Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

The Real Gospel

Posted: May 23, 2014 in bible, christianity, faith, truth
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The word Gospel means Good News.  It is the good news about Jesus.  I recently went to a conference and an old truth hit home to me.  The question was what sends people to Hell?  If you walk into any Christian bookstore you will notice a wall of the latest and greatest books.  Books that deal with many different topics about the bible and the Christian life.  A few of these books I have read over the years and found myself in serious disagreement with the author, like Francis Chan, John McArthur, and RC Sproul.

Theology is a system, which helps us look at God through the Bible.  The word “theology,” is the study of God.  Many different denominations and churches have different theologies.  Therefore, if your Theology is off then it will affect the way you read the bible.  The beautiful of the bible is that anyone can read it and understand it.  However, there are passages in the bible that can be difficult to understand, especially if we do not know the background, literary devices the writer is using, and culture significance.  This is the main problem with Evangelical Christianity today.  There has been a major influx of Reformed Theology that is influencing Christians today through the local Christian bookstore.  People see a popular author and pull out the book and lead to a works based system.  I read the book “Crazy Love,” and my thought was that Francis Chan was the one who was crazy.  As a pastor I can say that it is always a temptation to make the bible say what I want it to say.  However, I have a responsibility from God to rightly divide the word of truth.  As much as I do not want to spend time in my Greek, I make the sacrifice in order to lead the sheep correctly.  The God that Francis Chan serves is not the God that I know or serve.  The God I serve has a plan of salvation that is through faith ALONE in Jesus Christ (John 3:16 and 6:47).

What sends people to Hell?  It has nothing to do with sin.  Jesus already died for the sins of the world ) 1 John 2:1-2; John 3:16).  He died for ALL who have ever lived, currently living, and will live.  People die and go to Hell because they do not have life.  Life is only found in the Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  It is after all the book of Life that will be opened and Revelation tells us that if people’s name are not found in it then they will go into the Lake of Fire (20:15).  God has removed the Sin problem of the world through His Son’s death and resurrection.  People only need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life and they will be saved.  It is really that simple.

This blog post is not about bashing certain Christian authors, whom I disagree with.  However, it is about rightly dividing the truth and being discerning of the truth.  You might read this and disagree with everything I have written, which is totally fine.  Jesus paid it all so I do not have too.

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I went to the Lego Movie the other night with my wife.  It was a pretty cool movie and we enjoyed it.  However, in one of the previews of an upcoming IMAX movie on some animals really struck me.  The narrator called the animals mankind’s (or as people would say now humankind) relatives.  He stated it, not as a question but as fact.  It bothered me because of what the statement implied, which is man is only an animal.  There is no glory in him, there is nothing inspiring about him.  He was not created but merely evolved and is lucky.

It is this view that man is really an animal that has enabled him to pursue his own way of life apart form any moral accountability to God (or any god).  He is freed to do whatever he desires.  Some might argue that even those who profess a belief in God live the same way, which is sadly true.  However, a belief in God means that man can be something more and was created to be that way by a God that cares about him.

The prevailing belief today is that man is an animal and thus is his own god.  If everyone is their own god then there is no real truth and life IS meaningless.  Sure we can and do sugar coat it by doing good but there is no substance behind the good deeds.  As much as atheists will claim they have morals (which I do not doubt at all) there is nothing behind the morals but morals for morals sake.  What is then true for one person then is not for another.  There is no set moral code.  I am not suggesting this is anything recent as in the last 50 years.  Man has always attempted to make a life apart from God and even be a god himself.  However, the end of this way of thinking has never been a good one.

Genesis 1:26 tells us that man is created in God’s image.  When the bible says “Let us make man in our image, the Hebrew grammar suggests it means “Let us make man as our image.”  In ancient times an emperor might place statues of himself throughout the remote part of his land.  These symbols would declare that those areas were under his power and reign.  Therefore, God placed man in the world as a living symbol of Himself on earth to represent his reign.  This is why God gives the command for man to have dominion over the earth.  This is the reason God values people so much: We are made to reflect His majesty on earth.  There is a significance to mankind.  There is no chance or survival of the fittest.  One only has to look to the world created around him to understand if this is all random chance then they should go to Vegas and gamble it all.

