Posted in theology

How did satan become so evil? Where did evil come from?

By Elizabeth Prata

The most asked question and the most offered objection to Christianity are the two in the headline. Philosophers have struggled for eons to describe and resolve “the problem of evil”. Sproul called it “The Mystery of Iniquity“. If you expect an answer to the questions above, I don’t have them. Not because I haven’t thought about them, nor because I am too dim to understand philosophy, but simply because the only revealed truth we have about satan, the Bible, is silent on the subject. And that’s good enough for me.

Continue reading “How did satan become so evil? Where did evil come from?”
Posted in theology

Marriage

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

From the Center for Christ and Culture, we read from the article published in 2006, “Why is Marriage Important?

“Marriage is far more profound than our contemporary culture would lead us to believe. It is a life-long commitment that restrains self-centeredness, self-indulgence and self-gratification. It is the one relationship that effectively prepares and conditions us for community. By restraining self-centeredness and promoting love of another, marriage becomes the foundation for social order. When this commitment labeled “marriage” is reduced to nothing more than a mere contract between two consenting persons, or worse just another option, it ceases to restrain our self-centered passions. Self-centeredness harms not only that relationship but also others as well until it spreads throughout society like ripples in a pond. Abandoning the “others before self” concept of marriage for the self-serving concept of contractual relationships between autonomous individuals makes us increasingly narcissistic, ultimately leading toward moral and social collapse. Across America the institution of marriage is being assailed, reduced to nothing more than a sentimental ceremony between consenting adults, radically redefined, or simply abandoned altogether.”

Yup. All that abandonment is contained in the article we read above and what we see enacted every day.

In the distant past, we were given biblical verses about how the world would be in the far future. There are specific prophecies about the coming perilous times, and there is no doubt we are living in those perilous times now. Conditions that we see all around us that did not exist at all or didn’t exist to the degree we see them today, such as the blatant and constant pressure to dispense with traditional marriage, are all around us. This disposal is a tragic and irreversible mistake.

That satanic urge to dispose of marriage the way God intended does not come only from the homosexual agenda but from all quarters, as we saw above. Once the foundational block of society is done away with then all else can crumble. Is this not happening now? Of course it is. The excessive narcissism that homosexual or triadic or polygamous or adulterous marriage definitions promote lead inevitably to societal collapse. And thus, society is collapsing. Paul wrote of the conditions we were to expect in the last days, and the last days are the time between Jesus’ ascension and His return.

“Godlessness in the Last Days”

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

You notice the last part of verse 5 says “having an appearance of godliness”. The people perpetrating the perilous acts will be people who seem good, having a godly appearance, pious and sincere. Yet they will be in the inside, brutal, selfish, without-self control. Even people claiming to be within Christendom are muting the boundaries of the biblical standards for marriage.

The article about marriage I linked to above concludes:

“Marriage is simply the highest of all human relationships and therefore must never be entered into lightly. It is the means of procreating humanity, nurturing and training subsequent generations, producing social order and for the Christian, the best means for perpetuating the Gospel. … If marriage is allowed to die in America as it is in other Western nations our posterity will inherit a godless culture.”

I maintain that this generation is a strong candidate as the inheritor of the godless culture. The constant barrage of marriage redefinitions (among other horrifying conditions) hath wrought godlessness in the last days. The only good news to this statement is that as the culture becomes ever more like it was in the Days of Noah and the Days of Lot it means the Day of the Lord is even closer. We draw closer with each passing day. But for the sinner, The Day of the LORD is near, said Zephaniah! Consider his words, ye sinners!

The great day of the Lord is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the lofty battlements.
I will bring distress on mankind,
so that they shall walk like the blind,
because they have sinned against the Lord;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them
on the day of the wrath of the Lord.
In the fire of his jealousy,
all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:14-18)

Posted in theology

Gratitude

By Elizabeth Prata

I want to spend a few minutes recording some things I’m grateful for. I wrote these down in a journal I keep of short mementos of things for which I’m grateful. I’ve been writing about heavy topics, and there are heavy things going on in the world … so perhaps to brighten the atmosphere (even briefly) might be in order.

Continue reading “Gratitude”
Posted in poetry, theology

Kay Cude poetry: Treasured Memories

To all the mothers out there reminiscing over the time that has passed and your sons and daughters are now older, perhaps having left the nest, flying off to new skies and making nests of their own. The sweet time of little hugs and recious moments fly by. Cherish them.

Kay Cude did just that, revising a poem she had written long ago as she remembered just such a moment treasured in her heart.

Artist’s statement:

I had written this poem for my son many years ago to recount our sweet time together when he was a two-year old.

SWEET MEMORIES TENDERED FROM LONG-AGO

Kay Cude is a Texas poet.
Used with Permission.

