Baptists are fined for singing hymns, Protestants are prohibited from purchasing property and Catholics are banned from using foreign priests.

Jews have suffered firebomb attacks on synagogues, and a government publishing house published a book considered to be anti-Semitic.

That is the state of affairs in the former Soviet Union State of Belarus under Alexander Lukashenko.

In August, Lukashenko’s government bulldozed a newly constructed church as parishioners were preparing for its consecration. The government claimed the church was a Christian denomination separate from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church preferred by the Lukashenko regime.

But in point of face, while Belarus is Europe’s greatest religious oppressor, it is hardly Europe’s only regime to take aim at Christianity as a threat to the state. That was the same reason Rome persecuted the early Church.

In the last few years, hostility against evangelicals in Europe seems to be growing. In 1999, the French government passed an “anti-cult” law officially labeling evangelical groups as cults and sects.

There are several other European countries dabbling with anti-cult laws, including: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, Spain and a few others. In most of these countries, there are efforts to categorize evangelical churches as “cults”.

The issue of sekts (sects) is a growing concern among the Christian population in Germany. Sektenbeaufragers (sect commissioners) are priests and pastors of established churches who often speak out against new religious minorities.

Government officials are often accused of labeling groups with this term when “off-the-record.” In the German society, the word sekt often implies something akin to ” the most evil threat to society.”

Public opinion can turn against such a group and make them the target of violence and vandalism. Nothing is done by the government to stop slander of smaller, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian groups within Germany.

In France, a law entitled “To enforce the prevention and repression of groups of a sectarian nature” was passed by the National Assembly with only one dissenting vote. Evangelicals fear the passage of this anti-sect legislation because several of them had already been labeled as “sects,” in a list published in 1996.

Fearing that the term “evangelical” will be increasingly be equated with “sect,” several churches have already removed the word evangelical from their names.

The French National Assembly passed a bill that will give the state the power to dissolve religious groups and imprison and fine members found to be “creating a state of mental or physical dependence” among participants. The bill was designed to restrict the rights of evangelical groups, especially those active in proselytizing.

A list of 172 groups considered to be dangerous sects was leaked to the press. This list was compiled due to anti-cult hysteria in the French National Assembly after religious cults in other countries threatened national security.

One Baptist congregation on the list, the Institut Theologique de Nimes, lost the room they had rented for 12 years and two members of the congregation were fired from their jobs. Other groups named on the list suffered similar discrimination.

In Belgium in February of 2001, four American Pentecostal Evangel missionaries teaching at the International Christian Academy near Brussels were detained by Belgian authorities. They were ordered deported for not having “proper paperwork.”

Belgium has identified even more ‘dangerous Christian sects’ than the French have.

In 1997, the Belgian Parliamentary Commission on sects and the dangers they may pose to society and individuals released a large report. The report listed 189 organizations that fell under their definition of a sect, including many Christian groups.

In the report they defined three classes of sects, which included (actual) sects, harmful sectarian organizations, and criminal associations but made no distinctions on the list.

The report recommended the creation of two entities.

The first is a task force to help coordinate the intelligence efforts of law enforcement officials concerning sects.

The second is an independent center to monitor sects and propose legislation to combat the dangers they pose.

While these actions do not constitute an act of persecution, the classifying of individuals and considering legislation to punish them or restrict them due to their religious beliefs rather than their actions can be considered a precursor to more extreme actions.

As George Bernard Shaw once observed, ‘the one thing man learns from history is that man learns nothing from history.’

Assessment:

The Bible says that in the last days, the world will come under the power of a single, global religion, having ‘two horns like a Lamb’ but one that will speak ‘as a dragon’, we are told in Revelation 13:11.

A kind of ‘Christian’ ‘religiousity’ — but one that denies the fundamentals, like salvation and Biblical doctrines.

The Apostle Paul described it thusly:

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” [1 Timothy 4:1-3]

Further, the prophet Daniel identifies the leader of the Roman Empire as the one who will use that coming global religious system as a tool by which to maintain power during his seven yeardictatorship.