God has created a world and given man the opportunity to know Him.

 

Over a year ago I was listening to a blog talk prophecy radio show by John Claeys and a caller asked a question about the upcoming election.  I will never forget John’s statement to the caller, which was “There has never been a President who was elected to a second term without supporting Israel.”  President Obama is now the first.  He has been cold in his support of Israel.  Therefore, the fact that he got reelected tells me something about bible prophecy.  This is not about political parties or ideology as it is about what God is doing.

In Daniel 7, he describes four beasts.  Each beast is a representative a kingdom that is and ones that will be.  The first is Babylon, then the Medes-Persians, followed by Greece, and lastly the fourth Kingdom which is not necessarily Rome but a new world empire.  I write that it is not Rome because Daniel who correctly identifies Greece before they were really any sort of a power could have done the same with Rome.  This fourth empire is like Rome, but different.  It is more vicious and dominant than Rome ever was.  Daniel 7:23 says, “The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth.  Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth…”  Daniel goes on and says in verse 24, “The ten horns (of the fourth beast) are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom…”  The day of America being a world power is swiftly coming to an end.

I am not one of those doomsday people who believe because Obama got elected that we should all run for the hills and hide in caves.  In my previous blog I wrote about how God is ultimately in control and leading us.  This is all happening to our country because God has a plan and His plan usurps anything that we would want.  Therefore, we should look to God and not our president for our help.

It seems that Obama does not have a good relationship with Israel, also America has seemed to lose it’s influence in the Middle-East.  What does that mean? It means the way is being cleared for a new leader in the Middle-East to rise up.  Who will that be?  He will be the Antichrist or as John calls him in Revelation The Beast.  America will probably be one of the ten kingdoms that Daniel 7 writes about.  The world now is becoming a much smaller place and it will be interesting to watch what will happen here in the next four years with President Obama.  All I know is that God is control.  His plan was for Obama to get elected to set up other things He is doing for His return.  May the Lord come quickly.

Growing up in church I can remember going to all of the Sunday school classes and hearing about Jesus.  My mom taught the class using Flannel Graph, which helped me picture in my mind what was happening in the stories.  I can remember the stories about Jesus and the pictures we were shown.  Some of the stories I remember vividly are with Him with sheep or sitting down with the little children.

However, when you read Revelation you immediately get a totally different perspective of who Jesus is.   Gone is the shade of brown hair and beard from the pictures, now is seen having white hair and beard as snow.  His eyes are like a flame of fire.  His voice like the sound of many waters, which means it is loud and echos, very commanding and authoritative.  In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord gives commendation, criticism, instruction, and promise to the seven churches.  The only church that does not receive any commendation is the church of Laodicea (3:14-22).  In fact that Lord compares the church to lukewarm water.   They are not like cold water, which refreshes.  Nor are they like hot water that soothes and stimulates.  They are lukewarm.   There is nothing good about lukewarm water, except to spit it out.  Are these believers God is spitting out of His mouth?  Yes, however, they are not losing their salvation.  The key to understanding verse 16 is knowing why the Lord is doing this.  In verse 15 it is their works that are neither hot nor cold.  If lose of salvation is in view then this would mean that if believers do not have the good works then they lose their salvation.  I believe once you are saved you are always saved.  The Lord is disgusted and disappointed by these believers lack of effort.  God wants us to live for Him and not our selves.  There is nothing wrong with having things in life, however, if we put those things above the work of the Lord then we begin on the slippery slope of lukewarmness.

Are we in the Laodecian church age?  I believe so.  It is ironic to me when churches care more about buildings and facilities then souls.  The priorities of the church have gotten mixed up.  In turn many Christians have lost perspective what we are really here for.  We are not here to build our great house, or an awesome 401k; we here to build God’s kingdom.  To do His work.  There is nothing wrong with having a nice retirement, or a big house.  However, if that is what we are living for and only investing then we are lukewarm.  Jesus gave this church the warning because knew that there is still opportunity for change.  With God all things are possible.

