Posted in antichrist, bible jesus, prophecy

Iran’s Khamenei hints that the Presidency may be dismantled

The News first then the prophetic implication.

In April of 2011 I had posted several articles noting the growing and obvious rift between the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, and his handpicked and supposedly elected President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There was a spate of articles and a heightened speculation, then…nothing. War tensions took over and news chat of Ahmadinejad’s position took back burner. Now this incredible news today. First, look at the three peices of news from last April/May-

Apr 28, 2011: There’s a rift between Iran’s President Ahmadinejad
“A rift is emerging between Iran’s president and its supreme leader, prompting several members of the parliament to call for the impeachment of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has not been seen in public for days.”

Apr 29, 2011: Ahmadinejad may resign
“In an interesting story yesterday, it seems that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has displeased the clerics (who really rule the nation) and especially has displeased Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei…”

May 6, 2011: “Are Ahmadinejad’s days numbered?
“An Examiner article states that Arab TV has reported that the Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has asked President hmadinejad of Iran to step down. If true, it indicates a tightening of the strife that has burst onto the surface.”

Iran’s Parliamentary elections are coming up. This parliamentary election will be held in Iran on 2 March 2012 to elect new members of Islamic Consultative Assembly, Majlis. The Presidential election is not until next year. “The [parliamentary] election is expected to be a contest between “supporters and opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad within the conservative camp,” says the AP. So there was already a rift, but the election is the mechanism that will expose it to the light. And any tensions that have been successfully hidden from the world since last April, will be all the harder to suppress as the elections near.

Then this today.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has hinted the office of the presidency may be dismantled“.

In this Al Jazeera opinion piece analyzing the current internal factionism in advance of the elections, it is stated,

“Soon after the presidential election of June 2009 – when Khamenei had to side with Ahmadinejad – the widely contested president was under the illusion that he enjoyed grassroots support. As a result of that deadly miscalculation, he and his faction now face two problems: not having his allies qualified for the next parliamentary election, and being impeached by the newly formed parliament for a barrage of corruption charges against him, his aides, and his cabinet. Ahmadinejad was always dispensable for Khamenei – but he seems to have had misread the Supreme Leader’s intentions, who has even recently suggested that the office of presidency might very well be altogether dismantled to guarantee his absolutist Sultanism without even a hint of democratic menace.”

Sultanism is “another name for Despotism, is a form of authoritarian government characterized by the extreme personal presence of the ruler in all elements of governance. … The term Sultanism is derived from the word Sultan, which is a title used in Muslim societies for a sovereign or absolute monarch.” (source)

This isn’t the first time the Ayatollah has said that he may get rid of the office of President. He said it 4 months ago in this article in the Washington Post- “An unusual proposal by Iran’s supreme leader to eliminate the position of president has highlighted an increasingly bitter struggle within the country’s political elite, as the leader and his allies continue to try to undercut the powers of Iran’s ambitious president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said “changing Iran into a parliamentary system” in which voters no longer elected a president would not be a problem.” Read more here.

Now the prophetic implication. The Tribulation is a time for Kings. It is all about kings. There will not be freedom, there will not be liberty, there will not be democracy. Geo-political changes occur so rapidly that individual national sovereignty is quickly done away with. the world forms into ten kingships. Daniel 7:24- “The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.”

Revelation 17:12 – “Revelation 17:12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.”

Daniel 11:40 “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.”

Revelation 16:12, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.”

The final days of the Church Age will see, and we are seeing now, a shifting of power. Not just in one president here or there but grand, sweeping changes, and changes not just of who governs, but how they govern, too. And not for the better. Changes where kings and presidents and ayatollahs and prime ministers and dictators are swept from power at a heartbeat. How many top leaders have been killed or have resigned int he last year? Power coalesces, and even nominal democracy is done away with. Think of all the dictators and leaders swept away in the Arab Spring, to be replaced with an Army or a Muslim Brotherhood, or a Terrorist faction. None of the new leaders have been better than the last, that is for sure.

It has to be so, because by Revelation 13 the Antichrist has gained enough power to force all people, great and small, to receive a mark on their hand or their forehead in order to worship the beast, or they may not buy nor sell. That is the word in Revelation 13:16- “forced” “everyone.” Only dictators can do that. As we near the Tribulation the world gets ready to form into ten kingships, then seven, then one.

That’s why it is prophetically significant that the Ayatollah has hinted he may get rid of the office of the President. By the time of the end, there will only be dictators. aAd then the final dictator, antichrist. It is all narrowing down.
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Posted in bible jesus, overcomer

Overcomers: Noah, Daniel, and Job

God speaking to Ezekiel about inescapable judgment:

“Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 14:14).

Why are Noah, Daniel, and Job mentioned as standout, righteous men, in this verse and in Ez 14:20?

“The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are his never-dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil, and an ensnaring world, he must either “fight” or be lost.” (JC Ryle, “Holiness“)

Noah overcame the world. Daniel overcame the flesh. Job overcame the devil.
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Posted in bible jesus, children, millennium kingdom

If the Tribulation will be so horrible, why will God allow children to be born into it?

After the post I’d written about the news of child porn and the heinous acts from the California teacher, someone emailed with a very good question. I think those two articles and others like them, showing the deepening evil against our precious children in the world, makes us cringe to think of how bad it will be for them in the Tribulation. The question I was asked was, why will God allow children to be born during that terrible time?

It is heartbreaking to consider the heinous lives that children will live in the Tribulation. I can scarcely think on it.

Life has always been difficult for society’s most vulnerable. From even the beginning, the vast distance of time, children were sacrificed to Molech or to Aztec gods…made slaves…sold, given away. In the US in the 1800s Jacob Riis exposed the terrible child labor of kids working in dark factories and the awful societal conditions they lived in. Even today children are exposed to those same conditions, sold in Thailand, slaves in Indonesia, aborted in China…

Jacob Riis photo: Children sleeping in Mulberry Street (1890)

Let’s look at a couple of things. First, the facts. There will be children in the 7 year period known to us as the Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) but more properly known  by its title “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” (Jer 30:7)

It is supposed by many (me included) that unborn and children who are too young to to make a conscious decision for Jesus that the Lord will take them in the rapture. However, the Tribulation is 7 years long and others will be born afterward.

