Posted in david platt, missional, prosperity gospel, radical

If you have to put a qualifier in front of “Gospel” it isn’t the Gospel…

By Elizabeth Prata

The American church has a lot to answer for when we all meet Jesus. The “prosperity” gospel has sunk in deep and permeated every corner of the US. Now it’s exported abroad, and polluting churches in India and Africa and elsewhere. The prosperity gospel is no gospel. It teaches congregants to indulge their flesh, seek worldly things, and keep their eyes focused laterally instead of vertically. Joel Osteen is a master of this kind of gospel.

Joel Osteen flatly laid out the main precepts of Prosperity gospel out in a 2005 letter to his flock. “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us,” Osteen wrote.

No, that’s not what God wants us to do. God wants us to live holy lives, pick up our cross, obey Him, be witnesses for His name, worship Him, be wise, and share the true Gospel all over the world, among other things. (1 Peter 1:15, John 4:24, Matthew 16:24, 1 John 5:2-3, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 28:19). The destiny he laid out for us includes trouble, persecution, hatred, and hardships, (John 16:33, John 15:18, Acts 14:22, 2 Corinthians 6:4).

Continue reading “If you have to put a qualifier in front of “Gospel” it isn’t the Gospel…”
Posted in theology

It’s Pride Month: Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That?

By Elizabeth Prata

Gay Pride Month was first declared in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. Three presidents of the United States have officially declared a pride month. As mentioned, Clinton was first, who declared it June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999 and 2000. Then from 2009 to 2016, each year he was in office, Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2021.

A lot has happened with the homosexual agenda since 1993. Twenty-eight years ago, (1993) in an episode of the comedy sitcom “Seinfeld” called “The Outing,” Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, lifelong buddies, are mistaken for a homosexual couple, and “strenuously deny that they are gay, conditioning their denials with ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’ The line would soon afterward become a catchphrase. Jason Alexander maintains that it is the most popular to originate from the series. (source).

But the camel’s nose was under the tent. It was the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” (DADT). In the same year as Seinfeld’s episode of “The Outing”, President Bill Clinton announced new policy regarding homosexuals in the military. Until then, openly homosexual men and women were barred from service in the United States Military. Under Clinton’s policy, DADT meant that homosexual men and women could serve if they weren’t flagrant. No military official could directly ask them about their sexual orientation in recruitment or otherwise, either.

This new policy ushered in a sensitivity about asking or discussing one’s sexual orientation in the general culture, as seen in the hugely impactful Seinfeld episode. I can’t state more strongly what a cultural phenomenon that Seinfeld was. In the episode, each time when homosexuality was mentioned and the catchphrase “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” was uttered, the person would shrug, throw up their hands in a mock submission and shake their head. Here is a 16 second compilation from that episode-

Twenty-eight years later, even mentioning homosexuality in less than glowing terms raises immediate ire. If a person does not give hearty approval to homosexuality, (Romans 1:32), one is immediately scourged. The scourging is fast, immediate, and vicious. I’ve been a recipient of it myself, merely for inquiring of a third party regarding two ladies, “Are they together?”

It is a given that we understand there are many sins. Lists and lists of them are given in the Bible. (Romans 1:29-31, 2 Corinthians 12:20, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Jude 1:16). Committing even one of them disqualifies a person from heaven. Jesus is great enough to forgive them, no matter how many you committed. If a person is talking about the greatness of Jesus in His ability and desire to forgive any and all sins, then by all means, list the bunch of them to illustrate the breadth of His mercy and grace! But homosexuality is one of those sins for which people who practice it will endure hellfire forever.

While the discussion of homosexuality as a sin may legitimately call for an expanded list of sins, it is not necessary to hide homosexuality within a larger list of sins just to make it palatable to the LGBT lobby. If the discussion is about the sin of gossip, then the discussion will be about gossip. No one will suggest including adultery in the talk because it is in some way perversely fair to all the other sins to mention them too.

There is no pride in sin. If so, then an adulterer would proudly march up and down the streets showing off his mistress. Thieves would march in parades holding their ill-gotten goods. There is no pride in any sin. We are called to repentance for gossip, fornication, idolatry, greed…all of it!