A moment is all it takes. The bible tells that in a moment those who believe in Christ will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).  In my opinion I believe this is a reference to the Rapture of believers.  However, in that same moment what are those who are left behind do?  Pure chaos would ensue.  A world in many ways would be turned upside down.  People losing relatives, friends, or coworkers in a moment.  It seems fair to write that people would be confused and lost as to what to do.  Once that moment passes, people will be looking for truth, looking for answers.  How people find these answers  the scriptures are silent, but based upon how people have responded in the past after tragedy it is fair to assume that people will be looking for some type of spiritual answer.

The first half of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will not be ruling the world.  The first half he is building his name and career in order to rule the last 3 1/2 years.   Who is it that rules the first 3 1/2 years?  It is Ecclesiastical Babylon.  In Revelation 17:1, we are introduced to the religious system of that day.  The woman it says sits on many waters.  The “many waters,” is interpreted as people, nations,  multitudes, and tongues in verse 15.  The woman sits on the many waters, which it seems to imply that she is ruling.  This woman has the support of civil governments at this time.  This is made clear by the preposition “with.”  The kings of the earth it says committed fornication with her as well as the inhabitants of the earth.  The word “fornication” that is used here is used in a spiritual sense.  The world committed spiritual adultery with Babylon.  Much like in the Old Testament when Israel would turn after other gods, God viewed it as spiritual adultery and He would respond.  In verse 3, we are told that the same woman now is sitting on a scarlet beast.  The beast is the Antichrist.  We know this because the beast is identified as having seven heads and ten horns.  This description is similar to Daniel 7:24, and in Revelation 13:1.  This would then imply that the Antichrist, at least for the first part of the tribulation, will also be under the Babylon’s religious authority.

What is identity then of the woman?  She represents the one world religious system of that day.  This religious system rises to rule because after the Rapture many will be looking for answers.  This religious system provide people with the spiritual help they are looking for.  From this need it seems that this religious system will rule with the state.  I make that assumption from Revelation 17:1,2.  I believe the woman in 17 is the same woman in Revelation 2:20 who is identified as Jezebel.  I make that assumption based upon the actions of the Jezebel in the church of Thyatira.  There in that church this woman caused people to commit sexual immorality and adultery.  Also the Lord tells John in verse 22 of chapter 2 that “cast her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into the great tribulation unless they repent…”  I believe the reference here is to the actual Great Tribulation, which is the last half of the Tribulation.  The headquarters of this new religious system will be a rebuilt Babylon.

What will the religion be?  The religion will be a combination of all false religions.  The figure Jezebel is used in Revelation as a type from the Old Testament.  There in 1 Kings shes brings in a foreign god for Israel to worship.  Here in Revelation 17 this woman operates very similarly.  Some bible teachers claim this woman represents the Catholic church.  There could some truth to that.  However, this woman I believe represents all false churches.  They come together to create a mega one world religious system, much like they did in Genesis 11 at the Tower of Babel.

America in the End of Days.

I was writing down everything furiously that I heard that afternoon.  I was tired because it was after lunch, however, I was so interested in what my professor had to say that day about the book of Revelation.  I had grown up hearing about how America would not be a world force in the end times.  My professor that day confirmed what I had always heard.  It is true America is never mentioned in the Bible.  This has lead many to believe and talk about the impending “fall of America.”  With our economic fall and rising unemployment, many believe that America’s doom is just around the corner.  Of course many 2012 doomsday believers suggest this supports their belief of the end of the world in December 2012 as well.  Nevertheless, the world will not end in 2012.  God has a plan for the end of the world and it will take awhile for that plan to play out.

There are several reasons for the absence of America in the bible.  As many scholars will point to, America is a late blooming country and thus never grew into a world power in the sense of conquering other countries.  Also because America is not the Middle East it is not a factor in what is happening there.  Now it has been in the past, however, we are pulling troops out and by doing so we are indirectly losing influence.