In warning the disciples about the Great Tribulation which begins as the antichrist tears up the peace treaty and begins his persecution of the Jews by standing in the Temple declaring himself to be God, Jesus says there will be babies and toddlers on earth at that time:

Matthew 24:19: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!”

He also said that as it was in the time just before Noah entered the ark it will be similar on earth before He comes a second time to Judge it:

Matthew 24:38: For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

And if they are marrying then it is presumed that progeny will result. So there will be kids.

The second question becomes, then, why? Why will God allow babies to be born into such dangerous times? Well, as mentioned earlier, times have always been dangerous for children: When Herod sought to maintain his kingship, hearing the Wise Men tell of a new king, Herod killed every male child in the nation under the age of two. (Mt 2:16-18)

Egypt’s Pharaoh sought to kill all the firstborn boys of Israel, which was a nation within his nation by that time. (Exodus 1:17)

In Lamentations 4:10, women in the besieged city cooked and ate their own children.

Though the Tribulation will be a time of unequalled distress on the earth, for all of man’s history, children have been at times a disposable commodity. It will be no different in the future. That is the nature of sin on a cursed and dying world- the vulnerable are at most risk.

We can answer the question of why will God allow the children to be born into the Tribulation period three additional ways. First the practical way:

There will be people left alive at the end of the Tribulation to enter the Millennium. The saved enter it, but are unglorified, real flesh and blood people. Those who make it through will live during the 1000 years. Isaiah 65:10 says that anyone who dies at age 100 in that time will be thought of as a child and if they are still a sinner they will be forever cursed. People will live a long time and they will repopulate the earth. Additionally, all those entering the Millennium as a child and those who are born during the Millennium will be given opportunity to become saved. The resurrected saints of Israel who live in the Kingdom will not be able to procreate because they will be glorified. So that is the practical reason. Repopulation.

Secondly, at the end of that time, there will be a short rebellion. The bible doesn’t say much about how people are saved in the Millennium, but God in His grace and mercy will give everyone a choice, to accept Him or reject Him. At the end of the 1000 years, satan (who had been locked up in the abyss since the end of the Tribulation) is let out to do his worst among the Millennium people who are living at that time. (Rev 20:1-3)

When satan is let out, though the people have been living on a perfect earth with a perfect Jesus ruling and reigning, they still have a flesh nature and some will succumb to satan’s schemes. Rev 20:7-10 shows us:

“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

In His longsuffering, the people, babies, and children who enter the Millennium, and their progeny who come after them, but are not glorified, are given opportunity to accept Christ as savior. Perhaps though we are not told in the bible exactly how they are saved we can surely see that the children are given an opportunity to grow up and to magnify His glory by coming to Him as a sinner seeking forgiveness- as any person throughout time has had the chance to do. In the Millennium their salvation would be even more glorious because Jesus will be visible as the High Priest! (Hebrews 7:11-13; Psalm 110:4). He is the better priest! Though there will be sin in the Millennium there will NOT be any false religion, because satan is locked up, and Jesus is present on earth. All the children who grow up in the Millennium will know only truth as their religion.

Imagine what it would be like for a 6 year old, born during the Tribulation and never knowing goodness or peace or Light, and then growing up in the Millennium with Jesus as their God and Savior in person on earth! THAT would surely glorify Him! And perhaps the darker side is the ones who reject Him in the Millennium demonstrate to others how powerful a sin nature is and why it must be dealt with so harshly. But even this shows His glory because it shows His holiness.

Third, God is good. He is the very definition of Good. Everything He does is good. He is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all. So for whatever reason He is choosing to allow children to be born into a time of the worst suffering on earth there shall ever be or will be again, (Mt 24:21) it is Good, because everything He does is good. We just have to wait and see.
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Posted in bible jesus, prophecy

New island in Red Sea: other weird geophysical changes happening in that area too

All the news outlets are reporting this today, a stunning new development in the Red Sea. I’ll post one article and then continue below with connecting the unusual seismic activity that has been ongoing in that region for over a year. And of course, connect it with the bible…

Brand new island rises from Red Sea depths

“Throw away that shiny new atlas you got for Christmas – it’s already out of date.”

“Volcanic activity in the Red Sea is causing the formation of a new island in the Zubair archipelago as lava is cooled by the surrounding seawater and solidifies. The underwater volcano responsible is located on the Red Sea Rift, where the African and Arabian tectonic plates are slowly pulling apart.”

“Yemeni fishermen first spotted lava spewing 30 metres into the air on 19 December and this was later confirmed by satellite observations. Ash plumes were detected by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard its Terra and Aqua satellites and NASA’s Advanced Land Imager aboard its Earth Observing One satellite, which produced this image. Elevated levels of sulphur dioxide in the region were also recorded by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument aboard NASA’s Aura satellite.”

“By 23 December, the lava mass had broken the water’s surface and the new island had begun to take shape. The island is currently around 500m wide and is still growing. The question now is whether or not it has staying power. It may continue to grow significantly as volcanic activity continues, or the fragile lava mass may be broken up by the action of the sea’s waves.”

“Whatever the outcome, volcanic activity in the Red Sea region appears to be on the rise. This is the first time the volcano has erupted in over a century and follows recent eruptions in the Afar Triangle in Eritrea and Ethiopia and the volcanic fields of southern Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In 2007, the nearby Jabal al-Tair volcanic island also erupted for the first time in over a century, killing 8 people.”

If you remember, there has also been another volcanic island rising from the deep, over at El Hierro in the Canary Islands. And in November last year a new island emerged from the sea in just a few days at Indonesia at Anak Krakatau. I wrote about that, here.

Back to the Red Sea.

In December 2010 I wrote about unusual seismic activity occurring in the area off Eritrea in the Red Sea. I’d written,
“In 2005, the continent of Africa began unzipping. In just days, a 35-mile-long rift opened up, which was 20 miles wide at spots. It happened quickly and initially, scientists surmised that a new sea was growing. However, this assessment as controversial, because their understanding of plate tectonics holds a longer and a slower view. In other words, continents don’t move and split apart in days, it takes millions of years. Or so they thought. In November of 2009, scientists concluded that indeed, the continent of Africa is birthing a new sea, and that was when they used the word “unzipped.” More on this below.