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

No one who is unrighteous will inherit heaven. I’m not a better class of sinner than a gay person because I sin differently, no! All unrighteous will be disqualified from heaven. Likewise, the homosexual is not a better class of sinner than me, either. There is no pride in sin. None. All sin is cosmic treason and will evoke anger from a Holy God. He punishes sin in wrath.

The Good News is that repentance from sin will evoke forgiveness and compassion from a loving God. He forgives sin, all sin, as we see in the verse above. “…And such were some of you…” WERE some of you. They WERE greedy, drunkards, swindlers, homosexual. Past. They turned from their sin and appealed in penitence to God for forgiveness.

God forgives because Jesus took God’s punishment for sin on the cross. He became sin, He sacrificed Himself on behalf of us pigs wallowing in our filthy pens. The parable of the Prodigal Son reflects the goodness of the Father and his eagerness to forgive sin and welcome His sons into His house!

I will set out and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired laborers.”’ So he set out and came to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, slaughter it, and let’s eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:18-24).

If one wants to feel pride, be proud of a Holy God who forgives. Boast in Him! (2 Corinthians 10:17). We feel pride in Jesus who did such a monumental work, who came to seek and save the lost, of whom homosexuals are grouped. There is no pride in sin, but there is pride in a sinless Savior. I pray that anyone lost in their sin and feeling deep shame, despair, hopelessness, realizes that no one is too far gone to be able to appeal to Jesus in repentance. He forgives all sin, and no sinner coming to Him will be turned away. And there’s nothing wrong with that, and everything RIGHT and GOOD.

Posted in laver, ocean, prophecy, revelation, sea

Will Heaven Have Oceans? My Take

By Elizabeth Prata

I wrote about this in December 2009 and updated it in 2015. I’m taking on the topic once more here in 2021. It is a topic near and dear to me.

Now, I’m not a trained theologian. There are many people who have interpreted this verse in different ways, so I can’t be dogmatic. But I have a settled confidence.

Why? One particular verse. If God “placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it” then I need to understand that if there is no sea, what does ‘eternal’ mean? Plus I have several other reasons I believe interpreting the text to mean that there will indeed be an ocean, but not a sea.

Continue reading “Will Heaven Have Oceans? My Take”
Posted in theology

Was Jesus’ death on the cross “cosmic child abuse”?

By Elizabeth Prata

kilobox.mobi

Detractors of Christianity will say anything to cast aspersions onto the beauty, glory, and mystery of the atonement. One of the more popular riffs I’ve heard lately is that Father God putting Jesus the Son on the cross and killing him was “cosmic child abuse”.

It wasn’t.

Now that the flat denial and total rebuttal of that notion is out of the way, let’s take a look at why Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary and good.

The mystery of the atonement and all its attendant doctrines is something that has been written about for centuries and by better theologians than myself! I will not be adding anything new. However, my church’s Sunday School lesson taught through the scriptures related to the justification of saints through the atonement, and my brain is afire with thoughts.

As a side note, one way I can affirm the Spirit is alive in me, is His work in my mind when I study or I’m being taught by my pastor-teachers. The scriptures do say He transforms the mind. (Ephesians 4:23, Romans 12:2). My brain fairly sizzles with thoughts, connections, remnants of previous lessons unearthed from my memory to see the light of day and attach to the new information. I’ve got arrows, lines, writing sideways, lol. My brain comes alive when I sit under good teaching. Here is an example of my notes->

I’ll start where my teachers started: Romans 3:21-26,

Justification by Faith: But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. [underline mine]

God is just. He performs perfect justice. Being just is one of His attributes. He cannot be anything else but perfect in all ways, including being just. He dispenses His justice as the Just One.

He is also the justifier. No human can forgive unto justification of another human’s sin, (Mark 2:7). We are on equal par, having equal authority. Someone higher than ourselves needs to administer justice. Can I send so-and-so to jail for a five year term for his crime? No, I have no authority. A duly sworn Judge can, though. With the crime of sin, God as the higher up and person distinct from ourselves is the Judge. Secondly, all humans sin, so we need someone outside of humanity to forgive, otherwise it’s just the blind leading the blind. Because God is perfect and holy, He can forgive. Therefore, He is also the Justifer.