Posted in theology

Prata Potpourri: Disability, Prone to wander, Spiritual gifts, more

By Elizabeth Prata

Hello friends, I pray you are doing well today. I am sliding into the summer break from school and I am overjoyed it’s the end of the year. It was a good year, I love my job, but I enjoy the time off so much. I always have these grandiose plans for the 8 weeks I’m off. Usually I give myself a week to decompress then plan to read and craft and clean and hike and do all sorts…but then I don’t. LOL, I do accomplish stuff, but my plans are always more grandiose than either my energy level or the time frame permit. But I still have fun!

Our church’s summer series of TableTalks will begin in 2 weeks. These are super fun. We meet, eat, then have a lesson, then stay around and discuss it at our tables. It’s friendly, edifying, low key, and edifying.

Do you have summer plans?

I’ve rounded up some content I thought might be worthwhile to read or view. I hope you enjoy!

In this first one, my friend DebbieLynne offers some thoughts on the perks of disability. Thoroughly wonderful and totally convicting. “An unexpected perk of disability

Here, G3 Ministry has a wonderfully concise article about spiritual gifts!

Dr. Abner Chou is a linguistic genius and an all around genius…He has been a professor at TMS for a while, and interim President for a year. My friend attends there and he has lauded Dr Chou’s talents for two years since he has taken classes from him. Now, we read that he has been affirmed as The Master’s Seminary President. Yay!

Paul Washer with a 3-minute clip on hell. Buckle up…if you dare!!

We are Prone to Wander, oh we are prone!

Pastor Gabe with the truth, once again. He is on Twitter, and has a blog and a podcast / podcast.

I am autistic, I know people who are autistic, I know people who have been close with non-verbal autistic people. This is a powerful reminder not only to underestimate autistic people (and the principal’s comment hurt my heart) but also that no matter who we are, we are all made in the image of God and to treat each other with dignity. “Nonverbal autistic valedictorian delivers speech

Thanks for reading! Have a super day.

Posted in theology

They crept in

By Elizabeth Prata

For certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into indecent behavior and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4).

For context, Jude is opening his letter by saying he’d wanted to speak of the faith and their common salvation, but must change his intended topic to one of discernment. He warned against false teachers in the next verses, including the one above.

There are so many parts to this verse to explore and chew on. Today, let’s look at the first phrase, ‘certain people have crept in unnoticed’. The question is, WHY was it unnoticed? Why didn’t the people notice the false teachers among them? It all starts with destructive heresies, ungodly men creeping in unnoticed. And why aren’t they noticed?

Because Christians today all too often fail to be familiar with the real thing, foregoing Bible study, quiet time, prayers, and worship, so that when the counterfeit shows up, being only subtly different from the Truth, it goes unnoticed.

Where do they creep into? They creep into houses, as was the custom of that day, and today, by television or podcast or books. They creep into the church as a tare. They creep in to the ministry as a false teacher. They creep in, and the majority of the population of the place are unaware.

At night, especially if you live in the south, or in a city apartment building in the north, cockroaches scamper about. While you sleep, they creep in to your cupboards and nibble on your food. They scuttle in, while you are sleeping unaware. They come out at night to eat and cavort over your clean counters, they creep in and you don’t notice them…until one day you spot a dropping. And another day another dropping, then a pile of droppings. Likening false teachers to cockroaches is an apt metaphor.

They creep in, they are unwelcome, they hide as long as they can, until the putrid fruit of their presence is detected. Southerners, knowing the frequency with which cockroaches like to invade, will protect the house. They have regular pest control measures. Do you want cockroaches crawling over your baby as he sleeps sweetly in the crib? Of course not! So protective measures are taken to keep the house free of pests.

So it should be with churches. Jude is a protective measure, dispensing wisdom from experience and a purity of truth from the Holy Spirit

Peter also is a protective measure against the pestilence of false teaching and the people who bring it. There is a parallel verse to Jude,

But false prophets also appeared among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1).

Barnes’ Notes on Peter’s verse: “[T]here were artful and wicked men who had crept into the church, pretending to be religious teachers, but whose doctrines tended to sap the very foundations of truth. The apostle Peter, describing these same persons, says, “who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.” See the notes, 2 Peter 2:1. Substantially the same idea is expressed here by saying that they “had crept in unawares;” that is, they had come in “by stealth;” they had not come by a bold and open avowal of their real sentiments. They professed to teach the Christian religion, when in fact they denied some of its fundamental doctrines; they professed to be holy, when in fact they were living most scandalous lives. In all ages there have been men who were willing to do this for base purposes.”

They creep in, and insinuate themselves into the minds and hearts of their prey. The prey, (us), are unaware they are being devoured by a predator, and when discovered can’t believe the wolf is really a wolf. “But he’s so nice!” they say. “She helped me!” they cry. “It can’t be true!” and they disbelieve this person or that certain person is really false. Like kudzu, overnight the tentacles have grown and clung on. Disentangling now is unworkable and difficult.