At the Horn of Africa in November 2010, an earthquake swarm at Yemen caused alarm. The swarm was situated at the opening to the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aden, and seemed to be an unusual place for seismic activity. According to the history of the area, at USGS, the Yemen-Gulf of Aden-Djibouti area IS seismic, but in a minor way. Between 1950 through yesterday this area had 56 earthquakes ranging between mag 4.0-5.9. There were no quakes greater than mag 5.9 during that date range. Now there have been 31, which is 2/3 as many as in the last sixty years. This is statistically significant, as well as prophetically interesting. (Mark 13:8). It should be noted that this is the exact area where a new island has now emerged a year later.

In my opinion, there are two ways that this is prophetically interesting. First, Jesus told us plainly that in the last days of the birthpangs, there will be earthquakes in diverse places. Beyond the unusual geophysical changes occurring with rifts suddenly opening, and unusual earthquake activity that has never been replicated historically, but at the other end of the rift at this same time last year, a 5.1 mag earthquake occurred in Ethiopia, which is the other end of the rapidly “unzipping” rift. The area highlighted above is definitely diverse.

Secondly, the bible shows us that the Tribulation will be a time of massive geophysical changes. Revelation 16:20 prophesies that every island flees away and every mountain crumbles. So do Revelation 6 and Ezekiel 38:20. Isaiah 24 is the chapter that describes the destruction of the world by God, “The LORD’s Devastation of the Earth.” Remember, when the world was formed it looked very different. After the flood the land masses had changed dramatically.

As to the slow vs. catastrophic plate tectonics competing theories, many current observations are incompatible with slow-and-gradual plate tectonics. The unzipping of the African Rift is just one example. It is happening before our eyes.

Answers in Genesis explains:

Is Catastrophic Plate Tectonics Biblical?
“The Bible does not directly mention either continental drift or plate tectonics. However, if the continents were once joined together, as suggested by Genesis 1:9–10, and are now apart, then the only possibility is continental division and “sprint” during the Flood. Some have suggested this continental division occurred after the Flood during the days of Peleg when “the earth was divided” (Genesis 10:25). However, this Hebrew expression can be also translated to mean “lands being divided among peoples,” which, according to the context, refers to the results of the Tower of Babel judgment. Furthermore, the destruction at the earth’s surface, where people and animals were then living during such a rapid continental “sprint,” would have been as utterly devastating as the Flood itself. Therefore, using catastrophic plate tectonics as a model, mechanism, and framework to describe and understand the Genesis Flood event is far more reasonable and is also consistent with the Bible.”

It is the supposition of many eschatology bible scholars that the geo-physical changes that will occur in the Tribulation not only will be punishment for sin (Isaiah 24), but also a process by which the Lord reforms the earth back to its original state. (Rev 21-22). Ezekiel 47 describes the Millennial River that forges a path between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. (see map here). Rapid geological and geo-physical changes are prophesied and are already beginning. Keep looking up.
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Posted in bible jesus, prophecy, state of the church

State of the Church part 5a: When carnality leads to spiritual abuse

State of the Church:

Part 1: Introduction, Love growing cold
Part 2: Are you tending your anchor?
Part 3: The numbers aren’t good

Part 4: Carnal Carnival, & the greatest sin pastors commit
Part 5b: Is your church spiritually abusive?
Conclusion: Spiritual Leaders and Humble Relationships

We have been exploring Jesus’ end time prophecy in Matthew 24:12, which says, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” and looked at how this prophecy applies to believers. We explored the incremental drifting away from Jesus and how that impacts our selves and our churches. In part 3 we looked at the numbers of surveyed born-again believers who state they hold to a biblical worldview and found that it was 8-9%. When you have 91-92% of a congregation that has in some part a secular worldview you are in for trouble, and part 4 looked at that trouble: carnality.

Carnality is described by GotQuestions as “translated from the Greek word sarkikos, which literally means “fleshly.” This descriptive word is seen in the context of Christians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. In this passage, the apostle Paul is addressing the readers as “brethren,” a term he uses almost exclusively to refer to other Christians; he then goes on to describe them as “carnal.” Therefore, we can conclude that Christians can be carnal. The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless (1 John 1:8). Every time we sin, we are acting carnally. … Until we are delivered from our sinful flesh, there will be outbreaks of carnality. For a genuine believer in Christ, though, these outbreaks of carnality will be the exception, not the rule.”

It is my contention that love is growing cold because these outbreaks of carnality in Christians are becoming the rule. They are now more than outbreaks, they are the norm. Carnality and secular worldviews lead to apostasy, something else we are told will happen in the last days. 2 Timothy 4:10 shows us that it a worldly spirit that tends to make apostates.

Sanctification is the process of the Holy Spirit taking a believer away from carnality and toward Christ-likeness. To the degree that Christians are submitting to the Holy Spirit’s authority, sanctification occurs. “Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.”

The more drenched you are in the biblical worldview the faster the process of sanctification goes. The more a Christian holds to a secular worldview and who sins willfully or unrepentingly, the slower sanctification goes.

“Sanctification is an intrinsic thing; it lies chiefly in the heart. It is called ‘the adorning the hidden man of the heart.’ 1 Peter 3:4. Sanctification is an intense and ardent thing. … Its properties burn within the believer. ‘Fervent in spirit.’ Rom 12:11. Sanctification is not a dead form, but it is inflamed into zeal. We call water hot, when it is so in the third or fourth degree; so he is holy whose religion is heated to some degree, and his heart boils over in love to God.” (online source)

When love grows cold, it means the sanctification process has slowed or stalled. We see Jesus’s rebuke of the Church at Ephesus for their love growing cold.

Rev 2:4-5, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

So, “what was the matter in Ephesus? Christ found a fatal fault that probably nobody else saw. Their hard hearts, that labor of passion and fervor was becoming the cold orthodox function. That was deadly, dangerous. The service had started to become mechanical.”(online source)

The condition of the heart is something only known to Jesus. He could see that their ardor had cooled and they were beginning to let tradition set in. “You don’t love Me like you once loved Me. Your love has cooled. That, beloved, is the forerunner of spiritual apathy. That is the forerunner of indifference. And that is the greatest fear that I have for this church for that is step one that moves you through the rest of the steps that you see in these churches into a love for the world, compromise with evil, corruption, death and judgment. … repent because to lose your first love is sin. The decreasing intensity of your love for Christ is sin. Lack of loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is sin. Repent, get on your knees before God and ask Him to forgive you for that weakening love.” (online source).