Why does there have to be blood, a cross? Because simply to pass His hand over sins and forgive would compromise His holy character and make it seem that the sinful dishonoring of Him trillions of times would not be that big of a deal, said my teacher. As RC Sproul said, sin is “cosmic treason”. For a holy God to overlook treason by His enemies would make God a patsy, not an authoritative King over all!

Another reason the Son’s death on the cross was not ‘cosmic child abuse’ was that Jesus willingly submitted to the Father’s plan. John 10:18 says,

No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it back. This commandment I received from My Father.

Jesus was not a victim. Claiming that He was a victim of abuse would introduce a split between the will and desires and plan among the Persons of the trinity. It is just not so. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father, of the same essence. (Colossians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 4:4). He came to do the will of the Father, (John 6:38) not be a hapless victim of a plan gone wrong.

Continuing with reasons Jesus was not a victim of cosmic child abuse, we have to know that God did not have to save anyone. The amazing part of grace is not that He saved some, but that He saved any. He extended His hand and plucked some from the fires of His wrath and He chose to do so with this plan of the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of His Son. This is a Plan the Son agreed to.

The fact that when the angels sinned God chose not to save them (2 Peter 2:4) shows His great mercy and grace upon His elect humans. “This magnifies God’s grace powerfully” said my teacher.

Finally, I ask detractors to think of the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked the Father to let this cup [of wrath] pass from Him, if there be another way, yet, His will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44). Jesus told his companions, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38). He shared with them that He was grieved! Afflicted to the point of death! He sweat great drops of blood! Yet no one stayed awake with Him. He was alone. he pleaded to the Father in honesty but also in submission to the end of the great plan. Jesus asked the Father THREE TIMES.

If the Father had thought of another way, but did not use it, THAT would be child abuse. If the Father had held a different plan in reserve in His mind, and ignored the pitiful pleas from the Man of Sorrows in the Garden, how abusive that would be! If there had been a different way but God killed Jesus anyway, that would be abuse. But no, there was not another way.

Jesus must live the perfect life pleasing to God. This Lamb must be sacrificed in blood, because in the blood there is the life. (Leviticus 17:11). Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22) He must die, and be buried. He rose again, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. The Trinity is united in their desire to administer both justice and grace upon those whom they will administer justice and grace.

Remember, the shocking thing is not that God doesn’t save all. It is that He saves any.

Posted in earthquake, end time, frankenstorm, hurricane sandy, jesus, prophecy, shell shock

Spiritual warfare and battle fatigue

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Are you battle weary? Our daily battle as Christians is tiring, isn’t it? We battle our sin. We battle intrusion of other peoples’ sin. We battle false doctrine. We do this daily. There are some bigger battles that crop up, like the one happening at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 15-16. There, a host of like-minded representatives sent from the member churches, called “messengers,” will voice their opposition to Critical Race Theory and Egalitarianism (and its result, women preaching) to the mass who have gathered. The intention is to thwart the liberal drift. A previous battle like this had occurred in 1979-1980, called the Conservative Resurgence. It was an attempt, like the one coming up next week, to re-steer the Convention away from creeping liberalism and toward conservative, more biblical waters.

Continue reading “Spiritual warfare and battle fatigue”
Posted in bible, boat, galilee, truth

Jesus taught from the boat

Jesus taught from the boat…

Water carries sound and it amplifies it. The crowds were so crushing that in order to even have space, Jesus launched into one of the sailboats (not a dinghy as depicted above, lol) and He spoke to the crowds. Note, He was sitting, they were standing, indicting His important presence, as was the custom of the day.

Were they thirsting for the truth from the Living Waters? Or were they rubberneckers hoping for a personal miracle? Both. We know the end of the story, most people turned out to be rubberneckers only out to see the latest thing in Galilee. Most of these same people eventually rejected Him. (Mark 6:4-5).