Where does this leave America in the End Times?  In my last blog I suggested that the 10 kingdoms Daniel 7 and in Revelation speak of are not the European Union.  I based this theory on what Daniel 7:23, 24.  The fourth beast will rule the earth and be different in that, it will devour the earth.  On the earth at that time will be ten kings ruling ten kingdoms.  It would make sense that America would be one of the ten kings and kingdoms.  Possibly it would look like Canada and America as one kingdom.    Is America one of the three kings, who lose their kingdom to the Beast (Daniel 7:24)?  I am only speculating at this point but I would tend to say no.  Those kingdoms could be in the Middle East, because the AntiChrist will come from the Middle East.  In fact he may well be living in modern day Iran or Syria.  However, we can discuss that in another blog.

666 not just a number.

The number 666 has been popularized by our culture today.  It has been featured in many movies from horror  to Christian films.  A great many books have been written about it as well.  Many pastors warn of a coming cashless society or credit system by which this number will be used.  While the number is sensational, we do get a different idea of what it means when we read about in Revelation 13:17 it says “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.”  This verse tells us that the number doesn’t mean a credit or cashless system, but rather the name of the AntiChrist himself.  Based on this verse many would then start looking to names of presidents and rulers to see if the letters in their name equaled 666.  However, unlike the English language Hebrew, can used to express numbers (also Greek can as well).  There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and in the order of numerical value they are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100,200,300,and 400.  The numerical value of Jesus’ name is 749.   This is something that cannot be duplicated with English.  A great website to check this out would be hebrew4christians.com.  Believers living during the Tribulation should be able to identify the AntiChrist if they are watching.

The purpose of the mark is not just for buying and selling but rather worship of The Beast.  By placing the mark on either the right hand or forehead people are submitting to his authority.  People will want to do this because the will perceive him to be a god.  He will be mortally wounded and thought to be dead but will rise again (13:3).  Satan who gives The Beast his power, is worshiped when people worship AntiChrist.  Also important to note that worship is coming from the whole earth not just the European union.  Some have indentified the European Union as the 10 kings in Revelation.  However, upon further review, Daniel 7:23 tells us that this fourth empire will be over all the earth.  Therefore, the whole earth will make up the ten kingdoms.  The European Union gives us a preview of what that would look like on a much smaller scale, but it is not the actual 10 kingdoms from Revelation.

All this means is that one day the Lord will return and we need to be ready.

In my opinion the Antichrist will most likely be an Atheist. I base this on Daniel 11:37.  The last part of the verse says, “for he shall exalt himself above them all.”  Revelation 13 is another passage that gives us insight as to what the religion of the Antichrist’s rule will be.  In verse 11, another beast rises out of the earth, which emphasizes his humanity.  This second beast is called elsewhere the False Prophet (Revelation 16:12,19:20, 20:10).

The role of the False Prophet is lead the world in worship of Antichrist.  Why would the world worship him?   About mid-way (3 1/2 years) through the tribulation the Antichrist will be wounded mortally in the head (Rev. 13:3).  Yet he is raised back to life.  The world marvels and begins to worship him (verse 4).  The False Prophet will lead the world in worship of the Antichrist.  The False Prophet is describes as a lamb.  He appears innocent like lamb but speaks fierce like a dragon (11).