Here is the sad, downward trend:

Apathy gives rise to churches who have stalled in their process of submission to Christ and so are apathetic in their studies. Therefore allow an authoritarian pastor to take over. They still want someone to tell them what’s what, but they have left their first love (Jesus), so the pastor will suffice. If a church is going to be abused by an authoritarian pastor, it would begin now. Having a large group that is more worldly than not, is either apathetic or ignorant of the biblical duties of a pastor, they allow him to take more spiritual authority than he is given by God.

Now, I will say that I have never been a lifelong fan of the word abuse. Everyone and their brother says today that they have been abused, and while that may or may be actually true for the many people, I’ve always been a proponent of sucking it up and getting on without much fuss. But the issue I’ve uncovered through researching this series about the effects on the church of love growing cold has shown me clearly that spiritual abuse, or if it makes you more comfortable, its synonym, authoritarianism, is not only present today, but it is just as rampant as it was in the days of Jesus confronting the Pharisees. It breaks my heart. Since discovering this, I have cried on behalf of the abused and the sinning pastors while praying every night. So is Spiritual Abuse a new phenomenon or is it biblical?

David Henke notes in “Spiritual Abuse in the Bible?” Spiritual abuse has a very prominent place in the Bible, though that terminology has not been used until recently. In the scripture it is called bondage to men and the traditions of men. It is a by-product and outgrowth of legalism, which is bondage to the letter of the law.”

Jesus mourned that the people had no shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-38; Mark 6:33-34; John 10:11-13). Every town had a synagogue if the town had eleven men, so there were shepherds, the priests were the shepherds. What Jesus was mourning was their lack of compassion, their penchant for abuse by instituting legalistic rules, and their selfishness, self-aggrandizement and vanity. The problem was that the religious system had been corrupted by men to the extent that they were abusive, hypocritical, lordly legalistic shepherds who harm and not help the flock. These scriptures speak to the shepherds who not only harm but scatter the sheep: Ezekiel 34:1-24, Zechariah 11, Jeremiah 5:26-31, 1 Peter 5:1-4.” (online source).

So we see that though the term is modernized it is a very old problem. And everything old is new again. Though we are told many times in the New Testament that wolves will be among us, Christians usually take that to mean, out there, or at best, in other churches. But it is not so. Wolves will be among us, everywhere. (Mt 7:15).

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31).

The Pharisees and Scribes were poster children for abusive spiritual authorities. “[I]f you look at Ezekiel and Isaiah and Jeremiah, was that they were not using the authority they had been given for the benefit of the weak, for those who didn’t have a voice. They were using their authority for their own purposes and for the sake of human kingdoms. The result in people’s lives then was the same as now: spiritual exhaustion rooted in misconceptions about who God is, about what God wants from us and about God’s stance toward us. … in Matthew 23 he not only describes the dynamics that were going on between the Pharisees and the people, but he also warns people about the Pharisees.”

So we know the path that leads to love growing cold and what a sin it is. We know that it is prophesied to be rampant in the last days. In this post we looked at the biblical history of the constant problem of authoritarian pastors and worthless hireling shepherds. In the next post I will discuss what spiritual abuse is, how frequent it is, and look at list specifics as to what constitutes the warning signals of authoritarianism in the church, or spiritual abuse.
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Posted in bible jesus, state of the church

State of the Church part 4: Carnal Carnival, & the greatest sin pastors commit

Part 1: Introduction, Love growing cold
Part 2: Are you tending your anchor?
Part 3: The numbers aren’t good
Part 5a: When carnality leads to spiritual abuse
Part 5b: Is your church spiritually abusive?
Conclusion: Spiritual Leaders and Humble Relationships

In the Introduction/Part 1 of this series, I discussed the Matthew 24:12 prophecy Jesus gave of “love growing cold”, and showed how that prophecy relates to believers. So then if love of believers for God and of each other is predicted to grow cold, in this series I ask what causes love to grow cold. Part 2 explored that question, focusing on the Hebrews 2:1 verse “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” Part 3 looked at just how many bible believers, exactly, might have drifted away and hold to a non-biblical world view, and how the numbers impact our churches toward carnality. In this part I will take a look at what Paul Washer calls the greatest sin that pastors commit, and how that also is hurtling our brethren toward carnality and eventual cold love. Last, this series will hopefully (by God’s grace) discuss how to spot waning love and how frequently these days waning love gives rise to church spiritual abuse.

We have an old man in us that Jesus died to make become a new man when we are justified.  (Romans 6:6-7). We still live in the body of the old man but the new man is being sanctified each day as we submit and grow. The saved are still carnal creatures but it should be less so every day. It is incumbent on us to resist the fleshly desires, and to live a holy life. Succumbing to or clamoring for the carnal is never acceptable at any time.

From Forerunner commentary “(Matthew 9:16) “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old” (Luke 5:36). Mark’s version of the same parable stresses that the “tear is made worse” when the new patch eventually “pulls away from the old” garment (Mark 2:21). Christ’s message is clear: When it comes to doffing the old man and donning the new one, we cannot “mix and match.” Successfully mixing them—combining them—is as impossible as serving two masters. We just cannot do it (Matthew 6:24)! The two men represent intrinsically and irreversibly opposing ways of life.”

The problem is that when we look to things other than the bible and Jesus crucified, satan drives a wedge between us and our carnal nature, which is ever-present. It doesn’t take much for our carnal nature to raise its head, and then crane its neck, and then start leading us down the broad path. Some believers let it. Once our view becomes distracted and shifts from Jesus, we begin to renew our relationship with the carnal. Listen to Paul Washer describe the problem. It is a cycle with a terrible end. Please take a moment to watch, it is only 3 min.


Church Leaders Who Permit Carnality from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Mr Washer said that church pastors are increasingly catering to the large group who want the carnal at the expense of the small group who wants Christ. I agree with this. I have seen it all too often. For me, it is like the chicken and the egg. Some pastors introduce the carnal and once tasting, the large group gets addicted. Or some churches clamor for it and sinning pastors find they want their position more than the truth and cave in to their wishes, finding that they like the carnal way too much after all.