What a momentous occasion on that shore! To be present and taught directly by God Himself. We are blessed, we believers in this present Church Age. We have the Holy Spirit in us to teach us these things. This Spirit will never leave us.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

The blessings from our Lord are manifold, beginning with our indwelled Spirit, and His word which was later written down at the inspiration of His Spirit. Study His word today, worship Him by praising Him for those words, and bless Him by being obedient to them. He is a gracious and magnificent God, who taught His sheep from the boat.

Posted in theology

Moving Day

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m moving apartments this morning, so I won’t be writing and publishing a new blog today. My internet will be cut off here and (hopefully) installed there, later today, so I hope to be back up and running tomorrow.

The Lord providentially took care of this entire thing- giving me this apartment in the first place 13 years ago, and it was a perfect one with no problems whatsoever the entire time. Now that inventory is so low here in the county, He found me another one when it became necessary, and He prompted my work family and church family to help me make the move. Every detail is worked out.

I want to acknowledge His hand in my life down to the exact details,

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:6)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says of the Proverbs verse-

In all thy ways acknowledge him,.... Or "know him" (l); the Lord: set him before thee; have him always in view; consider him as ever present with thee, observing every step thou takest; and take not one step without his leave, and without his advice; ask wisdom of him who gives liberally; consult his word, and make the Scriptures thy counsellors, or the men of thy counsel, as in Psalm 119:24; take him as your guide; observe the footsteps of his providence; follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes; walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; when things go cross and adverse, and not to your mind, submit to his sovereignty; and be still and know that he is God, that does all things right, for his own glory and his people's good, Psalm 46:10; and when things succeed, give him the glory of all; own his hand in it, and the bounty of it; acknowledge that all you have, in providence and grace, come from him;

He is a good, good Father! So, I haven’t really ‘Gone Fishin’ because I’m not relaxing or on vacation, but I’ll catch you on the flip side! (See what I did there?)

Blessings and thank you for your prayers and donations, I’m humbly grateful!

Posted in theology

Will God send over 90% of all humans who ever lived to hell?

By Elizabeth Prata

I received this question from a reader. That’s all he wrote. Not ‘I’m struggling with this doctrine, can you help?’ or ‘I need some clarification on why God would do this…” Just the question, no context or even a hello.

Will God send over 90% of all humans who ever lived to hell?

Oh, boy. I knew what was coming. I welcome questions and I love to point people to scriptures and to credible ministries that offer solid answers related to a person’s question. But a question that starts out with truculent phrasing is almost always from an atheist or purposeful provoker and never ends well. But, in good faith, I answered in the following way:

Prata: No… Our default condition upon conception is sinner at enmity with God. So God doesn’t “send” anyone to hell, since ALL PEOPLE since the Fall of Adam ever born (except Jesus) would go there just by being totally depraved sinners. It’s the just punishment for sinners against a holy God. What God does and did was send Jesus to rescue sinners and save them by His grace.

Prata: He justifiably judges sinners who rebel against Him, who is thrice holy. But He also chooses to save some through no merit of our own. This is grace, and we are grateful to a savior who saves wretched enemies who do not deserve it. What we ALL deserve is hell.

With my first reply, I tested the waters with going straight to the doctrine of total depravity to see how he would respond. If it was, I’d expect the person to sincerely ask for clarification, and then I’d begin teaching from scripture. If not, I’d reply once more to see if they were genuinely responding to the actual conversation, or just whipping up more scenarios simply to be vexing for their own entertainment. Here is his response:

Reader: If everyone is hell-bound by default, then people, especially Christians, should stop having kids. Because all we are doing is adding to God’s expanding no-fly list of billions of unsaved names. And if the vast majority of mankind is going to eternal conscious punishment in hell according to the end times prophecies of Revelations, then that means for the majority of mankind, life had absolutely no meaning in the end. Let’s say your car overturned and pinned you. There’s a fuel leak. I happened to be nearby. I’m a non-Christian. I am the only person around. I rush to your car and pull you to safety but the car bursts into flames and I burn to death while saving you.