Meanwhile, as Barnes mentioned, what are the ‘base purposes’ for which they have crept in? We know one of them is greed. (2 Peter 2:3, 2 Corinthians 2:17). They have other appetites they want to satiate, too. (Romans 16:18). Whatever their base desires, they are immoral. Greed, lust, fame, pride…whatever it is that the false teacher seeks, they find it by preying on unwary Christians. They peddle His word for dishonest gain. They contradict holy precepts and upright living required by God of His people and especially of His ministers.

Too often we forget we are in a war. With all the talk of winsomeness and seekers and love…we forget that we give sin no quarter. We kill it. We forget that there are active and present enemies out to kill US, to draw us away, or to pollute our souls, or to deceive us. The enemy wants to destroy our witness. He wants to do anything against Christ that he can, and will stop at nothing short of God’s own boundaries to get it done.

We slay sin, we tear down philosophies, we anathematize false teachers. Those are fighting words. So, dear sister, fight!

EPrata painting

Posted in theology

Can you be an ‘ex-Christian’?

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

There’s no such thing as an ex-Christian. Look at 1 John-

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 John 2:19)

John is saying here that people who ‘backslide’ and then fall away from the faith entirely, never really were saved to begin with. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him,” (Titus 1:16).

For many professing “ex-Christians”, it starts with apostasy, something Paul said there would be plenty of in the last days.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Tim 4:1-3)

And before the person started falling away, in came sneaky heresies they began listening to:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

So the apostate’s progression is: profess Christ by mouth… but since there was no visible fruit to show the state of grace they were claiming on the inside, they were never really saved; fail to walk closely with Jesus by procrastinating in discipleship, bible study, prayer, and/or worship, furthering the distance between themselves and Jesus; listen to or promote destructive heresies that either they knowingly or unknowingly begin to believe, start doubting Christ’s sufficiency; doubt more, and then slide to full blown renunciation and end up in a state of atheism.

Peter says “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” (2 Peter 2:20)

Notice the words that both Jude and Peter use to describe the heresies what will infiltrate the church in the last days; “secretly” and “crept in”. The heresies don’t come into the church by way of aggressive men bellowing a ‘new doctrine’ to the delight of followers who joyfully jump their pews and run out the door to his new church. They come sneakily, secretly, subtly.

And no wonder, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…” (Genesis 3:1) so satan isn’t going to capture hearts with bellicose attitudes or flagrantly detectable bad doctrine. Many of the preachers and teachers will not even openly pronounce their heresies, they will be secret within their heart and only after a while, introduced slyly, like Billy Graham. Jude’s words “crept in” also indicate something that also isn’t readily detectable and is subtle at the start.

These teachers will have a big, white smile, open their lecture with a warm joke, and tell you that Jesus was a good, moral teacher and that you deserve the best life now. They will never tell you that your best life is later and that Jesus didn’t come to be a moral leader but to seek and save the lost- And that you are lost. Others will tell you that we are all one universal consciousness, we are our own gods, and then, they will give you a car. They will tell you that if you believe in Jesus, He will make your life better, while you are seeking Him from comfy amphitheater watching a techno-sermon with a cappuccino in your hand. Seeker-sensitive churches are false on their premise because in Romans we learn that no one seeks God.

The end result of a Christian in name only – that is, one who claimed Jesus but never really believed – and is one who is at risk of being tempted by destructive heresies, and ultimately of apostasy. What comes next is atheism.

Atheism is a natural cul-de-sac in the road away from the cross. Gotquestions.org writes:

“At the same time, it takes just as much faith to believe in atheism. To make the absolute statement “God does not exist” is to make a claim of knowing absolutely everything there is to know about everything and of having been everywhere in the universe and having witnessed everything there is to be seen. [I]t cannot be proven that God does not exist. It takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a theist.”

Which, I suspect, could be one of the reasons Peter said it makes a person worse off from what they were before. After apostasy settles in and atheism rears its head, a person is well and truly now in the dangerous pits of despair, misplacing their burgeoning faith in something for a faith in nothing that will last forever.

Be careful you do not drift, make your calling and election sure.

RESOURCES

Is it Real? 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

Can I know that I am Saved?

What is Sanctification?

Posted in theology

Medieval mystics: Conclusion

By Elizabeth Prata

Last week I’d explored excerpts from visions of four famous Medieval Mystics of the Catholic Church:

Introduction
Julian of Norwich
 (1343 – after 1416) Book: The Showings of Divine Love
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Book: The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). Book: Scivias
Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303 – 1373) Book: Celestial Revelations

We have quite a few women running around today claiming they have been given special revelations directly from Jesus, apart from the Bible. They’ve ‘taught’ through these visions, they have written books about what they’ve learned from these visions, they go on speaking tours telling about these visions, and they preach, even to men, with these visions.