Rev Washer mentioned the small group. In the last part I did the numbers. If we take on face value the Barna research stating that 8% of Baptists hold a biblical worldview (and we can because the Barna numbers have remained consistent for 9 years), and we take a medium-small congregation of 200 Baptists, 8% is 16 people. One hundred eighty four people will want the carnal, or at least, accept it. Now, not all of them will want the carnal in the same degree. There are some unregenerate who are all carnal, all the time. There are others who have just started drifting and will not stand for a lot of it, only comfortable dipping a toe into the carnal. But suffice to say, in the last piece we looked at the numbers and we can see the depressing truth of what Mr Washer says: the small group starves while the large group gorges.

He also mentioned something that I’ve seen is a downward process. He said that sinning pastors try to retain the carnal congregants by presenting ever more carnal means. The issue in many churches today is that pastors and their congregations have become adventure junkies, always seeking the next big thing, then the bigger thing, then the biggest thing. Everything has to be a thrill now. Let me give a few examples.

In a previous piece I wrote on Jentezen Franklin, I quoted him from his book “Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Powerful Relationship with God.” Franklin said, “When I feel myself growing dry spiritually, when I don’t sense that cutting-edge anointing, or when I need a fresh encounter with God, fasting is the secret key that unlocks heaven’s door and slams shut the gates of hell.”

Heaven help us when we grow dry spiritually, lacking the latest cutting edge thing! Why do we always seem to need a fresh encounter? Like Jesus grows stale or something?

Here is another example: Mega church Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels wrote a book called “The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God and having the guts to respond.” There are a host of problems with this book which I’ll address in another piece. In reference to the issue I am raising issue about adventure junkie syndrome, in his book, Hybels said, “Without a hint of exaggeration,’ says Bill Hybels, ‘the ability to discern divine direction has saved me from a life of sure boredom and self-destruction.”

Thank goodness Jesus died on the cross to save Bill Hybels from boredom! His next quote from the same book is more telling. As his second grade teacher assured Hybels that God still speaks to people today as God spoke to Samuel when Samuel was called to the office of prophet, Hybels says,

“I felt a swell of release as I considered for the first time in my seven years of life that perhaps Christianity was more than ancient rules, creeds and other stiff-necked ways.” (The Power of a Whisper, 20-21).

By comparison, a believer’s staid old faith, prayer, service, obedience seems dry as yesterday’s toast.

(PS as an aside, often these adventure junkie pastors selectively clip from the OT and normalize the experience of whom they are highlighting. God audibly calling people as He called the prophets is not the normative NT Christian experience.)

Brethren, if you are in a church that lifts up Hybels as the favorite read of 2011 and legitimizes divine whispers, RUN. You have a carnal pastor feeding you carnal pabulum.

Paul Young, author of The Shack, has the same adventure junkie addiction. The regular old faith that has been good enough for 2000 years is BOR-ing! Here is what Young said on page 178 of The Shack: “For Mack these words were like a breath of fresh air! Simple. Not a bunch of exhausting work and long list of demands and not the sitting in endless meetings staring at the backs of people’s heads, people he really didn’t even know. Just sharing life.” Doesn’t that comment sound more than a bit like Hybels? Satan always tries to get us dissatisfied with what we have, which is a perfect revelation contained in the bible, but for Hybels, and undiscerning pastors who promote him, the ancient bible is not enough.

A concern is also in the sly ways these books chip away at solid biblical principles with craftily written statements like Hybels, or these in The Shack such as, “the dusty old King James Bible” or that church attendance is “religious conditioning” or that the term “Christian” is outdated. People may not even be consciously aware of being influenced by these kind of statements. But the cumulative effect is the diminish the Word and heighten the personal experience. This only adds up to spiritual adventure, which equals carnality.

Beth Moore is another one who lives for breathless moments with Jesus, seeking the thrill rather than the faith. She is a big one for always looking for the divine whisper, the personal revelation, having a blast, the heart to heart chat, the date with God to make a snowman. In her book, she said, “Christ seemed to say, “Let’s go play.” And that we did. I hadn’t been to the zoo in years. I heard about all the improvements, but I never expected the ultimate: Starbucks coffee! (OK, so I don’t have my health issues down pat.) Can you imagine watching a baby koala take a nap in a tree on a rare cold day in Houston with a Starbucks grande cappuccino in your hand? Now that’s a Sabbath moment! God and I had a blast.” (The Beloved Disciple, p. 220). And never mind about the time when she was minding her own business on her back porch and it was as if God raised her up right then to see all the churches of the world through Jesus eyes in another dimension. That must have been quite an adventure.

Now, who would want to spend half an hour on their knees praying, or a hour in the bible when you can go to the zoo with God?! Or visit another dimension? For all these ‘Christian evangelicals,’ the bible is insufficient. They add their experience to the Word and count it as faith.

Jesus said that love would grow cold. It grows cold when we drift away, as in Hebrews 2:1. We start looking at the world which contains satan. Our appetites for the carnal grow. The more carnal we get the less love we have for Christ and for others. You see the authors above substituting the bible for their own, carnal experiences. Suddenly the bible is insufficient and the thrill of the zoo, the fast, the whisper is all they clamor for.

Woe to the pastor who offers this poison to the flock. Woe to the flock who accepts it.

Love grows cold because we compromise, and pastors, leaders, deacons are stringing along the sheep on this carnal carnival of heightened biblical insufficiency and exalting personal experience in its place. You can see we have gone from a solid, Christ-centered church in part 1, to drifting away, using carnal means to attract congregants, to diminished numbers of true sheep, to an atmosphere where pastors use carnal means to catch and keep the sheep, and the sheep love it.

Puritan John Owen wrote, “The first and principal duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the word. It is a promise relating to the new testament, that God would give unto his church “pastors according to his own heart, which should feed them with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15). This is by teaching or preaching the word, and no otherwise.”

No other word. Not secular books, not man-made fasts, not “Divine Whispers,” not any other word. Pastors who fail in their duty will be called to account. Congregants who stood by will be called to account also. It is a serious thing to set aside our first love and allow ourselves to grow cold while we seek or accept carnality and bible insufficiency, and substitute personal experience and spiritual adventure junkyism in its place.

“The only hope is a return to Scripture and sound doctrine. We evangelicals desperately need to recover our determination to be biblical, our refusal to comply with the world, our willingness to defend what we believe, and our courage to defy false teaching. Unless we collectively awaken to the current dangers that threaten our faith, the adversary will attack us from within, and we will not be able to withstand.” (source). Yes, return to the biblical worldview!