It is therefore hardly a coincidence that, as that time grows closer, we are seeing a legislative tightening on groups labeled as ‘fundamentalist’.

And thanks to the war against al-Qaeda, passing legislation against any fundamentalist group of any religious stripe sounds like a good idea to protect national security.

We are living in the last days. The days of an underground church are already upon us in many parts of Europe. Trending precisely as the Bible said it would in the last days. Because these ARE the last days.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on December 7, 2002

Featured Commentary: Moses, An Unlikely Hero ~Steve Schmutzer

Why Didn’t God Just Nuke Lucifer Before the Garden?

Why Didn’t God Just Nuke Lucifer Before the Garden?
Vol: 27 Issue: 27 Monday, August 27, 2018

There is no doubt that evil exists.  In fact, evil is the default state of humanity. (Babies have to be taught not to bite, after all.) Did God create evil?

God is both loving and all-powerful.  Despite this, He seems unwilling or incapable of preventing the vast amount of evil and suffering in this world. That was essentially the question posed in yesterday’s email. 

“I have recently had a question posed to me and I find I am unable to find an answer (if there is even one).  I have been asked why God did not send Lucifer immediately to the place prepared for him and his legions when he rebelled.  Why did a loving God allow him to enter the Garden of Eden to destroy mankind?  I admit my attempts to explain fell short of their anticipated answer.  I know you have most likely addressed this in the past, but could you perhaps address again for us that might have missed this.”

Fair enough.  We’ve all been hit at one time or another with what is a seemingly unanswerable question: “Why didn’t God just nuke Lucifer before the Garden and avoid all the fuss?”

The short answer is, “Because you couldn’t go to heaven if He did!” — but that seldom satisfies the critics.  

The longer answer is because the universe is created in a balance.

For there to be darkness, there must first be light.  Darkness is measured by the absence of light.  Without the prior existence of light, darkness could not exist.  You can’t measure light without darkness.

In order for there to be cold, there must first be heat.  Cold is a measure of the absence of heat.  Without heat, cold could not exist.

Evil is a measure of the absence of good.  Without good, evil could not exist.  Evil is not a creation of God, since it cannot exist outside of the creation of good.  But evil does exist, because good exists.  

Think of it like a battery.  It takes both the positive and negative poles to create power.  Good would have no power to effect change without evil, just as evil has no existence without good.

How could one choose good if there were no evil against which to measure it?

Assessment:

In a sense, good “creates” evil by good’s very existence because good exposes evil for what it is.  The purpose of the Law was to establish what is good, proving we are all sinners, so that we would recognize our need for a Savior.  

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Romans 7:7-8)

In His creation, God never pronounced the universe ‘perfect’ — He found some of His creation to be ‘good’ some of it to be ‘very good’ and even some of it that He pronounced, ‘not good’.

“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

God created the universe as it exists for the express purpose of allowing free will spiritual beings the opportunity to choose to have fellowship with Him, or to reject Him.  Those who choose to have fellowship with Him will do so in some future, perfect creation.

And if His purpose is to have free-will fellowship in some future creation, then there must also exist some means by which these spiritual beings can make a choice whether or not to enter into this relationship with Him.

“. . . I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21)

The Bible tells us that humanity is desperately wicked and sinful (Romans 3:1018,23).  God allows human beings to commit sin because if He were to prevent it, the human race would not truly be free.

The Apostle Paul outlines God’s fourteen-point indictment against the human race;

  1. There is none righteous, no, not one.
  2. There is none that understandeth,
  3. there is none that seeketh after God.
  4. They are all gone out of the way,
  5. they are together become unprofitable;
  6. there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
  7. Their throat is an open sepulchre;
  8. with their tongues they have used deceit;
  9. the poison of asps is under their lips:
  10. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
  11. Their feet are swift to shed blood:
  12. Destruction and misery are in their ways:
  13. And the way of peace have they not known:
  14. There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)

It takes an incredible capacity for self-deception not to see oneself mirrored in that list.  Think back to before you were saved.  That is the condition of every lost person you meet.