In the past I have often written against these women and against this activity. It is blasphemous, it is wrong, it is immoral, and it is sin. The point of the series was to alert Christian ladies as to who these medieval women are and to show from the Bible why their visions were error. Why? AW Tozer had praised one of them in a recent devotional posted on social media. In Three Little Wounds Tozer wrote that because of mystic Julian of Norwich “England was a better place because this little lady lived” and her book of visions was a “great spiritual contribution to the world.”

No.

Now, it grieves me that women unaware of Julian’s blasphemies would forge ahead on the basis of Tozer’s or any other person’s fervent recommendation, and then begin to think that receiving visions and revelations was all right. It happens. More frequently than one might think. And that is the way that the devil likes it. He laughs because it is not God speaking to these women, but one of his dastardly demons, masquerading as ministers of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11:15). Either that, or the mystic’s visions are just flat out lies.

So I write against direct revelation and will do so again. It was not all right in the Bible days of Revelation. In Revelation 2, Jesus spoke against a false teacher metaphorically named Jezebel. He said she was teaching unbiblical things, leading His children astray and calling herself a prophetess. He said if she did not repent, He would kill her and her children. (Revelation 2).

God has never been accepting of people who claim to speak in His name when He has not spoken to them. It is an emptying of His name, a way of taking His name in vain. Worse, they want something, usually unbiblical and women (or men) co-opt Christ in their sin. For example, Bridget wanted the pope to stay in Rome and not move back to Avignon, so she claimed to have had a vision from the Virgin Mary that told off the Pope. Or Hildegard, when she wanted permission to move to another monastery and was denied permission, fainted into her bed with paralysis until her Abbott relented. “Hildegard attributed the condition to God’s unhappiness at not following his will regarding moving the monastery. The abbot relented and granted his permission for the move, and she recovered shortly thereafter.” (Source FaithMag). What a miracle, right? Well if God says so, I better comply! USING God to get your way is an utmost sin against His Holy Name. It literally breaks the Fourth Commandment. (Exodus 20:7).

Reformer Martin Luther pre-conversion was initially interested in these women’s visions, especially Bridget, and of their revelations because of their criticism of popes and of the Church. But as he studied them, he later dismissed Bridget and the others’ revelations as “mere ravings”.

We read of these Medieval mystics women today and might wonder over their popularity. Their hyper-focus on the bloodier parts of the Passion, their sensuous mystical union with Christ as Man and them as Bride, consummating in ecstasy, their acceptance of supposed revelations in direct opposition to what the Bible says, their usurping behavior calling out authorities and using illnesses to get their way…so easy to look back and say goodness, reject these ladies!

But aren’t the revelators of today much the same? Doesn’t Beth Moore preach to men, call out authorities, use hyper emotionalism to get her way like Julian did? Doesn’t Anne Voskamp present poetical writings in her books like Hildegard did in her lyrical songs, as a sensuous union with a mystical Christ? Doesn’t Joanna Gaines announce that the ‘Lord’ promised her fame and success, like he did to Catherine of Siena, so Catherine could do great things?

There was some sort of altruistic impetus in each of these women, and they did help the poor and the sick. But their motivations were suspect as their later life bore out.

They were also ritualistic. Aren’t Bridget’s alleged lesson from Jesus of saying 15 Our Fathers and 15 Hail Marys along with the 15 Oes, repeated over and over is supposed to honor His wounds (how about honoring HIM?), against what he said to do in Matthew 6:7? Isn’t Joel Osteen just as ritualistic when he holds his Bible aloft at the opening of all his speeches and says a certain unchanging mantra?

Ladies, all direct revelation post-canon closing is of the devil. All of it. Though some of the mystics were more ‘out there’ than others (Catherine of Siena comes to mind), anyone claiming direct revelation is deceitfully deceived. It’s either satan, bad burrito dreams, or a flat out lie. Any way you slice it, claiming direct visions from Jesus in violation of Hebrews 1:1-2, or accepting them from someone else is sin.

The Bible says the canon is closed, Jesus spoke. (Hebrews 1:1-2). He declared the Bible totally sufficient for all life. (2 Timothy 3:16). He has revealed to us all He wants us to follow. (Deuteronomy 29:29). Romans 15:4 says For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.

Direct revelation was wrong then (when it wasn’t from God) and since the canon closed, it’s wrong now. I mention these mystics even though they are Catholic, thus not of the faith, because they are praised with veneration and feast days in the Lutheran and the Anglican church. Please be wary, and remember, the best way to spot a counterfeit is by knowing the real thing. Stay close to Jesus and His word, and you will be blessed.

Julian, Catherine, Hildegard, Bridget, medieval Mystics still famous today, sadly!