“Yet, surely, there must be some who will fling aside the dastard love of peace, and speak out for our Lord, and for his truth. A craven spirit is upon many, and their tongues are paralyzed. Oh, for an outburst of true faith and holy zeal!” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

And what of the churches where the faith and holy zeal is turning cold? All believers are at risk. Part 5 will deal with one of the risk: spiritual abuse.

A craven spirit. Don’t let it be you. If it isn’t you, but you’re despairing of finding a good church to worship in with other like-minded believers, keep praying. Jesus won’t abandon you. He will install you in the place He wants you to be. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

Part 1: Introduction, Love growing cold
Part 2: Are you tending your anchor?
Part 3: The numbers aren’t good
Part 5a: When carnality leads to spiritual abuse
Part 5b: Is your church spiritually abusive?
Conclusion: Spiritual Leaders and Humble Relationships
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Posted in bible jesus, false christs, kim jong-il, supernatural signs

North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-Il’s birth and death accompanied by divine signs, allegedly

North Korea has a population of roughly 24 million people, though exact numbers are hard to come by since the country is so closed to the outside. Because of this extreme insularity, NK is seen as one of the world’s most linguistically and ethnically homogeneous places in the world.

“North Korea is the world’s most militarized nation, having the fourth largest army in the world, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. It is a nuclear-weapons state and has an active space program.” (source)

As for its military, I believe it will be prophetically important. Bible.org explains of the prophecy of the Kings of the East and the huge army seen by John,

The Great Army From The Orient
“Two important passages in Revelation, namely, 9:13-21 and 16:12-16 contribute to the conclusion that one of the large armies employed in the final world conflict will be a military force of great power which comes from the Orient. The first intimation of this is found in Revelation 9 where it is recorded that John:

‘heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates, And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them’ (verses 13-16).

“The passage goes on to describe the character of this army and the conclusion that one-third of the men were killed in the resulting military struggle.”

Because of this insularity, the people are more susceptible to accepting what they are told, having nothing to balance what they are told against. The recently deceased “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il had developed a cult of personality around himself that extends beyond the grave, right up to heaven.

Here are some strange facts that Jong-Il cultivated and in the end, he probably believed them himself. He approved, or even made up, the following names and titles for himself to be used with impunity:

  • Great Leader
  • Father of the People
  • Superior Person
  • Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander
  • Great Man, Who Descended From Heaven
  • Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven
  • Savior

“The same reports claim his birth were heralded by a swallow and caused winter to change to spring, a star to illuminate the sky and rainbows to spontaneously appear.”

And get this one, “It is reported that Kim’s official biography on the North Korean state web site, which has since been taken down, claimed that Kim did not defecate. Enough said.”

Jong-Il’s death, not surprisingly, has its own spate of supernatural events associated with the event. BBC reports today, “Strange natural phenomena have been witnessed in North Korea since the death of the country’s leader Kim Jong-il, the state news agency KCNA reports. Ice cracked on a famous lake “so loud, it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth”, and a mysterious glow was seen on a revered mountain top, KCNA said. … “Even nature is mourning, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Thursday. A snowstorm hit as Mr Kim died and ice on the volcanic Chon lake near his reported birthplace at Mount Paektu cracked, it said. Following the storm’s sudden end at dawn on Tuesday, a message carved in rock – “Mount Paektu, holy mountain of revolution. Kim Jong-il” – glowed brightly, it said. It remained there until sunset. On the same say, a Manchurian crane also apparently adopted a posture of grief at a statue of the late leader’s father in the northern city of Hamhung.”

Wow, the ‘rocks and stones would cry out’. (Luke 19:40). And creation itself groans for the loss of the Dear Leader. (Romans 8:22).

NOT.

How do you suppose the ONLY superior Person, Savior and Ever Victorious One feels about a mere man calling himself these things that identify only Jesus the Most High?

We are told in Matthew 24:24 that false christs will come, even with signs that would deceive the elect if that were possible. We are told repeatedly about the falsity that will accompany the last days. We see from the reaction of the North Koreans how easy it is to deceive people. Not all the reactions of crying and mourning are real, but much of it is.

At the National Journal, Michael Hirsh wrote of Jong-Il and was excerpted by HotAir:
“There is, perhaps, no totalitarianism in the world that is as all-embracing as North Korea’s. Something like it hasn’t existed since Stalin died (and with him a personality cult very much like that which surrounds the Kims). I have spent time in other police states, but even in some of the most vicious of them, an undercurrent of dissent ran like a subterranean stream through the back rooms of restaurants, bars and private meeting rooms. Even under Saddam Hussein, Iraqi cab drivers would glance around when pressed and spit out their hatred of the dictator. Dissidents in Myanmar, during the worst of the crackdown, would whisper their fealty to democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In Vietnam, Saigon residents would raise their eyebrows and snort at the central planners in the North. In China, after Mao’s death, there was a reappraisal of his policies, and the Communist Party ultimately allowed that some elements of “Mao Zedong Thought,” like the disastrous Great Leap Forward of the ’50s or the Cultural Revolution of the ’60s, had not been successful. … “One foreign resident of Pyongyang, when asked on our trip in 2000 if he had ever seen any evidence of dissent–even over drinks with North Korean associates–responded: “Never. Nothing.” North Korea’s regime has come the closest of any society to what Orwell called, in 1984, the literal inability to conceive an unorthodox thought.”

HotAir goes on to ask the same thing we are all wondering, I’m sure:

“Why do North Koreans behave this way when many Libyans were ecstatic to see Qaddafi go? Is it a simple matter of NK’s military being vastly more competent and therefore intimidating to the population than Libya’s was? Is it that NK, as a society, is even more cloistered than Libya, leaving North Koreans with no international yardstick to measure their own oppression by? Is it the absence of any strong tribal divisions in North Korea of the sort in Libya that gave people an identity beyond Qaddafi’s brand of nationalism? What’s the magic sinister ingredient?”

The magic sinister ingredient is satan. He is the lord of anyone on this earth who refuses or rejects the True Lord. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; John 12:31). The magic sinister ingredient is not that the different peoples and tribes react differently to news of their Leader’s death but the fact that they even for a moment first believed their leader’s good intentions. The magic sinister ingredient is that Saddam, Kim Jong-il, Gaddafi, Chairman Mao are all dead now, and Jesus isn’t.