Paul goes on to point out that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (3:23) but that there is an offer extended to us to be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (3:24)

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (3:27-28)

So God allows evil to exist in order to allow free will to exist.  Without the existence of evil, there is no choice possible.  God permitted it because it was necessary to His plan.

The Scriptures tell us that God is the Creator and the source of all good, and it reveals that, during this present dispensation, Satan is the god of this world and the source of all evil.

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2nd Corinthians 4:4)

Much of the suffering that exists in this world is a direct result of evil choices made by free-will human beings that impact others.

Natural disasters — hurricanes, volcanoes, etc., are part of the cycle of power required by this imperfect universe in order for it to exist in balance. 

In the new creation, there will be some limits on our free will, since the new creation will not contain evil.  In this life, we have a free will choice whether to agree to give that up in the next.  

That is what it means to turn one’s life and will over to Jesus Christ.  It is the conscious and deliberate choice to surrender our free will to God for eternity.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Those who refuse the opportunity in this life will not be forced to in the next life, but will instead exist separately from the new creation, and apart from God. The place set aside for those who reject God is the place originally prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

Bad things happen in this universe, because that is how it is designed.  No human being has in himself ever been righteous.  Even Adam was not righteous: he was innocent— until God allowed the serpent to test him. 

As soon as the choice was offered, he chose unrighteousness.  

Ultimately, there is not an answer to these questions that we can fully comprehend.  We, as finite human beings, can never fully understand an infinite God (Romans 11:33-34).

Sometimes we think we understand why God is doing something, only to find out later that it was for a different purpose than we originally thought.

We look at things from an earthly perspective. God looks at things from an eternal perspective;

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

It is impossible for us finite human beings to understand the ways of an infinite God (Romans 11:33-35).  Second, we must realize that God is not responsible for the wicked acts of evil men.

God had to allow the possibility of evil for us to have a true choice of whether to worship God or not.  If we never had to suffer and experience evil, would we know how wonderful heaven is?

We don’t know everything, but we can be confident knowing this:

“And we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

That’s why God allows evil to exist.  So you could choose good.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 5, 2012

Featured Commentary: Modern Warfare: Apocalypse Edition, Vol.1 ~Pete Garcia

The Rapture in Two-Part Harmony

The Rapture in Two-Part Harmony
Vol: 27 Issue: 25 Saturday, August 25, 2018

In the days of the Apostle Paul, the city of Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia, boasting a population of nearly 200,000 people –a megapolis of the ancient world.

The majority of its inhabitants were Greek, although there was a mixture of ethnic groups, including Jews.

Paul’s letters to the Church at Thessalonica are accepted as authentic by virtually all New Testament scholars. The book was quoted by name by early Church Fathers including Iraneus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Polycarp.

The first epistle is divided into three parts or themes.  In the first part, Paul reiterates his relationship with the Thessalonians, gives thanks to God for them, and outlines the evidence that the Thessalonians were truly saved, in contrast to what the Judaizers were saying about them.  

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

In the second part, Paul defends his credentials as an Apostle and the legitimacy of the Thessalonians’s conversion and his urgent desire to see them again. 

“For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

“But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18)

The third major theme of the epistle is the imminent return of the Lord for His church at the Rapture.  It is a source of endless fascination to me to read the various polemics arguing against the Rapture on the grounds that it was a nineteenth-century invention of J.N. Darby or Margaret MacDonald or C.I. Schofield.

Other scholars, such as my friend Grant Jeffrey, have long since proved that the Rapture doctrine was taught by the early Church as far back as 373 AD when he discovered an ancient text authored by Ephraem the Syrian, a prominent Byzantine theologian.

In On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, Ephraem wrote:

“For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.”

The most fascinating aspect of Grant’s discovery is the effort to discredit it by opponents of a pre-Trib Rapture by denying Ephraem’s authenticity, called the discovery “pseudo-Ephraem.” 