In Revelation 17, we are given the account of the first one world religious system that is destroyed.  It is destroyed because the world will be worshiping the Antichrist.   There much imagery and symbolism in this chapter.  I believe when you get stuck in a passage you should let scripture interpret scripture.  It is better to let the bible tell you what something means rather then read into it a meaning.  That being stated, the following is my opinion on Revelation 17.  In the first couple of verses John is asked to view the judgment on the Great Harlot.  It is interesting to begin with that there is a woman on the beast.  This woman is said to have lead the people of the earth astray (vs 2).  Who else in scripture was a woman who lead a king astray?  The first name that comes to my mind is Jezebel.  She married King Ahab in 1 Kings 16:30-32.  It is Jezebel who introduces Ba’al worship to the Israelites.  Jezebel’s father was a priest of Ba’al, and she was a priestess of it.  Her name means, “My Father (Ba’al) is Noble.”  Ahab soon established Ba’al as the state religion.  In Revelation 2:20, Jezebel is again brought up because while she calls herself a prophetess, she causes the people in this church to commit sexual immortality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  She is a false teacher leading the people astray.  What is interesting in 2:22 it says, “I will cast her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into the great tribulation…”  Here we are mid-way through the tribulation in chapter 17 and judgment is coming down on Babylon.  A rebuilt Babylon is the center for this first religious system.

Next time we go into more detail about Babylon and this first religious system.

How do you know that you will be Raptured up?  It has nothing to do with how faithful, or how many times you go to church.  In fact, you may never go to church and still get raptured up.  Jesus said in John 6:47, “He who believes in has everlasting life.”  Jesus did not give any qualifiers, just faith in Him.  Everlasting life or eternal life starts the moment you believe in Christ.

Ephesians 4:30 tells that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.  That day is when we are raptured up to be with the Lord.  Our salvation is not based upon how good we can be.  If it were then why did Christ have to die.  We are not saved because we are eternally faithful to the Savior, we are saved because He is eternally faithful.   In Acts 16:30,31 a jailer asks the Apostle Paul what he must do to be saved, and all Paul tells him is to believe on Jesus.

I have read and heard from some bible teachers and pastors use Matthew 7:21 which says, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I believe there is even an extremely popular Christian writer, pastor who proclaims this in his best selling book.   Please remember any body can make the bible say what they want it to say.  The truth of what a verse is saying is in the context of the passage not a single verse.  If you look back at Matthew 7:15 you see that Jesus is speaking about false teachers.  This passage is from the famous Sermon on the Mount.  When you go even further back you get the audience of who He is talking to in Matthew 5:1, the disciples.  Multitudes of people were there yet Jesus takes the disciples out of the crowd and to a hillside to privately talk to them.  Therefore, Matthew 7:21 is not talking about the regular Christian person who stumbles but the false teacher who leads people astray.

Salvation is free.  You don’t need to say a prayer or join a church.  It is not conditioned upon your faithful or faithlessness.  It is a gift that Jesus offers.  Only He can offer it because only He rose again.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we will be changed forever (1 Corinthians 15:52).  At some point in the Lord will come back for His church and when he does we shall be caught up to meet Him in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  In churches, seminaries today we call this “caught up” the “rapture.”   The word “rapture” is a Latin term that means “caught up.”  There are many terms that are not in the bible, and yet they are still true concepts.  For example, the word Trinity is not in the bible.  Yet we see that concept throughout it.

I believe in a Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the church.  What that means is that the church will be raptured up before the Tribulation begins.  The Tribulation is a time when God will judge the earth, and put His attention back on His people.  When you read through Revelation you notice that chapters 2 and 3 discuss different churches then all of a sudden the church goes missing from chapters 4 to 17.

The rapture can happen at any moment.   1 Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night.   Obviously, a thief does not tell people when he is coming to break.  The same can be said of the day of the Lord.  Some people subscribe to a Mid-Tribulation, or Post-Tribulation or even a Pre-Wrath Rapture views.  Here is a quick summary of those views: Mid-Trib= God raptures us in the middle of the Tribulation, Post-Trib= God raptures us right before He returns, Pre-Wrath Rapture= God raptures us about 3/4 of the way through the Tribulation.  My problem with these different views is that they take away from the suddenness of the rapture.  If you know it is happening in the middle or 3/4 or you gotta go through the whole thing then you will be ready.  Yet when you scripture like 1 John 2:28, which talks about abiding in Christ so we will not be ashamed at His coming, you realize that it is sudden and without warning.

The life I have now I want to live for the Lord.  I do not have to be perfect because He was perfect for me and everyone.  I just need to live my life knowing He could return and to be ready.