Reader: But since I died a non-Christian, I would suddenly find myself in hell even though I ended my life doing a selfless, heroic act saving one of God’s elect. But if regardless of how I live and end my life, if the result is the same for non-Christians, I may as well have not saved you. I should’ve walked away and let you save yourself.

OK, one reply and then I’ll bow out. Scripture this time. Lots of them. It doesn’t seem like he cares about God but only about arguing his point. Going to the doctrine of total depravity and seeing peoples’ response to it shows me where they’re coming from. A low view of sin in ourselves means the person has a low view of God and a high view of man (and his deeds).

Prata: You have a man-centric point of view. You need to expand that and submit to God’s point of view and His plan. All lives had meaning in the end, those in heaven glorify God by being a display of His mercy. Those in hell glorify God by being a display of His justice.

Isaiah 64:6, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

So what you saved me from a burning car but died yourself? We all die sometime. All your works are as filthy rags if you’re not in Christ, whether you’re Hitler or an unsaved fireman saving someone from a burning car and died “selflessly.” The ONLY true selfless act in the universe was Jesus dying on the cross to save sinners like you and me.

I encourage you to read the article below about how hell glorifies God. The only meaning in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It’s the chief end of man. (Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, [a] and to enjoy him for ever. [b]

[a]. Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
[b]. Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4

Your argument is with God.

Romans 9:21, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Rom 9:21–
Hath not the potter power over the clay; of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another to dishonour?—”The objection is founded on ignorance or misapprehension of the relation between God and His sinful creatures; supposing that He is under obligation to extend His grace to all, whereas He is under obligation to none.

How Does Hell Glorify God?

We will end our discussion here, your tendency for mockery against God only digs you deeper into a hellish hole. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

(I hadn’t liked his characterization of God making a ‘no-fly’ list).

Well, as expected, he did not respect my note to end here. He came back with another email splattered with different scenarios on different topics, not really replying to the one we started with. It’s a key indicator that I’m dealing with a truculent person out for his own entertainment. I replied asking him to please respect my wish for him to meditate on the scriptures provided, to read the article suggested, and to think about what was already discussed, which was substantial (if one is truly seeking and not just arguing). I’d said that if he replied right away again, I’d block him, sadly. He did reply, not with one email but two, which I did not read. And I did block, without engaging again, as promised. So he went to comment on the blog, which I blocked him there too.

When you’re in a public ministry, expect questions, challenges, and even linguistic booby traps in the guise of sincerity. It’s OK to make decisions based on your experience of how long to go on in conversation with a person. There are two scriptures which apply:

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect; (1 Peter 3:15)

and-

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6).

I’d said at the start that engaging with people who are obviously out for a fight doesn’t end well. It doesn’t end well for two reasons. Either I become vexed myself and speak ungraciously, blotting my witness; or they dig themselves deeper into a hole as Matthew 12:36 indicates-

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

I do not want to be the vehicle he uses to dig himself deeper. In not throwing pearls before pigs or in shaking the dust off my feet by not hearing my words (Matthew 10:14) and closing down discussion, it’s an art to keep that fine line. It’s an individual decision based on scripture and experience. I give one or two replies and cut it off from there, especially if they mock or use curse words.

Maybe I should give more time to a conversation or maybe my timing is just right. It’s a personal decision. Don’t feel guilty about cutting off endless replies and not engaging in a circling the drain conversation. I give a reply (hopefully graciously as 1 Peter 3:15 says to) but I also make decisions to cease engaging as per Matthew 7:6 says to. There are only so many hours in the day. I owe my time, metal energy, and emotional equilibrium to Jesus first, then to those closest to me in real life and my church family, and then to the anonymous public who contact me in this ministry.

It’s OK to bow out of a conversation that has run its course, or to block or mute people who have demonstrated ill-will. And I don’t feel guilty about it, either. Though I do feel bad for the person, so lost in his logic he is blinded from seeing the supernatural- which is God and His glory. I pray for that person. Then I shake the dust off my feet and go on to the next thing, ready with a reply for the hope that is within me…