This argument says that Ephraem didn’t write it, somebody else did.  Is that even a relevant argument? 

I was at Grant’s house visiting shortly after he made his discovery in 1995 and Grant showed me a book in his collection published in the 1600’s in which Ephraem’s teaching on the Rapture was quoted by a French theologian.

So denying Ephraem’s authorship is meaningless to the issue at hand, (which was whether the Rapture had been taught prior to the 1800’s.)

Personally, I’ve never understood how there could be a controversy.  Whether pseudo-Ephraem or just plain Ephraem — or Darby, Schofield, MacDonald — they are largely irrelevant — since the Apostle Paul taught of an imminent Rapture in his FIRST epistle to the Thessalonians. 

The controversy is about whether or not some subsequent interpreter confirmed what God told Paul, and it extends until what Paul actually wrote doesn’t seem to matter.  

But Paul not only outlined the Rapture in detail, he fully expected to witness it himself.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

But the verses about the Rapture don’t actually complete the third theme of Paul’s first epistle to Thessolonica.

Paul addresses questions concerning his credentials as an Apostle, confirms that the Thessalonians are truly saved, and reveals the details of the Rapture. 

The Thessalonians, like many in the Church today, missed the point of Paul’s first Epistle.  The point was that the Lord’s return should be a source of great comfort, not a source of contention.

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)

The message is as clear as it can possibly be. As clear as this message is, some have trouble understanding it, even today.  Paul says that Lord will appear in the air, the dead in Christ will rise, those still living will rise right after, and we will then spend eternity with the Lord.  

Paul says the purpose of this revelation was to comfort believers facing hard times.  What completes the theme is Paul’s exhortation at the end.

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

Assessment:

Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians had but one primary purpose, as specifically outlined in Chapter Two.  It was to correct the doctrinal errors that an apparently forged letter from Paul had created about the Day of the Lord.  

The Thessalonians feared that the Day of the Lord had come and gone and they had been left behind.  

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

The phrase, “our gathering together” is translated from the Greek, episunagoge, which means “a complete collection; especially a Christian meeting: assembling, gathering together.”  It is used but one other time, in Hebrews 10:25 exhorting believers to meet for worship. 

As we go on, let’s ask and answer some questions from the text of Scripture. 

First question: “What is Paul beseeching the Thessalonians about?” Answer: “That they not be shaken by a letter that said they had been left behind.”

The primary theme of 2nd Thessalonians is therefore, the coming of our Lord and our gathering together, or collecting, unto Him. Paul begins by offering two reasons why the Thessalonians should not be afraid that they had been left behind.   

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2Thessalonians 2:3)

So, what is the first reason why the Thessalonians should know that they had not missed the event Paul had described in his last letter?  Because the day would not come until there came “a falling away first.”

The translation “a falling away” should actually be rendered, “THE falling away” namely, the specific falling away of which Paul warned them of “when I was yet with you.” (2 Thessalonians 2:5)

The “falling away” is the great apostasia, meaning, “a defection from the truth.” 

The second reason why the Thessalonians should not be afraid that they had been left behind was because the man of sin, or the son of perdition, had not yet been revealed.  The man of sin is, of course, the antichrist.

The man of sin can’t be revealed until after the great apostasia because it is through the apostasiathat the man of sin is revealed.  Without the apostasia, the antichrist couldn’t get a foothold because the population would not be prepared to buy what he will be selling.

But what else does this passage teach us?  The Rapture couldn’t have happened because the antichrist had not been revealed.  What does that mean?   It HAS to mean that the Rapture comes first and then later, the antichrist is revealed.

I have heard all kinds of clever and imaginative explanations for why these verses don’t mean what they say they mean, but none of them ever actually take on the verses themselves.

They just go out and find others from elsewhere that seem contradictory but I’ve never heard anyone adequately dispute these two simple points – which is probably the reason Paul raised them.

One can come up with verses that seemingly put the Church in the Tribulation, or verses that seemingly dispute the meaning of “the wrath of God” and verses that question who the Restrainer is, or dispute the meaning of the Day of Christ, and so on.