All this shows us just how easily people can be duped. Kim Jong-Il duped himself into thinking he was a superior person, descended from heaven and endowed with powers. The millions inside that insular nation were duped into believing these things of Kim Jong Il when creation itself testifies that only One made the world and only One’s coming should accompanied by signs and wonders. Because the world disbelieves this, Jesus will allow signs and wonders to be performed by the antichrist, and then they will believe. “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). “and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).

And by then, the signs and wonders won’t be made-up as Kim Jong-Il’s were, they will be real enough to the people, and if they can be deceived, they will be.

Please listen to the Word that tells us only One is God and only One came to save us and only One draws us toward that salvation. The Triune God loves His people. Please love the truth that Jesus lived as sinless man, died for our sins and rose again to reign at the right hand of the Father. He is willing to forgive sins and to welcome you to heaven. Kim Jong-Il is dead now. Jesus is alive.

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Posted in bible jesus, open door

Jesus opens the door and He shuts the door

Do you take the Lord’s power and grace for granted? Have you diminished His Holiness in your mind? Many people in this day and age have. How do I know? They think the Lord will somehow relent, and allow everyone into heaven after all. Or that His mercy is go great and so wide that they will be forgiven, even if they do not know Jesus. Jesus will not relent. His decision is final, and His decrees are sure. If you do not know Jesus on the day you die, you will be cast into hell. If you do not know Jesus on His day of wrath, you will die and be cast into hell.

Even saying such a thing in this day and age seems like a revolutionary act. People chide us Christians who flatly declare the truth from the Word, that He will not relent. “Our God is a loving God,” they exclaim. “He would never do that!” Well,  Remember rebellious Korah who was swallowed by the earth? Remember Uzzah who touched the ark? Remember Ananias and Sapphira, who blasphemed the Spirit by lying to the Apostle? Jesus will not relentbecause He is the door.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9).

He is the only One who opens the door.

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:8).

He is the One who shuts the door.

“And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. (Genesis 7:16).

When the ark was filled He shut the door and the rest of the world was judged. And so it will be again, for the unaware.

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ (Matthew 25:10-12)

He is the King of the Kingdom and it is He who says who enters and who doesn’t. He is the Door. Right now the door is open to all who would repent. It will be shut at the rapture. Not that anyone cannot be saved after the rapture, but with the door shut, you are in the cold, hard world and exposed to believing the lie.

“and with all the deceit of unrighteousness in those who perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11)

Enter now while the door is open. Repent and believe the truth: that Jesus is resurrected Lord and He is the only way to enter the Kingdom. He speaks the truth, and when He says that judgment is coming, believe it. The time will come when the door will be shut. As it says in Isaiah 26:20- “Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past.”

While the door was open, they did not listen and believe in Noah’s day:

Sinners before the Flood, 1594 Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem
After the Flood , Circa 1588 Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

This is what Judgment looks like:

Deluge, The COMERRE, Léon François Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes  

This is what grace looks like:

Noah’s flood KAULBACH, Wilhelm von (1805-1874)

How so? you ask. How is this grace? The serpents are writhing, the people are dying! Well, don’t focus on the serpents and the people. It is one way we diminish His holiness and His mercy. Focus on Him and His protected righteous and the fact that His promises of salvation are sure. The angels ministering, the ark itself was a lengthy warning to the same people who are now crying for the door to be opened. “Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation is past.”

Please answer His call, and repent!

“Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.'” (Luke 13:25)

“Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9)
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Posted in bible jesus, hell, punishment

Back to Basics: What is hell?

This “Back to Basics” series explores some of the more basic doctrines of the Bible Believing faith of Christianity. After the rapture there will be millions of new believers who must come to grips, and quickly, with the basic tenets of our faith. This series is a primer. Other entries in the series are

Hello, Holy Spirit!
What does it mean to be born again?
What’s the Gospel?
What is prayer?

Hell is real. The current American culture doesn’t want to believe that hell is real. Liberal Christians all around the world don’t believe it is real either. Rob Bell recently wrote a book called “Love Wins” in which he says “A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”

Of course, Mr Bell is completely wrong, at least about the doctrine of hell being a misguided teaching. Jesus taught it. Was Jesus misguided? Certainly not.

Of course, atheists deny hell, but they deny heaven, too. As the famous and recently deceased Mr Christopher Hitchens has said in his book The Portable Atheist, “The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell.” Unfortunately he, like all atheists, find out too late that God is very real, and so is hell. He is right, death is certain, but after that, the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).

Some believe that only the fallen angels go there, not us human sinners. After all, God did make hell for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

The Catholics believe in a mid-hell or waystation hell called purgatory. They think that you can buy your way out (indulgences) or be prayed out after your final purification is accomplished, because Jesus’ sacrifice was not enough, obviously. Annihilationists believe that your body is just destroyed after death.

Even for bible believers, there are a few different terms for hell that are confusing. There’s  Sheol, Hades, Hell, the lake of fire, Paradise, and Abraham’s bosom? And don’t forget Gehenna and Tartarus.

Paradise means heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7). It could also mean the heaven that was inside the earth on the other side of Hades with the great gulf between them, known to both Lazarus and the rich man. (Luke 16:23-31)

Abraham’s bosom is a Jewish/Hebrew term for heaven, the place where faithful Israelites went after death. It is typically thought to have been inside the earth and when Jesus ascended to heaven, took all the ones in Abraham’s bosom with Him. He did descend to hell (1 Peter 3:19) after His death to preach to the spirits jailed there, which could be a reference to the lowest dungeons of hell where the sinning angels are being kept. This lowest depth of hell is mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4, “For God did not spare angels when they had sinned, but hurling them down to Tartarus consigned them to caves of darkness, keeping them in readiness for judgement.”

Gehenna is another New Testament word for hell. Sheol is a Hebrew word for the grave.

The Lake of Fire is the final place where all people after the final judgment at the end of time receive their new bodies and are thrown into the Lake, along with death, the devil and his angels, and hades itself. (Revelation 20:14). And there the smoke of their fires go up night and day. (Revelation 14:11).

It is thought that Jesus emptied Abraham’s bosom, or Paradise and took the righteous to heaven with Him when He went up.

With all these names for the place(s) we go to after death and all the confusion about who goes there and why, we can ask, what IS hell? I can answer that. Hell is a place you don’t want to go.

Better than that, hell is a place you don’t have to go!