But Paul says that there are two things that must come after “our gathering together unto Him” – the great apostasia, and the revelation of the son of perdition.  So if the Thessalonians don’t perceive a great apostasy, followed by the revealing of the antichrist, then it means they didn’t miss the Rapture.

Let’s reverse this equation and take another look at what Paul is saying from that angle. 

Paul is saying that if the Thessalonians DO perceive a great falling away and they DO recognize “the man of sin, the son of perdition,” then YES, they missed the Rapture.

Turned back around, he’s saying that because the man of sin hasn’t been revealed, the Rapture has not happened.  Why?  Because the Rapture comes first.  Not because Darby, MacDonald, Schofield or even Ephraem the Syrian invented the doctrine after the fact.

But because the doctrine was already well-established in the first century by the Apostle Paul! 

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

The first reference to a pre-Trib Rapture comes from the Bible.  It is not a cunningly devised fable, but is a doctrine made known to us by eyewitnesses of His Majesty (2 Peter 1:16). 

It wasn’t turned into a cunningly devised fable until after the great apostasia first kicked off at the end of the nineteenth century with the “Age of Enlightenment.”

The Great Apostasia is Part One and it is pretty much fully developed.  As for Part Two, the revelation of the antichrist, well, THAT looks like it’s fulfillment is just around the corner.  And according to the Apostle Paul, we won’t be here for Part Two. 

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

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 12, 2011

Eternity Is a Long, Long, Time

Eternity Is a Long, Long, Time
Vol: 27 Issue: 24 Friday, August 24, 2018

Eternity is one of those things that must be, but still, it sits just outside our capacity to imagine it.

Eternity is a long time, but ‘eternity’ is ‘a long time’ the way a billion dollars is ‘a lot of money’. It takes a carefully constructed word picture to bring it into focus.

I heard ‘eternity’ described this way, once, and it helped. Suppose a seagull were to take a grain of sand from the East Coast and drop it off on the West Coast. Every ten thousand years, our seagull would transport another grain of sand from the East Coast to the West Coast.

When every grain of sand on every beach on the entire East Coast has been transferred to the West Coast (one grain at a time, every thousand years), that would constitute the first ten seconds of eternity!

Mankind is created in God’s Image, according to Genesis 1:26, and after God’s likeness. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that we look like God, or that God looks like us.

Jesus revealed,

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God’s ‘image’ and His ‘likeness’ refer to His eternal nature, not His cosmetic appearance.

Monkeys look as much like men as any of the other lower order of animals. They look enough like men to argue that, if man is in God’s image, then so are some species of monkeys.

Connecting the dots, then, Jesus tells us that God is a Spirit, and Genesis tells us that we were created in God’s Image and in His Likeness.

Scripture teaches that man was created with an eternal spiritual component.

A Spirit, in His Image, that is eternal in nature, in His Likeness.

That which is eternal is that which, by definition, cannot die, and cannot be killed. But it can be destroyed.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Note the subtle shift in Our Lord’s Words when He moves from the temporal to the eternal. The body can die, the soul cannot be killed, but both can be ‘destroyed’ in hell.

There are those who teach that this means that hell isn’t a place of eternal torment, but rather a place where the condemned soul is annihilated.

The Bible speaks as much of hell as it does of Heaven; indeed, in His ministry, the Lord spoke MORE of hell than he did of heaven. Scripture divides ‘hell’ — as we understand it — into two phases.

There is hell, and then, later on, the Lake of Fire.

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

It is the ‘Lake of Fire’ that some teach is the place of annihilation. The Scriptures teach otherwise.

We are created with an eternal element, as we’ve already established. That which is eternal cannot be killed, but it can be ‘destroyed’. But ‘destruction’ means eternal separation from God, not annihilation.

Jesus explained in the story of Lazarus and the rich man;

“There WAS a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. . . .”

Both of them died, the Lord explains, and each went to his place, Lazarus to Paradise, and the rich man to hell.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:19-20-23)

At the time of the story, Jesus had not yet redeemed humanity, and the righteous dead went to Paradise, which, the Lord taught, was separated from hell by a great gulf or chasm;

“And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:26)

At His Death, Jesus ‘descended into hell’ [which also included at that time, Paradise] in order to liberate the righteous dead and take them to heaven;

“Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:8-10)

Once the righteous dead were taken to heaven, hell was expanded to make room. Those in hell will be ‘cast into the Lake of Fire’ at the second death, the Scriptures say.

There are those who will point out that the word ‘hell’ (sheol) has two meanings; it means both ‘the grave’ and the place where departed spirits go. So they argue that hell is not really a literal Bible teaching.

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” (2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9)

Note the phrase ‘everlasting destruction’ and reconcile that, if you can, with the idea of ‘annihilation’. It takes some real imaginative interpretation to get there from here.

‘Everlasting destruction’ isn’t the same as ‘annihilation’ — which is instantaneous and permanent. And things that are different are NOT the same.

Hell is a place of punishment that the Lord described THREE times, using exactly the same words;

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

When the Lord chooses to repeat Himself, it is because He wants to make sure we get it right.

Jesus said the rich man was ‘in torments’, desiring that Lazarus “dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:23)

So, from our Lord’s Lips to our ears, we know it is a place of torment, involving ‘flames’ where ‘their worm dieth not’. Jude 13 reveals it is a place of eternal darkness.

While those in heaven will meet and recognize their loved ones, those in hell will spend eternity like the unidentified rich man, nameless, alone and in utter darkness.

The story of the rich man reveals hell to be a place of consciousness, a place of eternal remorse, a place without hope, a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a place of eternal flame.

Jesus says of the hellbound sinner that it would be “better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

Jesus said of Judas that “woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24)

Hell is worse than violent death and worse than having ever been born at all. Jesus’ words make no sense if Judas were facing ‘annihilation’ in hell. How could NOT existing (annihilation) be worse than never existing?

On the other hand, eternal torment would be MUCH worse than never having existed at all. The difference is obvious without having to conduct any special Scriptural gymnastics to prove it.

And if the plain sense of Scripture makes perfect sense on its face, why seek a different sense?

Hell is given over to the Lake of Fire at the second death at the conclusion of the thousand year Millennial Kingdom Age. The beast and the false prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire, where, Revelation 20:10 says that “they shall be “tormented day and night for ever and ever’ — not annihilated.

Eternal life and eternal death are two sides of the same coin in that they are BOTH eternal, since we are created in God’s Image, which is eternal Spirit.

It is often argued that, ‘a loving God wouldn’t send people to hell’ — and that argument sounds logical because it is true. A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell — and He doesn’t.

A loving God would provide an escape from eternal condemnation, which is different than expecting Him to change the nature of the punishment.

Hell was created as a prison and place of punishment for the rebellious angels. When man joined in the rebellion, he condemned himself to share their prison.

But “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Heaven doesn’t require cream cheese to make it heaven, and there are no red union suits in hell. Both are real and both are eternal because we are eternal and, as eternal beings, we have to continue our existence somewhere.

God prepared a place for those who love Him and who want to spend eternity with Him. And He created a place for those who reject Him and rebel against His rule.

And He gave us a free choice to decide which we would prefer.

We are the watchmen on the wall. For those of us that know the truth, that is an awesome thing to contemplate. It rekindles a sense of urgency for the lost.

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)

The Omega Letter’s mission is to prepare the saved for the work of the ministry by comparing the Scriptures to the signs of the times and providing evidence of the lateness of the hour and the soon coming of the Lord.

Our secondary mission is to examine the deeper truths of Scripture so that we are better prepared to answer the skeptic’s questions and make clear the choices that are set before him.

It is incumbent upon us to be prepared, “and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)

May God continue to sustain and provide for us as we continue in our mission.

Until He comes.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on June 8, 2010

Featured Commentary: On Thralls and Palestinianism ~Alf Cengia