Hell is a place that is very real. Jesus preached on it more than He preached on heaven. It is an eternal place. Matthew 18:8 speaks of the eternal fire. Matthew 25:46 records Jesus saying that the righteous will go to eternal life and the unrighteous into eternal punishment. There is no escaping the doctrine that hell is forever–

“… the penalty of eternal destruction… (2 Thess. 1:9).
“…the punishment of eternal fire…” (Jude 7).
“… the black darkness has been reserved forever..” (Jude 12-13).
“…and there the smoke of their fires go up night and day…” (Revelation 14:11).
“…everlasting burnings…” (Isaiah 33:14)

Who goes there? Sinners. Now, if you know Romans 3:10 you know that Paul said there is none righteous, no, not one. We are all sinners. So does that mean we all go to hell? In a sense, yes. It is the default condition of every person on this earth who is ever born. It is where we all could go and where we all should go. But it is not where we all have to go.

The glory that is our God is that He made a way for us to escape that eternal fire, that everlasting punishment, that black darkness. He sent Jesus to earth, who came to die as the sacrifice for our sins. His death satisfied the justice required from God to punish sin. His resurrection proves He is God and now He reigns as Savior and Lord. All a person must do is understand this, and repent of our sins. Understand that we sin, we deserve hell, Jesus died to make a way for us to escape it, His sacrifice and resurrection is that Way. He “is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me,” He said in John 14:6.

That verse means that no matter how many ways and how many times a person scrambles the scriptures, hell is real. It is the destiny of all people who literally push away the body of Jesus.

In the Luke verse it said that between heaven and hell there is a great gulf fixed and no one passes from one to the other. Therefore the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory is false. The only opportunity people have to choose heaven or hell is in this life. You can’t be prayed out later. The Universalists and Liberal Christians who believe that all paths lead to heaven are wrong. Jesus is the way, no one comes to heaven except through Him. The atheists who think that there will be no accountability to a Holy God for their sins against Him are incorrect. There will be a court and there will be justice: Divine, Holy justice. And then hell after.

It is all in the bible. If you believe the bible that is good. It means you likely believe the Good News, which is that Jesus came to make a way for us to be with Him in heaven instead of hell. If you believe the Good News then act upon it, now, because that means hell is real too.

“The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.” Proverbs 15:24

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Posted in bible jesus, prophecy, simeon

Simeon: A man of faith, a man of prophecy

During Christmas-time, there are so many wonderful verses to dwell on. Of course, the Annunciation, when Gabriel revealed to Virgin Mary that she was going to be with the Messiah child is a great set of verses to meditate on. Mary’s Magnificat, her prayerful praise to God after hearing the news, brings tears to my eyes. I also love the moment when Mary visited Elizabeth, and John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. The still, cold evening when the angels sang over the field of shepherds at the birth of Jesus is also beautiful. There are many. Luke1-2 is a good place to start.

But the moment in the temple after Jesus was born is often overlooked. Joseph and Mary came to the temple to fulfill their duties to God for having been gifted with a son. They were to make a sacrifice. As they entered, the following happened:

“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,  then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

“And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35)

Simeon. There are so many scriptural riches to be plumbed here. First, he was a righteous man. He had great faith, so great, the Lord blessed him. What was the reason for his faith? He was looking for the “consolation of Israel”, in other words, the Messiah. The Old Testament people had faith that the promised Messiah would come. The New Testament people (us) have faith that He has come. It is the same faith, just different timing.

The knowledge that Simeon had laid eyes on Messiah must have been a great moment of grace for Simeon. The promise that had come by the Spirit that Simeon would live to see Him had been fulfilled! What a great testament to the surety of the Lord’s promises! And Simeon showed us by his prayer asking to now be released from this life, having had set eyes on the ‘consolation of Israel’, tells us what a great man of faith that Simeon was. He literally lived for the coming of the Savior!

Notice Simeon’s prayer. It is all about Jesus and God’s plan for His people. Simeon was not looking for the Messiah just for himself. I heard a snippet of a sermon this week about the manger. In it, the person preaching the Lord’s coming talked of the manger and the poverty and humility of our Lord being born there. The person speaking these things then went on to make the scriptures be about us, our “manger moments”, our poverty, our disappointments. Be aware of that kind of preaching. Taking what is supposed to be about Jesus and making it about us. Simeon’s prayer is a wonderful, refreshing, proper prayer- because it is about Jesus in praise and devotion.

Then Simeon gives an oft-overlooked prophecy. He said that the opposition to Jesus would be for a sign. That many would rise and fall, and that Mary’s own heart would be pierced to the soul. And finally, that the thoughts of many would be revealed. That is what LIGHT does, it reveals. Jesus the Light was coming in His ministry to seek and save the lost. One of the things he was seeking and saving the lost from is the gross, outward displays of religiosity, in order to renew the personal relationship God wanted to have with His people and making an inward change toward repentance and growth in Jesus.

Now Simeon’s prophecy about opposition and swords and piercing must have been troubling to Mary and Joseph, to say the least. They knew they were carrying the Messiah, Gabriel told Mary, the other angel told Joseph, Elizabeth confirmed it. Zacharias confirmed it, and now Simeon and then Anna. But swords? Trouble? Piercing? Very stomach-clenching indeed.

Jesus said in Luke 12:49-53 that He comes to divide. That is what truth does, Jesus is so precise His truth can separate spirit from soul. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

Simeon was living in apostate times. The Pharisees and Saducees and Scribes had made God into a terrible thing with their perversion of the Law to their own glory. Romans were oppressing the people, it was difficult to practice their faith in truth because truth was hard to find. But Simeon persevered in devoutness and righteousness. That means Simeon had been declared by God to be righteous, a person doesn’t achieve that for themselves. So Simeon was living in the deepest of the dark times just before Jesus began to preach 30 years later. Yet he had faith.

We are living in dark times now too. Our faith is perverted by false doctrines, we are surrounded by falsity. Many of us look up to see if our Redemption draws nigh. Simeon was a special man to have been told that he would not die before he had seen the coming One. Are we the generation that was told we will not pass away before all these things come to pass? (Mt 24:34). May it be so.

Let Jesus divide out the falsity in you and let His pureness and goodness remain. Let you be on the rise and not on the fall, having your heart presented to Him who judges its thoughts, and be declared righteous because of your faith in the Consolation of Israel – who is also the Consolation of the world!
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